Tag Archives: movie studio

Pretty pictures

Tomorrow is the last day of 2013, and the ‘best of’ lists are everywhere. Today’s topic?

Best Movie Posters

Many of these lists number 20 or more; mine only has five.

Nebraska — simple, soulful and a bit sad…like the man it portrays.
nebraska poster














August: Osage County — how to represent an entire family dynamic in one image.
august osage county poster














Man of Steel — any camp that remained in this franchise flew out the window with this image.
man of steel poster


The Grand Budapest Hotel — Wes Anderson’s newest world in a pretty pink box.
grand budapest hotel poster














But sadly, none of these posters — toiled over by studio marketing departments — can beat this bootleg poster that was mistakenly used to promote the Thor sequel in China:
fake thor poster














Parody rocks.

Who is that masked Longbottom?

It has been two years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II was released in theatres, bringing the decade-long movie franchise to its satisfying conclusion.  The ending evoked a lot of emotions from us all, one of the more surprising being —

Neville Longbottom is a hunk!

Neville before and afterAt the time, I celebrated the transformation of actor Matthew Lewis on many levels.

First and foremost, I like pretty things, and Matthew had become one.  But as a geek whose own awkward period extends even into today, I was gratified to see how far he had come during the 10-year span…and gave his movie connections no small amount of the credit.

But it turns out the studio’s efforts were actually in the opposite direction.

Matthew Lewis was never the chubby, ear-sticking-out, buck-toothed character that we saw on screen.  The wardrobe and makeup departments created Neville’s persona and ‘plopped it down’ — fat suit and all — upon Matthew’s more leading man frame.  They even used extra-large shoes because that’s how JK Rowling described him in the her novels.

That’s why Neville was such a ‘boy toy’ surprise in the final film!

Checking the gate

I happened upon a documentary the other morning on Sundance Channel that I highly recommend.  I should be less surprised that it is about a church.

(It was Sunday, after all.)

An Audience of One follows Richard Gazowsky, a Pentecostal pastor from San Francisco who used donations from his congregation to found a movie studio and production company.  He said he received a vision while praying on a mountaintop to spread the Gospel through filmmaking.

Stone tablets are so B.C.

The documentary begins as Gazowsky and his followers are in pre-production on their full-length feature, Gravity: The Shadow of Joseph, described as a ‘biblical science fiction.’

The movie poster tagline reads “filmmaking is hard.”  Gazowsky would no doubt agree.  During principal photography, the novice director only manages to get two scenes in the can during their five days on location in Italy.

Cameras jam. Cranes freeze. Cords snap. Tempers flare.  Of course, you see that kind of ‘tech diff’ on film sets all the time.

What makes Audience of One a must-see is watching Gazowsky lead his congregation on this journey.  Despite the setbacks, the lack of funds, and — let’s face it — the project’s absolute and total failure, the preacher constantly spins the story in such a way, his followers never blink.

Even though the movie is never been made.  Even though their major investor never comes through.  Even though the city shuts them down.

They call it faith.  But on camera, under the harsh glare of the lights, the delusions are harder to disguise.

Russian revolution

I love Ray Romano.

And apparently, so do the Russians.

The sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, which was loosely based on the lives of Romano and producer Phil Rosenthal, ran for nine seasons on CBS.  It was nominated for the Best Comedy Series Emmy seven times and won twice.

When they decided to end the series in 2005, it was still in the Top 10, a spot it had occupied since its third season on the air.

Exporting Raymond is a documentary that opened in very limited release in movie theatres last Friday.  It follows Rosenthal’s efforts to produce a Russian version of the sitcom… which is probably even more difficult than you would think.

And really, really funny.

This isn’t a documentary about Ray Romano.  He’s not in it, except in copious clips from the sitcom.   This is Phil’s baby, and he — who I had never seen on camera before — is hilarious in his own right.

He’s wide-eyed and nervous and tentative.  I definitely saw flashes of Woody Allen in his manner (thankfully without the annoying stammer).  But when it comes to Everybody Loves Raymond and helping it come alive for the Russian audience, he is strong and certain and somewhat single-minded.

Goodness knows he runs into obstacles.  The studios there look like bombed out buildings.  The writers and actors are doing two or three shows simultaneously and have extremely limited time and resources.  And the people ‘in charge’ bring somewhat questionable expertise to the table.

It takes a translator, vodka, a kindly driver, a real Russian family, more vodka, and a bit of give-and-take before the pilot episode is complete.   The entire process is really fascinating to watch.

So, how was the Russian version of Raymond received?  I shouldn’t tell you the end.  (Let’s just say it lives up to its name.)