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December 26, 2019

The 'Cool Girl' Trope: Real Life Fantasy, Screenwriting Nightmare

The “Cool Girl” is a trope we’ve seen overused, subverted, and lampooned. Let’s do a deep dive together.

Sometimes when you’re writing a new screenplay or pilot, you want to develop a character you think takes on the normal tropes or stereotypes. But sometimes that trope subversion is actually the new trope.

Yeah, I know, it’s a brain twister. But stick with me.

Today I want to talk about cool girls.

No, I’m not talking about your mother.

I’m talking about the character who pops off the page and can attract all sorts of actors, depending on the role’s execution.

Check out this video from The Take and let’s talk after the jump!

A Deep Dive Into the ‘Cool Girl’ Trope

Okay, you’ve watched the video. Let’s dive into what it means for your screenplay and pilots.

What is the cool girl?

The cool girl is one of the guys. She’s the direct mirror to the male protagonists’ likes and dislikes within the world. She’s fun, raunchy, profane, and effortlessly hot. The most important aspect of a cool girl is that “she’s not like other girls.”

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Source: NoFilmSchool

December 23, 2019

Oculus controller tracking gets update to help it detect Christmas trees

Oculus has released an update to its software for tracking motion controllers that allows the headset to detect Christmas trees with lights and prevent them from affecting the controllers’ performance.
Source: Digital Trends VR

December 22, 2019

As Specialized Movies Face Holiday Box Office Storm, ‘Parasite’ Hangs Tight

Specialty fare enjoyed a strong fall, well ahead of award kudos, as “Judy (“Roadside Attractions), “Harriet” (Focus Features), “Parasite” (Neon), and “Jojo Rabbit” (Fox Searchlight) all passed the $20 million mark. But being late to the party turned out to be a risky strategy this year.

Both “Bombshell” (Lionsgate) and “Uncut Gems” (A24) are riding good word of mouth as they expand over the holidays, with most of their runs at major chains along with top independents. But Searchlight’s newer arthouse entry, Terrence Malick’s World War II drama “A Hidden Life,” won’t come close to replicating the earlier season successes.

Unusual for the crowded Christmas period, several specialty distributors are launching limited platforms, including Amazon’s acclaimed Brazilian drama “Invisible Life,” which failed to land on the Oscar International Feature shortlist, and drew minor interest at its two initial theaters. This could leave room for strong holdovers like “Pain and Glory” (Sony Pictures Classics) to share in the holiday bounty if they can get screen placement.

Neon’s Sundance 2019 dramatic jury-prize winner “Clemency” starring Alfre Woodard opens for a qualifying run on December 27.

The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão

“Invisible Life”


Invisible Life (Amazon) – Metacritic: 84; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto

$8,364 in 2 theaters; PTA: $4,182

This Brazilian drama about two sisters separated in patriarchal 1950s Rio opened pre-Christmas at two ideal New York and Los Angeles theaters to quite modest results. Top dogs “Parasite” and “Pain and Glory” are gobbling up audience interest in quality subtitled films, leaving many also-rans unable to command the attention they merit.

What comes next: This expands to key markets on January 3.

Week Two

John Lithgow

John Lithgow in “Bombshell”


Bombshell (Lionsgate)

$5,075,000 in 1,480 theaters (+1,476); PTA: $3,429; Cumulative: $5,484,000

After a strong platform debut, Jay Roach’s Fox News-set #MeToo retelling opened wide in appropriate theaters (and fewer than other nationwide releases) to results that could lead to increased interest once Christmas starts. The PTA here is substantially ahead of “Cats” (in double the theaters). The drop Saturday from Friday previews was minor. The game plan (apart from banking more gross) is to position for word of mouth ahead. Compared to the similar “Vice” last year, which opened on December 25 in 1,000 more theaters, “Bombshell” had a higher first weekend PTA. That looks like a positive sign. Lionsgate has a good problem: keeping screens for “Knives Out” at the most competitive time for screen placement.  Rian Johnson’s film, in more theaters, actually grossed higher this weekend and placed #5, followed by “Bombshell.”

Uncut Gems (A24)

$232,479 in 5 theaters (no change); PTA: $46,496; Cumulative: $1,010,000

The 57% second weekend drop for the Safdie Brothers’ acclaimed diamond seller drama with Adam Sandler in its initial five New York/Los Angeles theaters is actually a positive sign. Apart from the weak dynamics of the overall weekend, this did not have the benefit of Q&A sessions, multiple screens and maximum seating, and no Star Wars opener in the same theater. And in any case, this is still a strong result ahead of the nationwide expansion of possibly 2,000 theaters set for Christmas Day. That is risky for an art film that is not remotely a typical Sandler vehicle, nor obvious holiday fare. But with the film’s acclaim and awards potential, making a showing now makes sense.

“A Hidden Life”

A Hidden Life (Fox Searchlight)

$250,000 in 106 theaters (+101); PTA: $2,350; Cumulative: $399,143

Terrence Malick’s latest film, which platformed to spotty results last weekend, had an unusually rapid expansion as well as placement at appropriate but more specialized/independent theaters than most similar high-end films. It also broke the weekend before Christmas to give it a chance to gain momentum by Wednesday and beyond. The earlier signs are mediocre. But the 23% second day increase is unusual for a release with mostly new dates. That could mean seeds have been planted for further nurturing. Next week will tell the story. This will add a few additional dates Wednesday, with further increases in later weeks.

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

Parasite (Neon) Week 11

$460,000 in 227 theaters (-79); Cumulative: $21,205,000

Scientists tell us parasites are hard to kill. The sustained success of this release proves that. In its 11th, competitive weekend, still in over 200 theaters — far more than most subtitled films play in their entire runs– this still has a PTA of over $2,000. This will be vulnerable to holiday screen tightness ahead, but expect it to sustain around these numbers, then return to possibly better ones after Oscar nominations.

Dark Waters (Focus) Week 5

$312,000 in 451 theaters (-1,661); Cumulative: $10,067,000

Todd Haynes’ lawyer versus corporation drama looks to have completed its play after a few weeks of wider release.

“Jojo Rabbit”

Fox Searchlight

Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight) Week 10

$186,000 in 230 theaters (-170); Cumulative: $20,393,000

Taika Waititi’s comedy has passed $20 million as it awaits possible further awards boosts and some holiday interest.

Harriet (Focus) Week 8

$113,000 in 203 theaters (-445); Cumulative: $42,200,000

Remaining theaters for Kasi Lemmon’s successful biopic of the Underground Railroad heroine remains in over 200 theaters after completing a strong run.

The Two Popes (Netflix) Week 4; also streaming

$(est.) 90,000 in 44 theaters (-34); Cumulative: $(est.) 515,000

As this went streaming on Netflix, the remaining theaters still showed some modest interest in Fernando Meirelles’ film about the imagined interactions of the once and future popes. This is showing less theatrical response than their two other contenders: Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” has taken in an estimated $7 million, while Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” is at around $2 million. Both still have some theater play, but look to have gone down to minimal numbers.

Honey Boy (Amazon) Week 7

$59,243 in 85 theaters (-302); Cumulative: $2,850,000

Shia LaBeouf’s story of his childhood looks to top out around $3 million unless it finds some long-shot awards attention ahead.

Also noted:

Pain and Glory (Sony Pictures Classics) – $40,425 in 44 theaters; Cumulative: $3,766,000

63 Up (Britbox) – $32,945 in 21 theaters; Cumulative: $158,386

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Source: IndieWire film

December 22, 2019

J.J. Abrams Rejects Idea That ‘Rise of Skywalker’ Is Trying to Undo ‘The Last Jedi’

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” opened on December 20 to divided reviews, fervent fandom, and everything in between. But one issue that’s been top of mind for many fans is whether or not director J.J. Abrams’ “The Rise of Skywalker” is trying to right the perceived wrongs of Rian Johnson’s “The Last Jedi” from 2017. The latter film is the one that you like if you’re not a huge “Star Wars” fan to begin with, and if you are? Well, some fans were not pleased with director Johnson’s flourishes within the “Star Wars” universe.

At an Academy post-screening Q&A following “The Rise of Skywalker,” J.J. Abrams debunked the idea that there is some disturbance in the force between him and Rian Johnson. As for fans who prefer one film over the other, he said. “I would say that they’re right.” And regarding “The Last Jedi,” he said, “The people who love it more than anything are also right.” (Vanity Fair has the scoop.)

In terms of tackling the “Star Wars” universe, which has sprawled for more than four decades and with countless iterations across film, television, literature, and video games, Abrams said that there’s no pleasing everyone. “I was asked just seven hours ago in another country, ‘So how do you go about pleasing everyone?’ I was like’ What…?’ Not to say that that’s what anyone should try to do anyway, but how would one go about it? Especially with Star Wars,” he said. “We knew starting this that any decision we made — a design decision, a musical decision, a narrative decision — would please someone and infuriate someone else,” Abrams said. “And they’re all right.”

Regarding any mixed reactions to his movie, Abrams said, “There is an MO of either: ‘It’s exactly as I see it, or you’re my enemy,’” he said. “It’s a crazy thing that there’s such a norm that seems to be void of nuance and compassion — and this is not [a phenomenon] about Star Wars, this is about everything.”

One of the main perceived “rewrites” of “The Last Jedi” hidden within “The Rise of Skywalker” is how the origin story of Rey (Daisy Ridley) is spelled out. Since “The Force Awakens,” Rey’s potential parentage has been debated endlessly, and according to “The Last Jedi,” she was nobody from nowhere and the child of “filthy junk traders.” In “The Rise of Skywalker,” this is not exactly so. (IndieWire rounded up spoilers for the film and their significance, if you just want to skip the movie and cut to the chase.)

Regarding Rian Johnson, who is expected to deliver more contributions to the “Star Wars” universe in the near future, Abrams said, “It would be a much more interesting answer if there were conflict…The truth is when I was getting [The Force Awakens] up and running, I was nothing but grateful that a director and writer I admire as much as Rian was coming in to do [the next one.] Not expecting to come back to this, it was just fun to watch what was happening and get to respond to it.”

Abrams also praised Johnson’s direction on “The Last Jedi.” “One of the many brilliant things that Rian did in ‘The Last Jedi’ was give Luke an arc. He learned something. He got somewhere. So at the end of that film he recommitted to the thing at the very beginning of the film he was rejecting, so the idea that even Luke Skywalker can learn something,” Abrams said. “I think for a kid to hear Luke Skywalker say I was wrong, I think is a beautiful thing. And I think it’s something we could all probably do with, a little bit.”

Source: IndieWire film

December 22, 2019

New Version of ‘Cats’ Being Sent to Theaters With Improved Visual Effects

In a most unusual turn, Universal Pictures has sent out a memo to theaters stating that the studio will provide a new and updated version of director Tom Hooper’s Andrew Lloyd Webber adaptation, “Cats.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal sent out a memo indicating that the new version would have “some improved visual effects” — and according to THR, it’s being done at Hooper’s behest.

The move follows widespread criticism of the film’s uncanny-valley aesthetic, which, at one point, seems to involve human faces pasted onto the bodies of mice and dancing cockroaches. The movie is struggling at the box office, having earned $2.6 million on Friday and on a budget of nearly $100 million. The film’s Cinemascore was a C+ and its Rotten Tomatoes score is currently sitting at a painful 19%.

Tom Hooper, who won a Best Directing Academy Award in 2011 for “The King’s Speech,” has been vocal about the challenging visual effects featured in “Cats.” With regards to the trailer that released earlier over the year, he said, “We’d only finished shooting in March, so all the visual effects [in the trailer] were at quite an early stage. Possibly there were, in the extremity in some of the responses, some clues in how to keep evolving [the production]. When you watch the finished film, you’ll see that some of the designs of the cats have moved on since then, and certainly our understanding of how to use the technology to make them work has gone up, too.”

Despite the divided reaction to the film’s visuals, “Cats” is already achieving a kind of cult status as indicated on Twitter. In his review, IndieWire Executive Editor and Chief Film Critic Eric Kohn called the movie an absurd and exuberant mess. “Everything ludicrous about the show has been cranked up to 11, with a restless artificial camera and actors so keen on upstaging one another with excessive song-and-dance numbers they may as well be competing for a Heaviside Layer of their own. It takes some ambitious swings and works on its own terms in fits and starts, all while not really working at all.”

The updated version of “Cats” will be made available to exhibitors on Sunday via a satellite server.

Source: IndieWire film

December 21, 2019

Mike Flanagan Teases Three-Hour ‘Doctor Sleep’ Director’s Cut

Mike Flanagan’s “Doctor Sleep” is rife with visual homages to Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror classic “The Shining,” of which the source material’s author, Stephen King, has been notoriously, publicly critical. There’s no need to go down that road anymore, but it’s worth mentioning that Flanagan’s new film seems caught between paying ode to King’s novel and its follow-up novel “Doctor Sleep,” and appeasing and servicing fans of Kubrick’s film ready to go back to the Overlook one more time. The recreation of the Overlook Hotel in “Doctor Sleep” — an ambitious set-piece that dominates the film’s last act — plays out almost like a theme park ride for “Shining” fans. The wall of gushing blood! Delbert Grady! Where’d that bartender come from?

Now, Flanagan will be releasing his unfettered version of the Warner Bros. epic sequel, with a director’s cut coming to digital on January 21 and on Blu-ray February 4. The director, who is currently in production on the Netflix series “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” told Collider what to expect.

“There is new material throughout the whole film. Some of it is brand new stuff that was never included in the theatrical cut, and there’s also a handful of extended (or altered) scenes as well. There was never any intention to release this cut theatrically, we always knew it was too long. But we worked on it alongside the theatrical cut throughout post, and it made it a lot easier to make hard decisions in the edit, knowing that some day this cut might see the light of day,” he said.

“There are some big new scenes, for sure. I don’t want to spoil any of that, but I can say that there is new material throughout (including in the final act at the Overlook). Some of my favorite stuff involved Young Danny and Wendy (there’s some terrific material with Alex Essoe that I’m thrilled is restored here), and will be familiar to fans of the book. There’s also a fair amount of new stuff involving young Abra in the film’s first act, learning about her shine, and how it affects her parents.”

Set in the Overlook as Ewan McGregor’s grown-up Danny faces off against Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), the final hour of “Doctor Sleep” perhaps too slavishly recreates the 1980 movie’s menacing setting, as obsessively addicted to the details as the many super-fans interviewed in Rodney Ascher’s 2012 documentary “Room 237.” That movie profiled the many ingenious and often crackpot theories viewers have attached to Kubrick’s film, theories that unfold like critical theory term papers written on too much Adderall in the middle of the night. For these devoted viewers, the answers to Kubrick’s riddles are like patterns in the clouds: they’re there if you’re looking. Kubrick’s film offered no easy answers, but instead, a meticulously rendered vision that invites a pathological kind of close reading.

It sounds like this new material should shed light on the movie’s more mysterious elements and take us down the rabbit hole even further, for those who are willing to go there. “Doctor Sleep” bombed at the U.S. box office despite positive reviews, earning just over $31 million, but this visually stunning is worthy of a second look.

Source: IndieWire film

December 21, 2019

Eddie Murphy Regrets Turning Down ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’

Eddie Murphy is a busy dude. He’s returning to host a highly-anticipated “Saturday Night Live” this weekend for the first time in 35 years, and he’s on the awards circuit doing chores to promote his wonderful Netflix comedy film “Dolemite Is My Name,” for which he is a Best Actor Academy Awards contender. Recently, Murphy stopped by “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” ahead of his “SNL” gig, and the stand-up comedian turned actor shared a surprising story about his connection to Robert Zemeckis’ groundbreaking animated film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” from 1988. Watch the full Jimmy Fallon conversation below.

First, Fallon asked Murphy to confirm the lore that Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis wanted him to star in the original “Ghostbusters,” from 1984. “Yes, because I did ‘Beverly Hills Cop,’” he said to the audience. “It wasn’t like I turned it down, in as much as I wasn’t available because I did this other movie. The only movie that I have turned down that became a big hit was ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’…I was going to be the Bob Hoskins dude,” Murphy said. “I was like, what? Animation and people sounds like bullshit to me. Now every time I see it, I feel like an idiot.”

Indeed, the live-action-animated noir hybrid “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” not only topped $329 million at the box office, it also won three Academy Awards in recognition of its unique visual and sound effects.

Murphy also talked about how Marlon Brando called and asked to have dinner with him after the release of “48 Hours,” Walter Hill’s 1982 action thriller. Murphy said that during their meeting, Brando reenacted one of his tough-guy scenes. “Damn, Marlon Brando!”

Murphy also talked about an encounter with Prince at the pop star’s mansion: “It was two or three in the morning and we were at his house and Prince asks, ‘Who wants to go roller skating?’ I was like, ‘What?’ We went to this roller rink at three in the morning,” Murphy said. “You know how some sneakers, when you walk they would light up? He had skates that when he skated, they would light up.”

For Craig Brewer’s 1970s-set “Dolemite Is My Name,” Murphy recently nabbed a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Source: IndieWire film

December 21, 2019

Ten Years of Tech

With 2020 on the horizon, the last few weeks of 2019 present us with a unique opportunity to look back and reflect on not only the past year, but also the past decade. The span of time between 2010 to 2020 brought some of the most amazing technological advances the world has ever seen, so […]
Source: Digital Trends VR

December 20, 2019

Untold Insights Into the Making of ‘1917’ From its Key Collaborators

Through production design, sound, and picture editing, we learn how these filmmakers pulled off the visual feast behind 1917.

[Note: This article does contain mild spoilers.]

There was a moment while filming Sam Mendes’ 1917 where, in the middle of a three-hour horizontal rainstorm, production designer Dennis Gassner (Skyfall, Blade Runner 2049) looked over to the director and asked him what he was thinking.

His reply, “You know, I kind of like this.”

1917 is a World War I film that follows two British soldiers on their journey to save the lives of hundreds of fellow men. The experience for Gassner was very humbling. “The things we all went through and the way we had to do it; we all felt every moment,” he says. But even before they broke ground(literally), four months of prep and rehearsal were needed to detail the film’s visual language – a seamless, “one-shot” connection that follows the action without the appearance of cutting.

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Source: NoFilmSchool

December 20, 2019

Would you trust a Facebook OS? Reports say Zuck’s building an operating system

Facebook is exploring creating its own operating system to power hardware like Occulus and Portal. The new OS could prevent upcoming hardware from being limited by OS restrictions.
Source: Digital Trends VR