VIFF capsule reviews part two: Mr. Turner, The Vancouver Asahi, Clouds of Sils Maria and Maps to the Stars

MrTurnerMr. Turner (UK/France/Germany) — Oct 8 @ 1pm @ Vancouver Playhouse

Mike Leigh is known for his kitchen-sink realism and his improvisational approach to screenwriting: he hires the actors, gets them to know their characters in detail, and then he collaborates with them on the story, or at least on the development of individual scenes. But once in a rare while he decides to tackle an actual historical subject — and the two films he has made in that vein so far both concern artists who lived and worked in the 19th century. [Read more...]

Newsbites: A.D. and The Dovekeepers start production, the political uses of Noah, and more Clavius pictures

ad-twitter-011. It’s been a busy last couple of weeks for Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. Two Mondays ago, they joined forces with MGM to revive the United Artists brand, but they were unavailable for comment at the time because — as we now know from the picture to the right, which was posted to the brand-new A.D. Twitter account yesterday — that was the very same day on which they started shooting the first season of A.D., their follow-up to The Bible, in Morocco.

Burnett did eventually grant a phone interview to Variety to discuss the MGM deal. But he didn’t say anything much about A.D. and, bizarrely, the series does not seem to have an IMDb page yet, so I have no idea who has actually been cast in it or which characters it will focus on. But I’ll keep an eye open for such information and pass it along when I find it.

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Son of Man: An African Jesus Film — the review’s up!

sonofmananafricanjesusIt was a long time coming, but I finally finished my review of Son of Man: An African Jesus Film — a collection of essays about Mark Dornford-May’s challenging reimagining of Jesus as a modern political activist — and got it published in Books & Culture.

If you subscribe to the magazine, you’ve had access to my article for about a month now, but today it came out from behind the paywall, so everyone can read it here.

Incidentally, this reminds me, I don’t believe I ever posted a link to my B&C article on Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. (It went online in May, and it may or may not be behind a paywall now; I clicked on the link twice today and got the full article the second time, but not the first.)

Because it can take a while for magazines to be edited etc., that article was one of the first things I wrote about Noah after seeing the film, and it was one of the last things I wrote about it that was actually published. Thankfully, despite all the controversies that erupted in the interim, I still agree with everything I wrote back then!

The second Exodus: Gods and Kings trailer: a shot-by-shot analysis (lots of swords, a prophecy, and a family)

vlcsnap-2014-10-01-12h49m26s72The first full trailer for Exodus: Gods and Kings came out today, and to judge by what we see here, the film will have bits of Gladiator, The Prince of Egypt, Schindler’s List and even The Matrix.

That’s right, The Matrix. Or at any rate, that’s what I am reminded of when Ben Kingsley shows up and goes all Morpheus on Christian Bale’s Moses, telling him that he’s always felt something was wrong, that he has been deceived his whole life, and that he is the fulfillment of a prophecy regarding a deliverer.

It’s tempting to think that this “prophecy” business is just another movie cliché — it’s certainly not there in the biblical version of Moses’ story — but the first-century historian Josephus actually mentions such a prophecy and says the Hebrew babies were drowned in the Nile around the time of Moses’ birth because of it.

Cecil B. DeMille included this prophecy (and its consequences) in the prologue to The Ten Commandments — and although other characters refer to it later, there is no scene in which anyone actually discusses the prophecy with Moses. So Exodus is unique in having a mentor introduce the hero to his destiny like this.

Apart from that, the trailer mostly sells action, action, action — if the teaser had lots of horses, this one has lots of swords — but it also touches on Moses’ relationships with his “brother” Ramses, his wife Zipporah and his sons Gershom and Eliezer.

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Christian Bale on the “very mercurial” God of the Bible and how Monty Python inspired his take on Moses

exodus-facebook-140930-2Tonight — the night before 20th Century Fox releases its second trailer for Exodus: Gods and Kings — the studio hosted a screening of roughly half-an-hour of footage from the film, followed by a Q&A with the movie’s star, Christian Bale.

The Wrap is the only outlet I’ve seen so far that has any details from the event, and they mention some interesting things, both about the content of the footage and the comments Bale made about his approach to the character — and the movies he turned to for inspiration.

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Exodus: Gods and Kings: three more pictures to whet our appetites for the new trailer coming tomorrow

exodus-facebook-140930The makers of Exodus: Gods and Kings have released a new behind-the-scenes featurette every Wednesday for the past month, but tomorrow they’ve got something special planned: they’re going to release the second trailer, almost three months after they released the first one — and only two months before the film comes out in theatres overseas.

To build anticipation for this trailer, the movie’s Facebook page has released three new pictures over the last three days, counting down to the trailer’s release — and, naturally, the images all come from battle scenes: two of Christian Bale as Moses during the opening Battle of Kadesh, and one of Joel Edgerton as Ramses in his chariot, presumably pursuing the Hebrews. (The armour he wears here is not the golden armour that he wears at Kadesh.) Check ’em all out below the jump.

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