Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pre-screenings

I’m sure you’re aware of this, but professional film critics get to attend early screenings of films so they can do their reviews and (hopefully) generate pre-release buzz for a film. You may also have gathered from our podcast that it is possible for members of the general public to attend pre-release screenings of movies, as well.

What you may not know is that, if a screening is designated as being for the public only, critics can’t attend at all. One of the reasons for this is what is called a “Review Embargo,” which means members of the “professional” media cannot publish their reviews until after a certain time, often a day or two prior to the actual opening of the film.

Ryan, my partner-in-crime here at the Visually Stunning Movie Podcast, being a professional, actual, for real and for true critic, one recognized by the various studios as being worthy of them paying to fly him to New York City, LA, or even London, to screen a movie and do interviews with the principals involved, can’t attend certain pre-screenings. Literally. They won’t let him in the door.

I, being a “not-professional” critic, can attend any screening I can get my paws on a ticket for. And I can publish my thoughts about that film any time I want. Ain’t no embargo on my opinion. Nope.

Now, do I hope to one day be considered “professional” media, the recipient of all the rights and privileges thereof (obligatory A Christmas Story reference… sorry.)? You bet.

But right now, that isn’t the case.

On a completely unrelated note, tonight I’m going to see the new Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L. Jackson film, The Hitman’s Bodyguard.

Completely unrelated.

I’m just sayin’.

Mark’s Mid-Year Top 5 Films

Well, we’re seven months into 2017, and we’ve covered a lot of movies for you all. If you’re a regular listener, you’ll know that we don’t always agree on those movies, so we thought it would be fun to do a quick listing of our individual “Top-5” lists for our favorite movies we’ve covered on the podcast so far this year.

These aren’t Oscar predictions or anything, just our favorites, although there may be some cross-over to those lists, eventually…

Now, we’re all going to bring some different criteria to these lists, so don’t be surprised if they’re wildly different [in fact, I’m typing this before I’ve even gotten Ryan and Jason’s lists, so they might be waaayyyy different from mine; we’ll see].

I’ll post Ryan and Jason’s lists as soon as they finalize them and get them to me **cough, cough**.

There’s still a lot of movies left to come before December 31st, but here’s where I stand so far [links to our reviews provided for your listening pleasure]:

Mark’s Top-5:

#5) Raw: Ryan and I saw this little gem back in January during Sundance, and I’m still struck by it. The way it turns the horror genre on its head, while simultaneously taking horror fans back to what made the “classic” horror films so great, lands it here at #5.

#4) Logan: This was an early contender for my favorite film of the year, so it easily belongs in my Top-5.

#3) Wonder Woman: Not only a DC movie worth watching [without caveat], not only a successful, female-centered superhero movie, the cultural impact of WW cannot be understated. The fact it’s just a good, fun movie to boot, well, it deserved its spot in this Top-5.

#2) John Wick, Chapter 2: Still one of the best examples of world-building and character development I’ve seen in a while, JW2 is the first movie in a long time that completely stands alone, while simultaneously forcing me to ask “what happens next?”

and #1) War for the Planet of the Apes:  If you had asked me at the beginning of the year where this movie would fall, I wouldn’t have said Top-5, much less #1. But here we are, driven by Andy Serkis’ riveting performance as Caesar: Apes. Together. Strong. So strong they are at the top of my list so far.

Honorable mentions:

Gifted: a more subdued, emotional performance by Chris Evans, with an outstanding young co-star in McKenna Grace, and of course the real star of the film: Fred, the one-eyed cat.

Split: A great performance by James McAvoy in a movie mostly brought down by the last three minutes of M. Night Shyalmalan’s forced tie-in to a previous film. I hope his performance isn’t forgotten about later this year…

Trailers from SDCC weekend

Hey, all! Jason and I just wanted to take a couple of minutes and talk about some of the trailers that released this past weekend during San Diego Comic Con, so have a listen.

We hope you’re looking forward to seeing some of this stuff as much as we are.

And this one isn’t available on the podcast feed, so it’s just for you folks that follow us here on the website.

Aren’t you lucky?

Cheers!

Trouble in a Galaxy far, far away…

It was announced yesterday that the directors of the upcoming stand-alone Han Solo movie, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 and 22 Jumpstreet), have left the production, despite having already invested FOUR MONTHS in production (not PRE-production; actual production) efforts, including filming.
We could sit here and equivocate on the fact that both parties are using the “creative differences” schtick, even though Lord and Miller admit they hate that cliché (but who say it’s “true” for once), or we could look at another quote from an unnamed source that would seem to have a bit more importance to the casual, or not so casual, Star Wars fan: the fact that those differences included concerns that Han Solo is not a “comedic personality.”
I read that statement and I heard warning bells. The Star Wars franchise, for all its perceived narrative shortcomings and clunky, George Lucas dialogue, has never been accused of-or mistaken for-a comedic property.
The fact that this change of direction was pronounced enough to warrant a dissolution of the partnership between director and studios at this juncture is concerning. Frightfully so, in my opinion.
Production has been shut down for a few weeks while a new director is found and brought up to speed. Uh-huh. A hiring of this importance to Disney/Star Wars on such a short time frame?
Okay.
A couple names being mentioned as replacement directors are Ron Howard, whose directorial resume speaks for itself, and Joe Johnston, who helmed the first Captain America film. If a decision needs to be made between those two, I’d skew toward Johnston, whose familiar in current Disney protocols through his Marvel involvement, and who will be asked to “fix” a film that is, effectively, expected to be a superhero-caliber movie.
Regardless, the trend of directors leaving productions due to “creative differences” is starting to get out of hand, forcing bastardized amalgams of movies into megeplexes around the world as studios try to play catch-up and do re-writes, re-shoots, and other creative gymnastics.
If a studio is going to invest millions of dollars in a film, the creative direction of the film should be clear during the hiring process of the director, not suddenly become an issue halfway through filming.
Thoughts?