Walt Disney Pictures has come a long way from making full-length animated features like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Peter Pan. In the 21st century, the company has reinvented itself with live-action blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean, state-of-the-art computer animated films like Cars and Frozen, and adaptations of children’s literary classics like Roald Dahl’s The BFG and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (out in theaters this March). In recent years, Disney has expanded into more lucrative markets like comic book blockbusters (ie. Marvel comics) and, of course, the Star Wars franchise. The latest Star Wars entry, The Last Jedi, hit the $1 billion mark in worldwide box office sales barely three weeks after its US theatrical release. With a plethora of material to work with, and plenty of money coming in, one would think Disney is far passed its tipping point, but that might not be the case at all. Continue reading →
I’ve been saying it for years: vinyl is the way to go and Millennials are finally catching on! Best Buy announced this week that its stores will stop selling CDs (compact discs) altogether this July 1. Meanwhile vinyl sales have been steadily rising over the last few years, becoming, once again, a high-demand item for music retailers who have been struggling to compete with digital streaming services and music downloaded from the Internet. According to The Guardian, vinyl sales saw a 53% increase between 2015 and 2016, the highest sales numbers for vinyl since 1991. Although vinyls have always been kept around by independent retailers like Half Price Books and local stores like Cheapo Records and Electric Fetus here in Minneapolis, retailers like Best Buy and Target have caught up with the trend. As some begin to drop CD sales, none seem to have any plans to stop selling vinyl. Continue reading →
In 2001, shortly after the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th, two Chicago-based educators, Kevin Coval and Anna West, decided to create an outlet for young high school students to express themselves through spoken-word poetry. Nearly 20 years later, Louder Than A Bomb has grown from a small number of local high school teams to a full-scale competition made up of 120 teams from high schools all over Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. The success of the program has inspired educators to form spoken-word poetry competitions in 13 cities across the country, and even in Canada. Today, Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) prides itself on being the largest youth poetry festival in the world. The success of the program, as well as the students and educators involved with organizing it every year, was the subject of a 2011 documentary, Louder Than A Bomb, by filmmakers Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel.
Jacobs and Siskel followed four individuals competing in the 2011 competition to paint a portrait of youth outlook on world events, social climate, politics, and their own personal stories. The film not only received praise at the Chicago International Film Festival, but also at film festivals all over the country, including Milwaukee, Cleveland, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Portland. Prelims for the upcoming 2018 festival are being held at Columbia College starting on February 21st-22nd. You can check eligibility rules and sign your team up on the Young Chicago Authors website. Louder Than A Bomb is available on Amazon Prime, and if you have an account I would definitely add it to your Watchlist.
The nominations for the 90th Annual Academy Awards were released last week and met with mixed reactions. Some were ecstatic, others were disappointed, but how many were surprised? The Academy has been attempting to present itself in a new light in the years since a slew of all-white nominees was presented in the Best Actor category at the 2015 ceremony. Despite the #OscarsSoWhite movement that followed, the same thing happened the next year, sending organizers into a furor that found them completely revamping the membership list in the hopes of getting more diversified nominations. Although the 89th ceremony saw some changes in terms of the voting body, it seemed more like a desperate attempt to show change rather than a legitimate attempt to actually change. Now, in the age of #MeToo, this year’s nominees also fell shy of expectations. Continue reading →
The trailers for Oscar-winning director Scott Cooper’s new western-drama, Hostiles, makes a point of showcasing Masanobu Takayanagi’s stunning cinematography. Reactions to the film in general, however, have left some scratching their heads. Written and directed by Cooper from a manuscript by the late Donald E. Stewart, whose wife happened upon it in 2012, Hostiles follows US Army Captain Joseph Blockler as he escorts a Cheyenne war chief and his family home to their tribal lands in Montana from Fort Berringer, New Mexico in 1892. Blocker is portrayed by Oscar-winner Christian Bale in his third outing with Cooper, and is supported onscreen by Rosamund Pike, Rory Cochrane, Jonathan Majors, Adam Beach, David Midthunder, and Wes Studi as Chief Yellow Hawk. While Pike’s performance is certainly impressing critics, others claim the film inappropriately boasts its own brilliance. Continue reading →
It’s awards season; that time of year when the Super Bowl is the one thing strong enough to interrupt Hollywood’s narcissistic red-carpet events and fancy afterparties. The Golden Globes aired just a few weeks ago, with much of the attention focused on the #MeToo Movement that swept the film industry after Harvey Weinstein and dozens of others were accused of sexual harassment, and even rape by an astonishing number of women working in Hollywood. Last nights Screen Actors Guild Awards, however, saw a more typical type of awards show than what we saw at the Golden Globes. Continue reading →
The 2018 Sundance Film Festival kicked off yesterday in Park City, Utah, at the Sundance Mountain Resort. Every year the festival plays host to an impressive array of independent films, both foreign and domestic, and has featured such successful films as Blood Simple, Hoosiers, Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, Memento, 28 Days Later, SuperSize Me, Boyhood, and more recent notables like Dope, Mudbound, and Wind River (just to name a few!). Sundance not only presents feature-length films but also shorts and documentaries, and presents awards in such categories as acting, cinematography, screenwriting, directing, and short-filmmaking. The 2018 celebration will showcase 110 feature-length films from 29 countries; 47 of those films come from first-time filmmakers, out of a pool of 13,468 total submissions, including features, shorts, and documentaries. Some of this years more anticipated entries include Juliet Naked, Wildlife, Heart Beats Loud, The Catcher Was a Spy, and documentaries like Akicita: The Battle of Standing Rock, and Our New President. The 2018 celebration, however, comes at the helm of the whirlwind that was 2017. Continue reading →
Kay Graham (portrayed by Meryl Streep in Spielberg’s film) was the acting publisher of The Washington Post at the time. She inherited the role of sole proprietor following her husband’s untimely death by suicide. Graham not only faced a board of all-male stock holders who were ready to oust her at any moment, but also a more hostile-than-friendly editor named Ben Bradlee (portrayed by Tom Hanks), who reportedly informed her that he’d give his left nut to run the Post, himself. Shortly after Graham came into her new position, Martin Weil (Better Call Saul‘s Bob Odenkirk) was sent to meet with Ellsberg to collect the top secret documents in Boston and transport them safely back to Washington. Continue reading →
Despite the new World War II drama Darkest Hour now playing in theaters nationwide, “Who was Winston Churchill?” still sounds like a question you’re likely to find on one of those ‘the dumbing down of America has happened’ videos. While Churchill may not have been American, himself, his influence and importance in the events of the mid-20th Century cannot be overstated. Winston Churchill was elected Britain’s Prime Minister in 1940, a position he held throughout the remainder of World War II and again from 1951 to 1955. Before his career in politics he had worked as a writer and served as a member of the British Army. His election in 1940 came at a time when Britain’s, and indeed the future of the whole of Western Europe was uncertain. Hitler had been elected Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and, by the time of Churchill’s election, was already marching across France, pushing British forces to the shores of the English Channel, where the famous evacuation at Dunkirk took place (if you haven’t seen Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, I highly recommend it!).
With the United States still hesitant to enter the war effort in either Europe or the Pacific, the newly appointed Prime Minister was faced with the choice of either regrouping and rallying national support to continue the war effort against Nazi Germany, or agreeing to sign a peace accord with Hitler and the Axis Powers. As the United Kingdom stood at the brink of invasion, it was up to Churchill to persuade Parliament, King George VI, and the people of Britain that the war could be won and that it was worth fighting, an extremely difficult prospect considering the ever-growing influence of Nazi Germany and the reluctance of the United States to enter the war. Continue reading →