Etheria Film Night – 3rd June, Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood

Written by Fiona Underhill

I was lucky enough to win tickets, thanks to the International Screenwriters Association, to this wonderful evening celebrating female filmmakers at the American Cinematheque’s  historic Egyptian Theatre. It started with drinks and delicious food in the courtyard, where there was a red carpet for photo opportunities. It was then onto the ‘Women in Media’ networking event. This organisation is dedicated to creating a comprehensive crew list for women film crew and the people who want to hire them. This was very inspiring; hearing from a diverse range of talented women who have many skills to offer film productions. There should be no more excuses for not hiring women on film crews.

Before the films started, we were treated to an appearance by legendary film producer Roger Corman. He has produced over 400 films and helped the early careers of many directors, including Coppola and Scorcese. James Cameron has said he “trained at the Roger Corman Film School.” He has also supported and mentored many female film directors through the years, particularly in genre and “B” pictures. He was attending Etheria Film Night to present an award to one such woman, Stephanie Rothman, director of ‘The Velvet Vampire’, ‘The Working Girls’ and ‘The Student Nurses’. All of these are low-budget, drive-in ‘exploitation’ films from the 1970s. Her films portrayed gutsy, strong-willed women and a radically feminist point of view.

We were then onto the main event. This was a mini Film Festival all in one night. Eight short films were shown, all by female directors and all genre films (mainly horror and sci-fi). This was to showcase talented female filmmakers who are more than capable of directing genre films and this is precisely where Hollywood should be looking. I will go through the films in my own, very personal, order of preference. I should start by saying that the over-all quality of all of the films was much higher than I anticipated. It is amazing that such high production values can be achieved on low budgets in a relatively short space of time. Also, the highest compliment that I can give, is that I was never aware, with any of the films, that I was watching a film from a female director. Just as gender would be irrelevant for a male director, it was completely irrelevant here. These are 8 fantastic directors. Period.

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8) Kumal (dir. Thirati Kulyingwattanavit, horror, USA)

This story is based on an ancient Thai legend of a baby being plucked from its mother’s womb, painted in gold and burned in a sacrificial ritual. It is then said that if someone wears the ashes around their neck, they will achieve eternal life. But it is a cursed life and the mothers seek their revenge.

Although well made, with some effective acting and props, this was the most ‘classic horror’ of all the films on offer. Horror is just not to my personal taste, unless it is comedy horror. I guess this was the most ‘traditional’ of the films and although it was good, I preferred the other films on the night.

7) Earworm (dir. Tara Price, horror, USA)

This film relies on one central conceit – what if an earworm (when you get an annoyingly catchy tune or song stuck in your head) was an actual physical worm?

This was by far the shortest of the films and the simplest. It was neatly done, with the soundtrack being an integral part of the story. There were some impressive lighting and visual effects used as well.

6) The Honeymoon (dir. Ruth Pickett, black comedy, UK)

This film is very much reminiscent of Sightseers, but takes that most classically British of concepts – tarts and vicars – and puts them together in an isolated setting and adds a dose of horror. A newly-wed Christian couple go on honeymoon to a cottage in the Welsh countryside, but when they arrive there, they quickly realise they’ve made a horrible mistake.

When voting for the ‘audience award’ at the end, I was very tempted to go for this, purely on patriotic grounds. It was lovely to hear my home country’s accents and to see some classic British humour. Unfortunately, the humour was a little too ‘classic’ for me (like a raunchier version of ‘Carry On’) and again, didn’t really appeal to my specific tastes. However, comedy-horror is one of my favourite cross-genres and something we Brits do particularly well. I certainly felt no shame in having this film represent the UK.

5 and 4) Swell (dir. Bridget Savage Cole, sci-fi, USA) and Real Artists (dir. Cameo Wood, sci-fi, USA)

 

I will deal with these two together because they were similar in terms of genre and quality. They both could have easily been an  episode of Black Mirror (and both were better than The Circle, which I recently reviewed). Both set in the near-future and concerning technology designed to improve our lives, but of course, questioning the reality of whether it’s actually good for us or not.

‘Swell’ is an app which affects the emotions of whoever is listening to it.

This was a simple and very interesting conceit and very believable, actually. It relied solely on the performance of a man and a woman in an apartment and was very well done. Again, this film had an excellent use of colour and lighting. It was interesting to hear from the director, in the Q&A afterwards that the location had been found on Air B&B! This was the recipient of the Judge’s Award and while it wasn’t my personal favourite, it was a worthy winner.

‘Real Artists’ was about a film production company who, we gradually discover, uses questionable methods to make their films. This is seen from the point-of-view of a young woman who has a job interview at the company.

This film had one of the most effective twist endings and really high production values. The futuristic, technological world was rendered excellently and credibly. There was also an excellent central performance.

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3) Do No Harm (dir. Roseanne Liang, action/thriller, New Zealand)

My Top 3 films were very close and it was really difficult to chose between them. ‘Do No Harm’ is a stunningly gory action film set in the operating theatre of a hospital. A gangster wants to get to the patient on the operating table, to finish him off, and the surgeons (one in particular) will protect their patient at all costs.

The fight sequences were genuinely worthy of Tarantino and there were also echoes of ‘Drive’ here. Again, the lighting was impressively atmospheric, the performances were astonishing and the editing was excellent. I genuinely found the quality jaw-dropping, with sequences that would not be out of place in any Hollywood film. This was the recipient on the ‘audience award’, voted on at the end of the night and I can completely see why. A very worthy winner from a supremely talented director.

2) Jules D. (dir. Norma Vila, horror/fantasy, Spain)

On the face of it, this would probably seem like the most amateurish or low-budget of the films on offer. However, I loved it for several reasons. It was an emotionally affecting tale of a boy of around 12/13 who longs to be a vampire. The central performance, from one so young, was excellent. This had my favourite visual style – production design and cinematography – of all the films. There was a wonderful shot of Jules looking through the bars of a cage at a vampire bat. There were touches of humour, also. This was just a lovely little film.

 

1) Einstein-Rosen (dir. Olga Osorio, sci-fi, Spain)

Set in the early 1980s, a young boy tries to convince his brother that he has found a wormhole (the Einstein-Rosen Bridge of the title) in the courtyard of their apartment block. His brother remains unconvinced until they return to the same spot 35 years later…

This was my favourite because of being hilariously funny, having a little nod to my favourite decade and the performances of the central quartet (two brothers, 35 years apart). This was the most enjoyable of the 8 films for me, but as I’ve said, my choices have been intensely personal.

I was genuinely blown away by the quality of the eight short genre films at Etheria Film Night. It was an amazing evening, that I feel privileged to have been a part of. I just hope Hollywood sits up and takes notice of the incredible range of behind-the-camera talent on offer from the other 50% of the population. It was fitting that this event took place in the same week ‘Wonder Woman’ came out. It has definitively proven that a woman director can do anything a man can do, if given the chance. Equal opportunities is about exactly that: OPPORTUNITY.

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Maisie Williams And Anya Taylor-Joy Officially Cast In ‘New Mutants’

Hollywood Reporter have exclusively revealed that ‘Game of Thrones’ star Maisie Williams and Anya Taylor-Joy, who recently starred in M. Night Shyamalan’s brilliant ‘Split’, have both been cast in the upcoming ‘X-Men’ spin-off ‘New Mutants’ 

Williams is reportedly playing Wolfsbane, “a girl struggling to reconcile her religious beliefs with her power to turn into a wolf.” Taylor-Joy has been cast as Colussus’ younger sister, Magik, who can teleport. There’s no news on other members other than the fact the studio are “making serious efforts to find ethnically appropriate actors”.

Both these young actresses are a fine choice for this film, they are both extremely talented and it’ll be fantastic to see them both work together on something. Since her superb performance in ‘ The Witch’ in 2015, I had hoped we’d start seeing more of her. Williams is a fan favourite on ‘Game of Thrones’ and her stint on ‘Doctor Who’ last year was just brilliant, so a big screen appearance in an ‘X-Men’ spin-off is very much welcomed.

‘New Mutants’ will be directed by Josh Boone and it’s current scheduled release date is April 13th 2018, which is more than likely subject to change.

Written by Tom Sheffield

This Week In Film Trailers

Wonder Woman

With just under a month to go before ‘Wonder Woman’ is unleashed in cinemas across the globe, we are being treated to multiple new TV spots and posters, just in case you weren’t hyped up enough already. Fans of the TV Show ‘Gotham’ were treated to a sneak peek at ‘Wonder Woman’ on Monday night, which was shortly released online after it aired. This is one of my most anticipated films this year and with each trailer, TV spot, clip, and poster, my excitement continues to grow.

It’s been fantastic to see the support shown on social media for the film following some bloggers and websites questioning the films supposed lack of marketing in the lead up to it’s release. Daily I see people on Twitter counting down to it’s release, sharing the still, trailers and adverts, and generally spreading positivity and showing nothing but love for the film, cast, and crew.

“Before she was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot (Chris Pine) who tells her about the massive conflict that’s raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.”

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Dunkirk

After a countdown began on the official website earlier this week, Twitter began speculating when to expect a new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s latest film. The speculating didn’t last long, as Monday afternoon a Tweet emerged with a teaser clip announcing the arrival of the trailer today!  Each day this week a similar Tweet has been sent from the Dunkirk account which said ‘Time is running out’ and ended with #400000Men, #933Ships, #26Miles, and #9Days. Then this afternoon the brand new trailer was released online in all it’s glory. There’s just something about the ‘Dunkirk’ trailers so far that I just really admire and just makes me even more excited to see it. They never just focus on one character in particular, giving me a feeling that this film will have a number of individuals it may focus on in particular, amongst lots of scenes with lots of soldiers involved. 

“In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.”

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The Dark Tower

The highly sought after trailer for ‘The Dark Tower’ finally hit the web this week, and despite fans excitement and anticipation for it, it was met with some scepticism. Fans of the Stephen King novels thought that the tone and style of the film were different to what they had expected, but most were excited nonetheless.  Having not read the books (I know I know, they’re on my list!), I think the trailer looks pretty good, and I’m excited to see an Elba vs McConaughey showdown. 

“The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.”

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Guy Ritchie’s latest film is almost here and the final trailer was release his week, 2 weeks before the films hits the cinemas in the UK. Whilst there’s not much new footage amongst these TV spots, I think they do a really good job of sustaining peoples interest in seeing the film. There’s been quite a mixed reaction from those lucky enough to have already seen this at preview screenings, with numerous people saying they were slightly disappointing with it, and other praising Ritchie’s efforts.

“When young Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down, and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy whether he likes it or not.”

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It Comes at Night

‘It Comes at Night’ looks like another promising film from A24, the studio that brought us the Academy Award winning ‘Best Picture’, ‘Moonlight’, and other fantastic films such as ‘Room’, ‘Ex Machina’, ‘The Witch’, and many more. The trailer focuses on Joel Edgerton’s character and his family, who live in isolation as an unknown threat has forced them to lock themselves away in fear. I thought this trailer was a fantastic first look at the film and looks like it could be another winner from A24. The trailer doesn’t hold back on the tension and some of you may want to avert your eyes at one but in particular… You’ll know which bit I mean when you see it. 

“Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, the tenuous order a man (Joel Edgerton) has established with his wife and son is put to the ultimate test with the arrival of a desperate family seeking refuge. Despite the best intentions of both families, paranoia and mistrust boil over as the horrors outside creep ever-closer, awakening something hidden and monstrous within the man as he learns that the protection of his family comes at the cost of his soul.”

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Bonus: Blade Runner 2049

Now whilst the new trailer hasn’t been released yet, today we were treated with  surprise announcement that one is arriving Monday. What a way to start a week! 

Written by Tom Sheffield

M. Night Shyamalan Confirms Split Sequel To Be Named Glass

M. Night Shyamalan has just confirmed over on his Twitter page that the sequel to ‘Unbreakable’ AND ‘Split’ will be called ‘Glass’ and we are going to see “both films collide in this third film”. Many expected a third film announcement from Shymalan after the ending to ‘Split’ gave us a short clip of Bruce Willis in character as David Dunn from ‘Unbreakable’. He teased over on Twitter yesterday that he had a huge announcement that he couldn’t wait to tell us! 

In his tweets he also confirmed that “the iconic” Bruce Willis would reprise his role as David Dunn, Samuel L. Jackson will be back playing Elijah Prince (Mr. Glass), James McAvoy’s character Kevin Wendell Crumb (as well as all his other personalities) would be returning, and Anya Taylor Joy will return as Casey Cooke!

Shymalan confirmed that ‘Glass’ has a current release of January 18th 2019. 

Written by Tom Sheffield

The World Is Yours – Scarface Re-Imagining Set For 2018

As we all grow increasingly weary of tiresome reboot announcements from the motion-picture industry, you would be forgiven for thinking that Hollywood is scratching its noggin thinking ‘what next?’. It has been no secret that a ‘Scarface’ re-imagining has been in Universal’s crosshairs for some time. With an August 2018 release date, critics await news of concrete developments before they poise their pens for a slating. Brian De Palma’s 1983 ‘Scarface’ is a remake of the 1932 original produced by Howard Hughes. De Palma’s Scarface tells the story of a violently determined Cuban immigrant who climbs the criminal underworld to run a drug cartel in Miami.

‘You know what capitalism is? Getting fucked!’

Scarface may be Hollywood’s first most politically relevant reboot since Trump’s inauguration. Diego Luna (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) is tipped to star in the remake, the infamous anti-protagonist being a Mexican immigrant and not Cuban; a pertinent detail amendment that seems to resonate with Trump’s America. The second detail being that the 2018 Scarface will be set in Los Angeles as opposed to Miami.

When discussing films of the 80’s it’s hard to overlook Al Pacino’s Tony Montana wearing his iconic pinstripe, heavily dusted in Yayo, and wielding a high-powered assault rifle. So a third remake is quite an ambitious leap. However unlike many other remakes in recent years, at first glance Scarface appears to be in a good set of hands. Boardwalk Empire and Sopranos writer Terence Winter has been reportedly casting a watchful eye over a preliminary script, followed by Ethan and Joel Coen (Bridge of Spies and No Country for Old Men) who take on screenplay responsibilities.

No new project is without its hitch nevertheless. Antoine Fuqua was initially in talks to sit in the director’s chair however has had to quit due to commitments with ‘The Equaliser’ sequel,  starring Denzel Washington. A director is therefore yet to be announced, although according to Variety, Universal have been meeting directors and are keen to start production.

Watch this space.

‘Scarface’ is currently slated for release on 10th August 2018

Written by Mark Putley

Spider-Man Swings Into Action In A Brand New Homecoming Trailer

The second trailer for ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ has hit the Internet, once again proving we film fans are a fickle lot. One minute we’re all yelling “WHY IS THERE ANOTHER SPIDER-MAN MOVIE?” And the next we’re all shouting “OH MY GOD! TOM HOLLAND WAS BORN TO BE PETER PARKER” while we threw money at the screen following his turn in ‘Captain America: Civil War’.

Then the first trailer hit and it looked fresh and funny and potentially justified yet ANOTHER take on the Spider-man story. Now the yelling has died down we get another chance to look at Holland as Spider-man in this second trailer and it’s so far, so… meh.

There’s plenty of Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man explaining that with great power comes great yada yada… Michael Keaton seems to be on fine manic form as “the flying monster guy” (ok, Vulture) and Jacob Batalon as his best-mate/comedy sidekick.

Let’s hope that there is something more original in the mix and that the younger take on Peter Parker as enough humour to enhance what appears to be a very pedestrian storyline, or we’ll all go back to yelling “whhhhhyyyyy?” at the screen. Hope does come in the form of the extensive cast who have not yet been featured in trailers, with the likes of Donald Glover, Jon Favreau and Hannibal Buress yet to appear, meaning there may still be some tricks up those tight sleeves.

Are you excited for ‘Homecoming’? Who has been your favourite portrayal or Spider-Man to date?  Fire off on the comments below! 


“A young Peter Parker/Spider-Man, who made his sensational debut in Captain America: Civil War, begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging super hero in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May, under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark. Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.”

Written by Abbie Eales

La La Land Leads EE BAFTA Nominations

This year’s EE BAFTA nominations have been announced this morning via a  live Facebook video, which was presented by Sophie Turner and Dominic Cooper.

After it’s record breaking 7 wins at the Golden Globes at the weekend, ‘La La Land’ leads the nominations with a total of 11, followed closely behind by both ‘Arrival’ and ‘Nocturnal Animals’ which each with 9 nods. Also receiving nominations is the likes of ‘I, Daniel Blake’, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’, and ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’

The nominees for ‘EE Rising Star Award’ were announced last week and the voting is now open to the public on EE’s Website. Check out the nominations below and be sure to vote for your favourite. 

EE Rising Star Award 
Anya Taylor-Joy
Laia Costa
Lucase Hedges
Ruth Negga
Tom Holland

The full list of BAFTA nominations is as follows: 

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Grab Your Capes! Here’s Our First Look At The Captain Underpants Film

Entertainment Weekly have spent the week leading up to Christmas releasing some exciting exclusive photographs for upcoming 2017 films, including ‘Justice League’ and ‘Wonder Woman’. Then on Christmas day, EW tweeted the first exclusive look at the upcoming ‘Captain Underpants’ movie, which is based Dave Pilkey’s books with the same name. Yes… that’s a thing. 

‘Captain Underpants’ follows the story of best friends George Beard (voiced by Kevin Hart) and Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch), two fourth graders who successfully hypnotise their mean school principle, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms), and make him believe he’s the superhero from their homemade comic books, Captain Underpants. Donning a red curtain as a cape, and a pair of bright white underwear, Captain Underpants is brought to life and George and Harold couldn’t find it any more hilarious. 

‘Captain Underpants’ leaps into UK theatres 26th May 2017

Written by Tom Sheffield

Despicable Me 3 Trailer Sneaks Online

The past couple of weeks has seen no end of trailers being released for highly anticipated films of 2017, and adding their two-cents to the trailer game is Universal Pictures with a trailer for ‘Despicable Me 3’. You heard me.. a third one.

Gru, voiced once again by Steve Carell, and his little yellow minions are back, and this time he faces his most funky and fashionable foe to date, Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) who comes with his own 80’s soundtrack. 

The official synopsis for ‘Despicable Me 3’ is:

“The team who brought you Despicable Me and the biggest animated hits of 2013 and 2015, Despicable Me 2 and Minions, returns to continue the adventures of Gru, Lucy, their adorable daughters—Margo, Edith and Agnes—and the Minions. 

Joining Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig in Despicable Me 3 is Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award winner Trey Parker, co-creator of Comedy Central’s global phenomenon South Park and the Broadway smash The Book of Mormon. Parker voices the role of villain Balthazar Bratt, a former child star who’s grown up to become obsessed with the character he played in the ‘80s, and proves to be Gru’s most formidable nemesis to date.”

‘Despicable Me 3’ will be unleashed in UK theatres 30th June 2017

Written by Tom Sheffield