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Monthly Archives: December 2015

BREAKING: Ryan Coogler Confirmed to Direct Marvel’s “Black Panther”

A fair statement was brought up by someone whose opinion I respect and he said that he hopes Coogler doesn’t get confined to just “black films”. I knew exactly what he meant and it’s true, but having Coogler direct such an enthralling character who is also unknown to the non comic-book populous, you have to ride the momentum with as much logic as you can, and that’s why Coogler is a near perfect choice for the directing role for Black Panther.

For those of you who don’t know who Black Panther is, he is a Marvel superhero who can be seen in the trailer of Captain America: Civil War trailer for the first time ever through live action. He is the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda where he (in the comics) is married to Storm of the X-Men and is considered one of the richest and most intelligent heroes in all of the Marvel Universe that goes on par with Iron Man’s wealth and intellect.

Coogler is clearly a great choice from the two films he’s made in his 29 years of existence i.e. Fruitvale Station and 2015’s Creed. Coogler has proven to be a prodigy of sorts when it comes to telling gripping stories about characters you can’t but enjoy. He is also great at getting action down as we saw with the much discussed one-shot fight scene from Creed.

The latest news from Marvel among other sources have been that Black Panther (the film) will be significant to the events that occur in Avengers: Infinity Wars Part 1+2 which a lot to ask of a young director, but if history has shown, Coogler is ready for the challenge and Marvel knows how to pick their directors.

The film is slated for a July 6th, 2018 release.

The GunnRange’s Top 10: Best Films of 2015

There are just too many films for one guy to see, but I’ve seen plenty of films to compile a list for now. Award season is coming up and we have plenty of award caliber films to recognize. Sadly, much of our favorite films of the year aren’t all “worthy” of these prestigious awards. Thankfully, good movies have their audiences who love and adore them like the shy kid in school.

Now, just because we are friends with the shy kids doesn’t mean we don’t have loud and high energy people we like to hang out with. Like people, there are different types and styles of films out there that hit me and audiences around the globe a certain way and I want to highlight the best films of 2015 (So Far…) and see the responses you might all have in the comments below.

10. Straight Outta Compton: Even I was skeptic about this films conception. The fear was the thought of this movie becoming a BET Original Movie that falls to low quality and slanderous stereotypes, but thankfully I was wrong. What a fantastic biopic that captured the truths of N.W.A. and the prejudice and racism towards a culture and time in history that was heard through the voices of four brothers with attitude.

9. Dope: Funny, surprising and highly original, California was shown more love in this comedy/drama about three “nerdy” teenagers who don’t fit in with their peers in Inglewood and are at the wrong places at the worst times. It has one of the best classic hip hop soundtracks we’ve heard in a long time and hits us with the knowledge revolving around breaking the mold and accepting what you are.

8. Inside Out: Pixar is a master studio that seems to do little wrong with their movies and the impact of their latest masterpiece has made both adults and children cry. It was able to entertain us while teach us something most people forget and that’s to let the emotions flow naturally. It’s colorful and full of brilliant ideas and characters and delivers as a film that can crack tough exteriors of adults and children alike.

7. Sicario: A film that appears to be getting snubbed of many of the prestigious awards – for some odd reason – had Benicio del Toro in an award worthy performance as a hit-man counter the side of Emily Blount’s well realized character. It’s gritty and shot with the eyes of the great Roger Deakins with the direction of an underrated director Denis Villeneuve. It’s brutal and heart pounding suspense that feels like a beautiful train wreck of events you can’t look away from.

6. Brooklyn: One of the many surprise hits with this critic, Brookyln brought a beautifully inspired tale of an Irish immigrant to the borough of Brooklyn during the times of Ellis Island and new beginnings. It was a classic period piece that had heart, humor, and humility while never pandering away from it’s main focuses and it created one of the years best.

5. The Hateful Eight: Tarantino returns to his play-like western that has both an overture and an intermission, oh, and it also has Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell. The 70mm brought a classic feel to the already gorgeously shot film and the writing will likely give Tarantino another Original Screenplay nomination, if not the statue itself.

4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: It is officially the dawn of a new era of sci-fi/fantasy and we have Star Wars to thank yet again. Polarizing for more than I ever imagined, it brought the values and elements of the original trilogy along with some new characters to revive what was considered a nearly corrupted franchise. Let’s not forget the fact that this was simply one of the many great movie experiences you’ll ever have.

3. The Martian: Ridley Scott’s return to prominence as well as Matt Damon giving one of the best performances of his career, The Martian was a nearly flawless piece of entertainment that proved sci-fi doesn’t have to be all distopian futures and war and depressing plot-lines, but instead it can be a fun and optimistic tale of survival and humor.

2. Creed: Being near the great city of Philadelphia, Creed holds a very special space in my heart. The respect Ryan Coogler gave the previous Rocky films as well as the city of Philadelphia made for one of the most compassionately made films of 2015. The performances were stellar, the music pumped us up and nostalgia ran as hard Adonis in South Philly streets.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road: When you go to a film with an understanding of its previous source material, you have certain expectations, but nothing could have prepared me for the thrill ride that was Mad Max: Fury Road. Arguably one the most exhilarating movies to see in theaters, the visuals looked to near perfection with prove that the best CGI are the ones you never see. Hardy is great as Max, but Furiosa took the cake as coolest character.

Where Does “The Force Awakens” Rank With the Other Star Wars Films?

The hot topic in the world has and will always be Star Wars. The film has already made one billion dollars in ten days – a world record for fastest film to one billion – and is only rising in profit without having opened in China yet!

If you don’t know, China is usually the largest oversees money maker for films and tends to skyrocket the foreign ticket sales because, well, there’s f**k ton of people in China.

Since the films inception only a couple weeks ago, fans have tried to determine their levels of love for the movie and I for one am confident to put it above the three prequels combined, others not so much. There are absolutely fans of the prequels and the conceptual brilliance of Episodes I-III but people like myself see it through a lens detailing the poor execution, not the ideas that didn’t pan out. Because of this, ranking The Force Awakens has been the internet communities mission for the last two weeks and I want to help break it down.

While TFA does borrow from the original films with clear inspiration drawn from all three originals throughout, it had to be that way due to the stench of the prequels on many fans noses. Once Disney bought the rights to Star Wars, there was nothing more than a collective sigh from the globe as the people became unsure if they’d want to see anymore Star Wars films and if they did, would they want Disney to be the studio to bring it back. Here’s what Disney did right:

  • They brought on a talented director
  • They went to the well of unknown talent (as a whole) to get their leads
  • And they made sure to learn from their mistakes

There’s a planet size pressure of the cast and crew of TFA because they film’s can’t afford another crap pile like we were given for most sections of the prequels (though there are some redeeming qualities) and that’s why they had to remind us that this is the return of a Star Wars that changed the world. It was a dosage of new and old that brought emotional depth to a story that nearly lost it with Episodes I-III. Ranking the originals, many put Empire at number one, A New Hope second, and Return of the Jedi third. The prequels, for me at least, go in the order of Revenge of the Sith, The Phantom Menace (Jar Jar Binks not helping the cause), and Attack of the Clones minus the scenes of Anakin raging out over the death of his mother.

The Force Awakens is not the best Star Wars film, but it pumped blood and oxygen to something we believed would stay in a Jar Jar filled coma for years to come, like Han in Carbonite. The Force Awakens has to be recognized as a fun, sci-fi/fantasy that both modernized and kept true to what Star Wars is and that’s why it ranks at a respectable number three spot over Return of the Jedi. Of course, lists are subjective, but comparing and contrasting what we have in front of us, I’d say The Force Awakens backs a way heavier punch compared to Jedi and rekindles a flame that could cook Darth Vader… Like in the end of Jedi.

How would you rank the Star Wars films I-VII? Have you seen The Force Awakens and did you like it? Let me know in the comments and share this on all social medias and check me out on social medias @ thegunnrange.

Ranking Stanley Kubrick’s Films From Worst to Best

If there is a Mount Rushmore of film directors, even some of the greatest directors are putting Stanley Kubrick on that mountain. A visionary who found there were no limits to the art of film making, he brought us some of the most iconic films in cinema history that have since inspired nearly every film maker after him.

Infamously a perfectionist, the stories and conspiracy theories run rampid with the ideas of Kubrick’s involvement with the “faking” of the Moon landing among other things. When you get rumored to have faked one of the world’s largest moments in history then you are doing something right, but what Kubrick did right nearly every time was make films and this list will rank his worst films to his best films.

Starting with….

Killer’s Kiss (1955)

Starting the list is a film noir of the 1950’s I doubt people outside of the film world have seen. Shot on a budget of only $40,000 it delivers a seedy and grim story about a boxer who falls in love with a dancer who is stalked by an unsettling former employer. The film – even on the small budget it had – holds up very well and is a great hour-long noir for those interested in seeing the genre at it’s peak, but for Kubrick’s standards, which is insanely high, does not put it past his other films.

Fear and Desire (1953)

Kubrick early on proved his talents for visual film making as well as a great story teller and all of these elements are seen through one of his other early film about the horrors of war and psychological break down of soldiers and the turmoil one faces when they feel conflicts of desire and duty. It’s a unique character study that felt way ahead of its time and on another small budget to make all the more impressive.

The Killing (1956)

Noir’s and dark tales of crime and punishment are all too familiar with Kubrick and his impressive career. For the whole shooting of the film, Kubrick went unpaid and took out out countless loans just to get the film going and the rest is history. The Killing is a classic look into the genre of film noir that we rarely see in this day and age and proves that film making takes love and commitment or it will crumble and amazingly this didn’t crumble Kubrick’s career.

Paths of Glory (1957)

This film pretty much confirmed that Kubrick hated war, but loved complex narrative.

Barry Lyndon (1975)

I just love this movie for the sheer fact he uses natural light – similar to what The Revenant did – and nothing more. Just a sh** ton of candles and really beautiful direction of a story of rising to the top of nobility at whatever stakes are needed. It’s such a unique period piece in only a way that Stanley Kubrick can come up with. The shooting was apparently hell though because of what Kubrick made them go through all the time on set. Ya know, the being in the dark thing.

Lolita (1962)

Obsession over teenage girls is only cool when you’re a teenager yourself, otherwise, stay away from that stuff. The film leaves a lot of things for the imagination (thank God) and was hampered and censored due to the restrictions of the MPA and also because the book itself which the film is based off of it highly graphic in content. It’s another character study that makes you question the human psyche and fear for the people around you, but it’s quite a good film.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Iconic and mad like the director himself, A Clockwork Orange is one of the few book adaptations Kubrick chose to attack to make into a film. Hard hitting on taboo subjects and some of the most visceral imagery and depictions of ultra violence and sexual assault make for a tough viewing the first time, but a viewing nonetheless that will have you thinking about the film long after the movie ends. It’s a crazy book too.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Though RottenTomatoes has this ranked as one of his least fresh films, it’s gorgeously realized and shot by a man with nads of steel. Erotic and more or less taboo in some scenes (orgies anyone?) it has a maturation of a director who mastered boldness in subtly and subtly in boldness. it delves into the deep seeded sexual desires of people and has a young Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as the leads. Being one of the last films before he died, he left us with an impressive visual spectacle that many consider bold and brash, but beautiful.

The Shining (1980)

We all know Stephen King considers this his least favorite adaptation of one of his many successful novels, but what it is as a film is technical brilliance – I’ll be saying that a lot – and has Jack Nicolson at his finest and craziest while the director delivers us a horror masterpiece that has the most iconic tracking shot in film history (the scene with the kid on his tricycle) as well as one of the boldest horror films in mainstream media.

Spartacus (1960)

“I am Spartacus!” doesn’t get more iconic. People forget this was a Kubrick masterpiece and it’s understandable. The guy who brought us mostly film noir’s prior and nearly everything else afterwards, throwing Spartacus in there should be a shocker. Back in my high school days (I’m not even that old) I remember my teacher throwing in Spartacus after tests or just for the hell of it and being a kid with little film knowledge or respect at the time, you don’t take the film for what it truly is, and it’s one of the best films ever made.

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Hard to believe, but this is one of Kubrick’s most subtle films he ever directed and often that translates to more repeat value and that’s what Full Metal Jacket is. With characters we all quote and mimic throughout our lives, Kubrick comes back to the war commentary of his films like previous years but only this time it takes place during the war in Vietnam. It’s funny, shocking, and an all around impressive war epic of sorts without mimicking other films with the same subject matter.

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

An absolutely underrated classic that hits social issues with humor and intellect unlike anything you’d expect from a Kubrick directed film, but it only furthers the argument that Kubrick is without a doubt one of the most diverse directors of all time. The Cold War is a unique and sometimes boring time in history to see simply because there are no bullets fired, but making it a political satire is the perfect way to grip us with a story of it’s type.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The magnum opus of a director whose career will never be forgotten. Shown in film classes around the globe, Kubrick’s innovation alone makes him a legend, but for it to be such an introspective film as well makes it even more impressive. The coloration to the chamber in which the film was set makes it a remarkable visual spectacle and is iconic through a unique villain and it’s quiet character throughout. 2001 has inspired nearly all space films beyond 1968 and continues to do so without films even knowing it.

 

 

RUMOR: Christopher Nolan Directing a Real Life World War II Drama?

Nolan has cemented a legacy that isn’t even twenty years old and it will only keep growing as time goes on. Some of the best directors dove into creating war films to help cement their legacies as diverse and talented directors. You think of Spielberg, Kubrick, Bigelow, Ridley Scott, and so on and they all have a powerful war drama on their resumes, but could Nolan be the next in line for this challenge?

The films title is reportedly titled “Dunkirk” and could star Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, and Tom Hardy.

Variety  reported that Nolan is looking for a lead teenage boy for the starring role while nailing down the adult supporting roles. Not much is known about who he could be eyeing for the role, but it is rumored he could be searching for an unknown.

Nolan will shoot the film in IMAX 65mm AND 65mm wide to bring the large scale style to his newly reported war epic. The film is slated to come out in the summer of 2017.

Was Seeing “The Hateful Eight” (2015) in 70mm Worth It?

Recently I got the chance to watch Quentin Tarantino’s latest film in a wide screened theater that is able to show The Hateful Eight in the film it was shot with, 70mm. For those of you unaware of what 70mm is, it’s a film style that differs from that of digital, HD, IMAX, and 3D filming which differ by having smaller film ratios to be shot on. In lame man’s terms, it means that 70mm is wider when you see a film shot with it. Tarantino is a film enthusiast who has advocated the revival of film rather than digital and backing up his quest are two other large name directors by the names of Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice) and Christopher Nolan (Interstellar).

If you didn’t get a chance to see any of the three films mentioned, I can tell you that they are all shot on 70mm film. With films such as these, the 70mm lends a wide perspective on the locations of the film which enhances the side views, backgrounds, and all around perspective of what we are looking at. Interstellar seems to make the most sense when it comes to using this technique because of the wide space that the film is suppose to suck us into and it works, but is a film like The Hateful Eight worth seeing in 70mm?

Yes.

Though I nearly sh** myself when I heard how much it costs for a 70mm film viewing, it was all worth it. See, 70mm is not a new style to shoot movies, quite the contrary, it’s a style that has been around since the 60’s and 70’s that has since been extinct minus a few film crusaders trying to preserve the art form. Film itself is far more expensive and tough to maintain and that’s why we use digital for most films in today’s era, but when you get a chance to see snowy mountains and the full detail of a wood cabin like you do in The Hateful Eight it becomes a once and a blue moon experience.

If you want a review for The Hateful Eight click the link and go to Facebook and like The Gunn Range: Movies!

Tarantino Does It Again With His Eighth Film “The Hateful Eight” (2015) – Movie Review

I smell a third Best Original Screenplay Oscar for one Mr. Quentin Tarantino and that’s no exaggeration. Q.T. gives us the much anticipated 8th film to his catalog that he claims will only go to ten – pray he’s bluffing – which has his dear friend Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and a few staple actors Tarantino has brought on in the past. The Hateful Eight brings a frigidly comedic “who done it” type western on the much discussed 70mm film, which I got a chance to see, and it didn’t disappoint. With the wide shots and the constantly sharp dialogue that Q.T. is famous for, The Hateful Eight proves the man is only getting better and that actors are always in good hands when working with him.

Throwing us back to a time when lengthy films reigned supreme in Hollywood, we are treated to not just the 70mm film style, but an overture and even an intermission to cut the three hour run-time for soda filled audiences. Set during a blizzard in the mountains of Wyoming, eight strangers collide unintentionally as they attempt to survive the winter storm, but little did they know there was going to be something far more ice-like in the works at Minnie’s Haberdashery. What immediately sweeps you off your feet is the energetic score by acclaimed composer Ennio Morricone whose work span to the classic spaghetti westerns of the Sergio Leone era while bringing us one of the most recognizable scores of all time from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Samuel L. Jackson never seems to miss the marks when he takes on his roles. He is a classic film actor whose charisma and knack for adding drama and humor all at once is astounding. He and Tarantino are clearly the match made in heaven with their styles and it proves to be a winner yet again. Unlike his last role in Django Jackson proves to be the most likable character of the bunch one way or another and allows his co-stars to do what they have all been able to do for their respective careers. It’s great to see actors like Tim Roth, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Michael Madsen return to prominent roles in film because they are too good to ignore or have be under our radars. With every throat cutting punchline and all the build up from scene to scene, you feel as confined as the characters while the setting evolves into an engulfing surrounding that holds as many mysteries are there are the use of the N-word. Yes, there is tons of use of the N-word in this film, but as the classic Tarantino films go, there is likely to be the word N**** and N*****, but you guys already knew that.

Not that Tarantino is becoming Hitchcock but the man knows how to make suspense and mystery. For the whole run-time, you are peering at each individual character thinking you can unmask the person with the deep seeded motives, but you can’t do it because Tarantino won’t let you, and that’s where this film should get a pat on the back. Normally in films with mystery or suspense, you can get a hint as to who it might be sooner or later, but you are hilariously taken by surprise by all the twists and turns in the style of Tarantino. Blood, violence, visceral monologues, and unflinching humor, the film almost feels more like a comedy than a western without it becoming Blazing Saddles. The shots of snowy mountains and fires burning as the eight hateful characters  continue to ruffle each others feathers immerses you into the experiences. I know the world enjoys coffee, but you’ve never wanted a cup of Joe as bad as you’ll want it during this movie.

Where this ranks in his films list is uncertain for now, but it will quickly find its place as do all films. People are going to stay for the simple fact that it’s Quentin Tarantino working with a stupid talented group of actors and they will get hooked by the Morricone score which happens to be the only real score Q.T. has had in his films – rather than hit songs – and it makes you wonder why Morricone and Tarantino haven’t brought us more combinations of their talents. The intermission is placed perfectly in the film and once you come back you will be taken into a whole style of mystery for this cabin fever inducing set and plot. Walter Goggins has got to get the award for most surprisingly hilarious portrayals of a character ever, fictional or not, because the man hits every mark like Dr. King Schultz and Django before him. If you aren’t familiar with Walter Goggins, you can see him in Django as the hillbilly who antagonizes Django on the way to Candyland.

Though the film is long, it is filled with plenty of gripping and bitey story and dialogue that make The Hateful Eight more than entertaining for the Q.T. fans and will shock non fanatical audience members with it’s less prevalent violence – though there is plenty – and the amount of comedy that naturally slips into the scenes every few seconds. The performances are top notch and prove that Tarantino can work with any actor he so wishes and find roles  for them. At times, the film feels like a play, and that can be good with the pacing it ends up running at while not giving us the dry pieces a normal play could sometimes deliver. This was worth the extra money for the 70mm experience (though I hate how expensive it is) and gives you your money’s worth as well as one of the more intriguing winter westerns of the modern era.

SCORE: A-

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