Category Archives: Film Bocugu

The Lion King (2019) – An Excellent Remake to Respect All Creatures!

Photorealistically CGI animated remake of (Walt) Disney’s 1994 movie of the same name is rumbling all over the theaters since 19th of July 2019 in Istanbul Turkey, and US.

Directed by Jon Favreau, this splendid narrative (2019) keeps the story of the former (1994) originally which is all about the balance, understanding and respecting all creatures in nature.

We will come back to the story shortly. However before that, let’s get mesmerized by this technologically groundbreaking cinematography first!

It is not easy to describe The Lion King 2019 under an established category visually since it looks like the first movie of its kind. However, if there is one thing to be noted, Disney created a marvel with this remake!

It is a combination of live action and the classical animation with the help of CGI, VR and AI. At that point, Favreau recalls “Even though we use animation techniques, we wanted it to appear live-action. And that required a lot of technical and technological innovation.”

Of all the appearingly live-action 1.600 scenes, there is one that is live indeed. It is “Circle of Life”, the opening movement. Those who may remember 1994 version will be stunned by the touchable fur, reflections of the glorious rays of the sun, wind blowing on the grass, gigantic  elephant steps, tower-wise giraffe, and sneezing baby Simba in 2019.

Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and all the VR team under the supervision of Robert Legato, Elliot Newman and Adam Valdez create something beyond the visual effects. It is a harmonized blend of reality topped with an emotive language of the magical animation (Andrew R Jones), and VR/AR technique. Boldly to define, that sounds like something as if shooting a film using virtual reality.

Usage of AI make the characters mimic real animal faces. Hence, this is how the characters are so real to the bone – just like watching an imaginary documentary- e.g., they do not imitate human face mime as which should not be, and this is where we welcome a photorealistic era with this very movie!

All details regarding the light and cinematography are thought meticulously in the same way. It is dark or cold blue at scenes where the villainous Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and hyenas are dominant, and lively daylight tones outshine where Mufasa and graciousness prevail. This can be another technical aspect that supports the “balance” as the main theme in the script.

When we come back to the plot which advances since Shakespeare or even before and throughout the history, it is about the balance (of the good and evil in the big picture), understanding and respect…

Script focuses on the three following types of characters:

  1. Demons (Scar) are sometimes in the “family” – and which hurts more. They try to provoke others by developing falsified needs or lies. And when there is nobody to challenge them, they start to eat (destroy) whatever they want. They strengthen by involving other coward villains (hyenas) who are incompatible by themselves. When the fear is spread once, they try to have everyone by their sides to dictate every single living and non-living thing, and for the destruction of virtue for their selfish, disrespectful and always empty-stomached kingdom.
  2. In nature, there are also those who believe in hakuna matata (sometimes bad things happen, there is nothing you can do, or problem-free philosophy believers such as Pumbaa [Seth Rogen], Timon [Billy Eichner]). To them, there is no circle of life, it is only the meaningless line of indifference.. Therefore, nothing to worry about, and nothing to think on – no past and no future and no self. At the end of the day, hakuna matata audience also serve the villains by not raising their voices, by not remembering who they are, what their power is, or by not questioning anything at all…
  3. Finally, there is the light and the Lion Kings (Musafa [James Earl Jones], Simba [Donald Glover], Nala [Beyonce], Rafiki [John Kani]) where everything the light touches is their place, and this place (kingdom) belongs to noone but everyone actually. It is the “circle of life”. Their role is to protect, to understand and to respect all the creatures. They are brave when they have to do or when they have no other choice (or when the circle of life is threatened). They know who they are, and they lead the way to their followers to remember who they are for the balance to be preserved…

James Earl Jones, reprised from 1994, is fascinating as Musafa’s voice again. Not sure if the impression is the same for Donald Glover and Beyonce as well. John Oliver who voices Zazu (the hornbill as the Lion King’s advisor), though a bit theatrical also fits.

Main score is composed by Hans Zimmer as in the former. And newly added soundtracks are also available in the 2019 remake (Beyonce – Spirit, Elton John & Tim Rice – Never Too Late). But, my favorite of all times is still The Tokens’ unforgettable song The Lion Sleeps Tonight!

Financially, The Lion King (2019) has grossed $448.9 million in US and Canada, and a worldwide total of $1.218 billion as of 7 August 2019. It seems like that it is holding the biggest opening for an animated film.

Being 30 minutes longer than the original version (118 minutes in total), the remake uses a fantastic innovative technology exhibiting a fictitious conveyance for how nature looks! So if not already, please urge yourselves to go to the nearest theatre, preferably an IMAX 3D to celebrate the miracle of the 7th art with The Lion King (2019)!..

Men In Black: International – or Men in Pink and Women in Black?

Based on comics by Lowell Cunningham (1990), and written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, F. Gary Gray’s Men In Black (MIB): International is the fourth of MIB film series (1997-2012) and released under Columbia pictures label which is a Sony company.

Moving internationally – by which it actually gets its title – from Paris to New York, London, and Marakesh, it opens in Paris 2016 where MIB agents high T (Liam Neeson) and agent H (Chris Hemsworth) fight an attack from Hive, the evil alien, at the Eiffel Tower.. And in Brooklyn 20 years earlier, we see a little girl, Molly (Tessa Thompson, becoming agent M after these 20 years), reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time in her bedroom where she meets an unlicensed unauthorized Tarantian unexpectedly. While her parents are after this creature in the downstairs, their door knocks and MIB agents show up to talk. Following this talk, they erase the parents’ memories via a cool-looking, blue light neuralyzer when they understand that the parents are aware of such a creature. Molly witnesses all from her bedroom window at the upstairs, and with her memory intact…

Molly grows up and so does her enthusiasm to become one of these MIBs to find the truth of the universe… She applies to FBI and CIA. After her several unsuccessful (!) interviews which lay out the intelligent quotient of any such “big” denotated institutions (please see “up” confusion responsibly😆 –  accounting department on the “up”), she finally gets a chance to join the team only if she can prove herself. The recruiter boss makes a cameo as agent O (Emma Thompson) who is the chief of “M”IB and a lady herself. Yet, agent M’s adventure in MIB team starts. That is also where MIB: International goes ahead! No more spoilers after that part regarding the plot 😉

Before moving in-depth, if anyone is expecting a stylish blockbuster sci-fi for its unique effects or visual aspects, it may be good to step back a bit. What one will watch is quite a better story than can be assumed, and a less sophisticated cinematography (Stuart Dryburgh) and visual work. Heavy and messy use of CGI outweighed the practical boldly; and many of the scenes looked tiring, unproportional and blurry. Eventually from the user-end, watching MIB: International on IMAX will be of no help as a proactive hint to the potential audience who would like to see it on IMAX (only 3D can be deemed sufficient). There was also some kind of a divergence between creature costumes and make-up, either one of them too vivid or the other one too numb.

Not having Barry Sonenfeld (former director), or Will Smith or Tommy Lee Jones (former actors) did not affect this reboot in a negative way. Directing obviously reveals that F. Gary Gray has no broad experience or educational background in film directing, e.g., we feel no detailed instructions for actors to adjust their gestures or mime which might have been set more delicately; or we feel no sense of compiling practical effects versus digital. However, the overall effort for direction is warmly remarkable, and also ample to have all at once fly smoothly in one direction.

The script, though not being flawless, is acceptable for a mediocre audience. For example, it would strengthen the whole impression if Vungus’ words, “he has changed. I can feel it. Something happened to him”, would have been placed in another sequence so that the final happening could have been emphasized more strikingly. But as been told above, it is more than welcome for the target audience who think that agent M means the accounting department on the up 😄 😄

Actors (and actresses😊) can be assessed per their own performances given the reason above regarding the direction, also depending on their varied experiences in the industry. If there is an above-average performance, that should be noted as Tessa Thompson. French dancers, les Twins, are also worth mentioning for their perfect body languages in all scenes, even only walking. I found Neeson’s acting a bit exaggerated, most probably due to the aforementioned directing gap. On the contrary, Rafe Spall as the nerd agent H was more expressionless or emotionless than this character should be indeed. Hemsworth’s acting was  unrecognizable unfortunately (no beating performance rather than that classical physical appearance of an American small eyed, narrow foreheaded, arrogant character).

To highlight several points that are sprinkled in a well-thought way were some kind of a glass ceiling referral – gender discrimination against women (unforgettable and untold conversation between agents M and O regarding “men” in black term; or agent H wearing pink pants while agent M fits perfectly in black suits). Other bright recall to think on comes from the agents for Vungus “we were once protecting the World from the scum of the universe, now we are protecting the scum”… Anyway, who can tell that the World is not going to save itself when there is a huge population who is not able to discriminate between “up” and “up” or not able to understand what is being described simply?…

MIB: International topped the charts during the weekend of 15th and 16th after its release in US by 14th of June 2019. Maybe truth of the universe that agent M seeks is that the universe has a way of leading one to where one is supposed to be, at the moment one is supposed to be there as high T says… Maybe it will keep being the franchise low of $28.5 million; but I may still recommend anyone to see this action comedy for its consistent story-telling and unboring fast-moving flow.

Bohemian Rhapsody – Legendary Docudrama of a Musical Legend

When I planned to see the Bohemian Rhapsody on Sunday, two days after its release in Turkey, I had no intention to write about it.. However, the movie pushed itself literally on and made me to say a few words as below… Enjoy!…

Bryan Singer (also director of the amazing Usual Suspects) carries the marvellous Queen and Freddie Mercury from the stage to the silver screen with Bohemian Rhapsody. Despite all the controversies over Singer’s arguments with 20th Century Fox, the final piece has been a glorious work of art! What is presented finally should supersede any personal squabble that should not matter to us as the audience…

The drama shows up by taking us back to London, 1970, where Freddie Mercury is working as a baggage handler at the airport. After then, the three main captions follow:

  • how Queen is formed and becomes a legend
  • what it means to be the gifted,
  • what it means to be loved innermost (including the incidents till and on Live Aid 1985 charity concert)

With its lyrical, musical, and kind of epical pace, the story is written by Anthony McCarten (and the screenplay) and Peter Morgan. The alignment between its tidy and point-to-point collectiveness and keeping the poetic innocence at the same time is the splashy achievement. The technical excellence of the cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel (please recall again Usual Suspects) is backing this melodious and rhythmical component absolutely.

Why should you see Bohemian Rhapsody?

  • Because of the great music of Queen! Additionally, because of the IMAX that fills our ears to capture each and every tiny bit of the pitch.
  • In order to understand what a real gift is like!
  • In order to understand not everyone is talented, but can support those with the talent.
  • For the sake of Mary Austin’s (Lucy Boynton) impressive quotes to remind Mercury of the loving and caring people around him.
  • How a straight talk press release can be managed.

It is not easy to understand some low quality or jealousy small voices trying to blacken the spot with such sayings that some facts might have been neglected or there was not much focus on “human” Mercury. Then, I wonder truly what is the understanding of the “human” according to some of the one-dimensional booklet critics.. Beyond anything, shooting a legendary band to recall their magnificent work and gift is the fact that matters… Their delightful music and that gorgeous voice matter more than any shallow rumor.

If we were to classify the Queen’s music in old times, Romantic period would fit possibly the best. Consciously or unconsciously, the movie is very much aligned with that Romantic volume and tone (lyrical freedom; rich, colorful design, feelings; dynamic contrasts e.g.). Starts with Live Aid, ends with Live Aid... Tale of Freddie and tale of Queen just as they are in our minds.. To those who live forever, and when love must not die!..

Not to mention much on Rami Malek’s (Freddie Mercury) acting as it is not easy to say that he met the expectation for the physical resemblance at first. He is a talented young actor, but maybe this character is too strong for him. However, the direction and production cover it all perfectly.

Gwilym Lee (Brian May), Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor), Joseph Mazzello (John Deacon), Aaron McCusker (Jim Hutton), John Reid (Aidan Gillen) are outstanding among the cast.

I cannot imagine any humanbeings who could not sing along with incredible Queen songs some of which are Bohemian Rhapsody, Love of My Life, Don’t Stop Me Now, Somebody to  Love, Who Wants to Live Forever etc.. They are the champions of all times over and over and over again!..

20th Century Fox & Regency’s Bohemian Rhapsody continues rocking with an overperformance of $50 million (US, Canada) as well. The reported total worldwide gross is around $92 million for now.

What you need to do this week is simply to drive to the nearest theatre to witness one of the best movies of 2018; and probably one of the best documentary dramas of the cinema. Also to salute Freddie Mercury once again who was only 45 years old when he died in 24 November 1991.

Better Than Best! – Mission: Impossible – Fallout

The adorable catchphrase offers you a spectacular wonder of the action movies of all times: “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”.

The sixth installment of the famous spy action series Mission: Impossible – Fallout is playing in theaters in Istanbul as of 27th of July 2018 after only two weeks of its world premiere in Paris.

It would be pointless to go back to 1996 and start reviewing all the way from the initial Mission: Impossible that was adapted from a TV series by Brian de Palma. However, it is certainly noteworthy that the franchise was born to be a sparkling star of its kind from the very first and advanced itself on each “+1”.

The brand-new picture welcomes the audience with a bad dream sequence at a safehouse in Belfast. The dream starts with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) getting married to Julia Meade (Michelle Monaghan) after which yields to be a nightmare since this dreamy marriage turns out to be conducted by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the anarchist Syndicate criminal that Ethan imprisoned in Rogue Nation, the former of the series. Lane says to Ethan “you should have killed me” while an explosion is fading Ethan’s face off as he holds Julia.

This tricky opening whispers gently what the theatergoers will be witnessing on the silver screen for about two and a half hours time..

Ethan, then, wakes up and receives his “mission” hidden under the cover page of the Odyssey by Homer for sure which has been concluded to lay another cue before the audience..

Actually, two years after Ethan’s capture of Lane, other Syndicate villains, so-called the Apostles, have continued their terrifying events including the release of a smallpox outbreak in Kashmir.

But.. the worst always happens!.. Their recent plan is to use three nuclear plutonium cores to blow up the Vatican, Jerusalem and Mecca. And it is all tied somehow to a mysterious client named John Lark…

The mission is to prevent the Apostles from having the plutonium for evil purposes. And here we go then!..

The next scene takes Ethan to a dark Berlin night with Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) at the front and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) back in the van. They are so close to making a trade for the plutonium. However, when Luther is taken unexpectedly by one of the Apostles, Ethan has to make a quick decision either to choose one life right over there or millions of others’ for the future. He chooses Luther… In the meanwhile, the plutonium cores are completely stolen.

Ethan meets Impossible Missions Forces (IMF) Secretary Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) to discuss on an alternative plan. The next plan accordingly is to meet the White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) in Paris at a party at the Grand Palais, to introduce himself as Lark and to get the plutonium.

Every mission has its thorn, and CIA comes up the stage during the discussion of the plan! Echoing our daily jobs, Ethan is blamed for his “weakness” in Berlin by the IMF competitor (sort of) CIA. CIA Director Erica Sloan (Angela Bassett) exhibits a straight lack of confidence in IMF for this operation. Because the mission in Berlin was not accomplished. Sloan does not let IMF operate on their own, and hitches her agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) to go with Ethan to make sure that the mission is completed. Neither Alan nor Ethan is actually blissful for that…

It will be unfair to give away any spoilers regarding the rest of such a fantastic piece! Therefore, the plot is ending here slightly!… And the role of the critic starts…

It is a great opportunity to have such a structure-minded script writer and director, Christopher McQuarrie for the recent Mission: Impossibles. There is not even one tiny unaddressed point in the scenario which is extremely exciting (and rare) nowadays!..

McQuarrie routed the ship

  1. through a predetermined route (dramatic actions with several climaxes moving all in the same direction)
  2. by strengthening and expanding the adventure with emotional touch
  3. and keeping the integrity of the theme safely during the loading and unloading of passengers (as characters) and surprising pieces (as events).

The audience is proposed to more metaphors than one can imagine in an action film (e.g., mission delivery within a Greek myth; choice of the plutonium – Pluto’s Gate or Gate to Hell; physical appearance of Lane; naming of the remaining of the Syndicate; masks – trick or treat! etc.). Furthermore, these are placed so calmly (not being heard interruptingly) and leave an extra-delicious flavory taste…

One of the major characteristics that differentiates it from the other spy action settings is that it does not depict a flawless and obsessively mission oriented motif. Indeed, all these characters have their own flaws which are actually their capabilities. This has also made the plot unique to create its own intensity and depth.

The argument that credits a visionary directing and script is proven in Mission: Impossible – Fallout once again!…

Before telling about the cast, a respectful silence is what we all may need to talk about the incredible acting of Tom Cruise. Exclusively, he may be the most handsome man in the world & apparently at his twenties! However, apart from this physical advantage, he is Ethan Hunt, not more – not less! A perfectly performed Ethan Hunt, and doing all these stunts himself – leaping off rooftops, commands any vehicles including a helicopter, climbing up a rope attached to a helicopter and flying over thousands of feet, skydiving, signs the best running scene in a movie!… Unfortunately, he was reported with a broken ankle last August during filming which should conclude eventually that he deserves each and every compliment on his acting again and again!..

Keeping the cast from the previous series including Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) and other IMF team has also brought a good deal of familiarity and continuity to the flow. This surely has facilitated a conceptual coherence among the actors as well. Having all the cast concentrate on this emphatically real-time fifteen minutes countdown and pass it directly to the viewers is an obvious example to that!..

Cruise is leading the game, however the others do definitely belong to the game!.. (hey Cavill, sorry but, at the end of the day, there is no other super-hyper man than Tom ;))

I liked the CGI devoided (to its best) cinematography (BAFTA awarded Rob Hardy). Especially, nothing could be thought better than a running ground level drone presented in 3D! It is also notable to acknowledge the camera operating for all the chasing through Paris streets, and surely another appreciation for the bathroom fight.

The score (Lorne Balfe) is also well-balanced or served vis-á-vis details of the plot. I must add that my favorite soundtrack song will be the epic version of the original theme (Lalo Schifrin) at closing.

The production companies Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Alibaba Pictures, and Bad Robot must be smiling gladly as well. Because, within three days of the opening, Mission: Impossible – Fallout delivered the franchise’s highest-gross with $61.5 million via topping the weekend box office charts (US, Canada). A total worldwide gross of $153.5 million is reported just for now… It is now playing in 37 countries in RealD 3D, IMAX and my favorite IMAX3D.

Last but not least..

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a very exciting and surprising action film with a high quality of technique embedded into a great flood including outstanding performances.

It is also a gentle and intimate sigh perhaps: There can be peace without great sufferings if we may recall the human parts of ourselves… We sleep well at our homes due to some other unrecognizable fall out masks in the field, and those some others sleep well due to our timely realization of our daily tasks even if there is a blinding fallout…

Oftentimes, our weaknesses turn out to be our strengths; and as Ethan is appreciated by IMF “we need people like you (Ethan) who care about one life as much as they care about millions of others!..”

Hard to Trust in a Lawless Time – Solo: A Star Wars Story

“It is a lawless time” a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away -ouch maybe not that much far-  where “Crime Syndicates compete for resources – food, medicine and hyperfuel”. Untraditionally, this opening crawl is not followed by a panning movement from the space in the recent Star Wars anthology Solo: A Star Wars Story (or Solo in short).

Finally, directed by American filmmaker Ron Howard, it is now being screened in Istanbul at the same time with US (as of 25th of May, 2018) with the highest quality of IMAX 3D.

Lucas himself started to work on a young Han Solo film in 2012, and he warranted Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathon Kasdan to write the screenplay. Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) started filming by January 2017. However, Lucasfilm and these two prior directors parted ways due to “creative differences” as announced. Howard took over the directing by June 2017, and reshoot almost 2/3 of it. Likely and in that means, Bradford Young as the cinematographer is the least quoted name among the major skeleton.

This spin-off brings out clarity to young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) some of which are: the story of ‘Solo’ as his last name, the first time he met Wookiee, Chewbecca (Joonas Suotamo), his girl friend Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke), and all the story around his criminal hinterland – a gang of criminals led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), a smuggler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), the crime boss Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), Vos’s superior (Darth) Maul (Ray Park & Sam Witwer [voice]), and the lovely democratic droid L3 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). The audience is also introduced to the born of the rebellion Enfys (Erin Kellyman) when the reign of lawlessness is prominent in an environment of despotic governance.

Similar to other Star Wars theme since 1977, the main flow withstands the questions such as how cruel a galaxy (!) can become when it is short of fuel (coaxium), how it can cheat to win, how the perception of ‘being hostile’ can be altered when an imperial power invades a place far far away, how it can all turn out to be an evil, how the negligible ones can serve the evil to raise themselves as the new villain, and how the word of trust is deleted from the dictionaries: “Assume everyone will betray you. And you will never be disappointed”. Apparently, Solo is based on that aforementioned tagline for this anthology.

Not too much to talk on the directing as explained in the introduction. However, not making a Star Wars film as a high-ranking comedy is a smart and favorable conclusion indeed. It would only be advisable if the story included several tight junctions or binding points to the current Han Solo for a catchy excitement. Nothing to talk much about the acting either as Star Wars was never on the acting predominantly. One thing can be that the visual effects and 3D technology could have been emphasized more significantly. And although the music by John Powell is not that crummy, it will always be a glitch not to hear the striking classical sound of John Williams’ Star Wars high notes.

After five months from “The Last Jedi”, Lucasfilm (producer) and by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (distributor) released Solo which has been already reported to gross $83.3 million in the US and Canada, and $65 million in the other territories as of May 27, 2018. The estimated production budget being around $250 million figures out that it will need to gross at least $500 million worldwide to meet the expectations.

A living story, nicely shoot, and not in a galaxy far far away.. It is only a few miles away in a theater to your home. Highly recommend you all to see!…

The Shape of Water – Who is the Monster?

Being not quite sure if The Shape of Water, which is leading in 90th Academy Awards with 13 nominations, will be withdrawn from the competition due to strong plagiarism allegations;  apparently a disastrous Oscar drama in itself… Mexican film director Guillermo del Toro’s work show systemic similarities to Pulitzer-winning Paul Zindel’s play “Let Me Hear You Whisper” (1969). It is utmost ironic that one of those nominations is Best ORIGINAL Screenplay for its co-authorship with del Toro and Vanessa Taylor.

The story is set back to 1960s Cold War era. A mute cleaning lady, Elisa (Sally Hawkins), working in a highly secured US government lab finds out a secret ‘thing’ (Doug Jones) that is kept in a water tank in there. She is attracted to this Amazon river origined ‘asset’, and tries to rescue him from this research facility where he is being exposed to harmful experiments which paves the way to death. It seems to emanate from a glorious goal of establishing superiority over Russia, and do not take care of the experimental ‘object’ whether it is a living thing or not.

While Elisa is trying to save the thing, she is surrounded by the bad and the good, surely to balance the tension of the plot. The bad is that ambitious and unethical agent Robert Strickland (Michael Shannon) who is the one that trapped the creature in its homeland and brought him all the way to the lab. The major good ones are her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), her friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer), and Dr. Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) who has some complicated relations with Russians to enhance the battle if not yet.

Floating camera, color palette, warm light, diffusion filters, dry-for-wet techniques, fish-eye lenses and all the vehicles such as dollies support shooting the 1960s in a fictious way (Dan Laustsen). Since del Toro’s style is making it shot-by-shot, it might have helped Sidney Wolinsky’s job  for the editing.

It would have been better if the volume of the music and photography were more aligned. Furthermore, it is too much Yann Tiersen rhythms heard around although the music was by the French Alexandre Desplat. There, for sure, is a La La Land effect too, especially towards the end.

Such screenplays drawn with thick lines including the events and characters are mostly challenging to move the feelings. The more it becomes thicker and predictable, the less excitement it creates. However, there are still several scenes that make it going: e.g., upon thing’s rescue plan and argument that it is not a human, Elisa’s response in sign language ‘if we do nothing, neither are we’; or ‘positive thinking’ book read by Strickland; or Spencer’s fascinating acting overall.

“If I spoke about it, if I did, what would I tell you? I wonder..”

I wonder if I could tell you that it was a tale of love and loss and a monster (monster as not the ‘asset’, but the bad Strickland) who tried to destroy all.

Or I wonder if the plagiarism accusations are too big to swallow indeed.

Zindel’s play is about a cleaning lady working in a lab, communicating to a dolphin, and trying to rescue it. To summary, The Shape of Water is about a cleaning lady working in a lab, communicating to an aquatic creature and trying to save him. At least, the idea is purely not original.

I also wonder how the nominees are selected for US-based Academy Awards since Zindel holds a Pulitzer prize and his Let me Hear You Whisper play is dated back only to 1969. Unfortunately, this nomination can be interpreted as a pity for the intellectual members of the Academy.

Certainly, it is not nice to behave oddly to orphans, disabled people, colored people, in other words to be a monster; and it is also not nice to be remembered with the Best Plagiarized Screenplay news.

If one wonders this Fox Searchlight Pictures (as one of the production companies) movie, and only has nothing else to do better…

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Disturbing but Not Taking Sides

British-Irish playwright and film director Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has earned seven Oscar nominations including Best Picture (interestingly, not Best Director) in 23rd of January 2018. This is his third silver screen piece written and directed by him, also nominated for the Best Original Screenplay in the same 90th Academy Awards.

A neurotic mother Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) whose young daughter is raped and killed feloniously seven months ago feels defeated by the lack of any progress on the case and no arrests by police. She believes that police department is too much busy with arresting and torturing colored people rather than solving her daughter’s murder. Therefore, she makes her way to the local advertising agency of the town, and hires these three billboards that are located right out of the town across a God forgotten traverse. And here starts the movie then! She puts up the following three sentences in three billboards separately:




They are emphasized by a striking black, bold, all caps text on a blood-red background which look quite odd and disturbing against the pastoral tones of the sky and trees, as intended plausibly. Moreover, the selection of the billboards and these particular colors are the main metaphors of the movie itself.

There is nothing surprising from the point of the writer (and director) McDonagh since The Beauty Queen of Leenane, his play in 1996. There is this apparently neurotic lady in the front and a story around that. However, when digged, the underlying problem comes to light in several aspects:

Sometimes what we see on the surface is different from what others may feel in depth…

McDonagh has strengthened his proficiency in asking questions during all these years and all the way from his plays. Although there is an important weak point in the plot (cannot give a clue not to spoil), his noteworthy success in writing is his ability to get the audience to ask questions about the situations and people’s reactions to them in a neutral manner.

The tone exclusively is rough but not tiresome. Probably, Ben Davis (cinematography) has a major and positive impact on that. A flavor of “A Serious Man (Coens, 2009)” can be sensed overall. It may be due to these photography comparison as the latter was by Roger Deakins with whom Davis had the opportunity to work in the past. Slow tempo songs and predominantly The Last Rose Of Summer performed by Renee Fleming can also support this similarity for its resemblance to the Coens’.

McDormand’s acting is flawless as always. However, it is not very much clear whether her perfect voice and pronunciation -as not expected from such a character- is either part of the directing or an unscheduled left out.

Both Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell are performing very well. In terms of cogency, Woody Harrelson was one step further.

This Oscar nominated movie written, directed, and produced by McDonagh is made available under the wings of Fox Searchlight Pictures within Fox Entertainment group owned by 21st Century Fox (such as the competing 90th Academy Award nominee, The Shape of Water).

One can feel uncomfortable while watching this film, however cannot judge either of the parties or take sides since there is always this distance kept in the script. Worth seeing!..

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Episode VIII is the second movie made by Walt Disney in the Star Wars series. Its name is Last Jedi. This time, it is not a very similar copy of the previous episodes, where in The Force Awakens, nearly everything was like a carbon copy of the previous movies.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

We already met the new characters in The Force Awakens, so I will not get into details. We have a new Jedi Candidate, Rey. A new Darth Vader: Leia’s son Kylo Ren. New R2D2: BB-8. Of course we have characters from old series as well, e.g. Leia, Luke, Chewbacca. So, you have the copyrights, you have the characters, let’s make money! Sorry, let’s make the movie 🙂

When you talk about Star Wars, you must be careful, because there are millions of fans. They know every detail of the Star Wars universe. I am sure the writers are also one those fans. (I say writers, because although there is only one author credited, I am sure many people contributed to the final script). However, it may not be sufficient to be a fan of the Star Wars. You must have a good story to tell, because original Star Wars had a descent one. Just imagine, your father is on the dark side, and you convert him into the light, the good side of the force. There are space ships everywhere for the nerds, force for the spiritualists, a fight for freedom and peace for the activist, Yoda for the conservationist. You have lots of new stories in the emptiness of the space. You have nice visual effects.

So, what does the new Star Wars have in it, or does not have in it? Again it has a bad character who is on the dark side, Kylo Ren. WE don’t know if he will convert to light or not. There is balance or Ying Yang for the interested spiritualists. The last jedi vs darkness. The rebels fight for their freedom against the evil forces. Of course again we have Yoda and the old books of Jedis. We have better visual effects. Wait, did you realize. We have everything that we already had! It seems like a rephrasing of the old star wars series. The new series does not have much novelties to tell.


Of course, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything worth to see. First of all, this is a big budget movie, which means that technical issues are correct. The scenario also doesn’t have big problems, except not being creative. There are some details which will be probably explained later, e.g. Master Codebreaker‘s role, who is advised by Maz Kanata. It is also worth mentioning that there will be new Star Wars spinoffs including Solo, which is based on Han Solo. So, if you like Star Wars, keep tuned in!

MEF – Martıların Efendisi (Lord of the Gulls)

Mehmet Ada Öztekin’s first long-métrage movie (literally long, lasting about 120 minutes) “Lord of the Gulls” is playing in theatres as of 22nd of December. Centralizing the naïve,  schizophrenic character (Lord of the Gulls [MEF]) and setting the story around this core, the script (Meriç Demiray) is consisted of crowded and scattered pieces which are not difficult to follow, however causes a superficial narrative.

The story starts in June 16th, 2013. We see MEF (Mehmet Günsür) by the seaside (Tuzla, Istanbul) talking to the gulls, pretending to be accompanying them with his long-sleeved open cardigan. He yells at his caretaker, Suphi (Barış Yıldız), via imitating the voices of gulls. He says that they should be prepared that night. MEF is so excited, because he is expecting a dreamy assisstant to show up from the sea to help him in achieving his secret mission in the hidden land.

Indeed, a semiconscious young woman (Bige Önal) who attempted an unsuccessful suicide is washed ashore coincidentally that night. MEF goes almost to an euphoric state. He names her as Ms Dream, and starts to train her for this delusional mission.

In reality, Ms Dream’s name is Birgül. She is a run away bride who has thrown herself into the sea at her wedding night due to an unwanted marriage with Cafer (Nejat İşler).

I will let you follow the rest of this intersection on the screen, mainly via the MEF’s axis.

The cast almost always becomes more than important when a disability is the fact. Mehmet Günsür is indisputably the most beautiful face and look in the silver screen. His rounded-brown eyes are sufficient to grab you into a hearty character even if he does not make a single move or say a single word. However, given the complexity of this particular cast, my impression is that he should have done more observations with real patients or had a closer attention over credible past imitations such as Jack Nicholson. Some recommendations could have been less eye blinking during the ocular movements, or looking with pinched but exophtalmic eyes unfortunately which might not be easy to manage with such close ups…

Having acknowledged the shots, frankly speaking, I might have not seen such a close shooting since Joan of Arc in 1928. For instance, I had difficulty in understanding like-15 times changing camera movements during a phone conversation of Birgül with his boyfriend. If shots and light were aligned accordingly, the acts would definitely appear more convincing and powerful. More on the cinematography, I wish that filters or light would be reflected in a more standardized way so that we could automatically get into the themes. One more thing completely from my point again, I found this time lapse effect totally unnecessary. I may find it useful to an extent in the advertising industry but not in the movies.

To close the cast; Nejat İşler shines in all scenes, starting from dropping his cigarette from his mouth at first until the very final appearance.

I can interpret the plot, as have also been mentioned above, superficial and full of a little bit of everything. Though not remembering in details, I think that there may be some referrals to Kosmos (2009, R.E.) as well. MEF is quite a long movie for its duration however still one-dimensional. I felt overall like that the script had to walk in hurriedly before a final adjustment. I was curious about the  characters that were not expanded, and wonder why one or one-and-a-half conflicting point was not selected or scraped out deeper. Several matters to close the loop, for example, are what happened to the other members of the MEF’s family that he hallucinated during one of his psychotic attacks, or why MEF was shown like coming from an upper family standard after which we did not see any hints of it, but almost the opposite.. Putting everything in one plate is always susceptible to leaving open gates for the audience behind..

Last thing regarding the score (Toygar Işıklı): it was remarkable and in line with every bit of the created atmosphere.

This drama would have been a milestone if the plot and other technical aspects were overseen in a more technically accepted way. Agree it or not, cinema is an art of a very technical kind; and has its own mathematics…

One tag line that I could capture in between is: MEF suggests that everyone is a run away at some point of his/her own life. If you have time and do not raise your “like” bar to the stratosphere, you can have a little break for 120 minutes of your life and see MEF…