AFI Fest 2019: Highlights From Around the World

by Carlos Aguilar November 27, 2019   |  Print Page TweetGreat change came to AFI Fest this year in the form of paid admissions. For the first time in a decade, LA audiences who had grown accustomed—for better or worse—to watching a curated selection of international titles and awards-bound fare free of charge, were now asked to purchase tickets.Although the festival has expressed the decision wasn’t financially motivated but with the intention of giving audiences more access to screenings, the visible result was a downsizing in attendance. Presentations of lesser-known foreign-language offers had much fewer patrons than in previous years when nearly every show was in high demand. Advertisement It’s true that in the past, when the public had to sign up in advance in order to obtain free tickets, people were unable to gain entrance to every event they were interested in because some would evidently sell out; however, the benefits of wide accessibility were also notable. Moviegoers are far more likely to take a chance on a film with no stars or in a language other than English when there’s virtually no financial risk on their part. Folks will watch almost anything if it doesn’t cost them much. Box office woes aside, programming remained as consistent in quality and breadth. A politically charged opening night saw the debut of “Queen & Slim,” Melina Matsoukas’ first feature following a highly successful career in music video directing. Centered on two young African Americans on the run after killing a police officer in self-defense, the timely narrative is delivered in stylized fashion and offers searing commentary on systemic oppression against people of color in this country. From the screenplay by Lena Waithe, Matsoukas turns her characters into emblems of resistance with every encounter along their path to freedom in Cuba. Poised for a wide release over Thanksgiving weekend, “Queen & Slim” makes for a vital statement of a movie. Positioned at the height of awards season, one of AFI Fest’s unofficial staple functions is serving as platform for several of the Oscar entries in the Best International Feature Film category. Notably, the ones handpicked this year don’t include obvious choices, but instead spotlight great contenders that haven’t yet reached wide awareness Standouts from the pack, which appear to quickly be rising in prominence amongst pundits, include Jan Koamasa’s provocative drama set in a religious context “Corpus Christi” (Poland), Georgia-set, LGBTQ romance “And Then We Danced” (Sweden), and Kantemir Balagov’s women-propelled, period tale of friendship in the midst of harshness "Beanpole" (Russia). Advertisement Canada’s “Antigone,” Romania’s “The Whistlers,” Italy’s “The Traitor,” and Morocco’s “Adam” also enjoyed LA premieres, while Senegal’s “Atlantics” was part of the Special Screenings section. With Amazon’s “The Banker” removed last minute from its closing night slot given allegations against the film’s subject’s son, the only other major World Premiere at the fest came courtesy of Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell.” The aesthetically bland drama about a falsely accused security guard garnered instant raves for Paul Walter Hauser’s turn as the eponymous protagonist and launched the picture into the never-ending and ever-changing Oscar conversation.  As opposed to Martin Scorsese, who appeared early on at the fest to screen “The Irishman,” and his curiosity-fueled engagement with cinema, Eastwood shows once more that his approach is now utilitarian and unabashedly agenda-driven. He'll score a hit with “Richard Jewell” if sold as a piece of entertainment denouncing what a large segment of the American population refers to as “fake media.” Immensely more enthralling, though with a smaller profile, were Céline Sciamma’s Cannes-winning “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and Chinonye Chukwu’s Sundance’s grand victor “Clemency,” both granted Special Screening status at AFI Fest. The former, easily the most ravishing romance of the year, elevates Sciamma from a burgeoning auteur to master in the making. Meanwhile, Chukwu’s sophomore feature tackles capital punishment via a solemnly heartbreaking performance by Alfre Woodard. Both are must-see December releases. Sessions collectively named AFI Summit—conversations with accomplished industry professionals on a variety of subject pertinent to the film world today—were among a handful of free events and provided attendees with great insight. A discussion of singular importance, which took place for the first time, was a chat between multi-hyphenate Eva Longoria and Dr. Stacy Smith, founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, on the erasure of Latinx in film. Advertisement Longoria shared the uphill battle that women and creators from underrepresented backgrounds face when trying to convince studios to trust them with projects, and the catch-22 of needing experience to get experience. Her comments were made in relation to her upcoming directorial effort “Flamin’ Hot” for Fox Searchlight, a biopic on Richard Montanez, the Mexican-American behind the widely popular spicy snack. Armed with data, Dr. Smith evidenced the dismal improvements across major productions when it comes to on-screen Latinx characters. Not only are they few, furthermore, those that exist are vehicles for the perpetuation of ignorant views about an entire group. Few answers were elicited in terms of remedying the situation, but the divulgence of these points matters nonetheless. Wrapping with an impromptu screening of Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” AFI Fest 2019 marks a new chapter for what’s now—in the absence of the defunct LAFF—the city’s largest film event. Now that tickets at multiplex prices have been implemented, their sights should concentrate on reengaging audiences that were deterred, for whatever reason, and bring them back to the TCL Chinese next year in a post-Disney + world saturated with content with a smaller price tag.  Previous Article: Knives Out Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus. comments powered by

Pumpkinhead Remake Is Still On, Big News Expected Soon

Horror fans still have more Pumpkinhead to look forward to in their future, as a remake of the horror classic is still on the way. Back in 2016, it was reported that veteran horror producer Peter Block had obtained the rights to the franchise and intended to revive it for modern audiences. Developments have been few and far between in the years since. Now, however, Block assured that news is coming.Peter Block is currently promoting the release of his new movie The Shed. During a recent interview, he was asked about the status of the Pumpkinhead remake. While the producer didn't have any specific details or announcements to make at this time, he assured that the project is still moving forward, and that we should expect some news in the near future. Here's what he had to say about it."We have some exciting news that I'm not allowed to share yet, but that should be making its way out soon. Pumpkinhead is a movie I just love, and it's very similar in some ways to The Shed when you think about it. It's about the pain you suffer vs. the revenge you seek, and that being even greater in some respects. And while the original Pumpkinhead is a great movie, I think that there is more that can be done with that idea.Sometimes I loathe remakes and reboots because I don't see the reason for them, but Pumpkinhead is one of those where I believe that the story and the themes of it are so good, but there's also a way of updating it where less focus on the creature in the beginning will add to a lot of the suspense."Indeed, we are inundated with reboots and remakes right now, and the horror genre is certainly not immune to the growing trend. That said, it sounds like Peter Block has a great deal of reverence for the property and is looking to do it justice. We also get a small sense for his take on the project, which will apparently focus a little less on the titular creature, at least in the earlier parts of the movie.At present, there is no word on who may end up in the director's chair for the remake, nor is it clear who may be tapped to start. It also doesn't sound like this will be a legacy sequel that connects it to earlier entries in the franchise, like 2018's Halloween did, for example. This will, it would seem, be a full-blown remake. But we'll have to wait until this currently mysterious news drops to speculate any further.Pumpkinhead, directed by the legendary Stan Winston, was released in 1988 and starred Lance Henrikson (Aliens). It centers on a man who conjures a beast to enact revenge on those who took his son away from him. The movie was heralded for its use of practical effects and went on to become something of a cult classic. It spawned several sequels, the most recent being 2007's Pumpkinhead 4: Blood Feud, which was released by SyFy in 2007. None of the sequels were released theatrically. This news comes to us via Rue Morgue. Topics: PumpkinheadWriter of various things on the internet (mostly about movies) since 2013. Major lover of popcorn flicks. Avid appreciator of James Bond, Marvel and Star Wars. Has a tremendously fat cat named Buster and still buys CDs. I’ve got my reasons.

Leia Has a Lightsaber in Latest Star Wars 9 TV Spot

Disney and Lucasfilm are really letting it all hang out with their latest barrage of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker footage. They have been dumping spoiler-ish TV spots all throughout the Thanksgiving holiday and today we get one more, this one giving us even more intriguing images to contemplate.[embedded content]The main takeaway this time around, as seen in the latest 30 seconds of mostly new footage, is that Leia has a lightsaber. It is believed to be Anakin's old lightsaber, passed to Luke Skywalker before winding up in the hands of Rey. Why is Leia holding the Lightsaber? That's...


Tom Hiddleston Auditions for Thor in Unearthed Marvel Footage

Tom Hiddleston made his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the antagonist Loki in the 2011 movie Thor, but as revealed in some previously-unseen audition footage, the actor first tried out for the titular superhero. On Monday night, Hiddleston appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for an interview, and the conversation quickly turned to Loki and his place in the MCU. During their talk, Fallon revealed he had obtained some footage of Hiddleston auditioning as Thor, and better yet, we get to see Hiddleston's actual reaction to the video. You can see it for yourself below.[embedded content]As Tom Hiddleston also explains in the interview, Thor was the only character in the movie he tried out for. This is mostly because he fit the bill of an actor who was over 6'4" with blonde hair. Clearly, while those in charge ultimately went with Chris Hemsworth for the movie's leading role, they must have seen the potential in Hiddleston by casting him in another prominent role without him specifically auditioning for it. In hindsight, casting Hiddleston as Loki turned out to be a brilliant decision, as it's practically impossible to envision another character playing the role as well as Hiddleston has done with the part in the MCU.Similar to how we can't picture anyone else but Chris Hemsworth playing Thor, it's just as difficult to imagine another actor besides Hiddleston as Loki. After scoring the part of Loki in Thor, Hiddleston has since become a mainstay in the MCU. He reprised the role for both Thor sequels The Dark World and Ragnarok, also appearing as Loki in the original Avengers movie and its sequel Avengers: Infinity War. Though Thanos technically killed the character off in the latter, the use of time travel scenes allowed him to once again appear in this year's sequel Avengers: Endgame. Hiddleston is also set to lend his voice to the character for the upcoming Disney+ animated series What If...?.Additionally, Hiddleston will also be leading his own Loki spinoff series on Disney+ as well. The series will follow the Loki revealed in an alternate timeline as shown in Avengers: Endgame, picking up after he escapes with the Tesseract. Not much else is known about the series, such as which other MCU characters will appear and other major plot points, and Hiddleston kept his lips sealed about the show during his Tonight Show interview. The actor has revealed that shooting is expected to begin early next year, but a premiere date for the Loki series on Disney+ has not yet been revealed.RELATED: Chris Hemsworth Shot Fat Thor Scenes Before Ragnarok & Infinity WarIt's always fun to look back to see how differently major movies could have been had the casting process gone differently. Perhaps Hiddleston wasn't a perfect fit for Thor, but for his part, he fully accepts this by praising the ultimate decision to go with Hemsworth for the part. "I think we can all agree that they cast the right actor," Hiddleston told Fallon immediately after watching his Thor audition footage. This news comes to us from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Topics: ThorPretty brains, lightning fingers. Find me at @HorrorGeekLife.

History TV Show Ratings (updated 12/5/19)

Published: December 5, 2019 The ratings for scripted History TV shows are pretty small but the cable channel remains committed to producing original scripted series. Which of the current History TV shows will be cancelled or renewed for another season? Stay tuned! Scripted History TV shows listed: Knightfall, Project Blue...

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Millions of SMS messages breached

Security researchers have discovered a massive database, which was left exposed online, that contains tens of millions of SMS text...