With his unruly mop of hair and quizzical expression, teenager Rick Wershe, Jr. (Richie Merritt) resembles a confused, vaguely aggrieved English sheepdog—dangerous if cornered, perhaps, but fundamentally lovable. That’s very much by design, since White Boy Rick, a (mostly) fact-based crime drama, wants audiences to perceive Wershe as a man who’s been deeply wronged, having unjustly spent the past three decades languishing in prison. The movie’s not wrong, exactly: What happened to Wershe is, indeed, unconscionable, and he should have been released long ago. But White Boy Rick treats its subject as a singular case, when the error of judgment that’s truly kept him locked up is utterly commonplace, affecting thousands of prisoners whose stories aren’t as superficially sensational. Set in Detroit between 1984 and 1987, the film opens with a 15-year-old Rick assisting his father, Richard Wershe Sr. (Matthew McConaughey) with the old man’s at best … [Read more...] about struggles to find singular drama in an all-too-common story
Keira Knightley has appeared in many, many period dramas, the latest being Colette, which is currently making the festival rounds. And over the years, she’s become convinced that they aren’t taken seriously because women love ’em. Just a bunch of girl stuff! The BBC reported on comments Knightley made at a panel while promoting Colette, a film about the turn-of-the-century French author: “There’s a negativity around them because predominantly they’re female,” she said at the Toronto Film Festival. The British star of Atonement, Pride and Prejudice and The Imitation Game is back in period garb in Colette, a biopic of the French novelist. She said she had often considered swearing off the genre, only to be lured back by strong scripts. “The strongest characters I’ve found have been in period roles,” said the 33-year-old, whose other films include four entries in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Variety reported that … [Read more...] about Keira Knightley Knows Why People Don’t Take Period Dramas Seriously
For the first 15 or so minutes of I Think We’re Alone Now, the sophomore feature from acclaimed The Handmaid’s Tale director Reed Morano, Peter Dinklage walks around a desolate small town cleaning up after the apocalypse. He enters abandoned homes, collects batteries and family pictures, disposes of skeletal remains, and marks a giant “X” outside of each house to indicate that it’s counted. Morano’s gray-toned photography and Adam Taylor’s noise-driven score give an eerie vibe to the proceedings, and Dinklage’s natural screen presence goes a long way toward making his character’s “work” feel meaningful and mysterious. We don’t yet know his name or what has happened or why he’s doing this, but his actions fascinate on a pure process level. There’s power in watching someone dutifully perform a task. Plus, the most mundane routine can have existential import when it takes place in a desolate landscape … [Read more...] about Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning spin their wheels in the hollow post-apocalyptic drama
Early in Operation Finale, a docudrama about the capture of fugitive Nazi Adolf Eichmann (played by Ben “Man Of A Thousand Nationalities” Kingsley), Eichmann endures a grilling from Mossad and Shin Bet agents, who’ve just grabbed him outside the Argentina home where he’s been hiding in fairly plain sight for 15 years. He sticks firmly for a while to his cover story, insisting that he’s a simple laborer, not the architect of the Holocaust they’re seeking. The agent in charge then proceeds to list every particular of Eichmann’s Nazi service record, including his military ID number—which we can see, via a sheet of paper in the agent’s hand, that he’s deliberately getting wrong. The agent keeps repeating the incorrect number, emphasizing it louder and louder, until Eichmann finally snaps and corrects the mistake, admitting his true identity. It’s a gotcha that would look right at home at the conclusion of a Perry Mason … [Read more...] about Not even Ben Kingsley can rescue the banal Nazi drama
Everyone knows what to expect from a TV period drama: fancy houses, fancy corsets, fancy horses. Oh, and lots of very fancy CGI.Indeed, just because Amazon and ITV's new version of Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray's classic Victorian novel, doesn't feature superheroes or spaceships or other fantasy spectacle, that doesn't mean it can't benefit from the latest movie magic.Whether it's making locations look beautifully period-appropriate or re-creating the Battle of Waterloo, the seven episode series features some 350 shots enhanced with digital visual effects (aka computer-generated imagery, or CGI).The task, says Technicolor creative director Gary Brown, was "Herculean". I caught up by phone with Brown, who spoke from Technicolor's London office, to find out more about the company's visual effects for Vanity Fair, which debuts Sunday 2nd September.Q: Viewers might not expect digital visual effects in a period story. What kind of shots did you work on?Brown: The majority of the … [Read more...] about Vanity Fair: Who knew period dramas had so much CGI?