2016 will be over in a few hours and before we kick in the new year, here is my list of top 10 films of the year.
(This list is in no particular order)
If there is one word to describe Arrival, it's "haunting". Amy Adams gives a great performance as a linguist expert brought in by the U.S. Government to learn how to communicate with aliens who have touched down across the globe. The film serves as a reflection of ourselves and leaves us thinking about how simple words can be misinterpreted, causing division within our own society.
THE JUNGLE BOOK
The Jungle Book stands out, out of the live action remakes of Disney's animated classics. Neel Sethi does an excellent job playing Mowgli considering he is the only human character (minus the flashbacks) interacting with CGI animals. And speaking of CGI, I think they did a pretty good job at it too. The Jungle Boom is fun for the whole family.
Zootopia is witty, charming, full of energy and teaches a great lesson on unity - a lesson our own society needs to learn. Featuring a great and talented voice cast including Jason Bateman, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Idris Elba.
An absolutely mind-bending experience worth watching only in IMAX 3D. No other format will do it justice. Benedict Cumberbatch was an absolute treat to watch. Looking forward to seeing where Dr. Strange fits in throughout the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
The third installment of the Captain America series pits the Avengers against each other over their disagreement on the Sokovia Accords - an agreement that any member of the Avengers can only operate under the regulations of the United Nations. This particular Marvel film does what another verses film that came out earlier this year failed to do - give our heroes a good reason to fight. Both sides make good points as to why they are for and against the Accords. And even though team Iron Man may have the newly introduced Spider-Man, I'm team Captain America all the way.
Deadpool is everything you could ever ask for in a Deadpool movie. It's funny, action packed and a parody of itself. Ryan Reynolds was born to play the titular character. The film was a big risk but fans would be happy it stayed true to the character.
Deepwater Horizon tells the true story of the largest oil spill in U.S. History. The film is intense, gripping and full tension. It showcases the bravery of the men and women that worked on the oil rig and how one mistake can change their lives forever.
THE NICE GUYS
The Nice Guys is hilarious. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe have great chemistry playing off each other in a film set in 1970s Los Angeles. A good mixture of slapstick and action. All the elements you would expect from a Shane Black movie and just downright fun.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
Rogue One takes place "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." Actually it takes place between Episodes III and IV. As a matter of fact, its ending takes place moments before Episode IV starts. Rogue One is the first of several Star Wars spin offs coming our way. The tone is different compared to other Star Wars films and I think that's a good thing. It's not perfect, and I'm sure not everyone will like it, but there's enough in this movie to satisfy even the most casual of Star Wars fans.
LA LA LAND
La La Land follows the classic formula of boy meets girl, they fall in love, get torn apart and find their way back to each other (or do they?)... No, it's a classic tale of two dreamers chasing their passion but unprepared for the struggles and the unknown that go with it... No, it's about jazz! No, acting! As a matter of fact, it's all of the above set in a modern musical but very reminiscent of a bygone era where the likes of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly danced through the screen and into everyone's hearts. Is Hollywood going back to the Golden Age? I highly doubt it, but La La Land is a love letter to that era and a breath of fresh air amidst the big budget blockbusters this year. The cinematography and choreography go hand in hand as we are graced with many song and dance numbers, most within a single take. Given that this is their third movie together, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone's chemistry continue to grow and blossom into something very beautiful. Having them communicate their thoughts, feelings and emotions through song and dance is icing on the cake. Emma Stone's performance really stood out and is the best I've seen her in and I couldn't help but fall in love with her.
We are excited to announce that our film LAST BREATH has been accepted into the Director's Chair Film Festival, Headline International Film Festival and Urban Action Showcase. So far, the Director's Chair is the only confirmed screening date and details can be found below.
The Director's Chair Film Festival
Saturday September 17 | 8:45pm
73 Wave Street
Staten Island, NY 10304
Last Breath, which premiered last year and won for Best Short Film Director at the International Film Festival of Manhattan has been accepted to a total of six film festivals so far. More festival news and updates should be coming in the next few weeks. Stay tuned and thanks for supporting us!
Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world!
I was lucky enough to be invited to a free fan screening to see the movie in IMAX before anyone else. Boy, was it an experience. What can I say without spoiling anything? First off, these are my opinions of the movie. The giddy fan in me would be jumping for joy proclaiming it to be the greatest comic book movie ever. As fans, we all say that after watching a big movie like this but over time our views slightly or drastically change. I said that about The Dark Knight, The Avengers, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But as a filmmaker and one who is very passionate about the movies, I have to give my unbiased view of the movie. So here goes.
Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is a great, complicated, visual spectacle as well as an emotional roller coaster with many surprises. Many, not all, fans will appreciate what has been done. The tone of the movie - the look and feel of it, is a bit different from what Man Of Steel established. It definitely goes into darker territories and this was a very hard PG-13. So parents use discretion when bringing your children. Now before some of you conclude that it's just another movie that goes dark and gritty to be relevant (it worked for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy), there is a reason for the darkness, but that doesn't mean there isn't any light. There is, and plenty of it.
Just like its predecessor Man Of Steel, the movie will be divisive among fans, critics and general moviegoers alike. And most of it for the wrong reasons. For starters, the fact that Zack Snyder directed the movie doesn't sit well with some people considering his previous work being hits and misses. Some just don't like his style of filmmaking. I loved Dawn Of The Dead, 300, Watchmen and Man Of Steel. But I can't say the same about his other films. Not every director, no matter how great they are, will have a hit. Secondly, the movie has a disadvantage because many feel DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures are very late in the game of establishing a comic book movie universe. Marvel has done a marvelous (oh look, a pun!) job with their cinematic universe and to that extent, Fox has had success with their new and former X-Men universes colliding. In most cases moviegoers will have certain expectations because of what has been established in other cinematic universes. Marvel films are lighter in tone and have humorous moments and are colorful. DC Films are darker and humorless and bland. As a result, people become closed minded and feel Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice or any other DC Film that follows needs to be the former and not the latter. If not, they will hate it or rate it at a lower score. The comparisons need to stop in this ongoing fan war between Marvel and DC. It's unfair to the movie to have this kind of mindset because you end up basing your views on what you're already familiar with rather than keeping an open mind to what the movie could be and could mean for you.
Now, moving on to the characters. When Ben Affleck was first announced to take over the role of Batman, it caused a firestorm of outrage from die hard comic book fans. The guy who played Daredevil? Really? That movie was over a decade ago. Get over it! Since then Affleck has had successful hits as an actor and director in movies like The Town and Argo. Ben comes with a bit of weight behind him. Being a two time Oscar winner, he comes with a bit of legitimacy as an actor and director. I was okay with his casting. I wasn't upset nor was I excited. But I was very curious and interested in what he can bring to the role. While he wouldn't be my first choice, he is the right choice to play Batman in this new universe. It is the actual comic book character come to life and very reminiscent of Batman The Animated Series and the Arkham video games. It's nothing like the Nolan Batman played by Christian Bale. And I love those movies! Here's a quick fun fact: Ben Affleck is the only actor to play Batman and Superman. If you don't believe it, check out the movieHollywoodland.
Henry Cavill reprises his role as Superman from Man Of Steel. Here we see the character struggling to fit in a world whose views are so divided (kind of like people's views of Superman in real life). Is he our savior, or is he here to destroy us? Many people died. There was a lot of destruction. These were the many complaints of Man Of Steel. In this movie, he is facing the consequences. He's Superman, but he can't save everyone. To me, that's what makes Superman relatable. Yes, he's a powered being from another planet but he can also be very vulnerable with very human characteristics. Afterall, he is not God. All I can say is that whatever you thought of the character in Man Of Steel, whatever doubts you have, your views might change this time around and hopefully for the better. He is Superman!
Jesse Eisenberg's take on Lex Luthor is definitely different from what I'm used to. He's the Lex Luthor for the millennials. A Mark Zuckerberg-type character running an online conglomerate. It was a fresh and risky take on the character. And finally, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Another casting many were worried about. Well, I can happily say that everyone needs to put their worries to rest. She's the right choice and she totally stole the show. Once again, my opinion!
Some may feel the movie is too crowded with many iconic characters. But I felt the movie was well balanced. Batman may have a little more screen time but when you think about it, Superman had his own movie three years ago and next year Wonder Woman will have hers. This is an introduction to the new Batman and an introduction to an extended universe of iconic characters and iconic worlds. Wait, did I just hint at something? The subtitle is called Dawn Of Justice for a reason, so go figure.
While I enjoyed the film overall, it's not perfect. There were some things I didn't like and some things I felt could have been done differently. But it was an experience I'll never forget. I look forward to what Warner Bros. and DC has in store for us. For those who haven't seen the film and are skeptical about it, keep an open mind and don't expect it to be like a Marvel movie. It doesn't have to be the same for everything and for everyone. Stop the comparisons and conjure up your own views based on what you saw and not what you think it should be. Don't let other's views alter your way of thinking about the movie. That goes for any movie of this genre. Us fans are getting all these movies with all our favorite characters come to life. We are living in the golden age of comic book movies. Whether it's Marvel, DC, or any other franchise, let's stop this flame war and just enjoy the ride together for the next several years. Can't we just love both? As for Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, it's not for everyone but it's action packed, thrilling, and filled with several easter eggs hinting an extended universe. I give it a 4.5 out of 5. Can't wait to see it again.
It's that time again where I round up my top ten movies of the year. 2015 had a lot of great memorable movies. Some even broke box office records. But before we go to the list, here are some honorable mentions that I enjoyed but didn't quite make the cut.
THE HATEFUL 8 (Directed by Quentin Tarantino)
SICARIO (Directed by Denis Villanueve)
SPECTRE (Directed by Sam Mendes)
INSIDE OUT (Directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen)
BRIDGE OF SPIES (Directed by Steven Spielberg)
THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (Directed by Joss Whedon)
ANT-MAN (Directed by Peyton Reed)
Which ones made the list? See my picks below!
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer: Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
Studio: Warner Bros., MGM
Stallone returns to the role that made him a household name. But this time his Rocky Balboa serves as a supporting character to the film’s lead, Adonis Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan. With powerful performances by Jordan and Stallone (who just got nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as an aging Rocky), very well choreographed boxing matches and top notch directing, it's one of the best movies I've seen this year. It's not about winning in boxing, it's about winning in life. A great way to continue the Rocky legacy is to embrace the legacy of his greatest opponent and closest friend, Creed.
2. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Director: George Miller
Writer: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron
Studio: Warner Bros.
George Miller returns to his beloved franchise that gave Mel Gibson his breakthrough role. This time around, Tom Hardy takes on the role of Max. But what stood out the most was Charlize Theron’s performance as the ass-kicking Imperator Furiosa. Even with one arm and battle damaged, Theron still manages to look as beautiful as ever. Mad Max was a nonstop roller coaster ride of pure adrenaline rush. "What a lovely day!"
3. STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt
Starring: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson
Studio: Disney, LucasFilm
Already breaking box office records, this movie is filled with nostalgia, familiar faces, a new generation, epic set pieces and the force is still strong with this one. Seeing it with a crowd on a large format screen (IMAX) is the best way to appreciate and experience the magic of Star Wars. Looking forward to see what happens next in this new saga.
4. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Fergusson, Ving Rhames
Studio: Paramount Pictures
The Mission Impossible series always manages to stay fresh with each new installment and Tom Cruise manages to outdo himself every time. This time we see Cruise pulling off much crazier stunts like hanging off the side of a plane during take off. But the breakout performance came from Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust. Hope to see more of her in the next one.
5. EX MACHINA
Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac
Studio: Universal Studios, DNA Films
Alicia Vikander plays the seductive Ava, an artificial intelligence housed inside the body of a beautiful girl who interacts with the film’s lead played by Domhnall Gleeson. Ex Machina was terrifying. Not in a horror movie type of way, but terrifying in a subtle, psychological and mental way that makes me wonder if artificial intelligence is really such a good idea, let alone to put inside a body.
6. JURASSIC WORLD
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writer: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, B.D. Wong
Studio: Universal Studios, Amblin Entertainment, Legendary Pictures
We’re back in Isla Nublar, the home of Jurassic Park, or in this case, the new Jurassic World. The park is finally open and this film brought me back to a lot of fond memories when I was a kid watching the original. This new installment shows how far scientific technology has come and how it’s used to be an advantage and disadvantage to the world, especially when it comes to enhancing prehistoric DNA. When are they going to learn that they should never, ever open the park, ever again!
7. THE MARTIAN
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Drew Goddard
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Studio: Scott Free Productions, 20th Century Fox
Once again, the world is looking for Matt Damon in this film based on the novel by Andy Weir. But this time, he’s on a distant planet. I love space exploration and astronomy. Afterall, Interstellar was my favorite film of 2014, which Matt Damon was also a part of. But what I enjoyed about this movie is how much science and technology plays a vital role into the plot of the film. Very well directed with a star studded cast.
8. THE WALK
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer: Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Browne
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale
Studio: TriStar Pictures
Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives one of his best performances as Philippe Petit, the man who walked a tightrope between New York City’s Twin Towers back in 1974. What I love most about this movie is how beautiful the Towers were portrayed and had a life of their own. It felt like a subtle tribute to 9/11. What an experience in IMAX 3D.
9. THE REVENANT
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Writer: Mark L. Smith, Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hard, Domhnall Gleeson
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Leonardo DiCaprio gives a performance of a lifetime in this beautifully photographed film. Give the man an Oscar already. Enough said!
*By the way, this is the third film on the list starring Domhnall Gleeson. This guy's been keeping busy!
10. KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine, Sofia Boutella, Mark Strong
Studio: 20th Century Fox
This movie was pure awesomeness! Great fight choreography, action packed and a lot of fun. An overall enjoyable movie from the spy genre with a breakout performance by Taron Egerton. This movie makes me want to buy a well tailored double breasted suit with matching tie and shoes. “Manners maketh man.”
So that's my list for 2015. So many great movies and I know 2016 will have even more. On behalf of Eternal Lion Studios, Happy New Year!
We started Last Breath over a year ago and I've got to say that it's been a long time coming! We are proud to finally announce that our film has been selected to be screened at the International Film Festival of Manhattan on October 23 at the Producers Club in NYC. Time and tickets info will be announced in the coming days. In the meantime, check out the IFFMNY Official Selection Trailer below.
For updates visit www.iffmnewyork.com
Last night we screened the trailer for our film Last Breath at the Dumped screening event in Long Island, NY. Special thanks to Joe Ammendolea of I Like To Play With Toys Productions.
Last month we had an ADR session with our female lead, Lyndsey Wurch. This time around our lead actor, Sean LeeRoy, stops by the studio for an ADR session.
Our female lead for Last Breath, Lyndsey Wurch, stopped by the studio today for an ADR session. For those who don't know what ADR is, it stands for Automatic Dialogue Replacement. It's basically a fancy term used for dubbing audio in film. The purpose of ADR is to fix any audio problems, particularly scenes with dialogue. Unexpected things can rise on set such as background noise or audio equipment malfunctions, or sometimes issues arise in post production and ADR helps to fix that.
Back in May of 2014 we started production for our film LAST BREATH. Even though we've been producing films for almost ten years, this has been our most ambitious film to date. We've put our creative minds together to come up with the best story and film we possibly can. LAST BREATH is self funded and truly is a labor of love. We plan on releasing the film in the Summer of 2015 in select film festivals. We are now in the process of post production and you can find the synopsis and trailer below. Stay tuned on our progress.
Director: Jake Ramos
Writers: Jake Ramos, Jan Bodeta
Cinematographer: Justin Festejo
Actors: Sean LeeRoy, Lyndsey Wurch, Jake Ramos, Dan Stagliano, Nash Ramnauth, Vincent Bonfanti, Cornell Pearson, Mike O'Brien, Niko Deslate, John Gernade, Jan Bodeta
Genre: Drama, Suspense
A man wakes up in the middle of the beach with no recollection of how he got there and no memory of who he is. The only clues left behind is a photo of a mysterious woman and an engagement ring. Determined to know the truth behind his mishap, the man seeks out to find the woman. However, he soon discovers that the truth becomes even more unbearable.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.