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Making a Pandemic Horror/Thriller During a Pandemic: The Quarantine-and-Bubble Strategy of Banishment

Banishment

As studio and television filmmaking creaks back into production, a first wave of microbudget films made amidst the coronavirus-related shutdowns enters post. One such film is the horror-thriller drama Banishment, which launches today an Indiegogo campaign for its post-production costs. Shot in and around a secluded cabin in Lake Placid, New York for just $5,000, the film fashioned its own safe production protocols before official industry guidances, like the recent “Safe Way Forward” plan, were issued. Nonetheless, the basic tenets of today’s safe production — quarantining, social distancing, mask-wearing on set — were all adhered to. But one other element of today’s production plans — a separated pod system — wasn’t implemented simply because the shoot basically constituted of one…  Read more

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“Very Much Like Short Cuts, and the Medfly was Duterte — That Was My Pitch”: Ramona S. Diaz on A Thousand Cuts

A Thousand Cuts

While recent right-wing attacks on the free press here in the US have rightly been sounding alarm bells, in a global context they are merely wake-up calls. Sure, Trump deeming the “lamestream” media “fake news” is dangerously juvenile, but it’s also a far cry from, say, the Duterte administration finding the founder and CEO of the Philippines’s top online news site Rappler guilty of “cyber libel” — a travesty of justice that happened just this past June. And the politically orchestrated verdict comes with both a hefty fine and potential prison time for “2018 Time Person of the Year” Maria Ressa along with a former colleague. Though it’s not hard to see why Ressa, a superhumanly dogged journalistic force (with a…  Read more

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Shadowplay: The Artistic Benefits and Technical Challenges of Ozark‘s HDR Workflow

Jason Bateman in Ozark (Photo courtesy of Steve Dietl/Netflix)

Ozark is a “dark” show in every meaning of the word. The story of a criminal Missouri clan laundering Mexican cartel money through their riverboat casino is literally, metaphorically and photographically bleak. “Ozark is about what happens in the shadows of our society, in the underbelly, and the fear and anxiety that permeates that environment,” said cinematographer Armando Salas, ASC. “Everyone can relate to that feeling on some level—the feeling in the pit of your stomach that comes with knowing you’re doing something wrong. We try to embed that feeling in the look of the show.” Sunlight rarely reaches the denizens of Ozark’s resort community. If financial advisor-turned-felon Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) and his wife and partner-in-crime Wendy (Laura Linney) are…  Read more

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“Narratives Don’t Have Lower Thirds and IDs, Why Should Documentaries?” Marlon Johnson and Anne Flatté on River City Drumbeat

River City Drumbeat

The Ohio River Flood of 1937 killed 385 people and left a million more without a home. That same year, the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) drew redlining maps of Louisville to decline mortgage insurance and credit to the Black and immigrant communities hit hardest by the floods. In the “Clarifying Remarks” of one of the HOLC’s area assessments they sum up a “D” rated region: “This area, known as ‘Little Africa.’ No paved streets - low type of inhabitants.” Disinvestment still cripples the West Louisville community today. The “ninth street divide,” the demarcation between West Louisville and downtown, places into stark relief the life expectancy difference on either side of the line: 82 years east of it, 67 years…  Read more

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Trailer Watch: Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things

I'm Thinking of Ending Things (Photo:Mary Cybulski/NETFLIX © 2020)

A long, progressively disorienting drive across a snow-battered landscape leads to a relationship milestone -- meeting the parents -- in the latest from writer/director Charlie Kaufman. For Jessie Buckley's unnamed girlfriend character, Jake (Jesse Plemmons) is someone promising even as the film's serenely despondent title functions as her mantra-like internal dialogue. Awaiting in a house that seems unmoored by time are Jake's mom and dad, played by Toni Collette and David Thewlis. Said Kaufman to Entertainment Weekly, "The house represents the imagined interaction between someone you bring home to your parents — that panic that is twoheaded at that point. You’re worried about what they’re going to think about your parents, and you’re always worried about what your parents are…  Read more

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“This Movie is a Cry for Help from the Members of Congress to the American People”: Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme on Their HBO doc The Swamp

The Swamp

To call HBO’s The Swamp a thrilling character-based portrait of three conservative white guys might seem oxymoronic, but in the capable hands and open minds of co-directors Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme (Get Me Roger Stone) it’s a completely apt description. The doc is an unexpected, up-close look at the daily D.C. lives of a trio of House members who few subscribers to HBO would ever conceive of voting for: far right-wingers Matt Gaetz (R-FL 1st District), Thomas Massie (R-KY 4th District), and Ken Buck (R-CO 4th District). In other words, it’s exactly the caricature-busting film that progressives (like myself) really need to see. With startling access, the filmmakers follow along as these Republican rebels fight — and usually fail — to “drain…  Read more

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