“The Mummy” Something Something Stupid “Wrapped” Pun

There’s an off-hand moment early on in The Mummy when Egyptologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) draws attention to the importance of the discovery that she and Nick Mortion (Tom Cruise) have made by referring to the age of the sarcophagus:  5,000 years.  Trouble is, Wallis clearly mouths “three”, not “five”.  Oh well, ADR happens.  Maybe there was a re-write where they realized that 3,000 years wasn’t enough for the Egyptian period they wanted.  So they fixed it.  That’s fine, if a bit distracting.  Later, Tom Cruise calls “the chick” 3,000 years old.  They left that one in.  Maybe Tom Cruise is too busy to do ADR.  Maybe no one caught it.  Maybe no one cares.

Ladies and gentleman, this is The Mummy in a nutshell:  falling over its own presumed intelligence, never paying enough attention to what it is doing for it to matter.

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CSFF 2017: Hillsborough

Cinema Axis

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The worst sports disaster in the history of England occurred on April 15th, 1989 in Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield during a semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. During the match, overcrowding in a pen lead to an alarming number of deaths. David Gordon’s documentary Hillsborough recounts the story of this disaster, its causes, and the decades-long denial of justice to the men and women who literally had the life crushed out of them due to gross negligence, mismanaging of crowds, and an improper emergency response.

Hillsborough combines interviews with those close to the disaster and re-enactments with actual video footage (both closed-circuit security tapes and television feeds from the time). Whatever technique Gordon uses to tell this story, the result is incredibly effective. He’s able to instill a growing sense of dread in the viewer as each tumbler responsible for the tragedy falls into place. As the…

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The Heroism of “Wonder Woman” Is Worth Celebrating

It seems folly to discuss Wonder Woman outside of the greater context of the DC Extended Universe, but Patty Jenkins’s film begs to be discussed in isolation – it’s simply in another stratosphere.  So, that’s it; that’s all the comparison to the DCEU that will be contained in this review.  The rest of the time will be spent heralding Wonder Woman as a superhero film that knows precisely how to tell a refreshing origin story, establish stakes and pathos in a fantastic world, and champion a powerful theme of heroism, strength, and love.  With a stunning performance from Gal Gadot, a brilliant fish-out-of-water skeleton, and action sequences that contain spectacle and depth, Wonder Woman is potent storytelling.

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State of the Blog – June 2017

As we inch towards the halfway point of the year, blockbuster season is now in full swing.  Here at Plot and Theme, things are going swimmingly, and I’ve got a lot of cool things going on, plus neat flicks and pieces on the blog to look forward to.  But, we’ll start by looking back on what went down during the month of May, both in the greater landscape of cinema, and here on my humble little blag.

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Interview: Director Steve James talks Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

Here’s the interview I mentioned with my previous post!
Hop on over to my patreon page for even more discussion!

Cinema Axis

abacussmallenoughtojail_03Abacus: Small Enough to Jail tells the story of Abacus Federal Saving Bank and the Sung family that runs it. To date, the bank is still the only federal bank to be indicted for fraud in connection with the 2008 financial crisis. Therefore, the film is a tale of family, community, perseverance, and the unequal application of justice in America, especially with regards to immigrant populations. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to discuss the film with its’ director, Steve James. An accomplished documentarian, James has directed numerous award-winning films including Life Itself, The Interrupters, and Hoop Dreams.

Derek Jacobs: What drew you to the story of Abacus and the Sung Family? How did you discover the topic, and what made you interested in documenting it?

Steve James: Well, I first heard about it from Mark Mitten, a producer I’ve worked with for about 10…

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ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail

This is another great documentary from Steve James, who also made “Life Itself” and the 30 for 30 on Allen Iverson’s Trial. I was also fortunate enough to interview the director about this film, so look for that in the near future!

Cinema Axis

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Thomas Sung owns and operates Abacus Federal Savings Bank in New York’s Chinatown. The bank, with his daughters Jill (President & CEO) and Vera (Director), serves a clientele composed primarily of local small-business owners of Chinese descent, many first-generation Americans or direct immigrants. Hence, Abacus is an important part of this community, as it gives this cash-rich, credit-poor population access to high-quality financial products like savings accounts, safety deposit boxes, and loans – including mortgages.

But Steve James’s ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail isn’t simply a documentary on a successful community bank, because Abacus Federal Savings Banks holds the ignominious distinction of being the only US bank charged with mortgage fraud following the late 2000s Financial Crisis.

ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail documents the absurdity of the trial against Abacus by interweaving interviews with defendants, prosecutors, and even jurors. Courtroom drawings are used to liven up some of the testimony…

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