Plot and Theme’s Top 10 Films of the First Half of 2016 – Plus Complaining!

A semi / biannual tradition begins here at Plot and Theme as I decide it is time to rank movies again according to my very own standards.  My opposition to lazy list-style articles notwithstanding, every now and then taking a glimpse of the best trees in the forest offers potentially interesting observations.  That is certainly true in this case, as I will not only briefly summarize and recount my favorite ten movies that I’ve seen released in 2016, but also discuss the relatively poor output of the big blockbuster landscape for this year.  I’ll also predict whether there are any saviors on the horizon, or if 2016 is doomed to be remembered as a year of flops, both critically and commercially.

Continue reading “Plot and Theme’s Top 10 Films of the First Half of 2016 – Plus Complaining!”

Variety Article Discusses the Fight for Gaspar Noé’s “Love”

Today, an article in Variety details the struggle to prevent far-right wing elements of French politics from stamping Gaspar Noé’s Love with an Under-18 rating (our equivalent of NC-17 in the States). The piece is articulate and informative, and likely portends the difficulties that Love will face in other nations as well. If you’re at all interested in discussions of film standards, censorship, the treatment of sexuality in film, or things of that nature, I would suggest you give it a read. I will stay away from recounting the particulars of the story, and instead react to how I anticipate this will affect the latest offering from Noé here in the States. I may hop on an anti-censorship soapbox, as well.
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A Game of Musical Chairs Set Off by Alicia Vikander’s Casting in “Bourne 5”

This whole week has been a whirlwind of casting news, kicked off by the announcement of the new Spiderman. Again, castings that were supposedly set in stone (and reported upon in the movie news) have proven less solid by the time the ink finally dried. In this case, Alicia Vikander has officially been named the female lead opposite Matt Damon in the fifth film of the Bourne franchise. This casting clears out two other roles which Vikander was reported to be very close to signing on for: The Circle, starring Tom Hanks, and the Assassin’s Creed film with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Once Vikander’s name fell from consideration for these roles, the respective producers wasted no time in filling them: Emma Watson will play the role in The Circle, and Ariane Labed has been chosen for the Assassin’s Creed role.
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Finally – Tom Holland is the New Spiderman

You would be forgiven for thinking that the powers that be had already decided on the new Spiderman for the second reboot of the beloved web-slinger and his introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Many movie news outlets were quick to anoint Asa Butterfield a couple of months ago, but all of them were quick to pepper these “stories” with nebulous phrases like, “in the works”, “in discussion” and “about to ink deal”. This is a common and frustrating eventuality in the movie news cycle: intent on breaking the story and generating as much traffic as possible to their site, many of these online outlets throw up garish headlines declaring that so-and-so is involved in such-and-such. Then, when you actually click and read the article, you realize that it is all basically hearsay.  This infuriates me.  I make a concerted effort not to post any news item until the ink is actually dry on the contract, so now that such a thing has happened vis-a-vis Spiderman, I must say that I am at least a little concerned.
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Stars in Sci-Fi: A Look Ahead at “Story of Your Life”(AKA: “Arrival”) and “Passengers”

While it is plenty fun to watch gigantic dinosaurs chase and eat people, or see alien spaceships invade Earth, I prefer a more muted, thought-provoking science fiction film. For instance, I can guarantee that I will end up enjoying Ex Machina more than Terminator: Genisys or Avengers: Age of Ultron, simply because of the originality and subtlety of Alex Garland’s film. Over the last few days, my attention has been drawn to a few more films that may embody this intellectual science fiction in lieu of large explosions, action set pieces, and CGI-fueled noise-factories. Two of these films look particularly interesting to me thanks to the immense talent being assembled around some great stories. These films are Denis Villeneuve’s Story of Your Life and Morten Tyldum’s Passengers.
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Open Road Films to Offer “Dope” for Bitcoin

In an exclusive story from The Wrap, production company Open Road Films announced that they would be allowing tickets for their film Dope to be purchased with the digital currency bitcoin. The indie comedy, which was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival this year, prominently features bitcoin as a plot detail when the main characters look for a way to exchange a drug windfall into some quick cash. This film was already in my sights as an understated coming-of-age comedy full of ‘90s references and weird web humor, and while this bitcoin move seems to be largely a marketing ploy, it has definitely piqued my attention further (and to be fair, what isn’t a marketing ploy these days?).
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