Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Writing Fantasy

  
At The Picture Show

     TOP 10 OVERALL

1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (directed by Andrew Dominik)

2. There Will Be Blood (directed by Paul Thomas Anderson)

3. Knocked Up (directed by Judd Apatow)

4. No Country for Old Men (directed by Joel and Ethan Coen)

5. I'm Not There (directed by Todd Haynes)

6. Grindhouse (directed by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez)

7 (tie). Manda Bala (directed by Jason Kohn) and 12:08 East of Bucharest (directed by Corneliu Porumboiu)

8. Hot Fuzz (directed by Edgar Wright)

9. Ratatouille (directed by Brad Bird)

10. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (directed by Sidney Lumet)

HONORABLE MENTION

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

La Vie en Rose

Michael Clayton

Sunshine

The Lives of Others

Paprika

Zodiac

The Aura

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

The Host

The Simpsons Movie

Across the Universe

Gone Baby Gone

4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days

The Bourne Ultimatum

ALSO WELL WORTH CHECKING OUT

Interview, Once, The Lookout, My Kid Could Paint That, Away from Her, The Orphanage, The Darjeeling Limited, Juno, Persepolis, Rescue Dawn, Lake of Fire, Hairspray, Enchanted, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Crazy Love, Rocket Science, No End in Sight, Bee Movie, Into the Wild, Superbad, Margot at the Wedding, Atonement, Shoot 'Em Up, 3:10 to Yuma, The Astronaut Farmer, Dan in Real Life, American Gangster, Lars and the Real Girl, Charlie Wilson's War, The Great Debaters, Stardust

The best of 2007

Running down the best the year had to offer in sci-fi, fantasy and horror

Now that the Oscar nominations have been announced and the Sundance madness has finally subsided, I can finally post (belatedly) my best-of-the-year list for 2007. As this is a specialty magazine, these are the best of the year in the categories of science fiction, fantasy and horror . . . but my full list, just in case you're interested, is listed as well.

Grindhouse

Directed by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are two fierce independents who have gotten where they are by doing it their way. This year, they teamed up to craft a wholly singular experience in Grindhouse - not just one movie, not just two movies, but a fully-loaded moviegoing package. Between Rodriguez's blood-and-cheese-soaked zombie thriller Planet Terror, Tarantino's brilliant re-constructive slasher pic Death Proof and a full slate of fake trailers that perfectly recreated vintage styles, Grindhouse was the beautiful spawn of the two filmmakers' respective passions.

Read full review here.

Ratatouille

Directed by Brad Bird

Brad Bird makes it 3-for-3 with Ratatouille, about a Parisian rat who longs to be a world-class chef. Bird once again shows a great talent for fantastically eccentric characters and a visual sophistication that rivals most live-action directors. He greets us with a uniquely textured view of Paris and an astonishing set of character designs - most notably the pompous food critic Mr. Ego, shaped and dressed like a walking coffin.

Read full review here.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Directed by Tim Burton

Tim Burton has more stylistic versatility than many will give him credit for. Despite his clear Gothic influences and his own visual proclivities, his best films have always been able to stand apart, creating worlds all their own. And he's dabbled in animation (The Nightmare Before Christmas), period-specific dark comedy (Ed Wood), comic books (his Batman films) and has now successfully tackled the musical form with Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Flowing effortlessly between music and horror, between the hilarious and the grotesque, Burton crafted his best film in years - trudging neck-deep in pessimism and madness with hot, vengeful glee.

Read full review here.

Sunshine

Directed by Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle has been able to navigate from film to film over the last decade or so, through successes and failures, without ever getting stuck in a rut. With Sunshine, he tackled the space opera, studying a team of scientists charged with re-igniting a dying sun to save Earth. The film examines man's ability - and choice - to play God, using stunning images to express the characters' view of the sun as, essentially, a supernatural entity. Suspended in the middle of space, the characters' mission is saddled with the sense of doom from the very start and gradually moves from suspense, to horror, to poignant moment of truth.

Read full review here.

Paprika

Directed by Satoshi Kon

Twisting and bending the various modern alliances between reality and fantasy - in all its forms - Satoshi Kon's Paprika stands alone in the way it experiences its characters' mindset. Because that's really what it's all about - this is a world in which people can tap into each others' minds, dreams, nightmares until no one can decipher between what is real and what is not. Or rather, the possibility looms that what is real and what isn't is no longer a distinction that needs to be made. Paprika is a visual extravaganza not for its own sake but for the story's sake, and as such it serves its purpose as brilliantly as it can.

Read full review here.

The Host

Directed by Joon-ho Bong

Before Cloverfield's big box-office take, the Monster Movie made a comeback with Joon-ho Bong's The Host, which hilariously doubles as an absurdist political satire. And somehow, the film manages to make it seem emotionally relevant as well. The Host isn't light on its message - and doesn't intend to be - but keeps us consistently off-balance. At times, we're not sure if we should laugh hysterically or cringe at the tragic truths that somehow arise out of a giant, carnivorous sea monster.

Read full review here.

Across the Universe

Directed by Julie Taymor

The single most exhaustively creative (or creatively exhausting) movie of the year was Julie Taymor's Across the Universe, a psychedelic musical/fantasy/romance/movie-poem to the Beatles and the 1960s. So that means it doesn't all work - and indeed, certain scenes fall flat on their face - but so much of it works so beautifully that you'll wonder if you've ever seen anything like it. The short answer? You haven't. Taymor's visual ideas and stylistic experiments are astoundingly original; she brings more life to one musical number than some directors have been able to muster their entire careers.

Read full review here.

The Orphanage

Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona

Much has been made of the recent renaissance of Spanish-language cinema, highlighted by directors Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Though The Orphanage does boast del Toro's name as a producer, it is a film that definitively belongs to director Juan Antonio Bayona and writer Sergio Sanchez, who put their own stamp on the Ghost Story in this tale of a mother's grief at the mysterious and spontaneous disappearance of her son. With an opening that marvelously foreshadows the chilling climax, The Orphanage is sad, powerful and classically effective horror filmmaking.

Read full review here.

Enchanted

Directed by Kevin Lima

Finally, Disney can laugh at itself - and finally, Disney has started to catch up with the modern sensibilities that sent Pixar shooting past it more than a decade ago. Enchanted is the kind of tongue-in-cheek cleverness that Disney's films have been lacking for quite some time. In this case, the target is the studio's own princess fairy-tale movies, literally brought to life as Princess Gisele (an Oscar-worthy Amy Adams) is sent out of her perfect animated world and into the rat race of New York City. Adams and James Marsden nail the idiosyncracies of cartoon characters with absolute precision, existing on a whole different wavelength from the film's naturally human characters. Enchanted knows these conventions inside and out, and uses them to its full advantage.

Read full review here.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Directed by David Yates

David Yates is no longer obscure. He has proven he can take over a long-established series - a series which requires visual flare, a delicate feel for action and no shortage of special effects - without it missing a beat. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix followed up Goblet of Fire in fine style, gracefully exploring Harry's growing alienation and a frustrating battle with the forces of bureaucracy (personified by Imelda Staunton's brilliant turn as Dolores Umbridge) and climaxing in an impressive series of visually bold action sequences. Of course, he's no Cuaron . . . but his return to the director's chair for the sixth installment will be more than welcome.

Read full review here.

Read more by Chris Bellamy


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