Christopher Nolan, Tom Ford and a cookie.

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Christopher Nolan, Gladiator 2, Tom Ford, Juliette Binoche, and a cookie.

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NOLAN: FROM CORPORATE VIDEOS TO OPPENHEIMER

The world isn’t ending on Christopher Nolan’s watch.

Oppenheimer, which has now crested almost $1B at the box office, felt like a parable for the dangers of unregulated AI.

Yet, asked if the choice to eschew CGI on his own film was out of fear of technology replacing human creativity, he responded:

“I don’t think so. I think any tool – I mean my choice to not use computer graphics to represent the Trinity Test was really a mechanical one. It’s an artistic choice beacuase I feel computer graphics, incredibly sophisticated and versatile as they are, tend to feel a little safe to me, tend to play more in the world of animation. So it’s difficult to get threat from them.”

Nolan has always mined the tools of cinema to create a sense of peril—the low-angle shots of wells that trapped young and old Bruce Wayne in the Batman movies. The backward and forward parallel narratives in Memento used to ensnare Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) in his own psychology.

Rewinding the clock to his first film, The Following (1998), Nolan used technology in a strategic way even then.

Directing that film, while Nolan was still working his day job in corporate videos, he leaned into the techniques of low-budget filmmaking, such as shooting in B&W 16mm to reduce the cost of production design and color lighting.

The film went on to win the top prize at Slamdance, the Young Director’s Award at Rotterdam, and BFI’s Best Achievement in Production.

Twenty-three years later, Nolan has emerged both as an uncompromising artist, persistently pushing the boundaries of narrative structure, and as a shrewd businessman, leveraging his growing reputation to secure greater creative control and better financial terms.

Nolan’s trajectory is a harmonious convergence that turns the wheels of innovation, inspiring a legacy not just built but ingeniously crafted, frame by meticulous frame.

For More:

Nolan discusses how he made his first film The Following (1998).

Nolan discusses how he made his second film Memento (2000).

Nolan is a little cagey about his next project in this interview.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

SAG/AFTRA president Fran Drescher celebrated on IG:

“We did it!!!! The Billion+ $ Deal! 3X the last contract! New ground was broke everywhere!”

Full details on the agreement are murky, but SAG/AFTRA’s latest statement outlines:

  • $1B+ in new wages + benefits
  • Streaming participation bonus (estimated at $40M/year)
  • Minimum compensation increases
  • Regulations on AI usage
  • Raised Pension & Health caps
  • Protections for diverse communities

Details are expected after the Union’s national board meets today to review the contract. But it is the largest increase in minimum wage in 40 years.

It’s not the Dumb Money Reddit rush, but Hollywood stocks are up:

  • Disney: ↑ 5.8%
  • Paramount: ↑ 3.8%
  • Warner Brothers: ↑ 3.1%

Sony backslid on stock price but increased profits:

Steven Spielberg presents a Band of Brothers follow-up, Masters of the Air. While he’s not the series’ director, he’s lined up some guns:

The synopsis reads:

During World War II, airmen risked their lives with the 100th Bomb Group, a brotherhood (Austin Butler, Barry Keoghan) forged by courage, loss, and triumph.

Out on Apple TV January 26th, 2024.

The trailer feels like they’ve buried the heart of the story with monotonous mid-air shooting sequences.

Robert De Niro is exonerated in the trial against his former assistant, but his company is ordered to pay her 1.3M dollars.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

The rom-com sex symbol Dermot Mulroney turns into a Liam Neeson Taken type in his new film Ruthless. The transformation is shocking from My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) clip to Ruthless trailer.

Mulroney plays a coach whose daughter gets murdered by a gang of human traffickers. Watching him inflict retaliation is brutal. Ruthless will be available on digital and on Demand from December 15.

Brie Larson graduated to the Marvel universe in 2019 with her character Captain Marvel. Before then, she brought an unparalleled sensitivity and strength to:

Her latest venture, The Marvels (trailer) is out today. Although reviews of the film have been mixed, we hope she continues to pursue the type of beautiful indie cinema that so wonderfully articulated her talents.

John Cena’s latest film has fallen off a cliff. Coyote vs. Acme, a live-action animation hybrid by Warner Brothers, has been canned. The catch is it’s already finished filming. Although this is the third time WB has canned a film that’s wrapped (e.g. Batgirl, Scoob!), it may be on the heels of Cena’s latest film, Freelance, tanking at the box office. The budget was $40M and it’s only recouped $6.8M.


FESTIVALS

Dallas Buyers Club producer Cassian Elwes is offering a fellowship to unrepresented screenwriters as a gateway to recognition. Each year, The Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellowship rewards 1-2 writers with a career-propelling trip to Sundance under the discerning eye of Elwes’ mentorship, fostering their independent voice in film.

Deadline: November 20th. Apply here.

The BFI and Chanel Filmmaker Awards lauded the daring ingenuity of three filmmakers:

With the support of a prestigious jury (including Tilda Swinton), these artists each received $24,500, affirming their potential to reshape the cinematic landscape with authentic stories.

Variety, in concert with the French Film Commission, orchestrates U.S. Filmmaking in France: The French Experience, an exclusive gathering in Los Angeles illuminating the allure and practicalities of filming in France. Some of the talks look great, like a discussion of how Emily in Paris was produced; too bad they’re invite-only.


TECH SECTION

AI’s power to create Frankenstein’s monster-type human composites is bone-chilling:

“If you’re using Brad Pitt’s smile and Jennifer Aniston’s eyes, both would have a right of consent.”

Said SAG/AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.

Despite not achieving all desired AI restrictions, SAG-AFTRA secured significant provisions from the AMPTP, such as the requirement for actors’ consent when using their features.

Former head of Disney Jeffrey Katzenberg says AI will end 90% of jobs in animation in the next three years:

“In the good old days when I made an animated movie, it took 500 artists five years to make a world-class animated movie… literally, I don’t think it’ll take 10% of that.”

He discussed the explosive history of human creativity from the pen to the printing press to the still camera to the movie camera. In a final note of optimism, he added:

“Prompting is, in fact, going to be a creative commodity against many aspects of storytelling.”

We hope animators can find new ways to collaborate with these tools instead of being replaced by them.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

The fashion industry offers a path to emerging filmmakers like Marc Anthony Green (former special projects director at GQ), who just completed his first feature with A24.

Green’s debut, Opus, centers on an iconic pop star’s return following his decades-long disappearance. John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich) and Ayo Edebiri (The Bear) will star. Green’s previous short film, Trapeze, U.S.A., won an award at Hollyshorts.

Speaking of fashion, Tom Ford, who by his own admission is reaching retirement age, is now dedicating the rest of his life to filmmaking. He directed:

In an arresting exit interview with GQ he discussed why he sold his company after 35 years:

“‘[My partner’s] death. Boy, talk about mortality. When someone dies, their eyes are open. You can’t close them. It’s not like in the movies where they do this [Ford passes his hand over his eyes] and they stay closed. They pop open. Wow. I spent two hours with him, talking to him because I wasn’t expecting him to die that particular day. You know, slipping his wedding rings off. Taking off his watch. Flipping his body over to take his wallet out before they took him away. I felt like I was robbing him. Talk about driving home the idea of a limited time on the planet. It was like, I really want to make movies. Clock’s ticking.”

It’s a beautiful epiphany. Ford continued:

“I loved making the two films that I made. That was the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life.”

Ford’s cinema feels like a piece of colorful fabric: richly textured, flexibly structured and deeply beautiful. We welcome more of it.

Here is the 12-point manifesto that got first-time filmmaker Raven Jackson’s movie picked up by A24:

  1. Stay elemental in the approach
  2. Remember water, remember wind
  3. “The wound is where the light gets in” — embody it in every frame
  4. Stay close, stay wide
  5. Speak in slant rhymes
  6. Embody a raw grace
  7. Strive to be in an unending state of nowness within the constant movement of time
  8. To be tactile is to have details
  9. Landscape as character
  10. Compose in depth
  11. Be evocative above all else
  12. Be in the moment—be present to the cinema on set

The All Dirt Road Taste Like Salt trailer seems to have embodied this fully with a Tree of Life meets Pariah vibe, which seems to be at the nexus of Jackson’s vision. In theaters now in the US. To be released soon on VOD in the UK.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Priscilla Parish bids adieu to her role at BBC Studios as the Head of Drama after steering notable projects to success:

Her successor, Kate Oates, steps into the spotlight, bringing a rich history of transformative storytelling. Her past projects include:

  • EastEnders (1985- )
  • Coronation Street (1960- )
  • Emmerdale (1972 – )

Together, they represent a lineage of impactful British television, with Oates now poised to champion the next generation of dramas for BBC.

Pedro Almodóvar championed Spanish filmmaker Alauda Ruíz de Azua’s first feature, Lullaby (trailer). The movie won the Spanish Academy Goya Award for the best new director.

Ruíz de Azua’s TV debut, Querer, is a miniseries exploring an intimate family drama in the Basque Country. The series delves into the complexities of traditional family structures and sheds light on the insidious nature of unnoticed machismo. The film weaves elements of courtroom drama and psychological thriller. Shooting through January.

French cooking films always leave a great aftertaste:

Binoche’s latest is the French language film The Taste of Things, which played at:

  • Cannes (winner, best director)
  • NYFF
  • Telluride

The film’s synopsis reads:

The relationship between Eugenie (Binoche), an esteemed cook, and Dodin (Benoît Magimel), the gourmet she has been working for over the last 20 years. Growing fonder of one another, their bond turns into a romance and gives rise to delicious dishes that impress even the world’s most illustrious chefs. When Dodin is faced with Eugenie’s reluctance to commit to him, he decides to start cooking for her.

The trailer is delicious. The film opens in theaters Wednesday in France, with a limited run at NYC’s MOMA today, December 29th in the UK, and February 14th in the US on Valentine’s Day. Mark your calendar it’ll be a great date.

Happy Friday! See you next week.


ON THIS DAY

1969 Sesame Street premieres on PBS TV


Written by: Gabriel Miller and Spencer Carter. Edited by Clarke Scott.

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