Friday, March 4, 2016

The Witch

The Witch

"Do  you want to live deliciously?" - Black Phillip


The Witch (stylized as The VVitch and titled onscreen with the subtitle A New England Folktale) is a 2015 horror film written and directed by Robert Eggers, in his directorial debut. The plot follows a Puritan family encountering forces of evil in the woods beyond their New England farm, forces that may be either real or imagined. The Witch won the Directing Award in the U.S. Dramatic category at the 2015 Sundance FIlm Festival. The film was theatrically released on February 19, 2016, by A24.

A24 began in 2013. The company marked its first theatrical release with Roman Coppola's A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III,  which had a limited release. Other 2013 theatrical releases included Sally Potter's Ginger & Rosa, Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers, Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring and James Pondoldt's The Spectacular Now. In September 2013, A24 entered a $40 million dollar deal with DirecTV Cinema, where DirecTV Cinema will offer the film 30-days prior to a theatrical release by A24; Enemy was the first film to be distributed under the deal.  In January 2016, Sarah Lloyd joined the company to handle all film and television distribution and business development in the international marketplace. The company received its first Academy Award for Best Picture nomination for Lenny Abrahamson's Room, as well as the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Asif Kapadia's Amy. 

The film was partially based on Eggers' childhood fascination with witches. After being unsuccessful at pitching films that were "too weird, too obscure", Eggers realized that he would have to make a more conventional film. He said at a Q&A, "If I'm going to make a genre film, it has to be personal and it has to be good." 
Eggers wanted to film the picture in New England but the lack of tax incentives meant he had to settle for  Canada. This proved to be somewhat of a problem for Eggers, because he could not find the forest environment he was looking for in country. They had to go "off the map", eventually finding a location (Kiosk, Ontario) that was "extremely remote"; Eggers said that the nearest town "made New Hampshire look like a metropolis".
The film was produced in several locations in what is known as Mattawa Voyageur Country.

The Scariest Movie at Sundance: How Robert Eggers Made the Horrifying, Historically Accurate ‘The Witch’

From (JAN 29, 2015) by Matt Patches

Horror seduced Robert Eggers. When he realized a truly terrifying image could burrow into a viewer’s mind and provoke a somatic sensation, he had a language to relay his own experiences. Eggers had a happy childhood plagued by anxiety. Horror movies were a chance to share the fun. There’s no lack of mental duress in his meticulous feature debut, The Witch, which has terrified and impressed viewers at the Sundance Film Festival all week.
“I wanted to have the feeling of everyone feeling sick to their stomachs and having this weight of guilt and shittiness and fear all the time,” Eggers says. “Horror is an important genre, but it needs to be horrific to have emotional power.”
Eggers isn’t messing around. Within the first 15 minutes of The Witch, his reimagining of a Salem-esque tale, a wrinkled hag pestle-and-mortars a baby into body lotion. The act is shocking and painterly, rendered with the eye of an old master. The film never lets up or implodes, steadily amassing dread with slow, painstaking psychological bloodletting. It’ll pay off for Eggers, who has earned raves for his unique take on puritanical faith and family. By the time he jets back to his home in Brooklyn, the director will have a dedicated congregation of his own. Sundancers already believe.

There are directors who talk the Kubrickian hyper-detail talk and those who walk the Kubrickian hyper-detail walk. “Aiming for verisimilitude” can amount to a day spent vetting facts on Wikipedia. Eggers is the real deal. The Witch is the recognizable accomplishment of a guy who paid his bills as a production designer, art director, prop stylist, and set carpenter. The scares are fortified by minutiae, history, design, and performance — a bedrock for the batshit insanity. Building a fully operational 17th-century farm isn’t the most logical move from a first-time director, but it’s the only way Eggers saw his story. 

Set in 1630, against New England’s perpetual overcast, the film follows God-fearing William and Katherine as they break away from their community to start a life in wilderness. When the family’s newborn disappears in the worst game of peekaboo ever, suspicion arises that their eldest daughter, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), could be dancing with the Devil in her off-hours.
Eggers spent five years researching, developing, and writing the script for The Witch. To forge his authentic colonial setting, the writer-director pored over historical documents at Smithsonian’s Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. According to Taylor-Joy, Eggers absorbed exhaustive tomes and primary source diaries, reaching encyclopedic knowledge levels. Eggers uncovered architectural notes to appropriately construct Ye Olde Cabin in the Woods and taught his crew era-appropriate farming techniques, just in case his characters’ farms ever needed to become fully operational. And then there was the damned topic of witchcraft, bubbling and brewing 60 years before the Salem trials.
“What was really interesting to me was [that] folktales, fairy tales, and reality in the early modern period were all kind of the same thing,” Eggers says. “So you have folk stories that are being told by laypeople, but they’re pretty much the same as the Elizabethan witch pamphlets, which were sort of like a tabloid newspaper of the day. And so there’s accounts of witches giving children poison apples, and they’re going to court for that, but that’s obviously a real fairy-tale motif.”
There are inaccuracies in The Witch that only Eggers and John Proctor would notice. They don’t keep him up at night … nor are they easily forgotten. To provide enough light inside the family’s colonial home, Eggers’s design team had to scale up the windows by 33 percent. Candles had to be triple-wicked for night shoots, with Eggers and his director of photography relying on open-flame lighting as often as possible. And while Plimouth Plantation made it very clear that English settlers harvested their corn like Native Americans did, by cutting the ears and leaving the stalks up, Eggers opted for the dampened look of corn shocks. “I wanted that iconic New England harvest look,” he says. “But we thought about it: This family’s starving. They don’t have a lot of crops to feed their animals. And since they did that same pyramid shape with their grain crops in England, why wouldn’t they do that?” Encyclopedia.
The son of an English professor, Eggers slipped through the education system with bad grades and a big reading habit. Hearing him wax poetic on the Geneva Bible and the way dialogue hovers around The Witch’s characters like mist in a gnarled forest, there’s an admiration for language on par with his visual panache. Eggers picked up the archaic English’s vocabulary, eventually finding a way to rewire it for his own diabolical needs. Eggers culled dialogue directly from Puritan prayer manuals and Cotton Mather and Samuel Willard’s accounts of New England “witchcraft.” “I would find and take phrases out and line them all up, and I had phrases that had to do with the Devil, and phrases that had to do with being happy, and phrases that had to do with being sad,” Eggers says. He discovered his characters through history, grafting real stories to his wide-open screenplay. “A diary entry would inspire a scene. Like, Katherine has this dream about being very close to Jesus that I thought was very beautiful. This was a Puritan minister’s dream that I tweaked and shaped to fit her character.”

Adapting the words was only part of Eggers’s controlled approach. He also had to teach his actors to speak it. Properly. According to Eggers, the family originally hailed from Essex before migrating to the New World, factually consistent with the Great Migration. “But I cast Ralph [Ineson as the father], and Ralph’s Yorkshire accent, Yorkshire attitude was so amazing that we decided to make the family from Yorkshire.” This didn’t mean fudging a detail. With Eggers, it’s about recalibrating. Hunting for evidence, the director discovered in Dedham, Massachusetts, the Fairbanks House, the oldest surviving timber-frame residence in North America. Its original owner, Fairbanks, was from Yorkshire and moved to Massachusetts with Essex people. When he couldn’t get along with the church, he moved his family outside. “So I was like, ‘Well, this is perfect.’ Way back when the family was from Essex, we talked about doing a 1770s Essex dialect. But it sounds insane. It sounds like a pirate. So we worked on creating a Yorkshire accent that was sort of free of some of the modern urbanisms, but that could suit this language.”

Don’t mistake The Witch for a ride in a park. With a few short films under his belt, this was still Eggers’s first feature, one he admits was overly ambitious. There’s a rule in film school when you’re just starting out: Don’t make movies with kids, animals, or on the water. They’re unruly. Eggers double-downed on the exact opposite approach. “I remember it hit me in preproduction when we were talking with the animal trainers. I said to Jay Van Hoy, one of the producers, like, ‘This movie is either gonna be great, or it’s going to be the worst thing ever made.’”
For a blood-gulping, youth-sucking, Satan-channeling witch to feel real, the world surrounding her needs to balance out the fantasy. This is not M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village — there’s no sense that the characters onscreen could ditch their costumes and walk out into the real world. Personal histories and points of view are tied to appropriated facts. “[The film] talks about the beginnings of America and the hubris that English settlers had — it’s really disgusting and horrible and embarrassing,” Eggers says. “But I can empathize with it, and found a key into really loving these people. Even though their worldview is that the privilege of being the chosen people is horrible, they’re still human beings with struggles.”
Eggers is comfortable in the past. There’s a thrill to the research. A distant timeline allows him to extrapolate his own family dynamics into a hellish Puritan household. And it’s just awesome — in the biblical sense — to leave behind horror’s modern tropes to see what happens when blood spills on a coif and petticoat.
“For me, it’s easier to go to the sublime when you go to the past, when you go outside experiences,” Eggers says. “This is like, super precious and disgusting and makes me want to throw up, but when you look at primitive religion, people putting on the masks and becoming the gods of the past and having that weight … I want to channel that weight from the past. For me, that’s cool. I’m not Christian, but when you go into a cathedral, you’re all of the sudden in a mythic time there. You’re not in today.”

Though The Witch won’t barrel through 2015 toward a Best Picture slot like previous Sundance darlings — expect Eggers’s precision direction and his Lars von Trier treatment of Taylor-Joy to rank among the most infuriating omissions when that conversation ramps up — its creative hustler is coveted. After The Witch played for Sundance’s industry patrons, boutique distributor A24 fought for and won the film’s distribution rights. A few days later, reports said Eggers signed with ex–Warner Bros. chief Jeff Robinov to direct his first studio movie. It’s described as “an epic medieval fantasy.” Back to the past for Eggers.
Modern horror movies aren’t part of Eggers’s vernacular. He sees the current incarnation as “sort of like a titillating teenage, masochistic sort of thing.” His filmmaking heroes are icons: Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Stanley Kubrick, and Ingmar Bergman, a name he repeats six times out of pure excitement. But when I ask Eggers how he separated The Witch from the contemporary crowd, how he’ll do so as his career takes off, he brings up the most logical topic: Japanese Noh. Because if you want to know how to “go there” — nightmare-inducing WTFtown  and still manage to saysomething, that’s where to look.
“From the way I understand it, and the way I’ve talked about it is that [Japanese Noh] is the earliest form of theater that’s still performed today,” he says, “and most of the most respected Japanese Noh plays are horror. Stories of people going mad and monsters. Medieval Japanese people understood how important it is to go to that place.”
Hollywood, please use your new encyclopedia wisely.
 Matt Patches (@misterpatches) is a writer and reporter in New York whose work has been featured on Vulture,, and The Hollywood Reporter.

 'The VVITCH': Black Phillip Gets His Own Trailer

By MrDisgusting on Feb 24, 2016
Black Phillip Gets His Own Trailer

Overhyped? I don’t care what anyone thinks as the success of A24’s The Witch was a huge deal for us horror fans. Sick of remakes? Well, you should be celebrating that a distributor took a chance on a unique and extremely small indie film that made the festival rounds.
If you’re a fan of the film, which we are here at Bloody Disgusting, then you’re going to get a kick out of this new TV Spot for The Witch that focuses on the film’s iconic goat names Black Phillip. Courtesy of EW, the trailer carries tons of footage of the goat, to go along with haunting whispers of his name and quotes focused on the symbolic animal.
Robert Eggers’ The Witch made an impressive $8 million at the box office, and should instill some confidence in distributors to take more risks in the future. We deserve this.
Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, and Lucas Dawson star in the film rated R “for disturbing violent content and graphic nudity.“


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Revenant

 On Jan 6, the Film & Art Study opened 2016 with a special screening of the film, The Revenenat.  Written by Mark L Smith and Alejandro G Inarritu, shot by Emmanual Lubezki and directed by Alejandro G Inarritu. 

Vilmos Zsigmond

On January 1, 2016, Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC passed away at the age of 85. Zsigmond, who won an Oscar for his work on Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), was responsible for the distinctive look of many of the best Hollywood movies of the 1970s, starting with Altman’s McCabe & Mrs Miller (1971). Using the wide-screen Panavision image (before screens got narrower to accommodate home video), Zsigmond steeped this anti-western in dark, wet, cold tones. It was the kind of desaturated cinematography for which he became renowned. 

Vilmos Zsigmond (1978)

John Boorman’s Deliverance (1972) was Zsigmond’s first film shot entirely on location, namely the Appalachian mountains of northern Georgia and South Carolina. The use of desaturated film stock gave the picture a certain gritty realism, added to which there were no special effects or stuntmen, so that Zsigmond had to film the actors shooting the rapids while actually doing so himself.

Spielberg asked Zsigmond to photograph his first big-screen feature, The Sugarland Express (1974), a road movie set in Texas, which was the first feature to be shot with the new lightweight Panaflex camera. After refusing to shoot Jaws because he thought it was a stupid script, Zsigmond worked with Spielberg again on the science-fiction extravaganza Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “It was difficult to shoot because of the lighting,” he recalled. “We had huge amounts of lighting to get the special effects – which would be done by computer-generated imagery today, but in those days we had to do it in the camera.” Out of the eight Oscar nominations the film received, only the cinematographer collected the statuette.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

The Film & Art Study presentation began with select sequences of Vilmos Zsimond's greatest work: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Deliverance, The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate. 

The Revenant

“revenant” (noun) - One who has returned from the dead. From the French, revenir, to return. A corpse that comes back to life.  

The Revenant (2016)

The Revenant is a 2015 biographical western, directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu set in 1823 Montana and South Dakota, which was inspired by the experiences of frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass. The screenplay was written by Mark L Smith and Iñárritu, based in part on Michael Punke’s The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter and Domnall Gleeson.

Development of the film began in August 2001 when Akiva Goldsman purchased Punke's manuscript with the intent to produce the film. The film was originally set to be directed by Park Chan-wook with Samual L Jackson in mind to star, and later by John Hillcoat with Christian Bale in negotiations to star. Both directors left the project, and Iñárritu signed on to direct in August 2011. In April 2014, after several delays in production due to other projects, Iñárritu confirmed that he was beginning work on The Revenant and that DiCaprio would play the lead role. It is the second on-screen collaboration of Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy (the first being Inception).

Principal photography for The Revenant began in October 2014. Iñárritu was insistent that computer-generated imagery not be used to enhance the film, stating "If we ended up in greenscreen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of shit.” A planned two-week break from filming in December was extended to six weeks (forcing actor Tom Hardy to drop out of another commitment). In February 2015, Iñarritu, who shot the film using natural light, stated that production would last "until the end of April or May", as the crew is "shooting in such remote far-away locations that, by the time we arrive and have to return, we have already spent 40% of the day". Brad Weston, president and CEO of New Regency Pictures, stated that principal photography had been challenging due to the ambitious nature of the film. Ultimately, principal photography wrapped in August 2015.

Leonardo DiCaprio was originally approached to star in Steve Jobs (2015), but dropped out to do this film instead.

Sean Penn was the first choice for the role of John Fitzgerald and was actually cast in the role but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. The role was then filled in by Tom Hardy. 

Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant (2016)

The movie was filmed in 12 different locations and three different countries including Canada, United States and Argentina. Specifically, Canadian filming took place in British Columbia and Alberta including Victoria, Fortress Mountain, Calgary, Alberta, and at Mammoth Studios in Burnaby, British Columbia. (While the initial plan was to film entirely in Canada, the weather ended up being too warm, leading the filmmakers to locations at the tip of Argentina with snow on the ground, to shoot the film's ending.)

Crew members often complained about difficult shoots, with many quitting or getting fired. Mary Parent was then brought in as a producer. Iñárritu stated that some of the members of the crew had left the film, explaining that "as a director, if I identify a violin that is out of tune, I have to take that from the orchestra." On his experience filming, DiCaprio stated: "I can name 30 or 40 sequences that were some of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. Whether it’s going in and out of frozen rivers, or sleeping in animal carcasses, or what I ate on set. [I was] enduring freezing cold and possible hypothermia constantly."

Iñárritu had stated that he originally wanted to shoot the film chronologically, a process that would have added $7 million to the film's production budget. Iñarritu later confirmed that the film was shot in-sequence, despite Tom Hardy's statement that the film could not be shot chronologically, due to weather conditions.

In July 2015, it was reported that the film's budget had ballooned from the original $60 million to $95 million, and by the time production wrapped it had reached $135 million.

The musical score for The Revenant was composed by Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto in collaboration with The National’s Bryce Dessner and German electronic musician Alva Noto. The score was performed by the 25-piece Berlin-based orchestra known as "stargaze" under conductor Andre de Ridder.

A soundtrack album was released digitally on December 25, 2015 and on CD on January 8, 2016. Milian Records will release a vinyl pressing of the soundtrack in April 2016.

Writing for New York magazine on December 28, 2015, Justin Davidson compared Sakamoto's score to the contemporaneous score by Ennio Morricone for The Hateful 8 stating: "Inarritu made a completely different choice of composer: Ryuichi Sakamoto, who came to film from a career in experimental electronics... Sakamoto's is the more successful score. Both films slouch toward inevitable spasms of bloodshed, with long pensive stretches in between... Sakamoto slowly progresses through glacial chords that build toward a fortissimo horizon... The score doesn't so much follow the action here as lead it, urging the fighters on, even as it registers their single-minded lunacy."

This story was filmed in 1971 as "Man in the Wilderness" starring Richard Harris as the Glass character (called Zach Bass in this version).  

Inarritu and DiCaprio Golden Globes 2016

January 10, 2016 was a huge night for The Revenant at the Golden Globes, the harrowing true-life story of a frontiersman’s battle to survive after being left for dead. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave this best motion picture (drama); the best actor (drama) prize went to its star Leonardo DiCaprio and the best director award (not split into drama and musical/comedy) went to Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Monday, January 12, 2015



On Jan 7, the Film & Art Study opened 2015 with a special screening of the film, Unbroken.  Written by Joel and Ethan Coen, shot by Roger Deakins and directed by Angelina Jolie.

Unbroken is a 2014 American war drama, produced and directed by Angelina Jolie, and based on the 2010 non-fiction book by Laura Hillenbrand - Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption. The film revolves around the life of USA Olympian and athlete Louis “Louie” Zamperini, portrayed by Jack O’Connel. Zamperini, who died on July 2, 2014, at the age of 97, survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber was downed in WWII, and was sent to a series of POW (prisoner of war) camps.


Unbroken had its World Premiere in Sydney on November 17, 2014, and received a wide release in the United States on December 25, 2014. 

Universal Pictures purchased the rights to the book in January 2011, having already acquired the film rights to Zamperini's life towards the end of the 1950s. Early drafts for the film were written by William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese while Francis Lawrence was scheduled to direct. Joel and Ethan Coen were then tapped to rewrite the script after Jolie was named director.

On September 30, 2013, Jolie was confirmed to direct the film in Australia. Walden Media was originally set as Universal's co-financer, but withdrew from the project prior to filming and were subsequently replaced by Legendary Pictures. The filming was based in New South Wales and Queensland, with scenes also shot in Fox Studios - Australia and Village Roadshow Studios.  

The official film soundtrack was released on December 15, 2014, through Parlophone and Atlantic Records. The film score was composed by Alexandre Desplat. The album also features “Miracles”, a song written and recorded by British alternative rock band Coldplay, which was released digitally as a single on December 15, 2014.

After an early screening, Japanese nationalists asked for the film and the director to be banned from their country, due to their accusation that the film shows them in a negative stereotypical light. In response, it triggered a petition by The Indo Project voicing support for the movie as they see it as a reflection of what their family members in the former Dutch East Indies experienced in Japanese camps. Several prominent Dutch Indos — including author Adriaan van Dis, Doe Maar-frontman Ernst Jansz, and actress Wieteke van Dort -  have signed the petition in support of the film.

Unbroken Technical Specs

Runtime: 137 Min

Sound Mix: DataSat, Dolby Digital, SDDS

Color: Color

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1