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Ridley Scott’s casting choices for Exodus: Gods and Kings are emblematic of a larger, systemic problem in the entertainment industry. Movie Pilot

Ridley Scott’s casting of white actors is symptomatic of larger problems

Director Ridley Scott recently set off a firestorm when he dismissed those who criticized him for casting white actors as every major character in the recently released Exodus: Gods and Kings, while reserving…
Cinema has always been about spectacle – it’s not yet walking dead. AAP/Marcus Walters, Gerrit Fokkema

TV’s golden age has freed cinema to do what it does best

At the opening night of the Victorian College of the Arts graduate film screening season this month, keynote speaker Clayton Jacobson (writer/director of Kenny, 2006) mentioned to the audience his belief…
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is released around the world this month. Never mind the top tens, this film will skew the box office stats for 2014 and 2015. Image: John Bell as Bain and Luke Evans as Bard. Photo: Mark Pokorny. Warner Bros

Bad Hobbits Die Hard: how to make a better Top 10 movie list

Tis the season to make Top 10 lists. Why? Because we are hurtling with unavoidable haste toward the end of another calendar year. It’s almost impossible to get through the day without some kind of Top…
Movie theaters have seen declining box office revenues over the past two years. Michael Gabler/Wikimedia Commons

Event cinema could save the movie theater

If Dumber and Dumber To, Interstellar and Big Hero 6 didn’t get you to the movies last week, you weren’t alone: just before Thanksgiving, Box Office Mojo put year-to-date gross receipts at almost $9 billion…
In Interstellar, Matthew McConaughey plays the protagonist, Cooper, who wears many hats: everyman farmer, laconic space hero, grieving father. Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Interstellar: Nolan’s flawed masterpiece

At about the midway point of Interstellar, a spacecraft descends into the atmosphere of a pristine white planet. Gliding downwards, the tip of the craft brushes against a cloud, and the cloud shatters…
Movies such as Matrix Revolutions are explicit about their desire to make us think. AAP Image/Warner Brothers/Village Roadshow Films

Thought experiments: the films that turn us into philosophers

Showbusiness is about entertainment, right? Film-going should be fun. We want to laugh or squeal or sigh as emotion arises in us when the music swells and the camera zooms in for an extreme close up…
After Isaac Newton, earthquakes could be deterministically linked to a distant divinity. Earthquake in Haiti, American Red Cross

A moral world in which bad things happen to good people

On All Saints Day in 1755 the earth quaked beneath the city of Lisbon. Crowds rushed to open spaces near the sea only to be engulfed by a tsunami. The philosopher Voltaire lamented the tragedy in his Poem…
The vampire stars of What We Do In The Shadows, a new New Zealand film released today. Kane Skellar/Madmen Films

What We Do in the Shadows – the NZ gothic with sharp comic chops

Yes, some vampires like to live in looming, crumbling, cobwebby castles. But some, the vampires of What We Do in the Shadows, a New Zealand film released today, like to live in flats in Wellington. This…
How can big data help us to better understand the cinema habits of movie-lovers around the world? Kenneth Lu/Flickr

Big Data at the movies: the Kinomatics project

The backlash against “big data” studies is well underway. And no more so than in the area of humanities and creative arts research. If I had a dollar for every person who has told me over the past year…
A testament to Bacall’s strength of personality was her ability to move beyond the shadow of being Mrs Bogart. Insomnia Cured Here

Beauty and brawn: Lauren Bacall’s noir feminine legacy

Lauren Bacall carried with her an air of mystery and intrigue in life – and now in death. She died of a stroke today at the age of 89 at her home in Los Angeles. As sex symbol – the Look, the Voice – lover…
Caesar (Andy Serkis) is the leader of the ape nation in a scene from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Weta/20th Century Fox

Oscars for animals? Andy Serkis should be beating his chest

The notion that a chimpanzee could win an Academy Award for acting (or anything else) seems farcical at first glance but, of course, it’s not an actual chimpanzee being discussed in the case of the latest…
The muscle man. Kerry Brown/© 2014 Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.

Brain or brawn? New Hercules film is bringing back the muscle

Hercules is once again back on our screens. This latest version has Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson in the title role, alongside an international cast which includes a host of British stars. John Hurt is Cotys…
Good Vibrations tells the story of Belfast’s punk scene against the backdrop of the Troubles. Curious Films

Belfast’s punk scene brings Good Vibrations … and Troubles

Punk music’s role in overcoming sectarian divides during one of the bloodiest chapters in northern Irish history isn’t a topic we hear much about. But that’s the subject of the film Good Vibrations, currently…
The hero’s journey in three stages - separation, initiation, return - offers a narrative framework for understanding character progression. Pineapples101

Are you monomythic? Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey

When you tell someone a story, do you plan it out beforehand so that it’ll sound good? Do you carefully plot what you’ll say, in a specific order? Or does the story find a way of telling itself, the plot…
Norman McLaren working on Begone Dull Care, 1949. National Film Board of Canada

Norman McLaren: a late, great animator now drawing applause

Animation is all around us – from Pixar to manga to animated gifs. As with any creative field, it has its unsung heroes – the innovators who have shaped and defined the art form. So it was a great delight…

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