Posts Tagged ‘War Horse’

Meet The Keeper Of War Horse’s Mane And Tail

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Meet The Keeper Of War Horse‘s Mane And Tail

Novelist Michael Morpugo On A Secret History Behind War Horse

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Novelist Michael Morpugo On A Secret History Behind War Horse

Box Office Hell — January 5

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
The Devil Inside |16.2|17.4|13.0|20.0|23.0
Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol|17.0|19.2|16.0|18.0|17.0
Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows|11.5|17.2|10.5|11.5|12.5
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked|9.8|8.6|23.0|10.5|10.2
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo |9.2|8.8|8.5|10.0|10.0
War Horse |9.0|8.4|8.0|n/a|8.5

Farber On The Rarity Of World War I Tales On Film

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Farber On The Rarity Of World War I Tales On Film

Benedict Cumberbatch Encounters An Adoring Public

Friday, December 30th, 2011

“Imagine if he was sitting right here! Ooh, I want to tweet! I want to tweet!”
Benedict Cumberbatch Encounters An Adoring Public

Box Office Hell — December 29

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol|n/a|30.0|39.0|29.0|31.0
Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows|n/a|20.0|26.0|21.0|23.0
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked|n/a|13.8|23.0|17.0|18.0
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo |n/a|13.0|16.0|14.0|15.0
War Horse |n/a|16.0|20.0|15.0|15.5
The Adventures of Tin Tin|n/a|10.0|18.0|n/a|12.5
We Bought a Zoo |n/a|10.0|17.0|n/a|12.3

Interactive-Mapping War Horse’s Journey

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Interactive-Mapping War Horse‘s Journey

Box Office Hell – December 22

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol|36.5|n/a|38.0|n/a|26.5
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo |33.4|n/a|27.0|n/a|20.0
Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows|22.5|n/a|20.0|n/a|17.0
The Adventures of Tin Tin|16.2|n/a|15.0|n/a|11.0
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked|7.0|n/a|13.0|n/a|13.0
We Bought a Zoo |13.0n/a|9.0|n/a|12.5
War Horse |7.5|n/a|n/a|n/a|4.5

Mazursky Rides War Horse

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Mazursky Rides War Horse

A Gay Reading Of War Horse

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

A Gay Reading Of War Horse

On The “Almost Fake, Fable-Like” Look Of War Horse

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

On The “Almost Fake, Fable-Like” Look Of War Horse

John Williams, Hw’d’s Last Movie Maestro

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

John Williams, Hw’d’s Last Movie Maestro

The Big-Eyed Stars Of War Horse

Friday, December 16th, 2011

The Big-Eyed Stars Of War Horse

Spielberg Sez Not Many Good Movies Made Anymore

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

“There’s not a lot of films I’d watch that are made over the past 20 years, because I’m much more of a romantic.”
Spielberg Sez Not Many Good Movies Made Anymore

War Horse (Spoiler-Free)

Friday, November 25th, 2011

(NOTE: If you consider any discussion of story structure a spoiler, you should not read this review. I saw the stage show and for me, the story structure and the visceral experience of the film was still a bit of a surprise. So fair warning… though I do avoid anything that might traditionally be considered a spoiler.)

Somewhere between “they don’t make ‘em like that anymore” and “they never made ‘em quite like that” lies War Horse, a Steven Spielberg epic that would serve as a glorious career wrap-up for many 65-year-old (when the film’s released) filmmakers… though Spielberg has two films out in the next month and another, now in production, that will be will us next fall. Talk about your war horses!

War Horse is deceptive to the viewer, in that there are a few different films in the deck from which Spielberg and screenwriters Lee Hall and Richard Curtis are dealing. (It all started, btw, with Michael Morpurgo’s book.) For half an hour or so, you settle into the idea that this is a family film with a gorgeous landscape, a mustache twirling villain (“But I can’t pay the rent… but you have to pay the rent!”), and a boy and his horse who will make the world right again in 96 tidy minutes.

But the war is coming… what will it bring?

Well, it would be odd to call this “the Contagion of World War One movies,” but there is a similar narrative structure. The life of this horse, named “Joey” by young “Albert Narracott,” the boy-turning-man who raised him, is one of many adventures and many handlers. The story-telling always manages to keep things on the right side of too-clever, which can also be said of the anthropomorphic nature of the war horse, Joey. You never get the Mr. Ed moment, though you do see this horse as a thinking being that gets ideas. But they are never ideas so complex that they seem absurd. They are more on the level of my near-2-year-old son, who can sense the need for caution, knows things he wants, and will actually negotiate with some clarity amongst other 2-year-olds… all in the body of a beautiful race horse.

As Joey travels through his life, he encounters a surprising number of people who really appreciate a smart and beautiful horse. There is a Captain who is emotionally generous to the boy and then the horse as well. There is a young girl played by Celine Buckens who sees the horse as a representative of her freedom. There are a variety of characters who see the horse as more than the potential of the work that can be drained from him. And there are soldiers who see the horse as a symbol of their humanity, trapped in this pointed, sticky war that they are waging in the dirt. And of course, there is Albert, who simply loves his horse as anyone might love a sibling or a child.

I don’t really want to give any of this story away. It is well enough structured a piece that its many small miracles never feel cheap or gimmicky. And Spielberg & Co. change speeds with each new part of the adventure.

It’s a kind of fascinating film in combination with Spielberg’s other Dec release, The Adventures of Tintin. This is the unanimated adventure… but it’s equally ambitious in many ways. From lush countryside to trench warfare to classic villages to the French countryside, War Horse travels. And the look of the film travels with our equine hero. When we are in the early stages of the boy-meets-horse movie, it looks like the old films of that genre. And when we get to the war zone, we get the full Barry Lyndon. And then, we get the full Paths of Glory. It doesn’t look like either of those films. And obviously, the content is not the same. But Spielberg and Kaminski and production designer Rick Carter and even Michael Kahn’s cutting style seems to shift to a slightly different voice.

The ensemble feel of the film doesn’t bode well for acting nominations. There are excellent performances to spare (especially Arestrup, Kebbell, Hiddleston, and Cumberbatch), but no one but the horse really has the time to either be the show or steal the show in a way that makes a nomination seem obvious. There are some moments and some speeches that would look good on an Oscar reel, but as much of a melodrama as this film is, it is pretty careful about not going too big… not calling that kind of attention to any character except for Joey.

Whatever the fate of the rest of the group, I think it’s likely that John Williams will not have to wait until Lincoln to score another Oscar, while many others involved may have to settle for nominations and not wins.

I will admit now that I shed tears watching this film. More than I’d like to admit. And I don’t feel like I was manipulated at all. I felt like I was a witness to some very powerful, very real human emotions. And one cannot help but to root for this horse like you would root for any of the great heroes of the movies. He is not anthropomorphic, but he does embody the traits of persistence, courage, and survival that most people would love to feel in themselves and certainly would love to see in those they love.

And most importantly, you want him to be loved… to not have to show that persistence and courage and survival under fire, even though we know it’s there. This is, really, what all the characters want for themselves and their loved ones in this film… whether the soldiers or the parents or the grandparents or the crowds that gather now and again through the story.

I can pick nits over various things, though by the end of the film, I felt that most of my red flags were really style choices to draw the audience into the film, not unlike Saving Private Ryan. (Watch for the Saving Private Joey sequence here.) There are moments when the great Peter Mullan and Emily Watson almost seem to be doing those fake freeze frames from Police Squad… but again… those shots feel like they were from those movies of the 50s. Eddie Marsan turns for a dark moment, almost as though his part was cut down. Same with a very familiar face playing a doctor for about 2 minutes of the film. But like I say… nit picking. Kaminski’s light will drive some people crazy… as it always does. But I found it breathtaking and fresh many times throughout the film (even in the Gone With The Wind homage).

I can’t wait to take my wife to the film and for my son to be old enough to watch it and be challenged by it himself.

Expectations were high for this film. And they are surpassed. What else is there to ask?

15 Weeks To Oscar: Now There’s A Race

Friday, November 25th, 2011

It’s been a very unusual awards season so far. Put aside the NY Film Critics Circle Jerk and the Golden Globes “I Made You… You Made Me” lawsuit and the weirdly slow dance to the season that is now in hyper-drive as many see their plans falling apart. But what has been most unusual is how many good movies are in play, while none of them have really jumped out as the clear frontrunner.

The one Academy-pleaser with all the right angles is The Artist, which finally started moving faster down the tracks, embracing the audience that will vote for it instead of the many critics who can’t seem to accept it as worthy, in the last 3 weeks.

And now, War Horse… which is, like The Artist, a tribute to the history of cinema. But in this case, it’s many flavors of cinema, all of which are designed to rip your heart out of your chest, but which are also much more hard core than I expect many critics to want to accept.

Right now, with two serious potential Best Picture winning films left to show themselves – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – the two heart films are really the only two films that can win Best Picture this year.

It’s fascinating, really. This has been one of those years where some very tough, smart movies are in the game. I find this extremely exciting. I think that The Academy could step up to Shame and nominate it for Best Picture. I still feel – though consultants have scared many of the experts out of thinking it’s possible – that the Fincher Dragon Tattoo could be one step tougher than The Departed and win the day. Films from Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Terrence Malick, and Spielberg (with Tintin) are pushing older directors to new places. And younger directors, like Jason Reitman, Alexander Payne, Steven Soderbergh, Bennett Miller, and Tomas Alfredson are delivering top-of-career films that audience have and will embrace.

But none of the edge seems to have the sticking power, this season (so far), of the heart tuggers.

Michel Hazanavicius has proven, in just four feature films, to be a magician of movie history. The pair of OSS 117 movies are near-perfect satire of genre, pushing against decades of self-serious spy movies, both in France (where OSS 117 was an earnest Bond competitor in its day) and on the stage… world stage.

Jean Dujardin is one of France’s biggest stars… in many ways their George Clooney, though he is comedy-first and also does some dramatic work while GC works in the opposite direction. It’s all the more ironic that Dujardin will compete with Clooney for what is primarily a dramatic role with some great comedic moments, while Clooney’s nomination will be for a movie that is primarily a comedy role with some great dramatic moments.

Steven Spielberg has, on the other hand, a long history of making stars in films that feel like ensemble pieces. War Horse is his 27th film and with the exception of making Hans Solo into Indiana Jones, the two Tom Cruise movies, the three Tom Hanks movies, and Hook, his 17 other movies have starred many familiar actors… but not major box office stars. And again, reflecting on The Artist, it’s interesting that for American audiences Dujardin is a newcomer… allowing us the pleasure of discovery, much as in a Spielberg film.

War Horse, as many have said before, is an ensemble film, perhaps making it the rare Oscar nominee (and potentially, rarer winner) to go without any acting nomination. There are many beautiful performances, but the horse is the one character we spend the whole movie with. Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Niels Arestrup make, perhaps, the most intense appearances… but they are too brief to really register as must-nominates. (And none have the culminating royal feel of Judi Dench’s 3-minute Shakespeare In Love turn.)

But while in the first act, you may think this is just the most beautiful version of National Velvet you ever saw, things change. A lot. It’s a real war movie, with sequences that rival the landing in Saving Private Ryan. (I’d say 10 is about the starting age for this film… with lots of stuff to discuss afterwards.) It’s a subtle coming-of-the-Holocaust movie with the French hiding things in their attics and Germans being, uh, strict. It’s a beautiful trench warfare movie with enough restraint to keep it from being unbearable, but not inauthentic. And it’s a film about survival, more than anything else.

There is nothing that critics hate more than finding themselves emotionally moved by a movie. And Spielberg has taken the brunt of that for years. If a rising director makes us weep, it’s genius. If Spielberg does it, it’s manipulation. Conversely, there are some critics who see everything through Spielberg-colored glasses and the man can do no wrong.

War Horse is for real. It’s a true epic and an instant classic.

The Artist is a real joy. Undeniable. Surprising. An epic pleasure.

It will be interesting to see how this starts to play out… and whether either of the Final Two can change the game, perhaps as the movie that wins on a split between two more classically styled films.

War Horse will have more detractors. The Artist will be questioned for its smaller scale. War Horse will be a bigger box office success, but will be yoked with expectation while modest grosses for The Artist will be hailed as a miracle. Dujardin will charm voters, while Joey the horse will crap on red carpets all over town.

And so the dance begins…

“War Horse” Presents Spielberg Live Via Satellite—Audiences Worldwide to Participate

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

BURBANK, Calif., Nov. 22, 2011 — DreamWorks Pictures announced today that they will be presenting an advance screening of Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” on Sunday, November 27th in New York City. The event, which starts at 2:00 p.m. (EST), features a live Q&A session with director Steven Spielberg following the presentation of the film.

This special screening gives film fans across the country a unique opportunity to engage in a live question-and-answer discussion with the “War Horse” director. The Q&A will be moderated by Mark Harris, Entertainment Weekly columnist and contributing editor at New York Magazine. The screening will start simultaneously in nine other cities—Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, Miami, Atlanta—and audiences in those cities will view the Q&A with Steven Spielberg live via satellite after the film and will be able to text their questions to the moderator. The Q&A session will also stream live on with real time text translation provided by Fans around the world will be able to submit their questions via a live chat function during the event.

The film, which opens in theatres in the U.S. on December 25th, is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War. Based on the best-selling book by Michael Morpurgo and the Tony Award-winning stage play by Nick Stafford, “War Horse” is one of the great stories of bravery and friendship, brought to the screen by Academy Award-winner Steven Spielberg.

“War Horse” begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets — British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter—before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man’s Land.  The First World War is experienced through the journey of this horse—an odyssey of joy and sorrow, passionate friendship and high adventure.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks Pictures’ “War Horse” stars Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch and Toby Kebbell.  It is produced by Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, and executive producers are Frank Marshall and Revel Guest.  The screenplay was written by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis and is based on the book by Michael Morpurgo and the international hit stage play by Nick Stafford, originally produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain and directed by Tom Morris and Marianne Elliot.

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A™ Trailer: War Horse

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Yeah… pretty much as expected… looks like a heart-tugging film that delivers a horse experience like we’ve not had on film before… will be fascinating to see it all laid out… at the very least, will be gorgeous.

Trailering War Horse

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Frenzy on the Wall: Looking Forward to a New (Hopefully Better) Year

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

2010 was not my favorite year at the movies. There were certainly films that I enjoyed and ones that I expect to own and revisit more than a few times, but there wasn’t a single film that made me shudder or give me goosebumps or to even make me gasp aloud. In other words, while there were a couple of great films in 2010, there was only one or two that made me say, “Yes! That is why I love cinema.” But the great thing about life is that every time the year changes, it’s a clean slate, and there’s always something to look forward to.