Watch: The Most Stunning Cinematography of 2016

These visuals took our breath away.

Cinematography ain’t what it used to be, and that’s a good thing. With the emergence of drones and smart phones as legitimate filmmaking tools, new cinematic experiments are possible—quite literally introducing fresh perspectives onto the screen. Of course, it’s not about what you shoot with as much as how you shoot it, but this expansion of visual storytelling tools enables more visions to become realized. Thus, cinematography is at once getting more sweeping and more personal, more sumptuous and more natural.

That cinematic diversity is reflected in our top 10 list and the resulting video below. Yes, legends like Roger Deakins and Emmanuel Lubezki made the cut, but we also include unusual suspects for outstanding cinematography, like two black-and-white features, two documentaries, and even a sitcom.

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Phantasm Ravager Blu-ray Review


A review of the fifth and final Phantasm film Phantasm Ravager

This will be a relatively short review, readers.

Not because I don’t have plenty to say about the film. I do. But almost none of it is positive. And really, if you’re a hardcore Phantasm fan – which I am not – you don’t want or need someone tearing apart a film that you’ll watch regardless and that you’ll respond to in ways in which I cannot.

Now, all that said. From a casual Phantasm admirer’s point of view Phantasm Ravager is pretty damn dire.

Directed and co-written by franchise newcomer David Hartman and co-penned and produced by series brain-trust Don Coscarelli, Phantasm Ravager exemplifies defiance of the tried and true indie film adage that if you cannot afford to realize your ambitions convincingly, don’t try. Take another route. Play to your strengths. But with this fifth and supposedly final kick at the Tall Man’s can, from its first frames, it’s clear that there were not nearly enough coins in the coffers to bring the world as written to proper life. Not that there ever was, mind you, save for the considerably lush Phantasm II. But the original film and the spotty 3rd and 4th efforts were designed within their fiscal means and were realized with primarily practical special effects. They relied on judicious use of those effects and played with music and disorienting narratives to keep us engaged and forgiving of their shortcomings. And of course, in the first film anyway, there was a heavy sense of mystery and innovation to propel us along.

RELATED: Interview with director David Hartman

Ravager just feels tired and bloated and impoverished. In it, series mainstay Reggie (Reggie Bannister) is still wandering the world with his homemade shot gun and driving his souped up ‘Cuda. The car looks great and so does Bannister who is clearly having a blast reprising his signature role. The original film’s co-stars A, Michael Baldwin and Bill Thornbury also show up to the party again and, as usual, fantasy and reality smash together and timelines jump around and the late Great Angus Scrimm’s regal fiend The Tall Man lurks in the shadows, this time with intent to take over the world with his big balls. Yeah, the balls are back too, but this time they’re realized as flat, CGI cartoons that would make even the folks at The Asylum blush. Even when they’re practical, like in one scene where they puncture a door by Reggie’s head, they look cheap and flimsy. Hell, even the door is cheap and flimsy, And what’s with the blood overload? The once fearsome spheres and the skull-drained gore they once ejaculated used to be a punch to the head. Here, those scenes just go on and on and on. They’re dull.

Coscarelli brought atmosphere and a skilled hand at action sequences to his previous four Phantasm films but Hartman shows no such gift for visual storytelling. The framing here is weak, the editing is tone-deaf and the score (by Christopher L. Stone) is epic and yet obviously created by software and thus is cheap too, like everything else in the film.

Many fans have embraced the movie, by the way it closes the series in a sensitive, moving way. But I didn’t buy it. If I wanted to watch The Notebook, I would have done so. Still, the gimmick at the core of the picture would be acceptable if anything else in the film was up to par. Nothing is. The dialogue is ham-fisted and faux-tough guy nonsense. And hearing Scrimm call Baldwin “Boyyyyy” is just goofy fan-service now, seeing as the sort-of actor is well into his 50s.

Phantasm Ravager could have been a contender. But sadly, it’s just another indie action horror movie with too many ideas and not enough tools in the box to convincingly realize them. But, as I said, I don’t think I’m the audience for this film. Well Go USA’s Blu-ray release is packed full of extras, including a commentary from Hartman and Coscarelli. I’m sure if I had listened to that, I would have appreciated the picture more. But I’m past 40 now and as we know, life is very, very short.

If you loved the movie, feel free to call me an a**hole in the comments section below…


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Interview: Adam Kolbrenner (Madhouse Entertainment)

The entire January 2013 interview series with the manager and producer.

This week, we were fortunate to have as our guest manager-producer Adam Kolbrenner from Madhouse Entertainment, an L.A.-based production and literary management company that works with screenwriters and writer/directors in the areas of film, television and new media.

Adam Kolbrenner at the Hollywood premiere of the movie ‘Prisoners’

Here are links to all six installments of the entire interview:

Part 1: “I believe great writing wins wars. But working harder than everyone else is the battle to win the war.”

Part 2: “Every single day, every phone call, meeting, email or text is about guidance.”

Part 3: “Spec scripts are opportunities for the marketplace. A hungry marketplace embraces the great ones because buyers need to make movies, otherwise they don’t exist.”

Part 4: “Incredible characters. Original story with unique twists. Well told.”

Part 5: “The key is to always be writing.”

Part 6: “If you can’t fundamentally write the script that will define you, perhaps you should choose another profession. When we do have that script, the world is yours.”

Thanks, Adam, for the interview and best of luck with Madhouse Entertainment!

Comment Archive

Interview: Adam Kolbrenner (Madhouse Entertainment) was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

Katherine Waterston’s Daniels in a New Look at Alien: Covenant

Katherine Waterston's Daniels in a New Look at Alien: Covenant

Katherine Waterston’s Daniels in a new look at Alien: Covenant

The photos from 20th Century Fox‘s Alien: Covenant continue to burst out daily and today we have another look at Katherine Waterston’s Daniels with director Ridley Scott (via Empire). This follows the new photo from this morning which featured Michael Fassbender’s Walter, a new android in the film. You can view both photos in the gallery below.

“Unlike Sigourney in ‘Alien,’ [Daniels] is in a survival mode of sorts from the beginning. She’s not the captain, but she’s a natural leader so in times of crisis she falls into that position quite easily,” Waterston tells the magazine.

Michael Fassbender stars in the film along with Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice), Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down), Demián Bichir (The Hateful Eight), Jussie Smolett (Empire), Amy Seimetz (Upstream Color), Carmen Ejogo (Selma), Callie Hernandez (Machete Kills), and Billy Crudup (Watchmen). Noomi Rapace is also expected to reprise her role as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, and James Franco is said to play the Captain of the title ship.

Set as the second chapter in a prequel trilogy that began with PrometheusAlien: Covenant connects directly to Ridley Scott’s 1979 seminal work of science fiction. It begins with the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy. There, the crew discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David, survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

Jack Paglen (Transcendence) and Michael Green (Green Lantern) are providing the Alien: Covenant screenplay, which Ridley Scott once again directs. Alien: Covenant will open in theaters on May 19, 2017.

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Baby Driver Photos: First Look at Edgar Wright’s Music-Driven Film

Baby Driver Photos: First Look at Edgar Wright's New Music-Driven Film

Baby Driver Photos: First look at Edgar Wright’s music-driven film

A first look at the new Edgar Wright filmBaby Driver, has arrived in the form of two photos via EW. You can view the Baby Driver photos in the gallery below!

Wright, whose previous credits include Shaun of the DeadHot FuzzScott Pilgrim vs. the World and The World’s End, brought together a cast that includes Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our StarsDivergent) as Baby, Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects) as Doc, Jon Hamm (Mad MenThe Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) as Buddy, Lily James (Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesCinderella) as Deborah, Eiza Gonzalez (Jem and the HologramsFrom Dusk Till Dawn: The Series) as Darling, Jon Bernthal (Marvel’s DaredevilThe Walking Dead) as Griff, and Jamie Foxx (Django UnchainedThe Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Bats.

Baby Driver follows Elgort as a young man (called Baby because of his youthful face) who works as a getaway driver for different bank robbers. One day, he gets into trouble when a bank robbery goes wrong, putting him on the run from various parties. The story is partly inspired by the “Blue Song” music video, which Wright directed for the band Mint Royale in 2003.

Elgort’s character suffers from tinnitus and the movie’s action is choreographed to the music he plays to drown out the ringing in his ears, Wright told the magazine. “I always wanted to do an action movie that was powered by music. It’s something that’s very much a part of my previous films and I thought of this idea of how to take that a stage further by having a character who listens to music the entire time. So, you have this young getaway driver who has to soundtrack his entire existence, particularly the bank robberies and fast getaways that come afterwards.”

Wright added that “there’s about 35 songs in the movie and they range from very famous to more obscure. It’s supposed to reflect the character’s extremely eclectic taste in music.”

Baby Driver is coming to theaters on August 11.

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The 8 Best Music Videos of 2016

These music videos make us wonder which came first: the music or the filmmaking?

Music videos have always been a fantastic point of entry for aspiring film directors. Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, and, most recently DANIELS, all got their start in the music video genre.

2016, which could be called the year of the visual album, has provided us with a slew of new directors ready to assume their mantle. As tastes shift away from the good old days of pop and MTV, we have been treated to a revolutionary blurring of the lines between music and film.

Here are the best music videos of the year.

8. Hinds Warts Director: Pedro Martín-Calero Medrano

We’ve highlighted a few of today’s most visionary directors in our Auteurs of Music Video retrospectives this year, and here’s a little secret: we want Pedro Martín-Calero next. The Spanish artist, a frequent collaborator with the garage rock band Hinds, is one of the best in the business at blending color with geometrical shapes.

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Disney This Week: LEGO Star Wars, Mary Poppins & More!

Disney This Week: LEGO Star Wars, Mary Poppins & More!

Disney This Week: December 17 – 23, 2016

Welcome to another edition of our new regular weekly feature Disney This Week here at We’re rounding up the latest news on all things Disney, including movies, TV, Blu-ray/DVD, theme parks, fan art and Disney history. Let us know what you like or want to see more out of in Disney This Week in the comments below!

RELATED: Star Wars News: Rogue One Passes $ 400M, Episodes VIII & IX Updates and More


The Walt Disney Studios First Ever to Hit $ 7 Billion in One Year

On December 19, The Walt Disney Studios became the first studio ever to reach the $ 7 billion threshold at the global box office, setting a new industry record. With a powerful $ 290 million global debut for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney’s year-to-date grosses were $ 6.988 billion from Jan. 1 through Dec. 18, 2016, including $ 2.700 billion domestically, also an industry record, and $ 4.287 billion internationally, a Disney record.

These box office results are driven by films from Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, and Lucasfilm, representing the first time that all five of these brands have released films in the same calendar year.

Dick Van Dyke Joins the Mary Poppins Returns Cast!

Living legend and original Mary Poppins co-star Dick Van Dyke (who just turned 91) has confirmed he will join the Mary Poppins Returns cast. It is unclear whether it is a major role or merely a cameo.

“This one supposedly takes place 20 years later and the kids are all grown up,” Van Dyke said. “It’s a great cast — Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury and that guy [Lin-Manuel Miranda] from Hamilton.”

Watch the Full Shiny Song Sequence From Moana

Disney revealed another full sequence from their animated hit Moana featuring the song “Shiny,” written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and performed by Jemaine Clement.


LEGO Star Wars The Freemaker Adventures Complete Season One


We had the chance to scope out the new Blu-ray for LEGO Star Wars The Freemaker Adventures Complete Season One, which is a lot of fun for younger viewers who might find Star Wars Rebels a little too intense. It also has a lot of fun inside jokes for grown-up Star Wars geeks. The disc comes with six exclusive Lego Star Wars magnets available nowhere else, for all you compulsive collectors out there!

The story revolves around a family of scavengers who make starships out of leftover parts from crashed ships found strewn all over the galaxy. When the youngest member of the family comes across the remains of the original Kyber Saber (the first lightsaber ever made), he and a Jedi named Naare — who may not be all she appears to be — set out to reconstruct the saber before the empire can.

You can check out the first episode in its entirety below! Click here to purchase your copy of The Freemaker Adventures Season One Blu-ray now!

Pinocchio Signature Collection Edition


The box art and trailer for the upcoming release of Pinocchio on Walt Disney Signature Collection Blu-ray are here. The movie, which inspired the world to wish upon a star, arrives for the first time on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on January 10, and on Blu-ray and DVD on January 31 with hours of new and classic bonus features.

The Lion Guard: Life in the Pride Lands


A new release featuring five new episodes of The Lion Guard: Life in the Pride Lands is arriving on Disney DVD January 10. Check out the cover art above!


Forest Whitaker to Voice Saw Gerrera on Star Wars Rebels

Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker, who stars as Rebel freedom fighter Saw Gerrera in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will join the cast of the hit animated series Star Wars Rebels, which is set in a time period just prior to the events of Rogue One. Whitaker will reprise his role as Saw Gerrera, providing the voice of the character as he makes his debut on “Ghosts of Geonosis, Parts One and Two” premiering Saturday, January 7 (8:30-9:30 p.m. EST), on Disney XD. Check out a featurette with footage from the episodes below!

Theme Parks


Fan Art of the Week

This week’s holiday-appropriate Frozen fan art comes from Rita, a.k.a. ribkaDory, a young artist living in Russia. Check out her full gallery at this link!

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 9.13.03 AM

This Week in Disney History


After expenditures of $ 1.5 million dollars nearly bankrupted the company, the world’s first full-length animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premieres at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Hollywood on December 21, 1937.

Walt Disney’s younger brother Roy O. Disney (Walt Disney Productions CEO, President and co-founder) died on December 20, 1971.

The animated feature film Fantasia 2000 debuted at Carnegie Hall in New York City on December 17, 1999. This week also saw the release of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in 1954, Swiss Family Robinson in 1960, In Search of the Castaways in 1962, The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit in 1968, The Island at the Top of the World in 1974, The Shaggy D.A. in 1976, The Black Hole in 1979, Father of the Bride in 1991, Tom and Huck in 1995, O Brother, Where Art Thou? in 2000 and Tron Legacy in 2011.

Disney Vault

Screen Shot 2016-12-23 at 12.41.14 PM

Each week we highlight an underappreciated Disney classic! Since this is Christmas, we thought it would be good to highlight an interesting half-hour long short film from 1978 called The Small One. It concerns a young boy living in the city of Nazareth who is reluctant to sell his beloved old donkey, until he comes across a kindly man who needs a gentle donkey to carry his pregnant wife to Bethlehem. You get where this is going. The project was conceived as an experiment to engage young animation talent, including future greats like Don Bluth (The Land Before Time) and Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas), The Small One was released theatrically with a Christmas reissue of Pinocchio.

Check out the clip below, and click here to purchase a digital copy of The Small One for $ 1.99!

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David Chen’s Top 10 Films of 2016


This is a year where you had to work to see great films. Unlike last year, the vast majority of my favorite movies of 2016 weren’t movies that received wide releases, nor were they films that earned over $ 50 million at the box office. Instead, they were often quieter releases that I had to read up on in order to make sure I caught them during the 1-2 weeks they were playing in my city.

The good news is, if you did the work, you were richly rewarded. While the movie industry as a whole is not doing so hot, movies as a form of storytelling still feel as vital as ever. What follows are my top 10 movies of 2016. 

David Chen’s Top 10 Films of 2016


10. Christine

In July 1974, Sarasota reporter Christine Chubbock committed suicide live on air during a local television broadcast. What would drive someone to do this? Antonio Campos’ film explores this question through a powerful, deeply-layered performance by Rebecca Hall. When people suffer from depression, its effects reverberate through everyone around them. The story of Christine — both the plot of the film and the fact of its existence — show that these reverberations can last for much longer than we can imagine.


9. Moana

With a terrific breakthrough performance by Auli’i Cravalho in the titular role, Moana deftly repurposes Polynesian myths into an uplifting coming-of-age tale. This movie combines everything I love about Disney movies from my childhood: An inspiring storyline about self-actualization, catchy songs that speak towards universal truths, and spectacular, cutting-edge animation. Best of all, Moana is a Disney musical that’s not ashamed to be a musical (see: The Jungle Book), nor forget it’s a musical about halfway through (see: Frozen). 

green room

8. Green Room

It was a great year for “people trapped together in small space with terrifying person(s)” movies, from the tightly directed 10 Cloverfield Lane all the way to the brilliant and silly Don’t Breathe. I loved all these films, but for me, Green Room was the one that got the most visceral reaction.With Blue Ruin and now Green Room, director Jeremy Saulnier has shown that he’s a fan of old-school filmmaking and effects; you viscerally feel (and are sickened by) the impact of each stabbing and gunshot wound. Saulnier’s smart script and the way it ratchets up the tension had me clenching for the entire 95 minute runtime. (See my interview with Jeremy Saulnier to learn more about the making of this film).


7. Tower

The vast majority instances in which a mass-shooting occurs, we are inundated with stories about the perpetrator: his (and it’s almost always “his”) troubled past, the way he acquired his weapons of choice, his manifesto. The Tower decides to tell the stories of those we don’t usually hear about: the ordinary citizens who, through random acts of bravery, helped save lives during a horrifying sniper attack at the University of Texas in August 1966. Using unique storytelling methods that involve re-enactments and rotoscoped animation, director Keith Maitland has created a film that honors the memories of those whose lives were taken that day, as well the unsung heroes who helped put an end to the slaughter.

Swiss Army Man Music Video

6. Swiss Army Man

Swiss Army Man is a celebration of love, relationships, movies, and the (potentially unhealthy?) power of imagination.  Sporting a bizarre premise about a suicidal man (Paul Dano) befriending a farting corpse (Daniel Radcliffe), I found the film to be occasionally maddening and off-putting. But directors “the Daniels” (Kwan and Scheinert) have crafted something so unique and so beautiful that I couldn’t help but succumb to this movie’s bizarre charms by the time it reached its crazy nutso ending.


5. Weiner

The creation of Weiner began as an attempt to document a comeback story, but ended as an actual document of a tragedy. We’ve seen political documentaries that have incredible behind-the-scenes access before. What makes Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s film so compelling and unique is its relevance to the political events of 2016 and the fact that it captures a Shakespearean downfall suitable for our modern age. But Anthony Weiner’s character flaw wasn’t necessarily ambition (MacBeth) or indecisiveness (Hamlet); he just wanted to sext women photos of his junk. And if that desire was somewhat less strong, he might be mayor of New York today. This is America 2016.


4. Tickled

What begins as a cursory look at the bizarre world of competitive endurance tickling quickly becomes a much more terrifying examination into online bullying and one of the more sinister forces behind it. Co-directors David Farrier and Dylan Reeve put their financial and professional well-being in jeopardy to try to right some injustices they uncovered, and should be applauded for it. Tickled methodically leads you through the journey they took in thrilling fashion. While some may not find the ending to be satisfying, as co-director Dylan Reeve put it, “Sometimes stories need to be told of subjects that won’t cooperate.”


3. Moonlight

Barry Jenkins’ film about a young black man growing up in Miami is gorgeously shot, powerfully acted, and movingly observed. More than any other film on this list, it managed to immerse me into the life of another human being, and invited me to contend with his struggles, his triumphs, his moments of discovery, his tragedies, his pain. It also elicits a reaction that I think we all need more of in the coming days: empathy.


2. O.J.: Made In America

When I first watched Ezra Edelman’s sprawling 7.5 hour film about O.J. Simpson, I called it the Fury Road of documentaries, in the sense that as I was watching it, roughly once every 10 minutes, my jaw dropped and I wondered aloud, “How did they get this footage?!” Besides being able to obtain virtually every type of archival footage imaginable, Edelman has essentially crafted five separate documentaries, each with their own arc, that somehow fit together. The end result helps us understand why a phenomenon like O.J. Simpson —  his rise to fame, the circumstances of his crime, the resulting media circus, and the unbelievable aftermath of his trial — is something that is distinctly American


1. The Handmaiden

This film shows director Park-Chan Wook at the height of his powers, weaving an extremely complex narrative into sumptuous visuals and spectacular production design. When you add in some skillful editing, authentic performances, a dash of ultra-violence, and mix it all together in non-linear fashion, the result is my favorite cinematic experience of the year.

Honorable mentions: Captain America: Civil War, Arrival, La La Land, Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Movies I haven’t seen yet but wish I had before I made this list: Toni Erdmann, Cameraperson, Edge of Seventeen, Krisha, Demon, Silence

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Watch: Featurette About the Unique Filming Locations in ‘Rogue One’

Rogue One Locations Featurette

«You feel like you’re in a galaxy far, far away.» Visiting other planets without leaving our planet. Lucasfilm + Disney have revealed one more making of featurette for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which is now playing in theaters nationwide. The video includes some discussions with director Gareth Edwards and star Felicity Jones talking about filming on location. They profile locations in the United Kingdom (where most of the sets are built) as well as Iceland, Maldives, and Jordan. If you’ve seen the movie, you should be able to recognize all of these places. It’s fascinating to see them turn these locations on Earth into exotic planets around the Star Wars galaxy. The spectacular magic of making movies. Now I want to see this again. ›››

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