In 2012, Flight director Robert Zemeckis forced our jaws to the floor with the keystone sequence of his Denzel Washington-led addiction drama. As coked-up pilot Whip Whitaker, Washington brought urgency and intensity to an imminent plane crash. A malfunction forces Whitaker to down the plane — which he first must fly upside down to stabilize it. With shakey camera work, high production value, and special effects that recreate the harrowing scene, Zemeckis trumped his own plane crash work in Cast Away to craft one of the most terrifying sequences of the year.
But it has nothing on the Sundance premiere, Charlie Victor Romeo.
A radical 3D experiment by directors Robert Berger and Karlyn Michelson, Charlie Victor Romeo one ups Hollywood's adrenaline-infused plane crashes with a stripped down presentation that finds tension in the real life reactions of plane crews. Using black box recordings of six jet crashes as their script, Berger and Michelson film actors on a bare bones, black box set replaying the events as they happen in real time. Through camera placement, editing, and sound design, the duo thrust us into the cabin to experience the crew's swift responses, the whirlwind of confusion, and every drip of sweat that rolls down their foreheads as they attempt to save the lives of their passengers.
Charlie Victor Romeo's clinical style — presenting the crashes in slide form with informative plane diagrams, accident reports, and fatality counts inbetween the reenactments — adds to gravity of the situations. Even with a separation from realism, the raw dialogue and facts-first approach humanizes the actors more than an A-list star ever could. That's a testament to the performers enlisted by Berger and Michelson — you never once question their legitimacy as they sound off with technical airplane lingo or bark orders at the other crew members.
Not "entertainment" in its fluffiest definition, Berger and Michelson's scene choices are deeply engrossing, each one finding new insight into the deeply disturbing and rare incident of a plane crash. One sequence may last a few minutes (oh, how quickly a bird can take down an entire jet), beginning with casual banter and escalating in a matter of seconds. Others take longer to evolve; in one of the final depictions, a plane loses the ability to turn left as the rest of the mechanics begins to pitter out. Sound escalates the fear, a plane's warning buzzer sounds loud and out of nowhere for the various crews. For the audience, it's a death bell.
Shooting and viewing Charlie Victor Romeo in 3D adds little to the experience, with the stage too shallow to capture real depth. If it adds anything, it's making the actors pop against backgrounds, an added layer of realism to an already too-true-for-comfort scenario. That's the opposite of the big budget Hollywood plane crashes, that attempt to enamor us with spectacle. In Charlie Victor Romeo, the people come first — an asset when examining tragedy.
[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures]
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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If there's a cinematic alchemy award to be given this year director Bill Condon deserves to take it home after magically turning the tedious Twilight franchise into entertainment gold. 2011's Part 1 was a horror camp romp that turned the supernatural love triangle — the naval gazing trio of Bella Edward and Jacob — on its head. Breaking Dawn - Part 2 continues the madcap exploration of a world populated by vampires and werewolves mining even more comedy thrills and genuine character moments out of conceit than ever before. The film occasionally sidesteps back into Edward and Bella's meandering romance (an evident hurdle of author Stephenie Meyer's source material) but the duller moments are overshadowed by the movie's nimble pace and playful attitude. Breaking Dawn - Part 2 will elicit laughs aplenty — but thankfully they're all on purpose.
Part 2 picks up immediately following the events of the first film Bella (Kristen Stewart) having been turned into a vampire by Edward (Robert Pattinson) to save her life after the torturous delivery of her half-human half-vampire child Renesmee. She awakes to discover super senses heightened agility increased strength… and a thirst for blood. One dead cougar later Bella and the gang are able to focus on the real troubles ahead: Renesmee is rapidly growing (think Jack) and vampiric overlords The Volturi perceive her a threat to vampiric secrecy. Knowing the Volturi will travel to Forks WA to kill the young girl (a 10-year-old just a month after being born) The Cullens amass an army of bloodsucking friends to end the oppression once and for all.
Packed with an absurd amount of backstory and mythology-twisting plot points (some vampires can shoot lightning now?) Condon and series screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg mine revel in the beefed up ensemble of Breaking Dawn - Part 2 and thanks to a wildly funny cast it never feels like pointless deviation. Along with the usual suspects Lee Pace adds swagger to the series as a grungy alt-rock vampire Noel Fisher appears as a hilarious over-the-top battle-ready Russian coven member and Michael Sheen returns has Volturi head honcho Aro and steels the show. Flamboyant diabolical and a steady stream of maniacal laughter Sheen owns Condon's high camp vision for Twilight and he lights up the screen. There are a few throw away nations of vampires — the oddly stereotypical Egyptian and Amazonians sects are there mostly there to off-set the extreme whiteness — but the actors involved bring liveliness to a franchise known for being soulless. Even Stewart Pattinson and Taylor Lautner give personal bests in this installment — a scene between Bella and her dad Charlie (Billy Burke) is genuinely heartfelt while Jacob's overprotective hero schtick finally lands.
Whereas Breaking Dawn - Part 1 stuck mostly to the personal story relying on the intimate moments as Bella and Edward took the big plunge into marriage and sex Part 2 paints with broader strokes and Condon has a ball. Delving into the history of the vampires and the vampire world outside Forks is Pandora's Box for the director. One scene where we learn why kids scare the heck of the Volturi captures a scope of medieval epics — along with the bloodshed. Twilight might be known for its sexual moments but Breaking Dawn - Part 2 will go down for its abundance of decapitations. The big set piece in the finale is something to behold both in the craftsmanship of the spectacle and in its bizarre nature.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 had the audience hooting hollering and even gasping as it twisted and turned to the final moments. There's little doubt that even the biggest naysayer of the franchise would do the same. No irony here: the conclusion of Twilight is a blast.
German supermodel Claudia Schiffer is expecting her first child with her husband of three months, British producer Matthew Vaughn. According to Reuters, a spokeswoman for Schiffer said Monday, "We can confirm she is pregnant and has got through the first trimester." The couple married on May 25 in a lavish English country wedding.
Academy Award-winning actress Jodie Foster will receive the outstanding achievement in acting award from the Hollywood Film Festival. Foster will be honored along with Motion Picture Association president Jack Valenti, director Martin Scorsese, screenwriter Robert Towne, producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, composer Marc Shaiman, editor Pietro Scalia, production designer Harold Michelson and casting director Marcia Ross. The Hollywood Movie Awards Gala Ceremony will be held on Oct. 7.
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Paralegal Erin Brockovich, who inspired Steven Soderbergh's dramatic comedy Erin Brockovich, will host a reality-drama series titled Final Justice for the Lifetime TV cable channel. The show will present true accounts of real-life women who encounter injustice and take on the system, Variety reports.
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A Jamaican court has issued an arrest warrant for American rapper Ja Rule for failing to appear on charges of using profanity during the country's Reggae Sumfest last year. According to The Associated Press, Ja Rule was in Jamaica this weekend to perform at the same festival and was served with a summons to appear in court Monday. However, Ja Rule apparently left the island Sunday. Judge Wilson Smith ordered his arrest warrant when the rapper, whose real name is Jeff Atkins, failed to appear. If convicted, he faces a maximum charge of...$20.