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#InformedImages: "Rebecca," "The Passionate Friends," "Rear Window" and "Phantom Thread"

#InformedImages is a Free Cinema Now series that studies and brings to light influential films and other examples of moving images that informed and inspired certain visuals in later works.

The two things that made the strongest impressions on me while watching Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread (read the review) were the music (by Jonny Greenwood) and the costume design (by Mark Bridges). You can practically feel the fabrics that dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) cuts and and sews together throughout the film. Not to mention the fact that you can smell the soft boiled eggs and toast Reynolds has for breakfast every morning. The beautiful music keeps this all humming along splendidly. It really is an achievement in cinematic immersion.

While the 1940 Oscar winner Rebecca has its fingerprints all over Phantom Thread, I wanted to bring to light a couple of other films whose heartbeats pulsate throughout Anderson's film: David Lean's 1949 drama The Passionate…
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Trailer Alert: "Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot"

Gus Van Sant's latest film Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot will have its world premiere this Friday at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival before hitting theatres in May. The film is getting distributed by Amazon Studios and it tells the story of the late cartoonist John Callahan (played by Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix) who became a quadriplegic at the age of twenty-one after a serious car accident. The film looks to study Callahan's battle with alcoholism (the driver of the car was drinking with Callahan on the day of the accident) and the discovery of his talent for creating darkly humorous cartoon drawings.
Callahan had a distinct drawing style that may have looked simplistic on the surface but his drawings carried a deep pain and perceptiveness that made them all the more piercing to laugh at.

Don't Worry co-stars Oscar nominees Rooney Mara and Jonah Hill. Considering all the players involved, don't be surprised if this film ends up resurfacing during awa…

Watch: "Under The Blanket"

In his video essay for Troiscouleurs, editor Nicolás Longinotti has put together a concise and interesting look at how sheets (or thin blankets) have been used as the central figures in certain moving images throughout film history. In 2017, Casey Affleck went through most of A Ghost Story under a bed sheet and this video reminded me of some other notable examples, like the ghost under the thin red blanket in 1999's The Sixth Sense and the way the hanging sheets on the rooftop became part of the playful marital fight in 1977's Una Giornata Particolare. 

Watch the video for yourself and see which examples bring an unexpected smile to your face.

Review: "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool"

If you follow the Oscars -- especially, if you've been following them for many years -- sometimes the stories behind who win and why they win can become more fascinating than the Oscar-winning films themselves. Take the case of Annette Bening, for example. After her Best Supporting Actress nomination for 1990's The Grifters, her first real shot at winning an Oscar came with her Best Actress nod for 1999's Best Picture-winner American Beauty. Bening lost to Hilary Swank for Boys Don't Cry that year. Flash forward a few years later to Bening's next Oscar nomination, 2004's Being Julia (for which the National Board of Review awarded her Best Actress): Bening lost the Oscar again. And to who? None other than Hilary Swank (again) who won for Million Dollar Baby.

It was after this "Swanky-twofer" that Bening's hunt for the prestigious Oscar-worthy performance got kicked into high gear, for better and worse. Outside of her nod for 2010's The Kids Ar…

Review: "Phantom Thread"

There's a section in the opening act of Paul Thomas Anderson's perplexing and often brilliant 2012 film The Master where its protagonist Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is working as a portrait photographer in the main foyer of a Marshall Fields-esque mall. It's the 1950s and the wardrobe donned by all the background extras is meticulously true to the time and the whole scenario feels very lived in; you can almost smell the apparel, the perfumes coming from the cosmetics department and the hot light bulbs burning at Quell's photography stand. I mention this particular section from The Master because Anderson's new film Phantom Thread takes those tangible atmospheric qualities and creates an entire film built around the convincing sensory experience of living and breathing during a historical time and place.

This time Anderson has chosen the couture world of 1950s London and he reunites with the great Daniel Day-Lewis (the two previously collaborated on There Will …

Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele earn DGA Award Nominations (Full List)

The Directors Guild of America have just announced the nominees for "Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2017" and while Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri continues its inexplicable streak of success during this awards season (news flash: it is not a good film) the DGA did have some happy surprises with their nominations, like nominating a woman director after the BAFTAs shut women out of the category earlier this week.

Here go all the DGA nominees:

Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird
(Unit Production Managers: Lila Yacoub, Danielle Blumstein, Jamin O’Brien (New York Crew), First Assistant Directors: Jonas Spaccarotelli, Cedric Vara (New York Crew), Second Assistant Director: Brendan Lee, Dana Zolli (New York Crew), Second Second Assistant Directors: Lillian Awa, Teri Barber)

Jordan Peele for Get Out
(Unit Production Managers: Marcei A. Brown, Rick A. Osako (Fairhope Unit), First Assistant Director: Gerard DiNardi, Second Assistant Dir…

Review: "The Commuter"

For most of his career Oscar nominee Liam Neeson did a remarkable job of shifting from prestige films like Schindler's List, The Mission and Gangs of New York to edgy genre pictures like Darkman, Gun Shy and Batman Begins. Neeson, a tall, intimidating Irishman with a looming presence, knew his real strength was in those piercing eyes of his. They could emote pain and despair just as easily as they could switch to steely grit. Looking back at his filmography now, it's surprising to see that it took until 2009's Taken for studios to cash in on his leading man specialness. Taken became an unexpected hit, grossing $226 million globally on a modest budget of $25 million. And the formula of Taken was simple: position Neeson as a trusting family man and father who is put to the test when his daughter is kidnapped. Oh, and it's also good to mention that Neeson's character is a retired CIA agent who knows how to kick the shit out of anybody.

But what made the first Taken (…