Trailer: 'Hidden Figures' tells true story of black women at NASA who launched John Glenn into orbit


Here's a new trailer for the film Hidden Figures, on the untold true story of African-American women working at NASA who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.

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The story behind Stranger Things' excellent title sequence

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Watch Iggy Pop and Tom Waits acting weird, as directed by Jim Jarmusch

In Jim Jarmusch's original short film "Coffee and Cigarettes: Somewhere in California" (1993), Iggy Pop and Tom Waits celebrate quitting smoking by having a cigarette, enjoy some awkward chit chat, and confess their love for IHOP coffee. Here's Jim Jarmusch talking about shooting the scene:

Tom was exhausted. We had just shot a video the day before for "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" and he had been doing a lot of press. He was kind of in a surly mood as he is sometimes, but he's also very warm. He came in late that morning - I had given him the script the night before - and I was with Iggy. Tom threw the script down on the table and said, "Well, you know, you said this was going to be funny, Jim. Maybe you better just circle the jokes 'cause I don't see them". He looked at poor Iggy and said, "What do you think Iggy?" Iggy said, "I think I'm gonna go get some coffee and let you guys talk." So I calmed Tom down. I knew it was just early in the morning and Tom was in a bad mood. His attitude changed completely, but I wanted him to keep some of that paranoid surliness in the script. We worked with that and kept it in his character. If he had been in a really good mood, I don't think the film would have been as funny."

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Stunning "Lucifer" bomber jacket from legendary filmmaker Kenneth Anger


Pioneering underground filmmaker and occultist Kenneth Anger has launched a killer apparel line. Dig this magnificent "Lucifer Rising" satin bomber jacket, the perfect look, he says, "for a midsummer night's sorceries." The jacket is a collaboration with LA artist Brian Butler's Lucifer Brothers Workshop:

Although the satin ‘souvenir’ bomber has come into vogue recently with labels such as Louis Vuitton, Valentino and Saint Laurent, Kenneth Anger’s original design tops them all. Featuring a palette known locally as Hodos Chamelionis, or the Path of the Chameleon—the colors of the forces which lie beyond the physical universe, happens to be the Lucifer Brothers Workshop’s house mascot. Here, they are flitted over gold and black satin in a limited edition of 333 with labels signed by Kenneth Anger himself.

Lucifer Rising jacket, deluxe "Golden Scarab Edition" (via Dangerous Minds)

Kenneth Anger's "Lucifer Rising" (1972):

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Watch this smart analysis of designing story dialogue

Rooney Mara, left, and Jesse Eisenberg in Columbia Pictures' "The Social Network."

Writing good dialogue is a craft few can master. Lewis Criswell draws from a nice survey of recent and classic examples, both good and bad, to explain the craft of designing dialogue. Read the rest

Sickhouse, the Snapchat horror flick released in real time


A Blair Witch Project for the Snapchat generation, Sickhouse originally rolled out on Snapchat star Andrea Russett's account as if it were real and in real time.

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Watch the 'Don't Hug Me I'm Scared' finale


Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, the dark British web series of shorts created by Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling, released its sixth and final episode. If you haven't seen the others that came out starting in 2011, start below first: Read the rest

Gorgeous drone footage in a light-drenched Byzantine church


French cinematographers BigFly took their drone into Byzantine cathedral Église Saint-Louis de Paimbœuf, and the breathtaking results are almost otherworldly. Read the rest

Cinesift is a handy way to find great movies by platform


Whenever I think I've exhausted the possibilities of Netflix or Amazon Prime, I jump on Cinesift and use their handy filters for a deep dive into the vaults.

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Is this 80-minute eighties supercut the most 80s thing ever?


Smash TV's Megaplex feels like your entire 1980s life flashing before your eyes. Note: some of the 80+ films include 80s nudity. Read the rest

John Williams to score Ready Player One (and next Star Wars, hopefully)


Celebrated film composer John Williams, 84, who scored Star Wars, the Indiana Jones films, E.T., and so many more, says that he will be writing the music for Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One," based on the marvelous 2011 novel by Ernest Cline. After that, it'll be time to return to a galaxy far, far away to score the next Star Wars film.

“If I can do it, I certainly will. I told (producer) Kathy Kennedy I’m happy to do it, but the real reason is, I didn’t want anybody else writing music for Daisy Ridley,” he told Variety.

Last night, Williams received the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award, the first given to a film composer in the award's 44 years.

Here's classic video of John Williams conducting the Boston Pops performing the Star Wars Main Theme:

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Fantastic psychedelic video for Kraftwerk's Autobahn (1979)

In 1979, Roger Mainwood, just out of the Royal College of Art, created this wonderfully trippy animation for Kraftwerk's "Autobahn." It was a commission from the band's record company but Kraftwerk had no input on the film, and Mainwood says he's unsure if they even saw it. The fan site KraftwerkOnline tracked down Mainwood and interviewed him about the film:

I've never actually had to explain in words exactly what it was all about. There was a lot of what you might call "psychedelic pop" imagery around at the time that to be honest never had a great deal of actual "meaning" to it at all, and I guess I was tapping into that. Thinking back to my thought processes at that time, I remember wanting to specifically not have conventional cars in the film. I wanted a sense of a repetitive journey, and alienation, which I took to be what the music was about,............hence the solitary futuristic figure, protected by large goggles, moving through and trying to connect with the journey he is taking. The automobile "monsters" are deliberately threatening ( I have never been a big fan of cars or motorways ! ) and when our "hero" tries to make human contact (with different coloured clones of himself) he can never do it. In the end he realises he is making the repetitive and circular journey alone but strides forward purposefully at the end as he did in the beginning . All of which sounds rather pretentious..........but I was a young thing in those days !

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Scottish Terror on Film: Darkfall


This week, Kodak and Kickstarter announced a joint venture to support low budget film projects that want to shoot on celluloid (that means real film, as opposed to digital). Of the four films Kodak is supporting, psychological horror movie Darkfall is the most interesting to me.

Written, produced, and directed by my long-time buddy magician R. Paul Wilson, Darkfall returns to the classic filmmaking techniques inspired by our fellow conjuror Georges Méliès—that means using magic methods and illusion secrets in place of modern CGI. Inspired by classic horror movies like Cat People, The Haunting and Halloween, Paul hopes to produce a powerful experience using psychology, audio effects, and “in-camera” trickery to terrify the audience.

Special effects and cinematic storytelling were pioneered by Méliès, whose life story was the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s film, Hugo. Méliès produced and directed over 500 films in which he invented new effects and techniques to tell fantastic stories, leaving an invaluable legacy for future filmmakers. Wilson is a huge fan and, during a visit to an exhibit of Méliès’s work in Madrid, it occurred to him to use modern conjuring methods in the same way.

Paul says, “Filmmaking has evolved at an amazing pace and so has the art of magic, but the two have grown apart, especially with the introduction of digital effects. I began to wonder what Georges Méliès would do with modern magic and the idea grew from there.”

The Darkfall story revolves around how perception can be distorted. It’s a supernatural tale with a killer twist inspired by Paul’s time working on television. Read the rest

The story of Traceroute, about a Leitnerd's quest

Johannes Grenzfurthner talks about Traceroute: On the Road with a Leitnerd(*)
(*) Leitnerd is a wordplay referring to the German term Leitkultur.

Wrapped: magical short film about mutant monster ivy that engulfs New York City


"Wrapped" is a short film created by Roman Kaelin, Falko Paeper and Florian Wittmann from Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, at the Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction.

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Review: 'Pee-wee's Big Holiday' (loved it)


Last night my eight-year-old daughter and I enjoyed Pee-wee's Big Holiday. This is a fantastic return for Pee-wee Herman, and Paul Reubens has done a masterful job. Pee-wee's charm, innocence, and awesome moral compass are still keeping him out of trouble, despite a cast of delightfully troublesome characters that pop up along the way.

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See the psychotronic insanity of DEVO's first music video

Enjoy the psychotronic grandeur of the first DEVO short film, "In The Beginning Was The End: The Truth About De-Evolution," from 1976. Directed by Chuck Statler, the video took the first prize at the 1977 Ann Arbor Film Festival. Two key bits of background, via Wikipedia:

• Devo has claimed, occasionally, that the film contains subliminal messages, which allowed it to win at Ann Arbor.

• The ping-pong paddles shown in the Secret Agent Man segment have images of Richard Nixon and Chairman Mao Zedong on them.

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