The name Jennifer Spence may not be a household name, but if you have been a keen consumer of many horror films of recent years and have paid attention to the credits of several of the Insidious and Paranormal Activity films, you may have noticed that Jennifer Spence has been the production designer on these films along with a number of other horror films, including last year’s Lights Out. With Annabelle: Creation currently in theaters worldwide after having received substantial praise that is seldomly given to horror films in the dubious sub-genre of prequel-to-a-prequel-that-was-also-a-spin-off, Spence’s work continues to be seen by an increasing number of moviegoers, but how did she get into the film industry in the first place?
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Ever since someone decided that ghosts should be recognized by wearing their burial shrouds rather than remaining in the clothes they wore when alive as was originally the case, the common bed sheet ghost has become synonymous with the haunting entity in all kinds of audiovisual entertainment, just as it is also a classic in terms of last minute costume ideas. Due to its benign connotations, it may therefore at first seem like an odd choice of wardrobe for such a somber feature as A Ghost Story, but rather than the cuteness of a child-friendly specter, Casey Affleck’s portrayal of the afterlife version of the character of C returns us to the more eerie origin that is the burial shroud once he rises from the cold steel table of the morgue, wearing the sheet Rooney Mara’s character of M has just placed back over his face after identifying him.
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If I recall correctly, I was about six years old when my mother was given a small, antique porcelain doll by our neighbors after they had gone through a bunch of stuff to declutter their storage space. What made this doll so special was that it seemingly kick-started my parents’ collection of vintage toys and antique knick-knacks. Once they began collecting, my parents would routinely go to flea markets and thrift stores with me in tow to hunt for new treasures, which would not only teach me how to haggle, but also how to estimate the value and age of old toys. Eventually, my parents ended up having one of the largest private collections of vintage and antique toys in Denmark, and my mother actually ended up losing track of exactly how many dolls she had. All I knew was that she probably had over a thousand dolls, and that they really freaked out my friends. Thus, whenever I had friends over for movie nights in my teens, they would at some point start daring each other to see who could stay locked up in the doll room the longest before wanting out. Having grown up around the dolls, I never found them creepy, and I thought my friends were being silly, just as I never thought horror movies centering around dolls were particularly scary. While films like the first Child’s Play definitely deserves its status as a horror classic and the sequels that followed had varying degrees of entertainment value, personally, I never found the idea of an evil, sentient doll all that scary, and 2014’s Annabelle certainly did not manage to impress me either.
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When John Wick made its debut, it instantly got directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch’s flair for thrillingly intense action with perfectly choreographed stunts noticed, and it paved the way for Stahelski to elaborate on the John Wick universe with a successful sequel released earlier this year as well as a third installment on the way. Uncredited co-director Leitch was not overlooked, however, and with the movie world currently abuzz with the recent reveal of the look of Josh Brolin’s Cable in the Leitch-helmed Deadpool 2, his second feature-length effort Atomic Blonde is opening to plenty of interest as to what the director is capable of on his own.
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Product placement has long left audiences confounded by how unabashed the use of it at times seemingly is when for example Krispy Kreme’s product placement in this year’s Power Rangers was so hilariously excessive that mentioning the context in which the product is featured in the film would actually be considered a spoiler. While Sony had no involvement in 2017’s Power Rangers, they have long been known to inflate the budget of their films by striking deals with anything from Carlsberg to Audi, who then get substantial screen time in return for their financial investments. However, The Emoji Movie easily takes the cake as the most unapologetic example of product placement yet.
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Luc Besson is responsible for several memorable and innovative cinematic efforts such as Nikita, Léon: The Professional and The Fifth Element, and there is therefore no question about the mark his distinct style has left on the world of cinema. With Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Besson’s lifelong quest to bring the world of the highly influential Valérian and Laureline science-fiction comic series to life is finally complete, and the result of his independently financed passion project is undoubtedly one of the most visually stunning films to be released this year. Much like The Fifth Element had a lusciously vivid visual style that was mixed with snappy humor and snappier editing, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets displays a similar style and tone, which gives the impression that the two films could easily be part of the same cinematic universe.
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In this romantic comedy, Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan play two lovebirds who fall in love after a chance meeting and subsequently not only have to navigate the usual obstacles associated with any new relationship, but also have to reconcile their cultural differences. This sounds like it could be painfully formulaic and saccharinely sweet, but The Big Sick is thankfully very down to earth, not least because the story is actually based on how male lead and co-writer Kumail Nanjiani met his wife Emily V. Gordon, who also happens to be the other part of the writing duo behind the film.
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