Friday, November 28, 2014
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
This is a documentary film about the use music therapy with elderly nursing home patients. Apparently when the patients who are other wise borderline catatonic hear music from their youth they open up, talk, dance and sing. The film follows one man who wants to implement music therapy programs in all 1600 nursing homes in the United States. Clearly he has a lofty goal but one that could be achieved.
Its difficult to separate a documentary films subjects from its makers but I feel like you must do it with Alive Inside. The subject matter is heart warming, saddening, frustrating and strikingly urgent but the heavy handed approach of the filmmakers is distracting and shows a lack of faith in his subject. With that being said the subject is powerful enough to transcend its execution. When you are discussing dementia and alzheimer's have faith the viewer can understand you're point without having trippy slow-motion shots of grandma looking confused and scared. These moments are minimal but they do a disservice to the overall quality of the film and undercut its important message.
The idea of music therapy is a controversial one but clearly its an area that could use further research and funding. The most interesting part of the film is when it goes into the history of nursing homes. When we introduced the New Deal, Social Security and Medicade the nursing homes moved from spaces that were designed to emulate homes to spaces that were designed to emulate hospitals.
Pardon me while I get on my soapbox
We don't age well in this country I'm an American so I assume that everyone who reads this is American, we are a myopic bunch of pricks. The elderly are rarely treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. If some Big Band jams can bring the near catatonic out of their internal prisons, fund it, fund it now. I want someone to bring me a Black Flag tape when I'm 89 and I want that 20 year old orderly handing me my iPod to think my music is old fashion and silly. I hope that moment exists.
I'm a selfish American and I believe in taking care of our older citizen's. Not because I'm altruistic but because I want the systems to be in place for me when I get old. I don't believe that doing the right thing is necessarily a selfless act. Just try to remember that you will one day be old too. How do want to be treated? If you have a relative in a nursing home, even if you like them, make sure they are being treated well. Looking out for elderly is the least we can do to say thank you.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Jake Squared (2014)
When 50-year-old auteur Jake Klein decides it's time to make sense of his life, he throws a bash, hires an actor to play him and starts filming. But Jake gets an earful when everyone from his dead dad to his younger selves turn up to dispense advice.
Pål Sverre Hagen, Nicolai Cleve Broch, Sofia Helin, Bjørn Sundquist, Maria Anette Tanderød Berglyd When archaeologist Sigurd Svendsen sets out to find the link between an ancient shipwreck and the Viking apocalypse known as Ragnarok, his search for the truth leads to an earth-shattering discovery beyond his worst nightmares.
The Honourable Woman: Season 1
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lubna Azabal, Katherine Parkinson, Eve Best, Stephen Rea, Janet McTeer
What kind of woman works tirelessly for the reconciliation of Israelis and Palestinians, newly ennobled Baroness Nessa Stein (Maggie Gyllenhall), pits her fortune and her intelligence against government paranoia, espionage and sibling treachery.
All Hail King Julien (2014) – Netflix Original
King Julien is shaking his booty harder than ever! Discover the wild world of Madagascar as the king takes on the jungle's craziest adventures.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Extended Version) (2014)
Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh, Renée Victor, Noemi Gonzalez, David Saucedo
This spinoff from the spooky "Paranormal Activity" series relates the terrifying ordeal of a Latino family living in Southern California. When assailed by a horde of demons, the family must turn to their faith to escape with their souls intact.
Dark Skies (2013)
Keri Russell, Dakota Goyo, J.K. Simmons, Josh Hamilton, Annie Thurman, Trevor St. John
Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton star in this thriller as a couple who has trouble convincing friends and neighbors that an alien is entering their house each night to terrorize their children. So they take matters into their own hands.
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997)
Lisa Kudrow, Mira Sorvino, Janeane Garofalo, Alan Cumming, Julia Campbell, Mia Cottet, Kristin Bauer Two not-too-bright party girls reinvent themselves for their high school reunion, armed with a borrowed Jaguar, new clothes and the story of their success as the inventors of Post-it notes.
The Trip to Italy (2014)
Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Rosie Fellner, Claire Keelan, Ronni Ancona, Rebecca Johnson
Following in the footsteps of the great romantic poets, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon traverse the Italian countryside musing about life and love. Work enters the conversation as well in this largely improvised sequel to the roadtrip comedy "The Trip."
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (2014)
Patrick Stewart, Lea Michele, Martin Short, Hugh Dancy, Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi, Kelsey Grammer A bevy of stars -- including Lea Michele -- provide the voices for this animated film that returns Dorothy to Oz to help find her trio of pals. With the Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow nowhere in sight, Dorothy faces a new villain: the wicked Jester.
Good People (2014)
James Franco, Kate Hudson, Omar Sy, Tom Wilkinson
A financially beleaguered couple can't believe their good fortune when they discover a boatload of money in the apartment of a neighbor who was recently murdered. But their luck soon turns dangerously sour.
Child of God (2014)
Scott Haze, James Franco, Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Parrack, Nina Ljeti, Brian Lally
First parentless, then homeless, poor Lester Ballard never had much of a chance. Now, as a violent, anti- social adult, he has even less of one. Simultaneously shunned and pursued, Lester retreats to a cave and descends into his own dark fantasies.
Labor Day (2013)
Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Tom Lipinski, Maika Monroe, James Van DerBeek
What begins as a short ride turns into a life-changing event for divorced single mother Adele Wheeler and her 13-year-old son, Henry, when they give a lift to a bloodied man on a fateful Labor Day weekend.
Behaving Badly (2014)
Nat Wolff, Selena Gomez, Mary-Louise Parker, Elisabeth Shue, Dylan McDermott, Jason Lee
Nina is so lovely, and Rick so besotted with her, that the he has no qualms about wagering against a mobster's son over his chances of dating her. With two weeks to land his prey, the teen must face down a host of wild characters in this dark comedy.
Comedy Bang! Bang!: Season 3
Scott Aukerman brings his popular podcast Comedy Bang! Bang! to television. Scott writes and stars in the series along with his co-host and bandleader, Reggie Watts, while featuring celebrity guests playing either themselves or characters.
I, Frankenstein (2014)
Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Socratis Otto, Jai Courtney, Kevin Grevioux Many decades after his creation, Adam Frankenstein is still hunted through modern city streets, although now his pursuers are opposing clans of demons who want to uncover the secret of his longevity and use it to sustain their own immortality.
Maron: Season 2
Marc Maron stars as Marc Maron, who interviews fellow comedians for his podcast, only to reveal more about his own neuroses and relationships. In his anxiety-filled daily life, Maron stalks an Internet bully, hires an intern and dates a dominatrix.
Jessie: Season 3
Texas teen Jessie moves to the Big Apple to follow her dreams, and finds a job as a nanny for a high- profile family with four high-energy children.
Last Weekend (2014)
Patricia Clarkson, Zachary Booth, Jayma Mays, Joseph Cross, Rutina Wesley, Fran Kranz, Devon Graye When well-heeled, fastidious Celia Green rounds up her two grown sons and husband for a holiday weekend retreat at their beloved vacation home, perfection is her goal. Unfortunately for Celia, discord and dysfunction intervene.
Part 1 (in case you missed it) can be found here
A Knight’s Tale (2001)
Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon, Paul Bettany, Laura Fraser, Mark Addy
After befriending aspiring writer Geoffrey Chaucer, squire William Thatcher persuades the scribe to forge documents passing William off as a bona fide knight -- who soon becomes a jousting star while finding romance with an admiring princess.
Almost Famous (2000)
Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, Patrick Fugit, Zooey Deschanel
In the early 1970s, teenage writer William Miller gets a plum assignment from a Rolling Stone editor to write about the band Stillwater on a cross-country tour. Along the way, he learns about friendship and love with help from Penny Lane.
American Beauty (1999)
Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, Chris Cooper, Peter Gallagher While struggling to endure his tightly wound wife, an unfulfilling job and a sullen teenage daughter, suburbanite Lester Burnham falls deep into a midlife crisis and becomes infatuated with one of his daughter's friends.
Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristin Chenoweth Hoping to revive his career, washed-up actor Jack Wyatt is convinced that Isabel Bigelow would make the perfect Samantha to his Darrin in a film update of the 1960s sitcom "Bewitched." But Jack doesn't know how right he is: Isabel really is a witch.
Ivan Sergei, Joel David Moore , Tom Arnold, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jon Lovitz, Wendie Malick, Nicollette
Sheridan, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Peter Stormare, Rita Wilson, Camryn Manheim
Old friends Chris and Adam are facing opposite marriage issues: Chris is pursuing his Jewish dream girl, while Adam is having doubts about his own. When Chris asks Adam to help him pass as Jewish, comedic complications and consequences shortly ensue.
Knights of Badassdom (2014)
Ryan Kwanten, Steve Zahn, Peter Dinklage, Summer Glau, Margarita Levieva, Jimmi Simpson Venturing deep into the woods to act out a medieval fantasy scenario, three friends forsake their imaginary roles when they face a real-life struggle for survival after inadvertently conjuring an evil succubus.
Jim Caviezel, Roger Wolski, Bruce Dern, Mary McCormack, Jake Lloyd, Paul Dooley, Brent Briscoe
Based on a true story, this drama follows hydroplane boat racer Jim McCormick as he prepares for the1971 Gold Cup championship, which is being hosted in his depressed river town of Madison, Ind.
Out of the Clear Blue Sky (2012)
Directed by a family member of one of the victims, this gripping documentary tells the story of financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, which took the lives of 658 of the company's employees.
Out of Time (2003)
Denzel Washington, Eva Mendes, Sanaa Lathan, Dean Cain, John Billingsley, Robert Baker, Alex Carter When a small Florida town is shocked by a double homicide, chief of police Matt Lee Whitlock races againt time to solve the case as he himself falls under suspicion. To uncover the truth, he'll have to stay a few steps ahead of his own police force.
The Out-of-Towners (1999)
Steve Martin, Goldie Hawn, John Cleese, Mark McKinney, Oliver Hudson
Empty-nesters Henry and Nancy Clark hit New York for a job interview and high hopes for reviving their staler-than-yesterday's-toast relationship. But when Murphy's Law repeatedly strikes the Clarks, the results are sidesplitting!
Troop Beverly Hills (1989)
Shelley Long, Craig T. Nelson, Betty Thomas, Mary Gross, Stephanie Beacham, Audra Lindley Shelly Long stars as a spoiled Beverly Hills housewife who decides -- in an effort to disprove her husband's characterization that she's a selfish trophy wife -- to become the leader of her daughter's wilderness group. Failing miserably at first -- she takes them on outings at the mall rather than in the woods -- she later must prove her worth as a legitimate troop leader by instilling lessons of teamwork and selflessness in her young charges.
Turbo FAST (Additional Episodes) – Netflix Original
Join Turbo and his posse on the Turbo Fast Action Stunt Team. Filled with outrageous comedy, action and laugh out loud fun, "Turbo FAST" amps up everything to the extreme: extreme adventures, extreme challenges, and extreme excitement.
Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan
Now young adults, sibs Tim and Kaylie are still trying to recover from -- and get to the bottom of -- their parents' deaths more than a decade ago. Tim is skeptical, but Kaylie believes an antique mirror is to blame, and sets out to prove it.
Son of God (2014)
Diogo Morgado, Greg Hicks, Adrian Schiller, Darwin Shaw, Sebastian Knapp, Louise Delamere, Roma Downey, Amber Rose Revah
A follow-up to the landmark 2013 miniseries The Bible, this feature follows the life of Jesus Christ from his humble birth to his resurrection. Filmed in authentic historical locales, this epic presentation brings new life to the miraculous story.
Bill Burr: I'm Sorry You Feel That Way (2014) – Netflix Original
Bill Burr escapes the zombie apocalypse, explores how rom-coms ruin great sex and explains how too many childhood hugs may be the downfall of man.
American Horror Story: Coven
Exploring humankind's unsettling capacity for evil, this darkly twisted drama plays upon the power of supernatural fears and everyday horrors. Each season brings back familiar faces, but they're playing different characters in an all-new setting.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Super-Sized Version) (2013)
Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Meagan Good, Kristen Wiig, James Marsden
The '70s are over, and the anachronistic Channel 4 news team -- including newsman Ron Burgundy and his co-anchor and wife, Veronica Corningstone -- tries to stay classy as they reassemble to join New York's first 24-hour news channel.
Ava & Lala (2014)
George Takei, Tim Curry, Mira Sorvino, J.K. Simmons
After Ava, a spirited, imaginative girl, who is always in trouble meets a curious animal named Lala, she follows him into a magical whale that takes them to Cloud Land; a world of talking animals. Together, Ava and Lala go on a wild adventure.
Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014)
Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Vivica A. Fox, Mark McGrath, Kari Wuhrer, Courtney Baxter, Dante Palminteri, Judd Hirsch, Kurt Angle, Billy Ray Cyrus, Downtown Julie Brown
A freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a Sharknado on the population and its most cherished, iconic sites - and only Fin and April can save the Big Apple.
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: Season 3
This CNN original series has chef Anthony Bourdain traveling to extraordinary locations around the globe to sample a variety of local cuisines.
I Am Ali (2014)
Rahaman Ali, Angelo Dundee, Jim Brown, Carl Fischer, George Foreman, Mike Tyson
Drawing from a collection of audiotapes recorded by Muhammad Ali as a personal journal, this affecting documentary offers new perspectives on the legendary boxer's life outside the ring.
Drive Hard (2014)
John Cusack, Thomas Jane, Damien Garvey, Zoe Ventoura, Christopher Morris
Former racecar driver Peter Roberts (Thomas Jane) traded the winner's circle for a beginners driving instructor. But his life shifts into overdrive when mysterious out-of-towner Simon Keller (John Cusack) shows up for a driving lesson.
A Haunted House 2 (2014)
Marlon Wayans, Jaime Pressly, Essence Atkins, Gabriel Iglesias, Cedric the Entertainer, Missi Pyle Marlon Wayans returns in this spoofy sequel as the grieving Malcolm, who's trying to move on after his girlfriend's untimely tragic death. But Malcolm has reason to believe his beloved is back when strange things start happening in his new home.
The Village (2004)
Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver
When a willful young man tries to venture beyond his sequestered Pennsylvania hamlet, his actions set off a chain of chilling incidents that will alter the community forever in this atmospheric thriller featuring a star-studded cast.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Jon Bernthal Martin Scorcese's high-rolling Wall Street drama is based on the memoirs of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, whose giddy career -- involving audacious scams and confrontations with the FBI and other agencies -- ended in federal prison.
Broadchurch: Season 1
After a young boy is murdered in the small seaside town of Broadchurch, local detectives Ellie Miller and Alec Hardy are assigned the mysterious case. This crime series follows the clues, obstacles and red herrings that surface in the investigation.
Marco Polo (2014)
Lorenzo Richelmy, Benedict Wong, Joan Chen, Rick Yune, Amr Waked, Remy Hii, Zhu Zhu, Tom Wu, Mahesh Jadu, Olivia Cheng, Uli Latukefu, Chin Han
Set in a world of greed, betrayal, sexual intrigue and rivalry, "Marco Polo" is based on the famed explorer's adventures in Kublai Khan's court.
Nick Offerman: American Ham (2014)
Riding on the crest of his TV success in "Parks & Recreation," musician and comedian Nick Offerman covers a galaxy of topics in a one-man stage show. Filmed live in New York, the show features Offerman's woodworking skills and tips for prosperity.
Don't Blink (2014)
Mena Suvari, Brian Austin Green, Joanne Kelly, Fiona Gubelmann, Robert Picardo, Zack Ward
Ten people arrive at a secluded mountain resort to find it completely deserted. With no gas for the return trip, the visitors are forced to stay and investigate the mystery surrounding the abandoned lodge.
Part 2 of the list can be found here
Friday, November 21, 2014
On this episode we predict The Future of Film. To do this, and look back at the 1982 film ROOM 666, and scoff at the failed predictions made by industry titans such as Steven Spielberg. Then we see if Keanu Reeves is the one, with his dangerous investigative journalism in 2012's SIDE BY SIDE where he attempts to find out... just how much of a pompous asshole is Christopher Nolan? But first, Julia Marchese joins us to talk about her new documentary #outofprintfilm.
GUEST: Julia Marchese also talks time travel with us, and allows the podcast version of that by correcting our pronunciation mistakes.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
We often self-destruct on the podcast, just not to the comedic success that Dan Harmon has found in a documentary chronicling his podcast tour for HARMONTOWN. This inspires to look at other comedians who have taken to the road and put themselves through hell for their work in CONAN O'BRIEN CAN'T STOP and SLEEPWALK WITH ME. GUEST: Director of HARMONTOWN, Neil Berkeley talks about his new film and his previous documentary, BEAUTY IS EMBARASSING.
From acclaimed director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Prometheus) comes the epic adventure EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS, the story of one man’s daring courage to take on the might of an empire. Using state of the art visual effects and 3D immersion, Scott brings new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses (Christian Bale) as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton), setting 400,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.
The film’s intrigue, scale, scope, adventurer and vivid characters provide a unique theatrical event. The Exodus from Egypt is the original and definitive heroic saga. It's also a powerful and personal story rich with emotion, rivalry and betrayal and an undying quest for freedom.
Notes Scott: “Moses’ life is one of the greatest adventures and spiritual quests of all time.” From its opening battle where 15,000 Egyptian soldiers attack a Hittite encampment, to the towering structures, a terrifying series of plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea, Scott brings his signature vision to one of our most cherished and important stories.
“I love anything larger-than-life,” he continues. “I knew what to do with Gladiator – how to make it really breathe, live and feel like people did in that era. With EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS, I wanted to similarly bring to life the Egyptian culture and the Exodus in a way never before possible.”
EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS was shot in Pinewood Studios, London and on location in Almeria, Southern Spain and Fuerteventura, the Canary Islands.
PLAGUES AND THE PARTING OF A SEA
When Ramses rejects Moses’ pleas to let the prophet’s people go, Egypt is hit by a series of plagues and pestilences. Ramses’ advisors offer science-based explanations for the phenomena –spectacles that are both thrilling and horrifying.
The first of ten plague comes after crocodiles in the Nile begin attacking each other, along with several seafaring Egyptians, in a vicious feeding frenzy. The bloody, roiling water turns the Nile red, leading to a carpet of dead, oxygen-deprived fish floating atop the surface. Frogs swarm over the city of Pi-Ramses, and even into Ramses’ palace, searching for food.
Four hundred frogs were called to set, with six frog handlers, a frog handler dog and a one meter high frog fence. In this scene, Golshifteh Farahani, playing Nefertari, showed her bravery over several takes by pretending to be asleep, knowing that a large bag of live frogs was being emptied over her head, and becoming entangled in her long hair.
After the amphibians die, flies swarm from their rotting, maggot-filled bodies, and the streets of the city Ramses has built in tribute to himself becomes invisible through a black curtain of flies. Says visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang: “We took the plagues to a new and different kind of level. The flies become very distinctive and thick in their movements, and [the subsequent invasion of] locusts become even more troubling in the way they move and swarm.”
Next, lesions and boils mar the bodies of almost all Egyptians. Night brings hailstones the size of rocks, followed by a massive swarm of locusts.
Laws of nature, taken to their extreme – and perhaps with divine intervention – can explain these plagues, but the final scourge transcends nature: The firstborn sons of Egypt are killed overnight, including the Pharaoh's own child. When Ramses realizes that no Hebrew slave children have died, he orders them to leave Egypt – but shortly thereafter leads his army to pursue and kill the fleeing Hebrews.
Moses and his ill-equipped band of 400,000 followers, loaded down with whatever meager household goods they could carry, struggle to cross the foreboding mountains, heading for the Red Sea and to a crossing area that Moses had used before.
Arriving at the Red Sea, with the Egyptian army close behind, Moses realizes he has taken the wrong route and missed the shallow waters. Faced with the massive body of water on one side, and the thousands of Egyptian troops on the other, Moses despairs. As Ramses prepares for his final assault, Moses realizes that the tide is receding at a rapid pace. He rallies his people and they begin to stumble through the shallows. When the Hebrews complete the crossing, Ramses’ pursuing troops are engulfed by a massive wave.
DESIGNING AND BUILDING A WORLD
Scott’s creative collaborators on EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS include two-time Oscar-nominee production designer Arthur Max and Academy Award® winning costume designer Janty Yates, each of whom has worked on nine previous Scott-directed films, including Gladiator and Prometheus. “The idea of building a universe is always appealing,” says Scott. “What's so attractive about world-building on film is that anything goes, as long as it is real. I'm an architect at heart, and so is Arthur Max.”
Max says EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS is the biggest production he has ever worked on. “The scale is epic, because that's what Ancient Egypt was, and we wanted to do it justice.” he explains. “Of course, it's never big enough for Ridley, which is why we have visual effects.”
The production design and visual effects teams – the latter created over 1500 VFX shots – worked together to create the film’s enormous sets and action sequences. For example, the Statue of Ramses rises 200 feet, 30 of which the production built; the rest was computer generated. “When you pan down from the sky to the statue, you’ll see the digital extensions on top gradually joining up with the practical version on the ground,” Scott explains. “It’s seamless.”
Visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang elaborates: “The visual effects are grounded in reality. Arthur and Ridley designed amazing and expansive sets that provided a brilliant springboard for the VFX. It was good to see real lighting on an actual set, which would ultimately inform the look of our CGI.”
The art and construction crew numbered over one thousand, working in three locations. The Pinewood stages housed the interiors of the lush palaces and temples of the Egyptian royalty, as well as the sparse slave hovels. The huge exterior of Pharaoh’s Great Hall was filmed on the mammoth backlot, where scenes were captured of the Egyptian army setting off to fight the Hittites, and later, during their bloodied but triumphant return. The stage’s paddock tank was transformed into the River Nile, turning red as fierce crocodiles cannibalize each other. Scenes of the Red Sea turning into a massive parting of the sea, drowning hundreds of Egyptian soldiers, were filmed in the underwater tank.
The production used a pulley system devised on Gladiator to quickly arrange huge statues, columns and pieces of walls, leading Scott to call it a giant LEGO-like set.
After completing work at Pinewood, the production moved to Almeria in Southern Spain, taking over a large plain in Alhamilla, in the shadow of the Sierra Madre Mountains. This dry desert area was also used in several of the Westerns directed by Sergio Leone, as well as in the landmark Lawrence of Arabia and in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
“Working in Alhamilla is like having your own huge back lot.” says Max. “The area is bigger than the 20th Century Fox back lot in California.” On a plain measuring 1 by 1.5 kilometers, the central line is an avenue of palm trees. Many of these were already in place, but the production replaced those that were diseased, and all the trees needed nurturing and augmenting. The production also installed a water tank, and built the exteriors of Egyptian palaces and villas, and a street of ordinary Egyptian homes and merchants. The city of Pi Ramses and the surrounding slave ghetto were united by the avenue of palms. In addition, the brickworks supplying the new city were a short distance away.
The Battle of Kadesh, in which Ramses and Moses lead the Egyptians to victory over the Hittites, took place nearby. The actual battle was hailed as the biggest military action ever fought, with thousands of soldiers and hundreds of chariots fighting in the blazing sun.
The sequence was shot over five days, with hundreds of extras, stuntmen, animals and chariots on set, alongside five cameras and two crews – interrupted only by a huge storm which swamped the area in water, cutting of many of the crew from the road, and which the local media called “biblical” in its scale.
A few days later, following a sunset so spectacular that it was filmed for inclusion in the movie, a sandstorm blew up on the plain of Alhamilla, damaging sets and blinding cast, crew and extras.
Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, was another key location. Wide empty sandy beaches, fringing high volcanic rock mountains made the island the perfect location for the Hebrew flight from Egypt in the Sinai desert. “Parts of Fuerteventura are almost prehistoric looking; they’re untouched,” says Bale. “It’s one of the most stunning locations I’ve ever seen.”
High in the mountains is the mining town of Macael, from which marble has been extracted since the time of the Phoenicians. The marble quarry appears as a slave workplace, where Moses first encounters Nun. Moses passes through again, on his way to confront Ramses with his request to free the slaves. Traveling by night, he observes the slaves, driven by cruel masters, toiling by torchlight, and hauling huge blocks of marble up mountains.
In addition to finding and building locations, Max and his team took on the enormous task of furnishing and decorating the spaces. “You can't buy anything Ancient Egyptian, so every single item and embellishment had to be designed and made.” he explains. Referencing materials in the British Museum and the Museum of Cairo, Max used a mixture of old techniques and modern technology.
The palaces were furnished with thrones and chairs, based on ancient frescoes. The production built statues from modern lightweight materials for ease of moving, but finished and aged them using ancient techniques.
The design team consulted experts in the fields of hieroglyphics, language and ritual behavior, and looked at Victorian era romantic painters of England and France, who brought intimate scenes to life. “The film reflects an eclectic mixture of influences, which we think will maximize the grandeur that was Ancient Egypt, alongside the suffering and deprivation that accompanies slavery,” says Max.
Max describes Scott’s exacting working methods with his creative department heads. “We sit round a table and go through the script page by page, using visual references. When we visit locations, different ideas are thrown up, and also come from the work of other departments. Ridley always surprises us by taking a direction none of us have thought of. The characters and their environment, and how they interact, come from his mind; it's his vision of their world. Ridley draws beautifully, so you have to keep track of whatever he has just produced, which is sometimes on the back of somebody's script. If you have a good idea, he makes it better. And he finds the best position on any set, sometimes an angle nobody else has thought of. As well as being an artist, he is a cameraman and a very quick study in modern technology, grasping what's going on, and how he can use it.
“It’s like working for a Renaissance Master; we are his pupils, implementing his vision of how he wants it to be seen on screen,” says the production designer.
Janty Yates won the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Costume Design for her work on Gladiator, and has collaborated with Scott on six other features. She views this collaboration as the ultimate challenge. “Ridley is a painter, and he is an inspiration. Watching him set up a shot, no detail escapes him. It's exciting to experience because you know every frame is going to be special.”
The basis of Yates’ design is research and, as she points out, she was lucky that so much reference is available, recorded in the art of Ancient Egypt, on walls and statues. “For Gladiator, nothing much was available online, so a lot of time was spent wandering around Rome, looking at statues for guidance.”
For Yates, her most exciting discovery during her prep work was how advanced the Egyptians were in fashion and design. “The jewelry in particular is made with such craftsmanship, so detailed and delicate,” she says.
The scope of the film is enormous and Yates and her associate costume designer, Stefano de Nardis, set up a factory in Ouarzazate in the Moroccan desert, bringing together cutters, seamstresses, embroiderers, metal workers, shoemakers and jewelers to create the costumes for the Egyptians, the army, the Hittites, the palace guards and some of the specially featured players. Each of the twenty principal cast members had many elaborate costumes, with multiple details, and often had to have eight or nine repeats of one costume, so Yates additionally set up a huge organization of dyers, cutters, and other specialists, in London.
Dressing Moses was the most complicated undertaking. "He has several looks,” Yates explains. “In the first one, Moses is a young prince of Egypt, loved by Seti, close to his cousin Ramses and distrusted by Tuya. Ridley wanted him to be discreet, in this court of flamboyance. He is primarily a military man, so he has sober tones, neat clothes, and is almost clean cut, with short-ish hair.”
In the second act, wandering in the desert, he looks like a vagabond, and after being attacked by some tribesmen, he wears their clothes. When he meets his future wife Zipporah and settles down, he is a shepherd, in the countryside. Then when he decides to return to Egypt to confront Ramses, he is the guerrilla warrior, living in the mountains with his posse and eventually leading his people to freedom.”
While acknowledging the challenges of dressing the ever-evolving Moses, Yates notes that her favorite creations are the outrageous costumes worn by Ramses. “In a sea of Hittites, or in amongst some rather grubby Egyptian soldiers, Ramses’ gold outfit and armor have that ‘wow’ factor. And Joel wears it so well. Every time I dressed him, I just fell in love with the look.”
As Scott puts it, Ramses wears a lot of bling. Edgerton quickly became accustomed to his character's preference for gold and was heard to joke, “I’m not having that …unless it's gold,” or “bring me my gold skirt - the number seventy six.”
Says Yates: “Ramses was arrogant, erecting more statues to himself than any other Pharaoh, so everything he has reflects that personality. It literally reflects, in that it is all gold, including jewels, helmet and clothes. Seti is gilded but not flamboyant like his son, while Tuya is both flamboyant and sexy. Tuya expects to be Queen of the country when Ramses takes over, so she is gearing herself up for that role in the public eye.”
Zipporah, whom Moses marries in a village far from Egypt, is, says Yates, “young, fresh, beautiful and modern, so her clothes reflect that; she is a working tribeswoman.”
Zipporah, portrayed by Maria Valverde, is a physically striking character, thanks in part to makeup department head Tina Earnshaw, an Oscar winner for her work on Titanic and who collaborated with Scott on Prometheus and The Counselor. Earnshaw gives Zipporah black coal for her eyes, facial tribal tattoos and Henna tattoos on her hands, arms, feet and legs. “She just looks beautiful at all times,” says Earnshaw.
Every costume, prop, design, structure and visual effect speaks to the film’s epic scale. But as Ridley Scott notes, the sensibilities of EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS are always grounded. “Moses grew up as an important Egyptian noble –a Prince of Egypt –with some very real human insecurities and questions.”
For Christian Bale, portraying Moses was an unforgettable experience. “He’s such an intoxicating character to play, that in many ways I felt like, ‘Wow, can’t we keep going?’ There is so much more to tell about him, and he’s even more fascinating than anything I had realized.”