Upcoming Screenings

First Man
July 2nd, 2022

First Man


Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle as we screen six films in space. First up is Damien Chazelle’s Oscar-winning (Best Achievement in Visual Effects) film First Man [2018].


Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

Downtown Central Library Auditorium
1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203
(Enter from Clinton Street between Oak and Washington Streets)
716-858-8900 • www.BuffaloLib.org
COVID protocol will be followed.


TrailerSynopsisDirector BioLinks

On the heels of their six-time Academy Award®-winning smash, La La Land, Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for Universal Pictures’ First Man, the riveting story behind the first manned mission to the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the decade leading to the historic Apollo 11 flight. A visceral and intimate account told from Armstrong’s perspective, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the film explores the triumphs and the cost—on Armstrong, his family, his colleagues and the nation itself—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.

Written by Academy Award® winner Josh Singer (Spotlight, The Post), the epic drama of leading under the pressure of grace and tragedy is produced by Wyck Godfrey & Marty Bowen (The Twilight Saga, The Fault in Our Stars) through their Temple Hill Entertainment banner, alongside Isaac Klausner (Love, Simon) and Chazelle. Steven Spielberg, Adam Merims and Singer executive produce, while DreamWorks Pictures co-finances the film.

Tidbits:

  • Venice Film Festival – 2018
  • Telluride Film Festival – 2018
  • Toronto International Film Festival – 2018
  • Academy Awards – 2019 – Nominee: Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing
  • Academy Awards – 2019 – Winner: Best Visual Effects
  • Golden Globes (USA) – 2019 – Nominee: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture
  • Golden Globes (USA) – 2019 – Winner: Best Original Score

“There’s sometimes this fallacy in movies that you have to understand what people are doing. If people are at work, you have actually spell out to the audience what they’re doing. In [David Fincher]’s mind—and I agree with this—that actually doesn’t matter at all.”

An American film director, producer, and screenwriter known for his films Whiplash (2014), La La Land (2016), and First Man (2018). Chazelle’s breakout Whiplash began as a proof-of-concept short film, which debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and eventually attracted attention from financiers who helped to finance the full-length version. The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival as the opening film where it won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic and went on to receive five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, winning three with Chazelle himself nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Soon after, he was finally able to make his dream project, La La Land, which was nominated for fourteen Academy Awards, winning six including Best Director, making him the youngest person to win the award at age 32. His films have received critical and commercial success. Aside from filmmaking, Chazelle has ventured into television with “The Eddy”, an eight-episode Netflix miniseries set in Paris. Chazelle’s next film, Babylon, is set in 1920s Hollywood and will be given a limited release by Paramount Pictures on December 25, 2022, followed by a wide release on January 6, 2023.

Filmography:

  • Babylon (2022)
  • First Man (2018)
  • La La Land (2016)
  • Whiplash (2014)
  • Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009)

Here is a curated selection of links for additional insight/information:

Ad Astra
July 16th, 2022

Ad Astra


Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle as we screen six films in space. Next up is James Gray’s Oscar-nominated (Best Achievement in Sound Mixing) film Ad Astra [2019].


Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

Downtown Central Library Auditorium
1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203
(Enter from Clinton Street between Oak and Washington Streets)
716-858-8900 • www.BuffaloLib.org
COVID protocol will be followed.


TrailerSynopsisDirector BioLinks

Brad Pitt gives a powerful performance in this, “absolutely enthralling” (Rolling Stone), sci-fi thriller set in space. When a mysterious life-threatening event strikes Earth, astronaut Roy McBride (Pitt) goes on a dangerous mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones) and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.

Tidbits:

  • Venice Film Festival – 2019
  • Academy Awards – 2020 – Nominee: Best Sound Mixing

“What I’m after, making a film, is the most exact transcript of my most intimate impressions of behavior.”

Courtesy of TCM:

Writer-director James Gray made his mark on the independent film world with a number of acclaimed dramas that explored his interest in human behavior; in particular, loyalty among families, tribes and lovers. Gray was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his first feature, “Little Odessa” (1994), and from that film’s gritty setting in Brooklyn’s Russian Mafia underworld, he went into the seedy New York club scene for “We Own The Night” (2007), starring Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg. When Gray boldly moved away from crime dramas towards romance with “Two Lovers” (2009), more accolades were forthcoming, proving that the filmmaker was skilled enough to create absorbing, emotionally complex characters that were not necessarily packing heat.

Gray was born in New York City in 1969 and raised in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens. As a child, he dreamed of becoming a painter, but that all changed when he saw “Apocalypse Now” (1979) and “Raging Bull” (1980), and was inspired by how filmmaking could combine multiple forms of art into one work. He became a movie junkie, often skipping school to visit art houses in a quest to learn all he could about American and European film history. Despite his less-than-stellar attendance record, Gray maintained his academics enough to get accepted into the prestigious University of Southern California Film School, where he delved deeper into film theory. He graduated with a BFA in Film in 1991. That year, his short film, “Cowboys and Angels,” showcased a promising filmmaker and helped him secure an agent and his first bit of industry attention.

He made his feature film debut with the 1994 indie “Little Odessa,” about an icy hit man (Tim Roth) for the Russian Mafia who returns to his old neighborhood in Brooklyn for a quick kill and finds himself getting drawn back into family relationships, including with his ailing mother (Vanessa Redgrave), estranged father (Maximillian Schell), and the younger brother (Edward Furlong) who idolizes him. An impressive first film that achieved a solemn, thoughtful tone and offered excellent performances, “Little Odessa” won the Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival, the Critics Award at the Deauville Film Festival, and Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay.

In 1998, Gray began shooting his follow-up, “The Yards” (2000), based on a screenplay he wrote about the politics and corruption involved in the New York City transit system. When Gray was growing up, his father was an electronic parts manufacturer who was a supplier to the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and his stories of the shady deal-making and violence involved inspired Gray’s storyline. Set in a subway train yard in Queens, “The Yards” made its debut at Cannes in 2000 and starred Mark Wahlberg as an ex-con looking for honest work who joins his uncle (James Caan) in what turns out to be the dangerous and dishonest business. The film only received limited release, but it cemented Gray’s gelling reputation as a visual, detail-oriented director who elicited top-notch performances from his cast, which in this case included Joaquin Phoenix, Charlize Theron and Ellen Burstyn.

Seedy New York underworlds and the pitfalls of family businesses continued to provide inspiration for writer-director Gray, who next hit theaters in 2007 with “We Own The Night.” Gray paired two of his favorite actors, Wahlberg and Phoenix, to play brothers on opposite sides of the law who agree to join forces to avenge the death of their father (Robert Duvall). The crime drama was one of the most commercially popular films on Gray’s resume, but for his next project he made a decision to put aside the guns and murder that usually factored into his plots and make a film about love and desire. The creative leap re-invigorated his critical standing, and Gray earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Director for “Two Lovers” (2009), which starred Joaquin Phoenix as an unstable man drawn to two very different women – Gwyneth Paltrow as a lawyer who carries on an affair with her married boss, and Vinessa Shaw as a more stable option whose father will bring him into their family business if the pair marries.

Critics applauded “Two Lovers,” though unfortunately the film’s promotional efforts were overshadowed by bizarre appearances by Phoenix, including a severely bearded, bloated and dazed guest spot in David Letterman’s interview chair. While the appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman” (CBS, 1993- ) was a hot YouTube selection, the odd antics failed to do justice to the film. When Phoenix went on to announce his retirement from acting to pursue a rap career, “Two Lovers” became his swan song, and an impressive achievement to go out on. Gray also made a marked change at the time, opting to finally leaving his Brooklyn-set stories behind in favor of South America. He scripted “The Lost City of Z” (2010), based on the actual story of an early 20th century explorer who was obsessed with finding unknown civilizations in the Amazon jungle before eventually going mad. Gray’s biggest budget outing to date partnered him with co-producer Brad Pitt, who also starred.

Filmography:

  • Ad Astra (2019)
  • The Lost City of Z (2016)
  • The Immigrant (2013)
  • Two Lovers (2008)
  • We Own the Night (2007)
  • The Yards (1999)
  • Little Odessa (1994)
  • Cowboys and Angels (1993)

Here is a curated selection of links for additional insight/information:

Hidden Figures
July 30th, 2022

Hidden Figures


Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle as we screen six films in space. Next up is Theodore Melfi’s Oscar-nominated (Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role & Best Adapted Screenplay) film Hidden Figures [2016].


Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

Downtown Central Library Auditorium
1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203
(Enter from Clinton Street between Oak and Washington Streets)
716-858-8900 • www.BuffaloLib.org
COVID protocol will be followed.


TrailerSynopsisDirector BioLinks

Hidden Figures tells the incredible untold story of Katherine Jonson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – brilliant African-American women working at NASA who served as the brains behind the launch into orbit of astronaut John Glenn, a stunning achievement that turned around the space race. The visionary trio crossed all gender and racial line and inspired generations.

Tidbits:

  • Academy Awards – 2017 – Nominee: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role & Best Adapted Screenplay
  • National Board of Review – 2016 – Winner: Top Ten Films & Best Ensemble
  • Writers Guild of America – 2017 – Nominee: Adapted Screenplay
  • Screen Actors Guild Awards – 2017 – Winner: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
  • Screen Actors Guild Awards – 2017 – Nominee: Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Golden Globes (USA) – 2017 – Nominee: Best Original Score – Motion Picture & Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

“So $25 million is what Hidden Figures cost, but it looks a lot more than that; it’s just a testament to a hardworking crew and a hardworking cast that did it for the love of it, and I think that’s what movies should be done for, for the love of it, and if it’s a success, everyone will be rewarded.”

Courtesy of TCM:

Writer, producer and filmmaker Ted Melfi began his career helming over 100 commercials before branching out into short films and full-length features, eventually making his mark in Hollywood as the director of the Bill Murray-starring comedy “St. Vincent” (2014). Born in Brooklyn, NY, Melfi’s early career was dominated by commercial work for the likes of FedEx, McDonalds and Slim Fast. But having directed his wife Kimberly Quinn in “Winding Roads” (1999), a low-budget indie drama released through his own production company, Goldenlight, Melfi’s focus began to shift towards the film industry.

After serving as producer on “Ronnie” (2002), a psychological thriller about a troubled young man who strikes up a relationship with a patient at a mental institution, “Joe Killionaire” (2004), a tongue-in-cheek satire of reality TV, and “Getno” (2005), a drama about a Hungarian family’s attempt to achieve the American Dream, Melfi wrote, produced and directed his first short, “The Story of Bob” (2005), a spoof documentary about a man’s obsession with IKEA. Following production work on trashy mutant TV movie “MorphMan” (Syfy, 2007) and children’s soccer drama “Game of Life” (2007), Melfi helmed a string of further shorts including mistaken identity tale “The Beneficiary” (2008), a mockumentary about a rock/paper/scissors tournament, “Roshambo” (2010) and the story of a search for the perfect nanny, “I Want Candy” (2010). After taking on a producer’s role on romantic comedy of errors “Bed & Breakfast: Love Is A Happy Accident” (2010), Melfi added screenwriter to his list of talents when he was hired to pen a remake of the crime comedy “Going In Style” (1979) and the New York Times best-selling memoir, The Tender Bar, and also set up his own content production company, Brother, with Rich Carter.

Having impressively managed to acquire the talents of Bill Murray, as well as Naomi Watts and Melissa McCarthy, for his first major full-length feature, Melfi made Hollywood sit up and take notice with “St. Vincent” (2014), the heart-warming story of a grouchy war veteran who forms an unlikely bond with his 12-year-old next-door neighbor. Melfi followed up the indie success with a commercial breakthrough, “Hidden Figures” (2016). Starring Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monáe as mathematicians employed by NASA in the early 1960s, the fact-based drama was a box office hit that was nominated for Best Picture; Melfi and co-writer Allison Schroeder also scored a Best Adapted Screenplay nod.

Filmography:

  • Hidden Figures (2016)
  • St. Vincent (2014)

Here is a curated selection of links for additional insight/information:

Gravity
August 13th, 2022

Gravity


Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle as we screen six films in space. Next up is Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar-winning (Best Cinematography, Best Directing, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing & Best Visual Effects) film Gravity [2013].


Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

Downtown Central Library Auditorium
1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203
(Enter from Clinton Street between Oak and Washington Streets)
716-858-8900 • www.BuffaloLib.org
COVID protocol will be followed.


TrailerSynopsisDirector BioLinks

Academy Award® winners Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) and George Clooney (Up in the Air, Syriana) star in this heart-pounding thriller written, directed and produced by Oscar® nominee Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) and set in the infinite and unforgiving realm of deep space. Bullock plays a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with Clooney as a veteran astronaut in command of his last flight before retiring. But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving the two completely alone — tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth…and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.​

Tidbits:

  • Venice Film Festival – 2013
  • Toronto International Film Festival – 2013
  • National Board of Review – 2013
  • Golden Globes – 2014 – Winner: Best Director – Motion Picture
  • Golden Globes – 2014 – Nominee: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama & Best Original Score – Motion Picture
  • Academy Awards – 2014 – Winner: Best Achievement in Visual Effects, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score), Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing & Best Achievement in Cinematography
  • Academy Awards – 2014 – Nominee: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Best Achievement in Production Design & Best Motion Picture of the Year

“The only reason you make a movie is not to make or set out to do a good or bad movie, it’s just to see what you learn for the next one.”

Courtesy of TCM:

Having established himself as a compelling filmmaker in his native Mexico, director Alfonso Cuarón came to international attention with his hit, “Love in the Time of Hysteria” (“Solo Con Tu Pareja”) (1991), which opened up the doors of Hollywood. His inventive romantic comedy led famed producer and director Sydney Pollack to hire Cuarón to direct an episode of his noir anthology series, “Fallen Angels” (Showtime, 1993-95). Soon it was a quick jump to his first American feature, “The Little Princess” (1995), which earned the praise of critics, but failed to become a box office success. Following the box office failure of his next film, a contemporary adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectation” (1997), Cuarón returned to Mexico to direct the funny, politically conscious and unabashedly sexual “Y tu mamá también” (“And Your Mother, Too”) (2001), which propelled him to the upper tier of international filmmakers. Though graphic in its depiction of sexuality, the film nonetheless led to Cuarón’s next job, directing “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), one of the darker and more thrilling films in the successful franchise. Cuarón then helmed perhaps his finest work, “Children of Men” (2006), a dystopian science fiction thriller that garnered widespread acclaim and turned the director into a household name.

Born on Nov. 28, 1961 in Mexico City, Mexico, Cuarón was the son of Alfredo Cuarón, a nuclear scientist who worked for the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency and who left the family when his children were young. Cuarón grew up an avid film watcher, which led to studying both cinema and philosophy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico before moving on to learn film at the Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos in Mexico City. But because he directed his first short film, “Vengeance Is Mine,” in English, Cuarón was summarily kicked out of film school. He picked himself up by working as a technician in television, while also serving as an assistant director on many English-language films shot in Mexico and Latin America, including on Luis Mandoki’s docudrama “Gaby-A Love Story” (1987) and the same biopic “Romero” (1989), starring Raul Julia as the doomed Archbishop Oscar Romero. Cuarón made the transition to feature film director with “Love in the Time of Hysteria” (“Solo Con Tu Pareja”) (1991), an inventive romantic comedy about a young man (Giménez Cacho) misdiagnosed with AIDS by a jilted lover (Dobrina Liubomirova), who contemplates suicide, only to fall for a flight attendant (Claudia Ramírez) also looking to end her life.

Written with his brother, Carlos Cuarón, “Love in the Time of Hysteria” was refused distribution by the Mexican government, but found life on the international film festival circuit, where it eventually caught Hollywood’s attention. Director-producer Sydney Pollack took special notice and brought Cuarón to the United States in order for him to helm an episode of his noir anthology series, “Fallen Angels” (Showtime, 1993-95), which earned him a CableACE Award for his work. Moving on to features, Cuarón directed “The Little Princess” (1995), a critically-acclaimed box office failure that was the third go-around for the Frances Hodgson Burnett story. First shot in 1917 as a silent starring Mary Pickford and remade as a Shirley Temple vehicle in 1939, the story centered on a young girl of privilege (Liesel Matthews) forced into servitude at an austere boarding school as she searches for her lost father. Critics championed Cuarón’s film, a beautifully-photographed and stylized version that captured the charm and grace of the original story while adding its own dose of unflinching realism. Warner Brothers attempted to garner audience support by re-releasing the film after its initial theatrical run, but audiences stayed away. At year’s end, however, Cuarón was cited by the Los Angeles Film Critics for his efforts.

For his follow-up to “A Little Princess,” Cuarón directed “Great Expectations” (1997), a modern update of the Dickens classic set in a Florida fishing village and New York art’s scene. Still a tale of a young man making his way in the world, the film starred Ethan Hawke, Robert De Niro and Gwyneth Paltrow, but was met with mixed reviews and a mediocre box office performance. With his next project, Cuarón at last found serious acclaim and popularity with the release of “Y tu mamá también” (“And Your Mother Too”) (2001), the frank and funny portrayal of two adolescent boys (Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal) and their road trip with an older woman (Maribel Verdú) that turned into an runaway international success. The film was an intoxicating mix of road comedy, sex romp and socially aware drama that seemed to flow on the screen and sweep audiences away. Although the film was met with some controversy over its graphic sex scenes, the overwhelming response was positive. Cuarón had captured the passion of youth and showed it to audiences in an authentically tender, albeit raw, way. Perhaps treading into the wild and isolated land of his native Mexico allowed Cuarón to find this charmingly honest story of the unspoiled hearts of two boys before they become men.

The success of “Y tu mamá también” led Cuarón to a seemingly unlikely and far more commercial project, helming “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), the third film installment of the popular J.K. Rowling series. While Cuarón demonstrated a potent sense of visual flair and brought a welcome element of darkness to the franchise, the film – like its predecessors – still suffered from an understandable unwillingness to stray too far from the source material, leading to a certain sense of over-caution. Nonetheless, “The Prisoner of Azkaban” was another in a long line of box office successes for the franchise, taking in close to $800 million worldwide. Prior to “Harry Potter” being made and “Y tu mamá también” being released, Cuarón was approached by producers Hilary Schor and Marc Abraham, who had acquired the rights to author P.D. James’ 1992 dystopian novel, Children of Men. Though Cuarón was interested, Universal Pictures lacked enthusiasm, perhaps due in part to the events of September 11, 2001; at the time, studios were highly reluctant to produce bleak films about the end of human civilization. Ultimately, Cuarón went on to direct “Harry Potter,” promising Schor he would return.

Cuarón stayed true to his word, returning from England with renewed perspective and the clout of a hit director. He and writing partner Timothy Sexton set out to work on the script, infusing current events like the war in Iraq, torturing prisoners, and illegal immigration into a framework that transformed James’ meditation on the loss of hope into a hyperkinetic mix of chaos, martial law and the collapsing of a not-too-futuristic society. Cuarón and Sexton developed not a science fiction story, but a “movie about the state of things,” which reflected the failings of humanity and people’s lack of historical perspective. “Children of Men” (2006) starred Clive Owen as Theo, a former political activist-turned-bureaucrat and Julianne Moore as his former love, who convinces him to help transport a young woman (Claire-Hope Ashitey) pregnant with the world’s only child after civilization has long been infertile to safety. While box office success remained elusive, “Children of Men” roused critics, many of whom called it the best film of 2006, and it became a favorite among film buffs for several high-impact tracking shots that were long talked about following the film’s release. The Academy Awards failed to nominate the film for Best Picture, though Cuarón did receive a nod for Best Adapted Screenplay. After producing friend Guillermo del Toro’s hit “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006), he formed the independent production company Cha Cha Cha with fellow Mexican-born filmmakers del Toro and director Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu, which was set to finance five films for a total budget of $100 million, including Iñárritu’s “Biutiful” (2010).

Cuarón’s next film, “Gravity” (2013), was a technological breakthrough, using innovative camera techniques to film stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts stranded in outer space. The script, by Cuarón and his son Jonas, was equally acclaimed. A massive commercial success, “Gravity” was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won seven, including Best Director for Cuarón.

Filmography:

  • Roma (2018)
  • Gravity (2013)
  • Children of Men (2006)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
  • Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
  • Great Expectations (1998)
  • A Little Princess (1995)
  • Solo Con Tu Pareja (1991)

Here is a curated selection of links for additional insight/information:

The Martian
August 27th, 2022

The Martian


Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle as we screen six films in space. Next up is Ridley Scott’s Oscar-nominated (Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects & Best Production Design) film The Martian [2015].


Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

Downtown Central Library Auditorium
1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203
(Enter from Clinton Street between Oak and Washington Streets)
716-858-8900 • www.BuffaloLib.org
COVID protocol will be followed.


TrailerSynopsisDirector BioLinks

From legendary director Ridley Scott (Alien, Prometheus) comes a gripping tale of human strength and the will to survive. During a mission to Mars, American astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead and left behind. But Watney is still alive. Against all odds, he must find a way to contact Earth in the hope that scientists can devise a rescue plan to bring him home.

Tidbits:

  • Academy Awards – 2016 – Nominee: Best Achievement in Visual Effects, Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Best Achievement in Production Design, Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Best Achievement in Sound Mixing & Best Achievement in Sound Editing
  • American Film Institute Awards – 2016 – Winner: Movie of the Year
  • Writers Guild of America – 2016 – Nominee: Best Adapted Screenplay (Screen)
  • Golden Globes – 2016 – Winner: Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical & Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
  • Golden Globes – 2016 – Nominee: Best Director – Motion Picture

“People say I pay too much attention to the look of a movie but for God’s sake, I’m not producing a Radio 4 Play for Today, I’m making a movie that people are going to look at. ”

Courtesy of TCM:

One of the more respected and prolific filmmakers in modern cinema, director-producer Ridley Scott amassed a portfolio containing some of the most critically and commercially successful movies of all time. Emerging from the world of television commercial production, Scott was nearly 40 years old by the time he helmed his first feature “The Duellists” (1977). Its lackluster reception left audiences ill-prepared for the massive impact that came next with the classic science-fiction/horror film “Alien” (1979). Although a commercial disaster at the time, “Blade Runner” (1982) would later be regarded as one of the most influential sci-fi movies ever made, while Scott’s on-set behavior during production earned him a lasting reputation as an exceptionally stubborn and difficult director. The years that followed were marked by the ebb and flow of disappointment and triumph, as illustrated by efforts like “Legend” (1985), “Thelma & Louise” (1991), “White Squall” (1996) and “Gladiator” (2000). Remarkably, Scott moved into the next millennium with an even steadier output of work that included such highlights as “Black Hawk Down” (2001), “Kingdom of Heaven” (2005), “American Gangster” (2007), the “Alien” prequel-of-sorts “Prometheus” (2012) and the Academy Award-nominated science fiction comedy-thriller “The Martian” (2015). Having settled into a more efficient and actor-friendly style of filmmaking during the second half of his career, Scott enjoyed the luxury of tackling themes of personal interest on film projects endowed with budgets less-proven directors could only dream of.

Born on Nov. 30, 1937 in South Shields, Northumberland, England, Scott showed aptitude for art and drawing early on, becoming obsessed with it by the time he was 11 or 12 years of age. His mother, Jean, who loved movies, exposed her son to the joys of cinema. Since the family moved around often, thanks to his father’s service in the military, Scott attended some 10 odd schools by the time he was ready for university. When he reached 19 years old, however, Scott wanted to follow his father’s footsteps and enter the military. But his dad, who served as a brigadier for the British Army during World War II, convinced Scott to go to art school instead. Scott attended West Hartlepool College of Art to study graphic design, then did likewise at the Royal College of Art. After leaving school, he worked at the British Broadcasting Company as a set designer. But what Scott really wanted to do was direct, so he cajoled the station to allow him to attend a director’s course, opening the door for him to fulfill his true ambitions.

Scott was given the opportunity to direct a few episodes of television, including the long-running crime drama “Z Cars” (BBC, 1962-1978), but blew an interview for a job with BBC2 when he admitted to knowing nothing about Shakespeare. Then again, Scott was frustrated with earning a measly £75 per week anyway, so he left the BBC altogether and enter the advertising world, which he later dubbed his “film school.” Scott quickly made a name for himself at a time when most commercial directors looked down on making advertisements. But Scott took it seriously, churning out hundreds of spots that were visually stunning and later imitated by other commercial directors; his ads for Hovis bread were long remembered in the U.K. for being some of the best ever made. In 1967, Scott formed his own company, Ridley Scott Associates, which remained a major force in the advertising world well after he started directing features, which he finally did when he was 39 years old. By that time, he was quite well off financially. The pull to make movies, however – something Scott had felt since he was eight years old – proved too hard to resist any longer.

In the mid-1970s, Scott began working with producer David Puttnam on several story ideas, in order to develop something for him to direct as his first feature. They eventually came up with “The Duellists” (1977), a glossy historical drama adapted from a Joseph Conrad story about two officers in Napoleon’s army (Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel) who spend their off-hours challenging each other to bloody duels that result in 16 years of perpetual draws. Though well received at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival, “The Duellists” was released in only seven theaters in the United States.

Determined not to be resigned making art house films, Scott became interested in directing science fiction, thanks in part to the success of “Star Wars” (1977). He was offered the job of directing “Alien” (1979) – perhaps the most imitated and influential sci-fi horror film ever made – which focused on a crew aboard a spaceship which is hunted by an alien predator after it attaches itself to one of their own when they respond to a distress signal on an mysterious vessel. Though shot low budget, Scott nonetheless managed to create a visually satisfying film that drew mainstream audiences in with tension-filled scenes inside dank crawlspaces and with the iconic violence of an alien creature popping out of a crew member’s chest. Scott deftly kept the alien hidden – really an actor in a rubber suit due to budget restrictions – which sustained a sense of impending doom throughout the entire film. Also notable was Scott’s use of a female hero in the form of Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the ship’s warrant officer, who winds up the only surviving member of the crew after she dispatches of the creature. Unheard of in cinema at the time, Scott’s unconventional action heroine was groundbreaking and helped launch Weaver’s career. Though “Alien” spawned three official sequels, video games and two crossover movies years later, Scott played no part in the successful franchise, beyond inspiring the consequent filmmakers.

Since “Alien” firmly established Scott’s directing career, it was up to his next film, “Blade Runner” (1982), to validate it. While no one knew it at the time, it would go on to cement his legend. Ironically, the film that would become one of the most revered science fiction movies ever made, was poorly reviewed and a box office flop at the time of its release. The shoot itself was horrifying to many involved, especially the film’s star, Harrison Ford, who maintained throughout his career that “Blade Runner” was the worst movie experience of his life. On screen, Ford played Rick Deckard, a down-and-out ex-detective brought out of retirement to hunt down and kill a group of human androids, or replicants, who have escaped a mining company and taken refuge in the dystopian world of Los Angeles, circa 2019. As he discovers disturbing secrets about Tyrell Corporation, the company that manufactures the replicants, Deckard finds himself falling in love with an android (Sean Young), but is unaware of her true nature. Behind the scenes, Scott caused considerable friction from day one, upsetting the production design crew with demands of drastically changing established sets, thanks to his commercial background.

What Scott ultimately did, however, was establish a distinct and timeless look that transcended technological impairments of the early-1980s, creating a stunning visual film that stood its ground even decades later. But the finished product – which many later hailed as being ahead of its time – paled in comparison to the nightmarish treatment Scott inflicted upon much of his crew. He also battled Warner Bros. over test screenings, which forced Scott to make changes he knew were wrong, but nonetheless accepted because of studio pressure. He first added an extensive voiceover to help people identify better with Ford’s character and follow the plot more easily. Scott was then forced to change his enigmatic ending to something more positive and happy – namely Deckard and Rachel riding off into the sunset happily ever after. Though Scott immediately regretted the changes he was forced to make, he failed to put up much of a fight at the time. His only solace came much later in 1992 when he rereleased a director’s cut that eliminated Ford’s voiceover and replaced the Hollywood ending with the more obscure, thematic one that hinted that Deckard may indeed be a replicant himself.

Despite his creative triumph, Scott was under the gun to produce a hit after “Blade Runner” flopped. Unfortunately, his next effort, “Legend” (1985), was not the film to resurrect his stature. A glossy and beautiful fairy tale set in a mystical forest inhabited by magical unicorns, “Legend” suffered from an inept good vs. evil story, a wimpy male lead in the form of Tom Cruise, and a malevolent studio that cut a whopping 30 minutes from the final product, creating an incoherent movie that looked great, but failed to satisfy moviegoers. Scott went on to direct “Someone To Watch Over Me” (1987), a rather standard romantic thriller about a cop (Tom Berenger) who falls in love with a murder witness (Mimi Rogers) he is guarding against the mob. After that came and went without much consequence, Scott directed Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia in “Black Rain” (1989), a crime thriller about two New York City cops who struggle to find a killer whom they lost while escorting him back to Japan. Though not considered a critical hit by any stretch, “Black Rain” did well enough at the box office for Scott to avoid a deadly third flop in a row.

Returning to a convention that worked well for him in the past, Scott used the female hero – in this case two female anti-heroes – in “Thelma and Louise” (1991), a landmark film remembered more for two strong leads and feminist themes, than for who directed it. In this seminal revisionist action thriller, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis starred as two small town gals who go on the run after killing a rapist, only to meet their fate on their own terms; not on those of the sympathetic police officer (Harvey Keitel) giving chase. “Thelma and Louise” was especially noted for its unconventional ending, where the two women drive off the edge of the Grand Canyon rather than get caught. Unlike his experience on “Blade Runner,” however, Scott fought to retain his downer of an ending, but did make the compromise of freezing the car mid-air rather than show it crash into the depths below as shot. Meanwhile, Scott earned a nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement from the Directors Guild of America, and another for Best Director at the Academy Awards; his first bona fide award recognition.

Unfortunately for Scott, he followed a rousing success with yet another abysmal failure, this time directing “1492: The Conquest of Paradise” (1992), a lavish but ultimately doomed retelling of the famed discovery of America by Christopher Columbus (Gerard Depardieu). Scott again displayed considerable visual flair, though he allowed himself to divert his focus to tangential storylines, while making the historic events rather dull and lifeless. Around 1994, he formed the production company Scott Free with his younger brother, director Tony Scott, best known for the monster hit “Top Gun” (1986). One of their first producing projects was Scott’s next directing effort, “White Squall” (1996), a high-seas adventure about a group of young men struggling to survive after their boat capsizes. Once again, Scott’s choice of material, which was mediocre at best, was questioned, while the film itself faired poorly at the box office. In another ill decision that would have sunk the careers of lesser talents, Scott helmed the unfortunate “G.I. Jane” (1997), a flawed look at a woman (Demi Moore) struggling to prove herself worthy of becoming a Navy SEAL. Though Moore’s performance was compelling – amplified by the shaving of her head and extensive muscle-building – “G.I. Jane” fell far short of the greatness Scott had hoped to achieve.

Greatness was, however, just narrowly missed with Scott’s next film, “Gladiator” (2000), a triumphant return to the fabled sword-and-sandal epics of Hollywood yore. Under the benign leadership of Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), a fearsome, but respected Roman general, Maximus (Russell Crowe), has been privately declared the emperor’s successor. But when the emperor’s power-hungry son, Commodus (Joaquin Ph nix), hears about the betrayal, he kills his father, orders Maximus killed and grabs hold of the reigns of power. Maximus is captured and forced into slavery, where he trains as a gladiator and struggles to rise to the top of his game in order to confront Commodus on his own terms. Hailed by many critics as exceptional, “Gladiator” became a rare hit for Scott, who suffered for almost a decade without a financially successful film. It marked for the flailing director a sort of rebirth; one that suddenly sparked a flurry of new big budget projects that were previously unattainable, as well as a cordial working relationship with Russell Crowe – a rarity for both the typically difficult Scott and the typically difficult Crowe. Meanwhile, “Gladiator” earned 12 Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Director, and eventually took home five Oscars, including Best Picture.

Hot off the success of “Gladiator,” Scott fell into directing “Hannibal” (2001), the long-awaited sequel to “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991). After director Jonathan Demme backed out of the project, Scott stepped in to pick up the slack on this continuing tale of Dr. Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins), 10 years after his escape from federal custody. But Mason Verger (Gary Oldman), one of his past victims who managed to survive, uses Lector’s old nemesis, Clarice Starling (a recast Julianne Moore), to lure the distinguished serial killer into a trap in order to exact revenge. Scott’s mildly entertaining take failed miserably to live up to the tension and suspense of the original, making “Hannibal” pale by comparison. But that did not stop the movie from giving Scott his second huge hit in a row. Feeling himself on a roll, he directed the stunning “Black Hawk Down” (2002), a griping take on the true story of a Black Hawk helicopter getting shot down while on an exercise in Somalia during the United States’ ill-fated humanitarian mission in 1993. Scott’s talent for stark, stylistic visuals was on full display, giving the audience a feeling of actually being inside the maelstrom that claimed the lives of 18 soldiers and over 500 Somalis. Scott was honored with his third nomination for Best Director at the Academy Awards.

With three successive hits, Scott was certainly on top of his game. But it was just a matter of time before he hit another bump, which materialized as “Matchstick Men” (2003), a quirky crime comedy about a neurotic con artist (an over-the-top Nicolas Cage) who gets consumed by fear and panic when his partner (Sam Rockwell) wants to pull a big job. Despite the appeal of a unique twist on an old genre film, Scott failed to take what might have been an amusing romp, to the level of true inspiration. In a rare sojourn into television, Scott and brother Tony – under the auspices of Scott Free – served as executive producers of “Numb3rs” (CBS, 2005-2010), a popular procedural about a talented FBI agent (Rob Morrow) who reluctantly uses his genius mathematician brother (David Krumholtz) to help the bureau solve cases, despite their strained relationship. Back behind the director’s chair, Scott directed “Kingdom of Heaven” (2005), a historical epic set during the 2nd and 3rd Crusades of the 12th century. Despite the occasional lapse in story logic, “Kingdom of Heaven,” nonetheless, put on a fine display, with stunning battle sequences, while striking the right balance between grandeur and genuine character moments. The costly film, however, was struck down at the box office, amounting to financial disaster and pain for all involved, much like the Crusades themselves.

Having found a leading actor of high caliber with which to collaborate, it was surprising that Scott asked Crowe to make “A Good Year” (2006) for their sophomore effort together. A rather ordinary romantic comedy about a failing London banker (Crowe) who finds love with a beautiful Californian woman (Marion Cotilliard) after he inherits a winery, “A Good Year” caused many Scott fans to scratch their heads. Despite Crowe’s star power, the film came and went without much fanfare, fizzling quickly at the box office. Scott returned to prime form on his third collaboration with Crowe, “American Gangster” (2007), a true-life telling of 1970s Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), who gets nailed by Detective Richie Roberts, an honest cop (Crowe) trying to root out crooks on both sides of the law. “American Gangster” spent years in development, with Antoine Fuqua previously attached to direct. After Fuqua’s prompt exit following “creative differences,” Universal Pictures went through Brian De Palma and Terry George before settling on Scott to direct. As usual, Scott gave the film his trademark flourishing visual style, which worked well for the 1970s setting, and eventually earned himself a third Oscar nomination for Best Director.

Scott re-teamed with Crowe for the espionage thriller “Body of Lies” (2008), co-starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of a CIA operative used as a pawn by his supervisor (Crowe) in a high stakes game between Western and Arab intelligence agencies. Under the Scott Free banner, he executive-produced the medieval miniseries “The Pillars of the Earth” (Starz, 2010), based on the novel by Ken Follett, in addition to similar duties on the well-regarded drama series “The Good Wife” (CBS, 2009-16), starring Julianna Margulies. It was once more into the breach with Crowe in the title role of the legendary hero “Robin Hood” (2010), for a visually spectacular epic that, nonetheless, drew the ire of many critics for its historical inaccuracies and the narrative liberties taken with such an iconic tale. In 2011, Scott began production on the highly-anticipated “Prometheus” (2012). A science-fiction thriller initially intended as a prequel to “Alien,” the director later insisted that while it shared a certain amount of that seminal film’s creative DNA, “Prometheus” would very much be its own movie, tackling “unique, large and provocative” new ideas. Following the global commercial success of “Prometheus,” Scott was struck by tragic news when brother, Tony, apparently committed suicide on Aug. 19, 2012 by leaping to his death from a suspension bridge in San Pedro, CA. Tony’s actions were allegedly motivated by a diagnosis of inoperable brain cancer. Scott remained quiet in the ensuing days following the news, with no immediate word on how his brother’s death would affect their joint production company.

Returning to work, Scott dedicated the offbeat crime thriller “The Counselor” (2013) to his late brother; the film was penned by novelist Cormac McCarthy. Going in an entirely different direction, Scott next helmed “Exodus: Gods and Monsters” (2014), a straightforward Biblical epic enlivened by state of the art CGI work. This was followed by “The Martian” (2015), a comic-tinged science fiction action film based on the bestseller by Andy Weir.

By Shawn Dwyer

Filmography:

  • House of Gucci (2021)
  • The Last Duel (2021)
  • All the Money in the World (2017)
  • Alien: Covenant (2017)
  • The Martian (2015)
  • Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
  • The Counselor (2013)
  • Prometheus (2012)
  • Robin Hood (2010)
  • Body of Lies (2008)
  • American Gangster (2007)
  • A Good Year (2006)
  • Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
  • Matchstick Men (2003)
  • Black Hawk Down (2002)
  • Hannibal (2001)
  • Gladiator (2000)
  • G.I. Jane (1997)
  • White Squall (1996)
  • 1492: The Conquest of Paradise (1992)
  • Thelma & Louise (1991)
  • Black Rain (1989)
  • Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)
  • Legend (1986)
  • Blade Runner (1982)
  • Alien (1979)
  • The Duellists (1977)

Here is a curated selection of links for additional insight/information:

Apollo 11
September 10th, 2022

Apollo 11


Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle as we screen six films in space. Next up is Todd Douglas Miller’s Emmy-winning (Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction or Reality Program & Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Nonfiction or Reality Program) film Apollo 11 [2019].


Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

Downtown Central Library Auditorium
1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203
(Enter from Clinton Street between Oak and Washington Streets)
716-858-8900 • www.BuffaloLib.org
COVID protocol will be followed.


TrailerSynopsisDirector StatementLinks

From director Todd Douglas Miller (Dinosaur 13) comes a cinematic event fifty year s in the making. Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, Apollo 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names. Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future.

Miller and team were working closely with NASA and the National Archives (NARA ) to locate all existing Apollo 11 footage when NARA staff members made a startling discovery that changed the course of the project: an unprocessed collection of 65mm large format footage, never before seen by the public, containing stunning shots of the launch, the inside of Mission Control, and recovery and post-mission activities. The footage was so pristine and the find so significant that the project evolved beyond filmmaking into one of film curation and historic preservation.

The other unexpected find was a massive cache of audio recordings—more than 11,000 hours—made by two custom recorders which captured individual tracks from 60 key mission personnel throughout every moment of the mission. Apollo 11 film team members created code to restore the audio and make it searchable, then began the multi-year process of listening to and documenting the recordings, an effort that yielded remarkable new insights into key events of the mission as well as surprising moments of humor and camaraderie.

The digitization of the 65mm collection—as well as the re-scanning of 16mm and 35mm materials—was undertaken at Final Frame, a post-production house in New York City, which helped create a custom scanner, capable of high dynamic range scanning at resolutions up to 8K. The resulting transfer—from which the film was cut—is the highest resolution, highest quality digital collection of Apollo 11 footage in existence.

Constructed entirely from archival materials and eschewing talking heads, Apollo 11 captures the enormity of the event by giving audiences of all ages the direct experience of being there. When John F. Kennedy pledged in 1962 to put Americans on the moon by the end of the decade, he described it as a bold act of faith and vision. Apollo 11 bears witness to the culmination of that pledge, when America and the world came together in an extraordinary act of unity and resolve, to achieve one of the greatest and most complex feats in human history .

Tidbits:

  • SXSW Film Festival – 2019
  • Sundance Film Festival – 2019 – Winner: Special Jury Award for Editing (U.S. Documentary Competition)
  • Independent Spirit Awards – 2020 – Nominee: Best Documentary
  • National Board of Review – 2019

The mission of Apollo 11 is one of the greatest achievements in human history – hundreds of thousands of people spread across tens of thousands of companies all focused on putting the first humans on another world.

At times it felt like our film had just as many moving parts. What started out as a simple editing exercise—could we tell the entire story of the mission using only archival materials—turned into a cooperative effort by an international team of experts to create the definitive work on Apollo 11 for the screen. The remarkable discovery of a cache of untouched large format film and audio recordings added another dimension to the project: it was more than just a film now, it was an opportunity to curate and preserve this priceless historical material.

This film only exists because of the tremendous efforts and sacrifices of an extremely talented group of individuals. From the archivists and researchers, to the post production teams and production partners, everyone labored for years to ensure we got it right.

We are also indebted to the scores of writers, filmmakers, and researchers that have come before us to build on the canon of project Apollo. And to the astronauts, their families, NASA employees, contractors, and volunteers, many of whom we came to know in the course of making this film, we humbly say thank you. You remind us that great things can be accomplished when people unite for a common goal.

— January 2019

Filmography:

  • Apollo 11: Quarantine (Short) (2021)
  • Apollo 11 (2019)
  • Dinosaur 13 (2014)
  • Scaring the Fish (2008)
  • Gahanna Bill (2001)

Here is a curated selection of links for additional insight/information: