John Redcorn

An exclusive scene of Olivia Colman losing it in Empire of Light; the New York Times’ favorite films of 2022; Avatar: The Way of Water gets a warm, smoothly orchestrated reception; how a young couple made a Fountain of Youth period piece for $30,000. Plus: John Redcorn gets his due. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.

Hope Springs Eternal: As part of our new feature, Films at Any Budget, we’re excited to share this story of how married moviemakers Alex and Alina Willemin created the historical feature Albert and Claude near their Florida home for just $30,000. They live close to the purported site of the Fountain of Youth, which factors heavily into Albert and Claude. Set among colonizers in the 16th century, the film is about life, death, faith and fear. To make it, the Willemins and their team had to overcome obstacles including yellow jackets and Navy helicopters. (Full disclosure:  They and their company, Alix Filmworx, got an assist from MovieMaker Production Services, which might also be able to extend the budget of your production.)

Avatar: The Way of Water: You know that thing where a new movie comes out and a studio invites a bunch of fannish journalists to a screening and invites them to post their opinions to social media to drum up excitement? And then other journalists write headlines quoting the reaction tweets, where it’s not clear from the headline who said what — and whether the person is a real critic or a friendly podcaster or something? Disney just did that with Avatar: The Way of Water, resulting in what sounds like a very enthusiastic reception.

‘You Need Serious Help’: Here’s an exclusive clip from Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light, out Friday. The film stars the always good Olivia Colman as Hilary, a woman with a difficult past and uneasy present, who finds a makeshift family at the old Empire Cinema in a coastal Southern England town during the tumultuous early 1980s.  In this scene, which you are among the first people in the world to see, she is confronted by Donald Ellis (Colin Firth). Enjoy:

The New York Times Best Movies of 2022: New York Times critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott have released their annual dual list of the Best Films of the Year, and its their typical mix of obscurities and pleasantly unsnobby surprises. Both love Jordan Peele’s NOPE (No. 3 on her list, No. 1 on his), and both also hold imprisoned Iranian filmmaker’s No Bears in very high regard. Both also placed Laura Poitras’ doc All the Beauty and the Bloodshed on their lists. And I was delighted to see Steven Soderbergh’s Kimi on Dargis’ list, and Down With the King on Scott’s.

What’s Down With the King? Directed by Diego Ongaro, it’s the story of a rapper (played by real-life rapper Freddie Gibbs) who gets tired of all his professional drama — and online threats — and moves to the woods. The cinematography by Daniel Vecchione is some of my favorite in recent years. You can read about the film and listen to my interview with Ongaro and Vecchione here. 

What’s Not on the New York Times’ List? Oscar bait. While films like Corsage, The Fabelmans, and Women Talking get recommendations, they aren’t on either critics’ Top 10 lists. Scott mentions Empire of Light or Babylon, but doesn’t list them among his Top 10 or his additional recommendations.

Anything Else? I appreciated Dargis recommending Pearl, even though it isn’t in her Top 10. I love Pearl.

John Redcorn: Whenever we’re deep into production on a new issue of MovieMaker Magazine, as we are now, I often find myself playing one piece of music over and over again. This time its “John Redcorn,” by singer-songwriter Sir Darryl Farris, better known as SiR. The video is so magnificent that it might distract from the beauty of the song — if the song weren’t so absolutely masterful. Watch when you have a migraine.

Also: This is what I’m talking about when I say we need more squirrel/nut metaphors.

Main image: Not John Redcorn, but kind of.