John Wick: Chapter 3 opens with John Wick on the run, hoping to beat the clock before he’s officially excommunicado. He races down an alleyway, through pouring rain and neon-burnished darkness, Dog alongside him. Everyone in New York seems to be an assassin waiting for their chance to kill John Wick. With its cool colors and deep blacks, drama, and heightened reality, the John Wick saga is both chiaroscuro and a comic book, a Caravaggio painting made real.
In the city at night, Joe stakes out a house where a little girl named Nina’s been taken. He waylays an errand boy on the street outside, throwing him in the back of his rental car to interrogate him about the house’s security. Joe introduces himself: “I’m Mr. Rogers.”
SPOILERS for Annihilation to follow
“Usually if people are talking about what something means in a movie, it means you’ve got a movie people want to see. It’s like the obelisk in 2001. People went around for year sitting in McDonald’s and Bel Air cocktail parties saying, ‘What the hell does that obelisk mean?’” - William Friedkin
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” - Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy
Sirens, searchlights, gunfire. An inmate emerging from a hole in the ground encounters a U.S. Marshal with a shotgun. A friend with a car waits for the inmate, but the marshal is in the way, and so the inmate—smeared with muck—takes the marshal in the trunk with him. The marshal is Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez), and the inmate staining her favorite Chanel suit is George Clooney’s Jack Foley.
Jean-Pierre Melville said, “a film is first and foremost a dream.” Chad Stahelski’s and David Leitch’s John Wick is a dream of grief and retribution, of a hyperreal world hidden from our view, of a character both mythic and human. John Wick is, at its most fundamental, a fable about dealing with grief.
John Wick’s universe looks like ours, yet exists just beyond it, a liminal place between reality and pulp fantasy, full of color and violence. A shadowy underworld where John’s story plays out like a blood-soaked ballet. Buster Keaton introduces this world to us for a second time in John Wick: Chapter 2. The motorcycle chase from Sherlock Jr. is projected on the side of a skyscraper, and the sounds from John Wick’s own motorcycle chase syncs with it perfectly.
John Wick is a myth. He’s Baba Yaga, the Boogeyman. Or rather, he’s the one you send to kill the Boogeyman. There’s something supernatural about him. He survives getting shot, beaten, suffocated, hit by a car, stabbed, thrown off a balcony. He once killed three men in a bar with a pencil. He’s Rasputin, an avenging angel, like the Old Testament God. It’s easy to forget that he’s just John when first introduced: a man mourning his wife and “sorting some stuff out,” who loves his dog and his ev...
Niki Lauda and James Hunt are Formula 1 legends, and their rivalry was just as famous — or infamous. Rush producer Brian Grazer called them “a fire and ice combination”: cold, disciplined Lauda and hot-blooded adrenaline junkie Hunt were incredibly competitive, often unlikable, and could not have been more different. Hunt was a rockstar, an artist in his approach to racing, and Lauda is the businessman, a scientist, exacting.
A match is struck. Jim Halsey lights his cigarette in the driver’s seat of a red Cadillac. The road is dark, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Jim starts to nod off—that is, until he pulls over and opens his door for a hitchhiker seemingly stranded in the rain. “My mother told me never to do this,” Jim laughs. The nightmare is just beginning. From this first scene Robert Harmon’s The Hitcher ushers into a dream-like, liminal world, unmoored from reality, from time and place.
At the threshold of Steve McQueen’s stardom, a studio attorney gave him just a day to make a life-altering decision: racing or acting. If McQueen were to become a true leading man, he’d have to play it safe and sacrifice the race track.
There are movie cars, and then there are the creative minds behind the movie cars. To showcase its new exhibit, “Hollywood Dream Machines: Vehicles of Science Fiction and Fantasy,” Petersen Automotive Museum brought some of those people together to share their influences, automotive creations, and opinions about where the movie industry is headed.
Fantasy vehicles are the building blocks of cinematic universes: dystopian megalopolises, apocalyptic futures, and fantastic planets. They are storytelling’s essential instruments. These vehicles reveal the worlds they navigate and express the characters who operate them. Like the Transformers or K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, they can even be characters themselves, just as resonant and beloved as these stories’ human, alien, and android heroes.
“A driver don’t pick the car. The car pick the driver. It’s a mystical bond between man and machine.” — Bobby Bolivia (Bernie Mac), Transformers
Steven Spielberg said the first Transformers film should be “a story of a boy and his car,” a suggestion that filmmaker Travis Knight drew inspiration from when he made his Transformers prequel Bumblebee. Except Knight tells one of very few stories about a girl and her car.