The inaugural Marty & Leah Sklar Creative Visionary Award will be presented to Kevin Feige, Producer and President of Marvel Studios in recognition of his creative vision and role in Marvel’s critical and box-office success. This first-ever award honors Feige’s impactful contribution of bringing layered stories, visually compelling effects, and relatable heroes together to create unique film experiences for audiences.
“The Ryman Arts Board established the Marty & Leah Sklar Creative Visionary Award to honor Marty’s memory and to celebrate the legacy of two amazing founders of our organization. We are thrilled that the first recipient of the award, Kevin Feige, embodies the aspiration of the award so completely. Kevin has reimagined an entire universe of storytelling and introduced us to exciting new worlds through his creative leadership and vision,” stated Phil Hettema, Ryman Arts Board President and President and Creative Executive of The Hettema Group.
The Marty & Leah Sklar Creative Visionary Award will be presented at the annual Ryman Arts event, this year being held at the Majestic Downtown in Los Angeles on Wednesday, November 7, 2018. The evening kicks off with a VIP reception including a dynamic panel discussion on bringing the world of Wakanda to life and the creation of Black Panther featuring Writer Joe Robert Cole and Director of Photography Rachel Morrison. The exclusive VIP reception will be followed by general admission and award program with remarks by Kevin Feige and other special guests.
The MARTY AND LEAH SKLAR CREATIVE VISIONARY AWARD is presented annually to an individual or singular creative vision and leadership who has made a distinctive contribution to the creative community: illuminating, inspiring and expanding the impact, relevance and reach of the arts through their work and creative vision. It is named for two visionaries who were co-founders of Ryman Arts. Leah Sklar has been active in the community and educational initiatives throughout her life, including a critical role in the development of Ryman’s mission and program. Marty Sklar was the legendary vice chairman and principal creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), leading the creation of the Disney theme parks around the world.
RYMAN ARTS provides intensive studio art instruction along with college and career guidance to a diverse community of promising high school youth —all at no cost to the students. Almost all graduates go to college, many go on to work in the creative industries, and all are poised for personal success. A nationally recognized non-profit organization, Ryman Arts was founded in 1990 to honor the legacy of legendary Disney artist Herbert D. Ryman. It has served over 6,000 teens from 150 communities across Southern California in its core program, engaged over 20,000 inner-city students through outreach, and is committed to reaching students with the greatest need to ensure all young artists reach their full potential. KEVIN FEIGE, producer and president of Marvel Studios, is a hands-on producer and oversees Marvel Studios’ feature film productions. Under his leadership and guidance, the 20 films he has produced have all opened No. 1 at the box office and are all rated Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. His forward-thinking approach to production, casting and globally resonant storylines make him one of the most exciting and relevant filmmakers of our time.
Since the inception of Marvel Studios, Feige has continually brought together a diverse group of talent for each of his films, seeking out unique and unexpected voices to bring the studio’s stories to life, from writers and directors to actors and below-the-line professionals. This effort reached its apex with this year’s release of the critically acclaimed “Black Panther.” The film became a global cultural phenomenon and a critical hit, proving that showcasing diverse voices can lead to enormous global success. The most successful domestic release of 2018, “Black Panther” earned more than $1.3B worldwide. Among the global hits Feige has produced are “The Avengers,” “Captain America,” “Iron Man,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Thor,” “Doctor Strange,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and, most recently, “Ant-Man and The Wasp.” Feige continues his advocacy of women and representation with the upcoming female-led “Captain Marvel” and storylines around major strong female characters from Black Widow to many more.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts, Feige first worked for Lauren Shuler Donner and Richard Donner at their Warner Bros.–based production company, which released the action-adventure “Volcano” and the hit romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail.”
In summer 2008, Feige’s first foray as a full producer was the first fully developed and financed film from the fledgling Marvel Studios, the commercial and critical hit “Iron Man,” directed by Jon Favreau. Feige’s drive to put unique storytellers at the forefront helped to craft groundbreaking and hugely successful projects that became a showcase for unexpected talent both in front of and behind the camera. Feige has continued without breaking stride, breaking numerous box office records and expanding Marvel Studios’ slate to up to three releases per year.
This year in addition to “Black Panther.”Feige produced the long-awaited “Avengers: Infinity War,” which opened to critical acclaim and broke domestic and global box-office records on its way to becoming the highest-grossing Marvel Studios film thus far, as well as “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” which opened No. 1 at the domestic box office and is the 15th Marvel Studios film to surpass $600 million worldwide.
Midnight Mass: The Blood of Life
The isolated island community of Crockett receives a mysterious new head priest, full of secrets and a brand new testament under a very unusual Messenger of God.
Meet poor Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford), freshly released from prison and wracked with guilt over what got him there, a stupid drinking accident that caused the death of his ex-girlfriend. The last thing he wants to do is go back to Crockett and the judgment of the mostly religious community there, his disappointed family, and the nightmares of his ex’s death that plague him. But where else would have him? Resignedly on the ferry, he goes.
Riley’s dad Ed (Henry Thomas) isn’t the kind of man who talks very much at all, much less about his feelings, or his very real disappointment in his elder son. Riley’s teen brother Warren (Igby Rigney) has no idea what to say to him either, and just generally keeps mum. Riley’s mom Annie (Kristin Lehman) is accepting and loving, hesitant in how to help her eldest son but never wavering in her faith in the help of our lord Jesus. Mom seems to think a good heaping dose of the Church would set Riley right but is surprised to learn that the old priest of the Parish, Pruitt, has taken an extended leave of absence from the island, and his newcomer replacement Father Paul (Hamish Linklater) is young, charismatic, and bursting at the seams to tell the whole island about the gifts he brought them, most especially what he claims as a new testament under a messenger of God.
We’ll get back to that whole ball of issues in a moment, the other interesting characters of Crockett Island. Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan) is the nightmarish overly polite and gently, almost lovingly condescending neighbor Christian woman you’ve ever loathed, the kind of person who explains away every last thing her Church may do wrong or contradictory because, after all, God works in mysterious ways. Pfft. Of course, Bev immediately ingratiates herself as the second to the new Father Paul in their services and is the first to start covering up his transgressions as they become more rampant.
Newcomers to Crockett Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli) and his son Ali (Rahul Abburi) present a burgeoning problem to the plans of Father Paul and his shadowy companion, for they are both practicing Muslims. The practical side of investigating these so-called ‘miracles’ and strange happenings falls on Hassan’s shoulders, as he already struggles with barely-concealed racism and suspicion from his fellow islanders, and of course his son is being wooed away from him by the promise of actual, tangible miracles, but from a different whole faith and God. Father Paul definitely does not practice a traditional Christian faith and relies far too much on making use of the eucharist, the ceremony of the blood and flesh of Jesus Christ turning into bread and wine and, well, consumed.
Wade (Michael Trucco) and his wife Dolly (Crystal Balint) are lifers of the island and both in general interested in one thing, the advancement of their own family, specifically their daughter Leeza (Annarah Cymone), who happens to be in a wheelchair. And that happens to be the canny Father Paul’s first real miracle-with-a-cost that he demonstrates to the astonishment of the parishioners, after a heartfelt and rousing sermon, Father Paul commands Leeza to rise, to stand, and to walk. And lo, she does. What parents wouldn’t wholly dedicate themselves to a cause after seeing this happen to their beloved precious daughter? The fringe benefits of healing, and power, the ones that come at a mighty, currently unnamed, cost, are simply a nice bonus.
Joe Collie (Robert Longstreet) is the town drunk, and while his reasons for drowning his sorrows in the sauce might be understandable, absolution wears a very different face when it comes from Father Paul. While Leeza might be willing to forgive Joe, and even as Joe begins attending the newly-formed Al-Anon meetings on the island of course hosted by Father Paul, redemption might’ve been better sought from medical professionals, and not this newfound method of religious worship.
Dr. Sarah Gunning (Annabeth Gish) is the islands’ kind of all-around medic, and this is how she and Riley’s old friend Erin (Kate Siegel), also newly returned to the island, a few months pregnant but traveling quietly alone, met when Erin comes to the Doc for obstetrics. Sarah’s older mother Mildred Gunning (Alexandra Essoe) has many medical and mental issues, and Sarah struggles in their shared home, to take care of her addled mom and balance her own life. Then Father Paul takes it upon himself to visit one of his oldest parishioners, bringing the sacred host and wine with him to give directly to Mildred, who starts looking and acting so much better under his loving care.
The show is very much a slow slow burn, with a lot of the actual action taking place in the last two episodes. Much of the beginning and middle episodes feature two people just sitting alone, having quiet and seriously in-depth conversations about heavy subjects – grief and repentance, what happens when we die, the disasters that come as a result of addictions, how our actions’ consequences reverberate to those we love around us, faith and the foibles of man, and of course, the giving of oneself over to a higher power, for strength, and guidance, and love.
Except, for the higher power that Father Paul brought back with him, to share with his beloved flock of Crockett Island, while it may be extremely powerful and full of what could be considered miraculous magic, everything comes at some kind of a cost. And when the Messenger of God is finally revealed to the shocked denizens of Crockett at Easter Mass, with Father Paul rapturing on about rebirth as the bloody massacre begins in earnest, it’s faith, not in any kind of God or religion, but faith in each other, that may save a few hardy souls.
Question the wisdom of your religious leaders along with the rest of us in a fine slow-burn addition to the Flanaverse, Midnight Mass is on Netflix now!
Saw X: It ain’t brain surgery!
Legendary executioner Jigsaw returns to exact revenge on a cadre of scam artists who promised him a bogus cure for his cancer!
First off, be aware, that this is what I call an interleaved sequel, a movie set between previous films in the franchise. In this case, Saw X occurs after the events of the very first Saw film, and before Saw II. Everybody got where we are? Good! Into the madness, we dive!
So, as we all know, John Kramer’s been diagnosed with cancer, very aggressive brain cancer, and likely doesn’t have much time left. And he’s tried everything under the sun, doing a ton of meticulous research, we’d expect nothing less from our master of the art of murder, and not one thing has worked. Yet one man from the support group for cancer sufferers, Henry (Michael Beach), offers an off-the-books supposed miracle cure, and John jumps at the chance.
Why does this nonsense always sound too good to be true? Because it is. Deleted scenes from the first Deadpool movie already told us why traveling to Mexico for any kind of medical cure is a sublimely stupid move, but Kramer is desperate. And while he might be sick and dying, John Kramer has never been what anyone could call stupid. So the villa out in the Mexican countryside, the affable cab driver Diego (Joshua Okamoto) professes surprise at Kramer being highjacked for his good, the nervous muttering from assistant Valentina (Paulette Hernandez), the side-eyeing from little housekeep Gabriela (Renata Vaca) and her tequila, and most especially the smooth and smarming reassurances of head “doctor” Cecilia Pederson (Synnove Macody Lund), all leave a kind of sour taste in John’s mouth.
The whole cluex4 scene is done in the style that the Saw films are known for, where we the audience are treated to cut-together explanatory scenes in a flip-flash fashion of usually about two minutes, for poor John when he realizes he’s been hoodwinked and just how badly, seems a little contrived. But then it’s entirely possible that we the audience truly expected our genius mastermind of the infamous Jigsaw murders to have realized what was happening sooner, and got enraged along with Kramer. And cheered as he prepared to take his bloody and ultra-violent revenge!
First up in our grand guignol of executions is the return of Jigsaw’s first protégé, Amanda (Shawnee Smith). And despite her avowed reverence for Jigsaw and his proven “therapy”, Amanda does waver a bit when the scammers are put through the paces of their specially-made Saw traps, and they shriek and blubber and bleed out. The appearance of the ringer of the bunch, Parker (Steven Brand), doesn’t even slow our beloved engineer of the damned down, because we knew Jigsaw would have his other apprentice waiting just off stage, the deliciously vicious Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). Even the monkeywrench of involving little-boy soccer fan Carlos (Jorge Briseno) in the traps, is just another cog in the machine that is the brilliantly plotting mind of John Kramer.
A fine addition to the Saw legends, showcasing a return to the beloved style and panache of the original Tobin Bell-starring Jigsaw films, Saw X is splashing gore and gallons of blood in theaters now!
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off
“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off,” Netflix’s latest series, is a rollicking journey through the world of video game culture, blending nostalgic references with a fresh narrative twist. Centered around Scott Pilgrim, portrayed with magnetic charisma by Michael Cera, the show skillfully integrates gaming elements into its storytelling, creating a delightful homage to the video game subculture.
The series cleverly employs pixelated graphics, power-up animations, and game-like sound effects to bring the virtual world to life. These visual cues, reminiscent of classic video games, enhance the storytelling and resonate with audiences familiar with the gaming landscape. The attention to detail in recreating iconic gaming moments is commendable, creating a visual and auditory treat for enthusiasts.
The exploration of video game culture goes beyond mere aesthetics; it becomes an integral part of the characters’ identities and interactions. The script intelligently weaves gaming terminology and tropes into the dialogue, effectively blending the real and virtual worlds. The series navigates the challenges and triumphs of the characters through the lens of gaming, making it a unique and engaging experience for both gamers and general audiences.
The ensemble cast, including standout performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, and Chris Evans embraces the gaming theme with infectious enthusiasm. The chemistry between the characters is palpable, adding emotional depth to the series.
“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” successfully taps into the zeitgeist of video game culture, offering a nostalgic yet contemporary take on the gaming phenomenon. It’s a must-watch for those who cherish the pixelated roots of the gaming world while providing an accessible and entertaining narrative for a broader audience. The series takes off not only in its title but also in its ability to soar within the ever-expanding realm of Netflix originals.