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London Film Festival Review: Andrew Cumming’s ‘The Origin’

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The Highlands of Scotland are the perfect backdrop for Andrew Cumming’s prehistoric genre piece The Origin, a survivalist horror that also works as a thoughtful human drama as its core cast of six fight for their lives against a violent, unseen creature. The Origin had its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival.

The setting is 45,000 years ago, and a landing party led by Adem (Chuku Modu) washes up at the shore of what they hope to be the promised land. It is, however, a false dawn: the soil is barren, and the group needs to stay on the move if they are to survive. But as they do so, the terrain becomes more forbidding — wide open plains and claustrophobic forests —and something terrifying is on their trail, making nightfall especially tense. 

There are plenty of parallels with other movies, notably John Carpenter’s The Thing, but The Origin goes much further in its world-building, having its characters speak a strange guttural language (actually a mix of Arabic and Basque). It’s a bold choice, and, like DP Ben Fordesman’s atmospheric but often very low-lit lensing, something that lends itself to a richer and more immersive experience in a big, dark cinema than anything a streaming platform could offer. In this respect, the storytelling, for the most part, is incredibly visual, and a lot of heavy lifting is done by the spaces beyond the frame, which is a constant reminder of how utterly alone and vulnerable these people are. The unsettling sound mix is crucial too, working in tandem with Adam Janota Bzowki’s primal but subtle score to bring both tension and some much-needed relief.

The cast, though their safety is not assured and only one will prevail as what could be called the film’s only true protagonist, is a genuine ensemble, and the diversity of the casting helps establish the fractious state of the group to begin with: the headstrong Adem, his more empathetic brother Geirr (Kit Young), his son Heron (Luna Mwezi) and pregnant “wife” Avé (Iola Evans). Rounding out the six are two foragers, the elder Odal (Arno Lüning) and teenage Beyah (Safia Oakley-Green), outsiders who come to embody the film’s slowly emerging central theme of community and otherness.

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The reveal, when it comes, is more a slowly dawning realization than a Shyamalan doozy (no, it’s not the present day or an apocalyptic future), with plenty of clues along the way that pay back close attention. It may not be especially subtle in that respect, but The Origin has a lot to say about man’s slow-moving and ongoing evolution, reflecting all the myriad divisions in today’s world, from Brexit to Biden’s America, and being especially evocative of a world coming out of lockdown (the film was shot at the height of Covid restrictions, and a sense of isolation shows). In that sense, it’s a cautionary tale as old as time — or as the preternaturally wise Odal puts it, “The danger in bringing light to a dark place is that you might find out what lives in the darkness.”



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Netflix & Paramount+ To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’ ; TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome With Toon Series; ‘One Piece Film Red’ London Takeover — Global Briefs

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Netflix & Paramount+ UK To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’

Netflix and Paramount+ have struck a first of its kind-of-deal over a true crime documentary telling the story of the strip search caller in the U.S. Paramount+ has taken UK rights to Pervert: The Hunt for the Strip Search Caller and Netflix has rest of world on the doc, which it will be calling Don’t Pick Up the Phone. The deal is believed to be the first time two streamers have worked in such a way in the UK and rest of world. The doc tells the shocking story of a hoax caller who targeted fast food restaurants across the U.S. – posing as a police officer investigating a theft, the caller instructed managers to strip-search the young female employees he said were suspects. For many victims, what began as a humiliating strip search escalated into sexual abuse.

Canada’s TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome In Animated Series ‘Griffin And Turner’

EXCLUSIVE: Ontario, Canada’s TVOkids and Big Jump Entertainment are working on 2D-animated series Griffin and Turner. Based on real Canadian brothers who a significant online following, the show follows the supportive pair as they, their friends and family undertake personal challenges but focus on the journey rather than winning. Turner has Down syndrome, and TVOKids executive producer Kirsten Hurd noted the series has been developed in consultation with the Down syndrome community. Producer Big Jump is behind shows such as Shutterbug and Big Words, Small Stories.

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London Gets ‘One Piece Film Red’ Takeover After Record Haul

To celebrate the record-breaking haul of One Piece Film Red in the UK, the Straw Hat Pirates are set for a takeover of iconic London locations on November 26. Via local distributor Anime Limited and Toei Animation, the cast and memorable scenes from the series will be projected onto the County Hall of London, opposite the London Eye as well as other key locations. One Piece Film: Red has grossed over £800,000 in the UK and Ireland since it released earlier this month, making it the biggest of the long-running franchise. A phenomenon in Japan, One Piece Film Red has grossed $162M to date worldwide 



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‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, ‘Belfast’ Top 2022 EFA Arts & Crafts Awards

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Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front and Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast top the European Film Academy’s Excellence Awards honoring achievement in the arts and crafts categories, the winners of which were announced on Wednesday.

Belfast won best European Production Design for Jim Clay, whose credits include Children Of Men, for which he won a Bafta in 2006, and Murder On The Orient Express.

The drama, set against the backdrop of the beginnings of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1969, also won best European Costume Design for Charlotte Walter (Blithe Spirit, Misbehaviour)

Netflix-backed German WWI drama All Quiet On The Western Front won best European Make-up & Hair for Heike Merker, and Best European Special Effects for Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller and Markus Frank.

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 In other categories, best European Cinematography was won by Kate McCullough for her work on Colm Bairéad’s Irish-language drama The Quiet Girl.

Best European Editing went to Özcan Vardar and Eytan İpeker for Turkish director Emin Alper’s drama Burning Days.

Polish composer Paweł Mykietyn won best European Original Score went for Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO.

Best European Sound went to Simone Paolo Olivero, Paolo Benvenuti, Benni Atria, Marco Saitta, Ansgar Frerich & Florian Holzner for Michelangelo Frammartino’s cave exploration drama The Hole.

The winners, which are decided by a special expert jury, will receive their awards at the European Film Awards ceremony on 10 December in Reykjavík.

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Jennifer Lopez’s Social Media Mysteriously Goes Dark

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EXCLUSIVE: The actress, producer and top-selling performing artist’s social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter have suddenly gone dark in their featured/cover images.

Reps for Jennifer Lopez were unavailable for comment, but we hear from others that The Hustlers and Marry Me actress is on the verge of announcing a new project.

Here’s a look at her Instagram tonight:

While Lopez’s Instagram had erased all posts, a trail of her previous postings remained on Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter. Across all four social media portals, Lopez counts close to 347M followers, the majority of that coming from her Instagram.

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Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions in June 2021 signed a multi-year first-look deal with Netflix spanning feature films, TV series and unscripted content, with an emphasis on projects that support diverse female actors, writers and filmmakers. Lopez co-runs Nuyorican Productions with her producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.

Lopez scored her best opening for a live-action movie at the domestic box office with STX’s 2019 stripper caper Hustlers which debuted to $33.1 million, and grossed $105M stateside, $157.6M worldwide.  As a recording artist, Lopez has sold over 70 million albums, with J.Lo became her bestselling album with 3.8M copies sold in the U.S. and 12M global. Her Netflix thriller The Mother from director Niki Caro is set to debut in May. Her romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding with Josh Duhamel will hit Prime Video on Jan. 27.

On Facebook, one of her followers, Steffany Merino wrote, “What’s happened? Hope you and your wonderful family are ok. I’ll pray for your health and safety.”

Again, we hear something special is in the works in the next few days.



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