Browse Articles by J. Don Birnam

Craft Spotlight: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Makeup, Hair Team Discuss Viola’s Wigs, All that Sweat, Working With Denzel

February 2021
Craft Spotlight: <em>Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom</em> Makeup, Hair Team Discuss Viola’s Wigs, All that Sweat, Working With Denzel

Based on the August Wilson play of the same name, George C. Wolfe’s film adaptation of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has quickly become a force to contend with during this awards season. Having scored a leading three SAG nominations, as well as two Golden Globe nods, the well-reviewed movie about the imperious blues singer... »

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Posted in Awards, Crafts, Featured, Film, Makeup |

Craft Spotlight: The Fight Editors on Creating the Gripping Award-Winning Documentary

February 2021
Craft Spotlight: <em>The Fight</em> Editors on Creating the Gripping Award-Winning Documentary

It was January of 2017 and then-President Trump tweeted out — to the shock of many and the delight of others — that he was instituting a “Muslim Ban” at United States entry points. As they have been doing for 100+ years, lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) quickly took him to court.... »

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Posted in Editing, Featured, Film, Interviews |

REVIEW: Zendaya’s Breathtaking Performance Rescues Wobbly Malcolm & Marie

January 2021
REVIEW: Zendaya’s Breathtaking Performance Rescues Wobbly <em>Malcolm & Marie</em>

Sam Levinson’s Malcolm & Marie will be remembered by history as the first ambitious project entirely written and produced during the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic. The lofty aspirations of such an endeavor are also obvious in the bombastic—even loud—pronouncements and musings about the meaning of art and life of its two titular characters, as telegraphed... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

REVIEW: The Little Things Misses the Bigger Picture

January 2021
REVIEW: <em>The Little Things</em> Misses the Bigger Picture

In Warner Bros.’ upcoming The Little Things, Denzel Washington’s Joe “Deke” Deacon, a washed up, small town deputy sheriff, is caught in a race-against-the-clock investigation into a serial killer opposite LAPD Detective Jimmy Baxter (Rami Malek). At first glance, Deke and Baxter appear to inhabit a dark, psychological crime thriller in the mode of... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

REVIEW: Wonder Woman 1984 – A Less Wonderful Sequel Lost In Time

December 2020
REVIEW: <em>Wonder Woman 1984</em> – A Less Wonderful Sequel Lost In Time

There is something infectiously charming about Gal Gadot as the beloved heroine Diana Prince. Perhaps it is her warm smile, her determined gaze, or the fact that she is clearly letting herself into the role. As it turns out, this is about the only salvageable element of Wonder Woman 1984 (aka WW84), the highly-anticipated sequel to... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

REVIEW: Showy Visuals Can’t Rescue Clooney’s Marooned The Midnight Sky

December 2020
REVIEW: Showy Visuals Can’t Rescue Clooney’s Marooned <em>The Midnight Sky</em>

In 2049, a lone, aging astronomer named Augustine, played by George Clooney, looks out with resignation into the star-studded, steely grey skies of the North Pole. Somewhere in that vast expanse, a resolute astronaut named Sully, played by Felicity Jones, stares back, searching for answers and hoping for a better future. This is the... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews |

Crafts Spotlight: The VFX for Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2

December 2020
Crafts Spotlight: The VFX for Netflix’s <em>The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2</em>

Kurt Russell returns as Santa Claus in The Christmas Chronicles: Part 2, Netflix’s follow-up to Chris Columbus’ 2018 film about the Spirit of Christmas and Santa Clause “true believers.” In this film, which features a more prominent role for Russell’s wife Goldie Hawn as Mrs. Claus, a disgruntled elf known as Belsnickel (Julian Dennison) plots... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Interviews, Visual FX |

REVIEW: Immersive Sound of Hearing Loss Lifts The Sound of Metal

December 2020
REVIEW: Immersive Sound of Hearing Loss Lifts <em>The Sound of Metal</em>

Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal is about a heavy metal drummer, Ruben Stone (played by Riz Ahmed, in a career best role), as he copes with gradual hearing loss. It is heart-wrenching, emotionally powerful, and captivating, and it would be none of the above without the immersive experience that the seasoned crew creates: the... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Reviews, Sound |

Crafts Spotlight: Hillbilly Elegy Makeup Team Eryn Krueger Mekash & Matthew Mungle

November 2020
Crafts Spotlight: <em>Hillbilly Elegy</em> Makeup Team Eryn Krueger Mekash & Matthew Mungle

Based on J.D. Vance’s best-selling novel of the same name, Netflix’s upcoming The Hillbilly Elegy focuses on the author’s trip down childhood memory lane while juggling a present-day high-stakes job interview and his mother’s drug relapse. The film stars Amy Adams as Vance’s mother Bev, and Glenn Close as his grandmother Mawmaw. Despite weak reviews,... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Interviews, Makeup |