ENJOY THE SHOW
Does our ego control us, or do we control our ego? Where can it/where does it take us? Will we fly or will we fall? Alejandro González Iñárritu's latest film Birdman is easily lovable for many reasons - from its honest characters and original story to the technical prowess behind the lens and many layers of its style. It's also one of those films where there are so many moments, so many lines, so many scenes where as soon as I've watched them, I want to pause, rewind, and watch them again to delve deeper into the context. Birdman is a sensational, extraordinary creation of artistic elegance that examines the great struggle of growing older.
"Business or pleasure?" I just saw this film at the Telluride Film Festival and it was outstanding, worthy of being highlighted above and beyond the trailer, but I'll start with this since not that many people (outside of South America) have heard about the film yet. Wild Tales is a feature made up of six separate stories, an anthology film made by one director that focuses on the ridiculousness of modern society, and how it causes some people to snap. Each one is hilarious, each one is brilliantly conceived, each one has real characters and situations, and I loved every second of it. It's dark, violent, crude, but incredibly funny, extremely smart and reflective, and a worthwhile cinematic experience. Especially if you want to laugh your ass off. Enjoy!
You never know who will change the world, it might be someone we can't imagine. There's nothing like that feeling of euphoria after sitting through an outstanding film, one that surpasses expectations and provides so much more on top of any/everything one could imagine. That's how I felt at the end of The Imitation Game, a film by Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) about British mathematician Alan Turing, who helped crack the uncrackable Engima code during World War II. The film tells his life story jumping between his youth, his work during WWII, and time after when he was prosecuted for "indecency" because he was "a homosexual". It's an exceptionally compelling film lead by remarkable performances.
Premiering at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival is Jon Stewart's Rosewater, his directorial debut based on a true story he was involved in about Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, played by Gael García Bernal. The film tells a rather straightforward version of the story, focusing on the weeks leading up to and surrounding Bahari's arrest, eventually leading to his time in prison. While the film has some impressive creative choices (including a hashtag moment and some other sleek visuals) it's obviously made by a first-time director, and lacks a bit of the nuances that more experienced directors include. That said, its heart is in the right place.
"Becoming less an art show than a city-wide, full-contact game of hide-and-seek." We occasionally make exceptions to feature HBO movies and documentaries, and this is worth your attention. It's a documentary titled Banksy Does New York, inspired by Banksy's Better Out Than In (the real name of the show), profiling the controversial street artist's residency in New York City last October. Every day for the entire month, Banksy would reveal a new piece of art hidden around the city, and it caused a flurry of interest and activity. The doc, which will be airing on HBO, is made up of footage from the masses and it looks fantastic. I was involved in the Banksy mayhem myself, scouring the city and chasing the art, and it was so much fun.
Over the mountains, and into Telluride. Here we go again. I'm back in Colorado, where I grew up as a kid (I now live in New York City) for my seventh time back to the Telluride Film Festival. The line-up has been unveiled (view the selections in full here), and I can't wait to start watching films. I'm always intrigued by Telluride keeping the line-up a secret until the day before the fest and I was curious how things would shake up with TIFF and Venice complaining about world premieres this time. Why does there have to be so much fighting over what to call a premiere? I'm just here to see good films. Premiere or not, I want to be moved.
One of the films I have been following closely and waiting patiently for its grand unveiling is Rosewater, the directing feature debut of The Daily Show host Jon Stewart. Filmed last summer in the Middle East, Rosewater is now ready for release and Stewart will be bringing the film to the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals. Gael García Bernal stars as Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, who was detained and tortured for 100 days after appearing on a segment of The Daily Show. We'll be catching it at Telluride and can't wait to see what Stewart has up his sleeves with this one. Solid poster for an activism drama. Take a look below.
Briefly: We now have a date for the latest from John Hillcoat (seen above), director of The Proposition, The Road and Lawless. Titled Triple Nine, the ensemble crime drama from a script by Matt Cook is about a group of corrupt police officers who are blackmailed into pulling off a seemingly impossible heist. They plot the murder of a rookie cop in order to orchestrate a "999", code for "officer down", to pull off the heist around town. The impressive cast includes: Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet, Gal Gadot, Norman Reedus, Teresa Palmer, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Clifton Collins Jr. Triple Nine will hit theaters starting September 11th, 2015 over a year from now. We'll be watching for updates.
This is the moment it all begins. The awards season (if we have to give this time of year a label) starts now, right here at the end of August, at the beginning of September. While officially it doesn't become "autumn" until September 22nd, the "fall film festivals" kick off this week - with the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals underway. Next we head right up to the Toronto Film Festival, with its 300-film line-up, and then we head to the always entertaining Fantastic Fest down in Austin, before continuing with the New York Film Festival throughout October. It's an exciting time of year - especially with the line-up for 2014.
"Remember kid: this is the only law left in this town." Damn this is cool. A couple of friends, who grew up with Batman as their childhood hero, have decided to make a short film inspired by the classic 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series, 'Beware The Gray Ghost'. Titled The Gray Ghost, this short film chronicles the live-action adventures of "The Gray Ghost" aka Simon Trent. In the original animated series, Trent (voiced by Adam West) is depicted as a down-on-his-luck actor who was typecast for life playing a masked avenger on a black-and-white serialized TV show. This short film plays like a "lost reel" from the old serialized show, and it's very well done for something some friends made in their spare time. Check this out!
There are prison movies, and then there are prison movies. David Mackenzie's Starred Up is a harrowing, violent, bold new take on the "prison movie" that is worth your time to take a look at, playing in theaters now and also available on VOD. The film also introduces the astonishing Jack O'Connell (now well-known thanks to Yann Demange's '71 and 300: Rise of an Empire, plus he stars in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken), who stars as the lead character Eric alongside Ben Mendelsohn, another badass we've already seen in the likes of Animal Kingdom, Killing Them Softly, The Dark Knight Rises and The Place Beyond the Pines. Together they take on an entire prison in Starred Up, and it's a hell of a ride. It's our next Monthly Must See film.
"I will not give into despair, because hopeless should never win... and hopeless is a lie." Drafthouse Films has debuted the first trailer for the highly acclaimed documentary The Overnighters, from director Jesse Moss, who captures an extraordinary look at a small community in North Dakota. We've been raving about this documentary since Sundance and recently featured the first "motion-poster" poster for the doc, which fades between many of the faces seen in this trailer. The trailer is a beautiful glimpse at the bigger story in The Overnighters, as there's something else going on but you have to see the film to reveal its secrets. Many, many people are going to be talking about this documentary this year, so get your first look at the trailer.
"Where is the gold?!" eOne out of Australia has debuted the first trailer for Son of a Gun (fun title, no?) a crime thriller starring Ewan McGregor and Brenton Thwaites (from The Giver) as partners in crime. The story involves McGregor taking Thwaites under his wing while he's in prison at age 19, recruiting him for a job upon release which eventually leads to him earning a spot on the heist crew. Then it goes all out Italian Job (remake, not the original). There's lots of heisting, prison violence, beards, accents, guns, and a woman, of course - Alicia Vikander, a Swedish actress you may recognize from Anna Karenina or A Royal Affair. This looks solid, and entertaining, I'm curious to check it out when it makes its way up here. Enjoy.
Whoa - this looks cool! Oscar winner Jean Dujardin stars in what might be best described as a "reboot" of The French Connection, titled just The Connection in America, but known as La French back in France. Set in Marseille, the same place as French Connection, the film tells an action-heavy story about a French police magistrate who spends six years trying to take down one of the country's most powerful drug rings. Sound familiar? At least it doesn't look so bad, seriously. I like the music choices, I like the intense action, it doesn't look too cheesy or comical. I'm interested - what about you? No subtitles included but none needed.