ENJOY THE SHOW
Now that you've seen it, what did you think? "Will you follow me, one last time?" Peter Jackson presents his final (supposedly) adventure in Middle Earth, the conclusion of The Hobbit with The Battle of the Five Armies, now playing in theaters. Martin Freeman returns as Bilbo, who must figure out what's next after making his way into the mountain and escaping Smaug the Dragon. Richard Armitage as Thorin takes center stage, along with Luke Evans as Bard, Lee Pace as Thranduil, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel, and of course Ian McKellen as Gandalf. So how is it? Better than the other two? Does it live up to the Lord of the Rings movies? Is it even worth seeing in theaters or not? Once you've seen it, leave a comment with your thoughts on PJ's grand finale The Battle of the Five Armies.
One of this year's must see documentaries is Citizenfour, directed by Laura Poitras, an inside look at the story of whistblower Edward Snowden. Poitras was contacted by Snowden early on and was right there with him, filming the entire event, as he leaked the information from Hong Kong about the NSA's spying program that stunned the world in May of 2013. Poitras has made two other provocative docs previously, The Oath and Flag Wars, and she's back with another one that is a bit more intimate, but still as powerful. I raved about Citizenfour after catching its premiere at the New York Film Festival, and I met up with Laura for an interview in New York City. What follows is a fascinating discussion about the power of storytelling.
The awards continue marching on, and the latest development comes straight from The Academy. They have announced (via Variety) the nine official films shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film. That means these nine make the cut, and will proceed forward into the next round of voting before being eliminated again down to five films for the official nominations annoncement on January 15th. On one hand, one of my favorite films of the year, Force Majeure, made the cut along with Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida. However, my other favorites, Xavier Dolan's Mommy and the Dardennes‘ Two Days, One Night, did not make the cut - quite surprisingly since they're both such great films that deserve to be considered. See the full list below.
"I want to tell you my side of this." Fox Searchlight has premiered a trailer for Rupert Goold's film True Story, starring Jonah Hill and James Franco as adversaries of sorts. Based on the real life memoirs of NY Times reporter Michael Finkel, played by Jonah Hill, the film follows the interactions between Finkel and accused killer Christian Longo, played by James Franco. For years, Longo lived using Finkel's identity, and even submitted writing work under his name. In addition to Hill and Franco, who look quite serious in this, the cast includes Felicity Jones, Ethan Suplee and Gretchen Mol. This actually looks really, really good. I love the intensity and some of the dialogue is on fire, this just shot to the top of my list for Sundance.
"This is all I have dreamed about..." IFC has debuted the first trailer for Peter Strickland's new film The Duke of Burgundy, a seductive and creepy little thriller. Strickland's last film was the mesmerizing Berberian Sound Studio with Toby Jones, which was quite a trip if you saw it. This new one has much of the same, it's twisted and weird and eerie, using cinema to evoke and provoke. The Duke of Burgundy stars Sidse Babett Knudsen and Chiara D'Anna as two women who get into a tricky relationship. The film received quite a bit of buzz out of TIFF and Fantastic Fest this year, with many critics calling it one of the best discoveries of this year's fall film fests. It's worth a look, especially if you're curious about butterflies.
Putting The "F" Back In Freedom. It is a sad day for movie fans in the United States, as Sony has officially cancelled the release of Seth Rogen & James Franco's new comedy The Interview thanks to hacker terrorist threats. Everyone has been following the Sony Pictures Hack story for weeks, as the studio was hacked and files have been leaking non-stop. Today, after movie theaters backed out due to an actual threat of harm to anyone attending screenings of the movie, the studio has decided to pull the release entirely. In response, James Wallace of the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Dallas / Fort Worth will be showing Matt Stone and Trey Parker's 2004 puppet comedy, Team America: World Police, instead. Take that, North Korea!
"I don't think it was a toy... it was something else, something special." After posting the short for The Grey Matter, I was emailed by a reader named JJ who recommended I watch another short that he "loved" called The Hatchling about a boy and his dinosaur egg. Indeed it's a fantastic short that has a touch of Spielberg by way of Jurassic Park. Instead of going dark or violent and down the horror path with this one, the short plays on the magic of childhood and our imaginations, and the possibility of anything. It's a charming short that ends in a way that should make you smile, while lighting up your own imagination. View in full below.
"Congratulations! We’ve made it through another spin around the sun." Indeed we have. Since we're at the end of the year, it's not uncommon to see endless tributes and retrospectives recapping the year. "Here's to 2014" is yet another, but it packs in more than just a few events. Made by the graphics company behind the 85 Best Picture Oscar Winners infographic we featured in February, called Beutler Ink, the graphic (seen below) includes references to nearly every major movie, pop culture moment, or news event, from Too Many Cooks to the death of Robin Williams, The Lego Movie, Interstellar and Ghostbusters, too. The only thing missing is some kind of reference to the Sony Hack, but The Interview guys may be in there. Take a look!
"What were you expecting, a grasshopper with a top hat?" Take a moment to watch this short film if you're in the mood for a darkly humorous laugh. The Grey Matter is a dark horror comedy directed by Peter and Luke McCoubrey, known as the "McCoubrey Brothers", who explained via e-mail this week that they started making music videos for a friend's band and eventually challenged themselves to make a narrative short. After premiering at film festivals throughout the year, including Brooklyn, Show Me Shorts and the Nitehawk Shorts Festival, it's now online earning a recent Short of the Week feature. There are some solid practical FX in it, and the dialogue is fun which helps keep the film interesting. It's a great short, have fun.
"Vibrant, funny, and subversive." Remember all those movies you were obsessed with in high school? All those classic teenage comedies, coming-of-age dramas, telling stories of high school burn outs and maligned prom queens. Young filmmaker Charlie Lyne made a documentary called Beyond Clueless, presenting a "PhD on the history of high school cinema" featuring a "moody and evocative score" by the band Summer Camp, which can be heard briefly in the trailer. Our friends at Empire have unveiled the first poster and it caught our eye. For marketing made up entirely with their own material, no footage, this is excellent work. I'm very curious to check out the doc and many will likely feel the same after taking a look at the film below.
"Everybody's looking for that boy." Roadside Attractions has unveiled a new trailer for Yann Demange's thriller '71, starring Jack O'Connell as a soldier lost in the streets of Belfast in 1971. If you don't know that name yet, you better get used to it - Jack O'Connell is quickly on the rise, and he deserves it because he's incredibly talented. O'Connell stars in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken opening this month, as well as Starred Up which we featured recently. He's also outstanding in this film, '71, a very intense action-thriller that follows the 24 hours he's stuck in Belfast during the The Troubles. They've been slow-playing this film so that it can build off the buzz of Unbroken and Starred Up before release, but it's actually worth seeing. Fire this up.
It was late 2003 and I was still finishing high school. Although I had never read the books, each year I kept growing more fond of Middle Earth thanks to Peter Jackson's adaptations of Lord of the Rings. By 2003, I was a movie maniac, following websites non-stop for info about the Matrix trilogy (which also concluded in 2003), Terminator 3, Hulk, X2 and Kill Bill, not to mention the Star Wars prequels in the middle of their grand finale. But it was Return of the King, and its triumphant debut on December 17th, 2003, that won my heart. On the Tuesday before release, I participated in a global event known as "Trilogy Tuesday", one of the first times ever a trilogy of movies were billed back-to-back-to-back. It ended with the midnight show of Return of the King, in total over 12 hours spent in a theater. One of the best experiences of my life.
"See the palm trees? They tell you anything is possible." Wow. It's time to get our very first look at the new Terrence Malick film, two years after he delivered To the Wonder. Malick's Knight of Cups is his latest film about celebrities and excess starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman. This first trailer from FilmNation comes after the announcement that the film will premiere at Berlinale next year. The footage is everything you'd expect from Malick and pretty much a critic's wet dream, showing the excess of Hollywood, and all the craziness that comes with it - from love to parties to drugs and much more. This looks much better than To the Wonder, but I'm still not sure about it. "You gave me peace, joy, love..."
It's official - the next Terrence Malick movie will be arriving next year. The 65th Berlin International Film Festival has announced the first seven films selected as part of their competition programme for 2015. Berlinale, as the fest is known, takes place in Germany in early February right after the Sundance Film Festival (which we'll also be covering). After a successful trip to Berlin last year to see The Grand Budapest Hotel premiere, Berlinale has invited me back for another year and I'm looking forward to returning quite a bit. This first announcement is just a small tease, but it confirms that Malick's Knight of Cups starring Christian Bale and Natalie Portman (see that first look photo) will be premiering at the festival next year.