ENJOY THE SHOW
Ever since first seeing Searching for Bobby Fischer when I was a young kid, I've been intrigued by chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer and the very odd life he lived. While a few other films have been made about him, or the brilliant game(s) of chess he played, I haven't come across too much that has covered his life or dramatized it in a way that has provided this much depth. The latest film from Edward Zwick (of Legends of the Fall, The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond, Defiance), titled Pawn Sacrifice, was once in the works with David Fincher at the helm, and stars Tobey Maguire as Bobby Fischer telling his life story from young chess prodigy to grandmaster and world champion. It's a solid reexamination of an eccentric historic figure.
This morning's must watch short film comes from China, but also comes straight from the Telluride Film Festival. It's called The Sand Storm from filmmaker Jason Wishnow, who returns to narrative filmmaking after working on the TEDTalks web series. The short film just premiered at Telluride and is about a water smuggler, played by Ai Weiwei, in future where water is limited. It's not too long to watch and provides some insight on the struggles of our modern world, with some intuitive commentary. It's not my favorite short but I do recommend watching it if you're looking for something thought-provoking. Fire it up below.
What did I just see?! Beloved/hated filmmaker Kevin Smith has returned to the Toronto Film Festival this year to premiere his latest film Tusk at midnight, an unlike-anything-else creation straight out of the mind of Kevin Smith, and it's ridiculous. By now most people are familiar with the cult horror Human Centipede, where a sick doctor surgically links humans to create a disgusting "human centipede". But what if some sick individual wanted to create a walrus out of human? Is that man funny, or interesting, or totally insane? How about a bit of everything. Tusk is cult horror comedy done right, with silliness creeping around every corner.
"That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives." This is where we live, all of us, on this pale blue dot floating in the Milky Way. Jason Reitman's latest film, Men, Women & Children adapted from Chad Kultgen's novel of the same name, is framed within the context of Carl Sagan's timeless quote called "Pale Blue Dot" and the Voyager spacecrafts that we launched in 1977. Men, Women & Children is Reitman's most sensitive work yet, a deeply moving, sensual film about all of us on this planet. I've been a fan of Reitman for a longtime, and still love his early work, but he seems to keep getting more mature with every film he makes.
As human beings we live in a universe where time is constantly ticking, the world never stops turning, and we're all constantly moving, whether we like it or not. Before we know it, 5 or 10 or 20 years pass by and we don't even have the ability to pause and look back, to reflect on what has happened and why. Why did we make this choice? How did we end up here? Films like Boyhood are able to capture that relentless progress in an immensely beautiful way, showing how the little moments inbetween make up more of our life than all the big ones we live for. Following in those footsteps, French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve has created her Boyhood, a film called Eden back looking at 20 years in the life of a French house/garage DJ named Paul.
This is a nightmare. And the only way to wake up and escape from the horror is to pull out that shiny piece of plastic and become a slave to capitalism once again. My apologies to anyone awaiting our coverage of the 2014 Toronto Film Festival, which kicked off on Thursday, as things have been a bit rough since I caught my 6:30AM flight up to Canada. After arriving and meeting with my flatmate Jason Whyte, the first thing I did was open up my laptop–my MacBook Air–to write some notes for a review. Only to discover that after three years of (intensive) use, its time had come. The flashing question mark of death meaning–it's a goner.
"Why must everything that is broken be fixed?" This might just be a must watch, but I don't want to get too excited. While we often feature sci-fi short films that have extravagant CG visuals, this one is all about the dialogue. Titled simply Interview With a Time Traveler, from director James Cooper, it is exactly that — an interview with a time traveler, and it's very mysterious and compelling. With all the discussion and build up in this, it has to have a good pay off at the end, and it does have a good one. I like how much they achieve and how captivating this is for something so simple - an interview. Check out the short in full below.
"You need to experience the dynamite... to know that the dynamite can go off." Just last week we featured Starred Up as our latest Monthly Must See, an intense, brutal but incredible prison movie from English director David Mackenzie starring Jack O'Connell and Ben Mendelsohn. You may not recognize the name at first, but you should certainly recognize his films - David Mackenzie's filmography includes Young Adam, Asylum, Hallam Foe (or Mister Foe in the US), Spread with Ashton Kutcher, the sci-fi Perfect Sense and the music film Tonight You're Mine, all before he went on to make Starred Up. Last week I sat down for a chat with David on the realism of the film and finding actor Jack O'Connell, who plays inmate Eric Love.
Look at all those cell phones! Paramount has revealed the official poster art (artist currently unknown) for Jason Reitman's latest film Men, Women & Children, which is premiering at the Toronto Film Festival this weekend. We've already seen one trailer for this film about how the internet has changed relationships, communication, self-image, and love lives. The ensemble drama stars Ansel Elgort, Adam Sandler, Judy Greer, Jennifer Garner, Kaitlyn Dever, J.K. Simmons, Rosemarie DeWitt and plenty others. I really like this poster, the quality of the image makes it stand out, and I'm looking forward to seeing this film at TIFF. Take a closer look below and click for the high res - you can get a better feel for the artwork at hand. Take a look.
Over the last few days social media has been abuzz with an endless amount of global shenanigans. Luckily we have movies to remind us that life is grand, and there's a big hashtag campaign right now that is making me love movies all over again. The hashtag is just #CinephilePhoto and the chain-letter-esque campaign involves tweeting out any favorite shot from your favorite films, and nominating three (or more/less) others to do the same. The hashtag has caught on like wildfire throughout the global film community, and I've seen countless amazing shots showing up all the last few days. If you need to remember why you love movies, just search for #cinephilephoto and get ready to stare in awe. So many amazing films, so many excellent shots.
"I made a promise, Mr Frodo. A promise." Yes! Lord of the Rings fans in the New York area, your time has come. The world famous Lincoln Center is finally putting on a performance of Lord of the Rings Live in Concert, featuring an orchestra with over 250 musicians. Not just that, but they're actually playing the entire trilogy of Lord of the Rings movies as Live in Concert, in mid-April of 2015. This series has already played at other venues around the world, most recently in Europe with composer Howard Shore himself. The Lincoln Center's presentation will be conducted by Ludwig Wicki with the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra & Chorus of Lucerne, Switzerland. Tickets are on sale now - hurry up and book before it sells out.
Out under the stars, breathing quietly, staring up in awe wishing they'd never go away... Aw yes, Telluride. I've spent the last five days in the mountains of Colorado at the Telluride Film Festival reminiscing with friends and colleagues every night over whether I should just drop everything, stay here, and move in. It's so damn beautiful. But besides all the stunning nature surrounding us, we're all here for cinema, for the love of film and the power it has to inspire us, transform us, define us, and entertain us. It always ends too quickly (one weekend is not enough!) and suddenly just like that it's over, I'm headed back to New York City for a few days before continuing up to Toronto for TIFF. What films did I see and love this year? Let's find out.
When we look back on our lives, there are always key individuals who have an immeasurable influence on us. Not just our family (and relatives), but friends, mentors, teachers, those with learned wisdom to impart and lessons to teach. If they say the right things they can alter our destiny forever, or remind us why/how life is worth living in the midst of the constant stress and chaos of this world. Seymour: An Introduction is a documentary by actor Ethan Hawke introducing us to his inspiration - the piano legend Seymour Bernstein, who is such a humble, charming, considerate man. This wonderful doc spends intimate time with him, showing us his own history, who he is, and how much the emotion of music is important to life.
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.