"This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it." This past weekend, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York City, I experienced the spectacular - Stanley Kubrick's seminal sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey projected in 70mm. The film first hit theaters in 1968, but is touring again as a 70mm restored version, which first hit in 2001/2002. The theater was sold out, every seat filled, the audience awe-struck in total silence for most of the entire movie. Words cannot really describe this kind of cinematic event, as it is truly an experience, one that will "dominate and overwhelm the viewer", as Ebert wrote in one of his posts on seeing 2001 in 70mm. It is that enveloping, but that's what makes it awesome.
As a die-hard movie lover, I live for the kind of opening weekends where the only movies hitting theaters are high quality, worth-seeing works of art. In all truth, it's very rare we get a weekend that can be unanimously labeled as one of the best opening weekends of the year with nothing but excellent movies opening. In 2014, this is it, this is that weekend. Where you must find a way—find the money, find the time—to make it to your local cinema to see one of, if not all of, this weekend's new releases. Two of the best films of 2014 open today in America: Richard Linklater's Boyhood and Matt Reeves' Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. And I really, truly mean it when I say they're two of the best of the year - both are innovative, masterful movies.
This year has been flying by, and it's hard to believe that it's already July. We've still got six more months of great movies on the way, including the latter half of summer and the entirety of awards season releases, but that doesn't mean we haven't seem some truly spectacular films hit the big screen so far. Therefore, it seems like a wholly appropriate time to countdown my 10 Favorite Films of 2014 So Far. It's hard to say whether or not any of these films will make my final list at the end of the year (but I feel good about a few of them), but these are definitely the ones I've enjoyed the most at this mid-point of the year 2014. See below!
"You're Birdman... Let's go back and show them what we're capable of." Last May, I got a call from Fox Searchlight inviting me to come down to the St. James Theatre on Broadway to visit the set of the new Alejandro González Iñárritu film. Setup like an actual play, complete with an audience and a set on the stage, I watched a few takes of a scene being filmed inside the famous Broadway theatre on 44th St. in New York City. Now over a year later the first teaser trailer for Birdman, the new Iñárritu film, has debuted and it looks incredible. Way better than even I was expecting, and I already have very high hopes for this film. But the set visit was a very fun experience, and the best part about it was watching the cameraman at work.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Tim Burton's Batman. Let's take a look back all the way to the summer of 1989 when the superhero genre saw a resurgence and the Dark Knight was reborn again for a new generation of moviegoers. Batman came out on June 23rd, 1989 - a month after I was born. As such, Burton's Batman was my cinematic introduction to the character. His take on Batman is special to me mostly because of his approach to the character. Michael Keaton doesn't look like a typical superhero, he looks like an average guy. The great appeal of Burton's take on the character is that anyone can be Batman.
Here they are. Meet the directors of the next three Star Wars movies, after J.J. Abrams finishes up Star Wars: Episode VII. At first it was impossible to believe that they were even making another three Star Wars movies, continuing the original trilogy. Then it was even crazier to hear Lucasfilm is planning stand-alone movies in the Star Wars universe to bring us one every year. That will be demanding, and no one director would be able to accomplish that alone. But it gets even wilder when we learn it's these three filmmakers who have landed the coveted, impossible-to-get job of directing new Star Wars movies. Dream come true? Yes. So who are they? Why did they choose them? Meet Josh Trank, Gareth Edwards, Rian Johnson.
Two weeks have come and gone. The 67th Cannes Film Festival has wrapped up, the awards have been handed out, hundreds (of thousands) of reviews have been written, interviews conducted, parties held, deals closed, cinema experienced, films sold, arguments had. We lost one of the greatest voices in film last year, Roger Ebert, but his presence is still felt everywhere. Ebert, a Cannes regular, was honored with a tribute screening of the doc Life Itself this year. But I am thankful he also joined me at my side through his book, as I navigated the deluge of cinema. "Will you be back next year?" "Everybody will always be back next year."
What are the best films of the festival? Which ones should you be taking an interest in? What should you see? After 12 days at the 67th Cannes Film Festival, after 25 films, it's time to present my 2014 list of my Top 5 Favorite Films. Every year I go back to Cannes, it's genuinely exciting to find out what there is to discover, to wake up every day knowing you may see something breathtaking, or terrible, or hilarious, or moving, or something that will change us forever. This year I was introduced to a few new filmmakers, saw the latest film from many old ones, and caught a glimpse of the future of cinema. Now it's time to introduce everyone else to Xavier Dolan, Ruben Ostlund and the Dardenne Brothers. Let's get right into this list now.
"I could watch you for a lifetime, you're my favorite movie, a thousand endings, you mean everything to me." Here we are at the end again, and while I'm starting to get sad that another Cannes Film Festival is over, I can't help but smile looking back on how wonderful it has been. While I tend to often complain about some of the other critics and their incessant scrutiny or odd moviegoing choices, it was a late night chat with Sasha Stone of Awards Daily and the subsequent blog post she wrote before leaving that made me realize - screw all that. We are truly the lucky ones, sitting here on the Mediterranean, watching the best that cinema has to offer for 12 days straight. Living the life. This is amazing, and I'm so grateful to be here, enjoying this.
The days are starting to blur, our conversations are starting to sound like poorly-written SNL sketches. It's Day 9, I think, at Cannes 2014 and we're still here - most of us. Droves of critics who have been going to sleep at 1AM, and waking up at 7AM for the last 8 days straight. We're all exhausted, delirious, starting to forget which films we saw only a few days ago. This is what it's like at film festivals, especially if you stick it out for all 12 days, from the beginning to the end. We all start to burn out after the midway point, but then we see a film that blows us away, reminding us why we travel all the way over here - all for the love of film.
You never know who you'll meet on the Croisette. That's the joy of it. Every year I come to the Cannes Film Festival I always make new friends. While I'm just as anxious to catch up with old friends and colleagues I've been attending with for years, it's just as exciting to meet new ones. A few days ago while at the festival, I stopped to grab a lunch at a small cafe near the flat we are staying in. I had just finished a few screenings, was incredibly hungry and tired, and stopped in by myself. It was there I met two friends who inspired me to write about them, and this is only just the start. I could tell so many more stories about all the people here.
"Une Invitation, S'il vous plaît!" Those who frequent the Palais day in, and day out, at the Cannes Film Festival are unquestionably aware of the ticket seekers found outside of the entrance. They're there every day, from morning to midnight, requesting "one ticket, please (and thank you)". "Une" just means "one", and an invitation is the name for the ticket at the festival. S'il vous plaît, often abbreviated "S.V.P." on the signs, means "please" in French. After years of encountering, interacting with, and admiring these dedicate moviegoers, and their increasingly impressive signage, once again inspired by Ebert I've decided to write a tribute to them. If you've ever wondered how to get a ticket in to a Cannes screening this is the trick to learn.
Continuing my "Two Weeks in the South of France" adventures at the Cannes Film Festival, I finally have some thoughts to write after my morning press screening of Atom Egoyan's Captives. This festival, in all its grandeur, attracts the most diverse group of critics from all over the world. There is likely a critic attending from almost every country in the world, at least the majority of them, and this makes Cannes the ultimate global film festival, something that many other fests aspire to be but can't pull off like they do. I love this diversity and have made many new friends, but there are interesting quirks with a group of press this large.
I'm back. I have returned to the lovely beach city of Cannes, located in the South of France, for another two weeks of cinema mania. Kicking off today is the 67th Cannes Film Festival; this will be my sixth time here, I'm a regular now. I know every street, every cafe and all the secret ways to sneak into movies and snag the best wifi. However, this year I'm going to be mirroring my own thoughts/coverage with those of the late Roger Ebert. Ebert used to attend Cannes every year, and during his trip in 1987 he started sketching and taking notes and wrote a book titled Two Weeks in the Midday Sun (now out-of-print and hard to find).