"It's the things we love most... that destroy us." Can we talk about how awesome the latest trailer is for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1? This sequel, only Part 1 of 2 (the second half is due November 2015) both directed by Francis Lawrence, hits theaters November 21st a few weeks after Interstellar. If I might say – this looks epic, I mean, seriously! The destruction, the stakes, the moments, Philip Seymour Hoffman!, freakin' Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence, the arrows, chills, Effie Trinket, President Snow, the White Rose, Peeta! It all looks so insanely awesome, yes yes yes. This is what we've been waiting for. I am so glad they went all out and are giving us the huge conclusion this deserves, even if it is two movies. Bring it on!
At the end of another festival. Over the last weekend I traveled up to Toronto to attend my 8th year at TIFF, or the Toronto International Film Festival, one of the major festivals every fall. TIFF is now best known for scheduling over 300 films in their line-up, from tiny international discoveries to mainstream premieres, which means there's no way any hardcore critic/blogger/cinephile is missing this fest. There's just too many films to see, from various Sundance and Cannes holdovers that I've been waiting for, to major unveilings like the latest films from directors Jason Reitman and Mia Hansen-Løve. This year I was able to see 19 films as part of TIFF 2014, complimenting everything else from Cannes & Telluride. Which ones stand out?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is a film festival, nestled in the mountains of Switzerland on the corner of Lake Maggiore near the Italian border, that boasts one of the best venues to watch films in the entire world. It's called the Locarno Film Festival, or Festival del film Locarno, now in its 67th year (only Venice, Cannes, Moscow have been around longer). The Piazza Grande is its famous venue, a plaza in the middle of town that is converted into a 8,000 seat open-air cinema every night, showing old and new films every evening during the week and a half the festival takes place in August. Having attended festivals like Cannes, Telluride and Sundance for years, I decided to make my first trip to Locarno this year, and it's truly as unforgettable as described.
Just yesterday, Warner Bros. blinked in their face-off with Marvel that would have seen Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice going head-to-head with Captain America 3 on May 6th, 2016. But neither studio would have won in that scenario, so Warner Bros. made the smart decision to move the film to March 25th, 2016. Either the studio aims to start summer early, or they see what's becoming more and more obvious: blockbusters don't need to open during the summer anymore. But along with this date shift, the studio also announced a slew of new release dates for DC Comics films through 2020, adding to Marvel's future slate that runs through 2019. But is this truly exciting stuff, or just overkill? More below!
Inspired by a tweet asking "if you could recommend one obscure film you think more people should watch", we're launching a new monthly column today. The tentative title is "Monthly Must See" (I didn't want to use "homework" anywhere in this but that's kind of the idea behind it) and every month I want to highlight one "obscure" or underseen film that I want everyone to take a moment to see. In fact, we'll give you one entire month to watch the film, and we'll choose a film that is readily available in theaters or VOD/DVD/BR already. Up first it's The Lunchbox, directed by Ritesh Batra, starring Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur.
"There's a Comic-Con in all of us," my driver said as we headed toward the airport in San Diego on Sunday afternoon. It's true. As I head home from my ninth year returning to the Comic-Con International in San Diego, I have been reflecting on the experience that is this ambitious comic book convention turned geek madhouse. ~160K people descend upon San Diego every July to spend five days waiting in lines, squished together, tripping over each other, in hopes of getting their hands on some exclusive toy or product or look at a trailer or their favorite movie star. From the outside looking in, it seems crazy. Who would do this? Why do people subject themselves to this madness every year? Because we are passionate about what we love.
"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!