When covering film festivals in the press, most reports are about the many films (with hundreds of reviews published daily) or the celebrities on the red carpet or the business deals being made in the market. Rarely is there any discussion about the people who attend the festival, the die-hard cinephiles from all over who spend two weeks in the South of France watching films. Whenever I'm asked to describe the Cannes Film Festival, there's always one thought that comes to mind first - it's the most well known film festival in the entire world. Sundance draws mostly American crowds, with some international coverage. But Cannes is the place where the world comes together to experience cinema history. I'm inspired by the way this unites us.
I'm back again in the South of France for the Cannes Film Festival, and it feels so good. I had to skip last year as I just couldn't afford to make the trip, and I really missed it. So I told myself I'd be back again this year, and here I am. There's just something about this place, a magic in the Mediterranean air that is almost tangible. There's so much history here, but right now I'm here, I'm a part of it. When I was mirroring Roger Ebert's book a few years ago (see "Two Weeks in the South of France" posts from 2014) there is a section where he talks about going out to Francis Ford Coppola's boat after the Apocalypse Now premiere. That's the kind of history that hangs over this festival, but it's actually inspiring and exciting, not overwhelming.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America and Iron Man are currently at odds, fighting tooth and nail for their own respective ideologies. However, in the playing field that is the superhero genre, some are arguing that superhero movies are starting to become a tad predictable, their routine less super. They are familiar with Cap's shield and Iron Man's armor with some saying they just don't have the gleam they used to have. Marvel's greatest heroes might be facing a new battle altogether: fatigue. This isn't a battle just facing Marvel, but all superheroes alike. While Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC's own answer to that debate, might have proved a bit more polarizing than originally intended, Marvel's Captain America: Civil War proves that superheroes still have a bit more fight to them – and here's why.
On March 6th in 2009, Zack Snyder's Watchmen opened in theaters. The movie ended up being a modest success – earning nearly $200 million worldwide on a $130 million budget, with 65% on Rotten Tomatoes – but it would later develop more of a cult following on home video, with a "Director's Cut" and eventually an "Ultimate Cut" with a run-time of 215 minutes. Watchmen was released a year after Marvel Studios' Iron Man and several years before The Avengers and the big boom of superhero movies as we know it. As the film celebrates the 7th anniversary of its release, let's take a look back at how Watchmen paved the way for Snyder's upcoming Batman v Superman movie, and perhaps the entire DC Extended Universe itself.
The box office totals are in. The reviews have been read and audiences have spoken with a mouth as loud as a merc - Tim Miller's Deadpool is a huge success, and not just financially or even critically. It has been universally well received, which is a tremendous accomplishment for a third tier superhero character that (according to 20th Century Fox) had minimal mainstream appeal that languished in development hell for years. It was the vulgar, graphic and unadulterated version of Thomas the Tank Engine, the little irreverent train that could. However, with the success of Deadpool, major movie studios everywhere might not take the best lessons from the film's astronomical success – as James Gunn illustrated so brilliantly last weekend. So let's take a look at what Hollywood can glean from the outrageous success of the Merc with a Mouth.
The best of the best - that you didn't see last year. We have returned with another set of worth watching, underseen films from 2015. Back again is our ninth annual list of the 19 Best Movies That You Didn't See in 2015 (past lists here: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007). Featured below is a hand-picked line-up of the best independent and/or mainstream films that were either quietly dumped, ignored by audiences, or just not marketed well enough. So to give them extra attention in the spotlight, and to support some of the finest filmmakers out there, here is our best of 2015 recap. Read on for the full list!
Onward to Berlin! I'm off on my next adventure, just a few weeks after wrapping up my 10th year back to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, I'm headed over to Germany to attend the Berlin Film Festival (also known as Berlinale). This is my third year back to Berlinale since first attending in 2014, and I've grown to love the festival (they have amazing food trucks!). Berlin is a great city, and the fest runs between Sundance and SXSW, meaning it's the perfect time to catch more great films. During Sundance this year, I wrote a passionate editorial about how much I love film festivals to explain why I keep flying all over the world to see films. Over oceans, over valleys, mountains, rivers, and towns of all sizes, all for the love of storytelling.
The 2016 Sundance Film Festival has finally come to an end and to put a wrap on things and finalize our nearly two weeks of coverage, it's time to present our Best of the Fest list. This year it was only me (Alex) covering Sundance for FirstShowing, so I decided to simply reveal my own 5 favorite feature films and 5 favorite documentaries. There are always a couple of films that I didn't have time to see (The Intervention, Eyes of My Mother) that seem to be getting great buzz, just can't make it to everything. But I am very happy to say that I ended up seeing amazing films at Sundance this year that will be on my mind for a while. At least one (or maybe two) of these will end up on my Top 10 list at the end of the year. Let's get right into it.
Here we are at the bitter end once again. I don't know how I did it, but I hit 34 films for my 10th year the Sundance Film Festival. Have I mentioned how much I love Sundance? Yes, I definitely have. The more films I get to see at Sundance, the better, as the festival sets the pace for the rest of the year, introducing the world to a selection of movies that will likely earn even more acclaim as 2016 continues on. I've heard some of my colleagues say this wasn't a great year, but they're wrong. Sundance 2016 was a great year, and I saw some amazing films. Maybe they didn't see enough good films? Maybe they're too picky? I don't know. The Birth of a Nation and Manchester by the Sea will end up being two of the best films of the year, most critics will agree on that. But there are plenty other films I loved, and many more that I certainly enjoyed watching.
When you really think about it - film festivals are a bit crazy. They gather up 100+ films, show them all 3 or 4 times over the course of 10 days, invite thousands and thousands of movie fans to town, and most of us (at least many of my colleagues) watch as many of them as we can. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, we all get to tweet and discuss these films instantly, spreading the word about what's good (or bad) to fellow film fans who are not in attendance. While everyone else around the world is going about their normal day jobs, thousands of us (various members of the press, industry, cinephiles and beyond) are packing in 3, 4, or 5, sometimes even 6 films every day. We're desperate to see something that leaves us in awe. I adore festivals.
It all began in 2007. I drove 9 hours from Colorado across the Wyoming plains, down through the Wasatch Mountains into Park City. It took three days of begging the press office to get a press badge (we'd only been up and running for 7 months at that point), but I luckily had tickets to see films. Now I'm back, for my 10th year in a row, to attend and cover the Sundance Film Festival. (Thankfully I don't have to beg the press office for a badge anymore.) I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it - I love this festival. I feel like I grew up here, made so many friends here, saw so many of my favorite films here. To borrow a line from my friend Peter at /Film, "the Sundance Film Festival isn't just a film festival, but a look into the future of cinema."
"You shall ride eternal. Shiny, and chrome!" Looking back at 2015, it was an exceptional year for movies and if you don't feel the same way, you probably didn't see enough movies. I always struggle to put together a year end Top 10 list, mostly because there's so much I need to watch/rewatch and it's just not possible. This year I came up with a list of 12 movies from 2015, the last two added because I felt like they deserved a spot even though it was already full. These are the movies that I genuinely love the most, that connected with me and stayed with me throughout the entire year. Many of my favorites from 2015 are movies that, if you asked me about them at the beginning of the year, I would've admitted it's unlikely they'd end up here.