In cinemas around the world this past weekend, millions of people came out to experience the new Star Wars movie on the big screen. It wasn't just an event, it was much more than that. It's an experience that moviegoers have been anxiously awaiting for years (technically 32 years since last saw Han & Leia & Luke), with many challenging themselves to not watch any footage before release. And I'm not just talking about waiting to see our old friends again, but savoring a chance to go in and experience a movie without any of the major plot points or big reveals being ruined before. It's this kind of communal cinematic experience, and the ensuing discussions/arguments/enthusiasm that arise afterward, that I relish. And it's something I feel has been missing from Hollywood recently. Of course it was Star Wars that brought that feeling back.
This Friday (and in some places, Thursday or even Wednesday night) moviegoers across the nation and even the world will be plopping down in their theater seats as they anxiously wait for the first frames of the first Star Wars movie in ten years, The Force Awakens, to unspool on their screens. The anticipation for this next chapter – directed by J.J. Abrams - in the Star Wars legacy is literally through the roof of the Millennium Falcon, with many lucky journalists and fans having seen the film at the extravagant World Premiere in Los Angeles on Monday. Early word of mouth has been generally positive so far, but let's take a look at why it will be okay if The Force Awakens doesn't meet your expectations.
After years of off-screen hell, the newest movie directed by Guillermo del Toro, titled Crimson Peak, comes out nationwide today to unleash a kind of cinematic hell upon viewers everywhere. However, much like every one of del Toro's films, even though Crimson Peak is being sold as a horror movie (it's not) it's actually far more tragic than terrifying. As del Toro has tried to bring to people's attention on Twitter and other forms of social media, Crimson Peak is much more of a gothic romance than a straight-up horror film. Unfortunately, most people will go into the film this weekend expecting to be scared out of their minds and instead they will find something much more tragic and somber. With that let's take a look at why Guillermo del Toro's movies are never what they seem – and why Crimson Peak is no different.
It was at his intro to Sion Sono's Tokyo Tribe at last year's Fantastic Fest that HitFix's Drew McWeeny put it best: "You are all my tribe," he said to the packed auditorium, and the sentiment was apparent even before the crowd erupted in of approval and applause. There really is no film festival quite like Alamo Drafthouse's Fantastic Fest - about to kick off its 11th year. There is no program like the one put together every year by Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest founder Tim League and his selection crew. There is no, and I stress this, NO crowd like a Fantastic Fest crowd, and the kinship felt among those who have attended and keep returning is undeniable. There's just something about Fantastic Fest.
The Star Wars universe has untapped cinematic potential. Even though we've already seen six Star Wars films and a seventh is on the way, Lucasfilm has barely scratched the surface of the expansive universe that exists within the Star Wars mythology. This is undoubtedly why many are very excited for the first spin-off movie in the Star Wars pantheon, Rogue One (subtitled "A Star Wars Story"). The film aims to explore a ragtag group of Rebels and their attempt to steal the Death Star plans, acting as a prequel to A New Hope. However, even though Rogue One is a prequel, it's not necessarily an origin story. It's not about any one particular individual or how they came to be – and it's all the more better for it. With that said, let's explore why the upcoming Star Wars spin-offs should avoid the origin story approach altogether.
There's nothing like the Telluride Film Festival. This year, with our expenses severely cut, I could only choose one fall film festival to attend (besides the New York Film Festival where I live) between Telluride, Toronto and Fantastic Fest. It's all I could afford. So, I chose the Telluride Film Festival. Why? Because I love this festival. It's only 3 days, and I can only fit in about 10 films, but I had to go back this year. Not only do they usually bring great films (and for the past few years the Best Picture winner has always premiered there) but there is also a certain atmosphere, a vibe, that no other festival has. I suppose it's the magic of the mountains, and the fact that it is a tiny town deep in the Rockies that you must drive into. But it's worth it.
It's time. Time to kick off the fall movie season. We're just about done with summer, the kids are back in school, and most importantly - the fall film festivals are about to kick off. The Venice Film Festival and Telluride Film Festival both open this week, with many big (and surprise) premieres planned. Right after that, the festival season continues with the Toronto International Film Festival and Fantastic Fest in Austin, leading to the New York Film Festival and AFI Fest in Los Angeles, not to mention the London Film Festival. That takes us right into the awards season of November/December. Whether you like it or not, or you hate the awards grind and endless campaigning, this is the time of year when all the good films roll out - last year's gems, surprising discoveries, more films to fall in love with. I'm ready to start watching.
After years of speculative buzz, Zack Snyder finally unveiled a complete look at where the future of DC is headed at Comic-Con with an extended trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Technically speaking, this is a sequel to Man of Steel, but Zack is adamant to remind fans that this is the beginning of something new (meaning: Justice League and other DC movies) and not so much a sequel to Superman's re-imagined origin. That said, it's clear with some of the footage in the trailer that these two movies connect directly. There's a shot of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) on the ground in Metropolis watching Supes fight Zod as buildings collapse around him. This changes everything about Man of Steel. Or does it?
I still can't believe it. This was my 10th year attending the San Diego Comic-Con. 10 long years. I still remember that first year, back in 2006, finding myself overwhelmed by everything geeky and awesome. At the time we were barely a site, just a few months old, and yet somehow we found a way to get a press badge and sneak in. Not only that, but my main goal was to meet Sam Raimi as I was in love with his Spider-Man series (Spider-Man 2 is still one of my favorites). That year the big reveal was Venom in a never-before-seen tease of Raimi's Spider-Man 3, and I actually missed the panel because it was full (I couldn't get into Hall H easily back then either, go figure). But I stood near the doors and watched the footage as they were open (now they have giant curtains blocking the view). Hall H erupted in cheers. That excitement hasn't changed.
The other day I went to see Pixar's Inside Out in theaters. I live in New York City and went to the big 42nd Street AMC Theatres, where I could catch a 2D showing at the right time. Before the movie began, after all of the previews but just before the short film, they included a message from the film's director, Pete Docter (seen above). I'm not sure if this message is included on all copies/prints of Inside Out, or just certain ones, or in certain places, but I assume it's probably playing everywhere. It's just a short "Thank you" message, pointing out that tons of people put a lot of work into making this movie, so thank you for coming out to theaters to see it. It was a very nice, genuine, humble message that took me by surprise and made me smile.
Is it time to finally say "hasta la vista" to the Terminator? With the release of Terminator: Genisys, it might very well be. This summer, like most moviegoing summers, is the summer of sequels. Earlier this year we got Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the long-running Jurassic Park series. Sure, it is stomping through box office records right now, but did that series really necessitate three sequels? The quick answer is no. Similarly, the new installment in the Terminator series, dubbed Terminator: Genisys, opens this week (and already opened in select special screenings Tuesday night). It is the fifth installment in the series – a series where each film gets progressively more terrible than the last. With Genisys opening this week, let's look at why studios – and to a lesser extent audiences – still crave more Terminator movies, even while the science fiction franchise has devolved into a disappointing series of diminishing returns.
Ten years ago the state of the Batman franchise – and the movie industry – was in a much different place than it is now. In today's movie climate, the term "reboot" is a word bandied about casually and Batman as a character and movie franchise is held in high regard. However, ten years ago things were completely different. Before Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, the future of Batman in live-action was uncertain. With the ten year anniversary of Christopher Nolan's seminal film this week, let's take a look back at how Nolan – before he was the enormously successful filmmaker he is today – redefined Batman and the reboot.
As Star Wars – the original film, A New Hope – turns 38 this year (it opened May 25th, 1977), it's hard to imagine a time when Star Wars wasn't an ingrained part of our pop culture. For a second, just imagine a world where lightsabers aren't a thing and the Millennium Falcon is just a figment of George Lucas's imagination. There's no denying Star Wars has infiltrated almost every aspect of our culture and as we prepare to embrace a whole new chapter of the Star Wars legacy with this December's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, let's take a look and see how Star Wars has changed movies – and pop culture – permanently.
Welcome to Another Year at the Movies with Jordan Jeffries. Just a few weeks ago I stopped by the 2015 MoCCA Arts Festival (hosted by the Society of Illustrators) in New York City, sort of like Artists' Alley at Comic-Con minus the rest of Comic-Con and only the artists. There I stumbled across and discovered one amazing, unforgettable comic book dedicated to a love of movies, titled Matinee Junkie. It was written and illustrated by cinephile Jordan Jeffries from New Jersey. I bought a copy of year one and the sequel, Matinee Junkie 2 (for 2014), which recaps each a year of his life as connected to the films he saw - including a full-size scan of the ticket stub. This is a must read comic book for any/every last movie lover out there.