ENJOY THE SHOW
With the 2016 summer movie season all but officially over, plenty of movie bloggers/journalists have been quick to say this past summer has been rather lackluster for film. I would argue otherwise – while some of the blockbusters have crashed and burned at the box office, this past weekend Suicide Squad and Sausage Party still performed strong at the box office. Marvel's Captain America: Civil War and Disney's Pete's Dragon were highlights of the summer as well. So why all the “doom & gloom”? That's likely because most audiences never really gave some of the best films of summer 2016 a chance. There were quite a few hidden gems out there waiting to be seen, if you were brave enough to give them your time (and money).
"Be bold. Be brave. Be epic." That's one of the taglines for this movie, but it could also easily be the motto of Laika, the animation studio that created this excellent animated adventure. Kubo and the Two Strings is now playing in theaters and it's a must see. Please, go see this movie in theaters while you can, and enjoy the heck out of it. Please go see it because stop-motion animation needs all the love and support it can get nowadays, especially in the form of tickets purchased to see this beautiful work of art in theaters. It's all hand-made, animated and painted and created by hand (in Portland, Oregon), and it's wonderful. I really can't recommend it enough and I'm very happy to go out of my way to write an entire post about seeing this.
Take a look at the three winning short films from this year's Jameson First Shot international short film competition supported by Jameson Irish Whiskey, Kevin Spacey and Trigger Street Productions. This is the fifth year of the Jameson First Shot contest, and three filmmakers were chosen from around the world to make short films starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and produced by Trigger Street. A few weeks back we wrote about the winners and who they were, now we finally get to see the short films they made. These were first premiered at an event in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, now they can be seen online in full. In addition, we had the chance to ask one of them, Cameron Thrower, a few questions about breaking into the industry.
There are many different techniques that filmmakers can use to enhance their storytelling, add or alter our emotions, or convey a message without dialogue. One of those techniques is the use of silence, or obstructed dialogue, or putting music or sound over talking to convey a feeling. Editor David Verdeure made an outstanding video essay for Fandor called "When Words Fail" looking at this technique, and providing a number of different examples. "The reasons for the use of this stylistic stratagem are diverse—they range from comedic to horrific, from wistful to suspenseful." The video tries to give some potential explanation for each scene, but it's also cool to see these moments and make whatever you want of them in your own mind.
There are filmmaking contests, then there are real filmmaking contests. This is one of the best, a real chance to break into the industry and work with genuine talent. The top three winners of the fifth year of Jameson First Shot international short film competition supported by Jameson Irish Whiskey, Kevin Spacey and Trigger Street Productions, will be featured at an event this weekend in Los Angeles - called The Weekender. This year's three winners are: Cameron Thrower (from the US), Kat Wood (from the UK), and Jason Perini (from Australia). After submitting their original scripts, these three filmmakers were given a chance to actually produce and film their short films starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and produced by Trigger Street.
"My goal was to create a movie that was intellectually stimulating and emotionally moving." One of my favorite films of the year is called Captain Fantastic, starring Viggo Mortensen as the father of a family he is raising to be "philosopher kings" without the toxic influences of modern society. I first saw it at the Sundance Film Festival and flipped for it, calling it "profoundly intelligent" in my review and including it as one of my favorite films of that festival. The film later went on to play at the Cannes Film Festival, where I saw it again (I really, really love this film) and luckily had the chance to meet up with writer/director Matt Ross for an interview. Ross is most well known as an actor, appearing on "Silicon Valley" as Gavin Belson, but he's also a filmmaker - this is his second feature film (after 28 Hotel Rooms) and it's truly wonderful.
Three cheers for art house cinemas! Following in the footsteps of Record Store Day and Free Comic Book Day, an annual event will be taking place this September called "Art House Theater Day". This special celebration of art house / independent cinemas will take place on September 24th, and this will be the inaugural year. The event has its own official website with details and theater listings, but we're not exactly sure if it will involve free screenings of movies. Maybe, but it's up to every individual theater to figure out what they're doing for AHTD. We've always been big supporters of art house cinemas and movie theaters of all sizes, and it's great to see a nationwide coordinated event to celebrate them. Add it to your calendar now.
"We have no control of time. Except, of course, you're a filmmaker." There's an excellent new video essay made by Julian Palmer to check out, this one all about the use of slow motion. The video examines the slow motion work in films ranging from Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries (1957) to many of Scorsese's films including Mean Streets (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976) to recent films like Zack Snyder's Watchmen (2009), Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker (2008), Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive (2011) and Pete Travis' Dredd (2012), which had a crazy cool slo-mo storyline. Of course there's the scene in The Matrix, because it's so iconic. There's plenty to admire and plenty to learn in this video essay on slow motion, so check it out.
David Fincher is one of my favorite filmmakers still working today. He's a master of style and storytelling, with ten excellent films under his belt so far. Video editor Jacob Swinney has put together a new video essay taking a closer look at Fincher's extreme close-ups (he's made videos on Tarantino's "ECUs" and PTA's "ECUs", too). Featuring footage from all ten of Fincher's films, from Alien 3 to Se7en to Fight Club to Zodiac to The Social Network to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to Gone Girl, it shows how Fincher uses these close-ups to add extra context to the stories he's telling and the characters he's following. They're sometimes subtle or they can be quite powerful, focusing on a very important detail at the moment. Take a look below.
"Only in filmmaking do you have time limitation in certain stages of production, while you would never restrain a painter, or a musician, or a novelist from taking the time he needs…" At Berlinale in February, I had the honor of meeting and interviewing the very talented French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve. I first became a big fan of Mia Hansen-Løve after catching her film Father of My Children at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, and I've followed her career closely ever since. I most recently loved her film Eden, we featured it recently on our 19 Best Movies You Didn't See list. Her latest film, Things to Come (also called L'avenir), stars Isabelle Huppert as a woman dealing with major changes in her life. After following her for so long it was a major moment in my own career to sit down and talk with her about making great films.
The 88th Academy Awards are upon us and it's time to watch the show and discover the winners of the most prestigious award in Hollywood. The Oscar ceremony is being broadcast live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood with the esteemed Chris Rock as our host of the show this year. With eight worthy Best Picture nominees, it should be exciting to find out which one is the big winner. It has been a very interesting year - no one knows for sure what will win, it could be anyone. Will Mad Max reign supreme or will Iñárritu top again? It's finally time to find out who is taking home an Oscar, and who isn't, at the Academy Awards. The full list below will be updated with winners marked once announced live tonight - refresh for updates.
Read on for a complete list of #Oscars2016 nominees & winners. Let us know what you think of the results!
This will be updated throughout the night to reflect the winners as revealed. Additionally, I might be adding a small bit of editorial commentary beneath each category. Winners are highlighted in BOLD below.
What a year so far. I had an amazing time at Berlinale this year. Not because all of the films were amazing, but because I met incredible people in Germany. I even met a very nice guy who works in film distribution while riding the train from Berlin down to Prague on my way out, and we talked for hours about films and distribution in the Czech Republic (where he works). Over the last week, I've encountered and talked with so many wonderful people - discussing films and the world. This is what festivals are all about, bringing people together, encouraging discussion. And yes - there are films to see. Plenty of them. I saw a grand total of 16 feature films at the Berlin Film Festival this year - here's my final recap with thoughts on each one below.
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!
"With comedy, the rules are always changing. I don't even know any of the rules. It's probably better to not even know the rules." I love Taika Waititi's movies. At my very first Sundance in 2007, I flipped for a little New Zealand comedy called Eagle vs Shark. It was my first introduction to Taika Waititi and actor Jemaine Clement, and I've been a fan of both ever since. Ten years later and Taika is back at Sundance with his latest film, titled Hunt for the Wilderpeople, an adventure in the New Zealand bush starring Sam Neill and Julian Dennison. The film was one of my favorites of the festival, it's hilarious and so much fun to watch. I'm looking forward to the film opening in theaters so everyone else can see it and enjoy it, too.