ENJOY THE SHOW
One of this year's holiday comedies is The Night Before, about three friends, three ride-or-die homies, who go on one final Christmas eve adventure in New York. In truth it's actually a much sweeter story about friendship, and how important is to hold onto the friends that mean something to us. The Night Before is directed by Jonathan Levine, a filmmaker I first met in 2008 at the Sundance Film Festival because I went crazy for his film The Wackness. Years later he has directed two other films - 50/50, Warm Bodies - and now his latest is this one, The Night Before, once known as X-Mas or the Christmas Eve Project. It's a very fun movie and I had a great time talking with Jonathan about the challenge of making audiences laugh.
Well this is lovely. Google decided to celebrate the 101st birthday of Inventor and Hollywood star, Hedy Lamarr, on Monday, November 9th. This would have been her 101st birthday; she passed away in the year 2000 at the age of 85. She was never nominated for any Academy Awards, but Hedy Lamarr became a very popular and beloved movie star in the late 1930s and through the 1940s because of her beauty. Louis B. Mayer at MGM found her in Europe after fleeing the war, and changed her name to Hedy Lamarr, as she was originally born as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Austria. She has become popular recently because aside from her career in Hollywood, she was a scientist and inventor behind a jam-proof radio guidance system.
From the same editor who just made the Magic Hour video we recently featured, Jacob T. Swinney, comes another must see tribute to cinematography. We all know it's a cliche joke to say that J.J. Abrams loves lens flares, but it turns out so do a lot of other great filmmakers (and cinematographers). This video tribute or supercut or "cinema compilation" or whatever you want to call it features a whole bunch of outstanding lens flare shots in movies of all kinds. Besides J.J., there are films from PTA, Edgar Wright, Zack Snyder, Malick, Spielberg, Rian Johnson, Tarantino, and many others. I'm a fan of lens flares, I think they can add a strong dynamic when used well, and this video has so many stellar examples of lens flares being used well. Enjoy.
"It was very intense." One of the best films I've seen this year is called Son of Saul, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Grand Prize of the Jury and a few other awards. Then it went on to play at the Telluride, Toronto, Vancouver, New York and London Film Festivals and will be opening in theaters this December (the same day as Star Wars). It's a masterpiece, and I said that in my glowing review, since this film totally blew me away. Let me now introduce you to its director - Hungarian filmmaker László Nemes (as seen above). He has made a number of shorts previously, including The Gentleman Takes His Leave, but this is his feature debut and it's astonishing. I had to meet László to talk about this film and so much more.
Movie posters always end up becoming the iconic image for the movie, used to promote it and seen on the walls and at ticket stands in movie theaters everywhere. Some of the time a poster will be custom made, or photographed just for marketing, but other times it can be made using a scene from a movie - an actual still or a scene that inspires a design. This short video by Candice Drouet takes a look at a big batch of movie posters and the scenes they're inspired by. The framing is a bit funky, because sometimes I just want to see the scene more than the poster, but it's still a good juxtaposition to see the exact moment in the film. Enjoy!
Ah yes, who can resist magic hour. As a photographer, I know so well the golden glory of this time of the day. It's the time, right before the sun sets, when it's right on the edge of the horizon and shines golden and makes the sky turn beautiful colors. It's always lovely. Fandor presents this fantastic, gorgeous video tribute of edited footage from many great films with scenes shot during magic hour. All the best cinematographers out there, Deakins, Lubezki, Kaminski, Pfister, Elswit, they all shoot during magic hour because it's just so perfect and irresistible. And because it can help convey feelings - just watch this and your heart will quickly swell up with emotion. "Watch the sun progress its way through magic hour in a variety of films—starting with the first ray of golden light, and ending with the last glimmer of the day." This is the beauty of cinema.
"I'm not so sure you want to be me." It was an opportunity I couldn't pass - the chance to interview Jason Segel. He stars as the late author David Foster Wallace in one of my favorite films this year, The End of the Tour directed by James Ponsoldt. The film is about the actual end of his (book) tour, specifically the time David Foster Wallace spends with fellow writer/journalist David Lipsky, played in the film by Jesse Eisenberg. The two meet in winter and discuss all kinds of topics, and it's really a beautiful film about life and honesty, and still being real even though you may be brilliant, as with DFW. Segel gives a phenomenal, Oscar-worthy performance as David Foster Wallace - and I don't bat an eye saying that. I had to meet him.
Way, way back when (really just 20 years ago), before he made Scott Pilgrim or Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead, wee little Edgar Wright made his first film at the "tender" age of 20. It's a goofy western called A Fistful of Fingers (referencing Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars), and it runs only 78 minutes, featuring mostly Wright's friends. When this was brought up during the release of The World's End, Edgar realized that the film was barely released and not many people have ever actually had the chance to see it (though it did hit the web a few years ago). Now it's getting a 20th anniversary re-release in London this November, and it's opening next month on the big screen with a premiere at Cinefamily in Los Angeles. Check it out.
"Sometimes the rules that you put on yourself till you're figuring out how everything works don't work in your favor." Beasts of No Nation, starring Abraham Attah as Agu and Idris Elba, is a helluva film, and I couldn't wait to talk to the director behind it. The Netflix Original Film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival (read my glowing review) but it wasn't until just last week in New York City that I was able to catch up with writer/director Cary Fukunaga. Not only did he write and direct it, Fukunaga also shot the film as its cinematographer, and produced it. This is very much his film and he even spoke with me about how there were still sound tweaks he was making up to the last minute. This ended up being a fascinating, in-depth discussion about filmmaking with Cary Fukunaga and I wish I could've had more time with him.
"I don't like the tone of your voice!" We're happy to exclusively debut this new 30-second TV spot for Barry Levinson's comedy Rock the Kasbah, starring Bill Murray as a down-on-his-luck music manager lost on a wacky tour in Afghanistan. The actual story in this movie is about how he finds a local Afghani girl and brings her on the television show "Afghan Star", but before he finds her, he loses his original act - played by Zooey Deschanel. She appears in this TV spot in some new footage, as well as Bruce Willis in another bit role. Check out the full-length trailer here and enjoy the TV spot below. Arriving in theaters next week.
Even though it may seem like there's barely any visual effects or any CG patching in a dramatic real-world thriller like Sicario, the truth is that there's a great amount of work that goes into finishing a film like this. Denis Villeneuve's Sicario, starring Emily Blunt as a young FBI agent who gets a taste of the Mexican drug wars, is one of my favorite films this year. This breakdown and VFX reel from Oblique FX shows some of the sequences they worked on, and as always it's very fascinating to see. Realizing just how much is added with visual effects is impressive, and it's always interesting to see how much they did shoot with bluescreen.
"Cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out." If you need to be inspired again about the amazing power of cinema, just watch any of these. There have been some outstanding video essays recently about aspect ratios, a number of them, so I decided to collect all of them together into one place. This way you can get the full dose, over 32 minutes discussing the history of the aspect ratio, the way filmmakers have used it throughout the years, and some recent examples of how it's still possible to push the boundaries of cinema. At the beginning of the year, I wrote a passionate long form piece on Xavier Dolan's Mommy and its brilliant use of aspect ratio. The most recent video profiles Dolan's Mommy and Tom at the Farm. Enjoy.
Have you always wanted to wear Freddy's red and green striped sweater to your Christmas party? Well, here's your chance! Mondo has revealed a fantastic line of horror Christmas sweaters, themed after a few classic slasher flicks (found via EW.com). They've got a sweater for Friday the 13th featuring Jason, then there's Michael from Halloween, and of course Freddy's classic sweater (seen above) from A Nightmare on Elm Street (different versions, too). Hopefully they're making more of these down the line, but for now you can already place an order and get your hands on any of these sweaters if you want. Mondo is killing it.
"The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle." Every day is a good day to watch a Stanley Kubrick movie. And if you need any inspiration, this excellent poster set from Max Temescu should help give you an idea of what to watch. Max has designed a series of illustrated posters for 11 Kubrick movies, and I really love the designs. Sure, there have been plenty of great Kubrick posters over the years, but the work here is impressive. My favorites are the usual suspects: A Clockwork Orange, 2001 and Dr. Strangelove. See below.