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In case you didn't know, Steven Soderbergh has been doing some interesting work on the side in the midst of working on the Cinemax series "The Knick" and lensing Magic Mike XXL as director of photography, not to mention editing the male stripper sequel. On his own website, Soderbergh mashed up the original version of Psycho with his shot-for-shot remake and also did a "Butcher's Cut" of Heaven's Gate. This time he's taking aim at a much bigger project by cutting a silent, black and white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark, complete with a borrowed score with music from The Social Network and more.
"You have no idea of the effect you have, do you?" It's time for yet another Monthly Must See feature film that we highly recommend you watch. This one may be one a few have seen already, considering it's rotating through the Top Movies list on iTunes. The film is titled Ida starring the lovely Agata Trzebuchowska, from Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski. This intriguing Polish drama first premiered at the Telluride Film Festival last year, before playing at festivals all over the world and eventually arriving in US theaters for a limited release back in May. Shot and presented in black & white in the 1.37:1 'Academy ratio', this stunning film tells the story of a young nun named Ida in 1960s Poland discovering herself and the world.
"A journey should always be mysterious..." One of the best films of 2014 is Birdman, the fifth feature from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, following up Biutiful four years ago. Birdman premiered at the Venice Film Festival and Telluride Film Festivals, and will also play at the New York Film Festival before landing in theaters this October. After catching the premiere up in the mountains in Telluride (my review), I met up with Iñárritu for a 15 minute chat about all things: from life to filmmaking to laughter to turning 50 and the lessons he has learned. It happens to be one of the best chats I've had with a filmmaker, and it's rejuvenating to listen to him talk. "If you don't do something that does not terrify you, why do it?"
Just over three years ago, Nike made the dreams of Back to the Future fans come true by announcing limited edition Nike MAGs, inspired by the futuristic shoes worn by Marty McFly in Back to the Future Part II. However, they were exorbitantly expensive since they were very rare and part of a charity auction to benefit The Michael J. Fox Foundation. But the good news is that while we wait for Nike's power laces to become a reality in 2015, you can get ahold of a much cheaper set of official licensed shoes inspired by the time traveling sequel. They're not Nike shoes, but they're likely the best option for us common folk. Look!
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?
It's a real testament to the impact that Robin Williams had on people's lives that one month after his sudden death, the comedian and actor is still being honored. The latest to pay proper tribute to Williams is the PBS documentary series "Pioneers of Television." Last night they debuted a one-hour special called Robin Williams Remembered, focuses solely on the career and influence of the Oscar-winning actor and infectious comedian. Beginning with his early years in theater and the revered school Julliard and moving through his rising fame as a comedian and into his eclectic acting career, it's a great tribute. Watch!
"You need to experience the dynamite... to know that the dynamite can go off." Just last week we featured Starred Up as our latest Monthly Must See, an intense, brutal but incredible prison movie from English director David Mackenzie starring Jack O'Connell and Ben Mendelsohn. You may not recognize the name at first, but you should certainly recognize his films - David Mackenzie's filmography includes Young Adam, Asylum, Hallam Foe (or Mister Foe in the US), Spread with Ashton Kutcher, the sci-fi Perfect Sense and the music film Tonight You're Mine, all before he went on to make Starred Up. Last week I sat down for a chat with David on the realism of the film and finding actor Jack O'Connell, who plays inmate Eric Love.
Over the last few days social media has been abuzz with an endless amount of global shenanigans. Luckily we have movies to remind us that life is grand, and there's a big hashtag campaign right now that is making me love movies all over again. The hashtag is just #CinephilePhoto and the chain-letter-esque campaign involves tweeting out any favorite shot from your favorite films, and nominating three (or more/less) others to do the same. The hashtag has caught on like wildfire throughout the global film community, and I've seen countless amazing shots showing up all the last few days. If you need to remember why you love movies, just search for #cinephilephoto and get ready to stare in awe. So many amazing films, so many excellent shots.
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.
15 miles from paradise...one man will do anything to tell the world everything. One of the formative films in my early years exploring cinema was City of God, about the impoverished and corrupt reality of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. While the film has gone on to much acclaim, a new poster organization has decided to make their first artwork for Fernando Meirelles' City of God, released in 2002. "A business years in the making, FAMP Art was founded to bridge the gap between pop culture art and art house cinema, focusing on films that don’t get much love in the art community but are praised in the world of cinema (and that we ourselves love)." Sounds like they're challenging Mondo and Gallery1988 and I like it, especially debuting with this.
In the short history of filmmaking, there have been incredible advances in technology that have changed the face of filmmaking from the innovation of sound to computer generated visual effects. However, there are subtle changes that help make visual storytelling a little easier too, making it so the audience doesn't feel detached from the story and world they're seeing unfold on the big screen. One such arena you may not realize is how characters communicate on the big screen in a contemporary society where individuals talk more often by way of text messages instead of talking on the phone. Filmmakers are only recently figuring out how to do this effectively, occasionally with some style, and a neat video essay explains how. Watch it!
"A visit to a cinema is a little outing in itself. It breaks the monotony of an afternoon or evening; it gives a change from the surroundings of home, however pleasant..." [-Ivor Novello] Last week I stopped by the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, located in the lake-mountain town of Locarno on Lake Maggiore. The festival has been running since 1946, famous for its Piazza Grande outdoor venue, yellow & black color scheme, and leopard award/logo. In addition to my coverage of the films I saw at the fest, I wanted to share some of the images from my visit, as it was such a charming and gorgeous place to get immersed in cinema.