ENJOY THE SHOW
"I feel very excited as of late for what's to come, whether it works or not." I can't say enough how much I adore Damien Chazelle's musical La La Land. It's an exhilarating cinematic experience, full of so much joy and happiness, along with superb dancing and exuberant singing and beautiful sets and gorgeous sunsets. Aside from Ryan Gosling, the other co-star of La La Land is Emma Stone. Her first big break out role was playing Jules in Superbad back in 2007, and over the nearly 10 years since she's earned an Academy Award nomination (for Birdman) and worked with some of the best filmmakers around. I was lucky to spend 15 minutes chatting with Emma about her career and her work on La La Land and it was an absolute delight.
Want to geek out with Adam Savage and Peter Jackson? A video from Adam Savage's website Tested has debuted that involves Savage stepping inside of Peter Jackson's prop warehouse. Guillermo del Toro's massive collection has been in the news the most recently with his exhibition at LACMA, but Jackson has a collection of props and movie items that might rival that one. Savage and Jackson spend most of their time in this video examining the HAL 9000 faceplate from 2001, but there's other cool things hidden around. You can see one of the Ray Harryhausen skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts, and a Vogon from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, too. Jackson says he collects things from films that inspired him as a kid.
Even though we have another month left, cinephiles are already releasing 2016 recap videos. Chris Santana has launched the very first 2016 - A Year in Film recap, which includes footage from almost every (major) movie released in 2016. The only one missing is Martin Scorsese's Silence, only because they still haven't released a trailer for it yet. I'm very happy to see smaller films like Jackie, Moonlight, Lion and Manchester by the Sea featured in this, especially because they're an important part of 2016 in film. And it's especially important to include La La Land, most likely because it has the best chance at winning Best Picture. Dive in.
"We want tons of good ideas! And we've got, you know, 80 minutes here to knock everybody out." This is a fantastic new video essay examining the animated movies and storytelling techniques of filmmaker Brad Bird, who is currently working on making The Incredibles 2 at Pixar. Created by veteran editor Kees van Dijkhuizen Jr. (who retired in 2012, but is seemingly back now with more work) the video features audio clips of Brad Bird discussing his ideas and mentality, spliced with clips from his movies showing exactly what he's talking about. The opening quote is from the documentary about the making of The Iron Giant, released on the new Blu-ray this year. I've watched this video at least 5 times already, it's that good. Enjoy.
"The Science is Clear. The Future is Not." Good news, documentary fans! National Geographic has released the full-length version of the documentary Before the Flood (watch the trailer), produced by and starring Leonardo DiCpario, online on YouTube for free. Completely free! In fact, if you mention the hashtag #BeforeTheFlood online, they'll even donate money to different wildlife conservation organizations. It also features a fantastic score composed by Mogwai, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, + Gustavo Santaolalla (you can buy the album here). I had the chance to watch this recently and I thought it was a superb doc, inspiring and encouraging. I've seen pretty much every single recent doc about climate change and the environment, and this is one of the best. Really. Not only is DiCaprio honest and entertaining, he's hopeful about our future - as long as we all come together and recognize we need to change. Just watch! Link below.
We've all heard the quote before. Jean-Luc Godard once said: "It's not where you take things from — it's where you take them to." Filmmakers are often inspired and influenced by other art, whether it be music or paintings or photography or other films. Sometimes it's easy to spot in films, other times the influence is deeper and more nuanced. There's a series of videos created by editor Vugar Efendi called "Film Meets Art" that highlight various examples of cinema borrowing exact shots or poses or color or composition or clothing (or all of the above) from paintings and other classic art. It is actually an impressive examination of creative influence and how it plays directly into cinema. I wanted to feature both of the videos, with Part II out this week, because there's so much to admire in each of them. I love the shot from There Will Be Blood.
The creative team behind the horror films You're Next and The Guest seem like the perfect choices to bring something as groundbreaking and phenomenal as The Blair Witch Project back to modern audiences. That team, director/producer Adam Wingard and writer/producer Simon Barrett, are no strangers to the world of indie horror and all that comes with it and this shows in everything the pair have delivered so far. Taking what they learned in creating the V/H/S series, the filmmakers once again take to the stage of scares for Blair Witch, a direct sequel to the 1999 film that shaped the horror genre that directly after. Their update is relentless in its intensity and loaded with surprises that fans of the original will eat up in droves.
This is SO badass. I'm pretty sure I've seen this before (perhaps one of the special features on iTunes), but there's nothing wrong with sharing it and watching it all over again. An awesome behind-the-scenes video from George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road is making its way around the internet, mostly because it's still amazing (more than a year after release) to see how they actually shot so much of this film realistically, with big rigs and crazy vehicles and huge explosions. This proves that George Miller is a helluva director and probably was the one who really deserved to win the Best Director Oscar for last year. Even though the final version of Fury Road includes tons of VFX work, this video shows that so much of it was done practically. Even the the guys swinging on the giant poles, even the big crashes, even the wacky guitar player. Have fun.
Watching VFX breakdowns is always enchanting. ILM has released their full 4-minute video showing their work on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. "The history of ILM leads all the way back to 1975 and origins of Star Wars and The Force Awakens gave us the opportunity to once again push the boundaries of what is possible in character animation and visual effects while combining cutting edge practical effects and physical sets." It's always cool to get a glimpse of what it was like on set and how much they added in each scene to make it feel so real. The amount of objects and layers in some of the scenes is remarkable. ILM also work with their "partners Hybride, Base FX and Virtuos" on this project. All movie geeks need to watch this.
The mountains are a truly magical place. For the past nine years in a row, I've made a pilgrimage up to the beautiful mountain town of Telluride in Colorado for the Telluride Film Festival. It only lasts for one weekend and it's over way too quickly, but it's still one of my favorite weekends every year. At the 2016 version of the film festival, I was able to catch 11 films and many of them were wonderful. A few of them are guaranteed to end up my Top 10 this year, and that's usually the case with Telluride. I come to this festival year after year to fall in love with films again, to see some of the best that cinema has to offer, and I'm rarely disappointed. Plus over the four days the festivals lasts, I get catch up with old friends and make new ones.
It's nice to be back. Up in the mountains, ready to see more films and see what many talented filmmakers have in store for us. I have returned to the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado for my 9th year in a row, covering this festival with just as much enthusiasm as the first time I went (back in 2008). This film festival takes place an altitude of 8,750 ft (2,667 m), in a tiny little charming town nestled deep inside the San Juan mountains. It's such a beautiful location, the kind where you can see the stars, where everyone around you is always saying "isn't it so beautiful?", where it's easy to get a breath of fresh air, and where you must truly appreciate the place you at. I'm glad to be back, and I'm ready to start watching films. Let's begin the show.
Over the past week and a half I've been attending a few screenings of films as part of the Fantasy Filmfest in Berlin (where I now live). Inspired by and operated similar to Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX and Fantasia in Montreal, the Fantasy Filmfest is a horror/sci-fi/genre festival in Germany (taking place in multiple cities over these past few weeks). Their catchy tagline is "Fear Good Movies" and their line-up of films this year is impressive, including some of my favorites from other fests like: Swiss Army Man, Under the Shadow, Train to Busan, Yoga Hosers, and War on Everyone. I caught four films over the last few weeks, two of them worth recommending. Overall, I'm glad I heard about this fest (from a fellow movie lover in Germany) - I always enjoy seeing some of the latest genre films, especially since there's so many out there every year.