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Venice 2017: My Favorite Films of the Festival + A Final Venezia Recap

Venice Film Festival

We're in the thick of the fall movie season now, with the Toronto Film Festival finishing up this weekend. I attended my first Venice Film Festival this year (read about my experience at the fest) and saw a total of 26 films across 10 days. There are still many scenes floating through my mind, many great moments from these films. To wrap up my coverage of Venice, let's recap my favorite films of the festival as well as my two of favorite performances. I only had a chance to see three documentaries (Human Flow, Jim & Andy, The Rape of Recy Taylor) this year, so I won't be singling out one of them. Instead, I'll be talking about my two favorite films and a few others that stood out. As always, there's plenty to discuss. Let's begin, shall we?

 Posted September 13 in Feat, Indies, Venice 17 | Comments

Interview: Darren Aronofsky Talks 'Mother!', Cinema, Batman & More

Darren Aronofsky

"I tell stories. All I can ever do is express how I'm feeling at a moment." In theaters this week is the new film from acclaimed filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, a very provocative and intense feature titled mother!. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a couple living in a secluded home, trying to fix it up and make it nice until one day uninvited guests show up. Mother! premiered at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals, and the reviews have been all over the map. I loved the film (here's my review), because I understood exactly what he was doing. This is Aronofsky's outburst of anger about the state of the world, and the way we abuse and mistreat this beautiful planet we live on. While at the Venice Film Festival, I met with Darren briefly for a chat about mother!, and the state of the world - he's always fascinating to talk with.

 Posted September 13 in Feat, Interview, Venice 17 | Comments

Watching Excellent Films on the Lido at My First Venice Film Festival

Venice Film Festival

My goodness, this is a beautiful place. I am currently in Venice attending the Venice Film Festival, aka Venezia 74, for my very first time. After nine years in a row attending the Telluride Film Festival, I decided to switch things up and head down to Venice. Honestly, the main reason is that I could not afford the cost of going to Telluride. Now that I live in Berlin, the total cost of flying back, staying in the city, and buying a badge was just too much. As crazy as it sounds, flying down to Venice and attending this festival is actually cheaper. Telluride and Venice both take place at the same time, and they both play many of the same films. But they take place on opposite sides of the world so I had to choose one or the other. But it doesn't matter, you can watch great movies anywhere around the world and I'm lucky to be able to enjoy this lovely festival.

 Posted September 1 in Feat, Indies, Venice 17 | Comments

Interview: Lake Bell Discusses the Joys & Challenges of Making Films

Lake Bell

"I feel very proud to put something out there that is kind-spirited." Lake Bell has a new movie hitting theaters this week and it's worth a watch whenever you have the time. Many people know Lake Bell as an actress, from shows like "Boston Legal" and "How to Make It in America" and movies like Million Dollar Arm, What Happens in Vegas, and Man Up. But Lake is also a talented filmmaker, writing and directing original feature films. Her feature directorial debut, In a World…, a charming comedy about voice-over actors, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. She has followed that up with a romantic comedy titled I Do… Until I Don't about marriage that is opening in theaters soon. Lake stars in I Do… Until I Don't as one of the lead characters, and she also produced, wrote & directed it, which is an impressive feat.

 Posted August 30 in Feat, Interview | Comments

Check Out This Infographic About the Evolution of Movie Poster Design

Movie Poster Designs

Time for a quick look back at movie posters over the last 60 years. We're all used to seeing Photoshopped movie posters these days, with massive floating heads, explosions and lighting effects, and plenty of other cheesy design tricks. However, movie posters have a glorious history, originating as hand-painted pieces of art that were just as iconic and unforgettable as the movie itself. This new infographic takes a look back at "The Evolution of Movie Posters", featuring 12 different designs ranging from the 1950s to the 00s. It highlights some of the best movie posters in Hollywood history, and discusses how the design and style of posters has changed over time. The Jaws poster is one of the best ever made, and the designs for E.T. and Star Wars are also perfect. Check out the infographic below to dive even deeper into the history of posters.

 Posted August 14 in Discuss, Feat, Posters | Comments

Be Inspired by The Most Beautiful Shots in Cinema of the 21st Century

The Most Beautiful Shots in Film of the 21st Century

Movies can be exhilarating experiences, capturing life and all its beauty in ways that can't even be described. There are so many unforgettable moments, so many shots and scenes that stay with us forever. The Most Beautiful Shots of the 21st Century is a short video compiled by Ignacio Montalvo, which highlights some of the best shots over the last 16 years. This will inspire you and fill you with emotion, reminding you why movies are so wonderful. I love that he includes shots from some of my favorites: Sunshine, Big Fish, Fellowship of the Ring, The Squid and the Whale, 500 Days of Summer, Her, Black Swan, Mad Max: Fury Road. I also adore the scene from Xavier Dolan's Mommy (which I wrote an entire article about). Pure bliss.

 Posted August 1 in Feat, To Watch | Comments

Interview: NY Filmmaker Jim Strouse on Making Uplifting Indie Films

Jim Strouse

"You really have to drive your own train and you have to keep it running." Yes indeed. Meet Jim Strouse. Also known as James C. Strouse. Jim is a filmmaker originally from Indiana, who now lives in New York City. If you don't recognize his name, hopefully you will recognize his films - Grace Is Gone (in 2007), The Winning Season (in 2009), People Places Things (in 2015), and now this year he has brought us The Incredible Jessica James. Jessica James stars the talented Jessica Williams as Jessica James in an optimistic, engaging story of a struggling playwright in New York. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, like every film Jim has made, and is being released by Netflix - it's available to watch now. I caught up with Jim at the Sundance Film Festival this year for a chat, and I'm happy to finally present our interview in full. I love his films and I'm glad I had the chance to talk with him out there.

 Posted July 28 in Feat, Indies, Interview | Comments

Comic-Con 2017: Our First Look at Preview Night Showfloor Photos

Comic-Con 2017

It is our tradition to kick off Comic-Con by walking the showfloor on preview night and taking photos of anything movie-related. This year, since Alex is not attending himself, the photos are coming from Marc Levy - a photographer working at Comic-Con. Our presence at Comic-Con has changed in the last few years (we're taking a break after 10 years since Alex has relocated to Berlin) but it's still always exciting to follow. To keep up with the tradition anyway, we present our initial gallery of shots from the showfloor at San Diego Comic-Con 2017 with photos taken by Marc exclusively for FS.net. There are tons of superheroes galore, as expected, along with Star Wars everywhere, and plenty of geeky goodies in every corner. Take a look below.

 Posted July 20 in Comic-Con 17, Feat, Photos | Comments

Interview: Matt Reeves on Directing 'War for the Planet of the Apes'

Matt Reeves Interview

"We pitched that movie. I pitched it to the studio. And they said yes." It's here - one of the best movies of the year. War for the Planet of the Apes is now playing in theaters, and it's a masterpiece. I've seen it twice already and it gets better on the second viewing. Andy Serkis is extraordinary as Caesar, concluding this sci-fi trilogy with one of the best performances you'll see in any movie this year. War for the Planet of the Apes and the film before it, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, were both directed by Matt Reeves. Reeves broke in directing Cloverfield, and followed that up with a remake of Let the Right One In titled Let Me In. I was anxious to talk with him for this movie, it was one of my most anticipated of the year and surpassed all expectations. I was able to catch up with Matt briefly on his press tour and chat about making these movies.

 Posted July 14 in Feat, Interview, SciFi | Comments

Interview: Neill Blomkamp Reveals 'Rakka' + Truth Behind Oats Studios

Neill Blomkamp

It's time to start experimenting with sci-fi again. South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp is launching a new experimental filmmaking collective called Oats Studios. We've been posting previews over the last few months, but now it's time to give fans a small taste of what's to come. Blomkamp has launched the first project, titled Rakka, online in the form of a 20-minute short film that plays more like an extended proof-of-concept pitch reel. You can find it on Steam or watch the full thing below for free. So what exactly is Oats Studios? I talked with Neill on the phone for 30 minutes earlier this week to dive deep into the concept and figure out exactly what it is they're trying to do. Oats is an "incubator of ideas that come from me or come from other people," then they "put out those ideas to the audience, see how the audience feels about them."

 Posted June 14 in Feat, Interview, SciFi | Comments

'Power to the People' Video Examines the Books in 'Captain Fantastic'

Captain Fantastic Video - Books

One of my favorite films of 2016 was Matt Ross' Captain Fantastic, starring Viggo Mortensen. It's the kind of film I can put on any day and it makes me happy, I adore it, and I was so happy to see Viggo get an Oscar nomination for his performance. Not only is a great film, but it has so much to teach us about raising kids, keeping an open mind, learning more about the way we interact in this world, and fighting against a capitalistic society. Fellow cinephile H Nelson Tracey, who writes for the site Cinemacy, has created a video essay breaking down and examining all of the books shown and literature referenced in the film. There's quite a few books referenced in this film, and if you're looking for some extra summer reading, this is a very good place to start. As I'm a very big fan of this film, I couldn't help sharing this video. Check it out.

 Posted May 31 in Feat, Featurette, To Watch | Comments

Interview: Japanese Director Takashi Miike on Filmmaking & Violence

Takashi Miike Interview

"I don't choose the projects. I think the projects choose me." At the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, legendary Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike premiered his 100th film. At least, that's what the marketing folks were telling us. When I asked him specifically about this, he gave me a different answer. Nonetheless, Miike is indeed a "legendary" filmmaker. Even at the age of 56, he still keeps making movies non-stop, sometimes two or three in a year. His latest film is titled Blade of the Immortal (or Mugen no j√Ľnin in Japanese), an adaptation of a manga series about a samurai cursed with immortality who takes on a job of protecting a girl. He's known for ultra-violent horror, epic samurai films, and the occasional drama. It was an honor to speak with him for what is the only interview he did with a website from America while at Cannes this year.

 Posted May 31 in Cannes 17, Feat, Interview | Comments

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