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Berlinale 2017: Recap of My Favorite Films & Performances of the Fest

Berlinale 2017

The lesson I've learned covering film festivals is that sometimes the best films aren't always the one you loved at first sight, sometimes they're the ones that you remember. There's something about them. It could be the performance, it could be the story, it could be something else about it that gets into your mind and still lingers there. Something about it that you keep thinking back to, even if it isn't a perfect film, there's something you can't shake. That is usually the sign of a great film, and film festivals (which are exhausting to cover) help us figure out which ones leave a lasting impression because there's so many to see in so little time. To wrap up my 4th year attending the Berlin Film Festival (aka Berlinale), I want to recap a few of my favorite films and favorite performances of the 2017 festival. I hope all these films end up on your radar.

 Posted February 26 in Berlinale, Feat, Indies | Comments

Berlinale 2017: Exploring Berlin's Many Movie Palaces Around the City

Berlinale 2017

I love movie theaters. Every time I walk into one, I get the feeling I'm at home again. They are my places of worship, they are my cathedrals, they are my palaces. Every last city in the world has their own unique set of movie theaters, usually with an extensive and interesting history behind each one. Over the last 10 days of the 2017 Berlin Film Festival (aka "Berlinale") I was able to explore a number of different venues for screenings all over the city. I really love Berlin, and it's now my home where I live, but I'm still exploring and still going to places I've never been before. Looking back over this year's festival, I wanted to highlight a few of the gorgeous movie palaces I visited and share some photos of these places, since they're all so lovely.

 Posted February 20 in Berlinale, Editorial, Feat | Comments

Watch: Video Essay on Film Noir Makes 'The Case for Black and White'

The Case for Black and White

Even though the first color movies were made over 100 years ago, black & white lived on in Hollywood until the 1960s. The Academy Awards even had a category from 1939 to 1967 under Best Cinematography for black & white films, splitting the section in two. Even now, black & white is still a strong aesthetic / visual choice and some filmmakers use it effectively to tell stories. Some of my favorite recent black & white films are: Frances Ha, Ida, The Artist, Pi, Sin City, The Turin Horse, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, A Field in England, Escape from Tomorrow and Computer Chess. This new video essay from Jack Nugent looks back at film noir in the 40s & 50s to make the case for black and white, even today. It's worth a watch.

 Posted February 15 in Feat, To Watch | Comments

A Beautiful Video Compilation of Every Best Cinematography Winner

Best Cinematography Winner

This is splendid. YouTube channel Burger Fiction has put together a beautiful compilation video of every Best Cinematography winner at the Oscars from 1927 to 2015, when it was award to Emmanuel Lubezki of The Revenant, a back-to-back win after Birdman. For admirers of cinematography, this is a breathtaking and awe-inspiring video. And it just makes me want to watch everything all over again. From Cleopatra, The Thief Of Bagdad, Ben-Hur, Doctor Zhivago, Dance With Wolves, Braveheart, The Aviator, Couching Tiger Hidden Dragon, There Will Be Blood to Inception, there's so many excellent films awarded in this category.

 Posted February 3 in Awards, Feat, To Watch | Comments

Sundance 2017: Alex's 7 Favorite Films - The Best of This Year's Festival

Sundance 2017 - Call Me By Your Name

The 2017 Sundance Film Festival has finally come to an end and to put a wrap on things and finalize our nearly two weeks of coverage, it's time to present our Best of the Fest list. I was able to see a total of 36 films across 10 days, but I couldn't catch everything and missed a few films getting lots of buzz (Novitiate, Where is Kyra?, Thoroughbred). I saw a total of 8 documentaries, so instead of separating docs and features this year, I decided to present one big list of my 7 favorite films (in honor of it being 2017). My #1 by a mile is Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name, I love this film so much. It will likely end up on my Top 10 of the year, but many other films from this fest are worth seeing when they come your way. Let's get into it.

 Posted January 31 in Editorial, Feat, Sundance 17 | Comments

A Surprise Appearance by Nicolas Cage Made 'C4GED' Unforgettable

C4GED - Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage is a unique talent in the acting world. His performances often give us something to talk about regardless of the quality of the film surrounding that performance, and it creates an air of excitement that follows the actor wherever he's seen. This is exactly why, for the past four years, the Alamo Drafthouse has programmed a day of movies in Cage's honor. Entitled CAGED (or "C4GED" for this year's program) the day, usually coordinated by Tough Guy Cinema programmer Greg MacLennan and in honor of Cage's 53rd birthday, treats movie-going fans to five, surprise titles all headlined by a memorable Nicolas Cage performance. Every year MacLennan has invited Cage to attend, and it was for seemingly this final year of CAGED that we were all witness to the biggest surprise of them all. Nicolas Cage actually showed up.

 Posted January 30 in Discuss, Events, Feat | Comments

Watch: Video of The Silhouettes of Cinematographer Roger Deakins

The Silhouettes of Roger Deakins

The use of silhouettes in cinematography can be powerful and evocative. One of the masters of silhouettes is cinematographer Roger Deakins, who has earned 13 Academy Award nominations over three decades (but never actually won one yet). One Perfect Shot video editor H. Perry Horton put together this compilation titled "Paint it Black: The Silhouettes of Roger Deakins" profiling some of his best silhouette shots. There's footage from Skyfall, True Grit, Sicario, Assassination of Jesse James, The Hurricane, Jarhead, Prisoners, The Shawshank Redemption, and even the new Blade Runner (because why not?). Watch below.

 Posted January 29 in Feat, To Watch | Comments

Looking Back: Alex's Top 10 Favorite Films of 2016 - In 'La La' Love

Alex's Top 10 - La La Land

"Without love, what reason is there for anything?" What a year. Admittedly, it's always a challenge for me to put together a Top 10 list, just because there's never enough time to watch (and rewatch) everything. That said, I fell head-over-heels in love with a number of movies in 2016 and it was easy to put them on this list. I learned so much from my Favorite Films of 2016. Paterson taught me to love poetry (and write some of my own). La La Land reminded me that dancing is the key to life, and jazz is awesome. Captain Fantastic taught me to always seek the truth. Pete's Dragon reminded me that sometimes we must believe in magic. I'm invigorated by how much movies often affect me, and the more emotional I get, the more I love them.

 Posted January 18 in Feat, Lists, Looking Back | Comments

Sundance 2017: The 10 Most Anticipated Films We Can't Wait to See

2017 Sundance Film Festival

Back to Sundance we go for another year of discovery. What's on the line-up this year? Out of the 120+ films showing at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, I've chosen 10 that I'm looking forward to seeing the most. To keep things well balanced, I've chosen 5 feature films and 5 documentaries from the line-up. There are so many films playing at the fest, and so many I'll end up seeing (30+), that this is a quick list to get everyone acquainted with some of the work premiering in 2017 (and why I'm so excited for these). From docs about free speech and doping, to features about life after death. Nothing like watching movies in the mountains.

 Posted January 16 in Documentaries, Feat, Indies, Sundance 17 | Comments

Watch: Video Essay on Scorsese Asks 'Is God Watching in All His Films?'

Scorsese's God Watching in All His Films

Perfectly timed with release of latest religious epic directed by Martin Scorsese, titled Silence, which is slowly expanding to more theaters this month, is a video essay on religious themes in Scorsese's films. Titled "God's Point of View", the video proposes the simple question: "Is God watching in all Marty's films?" There is no narration, instead the video uses footage from almost every single Scorsese film to present the possibility that Scorsese always includes scenes in his film from the point-of-view of God. But how? And why? His focus is on the choice to shoot some scenes looking straight down at characters in times of their greatest struggle, accompanied by the music of Max Richter. A must watch for fans of Scorsese and cinema.

 Posted January 8 in Discuss, Feat, To Watch | Comments

Watch: Movie Rewind 2016 - Another Look Back at This Year's Movies

Movie Rewind 2016 Video

"Who's with me on this?" Another new retrospective video to watch just before we wrap up 2016. This one is from fellow movie blog We Got This Covered, and features footage from most of the big Hollywood movies in 2016. Titled "Movie Rewind 2016", edited by "Whiplash Dynamo", this takes a look back at the year in movies, and some of the important moments from them. More then anything, these video retrospectives are a good way to remind you how many great movies (and not so great) there were. And it's a reminder to catch up on a few of them you still haven't seen yet, or to go back and rewatch the ones you love the most. Enjoy!

 Posted December 28 in Feat, To Watch | Comments

Interview: 'La La Land' Director Damien Chazelle on Making a Musical

Damien Chazelle Interview

"I wanted the movie to be a love letter to not just dreams, but to the kinds of dreams that society often mocks." He's only 31 years old, but has already made two of my favorite movies. Damien Chazelle is the writer/director of Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, Whiplash (from 2014) and this year's La La Land, an exuberant and exciting musical that is my #1 movie of the year. La La Land premiered to rave reviews at the Venice, Telluride, and Toronto Film Festivals this fall and is now playing in theaters nationwide. I was lucky enough to catch up with Chazelle at the Telluride Film Festival and sit down to talk about making La La Land. I was still on a high from the movie, and was very excited to chat with him about everything - from Ryan Gosling's piano playing, to capturing Los Angeles, to making sure this success doesn't go to his head.

 Posted December 22 in Feat, Interview, Telluride 16 | Comments

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Alex's Top 10 - 2016
1. La La Land
2. Paterson
3. Arrival
4. Captain Fantastic
5. 20th Cent. Women
6. Pete's Dragon
7. Jackie
8. Kubo & Two Strings
9. Everybody Wants
10. Wilderpeople
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Jeremy's Top 10 - 2016
1. Moonlight
2. The Handmaiden
3. High-Rise
4. Elle
5. Arrival
6. Kubo & Two Strings
7. 13th
8. Jackie
9. Toni Erdmann
10. The Witch
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