ENJOY THE SHOW
With the year coming to an end, it's time to look back at the movies that defined the year in cinema. One of our favorite websites, No Film School, has put together a superb video to highlight & discuss their picks for the Best Cinematography of 2017. Not only is the video mesmerizing to watch with all of this lovely cinematography, but they completely nailed the selection - picking out, really, all the best cinematography, including from excellent documentaries like Chasing Coral (one of my favorites), Casting JonBenét, and Kedi. (The only big film missing, to me, is Call Me By Your Name…) Of course they feature Blade Runner 2049 (go, Roger Deakins, go!) and Dunkirk, along with Mudbound, Wonder Wheel, Good Time, The Florida Project, and Columbus. Yep, all the best films right there. This year end movie recap video is a must watch.
Looking ahead at 2018, it's going to be another exciting, spectacular year for the science fiction genre. With a few weeks to go until the New Year, Looper put out a video previewing some of the most anticipated sci-fi movies opening in 2018. They call the video "Sci Fi Movies That Will Completely Blow You Away In 2018," though that's some epic hype. I'm just happy to see this much sci-fi, it means the genre is truly in a new era of brilliance with so many boundary-pushing films on the horizon. The video profiles most of the major sci-fi movies coming out in 2018, like The Predator, Ready Player One, Annihilation, and A Wrinkle in Time, but misses one big one - the Cloverfield movie, currently set for February 2nd though that might change. This is a good video to watch to get you in the mood for some awesome movies to anticipate in 2018.
It's here! Time to start figuring out which films are the best of the year, so get watching. One of the annual must-see best of the year lists is actually a video countdown made by my colleague David Ehrlich (follow him @davidehrlich). He counts down his 25 best films of the year in a video edited together with footage and music from each of the films. This is such an entertaining way to count down the best cinema of 2017, and it always makes me want to watch each one of these (even the ones I've seen already). Ehrlich pretty much nailed it this year - Call Me By Your Name is my #1 as well, and his Top 10 is almost perfect. Dive in.
What's up next on the film festival tour? My next stop is at IDFA in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, in full known as International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. This is another film festival I've heard about for years, and I'm finally attending it for the first time. IDFA is known around the world as one of the premiere film festivals for documentaries. They only show and host documentaries at the festival (with a few exceptions) but that means it's all about truth and non-fiction and cinema as an important tool for telling stories from the real world. I'm very excited to be here, I love Amsterdam, and I'm happy to start watching more documentaries. I wasn't always a big fan of docs before, to be honest, but I am a big fan now.
"Sometimes you need luck as a director. We always think it's all about control and it is a lot about control when you direct a movie, but it's also about things that you can't foresee." There's a film now playing in theaters titled The Divine Order, from Swiss writer/director Petra Volpe. The film is Switzerland's entry in the Oscars this year and it's obvious why when you see it. This very entertaining, exciting, engaging film tells the story of a woman in a mountain town in Switzerland who rallies other women to join in the fight for the right to vote. Swiss women only passed a law in 1971. I had a chance to talk with writer & director Petra Volpe and I'm so happy I did - she's a joy to talk with and had much to say about making empowering films.
"For millennia, we'd never seen anything like film cuts. How do we process them so easily?" When you watch a movie nowadays, unless you're trained in the art of editing or filmmaking, you probably don't even notice most of the cuts. If the movie's editing is top notch, the cuts are designed to work in a way where you don't really sense them, so that you can still easily follow the action and dialogue in a scene. This video essay from Adam D'Arpino attempts to explain, scientifically, how our brains have adapted to film cuts so quickly. The full title of the video is - Strange Continuity: Why Our Brains Don't Explode at Film Cuts. It's a fascinating visual examination for movie nerds and science nerds alike, getting into the technical aspects of filmmaking that help our eyes, as well as the anthropological details that make it all work harmoniously.
"Where is that money, Piotrek?" We're proud to exclusively debut an award-winning short film online, titled Everything Will Be Nice, or Wszystko Bedzie Fajnie in Polish. This short, directed by and starring Polish actor/filmmaker Jan Kutrzeba, touches on immigration, love, trust, poverty, and loneliness. It was made out of love by a handful of immigrant filmmakers and two talented Polish actors living in New York. Kutrzeba "wanted to share the story of what it's truly like for immigrants trying to make it to the next day in the city, surviving solely on the love the characters share with each other." It was shot and it's presented as one long, single-take involving a Polish couple arguing at the morning in their apartment in the city. This is an impressive short, that played at a number of film festivals last year. It's worth taking a moment to watch.
There's an adorable little beach town, about a half hour south of Barcelona, called Sitges. Every year, this town hosts a film festival in October called, of course, the Sitges Film Festival. Officially it's known as the Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya (website here). Sitges is a "genre" festival, in the same vein as Fantastic Fest, screening horror, action, sci-fi, thrillers, and any other wacky, weird little features they find around the world. This year Sitges celebrated its 50th year, and for that reason I decided to finally attend this festival that I've been hearing about for a while. Oh my goodness, it's amazing. One of the best festivals in the world, almost so good that I don't want to tell you about it, because part of it what makes it perfect is that it isn't overrun with people (yet). But, it is my job, so I will reveal a little bit about it.
"It's the multiplication of brains and [all] the people that you have to tune to make sure that they are all dreaming in the same direction." He's a master filmmaker and continues to deliver some of the best films of this decade - Denis Villeneuve. Born in Quebec, Villeneuve has been an acclaimed filmmaker for many years but finally got his foot into Hollywood's door after making Incendies in 2010. He followed that up with Prisoners, as well as Enemy released the same year, before making Sicario and Arrival. His latest is Blade Runner 2049, a highly anticipated, long-awaited sequel to the sci-fi cult hit from 1982 starring Harrison Ford as a cop named Deckard. I didn't get to chat with Villeneuve for Arrival last year (it was one of my favorite films), so I chased him this time for Blade Runner and got to spend a few minutes talking with him.
The fall film festival season rages on…! Up next are two more film festivals in Europe. I'm stopping by the Sitges Film Festival in Spain, a prestigious genre/horror festival celebrating its 50th year. And then I'm heading up to London to catch the second half of the London Film Festival, celebrating its 64th year. Both festivals kick off this week and continue through next week for a total of 10 days (I love that festivals continue to run for 10 days, it's always invigorating to stay and watch films for that long). This is my first time attending both festivals, which makes me anxious but it's also exciting. Attending a film festival for the first time is always daunting, but once I figure everything out and settle in for screenings, all is well again.
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?
"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.