ENJOY THE SHOW
The 2016 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. This year it was only me (Alex) covering Sundance for FirstShowing, so I decided to simply reveal my own 5 favorite feature films and 5 favorite documentaries. There are always a couple of films that I didn't have time to see (The Intervention, Eyes of My Mother) that seem to be getting great buzz, just can't make it to everything. But I am very happy to say that I ended up seeing amazing films at Sundance this year that will be on my mind for a while. At least one (or maybe two) of these will end up on my Top 10 list at the end of the year. Let's get right into it.
When you really think about it - film festivals are a bit crazy. They gather up 100+ films, show them all 3 or 4 times over the course of 10 days, invite thousands and thousands of movie fans to town, and most of us (at least many of my colleagues) watch as many of them as we can. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, we all get to tweet and discuss these films instantly, spreading the word about what's good (or bad) to fellow film fans who are not in attendance. While everyone else around the world is going about their normal day jobs, thousands of us (various members of the press, industry, cinephiles and beyond) are packing in 3, 4, or 5, sometimes even 6 films every day. We're desperate to see something that leaves us in awe. I adore festivals.
Now this film is a true classic! The BFI (British Film Institute) has announced a digitally restored re-release of Abel Gance's 1920's epic Napoleon, about the French conqueror. This project has been in the works for 50 years, with Academy Award-winning film historian Kevin Brownlow traveling the world collecting old prints of Gance's Napoleon in order to piece together this fully-restored version. The silent film runs a full 5 1/2 hours in total, and is accompanied by a live orchestra score. Ever since the previous restoration in 2000, the film version has only been screened 4 times in the UK. This announcement from the BFI is only for a UK re-release so far, but we also expect it to show up over here soon, too. It will premiere in November of 2016.
This is badass! The Raid 1 & 2 director Gareth Evans has released a short film online that he produced entirely on his own. It's a short samurai film shot in Wales that is a test sequence to prove that they can film action similar to The Raid films but with a PG-13 rating. The main cast includes Hannah Al Rashid, Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman. This isn't anything more than a test sequence, but it's awesome to see and hopefully good inspiration for filmmakers trying to figure out how to shoot action. I dig the black & white style, as it allows the viewer to appreciate the composition. I'm a fan of Gareth Evans (watch my interview from a few years ago) and I think he's one of the most talented action directors making films today. Enjoy!
The future of law enforcement. We are happy to premiere this new screen print being sold by Grey Matter Art. GMA is working with MGM to distribute this officially-licensed print for Paul Verhoeven's classic uber-violent 1987 sci-fi RoboCop, with artwork designed by Kilian Eng. This fantastic 24" x 36" print will be available in limited quantities starting Wednesday (January 27th), and also has a variant version (both seen below). Eng is a fan-favorite artist in the poster community, and has created a few great designs over the years (like this vinyl art for Oblivion). Big fans of the original RoboCop should be very interested in this.
It all began in 2007. I drove 9 hours from Colorado across the Wyoming plains, down through the Wasatch Mountains into Park City. It took three days of begging the press office to get a press badge (we'd only been up and running for 7 months at that point), but I luckily had tickets to see films. Now I'm back, for my 10th year in a row, to attend and cover the Sundance Film Festival. (Thankfully I don't have to beg the press office for a badge anymore.) I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it - I love this festival. I feel like I grew up here, made so many friends here, saw so many of my favorite films here. To borrow a line from my friend Peter at /Film, "the Sundance Film Festival isn't just a film festival, but a look into the future of cinema."
Sometimes, you just need to take your mind off of things, and bask in the glory of beauty. This is the perfect video to watch for three minutes of respite. When it comes to movies, there are so many incredible moments that are unforgettable thanks to how gorgeous the cinematography is. Not just the cinematography, but the choreography and composition, the lighting, everything works in harmony to create some of the most beautiful shots in movie history. I wish this would go on and on, an endless video of the moments that have left me in awe over so many years. The moments that make me more and more passionate about film.
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 2016 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 2016 (and why I'm so excited for these). From docs about tickling competitions, to features about Obama's first date. Nothing like seeing movies in the mountains.
"You shall ride eternal. Shiny, and chrome!" Looking back at 2015, it was an exceptional year for movies and if you don't feel the same way, you probably didn't see enough movies. I always struggle to put together a year end Top 10 list, mostly because there's so much I need to watch/rewatch and it's just not possible. This year I came up with a list of 12 movies from 2015, the last two added because I felt like they deserved a spot even though it was already full. These are the movies that I genuinely love the most, that connected with me and stayed with me throughout the entire year. Many of my favorites from 2015 are movies that, if you asked me about them at the beginning of the year, I would've admitted it's unlikely they'd end up here.
The glory of cinema, captured on camera. Projectionist Andrew Walker has been working one of the 70mm roadshow versions of Quentin Tarnatino's The Hateful Eight since wide release two weeks ago. Over the past 15 days, a camera he setup has taken timelapse photography inside the projection booth, presenting this final, mesmerizing 2-minute video. We've featured other IMAX/70mm projection booth videos in the past, mainly for Christopher Nolan movies. This is just another gorgeous glimpse inside the world of movie theaters, and what it's like to actually handle and project real film. Despite any of the occasional problems with film projection, it's still an art to see a projectionist run a perfect show, handling everything with care.
"Celebration of the movies in 2015." From Ant-Man to Creed to Mad Max to Star Wars, and everything inbetween. Another great retrospective year-end video to provide us with a enthralling look back at all the movies that graced the big screen this year. CLS Videos on YouTube has premiered their very first ever retrospective look back, this one titled 2015: The Year in Movies. We've featured a few of these videos recently, and they're always exhilarating to watch, mainly because they remind me how much I love movies and they also point out all the movies I still need to see. Plus there's still Tarantino & Iñárritu coming out!
"I was raised to do one thing… and I've got nothing to fight for!" Another gorgeous retrospective video has hit the web, and is another must watch for any and all movie lovers. This one is made by Miguel Branco who has been doing this for the last three years. I've always enjoyed his looks back, because he takes time to focus on some of his favorite movies throughout, including (for 2015) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. There's also some Star Wars in this, and of course Mad Max: Fury Road, plus 200 other movies from 2015. Have you seen all of them yet? What's your 2015 scorecard looking like?
We're still a few weeks away from Star Wars opening, which means most of us can't make our Top 10 list until we see that movie. But in the meantime, some critics have no desire to worry about Star Wars and are putting out their Best of the Year lists right now anyway. One of the annual must-see 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, including one excellent short (World of Tomorrow). It's a beautiful video that, along with trailer retrospectives, is a stellar reminder of why we loves movies - to discover the few that stick with you.
"You're done with the past, but the past is not done with you." Get ready for another sensational look back at the movies of 2015 (and beyond). Our longtime friend the "Sleepy Skunk" has posted his annual end-of-the-year retrospective video - the 2015 Movie Trailer Mashup - featuring footage from all the movie trailers released throughout 2015 (including a few 2016 movies) edited together to some excellent music. We just posted another mashup video for 2015, as it's that time of year when all of them start to arrive. This one is impressive because the editing is perfect, with some great moments and great music. Fire it up below!