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Way, way back when (really just 20 years ago), before he made Scott Pilgrim or Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead, wee little Edgar Wright made his first film at the "tender" age of 20. It's a goofy western called A Fistful of Fingers (referencing Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars), and it runs only 78 minutes, featuring mostly Wright's friends. When this was brought up during the release of The World's End, Edgar realized that the film was barely released and not many people have ever actually had the chance to see it (though it did hit the web a few years ago). Now it's getting a 20th anniversary re-release in London this November, and it's opening next month on the big screen with a premiere at Cinefamily in Los Angeles. Check it out.
"Sometimes the rules that you put on yourself till you're figuring out how everything works don't work in your favor." Beasts of No Nation, starring Abraham Attah as Agu and Idris Elba, is a helluva film, and I couldn't wait to talk to the director behind it. The Netflix Original Film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival (read my glowing review) but it wasn't until just last week in New York City that I was able to catch up with writer/director Cary Fukunaga. Not only did he write and direct it, Fukunaga also shot the film as its cinematographer, and produced it. This is very much his film and he even spoke with me about how there were still sound tweaks he was making up to the last minute. This ended up being a fascinating, in-depth discussion about filmmaking with Cary Fukunaga and I wish I could've had more time with him.
"I don't like the tone of your voice!" We're happy to exclusively debut this new 30-second TV spot for Barry Levinson's comedy Rock the Kasbah, starring Bill Murray as a down-on-his-luck music manager lost on a wacky tour in Afghanistan. The actual story in this movie is about how he finds a local Afghani girl and brings her on the television show "Afghan Star", but before he finds her, he loses his original act - played by Zooey Deschanel. She appears in this TV spot in some new footage, as well as Bruce Willis in another bit role. Check out the full-length trailer here and enjoy the TV spot below. Arriving in theaters next week.
Even though it may seem like there's barely any visual effects or any CG patching in a dramatic real-world thriller like Sicario, the truth is that there's a great amount of work that goes into finishing a film like this. Denis Villeneuve's Sicario, starring Emily Blunt as a young FBI agent who gets a taste of the Mexican drug wars, is one of my favorite films this year. This breakdown and VFX reel from Oblique FX shows some of the sequences they worked on, and as always it's very fascinating to see. Realizing just how much is added with visual effects is impressive, and it's always interesting to see how much they did shoot with bluescreen.
"Cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out." If you need to be inspired again about the amazing power of cinema, just watch any of these. There have been some outstanding video essays recently about aspect ratios, a number of them, so I decided to collect all of them together into one place. This way you can get the full dose, over 32 minutes discussing the history of the aspect ratio, the way filmmakers have used it throughout the years, and some recent examples of how it's still possible to push the boundaries of cinema. At the beginning of the year, I wrote a passionate long form piece on Xavier Dolan's Mommy and its brilliant use of aspect ratio. The most recent video profiles Dolan's Mommy and Tom at the Farm. Enjoy.
Have you always wanted to wear Freddy's red and green striped sweater to your Christmas party? Well, here's your chance! Mondo has revealed a fantastic line of horror Christmas sweaters, themed after a few classic slasher flicks (found via EW.com). They've got a sweater for Friday the 13th featuring Jason, then there's Michael from Halloween, and of course Freddy's classic sweater (seen above) from A Nightmare on Elm Street (different versions, too). Hopefully they're making more of these down the line, but for now you can already place an order and get your hands on any of these sweaters if you want. Mondo is killing it.
"The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle." Every day is a good day to watch a Stanley Kubrick movie. And if you need any inspiration, this excellent poster set from Max Temescu should help give you an idea of what to watch. Max has designed a series of illustrated posters for 11 Kubrick movies, and I really love the designs. Sure, there have been plenty of great Kubrick posters over the years, but the work here is impressive. My favorites are the usual suspects: A Clockwork Orange, 2001 and Dr. Strangelove. See below.
"Trees and people used to be good friends." Something to warm your heart today, a video tribute to the legendary animation master Hayao Miyazaki. Vimeo user "dono" has posted his video tribute (found via One Perfect Shot) that looks back at many of the characters and movies that Miyazaki has brought us. I am a huge Hayao Miyazaki / Studio Ghibli fan myself, and I'm always happy to bring some extra attention to their work, especially everything they've made before (considering they're not really making any new films at the moment). I like the way this tribute brings together so many of the memorable characters from Miyazaki's movies. My favorite film is still Castle in the Sky, and Totoro, but this entire tribute makes me smile. Enjoy.
If you need an inspirational lesson in visual storytelling - start with this video. Lewis Bond has edited and presented an exceptional video essay titled Color in Storytelling (or "Colour" as they spell it) that looks at the various uses of color in cinema. This isn't a 2-minute YouTube mash-up, this is a very well-researched, intensive deep dive look at color, examining its history and first uses in cinema in the early 1900s, all the way to modern techniques with filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Ang Lee and George Lucas. I love how much explanation there is, and how many examples of actual footage he uses, as it really helps explain and connect so much of what he's saying. As usual, watching this makes me want to see every film he references.
Time to drive. If you need an afternoon wake-up, or need some inspiration on how to shoot car scenes, or just want to take a "Nightcall" break, then fire this up. Thanks to a tip from One Perfect Shot, there's a video called "Driving at Night" to watch that features footage from Nicolas Winding Refn's 2011 film Drive and Dan Gilroy's 2014 film Nightcrawler. The video is just a basic side-by-side profile of the car sequences in both films, but since these two films have such great car scenes, it's very mesmerizing to watch. Especially set to the music they use from Drive. I also really love the car (chase) cinematography in Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners, which also comes to mind with Jake Gyllenhaal driving. Anyway, watch below and enjoy the ride.
Have you ever wanted to be a projectionist? Back in the days when 35mm projectors could be found in every theater, in every cineplex, in every town. Nowadays they're lost relics of a different time. That doesn't mean we can't still learn about the art of projection and how it works, in hopes that we may teach this art to future generations. Bill Hammack, also known as "engineer guy" on YouTube, has posted a video examining the mechanics of how a film projector works. He spends most of his time with a 16mm projector, but it's the same general idea for 35mm projection. And it's just fascinating to learn the actual engineer dynamics of how a projector works, and how they fixed the flickering effect created by the mechanics inside the machine.
"I like to arrive in front of the camera with all the information that I can possibly need." He's a legend. I was lucky enough to get a chance to meet up with actor Ian McKellen in New York City earlier this week for an afternoon interview. I met at his hotel near Central Park, and we spoke briefly before his appearance on a Reddit AMA. We could've chatted for the entire afternoon, but I didn't want to delay him any further. I interviewed him for his new film Mr. Holmes, where plays an aging Sherlock Holmes. I saw the film in Berlin and loved it so much that my effusive quote is featured in the trailer and on the official poster for the film. He's played many of my favorite characters, and I tried to ask some interesting questions about acting.
It is my tradition to kick off Comic-Con by walking the showfloor on preview night and taking photos of anything movie-related that interests me. This year the showfloor is overrun with Star Wars everywhere, for obvious reasons considering we have The Force Awakens coming up. There were also some discoveries like The Iron Giant at WB and plenty of other props or maquettes or models. I made my way through the crowds and snapped as many shots as I could before getting out, but there will certainly be more to come at the end (as I always try to go back). For now, take a look at our 2015 preview night gallery with lots of props.
"There was a lot of unrequited dino love out there." A few years ago, a little film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival called Safety Not Guaranteed. It earned praise from critics and introduced a filmmaker, Colin Trevorrow, who later landed the gig of a lifetime - directing a brand new Jurassic Park movie, to restart the series again after it died with JP3 in 2001. Colin Trevorrow is the director of Jurassic World, a continuation of Michael Crichton's vision of a dinosaur theme park that Steven Spielberg made us all believe in back in 1993. It's already breaking box office records. A week before it hit theaters, I was lucky enough to spend 15 minutes chatting with Colin (on the phone) talking about creative control, Spielberg, the attention he's getting nowadays, and how he pulled off a movie like this as only his second feature as a filmmaker.