"The single biggest threat to man's continued dominance on the planet is the virus." A quote from Nobel laureate Joshua Lederberg, Ph.D, that is shown at the beginning of Outbreak. In just a few months, followed by a few weeks of frantic decision making, the entire world has been upended by a virus. We still don't know when things will get back to "normal", or if they'll ever get back to normal, but for the time being everything is changing before our eyes and there's nothing we can do besides wait and see. Stay at home and stay safe. Ride out the storm and wait for sunny skies after it's all over. The biggest change affecting this website, and every reader, is that cinemas worldwide have shut their doors. Most countries have passed emergency laws requiring all entertainment venues, including all cinemas, to close down until further notice. Thankfully we have digital libraries at our fingertips, but I still miss the cinema. I wish I could still see films in theaters…
Willkommen in Berlin! The 70th Berlin Film Festival, also known as Berlinale, has kicked off this week in Berlin, Germany in the center of the city at Potsdamer Platz. This year's festival takes place a few weeks later than usual (instead of back-to-back with Sundance), so they can put some distance between the festival and the Academy Awards yet still sneak in before February ends. This is my seventh year in a row covering this festival, and now that I live in Berlin, it's my "hometown" festival that I get to attend while going home to my own apartment every evening. It's also a pivotal year for Berlinale - not only is it the 70th edition, it's the first festival with a brand new set of co-directors running things - Mariette Rissenbeek & Carlo Chatrian.
Bong Joon-ho's Parasite is virtually certain to win the Oscar for Best International Film, and it is not out of the running for Best Picture or Best Director, either. It unanimously won Palme d'Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, and critics has lauded it as the greatest film of an exceptionally strong year, and perhaps even one of the best of the decade. It has brought belated, much-deserved attention to South Korean Cinema. By any measure, it has been a success that has likely exceeded the wildest dreams of anyone associated with it. What, then, should be made of the existence of a black & white version set for a theatrical release this year?
"Only a Sith deals in absolutes." If you came here to find out what my take on this whole Scorsese vs Marvel debate is, unfortunately I'm not going to give provide a "take." This entire debate, and discussion, has gotten out of hand. Way out of hand… I get that in our current social climate we must take a side, and must make our voices heard, but it's all so extreme now. We have to choose one side or the other. We have to speak out in defense of one side, and in opposition to the other. Or, maybe we don't…? This is cinema we're talking about, after all; movies or film or motion pictures or whatever you want to call them. What matters most is that we continue to watch and support and love and spread the love for cinema, for movies, for films of all kinds - big and small. Not whether Marvel movies are or are not cinema, or whether Scorsese's opinion is right or wrong, or whether this filmmaker is an asshole or not, or whatever it might be. Just stop all of this madness. Let's move on. We're tearing the film world apart, and as a movie lover, I'm tired of watching this.
The sun shines brightly over the city as I arrive into San Sebastian, warming it up to a nice 86 degrees at the peak of the day. The summer may just about be over (according to the calendar), but here it still feels like it's far from done. Kicking off today is the San Sebastián Film Festival (known officially as the Festival de San Sebastián or Donostia Zinemaldia) now in its 67th year. The town of San Sebastian is located on the northern coast of Spain, in Basque Country, not too far from the French border and not too far from the city Bilboa. There's a stunning curved beach that runs through the center of town, crowded with many people enjoying the sand and waves while it's still warm. The festival's logo is a sea shell, of course, along with the top prize being the Golden Shell - which couldn't be more fitting. I'm just here to keep watching more films.
After being threatened by the Venice Film Festival to have my press badge removed because I refused to follow the nonsensical embargo rules, I decided to publish this letter. When you experience injustice, when you experience oppression in the world, you must speak up. While this is not that bad, I still fight. I expect many of my colleagues and other critics will disagree with me and refute my claims, which is of course their right. But throughout the 13+ years I have been running this website, I have often seen jealousy and fear manifest itself as control and dominance and this is another example. I was told that others "complained" about my tweets, and so I was forced to fall in line and do what they demanded. I resist. I refuse. It is time to change this rule at festivals. Once a film screens, we should be free to talk about it. My full letter below.
"Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?" I'm back! Back again in the groove, the film festival groove. This week kicks off the fall season with two major film festivals: the Venice Film Festival and Telluride Film Festival, both running over the weekend. I'm back in Venice for my third time in a row to celebrate the 76th edition of this iconic festival, happy to be here, ready to start watching, excited to see all the films they're showing. I can't wait to see James Gray's Ad Astra, which has been in the works for years and is my most anticipated. And then there's Todd Phillips' Joker (get ready), then there's Haifaa Al-Mansour's The Perfect Candidate, then there's Soderbergh's The Laundromat, then there's Baumbach's Marriage Story, then there's David Michod's The King. And there's all the other films I haven't mentioned yet, too.
With everyone complaining about films being so long these days (anything over two hours instantly becomes a discussion), why not go the opposite direction and just make a short film? Traveling to film festivals all over the world is a wonderful and exciting experience - not just because I hope to discover some gems (like Lara and The August Virgin) but because I get to watch all kinds of films. Big and small, good and bad. And inbetween all these screenings, there's plenty of time to think. To think about what you just saw, and how it could be better, or how perfect it is, how much you want others to see these films. Wrapping up my visit to the Karlovy Vary Film Festival this year, one thought that came to mind often (specifically about a few of the films) is: this would be better as a short film. So why not just make a short? It could be even better.
With Legendary Pictures' Godzilla: King of the Monsters set to stomp its way into theaters on May 31st, I took it upon myself to put together a fun introductory guide for anyone looking to learn more about the long-running kaiju movie franchise. While I have enjoyed seeing superhero epics and other genre property hit the mainstream, I grew up a big fan of Godzilla, and have spent this past year going from enthusiast to pro on the famed monster and all that comes with it (follow me @AaronsPS4). Plenty of others may have a handle on some of the Godzilla basics: his main adversaries, and even some favorite entries from the 32-film Toho-produced series. Others may, unfortunately, only know Godzilla from his disastrous 1998 American feature (directed by Roland Emmerich), or purely the camp value associated with the series. So, I'm here to provide a crash course on the atomic beast, some of the more notable Godzilla films, and other related fun.
What are the best films out of this year's Cannes Film Festival? Which ones should you be taking an interest in? What films should be a priority for you to see? After 12 days at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, after 30 screenings, it's time to present my 2019 list of my Top 9 Favorite Films. This was my 10th time back to this festival, and I love being there in the middle of all, committing fully to seeing as many films as I can. These nine listed below are the ones that I adore, that connected with me emotionally or intellectually, and I hope everyone plans to check them out when they arrive in their neighborhood. They are worth the wait. There were many outstanding films this year, and this is my final recap of the 2019 festival - see all of these.
Bienvenue au paradis du cinéma! The 72nd Cannes Film Festival kicks off this week down in the South of France, and I'm back here again for my 10th time. This year is just as exciting as every other, and I am so happy to be back. Every May cinephiles from all over the world pack up their bags and make the trek down to the Cote d'Azur for two weeks of cinema heaven, basking in the Mediterranean sun while watching films made by some of the best filmmakers and storytellers out there. It's exciting to be here in Cannes because it's a fantastic time to catch up with old friends, make new friends, watch new films, discuss & discover old films, and enjoy all the splendors of international cinema. I've been writing about Cannes for years, telling so many different stories, and I always hope to encourage more people to join in on the fun and make it over to the fest. It's an incomparable experience to be in the seaside town where cinema history has been made.
"Where you there at the beginning?" That's the question we'll all be talking about over the next few years, thinking back to everything that Marvel Studios has accomplished. With the highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame opening in theaters worldwide today, it feels as if we have truly reached a milestone in superhero cinema. This is a big moment… An epic moment, to be more accurate. Yes, we all know that the MCU will continue and Marvel Studios will keep making more and more movies (and TV shows), but Endgame is truly the end of an era. A deeply satisfying conclusion to 11 years of Marvel Studios movies, 21 of them before this, which have all lead to this moment - to this 3 hour superhero extravaganza. That's an unprecedented feat in cinematic storytelling. And even if you hate these Marvel movies, it's impossible to deny just how impressive it is for them to pull off this culmination and collection of characters coming together for one big showdown.