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.
Well, it is official. After over two years of speculation and rumors Ben Affleck appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live this past week to make it official: he's out as Batman. No more Caped Crusader for him. This should come as no surprise to anyone that is familiar with Affleck's tenure as The Dark Knight. Regardless, it can't help but feel like a colossal disappointment. Despite three appearances over three movies: two leading roles in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017), and a small cameo in Suicide Squad (2016), Affleck never got a chance as Batman. With this official and with the DC cinematic universe heading in a new direction, there's no better time than now to explore why Ben Affleck was so underutilized.
"I don't know anything about life, but everything about cinema." From one film festival this January, right into another. The 69th Berlin Film Festival, also known as Berlinale, has kicked off this week in Berlin, Germany. Due to a change in the timing of the Sundance Film Festival, that festival ended and then only a few days later the Berlin Film Festival started up. Meaning for those of who go to both festivals (which isn't many people but there's a few of us out there) we didn't have any time to rest or recover. I hopped on the plane Monday afternoon in Salt Lake City and flew right over to Berlin, spending a few nights trying to get properly adjusted to this time zone (it didn't really work) while also figuring out and preparing my schedule for Berlinale. What is there to see? Well, not much. The line-up this year honestly isn't that exciting (to me).
"What I want out of art is to be disturbed. I want to be confused… I want the same thing out of a movie as a painting or a book or a conversation with someone smart." This quote, from director Penny Lane given at the "Power of Story" discussion at Sundance this year, is exactly how I feel as well. There's so many safe, middle-of-the-road films that cover stories and topics we've seen covered so many times before. But every once in a while someone comes along and shakes things up, challenging us with something that breaks the mold, goes against the grain, and forces us to confront our own prejudices or demons or fears. With the 2019 Sundance Film Festival finally wrapped up, I wanted to recap my experiences in snowy Park City this year and briefly chat about how I'm always impressed by the films that play this extraordinary festival.
"The idea of independence is global, but it means different things in different places." It's time for the 2019 Sundance Film Festival - which kicked off on Thursday, January 24th (a week later than usual) this week in snowy Park City, Utah. I'm back here for my 13th year in a row, and I am always so happy to be here. There's no where else I'd rather be every January, and I don't mind the cold and snow - it's all part of the experience. And this year there is a TON of snow, one of the best snow years they've had in Park City for a while. That doesn't make it easy to get to all the venues, but once I'm there, sitting in the cinema, nothing else matters. Bring on the films, bring on the filmmakers, take me away to another time and another place. This year's motto at Sundance is "Risk Independence" - encouraging filmmakers to be unashamedly unique.
There's a film festival kicking off this week in Poland called the American Film Festival. The AFF is the fall version of the New Horizons Film Festival (which screens mostly international films in July every year), organized by the New Horizons Association located at the Nowe Horyzonty cinema in the city of Wroclaw, Poland. This rather vibrant, distinct, energetic city is located inbetween Warsaw and Krakow, but much closer to Prague and Dresden. There's a number of big universities in Wroclaw, making it a lively university city with a student population of over 150,000. It's also the perfect place to host these film festivals, because many students love cinema and love to catch all these films from all around the world. I'm happy to be here.
There are film festivals and then there are genre film festivals. They both show great films from all over the world, and they both highlight cinema as one of the finest forms of modern art. What makes the Sitges Film Festival stand out in particular is the audience. Celebrating its 51st year, Sitges has been around for a while. It has a strong reputation and its known around Europe as the top genre festival. Horror fans from Spain and other nearby countries travel in to catch the latest, greatest offerings from talented directors, and catch up over drinks and pintxos (and tapas). This year was my second year back to Sitges, and I decided to stay the entire time to relax and catch a bunch of films over the full 10 days it runs. After my unforgettable experience last year (attending for my first time), I had to return, I couldn't stay away. And as usual, I'm very glad I did. I still love film festivals and Sitges is now one of my favorites in my regular yearly rotation.
This year at the 75th Venice Film Festival has been exhausting. It's a challenge to keep up with all the 8:30AM morning screenings and 10:30PM evening screenings every day, but it's not only that. There have been so many long films that it seems especially grueling. The length of films is a never-ending discussion, something that audiences have debated for decades. We all know the basic rules: no film can (or should) run for more than 3 hours, and no film should be shorter than 80 minutes (with the sweet spot usually being ~90 minutes, an hour and a half). It's a different discussion in Hollywood than it is at film festivals, because at festivals many filmmakers tend to express themselves by not holding back, giving us as much footage as possible. Do we really need to watch so many 3 hour films? Are they really worth it? (Of course they are!) Don't worry, there's no definitive answer to this, but the thought has been on my mind over the past week.