ENJOY THE MOVIES
Each year, I am incredibly lucky and privileged to return to the spectacular city of Venice in Italy to attend the Venice Film Festival and catch the latest films premiering there. Venice is over and looking back at the line-up, it's time to present my quick picks of my favorite films from Venice 2021. This was my fifth year in a row back to Venice, I even stopped by last year during the pandemic, and I spent every single day at screenings all day. They always show two new films in the morning, along with lots of other screenings in the evening to catch. In total, I watched 28 films at Venice this year, and while it wasn't the best selection, I'm always glad to have the chance to watch them anyway. The fest kicked off with Pedro Almodóvar's latest, Parallel Mothers (watch the trailer), which I didn't care much for. Then continued on for another 10 days, and I was there right up until the end. You probably already know what I flipped for, but let's recap anyway.
A chat with Adam & Cariño. One of my favorite films of 2021 is this wonderful little gem called Language Lessons, directed by and starring Cuban-American actress / filmmaker Natalie Morales, and co-starring Mark Duplass. I first saw this at the Berlin Film Festival earlier in the year and instantly fell for it, writing a glowing review back in March. I've been raving about it all year, telling everyone else to watch it and enjoy it. I would go so far as to say it's the best pandemic-inspired Zoom-screen film out of any made in the last two years. Mostly because the story is a meaningful story about connection, and it's not just using Zoom as a gimmick. I haven't done any new interviews in a long time, but when I was offered the chance to talk with Natalie and Mark - I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I did this interview the day I arrived in Venice for this year's Venice Film Festival, and I still took the time to chat with them and ask them about making this film.
We love cinema, you love cinema, let's all celebrate our love for cinema! A few months back we launched a FirstShowing membership program with Steady (check it out - become a member) in hopes of stepping forward into the future with the direct support of our readers. So far, a fair amount of readers have become members and your support means everything to us. This funding helps us keep our servers running, and the lights on. Our membership page on Steady has a space for an image, so we commissioned one of our favorite cinema designers - a Ukrainian artist named Liza Shumskaya - to create an image celebrating our love of movies. And the result is this wonderful tribute to the power of cinema: to bring us all together and to make us laugh and cry and smile. We are excited to unveil this exclusive art as we head into the fall movie season.
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 74th Cannes Film Festival, after 30 screenings, it's time to present my 2021 list of my Top 10 Favorite Films. This was my 11th year back to this festival, and I love being there in the middle of the buzz, seeing films all day every day non-stop. These ten listed below are the ones that connected with me emotionally or intellectually, and I hope you'll consider watching a few when they arrive in your neighborhood. They are worth the wait. Even after cancelling the fest last year due to the pandemic, there were many impressive films in Cannes this year. I'm glad I could be there and catch up with cinema again. This is my final recap of Cannes 2021 - don't miss any of these below.
"Cinema is not dead," proclaimed Thierry Frémaux during the announcement of the official selection for the 2021 Cannes Film Festival a few months ago. He was right, of course, but we already knew that. Cinema will never die! It just took a little break during the 2020 pandemic year, with cinemas closed worldwide. But filmmakers were still working on films - finishing up post-production from their homes, or even filming new projects when they were finally allowed to resume production (with masks required along with extensive safety protocols). Aside from the 2020 Venice Film Festival held last September, which still took place in-person despite no vaccines available yet, the 2021 Cannes Film Festival is technically the second major film festival to resume "normal operation" following years of shut downs and pandemic restrictions worldwide. They wanted to get back to how it used to be, with 100% full cinemas, and thankfully nothing bad happened.
We're back again in the South of France for the glorious and grand 2021 Cannes Film Festival. The fest reluctantly cancelled last year due to the pandemic and due to an inability to figure out how to come up with some kind of alternative festival (a virtual version or a delay or anything else that wouldn't risk the safety of the attendees). Last year during the usual Cannes dates in May, I watched a series of Cannes Film Festival-esque films and wrote a tribute to the magic of the festival. This year we're finally back in action. The biggest difference is that the festival is now taking place in July instead of May (but only for this year). It's sunnier, there are more tourists around, and the COVID-19 pandemic is still ever-present. But… I couldn't resist the temptation, and I had to come back. Just to see some films, catch up with old friends that I haven't seen for a while, and relax in the Mediterranean (though there's not much relaxing when I'm seeing four films a day).
A technical update for followers of FirstShowing who have been subscribed to our email newsletter already. Google's Feedburner service has officially shut down (as of July 2021) and after more than a decade of using this service, we've switched to a different email service. FirstShowing is now using Follow.it - visit our FS feed here. You can subscribe on the website and/or subscribe to updates via email, too. This will replace our Feedburner daily newsletter emails and we have imported all the "active" subscribers from Feedburner into Follow.it. If you're already getting this emails, everything will continue as normal. You don't need to change anything. If you'd prefer to get an email every day with each day's posts, then subscribe here and that's it.
Please support us! Anything you can spare makes a huge difference. Just like many other websites before us, we're diving into the membership world. FirstShowing.net originally launched back in June of 2006 (believe it!), so this marks our 15th year and we're still going strong despite many ups & downs. We've changed and evolved over the years, we've grown and shrunk, and our focus now is different than it was 10 years ago. But more than anything: we love movies. Always and forever. And we want to share our love of movies with everyone else who loves movies. If you're a regular reader, if you visit this site to check the release schedule or latest trailers or new short films, please consider supporting the website so we can continue to operate as one of the finest independent movie blogs around. We really want to stick around here for another 15 years.
Movie poster fans, this one is for you!! Our friends at PosterSpy.com are about to launch their second art book featuring a remarkable collection of art and details from many illustrators / creators from around the world. Their new book is called The Art of Movie Posters, and it's not just a collection of art, but also a behind-the-scenes look at the process and how posters are made. Jack Woodhams, founder of PosterSpy, states: "I'm delighted to finally release a new book full of incredible art by valued members of the PosterSpy community and beyond… When trying to figure out the type of book this would be, it was clear from the start that I wanted to showcase sketches and include personal artist commentary, ensuring the book is not only great to look at, but one that can educate and inspire too." It will sell for about £45 (~$62 USD), but you can pre-order it online now for -£10 less and it will begin shipping at the end of the summer. And yes, it ships worldwide and features talented artists from around the world. Get a first look at the new book below.
Let them fight…! And then become best friends…! The moment I got this email, I knew I had to feature this book somehow. It's just the most adorable, cutest, funniest movie tie-in I've seen and I totally love it and I want everyone to get copies of it. So here we are! It's time for a contest! FirstShowing is proud to giveaway three copies of the new Godzilla vs. Kong tie-in kids book titled Godzilla vs. Kong: Sometimes Friends Fight: (But They Always Make Up). Yes, this is real, and if you don't win here you can easily get your own copy on Amazon or Bookshop or wherever books are sold near you. It has been a long time since we've hosted a contest, but this one is worth it. Especially because I can't wait to see Godzilla vs. Kong! It opens (in theaters + on HBO Max at the same time) very soon and it's going to be an epic rumble. More info below.
The fans were victorious. Zack Snyder's Justice League is finally upon us. After a four year journey that originated with director Zack Snyder departing the project due to a family tragedy, the four-hour superhero epic defied all odds and expectations and arrived streaming on HBO Max this past weekend (watch the final trailer again). No longer besmirched by Joss Whedon's neutered version of Justice League from 2017, Zack Snyder's Justice League (formerly known as "The Snyder Cut") restores his epic vision for the superhero film, and it is a victorious triumph for perseverance and for the vision of an auteur who never gave up.
Ohhh my Studio Ghibli, you make my heart flutter, always and forever. As part of promotion for the entire Studio Ghibli collection (sans Grave of the Fireflies) on HBO Max, the streaming service has made a video for YT that is nothing but – exactly as the title says – "30 Minutes of Relaxing Visuals from Studio Ghibli." And it's just heaven. I know, I know, it's just a YouTube promo and supercut of some of the most peaceful scenes from Ghibli films, but I love it anyway. And we all need some peace right now, with a tumultuous and deadly and deranged world out there. I have been collecting random tidbits of Ghibli art in folders on my computer for years, but this is a dream mashup - putting all the most beautiful shots into one calming video.