ENJOY THE SHOW
Over the last 12 months, I've seen more than 125 new releases — that's over ten days in total spent watching movies — and I'm happy to report that it's been another exceptional year at the multiplex. This year, we got to see vital new work from visionary filmmakers like Bong Joon-ho, Martin Scorsese, Greta Gerwig, Quentin Tarantino, Jordan Peele, Lulu Wang, and Shin'ichirô Ueda, whose zombie comedy One Cut of the Dead is one of the most unique and refreshingly original horror movies of the year. We witnessed great performances from Awkwafina, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Eddie Murphy, Florence Pugh, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lopez, and Adam Sandler. And we were all left in awe by stunning cinematic art like 1917, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and The Lighthouse – works of impeccable craftsmanship by the cinematographers, production designers, and costume designers alike.
"We've been down this road before…" It's here! One of the annual must-see best of the year 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 in a video edited together with footage and music from each of the films. This is such an entertaining way to count down the best cinema of 2019, and it always makes me want to watch each one of these (even the ones I've seen already). His choices this year are all over the place - from Knives Out to Parasite to Ad Astra (really?) to The Beach Bum - and I'm always curious to see his picks. There are so many wonderful films this year, from all over the world, many of the very best ones to watch are in his video.
"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.
"When I met you, it was like, you weren't scared of anything." The fall festival season has begun! What are the best of the films I've seen so far? While the Toronto Film Festival is still underway, the 2019 Venice Film Festival has wrapped up. All the big awards were handed out over the weekend (and Joker won the Golden Lion!) and things are settling down after 11 days of excitement. To recap my experiences watching 25 films at the festival this year, below I present my list of my Top 5 Favorite Films from the 76th Venice Film Festival. These are my favorite films, not necessarily the best ones at the 2019 festival, but the films that I enjoyed the most - for various reasons. As always, I can't see everything at the festival, and not everyone will enjoy the same films, but I'm happy to report that most of my colleagues felt the same way about these five.
Teaser mania! Creating and premiering a perfect teaser trailer is an art. Or at least, it used to be, a long lost art that Hollywood doesn't seem to care much about anymore. There are a few exceptions - Christopher Nolan's teaser trailers still have an art to them, showing little (or sometimes no footage) yet still making us excited for what's to come. Our friend Anton Volkov recently wrote an article wondering if teaser trailers are dying out, saying: "in today's age of spoiler paranoia, one would think that these more-restrained looks at upcoming films would be more beneficial, as more audiences start to care about not having their experience of seeing the full film for the first time ruined." Teasers had their golden age in the 1980s, and that lasted through the 1990s, too. Recently a number of teasers only available on 35mm or on VHS have appeared on YouTube, and below we've featured 12 of them you must see for yourself. A look back at Hollywood history.
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.
"I had lunch with Scacchi and Makavejev at that 1985 festival, playing the fly on the wall while they tested each other. Their conversation was a sparring match that suggested they had fought great battles on the set of The Coca-Cola Kid, while still remaining friends. We were sitting on a balcony at the Martinez." To celebrate my 10th time attending the Cannes Film Festival this year, I held a small contest to giveaway 10 copies of Roger Ebert's classic book about his experiences at the festival. The book, titled "Two Weeks in the Midday Sun: A Cannes Notebook", is one of my favorite books about cinema that I've ever read. He wrote little notes, drew sketches, and essentially "blogged" about his time at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival - it's stirring and entertaining to see how much his stories mirror my own experiences. I wanted to share this little-known book with other cinephiles and gave out 10 copies to people I met with during the 2019 festival.
I'm celebrating my 10th year attending the Cannes Film Festival, after first coming here in 2009. I love this festival, and I always love coming back, and I always say this every year. But this year, in honor of my 10th time here, I've decided to do something special. I'm giving away 10 copies of the classic Ebert book: "Two Weeks in the Midday Sun: A Cannes Notebook". Ebert wrote this book while at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival and it was first published later that year. It became lost in time, until I was introduced to it before coming to Cannes in 2014. I wrote a series of blog posts that year referencing this book and mirroring my own experiences. And I've never forgotten about it. The book was republished (with a new intro by Martin Scorsese!) a few years back and is now widely available (check Amazon) in case you want to read it yourself.
"All I want is for people to understand the human implications." Some may known him as Bill S. Preston, Esq. Others may known him as the director of the acclaimed technology documentaries Downloaded, Deep Web, The Panama Papers, and Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain. His name is Alex Winter (you can follow him on Twitter @Winter), and he's an actor, a writer, a filmmaker, a producer, a journalist, and much more. I have become a big fan of Winter's documentaries over the years, he's one of a few filmmakers who actually understands the internet, and presents it in an intelligent and digestible way. Last year, two of his new documentaries premiered - The Panama Papers, about all the journalists who reported on the Panama Papers leak; and Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain, about the origins and implications of blockchain (aka encrypted digital distributed ledgers), the latest technology fad that's sweeping the world.
The 2019 Sundance Film Festival has finally come to an end and to put a wrap on the fest and finalize our nearly two weeks of coverage, it's time to present our Best of the Fest list. I was able to see a total of 44 films across 10 days, but I couldn't catch everything and missed a few films getting lots of good buzz from critics (e.g. The Souvenir, Them That Follow, Queen of Hearts, Monos). I saw around 12 documentaries this year, so instead of separating docs and features this year, I decided to present one big list of my 8 favorite films - a mix of docs and features. All of these films below are worth seeing, and I highly recommend seeking them out. I am so happy that Sundance continues to program some of the best films all year, as well as more innovative, unique, challenging, fascinating, and enchanting features from all over the world. Below are my favorites, the films that stuck with me and have remained on my mind throughout the festival. Let's dive in.