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"A journey should always be mysterious…" One of the best films of 2014 is Birdman, the fifth feature from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, following up Biutiful four years ago. Birdman premiered at the Venice Film Festival and Telluride Film Festivals, and will also play at the New York Film Festival before landing in theaters this October. After catching the premiere up in the mountains in Telluride (my review), I met up with Iñárritu for a 15 minute chat about all things: from life to filmmaking to laughter to turning 50 and the lessons he has learned. It happens to be one of the best chats I've had with a filmmaker, and it's rejuvenating to listen to him talk. "If you don't do something that does not terrify you, why do it?"
Meet Xavier Dolan from Quebec, Canada. He's currently 25 years old with five films under his belt, four of them premiering at the Cannes Film Festival. I've been following Xavier closely since catching Heartbeats, his second film, at Cannes back in 2010. At Cannes this year he premiered Mommy, an exhilarating story of a mother and her troubled son and the relationship they strike up with their neighbor (watch the trailer that we're quoted in here). I loved the film, one of my favorites this year, and have been looking forward to meeting Xavier. What would he be like in person? Could I get honest answers out of him? (The answer: yes.) He lets loose in this two-part 20 min chat about making movies, his cinematic style, and career as an actor.
Out under the stars, breathing quietly, staring up in awe wishing they'd never go away… Aw yes, Telluride. I've spent the last five days in the mountains of Colorado at the Telluride Film Festival reminiscing with friends and colleagues every night over whether I should just drop everything, stay here, and move in. It's so damn beautiful. But besides all the stunning nature surrounding us, we're all here for cinema, for the love of film and the power it has to inspire us, transform us, define us, and entertain us. It always ends too quickly (one weekend is not enough!) and suddenly just like that it's over, I'm headed back to New York City for a few days before continuing up to Toronto for TIFF. What films did I see and love this year? Let's find out.
When we look back on our lives, there are always key individuals who have an immeasurable influence on us. Not just our family (and relatives), but friends, mentors, teachers, those with learned wisdom to impart and lessons to teach. If they say the right things they can alter our destiny forever, or remind us why/how life is worth living in the midst of the constant stress and chaos of this world. Seymour: An Introduction is a documentary by actor Ethan Hawke introducing us to his inspiration - the piano legend Seymour Bernstein, who is such a humble, charming, considerate man. This wonderful doc spends intimate time with him, showing us his own history, who he is, and how much the emotion of music is important to life.
Does our ego control us, or do we control our ego? Where can it/where does it take us? Will we fly or will we fall? Alejandro González Iñárritu's latest film Birdman is easily lovable for many reasons - from its honest characters and original story to the technical prowess behind the lens and many layers of its style. It's also one of those films where there are so many moments, so many lines, so many scenes where as soon as I've watched them, I want to pause, rewind, and watch them again to delve deeper into the context. Birdman is a sensational, extraordinary creation of artistic elegance that examines the great struggle of growing older.
You never know who will change the world, it might be someone we can't imagine. There's nothing like that feeling of euphoria after sitting through an outstanding film, one that surpasses expectations and provides so much more on top of any/everything one could imagine. That's how I felt at the end of The Imitation Game, a film by Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) about British mathematician Alan Turing, who helped crack the uncrackable Engima code during World War II. The film tells his life story jumping between his youth, his work during WWII, and time after when he was prosecuted for "indecency" because he was "a homosexual". It's an exceptionally compelling film lead by remarkable performances.
Premiering at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival is Jon Stewart's Rosewater, his directorial debut based on a true story he was involved in about Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, played by Gael García Bernal. The film tells a rather straightforward version of the story, focusing on the weeks leading up to and surrounding Bahari's arrest, eventually leading to his time in prison. While the film has some impressive creative choices (including a hashtag moment and some other sleek visuals) it's obviously made by a first-time director, and lacks a bit of the nuances that more experienced directors include. That said, its heart is in the right place.
Over the mountains, and into Telluride. Here we go again. I'm back in Colorado, where I grew up as a kid (I now live in New York City) for my seventh time back to the Telluride Film Festival. The line-up has been unveiled (view the selections in full here), and I can't wait to start watching films. I'm always intrigued by Telluride keeping the line-up a secret until the day before the fest and I was curious how things would shake up with TIFF and Venice complaining about world premieres this time. Why does there have to be so much fighting over what to call a premiere? I'm just here to see good films. Premiere or not, I want to be moved.
"You have a real weapon and you choose not to use it." Though he's better known for his sense of humor covering the week's headlines in politics and world affairs, comedian Jon Stewart is getting deadly serious with his directorial debut, a drama called Rosewater. In the film Gael Garcia Bernal plays journalist Maziar Bahari, a Tehran born man who returned to Iran in 2009 to interview Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who was the challenger to president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But following his shooting coverage of the protests after Ahmadinejad's victory before the polls even closed, Bahari was arrested by police, tortured and interrogated for 118 days as a spy. Now the trailer has arrived and it looks powerful and superb. Watch now!
We're well into June which means, yep, it's already time to start thinking about the fall film festival season. One of the festivals that I'm always anxious to return to is the Telluride Film Festival, entering its 41st year after a rather incredible 40th edition last year (with Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and more). The festival has just revealed its official 2014 poster designed by artist Christian Marclay, featuring ransom-note-like random letters and a collection of film strips. It's an impressive and bold design, I really dig it, so I thought it would be worth sharing as the first reminder that Telluride (and TIFF and Fantastic Fest) are coming up.