Movie Review: Waking Sleeping Beauty

Waking Sleeping Beauty

This afternoon I had the chance to see the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty, the directorial debut of Oscar-nominated Disney producer Don Hahn (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast). The film is an honest look at the behind the scenes going-ons of Disney Animation, from the years 1984 to 1994, a resurrection of sorts, producing a staggering output of big hits – Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King and more.

The film tracks the interesting tale is the story behind the creation of those films, and the growing power struggle between Jeffrey Katzenberg, Michael Eisner and Roy Disney. We learn about how creativity somehow thrived in this environment of corporate chaos. The film is not your typical talking head doc, and is wisely presented almost entirely using archival footage cut from over 250 hours of footage, photos, and cut with narration from newly recorded audio interviews. A lot of the footage has never been seen before, in any film or making of doc, ever.

Read More »

Movie Review: Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air

Up in the Air

Jason Reitman‘s Up in the Air was one of the sneak preview premieres at this year’s Telluride Film Festival. You might recall that Reitman’s last film Juno also surprised at Telluride, and Reitman was again hoping to start the buzz in this small mountain town. So did he? My thoughts after the jump.
Read More »

Up in the Air

I just got out of the special sneak preview premiere screening of Jason Reitman‘s third feature film Up in the Air, at the 36th Telluride Film Festival. In short, I loved it and it beat my expectations, which is saying a lot. My written review will be up later tonight, but right now you can check out this reaction/review video blog I recorded “up in the air” on the gondola with Eric Vespe (Quint of Ain’t It Cool News), and the usual video blog guest star Alex from FirstShowing. I also recorded a secondary video blog with Alex after the fact, also embedded below, as I felt there were a lot of things I was unable to say during the short gondola ride. Check out both clips after the jump.

Read More »

Fish Tank

So, I’ve been at the Telluride Film Festival for about 24 hours, and have found little time to post any updates. I’ve decided to record a quick video blog with Alex from FirstShowing while in line to get into the sneak preview premiere of Jason Reitman‘s Up in the Air. We talk about the hype going into Reitman’s third film, which is evidenced by the three plus hour long line. We also discuss two films we liked.

  • The first of which is the uk coming of age drama Fish Tank, directed by Andrea Arnold, who won an Academy Award for her 2003 short film Wasp.
  • The second of which is A Prophet (which I incorrectly call “The Prophet” in the video), a french crime film which can be simply described as “Scarface in a French Prison”.  The film won the Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes this year.

Both films are recommended, and the more I think about Fish Tank, the more I would love to see people discover this wonderful indie character drama. Watch the video blog embedded after the jump.

Read More »

Telluride Video Blog: Day 1 – The Arrival


Two plane rides and a two and a half hour car ride later, I’m in Telluride Colorado for the 36th Telluride Film Festival. I attempted to record a video blog on the car ride, but it became too dark too fast. So I instead recorded an introductory video blog on the gondola which takes us over the mountain and into downtown Telluride. Alex from FirstShowing joined me to provide a very simle overview as to what to expect. You also get a glimpse of my fear of heights, and an explanation of “the festival beard,” (partly inspired by Darren Aronofsky).

I’ll be recording video blogs throughout the festival, giving you some thoughts on the films playing at this year’s festival, and insight into the experience. I’ll also be trying to get other critics and filmmakers in front of the camera to join in on the fun. Who knows what will happen.
Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

36th Telluride Film Festival Lineup Announced


The neat thing about the Telluride Film Festival is that the films in play are kept unannounced until just as the fest is beginning. Even as the festival runs, more secret screenings are announced as the weekend rolls on. Peter is on his way up there right now, so it’s fitting that the lineup has just been announced. There’s a lot here that steals some thunder from TIFF, as Cannes notables like An Education, A Prophet and The White Ribbon are all in the lineup, alongside newer pics like Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. The full list, from the festival’s press release, is after the jump. Read More »

My 28 Day Movie Trip


Regular readers of /Film will remember that last year I took a 30-day trip, spanning 4 cities, 2 countries, 3 film festivals and over 70 movies. When I completed the journey, I told myself that I would never do the whole thing ever again. (not that I didn’t enjoy myself… it’s just 30 Days of movies and traveling is… well.. a lot)


The offer of donated couches and free floor space in which to crash is impossible to turn down (Thanks Neil and Liam!). I’m packing my bag for the 28-day trip which will span The Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, Toronto International Film Festival in Canada, and Fantastic Fest in Austin Texas (I can’t wait to return to the Alamo Drafthouse!). This year I’m planning to do a lot more video coverage, giving you a better look at the whole experience. There are some potentially wonderful films scheduled to premiere, some fantastic interviews scheduled, and I can’t wait to share the whole experience with you guys.

Read More »


Jason Reitman, director of Thank You For Smoking and Juno, joined Twitter a few days ago to provide a few updates about his post-production work on the forthcoming Up in the Air, starring George Clooney. “A brief chronicle of my attempt to finish my film in time for the Toronto Film Festival,” he calls it. (I’m continually pleased by the evolving capabilities of the Internet to allow me to observe creators at work while making me feel as is I’m working at the same time.) So while the film may well still have a December release date, it could well premiere at Toronto (editors note: or sneak premiere at Telluride), just like Juno did.

The two posts that followed had some good, if brief info. First, that he’s nearly done with the first edit, which currently clocks at 2’04”. (Though I generally hate even reporting this; anyone who isn’t a distributor or exhibitor shouldn’t care about running time before seeing the movie.) The other is that Shadowplay, the outfit that animated the titles to his first two features, is doing the same for Up in the Air. Read More »

I had the opportunity to sit down one on one with director Danny Boyle at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. We talked about his new film, Slumdog Millionaire, which hit theaters this week in some markets. I even got a chance to ask him about a third film in the 28 Days Later series.

Peter Sciretta: I had talked to you before this film became such a film festival success. Everybody seems to love it.

Danny Boyle: I feel a little bit numb really, you know. It was like four weeks ago we were dead and buried in Central North America really. We were dead and you couldn’t really see any way out of it because Warner Bros is a big studio. They don’t know how to release this kind of film. And then we had the grace, thank God, to show it to Peter Rice who was like, “Fox Searchlight are the experts”. You couldn’t dream of somebody like that to release this kind of film. And they put it in Telluride, in [Toronto] and you get the kind of responses that we’ve had. It’s unbelievable really, and it’s a funny place, India, making the film there. These kind of things happen and there is a kind of reason that they happen. And you can’t quite explain — and you sound like a bit of a hippie idiot when you start going on about it, but there is– it’s bizarre the way it works.

Peter Sciretta: So as they say “it’s written.”

Danny Boyle: [Laughs] Well, that’s what I mean. It’s really weird. And it’s happened on a number of occasions to us throughout the making of the film. And you have to be prepared for it. You have to be relaxed and actually accept your destiny is going to be written in a funny kind of way. Rather than going around screaming and shouting about, blaming people and all these kind of things. You have to relax and trust that you’ve been honest and respectful in a way that you’ve made the film, and that it’ll find it’s way. And so far it seems to be doing that thank God, yeah. So it’s weird, very weird. So hence, I feel a bit numb. I’m not quite sure, I kind of feel a bit dazzled really, and I shouldn’t be.

Peter Sciretta: When I first heard about the film, the only thing that really attracted me to it was your name. Because at first glance, the concept of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire

Danny Boyle: Yeah, I felt the same way about that show. Yeah, I thought, I don’t want to film about that show. It’s like I don’t know whether I like that show, I don’t think I do. I know when I watch it, it’s kind of compulsive viewing and there’s something vile about it and– but there’s also something wonderful about it which is why it’s a huge success around the world. And the great thing about it is you can tell the underdog story through it, because– and obviously that’s what we use it for is a device by which an underdog, a guy who apparently has nothing, climbs this ladder, apparently, and you climb it with him. And some of the questions and answers you can work out, and some of them are guesses. But because he’s got that relaxed thing I was talking about, about the beginning, about being kind of– he’s got that as well because his agenda for being on the show isn’t just to win the money, it’s something else as well. And because he’s after that, he’s kind of like, “Okay, I’ll guess,” and he gets it right. Anyway…

Peter Sciretta: So you had hesitations going in to this. What made you choose this project?

Read More »

TIFF Review: The Brothers Bloom

One of the reasons why I love The Brothers Bloom, is because the film cons the audience. The Brothers Bloom is a story about two brothers, disguised as a love story, disguised as a con movie. The perfect con is where everyone involved gets what they wanted. By the time the credits roll, you will be happy to have experienced a film you weren’t expecting.

The Brothers Bloom have been in the con game since they were young children. Now, along with their speechless explosive expert sidekick Bang Bang, have become the best con team in the world. Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) writes his cons “like dead Russians write novels, full of thematic arks and symbolism.” Now in his 30’s, Bloom (Adrien Brody) wants out of the Con game, hoping to live a real story for a change. But he is lured into one last con, to trick an eccentric shut-in rich woman named Penelope Stamp (Rachel Weisz), out of millions of dollars. But when Bloom falls for the mark, the con begins to unravel.

Comically absurd and fantastically fun, The Brothers Bloom is like a film from another era in another dimension. Weisz is wonderfully cute, and Ruffalo tells a story “so well that it becomes real.” The only problem with Rian Johnson’s follow-up to 2005’s critically acclaimed high school noir indie Brick, is that it is hard to resist comparing it to the filmmakers triumphant directorial debut. And it would be extremely unfair to compare the two films.

Johnson will likely draw comparisons to Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson. For example, the opening narration is done by Ricky Jay, who also provided the incredible bookend narration for PTA’s Magnolia. Johnson’s use of the swish pan, sharply cut montages, the core brother story, and cast of quirky characters is reminiscent of Wes Anderson. If you’re going to be compared to anyone, Anderson and Anderson are certainly good company. Johnson brings to the table absurd comic moments, sharp and stylish dialogue, and a story with more twists and turns than an elaborate card trick. While Weisz is juggling chainsaws on top of a unicycle, you will believe a lie can tell the truth.

/Film Rating: 8 out of 10