There’s a vast difference between simply making a movie and taking the time to develop a new idea to make a movie about. It’s the difference between franchises releasing a new sequel every year, and the work of Spike Jonze, a filmmaker who up to this point has only made three movies in 15 years. His fourth film, Her, is the director’s first original screenplay. It’s everything you’d hope for from the mad genius who brought to life Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where the Wild Things Are.
Her is a dramatic sci-fi romance about a man named Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his artificially intelligent computer operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). It’s a simple, yet brilliant conceit realized with depth and emotion, two rare traits in mainstream cinema. The depth comes from Jonze’s ideas about technological dependence and loneliness, and the emotion is conveyed as the film raises questions about what it means to love and our capacity to do so. It’s a film that’ll both spark intelligent debate and plenty of tears.
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Michael Haneke‘s latest film Amour (aka Love) is probably the saddest happy movie ever made. It tells the harrowing story of an elderly couple’s long time love for each other and how their bond is tested when one of them falls incredibly ill. Depressing? More than you can imagine. But Haneke’s realism and the unbelievable performances of his leads, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, somehow takes terrible pain and transforms it into an affirmation of life.
Audacious in its attempt to make opposite ends of the emotional spectrum into perfect complements, Amour is a true feat that’s not to be missed. The film won the Palme D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and just played AFI Fest presented by Audi. Read more after the jump. Read More »
The ABCs of Death is an anthology comprised of twenty-six vile, disgusting, hilarious, sometimes fantastic, and other times forgettable horror shorts. Individual directors each paired a letter of the alphabet with a way someone can die, and every possible option was on the table, no matter how offensive or gory.
Predictably, the results are equal to the imaginations and skills of each director. Some episodes look gorgeous with innovative, shocking and exciting ideas executed beautifully. Others are simple and clean, and work just right. Then there are films that don’t do much with their concept and lay there. Along the way, the constant excitement and anticipation of which filmmaker is next and what their death might be provides a worthy propulsive energy in the absence of a narrative. But when one of the films lays an egg, it hurts everyone else around it.
The ABC’s of Death hits VOD January 31 and theaters March 8, but it just screened at the AFI Fest Presented by Audi. Read more after the jump. Read More »
On the Road is one of those books people live their life by. It changes perception. People read and reread it, discuss its particulars, and keep a copy in their luggage when they decide to act on its inspiration and go on a trip just like the characters Dean Moriarty, Sal Paradise and Marylou. Most of the time filming a work of literary genius like that is near impossible, especially one that lacks a traditional narrative structure. The film version of On the Road just about gets it right.
Director Walter Salles and screenwriter Jose Rivera have done as good a job of translating Kerouac’s tone and pace as possible with On the Road. Starring Garrett Hedlund (in the role of his career), Kristen Stewart, Sam Riley and featuring supporting performances by Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Elizabeth Moss, Kirsten Dunst and others, the film echoes the free and easy tone defined by the book, filled with travel, drugs, sex, and philosophy. The question is: does that make for an entertaining film? The answer is complicated.
On the Road opens on December 21, but recently played as part of the AFI Fest Presented by Audi. Read more below.
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John Dies at the End, which is director Don Coscarelli‘s take on the wacky, cult novel by David Wong, is incredibly entertaining for the sake of being entertaining. Featuring huge monsters, metaphysical conversations, pop culture-based humor, hilarious performances and big action scenes with flame throwers, explosions, and bullet time, you’d be hard pressed to be bored by the picture. Unfortunately, all of that promise and entertainment value feels wasted because the film has very little to say, and is capped with a slightly disappointing payoff.
John Dies at the End comes on demand December 27 and in theaters January 26, but recently screed at the AFI Fest presented by Audi. Read more below. Read More »
Each fall, it seems like there’s a film festival every single week. Toronto, Telluride, Fantastic Fest and New York are just four of the bigger ones we cover on this site. But smaller festivals abound too, each filled with so many movies it’s hard to keep track. Thankfully, in Los Angeles, we have a fantastic fest ourselves that serves both as a wrap up to the Fall and kick off to award season. It’s the AFI Fest Presented by Audi.
This year, the fest takes place November 1 through 8 in Hollywood, California, at the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Chinese 6 Theatres, the Egyptian Theatre and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It kicks off with Hitchcock, ends with Lincoln, and will also feature Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Holy Motors, The Impossible, Room 237, On the Road, Rise of the Guardians, Quartet, West of Memphis, Rust and Bone, The Central Park Five and more. Much more. Those are only the Gala Screenings, Centerpiece Screenings and Special Screenings.
And the best part? They’re all free. Read more after the jump. Read More »
It’s difficult to decide which aspect of My Week With Marilyn is its best asset. The film provides an insider look at movie history, gives interesting insight into legendary personalities, has magnificent performances and a wonderful score. Nope, it’s none of those things. The best thing about My Week With Marilyn, Simon Curtis‘ delightful snapshot of Hollywood history, is how it gives audience the ultimate wish-fulfillment. We get to experience what it would be like to do something we’ve all dreamed of: spend a day with the most beautiful and famous person on the planet.
Scheduled for release November 23, it’s based on the true diaries of a young man named Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) who talked his way into a job with Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and, while shooting the film The Prince and the Showgirl, developed a unique relationship with the most famous woman in the world: Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams).
My Week With Marilyn screened at the AFI Fest Presented by Audi and you can read more about it below. Read More »
In the past several years, Luc Besson‘s name attached to a movie usually meant two things: he didn’t direct it and it’s a cheesy action film. Since The Fifth Element in 1997, Besson has directed a few films, but he’s produced many more and it felt like the man who made Leon: The Professional and La Femme Nikita was just waiting for some inspiration. Maybe he was waiting for Aung San Suu Kyi.
A Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of a Burmese General who was murdered in 1947, eventually leading to the military taking control of the country. Years later she left Burma to go to school but in 1988, after marrying a foreigner and having two sons in Oxford, she returned and immediately took her father’s place as the head of a pro-Democracy movement in the beautiful but violently oppressed country. Over twenty years and several terrible hardships later, she’s still struggling today.
This is the story of The Lady, and it’s a return to form for a more mature Besson. It’s not flashy, it’s not action-packed, it’s just Michelle Yeoh as Suu Kyi, David Thewlis as her husband Michael (and his twin brother) and one of the most incredible true stories of standing up against evil imaginable. The film recently played at the AFI Fest Presented by Audi, opens on December 2 and you can read more after the jump. Read More »
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