Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we dip our toe in the Israeli/Palestinian situation, see if a faux doc is worth your time, go on a head case with a first time director, see what Jean-Luc Godard is up to these days (nudity, apparently) and follow one dude on a magical night of shenanigans.

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Who doesn’t love the inexplicable, transportative moviegoing experience? I remember seeing Wim Wenders’ documentary about Cuban music, Buena Vista Social Club, and floating on that one for days. I thought I was going to see a concert film, but it took me to a place I’d never been before and did it in a unique way.

I’m also a tremendous science fiction fan, as this is the safest way, usually, to get audiences in “the zone.” (note – I hate the expression “the zone,” but sometimes cliches, even if they are the names of fad diets, work best.) When a movie dabbles on the edge of sci-fi and is able to take you in unexpected directions, that’s when I really start to get excited.

This week, taking a break from some of the more clear cut categories (e.g. “World War II movies”) I’d like to offer up some examples of movies that you wouldn’t at first consider as science fiction, but still take on (for me) the properties of good sci-fi. Some actually try to “pass” as sci-fi without any of the usual techniques (more on this in a bit) and some do precisely the reverse: have such a remarkable texture that they seem otherworldly.

Maybe this category is too heady or only makes sense to me. At the very least, I’m going to recommend eight titles you may want to check out. And no, I’m not including Tree of Life because that just came out! But I think you may have a sense of where I’m headed with this. . . Read More »

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

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LOL: If Filmmakers Directed The Super Bowl

Slate has put together a video which shows us what it might be like if filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, Wes Anderson, and Jean-Luc Godard directed the Super Bowl. Sadly, they didn’t include versions by Michael Bay or Steven Spielberg. Also, am I the only one who thinks they get the Tarantino one all wrong? Watch the video embedded after the jump.

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The list of filmmakers who will be awarded honorary Oscars this year has been released, and it’s a good one. Francis Ford Coppola will receive the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, given to “a creative producer whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production.”

Jean-Luc Godard, Eli Wallach and film historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow (track down his book The Parade’s Gone By if you have even a passing interest in silent film) will all receive honorary Oscar statues, given each year to individuals for their ““extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.” Read More »

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