Beyoncé knocked the wind out of the Internet when she dropped her nearly hour-long visual album Lemonade on HBO this past Saturday night, April 23rd. The inspired film is a remarkable piece to be sure--even for the Queen Bee herself. And while everything from the sound design to the collective creative direction from the team of filmmakers, editors and art department is exceptional, much of the receptive chatter online has instead circled around the implied infidelity that spurs the narrative of Lemonade; the idea that hubby Jay Z did Beyoncé wrong with a certain "Becky with the good hair." Which is too bad; that's the kind of fodder for tabloids and it marginalizes how much great film art is packed into this thing.
So, as a reactionary cinephile, I thought I'd redirect the public's attention to the striking images that Lemonade presents, the ideas behind them and, more pointedly, where these vignettes drew inspiration from. In contrast to the possible off-screen…
"Sooner or later, your past catches up to you." That's the tagline Disney is going with for their live-action Winnie the Pooh movie Christopher Robin, starring Ewan McGregor. While watching the teaser trailer (which debuted today) and getting my first look at a real life Winnie the Pooh talking bear, I couldn't help but be reminded of Seth MacFarlane's Ted, the R-rated comedy which featured a protagonist who's a foul-mouthed talking teddy bear. Ironically enough, MacFarlane's talking bear Ted has a much more cuddly and lovable look to him. Disney decided to give Winnie the Pooh a crude and homely-looking appearance -- not exactly what you'd expect for their intended child audience. So I decided to create this mashup trailer, which rewrites Christopher Robin's (McGregor) backstory to suggest that Ted was his original bear and he just sewed up the teddy bear's parts to look like Winnie the Pooh.
Talk about your past catching up to you! Watch my…
"He's making all this up as he goes along." NOTE: I was fortunate enough to attend a rare 70mm screening of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master on Thursday August 16, 2012 at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. In attendance were writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson and one of the film's actors, Kevin J. O'Connor (both of whom are pictured with mehere).
The key to the success of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master doesn't come in its mammoth achievement of being shot on 70mm film or its carefully constructed parallel origin story of L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology practices. Rather, that success is embedded in an intimate scene: a single shot close-up on alcoholic war veteran Freddie Sutton (an unforgettable Joaquin Phoenix) during a "process of time" session with Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman in prime Hubbard form). Up until this scene, the character of Freddie dutifully performed the task of delivering the film's dark lau…
The latest trailer for Steven Spielberg's upcoming futuristic epic Ready Player One (based on the popular sci-fi novel by Ernest Cline) gets the Willy Wonka treatment with an updated cover of the song "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. IMDb provides a synopsis for Spielberg's film:
"When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. Wade Watts finds the first clue and starts a race for the Egg."
Tye Sheridan (The Tree of Life) stars as Wade Watts, along with a cast that includes Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom) and Lena Waithe (Master of None). Previous teasers for Ready Player One showed us popular screen characters like The Iron Giant, The Joker and Freddy Krueger. This latest trailer gives us exciting glimpses of King Kong, the Spartans from Halo and the T-Rex from Jurassic Park. Check out…
Anyone who tells you that 2013 wasn't a spectacular year for movies is either lying through their teeth or is someone who spent most of the year cooped up in their apartment watching episodic television on Netflix. Here go the 30 best films of the year.
30. Fruitvale Station - Directed by Ryan Coogler
29. Post Tenebras Lux - Directed by Carlos Reygadas
28. Side Effects - Directed by Steven Soderbergh
27. Room 237 - Directed by Rodney Ascher
26. Before Midnight - Directed by Richard Linklater
25. Lenny Cooke - Directed by Joshua and Ben Safdie
24. The Place Beyond The Pines - Directed by Derek Cianfrance
23. Blue Jasmine - Directed by Woody Allen
22. Nebraska - Directed by Alexander Payne
21. Mud - Directed by Jeff Nichols
20. Gravity - Directed Alfonso Cuarón
19. The End of Love - Directed by Mark Webber
18. American Hustle - Directed by David O. Russell
17. Inside Llewyn Davis - Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
16. Her - Directed by Spike Jonze
15. 12 Years A Slave - Directed by …
Some people should never get married. Likewise, some people should never become parents. Crudely enough, the protagonists of Andrey Zvyagintsev's new film Loveless fit both of those descriptions. The Leviathan helmer returns with another bleak and unflinchingly honest portrayal of family dysfunction and social politics. Loveless is also a commentary on modern Moscow. Zvyagintsev uses the car radio as the film's cultural master of ceremonies, informing the audience of the state of Russia, the political climate and expected societal norms. In fact, the only other time the car radio isn't used for exposition, is when a character turns it into an aural weapon to antagonize another character, by blaring loud metal rock during an inappropriate time. The coal-hearted characters in Loveless listen to the radio, but hardly to each other.
Early in the film we learn that Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Aleksey Rozin) are in the final steps of finalizing their divorce. While Zheny…
Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida tells the quietly haunting story of a young nun named Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) who sets out to find her family origins in 1960s Poland. At the beginning of the film, the once-orphaned Anna learns that she still has one living relative: her aunt Wanda Gruz (Agata Kulesza), a revered court judge in the city. As Anna sets out on her journey of self-discovery, Pawlikowski, and cinematographers Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal, announce their visual strategy for conveying their protagonist's hopeless and essentially powerless role in the world: by dwarfing the screen figure of Anna with a maximum amount of screen headroom.
Look at how the following shot makes Anna look insignificant against the towering institution of the convent.
In the city, Anna meets her aunt Wanda and there Anna learns that her real name is Ida Lebenstein. After Wanda tells Ida of her parents' horrific death during WWII, the pair set off to find out what exactly happened and perh…
“Making videos becomes a way for someone to make sense of what they experience.”
That line, as said by Kevin B. Lee in his new collaborative video essay with Chloé Galibert-Laîné, pretty much sums up the motivation behind every Video Essayist. It's the spur behind every idea for a montage, mashup or academic act of image prodding that results in a video essay.
In Lee and Galibert-Laîné's new video essay "Reading // Binging // Benning" (commissioned by the International Film Festival Rotterdam), the pair employ the desktop documentary genre that Lee made popular with his sensational Transformers: The Premaketo make a case on how to present a film neither of them have seen -- Readers by James Benning -- to a crowd of people (i.e. an audience at IFFR).
Watch their illuminating and perfectly paced video essay below.
Yesterday we learned that the brilliant and world-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76. In the early 1960s, Hawking developed an early form of motor neurone disease, debilitating and paralyzing him throughout the decades. However, he did not let such a devastating physical disability stop him from becoming a truly iconic figure, thinker and leader in the sciences, and in specific, cosmology.
Hawking's built a legacy of scientific works, breakthroughs and publications throughout his academic career but it was his best selling book "A Brief History of Time" that caught the eye of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (Oscar winner for The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara). Morris' doc A Brief History of Time looks at the impressive life and work of Hawking, told in the signature way that only Morris can, all scored to a soundtrack composed by Philip Glass. While the film is available on Blu-r…
The protagonist of Estonian filmmaker Rainer Sarnet's Where Souls Go (from 2007), a fifteen-year-old girl named Ann, sets the plot in motion when she visits a satanist's website and says a prayer (in an effort to seek solutions) that inadvertently gives her newborn stepbrother a heart disease. Ann also has a poster for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on her bedroom wall, prominent in many shots of the film. This image is a strong representation of Sarnet's interests: to acknowledge how fantasy (with its mythical creatures and wish-granting powers) shares an overlap with hell (and its evil incarnates). Considering this, it's no wonder that Sarnet chose to adapt Andrus Kivirähk's novel "Rehepapp," which focuses on 19th-century Estonian village peasants and the dead souls that lurk in the forest, for his latest film November.
How can I best describe November? Well, it's as if Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon was re-constructed by Salv…