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19 articles

Review: ‘Only the Brave’ Depicts Tragedy with Realistic Bravado

1 hour ago

The word hero seems to be mentioned a great deal in this age of the 24-hour news cycle, but the members of the Granite Mountain “Hotshots” genuinely deserve to be known as such. They were the best at what they did. This bunch of regular, but courageous firefighters were more than just co-workers: they were a brotherhood that continuously risked their lives trying to contain fast-spreading wildfires. As part of the Prescott Fire Fepartment, which consisted of 92 career personnel, split among five fire stations, this municipal team of “hotshots” — which, in firefighting terms, means the cream of the crop — were the elites of their profession.

Containment is what these brave men and women have as a goal whenever a fire spreads. As a character in the film would say, they are “fighting fire with fire.” This happens with the creation of a fireline, which is accomplished by doing a controlled »

- The Film Stage

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‘Princess Cyd’ Trailer: Meet One of 2017’s Most Beautiful Films

16 hours ago

There are few directors working today that love their characters more than Stephen Cone. After reaching a wider audience with one of 2015’s best films, Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party, he’s returning this year with Princess Cyd. Following a 16-year-old’s summer in Chicago, where she clashes and connects with her aunt and learns more about her own sexuality and faith, the first trailer has landed. Also, if you’re in NYC and have yet to see Cone’s film, a retrospective will be held at the Museum of Moving Image from November 3-12.

In a rare A-grade review for Princess Cyd, we said, “Watching his films, one gets a sense that he doesn’t use the medium simply to tell stories but to exercise his curiosity and discover the things that make us human. In the hands of another filmmaker, Princess Cyd‘s two leads would’ve been »

- Jordan Raup

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Peer Through Cinema History with New Documentary on Magnum Photos

19 hours ago

When one conjures iconic memories from cinema history, they might be of your favorite shot or sequence, but my mind often travels to behind-the-scenes photos featuring director, cast, crew, and beyond.

These photographs often have a unifying connection: they come from Magnum Photos. Since 1947, the photographic cooperative — founded by such iconic names as Robert Capa amd Henri Cartier-Bresson — has been responsible for legendary images and now they deservedly are the subject of a documentary.

Directed by Sophie Bassaler, Cinema Through the Eye of Magnum, premiered at Telluride last month and will be debut on FilmStruck this Friday. Along the documentary, they will also be streaming a selection of short films each featuring a different photographer, as well as The Misfits and Voyage to Italy, both featured in the film.

We’re pleased to exclusively debut a clip from the documentary, along with a gallery of Magnum images, which can be seen below. »

- Jordan Raup

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Louis C.K. Invites Controversy in First Trailer for ‘I Love You, Daddy’

23 hours ago

Marking Louis C.K.’s first feature film in 16 years — since his rather infamous Pootie Tang — I Love You, Daddy was filmed under the radar and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last month. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Pamela Adlon, John Malkovich, Rose Byrne, Charlie Day, and Helen Hunt, the story finds C.K. — no stranger to courting controversy — depicting a relationship with a 17-year-old and a 68-year-old filmmaker. Ahead of a release next month, the first trailer has now arrived.

“C.K. has proven to be one of TV’s best directors with Louie and Horace and Pete, but his adept camera work is absent here. Worse is the total absence of one of his greatest strengths: his willingness to use silence at length for both dramatic and comedic heft,” we said in our review. “Nothing here feels motivated; the movie uses a big orchestral score because the old movies did, »

- Jordan Raup

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Recommended New Books on Filmmaking: ‘Dunkirk,’ Stan Brakhage, ‘Valerian,’ and More

18 October 2017 5:43 AM, PDT

It’s time to catch up with some of the most interesting cinema-centric books of the last few months, and it’s a diverse list. There’s some Lego, some Nolan, some Star Wars (of course), and even some vintage Stan Brakhage. That’s range.

Off the Cliff: Making of Thelma & Louise by Becky Aikman (Penguin Press)

The career of Ridley Scott is full of peaks and valleys. One of the peaks was the release of Thelma & Louise in 1991. The cultural impact of this story of two female outlaws cannot be overstated, and Becky Aikman’s account of the making of the film helps explain why. Thelma & Louise involved a unique cast of characters, including stars Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, as well as a young hunk named Brad Pitt. But the most memorable figures here are Scott, who knew his career needed a change but could not originally see »

- Christopher Schobert

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Jean-Luc Godard’s Bewitchingly Self-Reflexive Midlife Crisis

18 October 2017 5:42 AM, PDT

Emerging from his politically radical period of low-budget, didactic political commentaries with revolutionary overtones, produced primarily on 16mm or tape for television broadcast, prolific French avant-garde iconoclast Jean-Luc Godard unexpectedly returned to commercial filmmaking with Every Man for Himself, finding reinvention in the age of video — a new formal frontier for the now-middle-aged provocateur. Godard’s star-studded return to more conventional cinemas, featuring Isabelle Huppert, Nathalie Baye, and Jacques Dutronc as Paul Godard (of course), a loathsome filmmaker humiliated by having been reduced to working for a TV studio, though shy of being considered a phenomenon in France or elsewhere, was well-publicized worldwide. Uncharacteristically, the aging filmmaker promoted the film extensively, pensively referring to it as his “second first film,” a somewhat deadpan admission that, to begin again, he had to shed the baggage of his underground period. Through this mainstream amelioration began a self-reflective period of filmmaking, reverse-engineering his formal fascinations — disruptive non-linear editing, »

- The Film Stage

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François Ozon on the Playfulness of ‘L’amant double,’ Criticism, and Jury Fights

18 October 2017 5:42 AM, PDT

Ever since making his feature debut with the darkly comical Sitcom, French writer/director François Ozon has been making the world feeling horny and shocked with his films, often at the same time. With a body of work that also includes Water Drops on Burning Rocks, Under the Sand, In the House and the glorious one-two punch of 8 Women and Swimming Pool, you’d think the prolific provocateur might soon be running out of tricks.

Think again. His latest erotic thriller, L’amant double, which premiered in competition at Cannes this year, proved to be the film scandaleux of the festival. Starring Marine Vacth as Chloé, a young woman who one day discovers her psychiatrist partner Paul (Jérémie Renier) might have an evil twin brother and gradually loses herself in a web of deceit and kinks, it’s the kind of dangerously sexy farce at which Ozon excels.

We had »

- Zhuo-Ning Su

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Review: ’78/52′ is a Meticulous Examination of One of Alfred Hitchcock’s Most Iconic Scenes

18 October 2017 4:49 AM, PDT

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho premiered in 1960, quickly becoming a massive box office success, as well as a critical darling with the press. In the passing decades, it’s become known as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made, the rare violent slasher movie to accompany titles like Casablanca and Gone with the Wind on best-of-all-time film lists. The most talked-about element of the film, aside from the twisting nature of the plot, was undoubtedly the murder of Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, in her shower at the Bates Motel. In Hitchcock’s filmography, Psycho came immediately after the star-studded, glossy Hollywood sheen of North by Northwest, a positively safe studio choice by comparison with the black-and-white slasher picture. The film was almost uncharacteristically vicious for Hitchcock in its portrayal of violence, a fact which only added to Psycho’s impact with audiences.

78/52 is an engagingly nerdy »

- Tony Hinds

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Trailer for ‘It Happened in L.A.’ Introduces a Whit Stillman-Esque Portrait of Los Angeles

17 October 2017 8:12 PM, PDT

One of my favorite discoveries at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Michelle Morgan’s It Happened in L.A. (then going by the Seo-unfriendly title L.A. Times). As writer, director, and star, her voice was among the most unique I saw at the festival, mixing Whit Stillman’s sensibilities with a Wes Anderson-esque visual approach to deliver a sweet, distinct romantic comedy. Also starring Jorma Taccone, Dree Hemingway, and Kentucker Audley, the first trailer has now arrived ahead of a release next month.

“In an age where the modus operandi of love-seeking is ever-changing, a film can feel immediately dated on its journey from script to screen, yet Morgan’s voice feels like one of the freshest on this particular topic in some time,” I said in my review. “Eschewing the insufferable nature of the bulk of today’s romantic comedies, It Happened in L.A. stands apart with »

- Jordan Raup

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The Film Stage Show Ep. 267 – Brawl in Cell Block 99

17 October 2017 5:36 PM, PDT

Welcome, one and all, to the latest installment of The Film Stage Show! Today, Michael Snydel and I are joined by Dan Mecca in order to talk about the rough and tumble tour through hell that is Brawl in Cell Block 99, the newest film from writer/director S. Craig Zahler.

Subscribe on iTunes or see below to stream download (right-click and save as…).

(Also, don’t be scared but we have a new Patreon page! Read up on the great rewards available and become a patron today!)

M4A: The Film Stage Show Ep. 267 – Brawl in Cell Block 99

00:00 – 07:12 – Introductions

07:13 – 36:44 – Brawl in Cell Block 99 review

36:45 – 1:13:47 – Spoilers

The Film Stage is supported by Mubi, a curated online cinema streaming a selection of exceptional independent, classic, and award-winning films from around the world. Each day, Mubi hand-picks a new gem and you have one month to watch it. »

- Brian Roan

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Todd Haynes on ‘Wonderstruck,’ Perceptions of Childhood, and David Bowie

17 October 2017 8:55 AM, PDT

It’s no small testament to Todd Haynes that this is the second interview this website’s conducted with him since August. Although the opening of his newest film, Wonderstruck, is a proper excuse, that’s only ostensibly the occasion; the truth is that we’d gladly go over his decades- and genre-spanning filmography any day of the week and still have plenty of ground to cover.

So it’s doubly to our fortune that Wonderstruck befits multiple rounds of discussion. A children’s adventure movie wrapped in a two-pronged period piece that can hardly conceal the tragedies this kind of work so often doesn’t want you to think about, it finds Haynes and the usual band of collaborators — Dp Ed Lachman, composer Carter Burwell, and costume designer Sandy Powell among them — working on their biggest canvas yet. For recalling the director’s artistic history as much as anything else, »

- Nick Newman

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‘Thoroughbreds’ Trailer: A Dark Plan is Hatched in Sundance Hit

17 October 2017 6:21 AM, PDT

One of the most acclaimed films coming out of Sundance Film Festival earlier this year was Cory Finley’s Thoroughbreds. The black comedy, starring Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, and the late Anton Yelchin, will finally get a release this spring, and now Focus Features have unveiled the first red band teaser trailer.

The dark comedy follows two estranged friends who return to each other’s lives. When the evilness of one of their stepfathers becomes too much to bear, they hatch a plan to enact justice. Teasing a style both behind the camera and on the page, it looks to be a strong break-out feature for Finley. Check out the teaser and poster below.

Childhood friends Lily and Amanda reconnect in suburban Connecticut after years of growing apart. Lily has turned into a polished, upper-class teenager, with a fancy boarding school on her transcript and a coveted internship on her »

- Jordan Raup

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Review: ‘Never Here’ is a Reality-Blurring Suspense Thriller

17 October 2017 5:56 AM, PDT

Miranda Fall (Mireille Enos) is a cataloger. Her art leads her on journeys following new subjects in order to understand who each is by what each does and possesses. She voyeuristically captures their lives in photographs and objects, exhibiting her findings as though a celebration despite some of her targets believing it more akin to a memoriam. And why shouldn’t they? Miranda is ostensibly stealing their identities for public consumption and in turn private financial compensation. She uses the mundane routines and patterns of others to provide a distraction from her own and the fame and fortune allowing her excitement and material gains they could never afford themselves. Is she therefore cataloging these strangers or merely cataloging what she needs from them to satisfy her own selfish purposes?

It’s an interesting question to ask of all artists who create in the hopes of a sustainable life. How much »

- Jared Mobarak

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Nyff Review: ‘Dragonfly Eyes’ Captures the Malleability of Postmodern Identity

16 October 2017 12:10 PM, PDT

The modern pervasiveness of surveillance technology causes an unfamiliar type of cognitive dissonance where their use is collectively recognized but an innate fear of privacy lost has been pushed into the subconscious. Whether it’s security cameras posted in neighborhood bodegas, webcams affixed to almost every laptop made after 2010, or the increasing appearance of dash cams, nestled inside vehicles that can capture either the pure mundanity of the metropolitan commute or the underlying tension of it mortally barreling out of control: they’re watching, and the rapid proliferation of public-monitoring equipment makes it hard to tell who “they” are — if anybody — or why they bother to watch in the first place. Chinese visual artist Xu Bing, whose previous work includes a calligraphic book and installation piece, Tianshu, that deconstructs the logical patterns we associate with language — in this case, interpreting 4,000 nonsense characters designed to look like Mandarin — boldly approaches the »

- The Film Stage

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Nyff Review: ‘The Venerable W.’ Examines the Roots of Modern Extremism

16 October 2017 11:10 AM, PDT

When attempting to parse the root causes of religious extremism, a common argument in western discourse involves not only pointing to Islam as an inherently violent ideology, but to Buddhism as its polar opposite; a dogma so rooted in peace and non-violence that it could not possibly result in terror. Of course, these arguments are rarely in good faith, and they are un-attuned to the full scope of the global refugee crisis and its long, macabre history. The Rohingya displacement in Myanmar has seldom touched their borders. Such is the limitation of the western lens, but it’s a lens that French director Barbet Schroeder puts to tremendous use in The Venerable W., a chronicle of our modern extremist and “fake news” climate delivered in a highly concentrated dose, so much so that its New York Film Festival screening had to be prefaced by the short film What Are You Up to, »

- The Film Stage

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Hamburg Review: ‘Cocote’ is a Drama of Visual Virtuosity and Tantalizing Promise

16 October 2017 10:42 AM, PDT

Fans of fierce, challenging indigenous cinema rejoice. It’s not every day that you see a film from and depicting the life in the Dominican Republic, let alone one as intriguing as Cocote. Writer/director De Los Santos Arias’ feature debut shines a light on an underrepresented part of the world and casts a truly outlandish spell that confounds and overwhelms. Fair warning: sheer cultural divide would most likely prevent a deeper appreciation of the film, but the authenticity and intensity of its voice alone proves excitingly – if also gruelingly – memorable.

The protagonist Alberto (a brooding, charismatic Vicente Santos) works as a gardener at an über-affluent family in the island state’s capital. This key bit of background information is communicated efficiently through two static shots of a giant, shockingly beautiful swimming pool that more or less bracket the movie. Though seen from afar to take in the royal height »

- Zhuo-Ning Su

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San Sebastián Review: ‘Apostasy’ is a Restrained, Troubling Portrait of Rigid Religiosity

16 October 2017 8:59 AM, PDT

A central scene in Apostasy, the powerful debut from British director Daniel Kokotajlo, has a group of kids stage a re-enactment of King Solomon’s judgment, the parable from the Book of Kings. In the story, the king concocts a plan to settle who is the true mother of young boy. He says he’ll cut the child in two, dividing it among the two women. The true mother, of course, is declared after she says she’ll give up the baby. The king knows this because no mother would kill her child.

The story echoes disturbingly through this compelling drama, set in a close-knit family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The clan’s beliefs mean they refuse hospital treatment (as seen in another fall festival picture, The Children Act), and the mother here places her trust in religion that could compromise her daughter’s life. The conflict at the heart »

- Ed Frankl

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‘Félicité’ Director Alain Gomis on Morality, Musicality, and Modernity

16 October 2017 6:34 AM, PDT

Set in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félicité is the new film from Alain Gomis, a French director of Guinea-Bissauan and Senegalese descent. It tells the story of its eponymous heroine, a singer trying to put a life together and barely making it work. It is a poignant portrait of a woman in crisis but is also about Félicité’s search for herself, for peace, for a contented soul. The film, which will represent Senegal in the Foreign Language Oscar category, recently played at the New York Film Festival and will open in limited release on October 27. We had the chance to talk to Gomis about his film, and you can read our conversation below.

I’m curious about the inception of the project. How did you come about it?

It was a mystery! I had this character, this woman I knew in Senegal. And her son, this kid with an amputated leg. »

- The Film Stage

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Second Trailer for ‘Black Panther’ Finds Chadwick Boseman Protecting a Nation

16 October 2017 6:16 AM, PDT

In just a few weeks we’ll see what a Taika Waititi-directed Marvel movie looks like, then a few months later, Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) will deliver his version with Black Panther. While the character has popped up in the Marvel universe before, this will be his first solo outing and now a new full-length trailer has landed.

“It’s something people are excited about because people haven’t quite seen it before, and I would concur,” Chadwick Boseman tells Metro. “I’ve never played anything quite like it, and it is going to be an exciting time.” With a cast that also includes Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman, and Andy Serkis, check out the trailer below.

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation »

- Jordan Raup

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