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I don’t make films myself, but it seems obvious to me there are but two places to learn how to make movies: in the outside world constrained by so-called reality, and in the inside world of the cinema’s darkness, constrained by so-called illusion. Travelogue tales and quotidian reportage being of little interest here, a log for illusionary research and experience, I must duly deliver my film report on the films that came upon me in the darkness of the Melbourne International Film Festival, which ran from July 31 - August 17, and the lessons learned.
Epic of Everest
So many academics and cinephiles alike seem consternated by Walter Benjamin's paen to the the aura of an original artwork, something squandered, lost, obfuscated, or obliterated in the mechanical reproduction of art in post cards, photographic duplicates, and, of course, cinema. But upon encountering at the festival a restoration »
- Daniel Kasman
Written an directed by Werner Herzog
You really can’t go wrong with any of the 16 titles included in Herzog: The Collection, the recently released limited edition Blu-ray set. This stunning compendium features several of the incomparable Werner Herzog’s finest fiction and documentary films (including many that fall somewhere between those categories), most available for the first time on Blu-ray. Though the strongest cases could be made for Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo, it would be difficult to necessarily pick the “best” film included here, but one movie that has always stood out as being among Herzog’s most unusual is Stroszek, from 1977. Well received upon its release, and now recognized as one of the German filmmaker’s finest films, Stroszek is something of an enigma in Herzog’s career full of enigmatic works.
The picture follows three Berliners as they flee their homeland for »
- Jeremy Carr
Dencik Sails For Science and Existentialism
At first glance, Danish director Daniel Dencik’s Expedition to the End of the World seems a blatant ripoff of Werner Herzog’s graceful examination of modern Antarctica in Encounters at the End of the World, sharing not only terms in titles, but the idea of venturing off into the frozen unknown to uncover more about human nature than the wild they seek to explore. Fortunately from there, concepts part ways in nearly every imaginable way.
Dencik’s adventure is staged aboard a vintage wooden schooner set to brave a labyrinth of flowing ice just off the unexplored coast of Northeastern Greenland. As a multifarious group of scientists, artists, anthropologists, biologists, geographers and philosophers, the crew sets out to traverse the unknown before the fjords freeze once more. Through the brilliance of human intellect and the ridiculousness of its arrogance, their treacherous voyage renders humanity just an inconsequential, »
- Jordan M. Smith
It's been an interesting run of films for director Clint Eastwood in the 10 years since his "Million Dollar Baby" crashed the 2004 Oscar party and ran away with the gold. I say "interesting" because, at least in awards season terms, it's been a run particularly notable for lots of revving but nothing that ever materialized as a significant player. Right after "Baby" it was the one-two punch of "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwo Jima" in 2006, a bold play for the then-75-year-old filmmaker. While developing an adaptation of John Bradley's book for the former, Eastwood felt a perspective from the Japanese side of the WWII equation was warranted, so he quickly developed the latter. And it was "Letters" that felt like it had more on its mind, yielding surprise (for some) nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, as well an Oscar for Best Sound Editing. »
- Kristopher Tapley
Confession: I think Nicolas Cage is a great actor. And not just because of Oscar-quality performances like those in Adaptation and Leaving Las Vegas. No, the movie that introduced me to Cage’s gifts was National Treasure. And while Cage did return to the big screen for a sequel, the series deserves to become an even bigger franchise.
The National Treasure movies were made in the wake of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, an immensely popular, thrilling, if not particularly well-written novel about conspiracy theories and mini-art history lessons. National Treasure is the American Da Vinci Code—and »
- Jacob Shamsian
When will our beloved Kidman return to us? For someone who works so consistently, doesn't it seem like it's hard to find Nicole Kidman in a movie theater? Grace of Monaco keeps threatening to arrive but never does leaving us to wonder if it will ever play in regular movie theaters after its shaming at Cannes (that place can be brutal). Any big dreams for the quality of Paddington (it comes from charming source material at least) her Christmas film, have been dashed by that hateful slapstick trailer and Colin Firth's exit as the voice. The wait is soon over though. For those of you who missed The Railway Man in theaters, it's just out on DVD and Blu-Ray. [Warning: Nicole's part is small enough that when the climax arrives, she's literally a blurry figure in the background.]
Next up though is the thriller Before I Go To Sleep which has a new poster (above) and a new release date: Halloween to be exact. Let's just hope it's »
- NATHANIEL R
ITV marked the anniversary of the last UK hanging with a curious mess of cheap visuals, tepid provocation and unanswered questions. Meanwhile, the second series of Utopia came to an end let's hope there's a third
There are many documentaries and films about the death penalty, of varying quality, but their sheer number means the ones that have a lasting impact tend to be very good indeed. In recent times, two stood out. Channel 4 aired Werner Herzog's Death Row in 2012, which saw the filmmaker interviewing convicted killers awaiting execution in the Us. Herzog did his work with remarkable restraint, allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions, despite his own quiet assertion that he did not agree with capital punishment himself. Less subtle, but no less powerful, 2013's Inside Death Row had Trevor McDonald visiting Indiana state maximum security prison for ITV. These programmes remained in my mind long after I had seen them. »
- Rebecca Nicholson
It seemed like a no brainer: Production had wrapped, and considering that there's a new theater in town named after the guy, Werner Herzog's "Queen Of The Desert" looked like it would sail into the Telluride Film Festival. But it looks like the movie won't make Telluride or the Toronto International Film Festival. We'll let producer Cassian Elwes explain:We've had technical issues in the finishing of queen and it's not ready for tiff or telluride. We don't want to show a work in progress — cassian elwes (@cassianelwes) August 11, 2014 So, let the speculation begin. Could the film be finished in time to hit the New York Film Festival, which is already boasting world premieres of David Fincher's "Gone Girl" and Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice"? That would be a major coup. Or maybe it'll show up at AFI Fest? However, the term "work-in-progress" suggests that there is still much left to be done. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
One of the films we've been expecting to land on the annually secretive Telluride line-up this year is Werner Herzog's "Queen of the Desert" with Nicole Kidman. A period piece chronicle of the life of traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer and political attaché Gertrude Bell, the film sounds like it could be a meaty opportunity for Kidman, and if a studio were to bite at these late stages and prime a strategy, it might even be a potential awards player. Alas, the film won't be ready for the early festival circuit, at the very least, and that includes Telluride. Here is the scoop from the horse's mouth, producer Cassian Elwes: We've had technical issues in the finishing of queen and it's not ready for tiff or telluride. We don't want to show a work in progress — cassian elwes (@cassianelwes) August 11, 2014 The film also stars the ubiquitous James Franco and "Twilight" alum Robert Pattinson. »
- Kristopher Tapley
Here we are at what is a surprisingly modern list. At the beginning of this, I didn’t expect to see so much cultural impact coming from films so recently made, but that’s the way it goes. The films that define the horror genre aren’t necessarily the scariest or the most expensive or even the best. The films that define the genre point to a movement – movies that changed the game and influenced all the films after it. Movies that transcend the horror genre. Movies that broke the mold and changed the way horror can be created.
10. El laberinto del fauno (2006)
English Language Title: Pan’s Labyrinth
Directed by: Gullermo del Toro
It’s more a dark fantasy film than a horror film, but it would be tough to make a list of 50 of those. Plus, it has enough graphic, nightmarish images to push it over the threshold. »
- Joshua Gaul
When it comes screen legends Al Pacino (Dog Day Afternoon) does not appear to be slowing down as he appears as an aging stage actor in The Humbling directed by Barry Levinson (Men in Black) and as a heartbroken small town locksmith in Manglehorn helmed by David Gordon Green (Joe); both dramas will be getting a North American Premiere at the 39th Toronto International Film Festival.
The Oscar-winning thespian will also kicking off the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival by having an on-stage conversation about his career at the Tiff Bell Lightbox on September 3, 2014 at 7 p.m.. “We’re thrilled to have Al Pacino participate in our third annual Tiff Gala,” stated Maxine Bailey, VP of Advancement at Tiff. “This important event raises much-needed funds that allow Tiff to continue our free year-round activities like Reel Comfort, a programme that brings films and special guests to mental health patients at Toronto hospitals, »
- Trevor Hogg
Over the span of five short years, John Cooper and Trevor Groth’s branded <=> section has not only become a destination for ”bold, distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling” in Park City, but in its inaugural year with a ten feature film line-up showcasing world premiere titles and a pair of films that were actually shown elsewhere (12 O’Clock Boys) it became a mainstay for the Angeleno crowds. Now, twelve months later, their lovely nudge to my kind of film has been slimed down by half a dozen titles making for a sophomore edition of Sundance Next Fest that has decidedly been retooled and refined. Converging at the Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles for a three-day film love-in (preceded by today’s out-door 10th year anniversary showing of Jared Hess’ Napoleon Dynamite), on paper, this might already have become the sort of flagship event that nurtures the frenergy between artists is multiple disciplines, »
- Eric Lavallee
DreamWorks Animation hit the motherlode when they began making the Madagascar movies. The films did not boast much for adults, but cute animals, silly situations, and lots of action kept the kiddies interested and launched, among other things, an animated TV show featuring the elite fighting penguins that were minor characters in the films. Now The Penguins of Madagascar have their own movie, complete with super-villains and celebrity guest voices.
According to the latest trailer for the film, the four penguins are actually secret agents faced with a new super-villain in the form of Dr. Octavius Brine (John Malkovich voicing an octopus) who has plans to take over and/or destroy the world. They join up with The North Wind, a group of arctic-themed secret agents with voice talent from the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, to defeat Brine and his nefarious plot. In the midst of it all, there’s a lot of throwaway humor, »
- Lauren Humphries-Brooks
The best part of all three Madagascar films return in their own spin-off. Those devilishly sly penguins reveal themselves to be secret agents and must team up with a new and technologically advanced espionage team known as The North Wind in order to stop an evil Octopus known as Dave. The film has brought in some respectable talent to fill out the supporting roles, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Classified and John Malkovich as the normal named villain. Despite being a huge fan of the penguins as characters, as well as loving penguins in general, the trailer doesn’t have too many laughs, but a lot of that may be down to my feelings toward the general plot. The shift into espionage territory is more suited here than it was for Cars 2, but the animals have become almost too anthropomorphic. It almost feels as though humans don’t exist in this world, »
- Luke Ryan Baldock
I haven't seen any of the "Madagascar" movies, possibly due to the fact that I'm not four years old. But with the franchise earning nearly $2 billion dollars worldwide after three installments, clearly DreamWorks Animation are appealing to kids in all the right ways, a trend sure to continue this fall with the release of "The Penguins Of Madagascar." 'Penguins' finds the titular characters embarking on a new adventure. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private are part of a spy organization known as The North Wind, and are tasked by the Benedict Cumberbatch-voiced Agent Classified (ha) to track down Dr. Octavius Brine (John Malkovich), a dastardly villain out to destroy the world, because, obviously. Note to parents: when you take your kids to see this movie, you'll want to keep your ears out for a cameo by Werner Herzog. As himself. (Really). "The Penguins Of Madagascar" opens on November 26th in 3D. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private are back in DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar spin-off Penguins of Madagascar. Watch the all-new trailer, as this covert team reassembles to go on a new mission to stop the evil Dr. Octavius Brine! In theaters this Thanksgiving, Penguins of Madagascar boasts a stellar voice cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich, Nicole Sullivan, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter and may even include a surprise or two with returning Madagascar characters played by Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith and Chris Rock! Get ready for the Penguins' biggest adventure yet, as they hit theatres everywhere on November 26th, 2014...
Super spy teams aren't born...they're hatched. Discover the secrets of the greatest and most hilarious covert birds in the global espionage biz: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. These elitists of the elite are joining forces with a chic undercover organization, The North Wind. Led by handsome »
"It showed a world drained of vitality and meaning." 1979 - the year of Ridley Scott's Alien, the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as well as the original The Muppet Movie, Escape from Alcatraz and of course James Bond's Moonraker. But aside from Alien, it was actually a great year for "scary" movies galore, from George Romero's Dawn of the Dead to the original The Amityville Horror with James Brolin, as well as David Cronenberg's creeper The Brood, John Frankenheimer's eco-horror Prophecy about a giant killer bear, Don Coscarelli's cult horror Phantasm, even Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre was released in 1979. Nelson Carvajal presents a new video essay about all the dark horror that summer. Enjoy. Here's the video essay Our Scary Summer: 1979 by Nelson Carvajal and Jed Mayer, from Press Play: Our Scary Summer: 1979 was made by Nelson Carvajal and Jed Mayer. We've »
- Alex Billington
Martin Scorsese's released a statement commending Kodak for its decision to carry on making film stock. Also in today's roundup of news and views: Films by Todd Rohal, Nacho Vigalondo and Kevin Smith are lined up for Austin's Fantastic Fest. A terrific interview with Werner Herzog. An appreciation of the neglected Fifth Generation Chinese director Huang Jianxin. A play about Jane Fonda. Richard Linklater's next project, plus a forthcoming documentary on Larry Clark's Kids (1995) and more. » - David Hudson »
Alexa here with your weekly film craftiness. During my search for Powerpuff-Girl-related paraphernalia for my daughter's birthday I've been running into loads of hand painted shoes. And I mean Loads. I am not one to wear one-of-a-kind art on my feet; the weather here in Chicago is not kind to footwear so it seems a waste of cash. But I have to admire the artistry of some of these selections. So if you are a lover of Vans, Toms or Converse, and are perhaps already planning your fashion for next year's Comic-Con, these are for you. And as an added bonus, most of these sellers create any custom pair you'd like; maybe I could be tempted by a pair of Werner Herzog tribute Vans?
The Notebook Vans, Star Wars Converse, and Lotr Vans, all from this etsy shop.
More after the jump, including Casablanca, Disney villains and Jaws »
Attention, New Yorkers! Starting tonight in the lovely borough of Brooklyn, Nitehawk Cinema kicks off a month-long series highlighting five of the “new classics” that now proudly sit among other classic films of the vampire genre.
George Romero’s angst-ridden dark horror comedy Martin is first up tonight at 9:30 Pm Et, and actor John Amplas will be in attendance! Our old friend Sam Zimmerman from Fangoria will also provide the introduction.
Be sure to check out the official press release below to find out the other films playing (one of which has arguably the best makeup sequence of Dick Smith’s legendary career in a scene featuring David Bowie). Hope to see you there tonight and all this month!
For more info check out Nitehawk's August Midnite: Bite This! website.
From the Press Release
With appearances on film now spanning over a century, the vampire is the most fictionalized »
- Drew Tinnin
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