4 items from 2015
What good is a canon? It's a question that hovers in endless debate near cinephile culture. The idea of distilling cinema down to its "best" or "most essential" films is like a game or a thought experiment, and whether it be the AFI or Sight & Sound or a group of Young Turks looking to rattle conventional wisdom, canon-making demonstrates nothing so much as a desire to assemble an expansive, fragmented, and still-evolving sense of film history into some sort of definitive order. Canons, each with its own biases, are useful chiefly as a starting point or a basecamp. The best answer is to always be looking, always curious. And cinema has barely more than a century to keep up with. I wonder how bibliophiles cope.One of the virtues of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, which begins on May 28th, is how it mixes classics and arcana on a level plane. »
- Duncan Gray
I want to believe in Tomorrowland.
Like The Iron Giant and The Incredibles before it, Brad Bird’s latest is a thrilling, original adventure that really wants to make you feel something. It’s a non-sequel, non-superhero affair, powered by old-fashioned sentiments of optimism and hope, whole-heartedly committed to feeding the creative souls of idealistic youngsters in the audience. In a cinematic climate saturated with dystopian gloom and superhero fantasy, the film’s earnest message – that ordinary people can ensure the future of their dreams by fighting for it – is welcome.
What’s less welcome is all the claptrap surrounding Tomorrowland‘s vintage Disney core. As written by Bird, Lost‘s Damon Lindelof and Entertainment Weekly TV critic Jeff Jensen, it’s a movie that tries to run with some admirably big ideas but ends up tripping over its own feet, hobbled by tin-eared dialogue and a third-act shift from ebullient positivity to sanctimonious finger-wagging. »
- Isaac Feldberg
As kids, we looked ahead to the imminent 21st century and thought of a big bold, sci-fi future. The robot butler and trips to the drug store in hovercars version hasn’t yet arrived, but the first 15 years of this century have been extremely fruitful for big-screen science fiction. Sci-fi is almost as old as cinema itself —1902's Georges Méliès’ “A Trip To The Moon” is generally seen as the first example— but it became hugely popular in late 20th century filmmaking in the aftermath of “Star Wars,” if also somewhat watered down. Many so-called sci-fi blockbusters were really action movies with some fantastical trappings, rather than thoughtful, provocative examinations of the world we live in through speculation about worlds we might live in. That’s still true to an extent, but the last decade-and-a-half have seen a flourishing of smaller-scale, ingenious sci-fi pictures, as well as some dazzling bigger-scale »
- The Playlist Staff
The Conversation is a new feature at Sound on Sight bringing together Drew Morton and Landon Palmer in a passionate debate about cinema new and old. For their inaugural piece, they will discuss Tom Tykwer’s film, Run Lola Run (1999).
Amongst the many films included in 1999’s “year that changed movies,” Tom Tykwer’s Run Lola Run seems an essential text. Fifteen years ago, the film blew through national and arthouse borders, presenting an exhilarating image of an approach to filmmaking free from formal restraint or linear narrative logic. An engrossing exercise in style, Tykwer’s breakthrough film seemed to simultaneously beat Hollywood at its own game of fast-paced entertainment, integrate music video aesthetics harmoniously into the machinations of feature filmmaking, and present an art film thoroughly interested in film as an art form looking toward the 21st century, free from the modernist concerns that previously united festival-friendly European exports. »
- Drew Morton
4 items from 2015
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