13 items from 2017
Stand in front of a painting by Vincent van Gogh for more than five minutes, and your brain starts to react in strange ways. Even today, more than a century after the artist’s death, the brushstrokes pack an almost psychedelic energy, vibrating with an intensity that seems to have sprung directly from van Gogh’s tortured personal life. Now imagine staring at one of these paintings for 90 minutes straight — or crazier still, watching a series of them actually start to move.
Such was the vision Polish animator Dorota Kobiela had for “Loving Vincent,” a truly awe-inspiring portrait of the great Dutch artist that boasts the distinction of being “the world’s first fully painted feature film.” That means every one of the nearly 65,000 frames in this near-lunatic labor of love was rendered by hand with oil paints, following a style intended to mimic that of the master — which has »
- Peter Debruge
More than a sub-genre; a way of life.
Filmmakers have worked within recognizable genres for nearly as long as they’ve told stories. Initially film appropriated genres from literature and theatre, but as the new medium found its footing in Hollywood’s Classical Era of the 40s and 50s, a distinctly cinematic set of generic conventions were codified. Since that time, genres have come in and out favor, but most new films have still defined themselves either in accordance with or opposition to the Classical Hollywood models. Even innovative filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard and David Lynch have self-consciously manipulated the language of genre, treating it like another tool in the director’s toolkit. But films are living things, and there are as many ways to draw the lines of categorization as there are films. Reevaluating movies of the past according to new and different models is one of the best ways to keep the medium from ossifying »
- Jake Orthwein
A fateful day is re-examined by its survivors, whose stories are told via a brilliant narrative arrangement, and the use of animated recreations is only one aspect of it. The Texas tower shootings put our present, everyday reign of violent terror in a humanist context. It’s not exploitative — the killer’s name is barely mentioned. It works, it’s riveting, and its positive message is one of calm sanity. Highly recommended.
2016 / Color / 1:78 widescreen / 82 96 min. / Street Date March 21, 2017 / available through Kino Lorber / 34.95
Film Editor: Austin Reedy
Original Music: Osei Essed
Directed by Keith Maitland
- Glenn Erickson
As the major studios tinker with photorealistic character designs, can Hollywood find the future of animation in its past?
This weekend, families with hit their local multiplex to relive the wonder of Beauty and the Beast in its new live-action format. And whether the film is a runaway hit or only a modest success, Disney shows no signs of plugging its pipeline of live-action remakes. According to this 2016 Time piece, Disney is currently working on no fewer than twelve (that’s one-two) remakes of their popular animated films, meaning twelve more movies featuring up-and-coming actresses, revamped musical numbers, and CGI creatures that take a deep, deep dive into the uncanny valley.
While this brand new surge of Disney movies are likely to each be a technical wonder, for my money, there’s something oddly pedestrian about converting the beautiful Disney animated character designs into a series of photorealistic CGI models. While »
- Matthew Monagle
Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy encapsulates the way love feels in a way few films can match. Twenty years in the making, the story of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) follows the beginning (“Before Sunrise,” 1995), re-beginning (“Before Sunset,” 2004), and eventual strain (“Before Midnight,” 2013) of one relationship. And the Criterion Collection has released a 2K restoration of the three films, along with hours of bonus features and behind-the-scenes footage.
Linklater wrote all three films with the stars of his trilogy. In honor of its Criterion release, IndieWire has assembled this guide to the collaborative production in the words of the people who brought it to life.
The Writing Process Was the Biggest Challenge
Linklater collaborated with his two leads to develop the characters over the course of several years. It »
- Allison Picurro, Chris O'Falt and Kerry Levielle
Animated movies for adults are painfully undervalued, both at a festival level and as an art form, but Liu Jian's Have A Nice Day is a title that could smash through those barriers. Certainly one of the more interesting features in Berlinale's Main Competition this year, Have A Nice Day may not have the philosophical depths of something like Richard Linklater's Waking Life, but it's definitely among a small group of animated crime thrillers in which you can tell that a lot more is going on beneath the surface. Deeply Chinese in terms of its bathetic dark humour and social topics, this intense 75-minute labour of love nevertheless feels deeply (and unsurprisingly) influenced by Western culture. What's more, it also feels as though its perhaps...
[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...] »
Animation and eyewitness accounts read by actors bring tension and emotion to this account of the day a sniper killed 16 at the University of Texas in 1966
Deftly combining archive footage, interviews and handsome rotoscoped animation, Tower is an innovative documentary account of the mass shootings on the University of Texas campus on 1 August 1966. A sniper armed with a cache of assault rifles opened fire from the observation platform of the clock tower. Sixteen people were killed and many more injured before the gunman was finally killed by two police officers and one civilian. Using actors (subsequently animated) reading the real-life accounts of the victims and witnesses, the film is as taut as a thriller but also creative in a way that a straight-up reconstruction could never be. The animation technique gives the film a similar look to Richard Linklater’s Waking Life or Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir, though »
- Wendy Ide
Groundhog Day and 10 more films about time, dreams, and perceptionGroundhog Day and 10 more films about time, dreams, and perceptionAdriana Floridia2/2/2017 10:30:00 Am
Today is Groundhog Day, where the myth lives on that a groundhog who sees his shadow will doom us to a longer winter than we deserve. Then there is Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day, the film in which Bill Murray’s weatherman, Phil Connors mysteriously finds himself living the same day over and over again. On a traditional level the movie is a comedy, but it actually touches upon some really dark philosophical themes. It’s estimated by the filmmakers that Phil lives the same day for 10 years.
In honour of Groundhog Day, we’re taking a look back at ten other films that deal with time, memory, dreams, and repeated experiences. While there may be no film that tackles the topic as precisely as Groundhog Day, these »
- Adriana Floridia
In 1978, Martin Scorsese shot a documentary called “American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince” about his friend, a former Neil Diamond roadie and drug-addict best known for playing the small role of Easy Andy in “Taxi Driver.” Considered Scorsese’s “lost film,” the documentary was never released, though it lived on in bootleg copies.
In it, Scorsese interspersed home videos of Prince’s childhood with his narrations of his wild stories, including a particularly outrageous one about the time he plunged an adrenaline shot into the heart of a girl who had overdosed on heroin. The scene was made famous by Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” and Prince also tells the story in Richard Linklater’s “Waking Life.”
In a recently published video, one can hear Prince’s original version of the story that inspired Tarantino, alongside the famous scene it inspired, »
- Jude Dry
[Editors’s Note: Earlier today, producers and Plan B co-presidents Jeremy Kleiner and Dede Gardner were honored at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival’s Producers Lunch. Below is Kleiner’s keynote speech in its entirety.]
Dede Gardner and I want to thank Michelle Satter and Anne Lai. It is extremely humbling to have this opportunity and to follow in a tradition of producers we respect and admire, speaking to their peers in a spirit of solidarity – producers being the boundary-less, restless misfits who clearly do not fit into any other facet of civilized society.
Read More: How ‘Moonlight’ Beat the Odds to Reach Theaters In African-American Neighborhoods
We want to thank Sundance Institute. Standing on the precipice of mass conglomeration, the disruption of the theatrical distribution business, and peak television, all this uncertainty, it is very hard to overstate what Sundance Institute, and the Sundance Film Festival, have given all of us all of these years.
I remember January 1999 like it was yesterday. This is the height of the Clinton impeachment proceedings. I was working an assistant job fresh out of college. I was very passionate about film, »
- Graham Winfrey
One of 2016’s best documentaries is another look at a seminal moment in America’s struggle with crime and violence. Like many previous docs, it’s an examination of a mass murder. Now basic cable TV channels (and network “newsmagazines”) are filled with such, now almost commonplace, events. What makes this film unique is the subject, namely the very first mass shooting just over fifty years ago. The other aspect that makes this work is special is its approach and use of a high-tech upgrade of a movie device that dates back over 90 years. This enables the film makers to expertly transport us to that hot summer day in 1966, as a madman spewed death from the top of a college Tower.
Director Keith Maitland, like many documentarians, makes use of archival news footage and radio recordings to convey the horror of Charles Whitman’s rampage at the University of Texas. »
- Jim Batts
Our 22 Favorite Movies Directed by Women in 2016Looking to support great female-directed films? Start here.
Over the years, we’ve heard from our readers that one of the most important things we can do is to help you discover movies that may have slipped by mainstream audiences. And often just as important, our readers ask that we highlight voices that are in the minority in Hollywood. While we’re known for not taking ourselves very seriously, we take this part of our work seriously. Because as many studies have shown, there are some voices that aren’t as well-represented as others. Them’s the facts.
Beyond that, our team has a passion for seeking out and celebrating films directed by women. This is where we often find, as you’re about to see in this list, some of the most unique and interesting stories in the whole of cinema. Another thing we hear often from readers is »
- Film School Rejects
In the nearly 75 years since the Oscars began awarding a documentary feature, no non-fiction filmmaker has ever been nominated for director, despite being eligible for the prize.
The most obvious reason is that “directing” seems antithetical to the spirit of nonfiction, which is about revealing unsullied truths about the world in which we live. Documentary directors have been generally regarded as observers or journalists, rather than as creative artists, and the Oscar process has, until recently, rewarded more conservative approaches to the form.
Such prominent documentary figures as Errol Morris and Werner Herzog worked for decades before the Academy honored them. Morris’ “The Fog of War” won the 2004 Oscar and Herzog’s “Encounters at the End of the World” was nominated in 2009. But even those films, as quirky and iconoclastic as they are, operated in the familiar spheres of journalistic interrogation and fact-filled nature docs. It’s always been expected »
- Scott Tobias
13 items from 2017
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