Heading to Berlinale this February? These are the films gathering steam ahead of their premiere at the Festival this February and not to miss… if you can get a ticket!
Isle of Dogs
Directed by Wes Anderson
The opening film of the 68th Berlinale Film Festival, Wes Anderson’s new movie is a story about a 12-year-old boy searching for his missing dog. This is his second animated film after Fantastic Mr. Fox. The characters are voiced by well-known actors like Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray or Greta Gerwig.
Directed by Murray Cummings
Shape of You, Perfect, Thinking Out Loud… there’s a good chance you’ll hear one of these Ed Sheeran songs everytime on the radio. The British singer-songwriter is one of the most famous musicians in the world, but this new documentary shows us a side rarely glimpsed by the public, looking closely at his music obsession and his song making method.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
Directed by Gus Van Sant
The director of Good Will Hunting and Elephant returns with his first film since Cannes 2015 stinker Sea of Trees, with a biopic of quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan, played byJoaquin Phoenix. The comedy, which also stars Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara and Jack Black, focuses on the period in John’s life when he’s struggling to come to terms with the car accident that left him permanently disabled.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Shot entirely on iPhone, Unsane follows a young woman played by The Crown‘s Claire Foy trying to start afresh in a new city after a troubled few years. She is involuntarily committed to a mental institution, although convinced there has been some mistake, where she is forced to confront her biggest fears. Are these fears real or just delusions?
Directed by Eduardo Nunes
The second narrative feature from Brazilian filmmaker Eduardo Nunes, Unicorn tells the story of a young girl discovering her sexuality. “The way the character, who is 13-years-old, understands the world is just like any other person her age. There is no certainty about their desires, frustrations and even will to violence. She is discovering the world in a very limited universe, where there is only the strong presence of nature and her mother, who is a parameter for everything: beauty, behaviour, morals.” said the director.
Directed by Cédric Kahn
The Prayer tells the story of a young drug addict trying to overcome his addiction. After joining an isolated community in the mountains in order to escape the temptations of urban life, Thomas is introduced religion, and he and the other addicts in his community attempt to use prayer to cure themselves.
Directed by Pernille Fischer Christensen
Astrid Anna Emilia Lindgren was the Swedish writer best known as the creator of the Pippi Longstocking children’s book series. Pernille Fischer Christensen’s new biopic of the author shows us an independent, clever and insurgent young girl who is trying to find her way in the life and breaks social norms.
The next big film festival after Sundance every years is the Berlin Film Festival, also known as Berlinale for short. Celebrating its 68th year, the Berlin Film Festival kicked off today (Thursday, February 15th) in Potsdamer Platz in the middle of the city. This is my fifth year in a row covering Berlinale, it’s always a good time, the festival runs smoothly and all of the venues are top notch. Most of their screenings are on time, they’re always totally packed, but the crowds are focused on the film and ready to enjoy some cinema. This is a festival for the city, for locals to attend, but there’s also a huge contingent of press who fly in from all over the world see a few world premieres. I’m just happy to keep watching more films at another great fest. ›››
Another year, another stellar slate of motion pictures seeing release. Despite what others might say about it (once again) being an off year at the movies, there were definitely some true winners worth seeking out. All you had to do was find them. Films that moved us, resonated with us, and out-and-out blew us away all saw release in 2017, so much of them, in fact, that, as with previous years at the cinema, it was difficult coming up with the 10 best. Here you will find my Top 10 Films of 2017, those motion pictures that spoke to me more than others, but someone else’s Top 10 could just as easily be a completely different set of movies. It’s a testament to just how strong a year is for movies that the Best Of lists are so diverse (view Adam’s here). ›››
Over the last 12 months, I’ve seen more than 100 new releases — that’s over eight days of time in total spent watching new movies — and I’m happy to report that it’s been another incredible year at the cinema, despite claims that “film is dead.” This year, I was lucky enough to see vital new work by visionary filmmakers like Denis Villeneuve, Guillermo del Toro, Steven Spielberg, and Darren Aronofsky. I witnessed soul-stirring performances by Frances McDormand, Timothee Chalamet, Mary J. Blige, Willem Dafoe, Sally Hawkins, and Michael Stuhlbarg. And I was thoroughly entertained by emotionally engaging, visually impressive blockbusters like War for the Planet of the Apes, Wonder Woman, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Blade Runner 2049. So which films did I enjoy the most? Which are my favorites? Let’s find out. ›››
It’s a feasting day for all sensations on St. Andrew’s Day, so get your dinner plate ready and celebrate Scotland’s finest cinema. Now, although Scotland has strong ties with England, it is its own force of nature in filmmaking. Countless films exploring family, morality, sense of belonging, and the human experience have come out of the likes of Scotland. And with St. Andrews’ Day upon us, what better way to revel in Scotland’s glory than to take a look at some noteworthy Scottish films of the 21st century.
Sweet Sixteen (2002)
Directed by Ken Loach, Sweet Sixteen explores the cruel circumstances thrust upon Liam, a young teenager with somewhat good intentions that is cornered into making bad decisions for the love of his mother. Breakout star, Martin Compston, won Most Promising Newcomer in 2002’s BIFA. His performance shows us just how easy it is to lose your way when you’ve never learned which direction to go.
James McAvoy really delves into the grime with this gritty film. He plays the obscene, junkie Detective Sargent Bruce Robertson battling his way to a promotion, the Scottish crime element, and his own corruption. Sex, drugs, and all things illicit, Bruce should be fighting it but he’s too damn busy enjoying it. McAvoy gives a performance that’s hard to forget, earning him Best Actor at 2013’s BIFA. He dives straight into the deep end with a morally depraved depiction of Edinburg’s finest.
Morvern Callar (2002)
Morvern’s writer boyfriend has just killed himself, what’s she to do in the midst of her grief? Steal his novel, apparently. Using the money from the novel, she leaves Scotland with her best friend to Ibiza, busying herself with a life of constant raving. This stunning and quietly reflective film shows that grief is bound to catch up eventually. Samantha Morton earned the Best Actress Award from 2002’s BIFA, and we see why.
Under The Skin (2014)
It’s hard to pinpoint a clear and succinct synopsis of this mesmerising piece of film. But let’s give it a go. Scarlet Johansson’s plays an alien entity embodying a woman in search for lonely men to seduce into a mind-bending, other-worldly, dimension where they are consumed. The visuals alone are enough to swallow you up into the trance-inducing story, but Johansson’s performance will keep you up at night.
Hallam Foe (2007)
Hallam’s loss of his mother has him in a bit of spiral. Convinced his step-mother is responsible for his mother’s death, he takes on the hobby of spying on people. Hallam’s journey of discovery takes him to Edinburg where he finds work, romance, maturity, and acceptance for what he’s looking for. This coming-of-age story reminds us why we love Jamie Bell.
John McGill is a good kid, but after needing a sense of belonging, John is swept up by the delinquency in the neighbourhood. His increasingly violent actions swiftly cause the downfall to his moral judgement, work ethic, and ultimately his place with his own family. Peter Mullan’s third film exemplifies the slippery slopes of adolescence when there is a lack of role models around.
The Angels’ Share (2013)
Director Ken Loach, yet again, doesn’t disappoint. Loach takes us on a journey of reinvention as a Robbie vows to become a better citizen and turn over a new leaf. Whiskey might seem like it’d be the downfall of his vow, but in actuality, it becomes his saving grace. This comedy is sure to give you a laugh or two and make you wish you’d have a glass of whiskey in hand to celebrate.
Enjoy the festivities of St. Andrew’s day, whether that’s feasting in Scotland, or sitting back and enjoying their films. What did you think of our list? If you think we’ve missed one, make sure to comment below.
The origins of these stoic getaway drivers can be traced back to the samurai. Seriously.
Most good stories have lineage, meaning that they come from much older stories. It’s not that there’s nothing new under the sun, it’s that solid storytelling always circles back to a handful of origins. Take Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, for instance, and Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive. The films are united by their cool, silent, good-looking, somewhat mysterious protagonists, played with great restraint by Ansel Elgort and Ryan Gosling, respectively, who do little but drive criminals from one place to another and yet somehow manage to be the icy nucleus at the center of each film’s respective atom.
As Patrick (H) Willems astutely shows us in his new video essay, these two films both have their origin in a Walter Hill film from the late ’70s called The Driver, about a strikingly similar character. And yet the lineage doesn’t stop there.
Romantic horror The Let the Right One Infollows a bullied teenage boy in Stockholm whose new neighbour Eli – a girl around his own age – happens to be a vampire. The film focuses on the relationship between these two main characters, steering clear of traditional horror and vampire narrative codes and conventions. That isn’t to say this film is a simple Boy meets Vampire love story. Director Tomas Alfredson tackles the spate of murders that arise after Eli moves to town with an unflinching camera, so plenty of gore too.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
Directed by Eli Craig
This comedy horror film written and directed by Eli Craig will make you cringe in disgust and laugh out loud at the same time. Two well-intentioned hillbillies rescue a young girl and are mistaken for murderers by her confused friends. Hilarity and gore ensure in this unmissable piece on our list.
The Babadook (2014)
Directed by Jennifer Kent
The Babadook marks Jennifer Kent’s directorial debut. It’s a sophisticated and intelligent take on monsters and horror, following a single mother’s descent into madness as she is tormented by the Babadook. It’s as emotional as it is terrifying, watching a woman and her son fight a monster that will never leave them alone.
Directed by Lars von Trier
A husband takes his distraught wife to their house in the woods after the death of their only son in an attempt to help her face her fears. Antichrist is as horrifying as it is beautiful. Everything about the film, from the acting to the atmosphere to the music, is desolate and haunting. It is the first but not the last time that von Trier has worked with Charlotte Gainsbourg, who won the Cannes Film Festival award for Best Actress for her performance.
The Witch (2015)
Directed by Robert Eggers
In 17th century New England, a Puritan family is banished from their plantation and forced into exile. Their quiet, isolated life is brought to a halt by the mysterious disappearance of the baby of the family, an event that marks only the beginning of a series of breathtaking twists and turns. The pace is painfully slow, and the horror relies on the suspense in the story rather than on-screen brutality.
The Evil Dead (1981)
Directed by Sam Raimi
The original Evil Dead film that spawned the sequels, the comic books, the video games, and even a television series, is a cult classic. Five university students venture into a cabin in the woods for their spring break, resulting in blood, gore, and demonic possession. It’s a Stephen King favourite.
Directed by John Carpenter
Speaking of cult classics, Michael Myers is an infamous name in horror film history. The masked Myers stabs his way through Haddonfield, Illinois in this 1978 horror classic. Halloween is the first film in the Halloween franchise.
It Follows (2014)
Directed by David Robert Mitchell
Everyone is familiar with the unnerving feeling of being followed. Mitchell makes great use of this universal fear in It Follows, the story of a girl who is literally followed, slowly and methodically, by a supernatural entity. It, whatever It is, can’t move very fast, which somehow makes it even more terrifying. The film debuted at Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Directed by Tobe Hooper
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre follows a group of friends who run into a family of cannibals. It was banned outright in several countries upon its release, due to complaints about violence. It has since gained a reputation as one of the best and most influential horror films in movie history, and is credited with originating several key elements in the slasher genre, such as the use of power tools as murder weapons.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez
Last but not least is The Blair Witch Project. Three film students venture into a Maryland forest to make a documentary on the Blair Witch, an urban legend. They disappear, leaving behind only their video and sound equipment. The recovered footage is the entirety of the film. This style of storytelling marked a new approach to filmmaking. The actors are listed as either “missing” or “deceased,” and the film is one of the most successful independent films of all time.
From mindless zombies to Buster Keaton, Peter Jackson has been inspired by them all.
The moment you mention Peter Jackson’s name, you immediately think of what? Middle Earth, the Shire, hobbits, and epic battle sequences between the courageous Fellowship and disgustingly repulsive orcs. But even though TheLord of the Rings series made Jackson one of the most successful directors in the industry, he actually got his start directing low-budget horror comedies, like Bad Taste and Dead Alive, a genre that is clearly miles away from the fantasy adventure films he’s known for today.
This departure from form and content might seem strange at first glance, but once you know which films influenced the work of the New Zealand-born filmmaker, you might get a much clearer understanding of his creative origins. Fandor shares five of these films in the video below.
Congratulations to feature films In Another Life, Isolani, and short film Work for receiving British Independent Film Awards nominations! All three films were screened at the 25th Raindance Film Festival, and we are excited to see them continue their journey and garner recognition.
In Another Life
Nominated for the Discovery Award at the British Independent Film Awards.
In Another Life, from debut director Jason Wingard, follows the harrowing journey of a Syrian refugee struggling to reunite with his wife.
After being forced to flee war-torn Syria, Adnan and his wife Bana are separated on route through France. Adnan faces the crippling challenge of living in ‘The Jungle’. His only option is to risk his life in a series of desperate attempts to cross the channel, hoping he will be reunited with his wife. Set against the backdrop of the refugee camp known as ‘The Jungle’ in Calais the film combines documentary footage and real-life interviews with a dramatic narrative to give a voice to refugees that are seldom heard.
In Another Life had its World Premiere at Raindance Film Festival 2017, where it won the Best UK Feature award.
Nominated for the Discovery Award at the British Independent Film Awards.
From writer/director R. Paul Wilson, Scottish thriller Isolani is the story of a mother fighting to protect her son after witnessing a murder.
After she witnesses a brutal murder, a young single mother becomes a pawn in a deadly game of deception. To protect her son and start a new life, she must outwit an ambitious prosecutor, a corrupt detective and a desperate killer. Fantastic acting, clever lighting and cinematography help maintain a creeping tension from beginning to end in this edge-of-seat film.
Isolani had its World Premiere at Raindance Film Festival 2017, where it was nominated for Best UK Feature.
Nominated for the Best British Short Film award at the British Independent Film Awards.
A teenager’s perspective of the world around her begins to shift as she is confronted with its capacity for injustice.
Work was nominated for Best UK Short at Raindance Film Festival 2017.
The winners will be announced at the British Independent Film Awards ceremony on Sunday 10 December.
Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?
This week I ask you to support The Florida Project, watch people who are much more fit, skilled, and talented than I’ll ever be, wonder where we went left when it comes to parental leave, follow a real life slice of life drama, revisit a fascinating slice of life drama, and get in with some pervs who have a very specific fetish.
The Florida Project Featurette
I’m going to assume there’s at least 10 of you reading this right now. To those 10 people I am asking you to either buy a ticket to see this movie or buy a ticket to see this movie to support something that is genuinely precious. I have not been so affected by performances, across the board, as I have with this movie and so as this movie looks to catch fire I’m hoping this is a little bit of burning tinder to help the cause. I hate/loathe hyping any movie as I know someone will see it and not agree but I want to do my part to get the word out about Sean Baker’s latest opus that honestly delivers.
100 Years of Olympic Films Trailer
The only physical media that I own that focuses solely on the Olympics is Criterion’s 1965’s Tokyo Olympiad. The documentary itself is a bit of a revelation as it captures the genuine physicality of competing in these games with being incredibly cinematic by capturing the moment in an honest way, not prepackaged and edited as we get now with NBC’s version of what an Olympics should look like. The package here is an impressive one and as it just feels and looks epic. I mean, it’s incredible how they manage to sell the idea that, yes, these are sports but, more than that, there’s the very real sense that you have people who are pushing their body to the limits whether they’re pole vaulting or ice skating. Just a fantastic testament to what should be an honorable event.
Wexford Plaza Trailer
Something worth seeing, I hope.
I talked about director Joyce Wong’s movie earlier this year when the first trailer dropped but after seeing this I’m even more convinced that this is the kind of movie that could serve as a gentle digestif to the virulence that is plaguing our everyday lives as of late. Movies help to act like an escape and no other escape looks as inviting as this story right now. It feels genuinely tiny, with characters who suffer from being less than perfect, and completely contained in this compact world. The trailer glides on its charm, its judicious use of pull-quotes, and simply being overall appealing.
One thing I admire about the length some filmmakers take in shooting their movies like Michael Winterbottom’sEveryday and Linklater ‘sBoyhood is seeing just how it affects the narrative when you put so much time between shooting. In a fictional world you can keep the course and make sure where you end up is where you intended to but in a non-fiction world life isn’t as kind. Someone like director Jonathan Olshefski who shot this documentary over 10 years was bound to end up in a different place than where he started. To me, that’s exciting, as it’s not knowing what lies beyond that next phone call, that next birthday, and with this subject matter and focus it looks like we’ve got something and someone to not only follow but root for as they navigate a social environment that grows needlessly more treacherous.
Zero Weeks Trailer
Question for the group: Do any of you work full-time and, follow-up, what’s your time-off expectation when you have a kid? If you’re like a lot of people, you’ll be like me, in the hospital on a Thursday afternoon and expected to be back on Friday to finish the payroll.
Yup, many more of you have it all figured out in using your vacation/sick days or work for an enlightened employer who benevolently allows you a week or two at no cost. I didn’t have that luxury with my second child and this trailer sucker punched me hard. Ky Dickens comes right out of the gate swinging and with good reason. These are the kinds of situations people find themselves in every single day and even though there is an obvious bias for there being something for all people to help care and tend to their progeny it doesn’t make the argument any less true. The narratives that flow from this trailer should be enough for anyone to empathize with the plight many are struggling with but it’s only through constantly reminding those who haven’t been affected, or yet been affected, will there be any meaningful change.
And for those of you without kids, never planning on having kids, way too young to even think about kids, or you have a phenomenal job in place I imagine you’ll pass right by this trailer but keep this trailer in mind should you ever hear of someone close to you having a child on a Friday and needing to be back at work on a Monday.
A$ $ holes Trailer (NSFW)
This is the cinematic equivalent of getting a face tattoo.
Sure, no one is going to stop you from trying to earn a living but there might be some who are skittish about wanting you to serve the general public. That said, I’m completely behind director Peter Vack’s completely gonzo vision. It’s absolutely original in telling a story about these very different individuals and I don’t even think I have enough insight into what is actually happening before my eyes to draw any complete picture of what is going on. I’m not sure I really want to know what has brought us here with this story but, for sure, there wasn’t any distraction out there wild enough that could have made me look away. I just could not look away. Side note: I once used the word “scatological” to someone, at someone, who I was meaning to say could “riff” extemporaneously real well, improv through their use of the written word. You know, like scat and jazz. I failed to use that word properly then and I apologize. However, I am now using that word, properly, to describe the experience of sitting through this trailer.
Nota bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers to possibly be included in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp
In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week: