Sundance starts tomorrow, and just before the curtain raises we’re squeaking in with a list of films our correspondents — Vadim Rizov, Meredith Alloway and myself — are excited to see. I’m about to start packing, and colleagues from other magazines and companies are Facebooking their SARS-mask covered faces on their way to the influenza petri-dish of Park City. I could spin this intro out longer — quote Sundance festival director John Cooper on how this year’s festival is full of “alternative voices” — or perhaps left-turn into some metaphor or another, but I’ll just do what we do here and cut to the films. Below are 25 titles we can confidently say you shouldn’t try to miss. Madeline’s Madeline.… Read more
There’s a tradition of young directors looking for inspiration in the bygone eras of their adolescence. For George Lucas in American Graffiti, it was the California car culture of the early ’60s. For Richard Linklater in Dazed and Confused, it was the Texas high school rituals of the ’70s. And for Greta Gerwig in Lady Bird, it’s Catholic school and the suburban doldrums of early-aughts Sacramento. Written and directed by Gerwig, Lady Bird follows the titular character (Saoirse Ronan) through her senior year of high school as she fights with her mom (Laurie Metcalf), pines for a philosophical dilettante from the neighboring all-boys school (Timothée Chalamet), and dreams of escaping Sacramento for college on the East Coast. The film’s 2003 setting… Read more
My first feature film, Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time, is a drama/romance that takes place in three different countries, showing how a couple’s relationship evolves over the course of a decade. I have been working on this film for longer than I’d like to admit. I had little luck getting the funding or support needed to get the film done, but then I got accepted into the IFP Narrative Lab, and my world completely changed. To talk about everything I learned during the IFP Narrative Lab would take about 40 pages, so I’m going to try and boil it down to the 5 biggest takeaways and add some tips I wish I had known years ago. 1) I didn’t… Read more
Christina Kallas, writer-director of multi-protagonist feature films 42 Seconds of Happiness and The Rainbow Experiment, which will have its world premiere at Slamdance on Saturday, January 20, takes a look at the current shift in storytelling and shares her thoughts on how to pursue a more inclusive cinema by redefining the past. A few years ago I wrote a series of articles including an eight-point plan of action for Ted Hope’s Truly Free Film blog, “How to Change the World (And Most Importantly, Why).” As one of my sources, I used the 2013 USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s study, which is still the largest and most comprehensive intersectional analysis of characters in motion picture content. My eight-point plan included actions such… Read more
Paul Thomas Anderson held a Reddit AMA today, where the subject of a video from 1992 came up. In the video, Anderson wanders the set of the Robert Conrad movie Sworn to Vengeance, asking various crew departments about their work and which one is the most important while generally being very snarky and making Clinton jokes. It’s a fun curio.
Margaret may be one of the best movies you’ve never seen. It’s the second film from writer/director Kenneth Lonergan, whose first, You Can Count On Me, won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2000, and third, Manchester by the Sea garnered two Academy Awards for Lead Actor and Original Screenplay. But Margaret suffered a different journey, shooting in 2005 and being released much later in 2011 for a very limited run — and a cut 36 minutes shorter than the one Lonergan preferred. As part of its series, “The Way I See It: Directors’ Cuts,” the Quad in New York City screens the extended cut of the film this week, which runs over three hours long, so it feels… Read more
In Mudbound, a friendship between two returning soldiers – one white (Garrett Hedlund) and one black (Jason Mitchell) – sets a pair of neighboring farming families on a path to tragedy in post-World War II Mississippi. For cinematographer Rachel Morrison (Fruitvale Station, the upcoming Black Panther), filmic references for the harshness of agrarian life in the Jim Crow South were few and far between considering the Hollywood studio offerings of the era were preoccupied with propagandistic war movies and opulent musicals. Instead, Morrison looked to the Depression-era photography commissioned by the Farm Security Administration – specifically the work of Gordon Parks, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn and Dorothea Lange. The result is strikingly high-contrast imagery that daringly creeps along the precipice… Read more
Click here to read our 25 New Faces of Independent Films list.
There’s a line in Bob Dylan’s “Brownsville Girl” that goes, “(It’s) strange how people who suffer together have stronger connections than people who are most content.” Suffering together connected director Guillermo del Toro and cinematographer Dan Laustsen on the set of 1997’s Mimic. The Miramax-produced giant… Read more
Much has been written on the proliferation of film festivals over the last two decades or so. Tentacular events in whose midst commercial imperatives and nobler intentions (or alleged such) dialectically coexist, festivals can be many things, but rarely do they feel as vital and… Read more
Brett Morgen prides himself on adventurously pushing artistic boundaries in documentaries such as The Kid Stays in The Picture, where he used photo animation to capture Paramount producer Robert Evans’ life; Cobain: Montage of Heck, where he integrated the singer’s music and sound collages with… Read more