There are few filmmakers in the history of cinema more revered than Alfred Hitchcock. One of the great cases of a director being able to marry art and commerce, his film shocked, thrilled, entertained, and inspired countless viewers for decades. He also was known as increasingly troubled. His behavior towards his famous “Hitchcock blondes” often either bordered on or crossed the line into unprofessional. His treatment of Tippi Hedren on the set of The Birds is well documented, bordering on abusive. Such a complex artist surely would make a fascinating subject for a cinematic study of the man. I believe one day such a film might exist. Hitchcock is not that film, not by a long shot.
Author Kevin Ketchum
Of all the common threads in storytelling, faith is probably the trickiest one to work with. It can be at once universal and also personal: faith in God, life, humanity, or lack thereof. Ang Lee’s newest film, Life of…
All too often, as a lover of cinema and all the artistry it can bring through visual storytelling, it’s easy to ignore some of the smaller achievements. While certainly no fan of the recent “mumblecore” subgenre of independent filmmaking, I find myself often trying to at least be aware of smaller films that get lost in the shuffle of Hollywood mega-blockbusters and beautifully rendered awards season fare. The Sessions is just that kind of film, and it’s all too easy to let a film as simple and small as this one fall by the wayside. But sometimes, it’s a breath of fresh air to encounter something so emotionally honest and naked.
Fantastic Fest is a film festival that I feel has a distinct advantage over others. The programming is so subversive and different that you really never know what you’re going to get. Sure, there are a few commercial titles like Frankenweenie, Looper, and others that you have an idea of going in. But other than that, no film ever plays out exactly the way you expect. As a genre festival, it’s very easy to get caught up searching for a hard-edged, violent action or horror film in the mix to champion. Certainly, there are some, but I’ve found that every year the films that tend to win me over the most are the ones with the most heart.
Every once in a while a truly great piece of science fiction comes along that is so groundbreaking, so audacious, that it immediately makes its mark as a watershed moment for the genre. More often than not, it revolves around the ethical and scientific dilemmas surrounding a new piece of technology, genetics, or something of that nature, into a society not yet ready for the consequences. Looper, the newest film from rising filmmaker Rian Johnson, is all that and more. It’s a morality tale, a thrilling action film, a hard-boiled thriller, and an intellectual sci-fi film. But most importantly, it does what great science fiction does best; tell a story about human beings.
Setting forth on Day 2 of Fantastic Fest, my hopes were high for a packed schedule of multiple films I was very excited to see. Unfortunately, fate is a fickle bitch. After securing a really great spot in the online ticketing system, a server error kicked many of my colleagues and I back to the far end of the line. Ultimately, I managed to secure a ticket to only one film, but it was worth the headache regardless.
Fantastic Fest is a double-edged sword. It’s simultaneously the most fun and most stressful film festival I attend. Packed to the brim with programming and events, the festival always brings together the most wonderful and weird films from all over the world in a genre festival that movie geeks from everywhere can appreciate.
The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson’s long awaited follow-up to his 2007 masterpiece, There Will Be Blood, isn’t about Scientology. The origin of the controversial “religion” serves as inspiration for Anderson’s film, but really it’s just a framing device, a springboard if you will, for a far richer and more opaque cinematic canvas. Anderson’s film is as much a character study as it is about the human condition, and how broken and fragile we really are.
Earlier this summer I had an opportunity to see Samsara, the new film from Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, and the follow-up to their landmark 1992 film, Baraka. Serving as both and evolution and an extension of their previous film, Samsara is another breathtaking journey to every corner of the globe, and capturing the flow of life in a way that’s impossible to describe.
Before getting any further into this review, one thing needs to be said: The Dark Knight Rises is not at as good as The Dark Knight. Phew, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to reviewing the film at hand, shall we? The Dark Knight Rises represents a somewhat unprecedented move in the genre; a finale to a trilogy that truly is the end. There will be no more Batman movies directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale as Batman ever again. The story is complete. No spinoffs or further sequels with other characters. With that in mind, director Christopher Nolan set out to craft a truly great sendoff for Batman, and ending worthy of being the epic conclusion to the legend of the Dark Knight. And for the most part, Nolan and his team deliver in spades, with a few minor bumps along the road.