Christopher Nolan’s first IMDb credit came for writing, directing, shooting, editing, and set designing his 3-minute short film, “Doodlebug” (1997). The black-and-white, noirish film was made while Nolan (then credited as “Chris”) was studying English literature at university. Its lone performer, Jeremy Theobald, later starred in Nolan’s feature debut, Following (1998), another black-and-white noir just a year later.
It doesn’t take much to notice the early stages of Nolan’s evolving “film mind” in this brief piece. The various levels of reality at play here are fully on display in a greater form in Nolan’s 2010 film, Inception.
I have to say, I’m not David O. Russell’s biggest fan, though he has made some films I admire. Lately, he’s found favor with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook). So if you’re into that quartet, you’ll want to check out Joy, opening Christmas Day. Based on a true story, Lawrence stars as Joy Mangano, the struggling Long Island entrepreneur mom who invented the Miracle Mop and launched a business empire. Russell wrote the script off a story by Annie Mumolo (Bridesmaids, 2011) and Russell. The film also stars Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, and Isabella Rossellini. Check out the trailer below.
How does one of the world’s most dominant religions attempt to reconcile its longstanding troubles when a new film continues to shed light on them? It’s no secret that the Catholic Church has had more than its share of criticisms, from its controversial stances on homosexuality and divorce to its treatment of women. Arguably, the Church’s most pressing concern continues to be its response to the highly publicized sex abuse scandal, initially brought to light by The Boston Globe in January 2002. This journalistic investigation is the subject of Spotlight(2015), the new film from Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor) about the Pulitzer Prize-winning team of journalists that exposed the scandal and the Church’s controversial response. So how will the film impact public perceptions of the Church? In short, it probably won’t.
As the 53rd New York Film Festival wrapped with Closing Night selection Miles Ahead, a bio-drama on “social music” (don’t call it jazz) legend Miles Davis, starring and helmed by Don Cheadle in his directorial debut, it’s time to look back on some of the Festival’s best offerings.
BRIDGE OF SPIES
In Steven Spielberg’s Cold War-era drama, Tom Hanks plays a Brooklyn insurance lawyer who must broker a sensitive prisoner exchange with the USSR. Once again, Spielberg proves he’s at the top of his craft. Hanks turns in a solid performance, but it’s supporting player Mark Rylance who steals his scenes as a Soviet spy with his too-cool-it’s-unnerving performance.
The 23rd edition of the Hamptons International Film Festival launched its five-day run last Thursday with Opening Night selection Truth, the true newsroom drama starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford. With a healthy selection of world premieres and Oscar hopefuls (including nine foreign language submissions), the festival is primed to bring some of the world’s best cinema to Long Island. Here’s a small sampling of what’s on the slate.
It’s a good time to be a movie fan in New York. Two of the country’s preeminent film festivals—New York Film Festival and Hamptons International Film Festival—are upon us. The 53rd edition of the New York Film Festival (NYFF) kicks off tonight, September 25, and runs through October 11 at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center. The 23rd edition of Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) is next in line with a program running from October 8–12 in Long Island. (I’ve proudly served on the screening committee of HIFF for the past five years.) Given their fall festival dates, both have historically made good on delivering some of that year’s top Oscar contenders, and this year will likely be no different. Here are each festival’s Opening Night, Centerpiece, and Closing Night films. Check out each festival’s website for its full slate of programming. (All film synopses below are courtesy of their respective festivals’ websites.)
Nearly three years ago, I was offered the opportunity to interview Portuguese filmmaker Miguel Gomes about his new film, Tabu. As a Portuguese film buff and sometimes filmmaker, myself, I leaped at the chance. Now, Gomes has been making waves with his new three-part film, Arabian Nights, ever since its world premiere this past May at the Cannes Film Festival. The 381-minute epic will bow to US audiences beginning September 30 at the New York Film Festival. But before that happens, I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on my interview with him from December 2012.
Julianne Moore’s performance in Still Alice earned her an Oscar, but that wasn’t the only movie she starred in last year that got critics talking. Her “other” movie, Maps to the Stars, earned her the Best Actress award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Globe nomination for her lead performance in the comedy/musical category (she was double nominated in both leading categories and won in the drama race for Alice). Maps to the Stars is currently on Cinemax.
Synopsis (courtesy of IMDb):
A tour into the heart of a Hollywood family chasing celebrity, one another, and the relentless ghosts of their pasts.
Director:David Cronenberg Screenwriter:Bruce Wagner Cast: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack Distributor: Focus World Runtime: 111 min.
(Read about the entire process of making short film, “In-Kind,” by checking out the “Anatomy of a Short Film” section of this blog.)
1 weekend. 20 hours. That’s how long it took to shoot “In-Kind,” the short film that I wrote and am co-directing, along with Stephanie Dawson. (Check out the “Anatomy of a Short Film” tab above for progress on this project.) This film’s been on my mind for over four years, and I’m excited to say that we’ve wrapped shooting and are looking forward to post-production. Over 20 amazing artists and technicians joined together in a Bushwick, Brooklyn apartment to get it done, not least of which was our terrific cast, composed of Monique Pappas, Makenna Pappas, and Joe Forbrich (SAG-AFTRA).
Writer/Director Damien Chazelle must be enjoying his well-deserved recent success after his excellent debut feature Whiplash was nominated for five Academy Awards and took home the gold for Editing, Sound Mixing, and Best Supporting Actor. However, there was a time when Chazelle’s original feature screenplay about the sado-masochistic relationship between an ambitious jazz drummer and his abusive instructor wasn’t necessarily a hot commodity in Hollywood.