The 39th Denver Film Festival gets underway tonight with opening night film, La La Land, a modern-day musical set in the City of Angels where some dreams are realized while others are crushed underfoot. The movie stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and Stone, along with writer/director Damien Chazelle, are set to attend the opening night festivities with a post-screening Q&A with Denver Post film critic emeritus, Lisa Kennedy. La La Land is currently under embargo, so I’ll leave it at this: La La Land is heart wrenching, acidic and poignant. Easily one of the best of the year and co-lead Ryan Gosling is magnificent. But … Continue reading The 39th Denver Film Festival — Day One
What does it take to make a good movie these days? Money? Star power? A dedicated auteur? A pastiche of ideas that resemble a movie? On the surface, The Nice Guys looks like a movie: it’s got Warner Brothers’ money, it’s got Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in the leads, it’s got writer/director Shane Black doing Shane Black shtick and it’s got murder, mystery, hard-boiled detectives and the gritty streets of L.A. set in 1970s post-modern neo-noir. Check, check, check, double-check. On the surface, The Nice Guys should be a good movie, but surfaces can be deceiving. Set in smoggy … Continue reading THE NICE GUYS
We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore. Well, maybe not. The Big Short is director and co-writer Adam McKay’s run at a All the President’s Men or Network, and though it comes up short *cough cough* in both cases, it is a compelling movie about a complicated subject. With a 150 minute running time, McKay manages to explore four outlying financial investor groups who managed to predict the housing collapse of 2008, and in one case, by a foresight of two years. How America found itself in the middle of such a colossal crisis is … Continue reading THE BIG SHORT
“We’re the ones who talked about AIDS when it was just being whispered. And we talked about civil rights when it wasn’t really popular. This academy – this group of people – gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. I’m proud to be a part of this academy, proud to be part of this community, and proud to be out of touch.” “If the movie makes money, I make money. If I don’t, I’ve still made the movie I wanted to make.” –George Clooney Continue reading Born On This Day – May 6, 1961
“I don’t know anything about the way a film is born, nothing about the manner of it, the lying-in, the ‘big bang’, the first three minutes. Whether the images in those first three minutes are born out of their author’s deep desire, or if – in an ontological sense – they merely are what they are. I wake up one morning with my head full of images. I don’t know where they come from, or how or why. They recur in the following days and months; I can’t do anything about them, and I do nothing to drive them away. … Continue reading Born On This Day – September 29
Only God Forgives a very delicate, fragile movie. You might not think that, considering the level of graphic violence, but it is. My first viewing of this fever-dream was at the LA Film Festival in June, where a member of the LA Film Fest introduced the movie and told the audience that this was a different type of movie, try to let go and go along for the ride. For the next ninety minutes, I sat in my seat, completely stunned and virtually motionless. I sat with my eyes peeled open, allowing image after image, color after color, wash right over them. Scenes followed other scenes, characters made entrances and exits, and eventually, it all faded to black. For a minute, I wasn’t sure if God Only Forgives was a movie of a dream, or a dream I had, possibly a dream I had just shared with 808 strangers. After the screening, writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn held a Q&A. He said that he liked to think of his movies likes drugs, if Drive was like getting a bunch of really good coke and doing it all in one weekend, then Only God Forgives is like doing LSD. Not the kind that makes you want to run around and have sex, but the kind of LSD that makes you sit in a chair and want to become the chair. Refn admitted that he has never taken psychedelics, and neither have I, but at that moment, I could not have understood a director’s intentions more.
The Act of Killing – Anwar Congo and his cronies helped the Indonesian army kill millions of communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals when the military took over the government in 1965. Anwar himself murdered hundreds with his own hands. Now they are movie stars. Never punished for their actions because they ended up on the right side of history, they are now recreating the murders, the atrocities, their side of the story for cameras in hopes that the truth will out and people will see them for the saviors that they see themselves. Guaranteed to chill you to your core. … Continue reading Movie Beat – 07.19.13
Blancanieves – Snow White en español, re-telling of a Grimm Fairy Tale in beautiful black and white photography by Kiko de la Rica and scored by Alfonso de Vilallonga. It was last year’s entry for the Foreign Film Oscar from Spain, but it will no doubt be called this year’s The Artist. Set in 1920s Spain, a young girl grows up with just a Father and learns his craft as a bullfighter. Hated and driven out by her evil stepmother, she joins a troop of traveling dwarves and becomes the most famous bullfighter in Spain. Performances from Ángela Molina, Maribel … Continue reading Movie Beat – 03.29.13