Friday, December 6, 2019

New film round-up

As an Academy member, each day I get a shipment or two of DVDs containing Oscar-eligible hopeful films.  Some are well-known films that I missed in the cinema and others are obscure docs, foreign films or even more obscure art films.  But I endeavor to see everything - which is an impossible task since I'm still trying to create two feature films of my own, and I have very little spare time.  So I'll avoid talking about the "duds" and only review my favorites here.

"Yesterday" is a curious film that was released over the summer, it's about a failed musician who discovers that nobody remembers the Beatles or their music except for him.  And as he begins to perform their music, he becomes a giant genius of rock.  It was written by the great screenwriter Richard Curtis of "Love, Actually" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral" fame.  It was directed by Danny Boyle, who made "Slumdog Millionaire" - somehow these two worked miracles with the storytelling, humor and great Beatles music.  I love this film.  It's a delight and already on my top ten for this year.

The other film that's way up there is "Booksmart", directed by Olivia Wilde.  The film came out earlier in the year and I think the problem was that the title really turned me off. It seemed like it would be an intellectual teen drama, so I never watched it when it was in theaters.  But I got the Academy screener DVD, and the minute this film began, I was laughing out loud, and that continuted throughout the entire film.  And that doesn't happen often, it must be very hard to do.  The humor was raw, in-your-face and outrageous, which makes sense with associate producers like Adam McCay and Will Ferrell.  Definitely check out "Booksmart" - Olivia Wilde is going to be a superstar director.

And finally, I just screened "I Lost My Body", directed by Jéremy Clapin, which won the Audience Award at the Annecy Festival and the Grand Prize at the Cannes Critics' Week.  It's a very clever story of a dismembered hand who is searching for his original body.  It's kind of a love story - there are some wonderful moments in the film and you can see why it won all those awards.  It's made for film festivals!

But for me, it's too serious and arty.  The style is 2-D rotoscope - it looks nice but I prefer more stylization and caricature in my films, and also definitely more humor.

The other event I want to talk about is my recent trip to Spain for the Bilbao International School Zinema Festival.  They screened "Revengeance" and I held two Master Classes there - they didn't draw huge audiences but I got very enthusiastic receptions.

I was able to go to the fancy Guggenheim Museum, the one designed by Frank Gehry - it's a beautiful building in a beautiful city, but the shows were so boring!  One entire floor of boring photo portraits.  Then on the bottom floor was a large room of Richard Sera's large rusty metal slabs - I see the same thing every day at NYC construction sites - why do I need to go to Bilbao to see that?

I'll be reviewing more animated features here in the future - there are still a lot more eligible films from 2018 that I need to see!  Now, please enjoy this week's gag cartoon!


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