Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Top Films (July-November)



Features
La Belle saison/Summertime (2015, Catherine Corsini) Probably the top film of the year for me so far.
I, Daniel Blake (2016, Ken Loach) Best film I saw at AFI.
The Rose (1979, Mark Rydell)
Morris from America (2016, Chad Hartigan) Great performances and lots of great, new, young performers.
Under the Shadow (2016, Babak Anvari) One of my favorites in competition for 2016's Best Foreign Language Film (Oscars)
Le Silence est d'or (1947, René Clair)

Top Documentaries
13th (2016, Ava DuVernay) Netflix
10 on Ten (2004, Abbas Kiarostami) bonus feature on Ten
Poto and Cabengo (1980, Jean-Pierre Gorin) formerly on Hulu
And the Pursuit of Happiness (1986, Louis Malle)  formerly on Hulu
Somm (2012, Jason Wise)
Breathing Together: Revolution of the Electric Family/Growing Up in America (1971, Morley Markson) Video Link
Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (2016, Werner Herzog)                       
The Eagle Huntress (2016, Otto Bell)                       
Author: The JT LeRoy Story (2016, Jeff Feuerzeig)
Gleason (2016, J. Clay Tweel)
The Lovers and the Despot (2016, Ross Adam, Robert Cannan)
Audrie & Daisy (Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk, 2016) Netflix
Amanda Knox (2016, Rod Blackhurst, Brian McGinn) Netflix
Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang (2016, Kevin Macdonald) Netflix
Burroughs: The Movie  (1983, Howard Brookner) Great features on the DVD, including a commentary by Jim Jarmusch
The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists (1995, Les Blank)

Short Films
How to Win an Election (Sarah Klein, Tom Mason) Op-Docs Video Link
Untitled Portrait (1993, Cheryl Dunye) from the DVD The Early Works of Cheryl Dunye
A Well Spent Life (1972, Les Blank, Skip Gerson)
Gap-Toothed Women (1987, Les Blank)
Q & A (2015, Adam Epstein)
Everything Is Samuel L. Jackson's Fault (2013, Zoe Jackson) Video Link

Honorable Mentions
Elle (2016, Paul Verhoeven)
Julieta (2016, Pedro Almodóvar)
Christine (Antonio Campos, 2016) Great performance by Rebecca Hall that I hope doesn’t get overlooked.
Miss Sloane (2016, John Madden)
Anjô-ke no butôkai/A Ball at Anjo (1947, Kôzaburô Yoshimura)                       
Mes chères études/Student Services (2010, TV Movie, Emmanuelle Bercot)
Rhapsody in Blue (1945, Irving Rapper)
La Fille de nulle part/The Girl from Nowhere (2012, Jean-Claude Brisseau) Very bizarre, unique, poignant film
Interstate 60: Episodes of the Road (2002, Bob Gale) viewable on Amazon Prime
Lola Versus (2012, Daryl Wein)
Nikui an-chikushô/I Hate But Love (1962, Koreyoshi Kurahara)    formerly on Hulu
Fathers & Daughters (2015, Gabriele Muccino)
Café Society (2016, Woody Allen) Really, I thought this film was way better than the critics have been giving it credit for.
The Hollars (2016,  John Krasinski)       
Postales de Leningrado (2007, Mariana Rondón)
Der Staat gegen Fritz Bauer/The People vs. Fritz Baer (2015, Lars Kraume)

Series/Mini-Series
Making a Murderer (2015, Moira Demos, Laura Ricciardi) Netflix
Top of the Lake (2013, Jane Campion, Garth Davis)
L'Inde fantôme (1969, Louis Malle) formerly on Hulu

Sunday, August 28, 2016

SoCal CIFF 2016

If you're a filmmaker thinking about submitting your short film to film festivals, check out SoCal CIFF. In its third year, they were sold out opening night: August 12, 2016. It was held at the wonderful, historic Raleigh Studios where attendees of the festival gained exclusive entrance on the lot. In addition to complimentary drinks and food for their V.I.P.s, they also had a great exhibit featuring Sara Radovanovitch's eclectic art, and an amazing DJ: Shai'La Yvonne.

Filmmakers arrived from all over the United States and even other countries to promote their current projects, network, grant red carpet interviews, and participate in Q&As after their screenings.

Featuring over 60 shorts with such a level of quality, several managed to stand out including Audience Choice Winner "Q & A" (Adam Epstein), "#Amish" (Kacey Spivey), "Successful People" (Janina Maria), and "The Traveler" (Jonathan Lawrence, Anthony Bradford).

Some filmmakers were already looking ahead to film their next project. Writer/director/actor Oliver Singer mentioned that the script for the feature-length version of "A.W.O.L." was already written. Producer Annie Clark ("Cry Hard") spoke of wanting to make another short before attempting her first feature. Writer/director/actor/producer Tara-Nicole Azarian is at work on a feature-length cosplay documentary.

The festival closed with an exciting awards ceremony. Multiple award-winners at the festival were "S.A.M." (Best Science Fiction and Sean Kaufmann for Best Actor) and "Legend of Dark Rider" (Best Horror and Titus Paar for Best Director). The post-festival party was held at the Moment Hotel on Sunset Boulevard where filmmakers celebrated their awards and got in the final chance to network before the big weekend finished.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

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[Paul Jury and Hailey Bright from the web-series "48 States of Granddad"]

The SoCal Clips Indie Film Festival had a sold-out opening night on August 12, 2016. My personal favorite short was "Q & A", directed by Adam Epstein. Writer Jacob Stark explained to me that this satire was inspired by a real question and answer session that occurred relatively close to the Los Angeles area. Other highlights included the first episode from the web-series "Successful People" and the dramatic "Tu & Eu".

Saturday's schedule will feature first-time producer Annie Clark's "Cryhard". She said it was her first movie ever and wants to make another short before making a feature in 2017. The budget was just 2,000 Canadian dollars, so it met the festival's limit of a $10,000 or less budget.

Also to look forward to is Paul Jury's "48 States of Granddad". He drove through the 48 continental states after college and wrote a book about it before adapting the story into a web-series. While he has also visited Hawaii, he is waiting for the Netflix deal to explore Alaska.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Top Films (June 2016)

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Top Documentaries:
De Palma (2015, Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow) Recently released in theaters.
Life, Animated (2016, Roger Ross Williams) Completely amazing. I had no idea what this movie was about before I saw it, just that it was from an Academy Award winning director. It was incredibly moving and highly recommended.
The Century of the Self (2002, Adam Curtis)
Vapor Trail (Clark) (2010, John Gianvito)
Miss Sharon Jones! (BarbaraKopple) I saw a sneak preview, but it'll be showing in Los Angeles in early August.      
Dreamcatcher (2015, Kim Longinotto) I discovered an amazing list of films directed by women on Netflix that helped me find this movie.

Feature:
 Conjuring 2  (James Wan) Pretty scary, but pretty weird that it was released in the middle of summer.

Short:
I, Dalio (2015, Mark Rappaport) available on Fandor