I’ve been to about six different film festivals in my life so far, and the documentary-driven True/False Film Fest—held the last weekend in February in Columbia, Missouri—is far and away my absolute favorite. (Sorry, Sundance; it’s me, not you.) Even though the fest has my nostalgia (it’s held on the campus of my alma mater) and loyalty (my day-job employer sponsors the fest) working in its favor, plentyof other peopleagree that it’s pretty fantastic. And I find it hard to imagine any other future festival-going experience will ever take its place. Why?
12 Years a Slave is a faithful and bold adaptation of Solomon Northup’s 1853 autobiography of the same name. British director Steve McQueen gives us an unblinking account of Northup’s abduction into slavery in 1841 and his attempts to “not just survive but live.” McQueen’s style is assured and minimalist—this period of American history needs no dramatization. The truth is harrowing enough.
The Way Way Back is by no means a perfect movie, but it is a good movie, and one worth spending a summer afternoon savoring. Named after Duncan’s spot in the not-quite-blended-family station wagon, the film is a coming of age tale, set in a chummy seaside town that seems to have no use for an an awkward teenager with bad posture and worse jeans.
Writing team Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants) make their directorial debut with The Way Way Back and do a good job with the scale of the story. Duncan’s big moments are all small but intensely meaningful to him…and to me, as a viewer, as the film went on. Faxon and Rash are also great at subtext: One scene has Duncan, his mom, his mom’s boyfriend and the boyfriend’s daughter playing a extremely tense game of Candyland in a charade of family togetherness. I’ve never seen so much said with a few slams of a plastic gingerbread man.
I’m still not quite settled in enough to blog properly, so I thought I’d introduce you to my roomie, moving buddy and life coach, Copa. Today, as I was dealing with a broken water heater (fixed!), internet withdrawal (online again!) and introvert-living-in-a-glass-house freak-outs (blinds and most doors installed!), Copa just smiled, found a spot in the sun amongst the boxes, and reminded me to chill. I hope you get to meet her in person (in dog?) someday because she is one special soul.
I’m joining bloggers across the country today to pause and remember Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison N. Wyatt, Rachel Davino, Dawn Hochsprung, Nancy Lanza, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto.
Please join us in taking some extra time to ponder the small ways we can each bring more peace into the world during such a sorrowful time. Kansas-City-based artist Jeremy Collins is selling prints and cards of the image above to raise money to help families pay for funeral costs. Contribute if you wish.
Only two days until The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens. Do you have your tickets? Have you done your Peter Jackson research? Checked out Hobbiton? Entered the Hobbit giveaways on Reads, Style and Life? Still need more Hobbit activities to kill the remaining hours? Then why not stream these Hobbit-connected stories that will let you see Bilbo, Gandalf and Thorin in a whole new light?
You could say that Life of Pi makes a compelling argument for faith. You could say that Life of Pi celebrates the triumph of the human (and animal) spirit. You could say that Life of Pi gives 3D an artistic reason to be. You could say a lot of things about this film, but the one thing it says loud and clear for itself is this: Beauty matters.
Writer and director Lynn Shelton is known for making sweet movies about not-so-sweet situations. While her breakout hit Humpdaywas a more extreme version of that emotional sleight-of-hand (just check out the film’s logline), Your Sister’s Sisteredges this indie queen into mainstream territory with this tale of tangled relationships, bad decisions and good intentions.
Jack (Mark Duplass) is grieving his brother’s death. His brother’s girlfriend was Iris (Emily Blunt), who has become Jack’s best friend and voice of reason. Iris sends Jack to her family’s secluded cabin for a time out after he makes a scene at an anniversary memorial gathering. What Iris doesn’t know is her half sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) is already there, mourning her split from a long-time lover. What Jack doesn’t know is that Iris is beginning to have feelings for him. What Hannah doesn’t know is that her reckless efforts to heal her own broken heart are about to break a couple more.
I’ll admit I’m no Bond expert. I’ve yet to read the books. I don’t have a favorite 20th century Bond film. I’ve gotten my spy kicks from Alias, Mi-5 and the Bourne books and movies. I think my lack of Bond love is partly because I was introduced to the franchise as a teenager during the Pierce Brosnan era. Nothing against Mr. Brosnan. I just wasn’t old enough to understand the context of the campy humor, and, unlike Mindy Kaling, I didn’t get the crush appeal of the star. (I was more of a Brad Pitt teenager.)
So I started to come around to the series with 2006′s Casino Royale. And not just because this time I did get the crush appeal of the star, Daniel Craig. I swear. I liked Casino Royale and its successor, 2008′s Quantum of Solace, because Bond went dark. The films were post-modern, and (literally) deathly serious. (Plus, parkour!) I tend to like my heroes complex, and the first two films of the reboot delivered in that arena.