If you’re going to see just 1 Oscar-nominated film…see 5!

So here we are, almost Academy Awards time…Have you seen all the films? Have you heard the scores? And what’s the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing anyway?

This is an unusual year for me as I haven’t seen all the films but if you asked me which one of the nominated films to see—what would I recommend? My answer may surprise you. I would tell you to go see the Oscar-nominated Live Action Shorts!

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Seeking out shorts!

This doesn’t mean that I think the Best Picture nominations aren’t deserving! I’ll give you a quick run-down of how I’d rate them another time, perhaps. What makes this collection of five films from five countries so remarkable? These gems of great storytelling will move you, inspire you, and make you cry or laugh. They represent a distillation of what makes movies amazing: the craft of storytelling at it’s most focused and assured!  So please, go seek out the Shorts Programs. Many big cities are screening the Oscar-nominated Live Action and Animated Shorts and the Documentary Shorts are also brilliant–though that is a 3-hour program.

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

  • Ennemis Intérieurs — my least favorite

    Sélim Azzazi

    La Femme et le TGV –what a brilliant poster!

    Timo von Gunten and Giacun Caduff

    Silent Nights — just brilliant and Kim Magnusson’s 6th nominated film!

    Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson

    Sing — great film for the whole family

    Kristof Deák and Anna Udvardy

    Timecode — when you gotta dance!

    Juanjo Giménez

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Fall Film Festival Favorites

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Four Fall Festivals in three months!

Fall is a grand time to be a cinephile. Studios release their “important films”; the ones they hope the Oscar voters will remember. There are independent films that have landed distribution deals at film festivals and these gems are making their way to local art-house cinemas. A few films with festival buzz are about to hit a theater near you. Often these films don’t stick around long if they don’t find their audience…so here’s what I’d recommend.

Moonlight: Barry Jenkins has created a film of exceptional power. A slow-burning film essay on growing up poor, black and feeling hopeless…facing bullies, family addiction and a daily trail just to make it to school. Using three different talented young actors, the story feels both personal and universal and there’s not a false note or preachy moment. Great support from Naomie Harris as the mother helpless in her addiction spiral and Janelle Monáe as the mother figure who nurtures the boy. An amazing look at one boy’s arduous journey to manhood. I’d rate this film 4 shots of spiced rum for it’s Florida setting.

Eagle Huntress: We need stories of female empowerment now more than ever, and Otto Bell’s documentary of the first girl to become an eagle hunter in the Mongolian Steppes is both beautiful and exciting. Otto Bell’s note about filming  This is a film to take your daughters and sons to and I hope that it gets the wide release it deserves. 4 shots of whiskey to drive away the winter chill.

Lion: A Hollywood film that certainly doesn’t need my endorsement, it’s the amazing true story that makes this film stand out. Directed by Garth Davis and heralded by the Weinstein Company, Lion will have enjoy wide release. Dev Patel is gorgeous in this film even if his character is a moody, restless young man. Nicole Kidman adds considerable warmth as the caring adoptive mother…but it’s the young actor, Sunny Pawar, who steals your heart and the film! As the 5 year old Indian boy who is lost and then rescued into a new life, Saroo is torn from his home and his land. Sunny plays Saroo as a determined young man; full of hope and not looking for pity. I liked that the film doesn’t sugar coat the life of an orphan and the conditions in the orphanage. 4 cups of good Indian tea served with an Aussie biscuit.

My other favorite films: Una, a grueling, mesmerizing film with Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn playing broken individuals trying to regain their lives after an underage affair. L’Avenir, a very French film starring Isabelle Huppert as a woman who’s life is unraveling but she keeps her cool and creates herself anew.

Films I’m looking forward to seeing: A Man Called OveCertain Women  and 20th Century Women

What a ride…Telluride!

There are as many ways to enjoy Telluride as there are reasons to go to this glorious mountain town: festivals, skiing, and nature!  For some visitors, it’s the stars…you feel so close to the star-filled sky in this village with it’s Dark Sky policy.  And then, there are the other Stars; the Film Stars that descend on this tiny town for the Telluride Film Festival every year.

Just like any other festival I’ve ever attended, film-goers flock to the screenings with the most glamorous guests.  Even in this rarified atmosphere of film as fine art and a welcome respite from the paparazzi, the screenings that fill up are the ones with the Big Names.  This makes seeing the really good films more difficult.  The bigger budget (and often, more mediocre) Hollywood films, screen multiple times and in all the big venues. When the true gems of the festival create a buzz, there’s little chance to see them in the remaining day or two, especially when those films are screening in the smaller houses!

Pablo Larrain, Joseph Cedar, Isabelle Huppert moderator: Annette Insdorf and Mia Hansen-Love

 

 

2016 was no different, but what a fabulous line-up of films!  The Arrival with Amy Adams was the one film that seemed to always have to turn away the crowds.  Three films that I really wanted to see, I didn’t make it to: Graduation, Toni Erdmann and Through The Wall.  I didn’t attempt to see some of the bigger films that will soon be released but I did enjoy the hot mess that is La La Land.   Amusing, romantic, and fanciful, it’s a fun Hollywood musical.  Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have great chemistry.   The score and choreography are wonderful. Sadly, it’s suffers from poor editing and the last third of the film is a muddled mess.  Still, it was a delight and I’d give it 4 coupe glasses of champagne (out of a possible 5).

My favorite film of the Fest: Inner Workings, the new short from Disney directed by Leo Matsuda!  Delightful, heartwarming and a complete story in it’s short running time. I’d rate it 5 margaritas (not during work) out of 5!

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In the features category, my heart belongs to Frantz! François Ozon has crafted an indelible film full of grief, loss and longing all set in a small German village shattered by the loss of life during WW2.  Using black and white cinematography to bring you into this period; the costumes, setting and acting seem so attuned to the time that it creates a documentary feel…and then when love and vitality touch the lives of the anguished young lovers (played with such sensitivity by Paula Beer and Pierre Niney), color brightens the screen and warms the mood.  I was swept away and found the story to be so rich that I wanted to see it again immediately.  5 German beers!

One film that I did end up seeing twice, and would rather have not seen at all…Bleed For This.  Aaron Eckhart gives a great supporting performance as the trainer to Miles Tiller’s underdog boxer in a soap opera of a tale that’s so loopy — it has to be true.  Ben Younger directs a cast of gum-snapping, beer-drinking stereotypes where alcoholism is cured with a short stay in the pokey.  Did we need another boxing movie?  Really?  1 can of Budweiser.

Una is an emotional roller coaster based on the play, Blackbird.  Almost a one-woman show, Rooney Mara is emotional-wrenching in her role as the young woman left frayed and broken by an encounter she still doesn’t fully comprehend.  As the small cast reveals the shocking details, the audience is along for the intimate, anguished reveal.  Master work by director Benedict Andrews.  5 shots of vodka…no chaser.  You’ll be shaken and stirred!

In the just-for-the-joy-of-it category: Lost in Paris.  Two physical comedians, Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel, writer/directors, play characters named Fiona and Dom that keep careening into one another in Paris.  The French actress, Emmanuelle Riva, adds grace and depth to a film of childlike wonder. 3 bottles of French bubbly washed ashore.

Not a fan of the film Wakefield, I felt the character was a caricature of a man losing his grip on reality and Bryan Cranston gave a one-note performance in this unlikeable portrait. For a much more in-depth and believable parent and human being, there’s the soulful Isabelle Hubbert, radiant in her role of a woman who’s life is unraveling in Things To Come, directed by Mia Hansen-Løve.  Her performance has so many layers that you believe that her journey out of chaos will yield only stronger bounds with her family and an affirmation that she deserves a good life. 4 glasses of a good Bourdeaux!

All in all, a stellar year for the Telluride Film Festival.  So many films I wish I could’ve seen that I left with a feeling of yearning.  I look forward to seeing Manchester by the Sea when It’s released as I hear Casey Affleck’s performance is a revelation.

See you at the movies!

 

“Keep On, Keepin’ On”– it should have been the Closing Night film for SDFF37!

Keep On, Keepin’ On  is an inspiring film about the jazz trumpeter, Clark Terry and his legacy: his mentorship of young jazz musicians.  Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and Diana Reeves all pay tribute to this wonderful man.  When Australian filmmaker, Alan Hicks began making this film, he’d film for 3 months and then tour as a musician for 3 month to earn enough money to continue.  When he made the decision to return to his home, Hicks was convinced by Clark Terry that he needed to stay in Arkansas and finish telling the story. So he sold his surfboard to finance the airfare to Sundance to find a producer.  There he meet Paula DuPré Pesmen.  She was no stranger to first-time filmmakers having produced both The Cove and Chasing Ice. Together, they embarked on a musical journey that Paula said, “honors the joy of Clark’s enduring spirit”.

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Red carpet at Starz–“Keep On, Keepin’ On”

Alan Hicks had been following the story of Clark Terry’s relationship with young blind protégé, Justin Kauflin.  Both Justin and Dianna Reeves were in Denver for the screening.  Alan Hicks and his wife now live in Denver, something he says, he could never have imagined. “Here”, he says incredulously, “they ski and make movies–and there’s this wonderful film community!”

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Dianna Reeves graces us with her vibrant presence

Introducing "Keep On, Keepin' On" SDFF37

Alan Hicks, Paula DuPré Pesmen and Brit from the Denver Film Society

Keep On, Keepin' On at SDFF37

 

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Justin Kauflin plays piano at the Buell Theater in Denver, CO

Lisa Kennedy from the Denver Post led an animated discussion and then, Justin Kauflin played two piano pieces: one, the theme music he composed for the film, called “Exodus” and the composition he titled, “For Clark”.

Justin has been on tour with Quincy Jones and has recorded an album.  He still speaks weekly with Clark Terry and if he still isn’t confident in “his voice”; Justin knows he’s blessed to have had this wonderful experience with the best mentor anyone could ever hope for. Clark Terry is a jazz legend who links the past with all the jazz greats he played with, to the future, with all the jazz talents he’s trained.

Keep On, Keepin’ On  was awarded the True Grit Award and both screenings were major crowd-pleasers. Too bad the Starz Denver Film Festival decided they needed to program “Like Sunday, Like Rain”, in the hopes of some celebrity attendance that didn’t happen.  They “missed the boat” on having this amazing film, with its local connection, as the feel-good Closing Night film!

 
Keep On Keepin’ On opens at the Sie Film Center December 5! TICKETS

 

What to do when your town has no movie theater…

No theater?  No problema.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of movies…oh wait, is film not as important as all that?!

Well, to some of us, movies are right up there – on par with a beer at a local watering hole or dinner out on the town.  But what do you do if your town has no movie theater?  Here in Boulder County, there are a few places with no Cineplex.  Longmont will have an upscale cinema in the new Twin Peaks Mall but until then, both Longmont and the village of Niwot are sans cinema.

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What might seem like an absence is an illusion.  With a little planning and bit of adventure, you’ll find there are plenty of chances to go to the movies.  Libraries, Universities, art galleries and even unexpected venues may have film nights you weren’t aware of—many with films that would never have a chance to screen at a local Cineplex.

Firehouse Art Center in Longmont has hosted Free Film Night on the 1st Friday of the month for the last few years.  I’ve had the pleasure of programming some of the most recent screenings with local documentary films and film festival favorites.  This Friday, November 6, features a filmed live performance of “Rocks Karma Arrows”.  This production by the Motus Theater group recalls the Sand Creek Massacre that happened 20 years ago and how it’s influenced the history of Boulder County.  The screening will be followed with a discussion with the director, Kristen Wilson.  And did I mention…it’s FREE. 7pm, Firehouse Art Center1172785_663452923679966_568692727_o

How about a cinematic vacation in Italy?  With a visit to the CU campus, you can travel with the International Film Series on a comedy road trip with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on “The Trip to Italy”.  The companion piece to the witty, and often silly, British restaurant tour, “The Trip” (2010), this film is screening Fri and Sat @ 7:30 in Muenzinger Auditorium.  There’s also a lovely German film, “The Strange Little Cat” for those interested in an artful look at chaotic family life by a talented first-time filmmaker—Sun, also 7:30 @ the Muenzinger Auditorium.  $8 general admission.

There are films screened at many public libraries and Longmont has a night for Teens and Tweens they call Longmont Library After Dark! Students in grades 6-12 enjoy pizza, gaming, movies, and an anime club! This is designed to be a drop-off program so please register by calling 303-651-8477.  Participants need to be signed up by noon, Nov 8 to ensure adequate staffing.  For an Oscar-winning documentary, come see “Man on Wire” (2008) Thu, Nov 13 as part of the “Great 21st-Century Documentaries” @ 7:30.  Free, Longmont Library.

We have a few film screens dedicated to art-house and independent film in Boulder County: the Boedecker Theater at the Diary Center for the Arts, Cinearts at the Century Theater in Boulder and there are short films screened before all films at the Cinebarre Theater in Louisville…but did you know that there are screenings at eTown Hall?  This coming week, there is the documentary “Arise” on Nov 11 presented by Global Greengrants Fund focusing on women and the environment and Nov 13 — Best of BIFF Shorts: some of the best short films from 10 year’s of the Boulder International Film Festival.  Both screenings at 7pm at eTown Hall. $10 plus ticket fees.

This is just a smattering of the film offerings in Boulder County.  There’s always something cinematic happening in your ‘hood.  You just need to know where to look!

Did I miss a film listing or a film event in Boulder County for this coming week?

Well, don’t let it happen again!  Email me at 2jillie@gmail.com or post a comment!