Octavio Paz has said: 'an imprisoned man has only to close his eyes to be able to blow up the world.' I would add, in paraphrase: it would suffice for the white pupil of the cinema screen to reflect the light which is proper to it, to blow up the universe. the cinema is capable of putting him into a state of ecstasy more effectively than any other mode of human expression. but more effectively than any other, it is capable of brutalising him. --Luis Bunuel

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Justin Simien's 'Dear White People' Poster & Trailer

It's here! The first trailer for Justin Simien's Dear White People! I've been patiently waiting for the full trailer to come out because the teaser just wasn't enough! This was one of the films at LA Film Fest that I wasn't able to see because there was a line around the corner and even those people couldn't get in! The film is based on Simien's own experiences at a predominately white university, which centers on four black students at an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over a popular "African American" themed party thrown by white students. 

Tbh, it's hard marketing a film that talks bad about any ethnicity (besides N. Koreans) but when it's being pointed at the largest and most dominant ethnicity that controls most of media and culture, yeah, it's a hard sell. But I'm so glad it was done because even though I'm sure a lot of white people will immediately take it as offensive and lash out, someone had to do it. And I'm glad it's none other than Simien. Like I said in my other teaser post, it seems like Simien has delivered a razor sharp and tongue in cheek exploration and open discussion about racial identity in a so-called "post-racial" America." It wants to talk about things people are scared to talk about because they don't want to be seen as a "racist" or voice their distaste for it because there are also repercussions. But in a day and age where "racism" is supposedly "gone" is bullshit and that's not the reality. We've been growing a generation of kids to just ignore race politics and brush it under the rug, instead of dissecting and examining the our culture and it's effect on the individual. I'm more than thrilled that Simien has made a film that screams aloud the problems across the board with all ethnicities and not just black people. Dear White People comes out October 17

Monday, July 21, 2014

Jake Gyllenhaal Wants a Job in the Nightcrawler Teaser

What in the world is this?! Clearly, this is viral stunt to promote the directorial debut of writer Dan Gilroy's new film, Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Apparently this video was quietly uploaded to YouTube with the statement "my video resume" by Lou Bloom, the character Gyllenhaal is playing. This is a great first teaser for the film as he talks for about a minute about how he is THE perfect candidate for the job! Nightcrawler is about a young man who stumbles upon the underground world of L.A. freelance crime journalism. The cast includes Bill Paxton, Rene Russo, Ann Cusack, Eric Lange, and Kevin Rahm. 

Gyllenhaal looks absolutely emaciated and deprived of sleep in this teaser that you can actually see the desperation in his eyes. That kind of look that is borderline eager yet desperate enough for him to suddenly snap and stab you with his butter knife. It's quite a different look than the ones we're used to seeing him as of lately in Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners (2013) as Detective Loki and L.A. cop Brian Taylor in End of Watch (2012). I can't wait to see a full trailer as this film looks like it could be one of those films where a character is on the brink of a mental breakdown! It's sadistic to adore those kind of films but it brings such a cathartic experience that you can't help but love them! Nightcrawler will open in limited theaters starting October 17th!

Film Vlog: Agnes Varda in Californialand!

I recently went to Agnes Varda's exhibit called Californialand at LACMA. She was once called the "grandmother of the French New Wave" as she's been making narrative and documentary films for six decades! The installation is inspired by her time in Los Angeles in the late 1960s as well as a selection of her photographs. As a film critic and filmmaker, it's always inspiring to see the prolific work done by great auteurs. I am at LACMA almost every other week to either volunteer at film screenings or to just enjoy some jazz on summery friday nights. The most spectacular concoction I saw at the exhibit was Varda's house of film that she called "My Shack of Cinema." Sadly, I had footage of being inside and just the environment but I honestly don't know what happened to that so I'm hoping these photos suffice! I seriously need to watch more of her films because Cleo 5 to 7 (1962) and Vagabond (1985) isn't enough! Watch her films if you haven't already!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Matt Reeves' Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Matt Reeves' Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one of the finest blockbuster to come out this year. It pits the humans and apes against each other to show that even species apart, we all want and need the same thing. At times, it felt long but it really takes it's time to engross you into their post-apocalyptic world.  I was very hesitant about  Matt Reeves doing the American remake of the Swedish film, Let the Right One In (2008) called Let Me In (2010). But after I saw it, it is clear that Reeves has a talent that needs to be reckon with. I'm so glad that he made a Hollywood film with a modest amount of subtitles. I hope the next film we see will be strictly apes communicating through sign language. I would definitely stand at the midnight screening for that!

Jim Jarmusch's 'Coffee and Cigarettes' Stills

(2003, Jim Jarmusch)

Grade: A

Thursday, July 10, 2014

'Guardians of the Galaxy' Trailer Reaction & Stills

OMG! Here is the 3rd and extended trailer for the much anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy film starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, and Dave Bautista. Normally, I would say having three trailers is kind of overkill but they show enough new footage and action that spurs the hype even more. And if that wasn't enough, they perfectly timed this trailer release with the 17 minute sneak peek of the movie in selected theaters! I hope there is still some mystery left in the film. I mean, after researching for stills and trailers, I feel like I've seen the entire film already but I am still very excited for the movie! Also if you haven't already seen the incredible Vector Artwork by my friend Mary, DO! It's incredible. From what I can recall, Guardians of the Galaxy is probably going to be one of the last blockbuster of this summer. Can't believe summer films are coming to a close! The film comes out August 1st!

Glenn Close?!

Monday, July 7, 2014

LA Film Fest '14: Top 5 Films

LA Film Fest is finally done and I've rated all the films I've seen at the fest here! But here I am selecting the top 5 films I've seen that were worth mentioning. And let me tell you, it includes a lot of prison action/turmoil/mis-conduct that'll surely boil your blood in more ways than one. In no particular order, I have listed The Overnighters, Out in the Night, Frank, The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest, and Starred Up as my top 5 films that I watched at the LA Film Fest. Not only are these films thought-provoking but they hit very close to home with their powerful message that transcend social commentary and invoke personal introspection. Without a doubt, these films challenged me as a viewer because all these characters go through a tremendous amount of a discrimination that I can completely relate to on a small scale and to see their story come alive in a much larger way, brought tears to my eyes. It is filmmaking at it's finest. Definitely check it out when it comes out!

Mary HB Nguyen's 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Vector Art

HOLY HELL! My good friend and brilliant artist, Mary HB Nguyen created some vector art for the cast of the hugely anticipated film, Guardians of the Galaxy! I've been in love with Mary's style of animation and art since day one and it's incredible to see the range of her work thus far. I mean, check out this portrait she did of me which is bursting with colors and awesomeness! She is a LA-based digital artist working in both illustrations and animation and soon going to be taking over the art/film scene (def hit her up for customized work). I'm a novice when it comes to Vector art but I am immediate attracted to the choice of colors and structure Mary decided to use for her pieces especially the fierce portrait of Gamora. I am now infinitely more ecstatic for Guardians to come out in theaters on August 1st! Be sure to check out more of Mary's work on her Facebook and Instagram!

Check out the extended Guardians of the Galaxy trailer:

David Fincher's Gone Girl Trailer #2

Finally, we get a "real" trailer for the adaptation of Gillian Flynn's best selling novel, Gone Girl. I say "real" in quotations because the first trailer wasn't much of a trailer at all considering it only gave a sneak peek into what to expect out of the insanely well-written and cleverly crafted mystery novel. And of course, who would be better at directing a mystery/thriller other than David Fincher himself. With second film of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo out of the works, I am elated that Fincher has gone to pursue this spectacular project as Flynn actually had Fincher in mind when she was writing the novel. As I said before, Flynn is writing the screenplay as well and has agreed to "slaughter her baby" as in completely wipe out the original ending of the novel and re-write another for the film which I'm sure would be more climatically appropriate for the screen. Regardless, I am over-joyed because Gone Girl was one of the best novels I've read last year and am speechless at it's movie rendition that truly brings the intensely gripping and mind-blowingly brilliant story so accurately to life. 

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike stars as Nick and Amy Elliot Dunne who are a married, out-of-work writers. When Amy suddenly disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary, all the fingers point directly to Nick. Gone Girl will be come out October 3rd! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Film Vlog: LA Film Fest '14

LA Film Fest 2014 is finally done and over with! It was nine days of just non-stop parties, screenings, and events! I didn't watch as many films as I intended to and even missed a few screenings on my list but nonetheless, I had an incredible time just soaking in the invigorating energy that emitted from film-lovers and the movies alike. In total, I saw 13 films, which is only half of what I usually see at fests but it's all good because I got to see some of the best documentaries and narratives I would not have been able to see anywhere else! Naturally if I wasn't drowning myself with at least two films a day, I was tangoing the night away, stuffing my face at all the events, or taking thousands of photographs! (I will do anything for free food, ya hear me?!) I hope more people can join me at LA Film Fest next year but till then, watch my video of all the shenanigans that went down!

Top films:
Violette (Dir. Martin Provost) A
Frank (Dir. Lenny Abrahamson) A
Club Sandwich (Dir. Fernando Eimbcke) A
Out in the Night (Dir. Blair Dorosh-Walther) A
The Overnighters (Dir. Jesse Moss) A
Han Gong-Ju (Dir. Lee Su-jin) A
Starred Up (Dir. David Mackenzie) A

Other films:
Snowpiercer (Dir. Bong Joon-ho) B+
Jimi: All Is by My Side ( Dir. John Ridley) B-
Uncertain Terms (Nathan Silver) B-
Two Faces of January (Dir. Hossein Amini) B+
The Well (Dir. Tom Hammock) C+
Jossy's (Dir. Yuichi Fukuda) C-