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September Film Favorites


I hope everyone had a good ol' jolly Christmas celebrating it with family, friends, a gluttonous amount of food! The good people of Fairgrounds Media Inc. has brought us a little video that showcases Christmas through the eyes of various infamous auteurs we all know and love (ie: Lars von Trier, Steven Spielberg). This clip is nothing short of humorous and charming as it references to Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and even Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. I can't help but giggle at these auteur's iconic styles that are undeniably prominent and recognizable. Check it out!

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OK, ladies and gentlemen! My review of Spike Jonze's Her is finally here! Her showed at the AFI FEST '13 and I can easily say its one of the best film of 2013! Spike Jonze's Her is THE ULTIMATE 21st century love story that contemplates the idea of the essence of love and relationships. Jonze serenades and cradles us in his arms as we equally reflect and relate to Theodore's loneliness, dilemma, and revelation. Definitely a MUST-SEE!!

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Lawrence of Arabia (1962, David Lean)

T.E. Lawrence: A thousand Arabs means a thousand knives, delivered anywhere day or night. It means a thousand camels. That means a thousand packs of high explosives and a thousand crack rifles. We can cross Arabia while Johnny Turk is still turning round, and smash his railways. And while he's mending them, I'll smash them somewhere else. In thirteen weeks, I can have Arabia in chaos.
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I've been kind of obsessing over Spike Jonze's new film Her lately because not only is it one of the best films of 2013, but it is basically my kind of film. And what I mean by that is that I love any project Spike Jonze is attached to especially if it deals with love and heartbreak and has Karen O singing part of the soundtrack. How perfect (& biased)! So naturally, I am more than ecstatic to be going on a strict diet of anything tied to Her from stills to reviews to film articles, (even instagram) and so on and so forth! You might just end up vomiting all over your computer after hearing me aggressively preach about the great-ness of the film and the trillion posts I'm going to make but until then, just enjoy the blissfulness that is, HER.











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HOLY CRAP! AFIFEST is now over! I watched over 20 films and I am here to review them! I know this video is incredibly long so just watch the beginning and skip to your preferred mini review!!

TOP FILMS:
02:40 - Yeon Sang-ho's The Fake
03:20 - Harmony Lessons (BEST FILM IMO)
04:26 - Spike Jonze's HER
05:20 - The Past (review: http://youtu.be/DPOSSjOzodU)
05:52 - Borgman 
06:19 - Gloria (Chile's entry to Oscars '14)
06:45 - Like Father, Like Son
07:17 - Jodorowsky's Dune
07:57 - We Are the Best
08:36 - Miyazaki's The Wind Rises (review: http://youtu.be/NXi0cDWaY9I)
08:56 - Blue Ruin (review: http://youtu.be/5GtXI2NYsTM)
09:20 - Big Bad Wolves

OTHER FILMS:
10:18 - Nebraska
11:23 - Saving Mr. Banks
12:10 - Child's Pose (Romania)
12:41 - The Grand Central
13:19 - The Lunchbox
14:24 - Manakamana
15:18 - MOEBIUS!!!
16:11 - Tom at the Farm (review: http://youtu.be/CLkR9sUiNZg)
16:54 - Vic + Flo
17:40 - In Bloom
18:24 - The Sacrament
18:58 - Inside Llewyn Davis (review: http://youtu.be/LLMi5QEvtfk)
20:24 - My Dog Killer

WHEW! That was a long and doozy one! Thanks yall for those who actually watched this!!!
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Gregg Araki is back. It's been four years since Kaboom (2010) and even though, I haven't seen his previous film, I am estatic to know that he is coming out with a new film. I've been a huge fan of Araki after seeing The Doom Generation (1995) and Mysterious Skin (2004). It is just one of those film experience that can wholly change your perspective on the world as well as cinema. Sundance is premiering White Bird in a Blizzard which is based on the novel of the same name by Laura Kaischke. Shailene Woodley is Hollywood's most prominent and rising stars and after seeing her incredible performance in The Spectacular Now, I am hopeful that she will knock it out of the park once again in this film. 

The film tells the story of Kat Connors (Shailene Woodley), a young woman whose life is turned upside down by the sudden disappearance of her beautiful, enigmatic mother (Eva Green). Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, Thomas Jane and Angela Bassett also star in this film. 

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Kristen from Sales on Film and I review the new Coen Bro's film, Inside Llewyn Davis. Inside Llewyn is an undeniably beautiful film that chronicles the failing life of Llewyn Davis. Even though its premise is simmering in melancholy and harshness, the Coens construct a tale that shines through and through especially with the stellar performance by Oscar Isaac. 



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Kristen from Sales on Film and I have been reviewing some AFI FEST films but we thought we should stray away and review a film that is one of the best films in 2013! Although, the film runs for a full three hours, never does it drag or feel like it's too much. This coming of age story of Adele tells one of the most genuinely raw tales of self discovery that explores sexuality and love. It is also interesting to see a story that highlights the most rewarding aspects of life that is also a feast for the soul: food, conversations, sleep and of course love. 


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If you didn't know already, Sundance Film Festival just released their MEGA line-up for their 2014 festival! Everyone's eyes should always be peeled considering that any films that are showcased at Sundance are most likely to be the biggest and best films of the year. There are literally a trillion films being shown and obviously, I am not doing any justice by only sharing a sliver of their mind-blowing line-up. But I've compiled a small list of films that I am excited to see in the upcoming year. I am probably missing the best ones but these ones that sound just fantastic as of right now!

PREMIERES:




Frank / Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Lenny Abrahamson, Screenwriters: Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan) — Frank is an offbeat comedy about a wannabe musician who finds himself out of his depth when he joins an avant garde rock band led by the enigmatic Frank—a musical genius who hides himself inside a large fake head. Cast: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy.




I Origins / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Mike Cahill)—A molecular biologist and his lab partner uncover startling evidence that could fundamentally change society as we know it and cause them to question their once-certain beliefs in science and spirituality. Cast: Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Steven Yeun, Archie Panjabi.



The Raid 2 / Indonesia (Director and screenwriter: Gareth Evans) — Picking up where the first film left off, The Raid 2 follows Rama as he goes undercover and infiltrates the ranks of a ruthless Jakarta crime syndicate in order to protect his family and expose the corruption in his own police force. Cast: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad.



They Came Together / U.S.A. (Director: David Wain, Screenwriters: Michael Showalter, David Wain)—This subversion/spoof/deconstruction of the romantic comedy genre has a vaguely, but not overtly, Jewish leading man, a klutzy, but adorable, leading lady, and New York City itself as another character in the story. Cast: Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Ed Helms, Cobie Smulders, Max Greenfield, Christopher Meloni.




White Bird in a Blizzard / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Gregg Araki)—Based on the acclaimed novel by Laura Kasischke, White Bird in a Blizzard tells the story of Kat Connors, a young woman whose life is turned upside down by the sudden disappearance of her beautiful, enigmatic mother. Cast: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, Thomas Jane, Jacob Artist.

DOCS:



Life Itself / U.S.A. (Director: Steve James) — Life Itself recounts the surprising and entertaining life of renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert. The film details his early days as a freewheeling bachelor and Pulitzer Prize winner, his famously contentious partnership with Gene Siskel, his life-altering marriage, and his brave and transcendent battle with cancer.

All the Beautiful Things / U.S.A. (Director: John Harkrider) — John and Barron are lifelong friends whose friendship is tested when Barron's girlfriend says Barron put a knife to her throat and raped her. Not knowing she has lied, John tells her to go to the police. Years later, John and Barron meet in a bar to resolve the betrayal. (In Competition)




Love Child / South Korea, U.S.A. (Director: Valerie Veatch) — In Seoul in the Republic of Korea, a young couple stands accused of neglect when "Internet addiction" in an online fantasy game costs the life of their infant daughter.Love Child documents the 2010 trial and subsequent ruling that set a global precedent in a world where virtual is the new reality. World Premiere (In Competition)
Mr leos caraX / France (Director: Tessa Louise-Salomé) — Mr leos caraX plunges us into the poetic and visionary world of a mysterious, solitary filmmaker who was already a cult figure from his very first film. Punctuated by interviews and previously unseen footage, this documentary is most of all a fine-tuned exploration of the poetic and visionary world of Leos Carax, alias Mr. X. World Premiere (In Competition)
THERE ARE SO MANY MORE FILMS! (HYPERVENTILATING*) Check out the full guide here
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I go on a HUUUGE rant in my film vlog but let me first state that I AM A HUGE PARK CHAN-WOOK AND EVEN BIGGER PROTECTIVE/LOVER OF THE ORIGINAL OLDBOY. But after I heard that Spike Lee was going to use more material from the 1990's Japanese manga series that OldBoy is based off of, I let go of my blistering pride and became a little more hopeful. There are vast differences between Park's film and the manga that surely solidifies Park's twisted and sick mastermind even further. With that said, I tried not to have the previous film puncture my judgement of the American version no matter how bastardized it was. And even with the unwavering presence of its big brother hovering over each frame, Lee's OldBoy does not stand strong but merely wobbles on its weak knees as a film and not a "remake." It is not entirely unsatisfying but I'm glad that this opera freak show is now removed from the platforms of cinema like a band-aid, first cringe-worthy but swiftly done and over with.
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Secretary (2002, Steven Shainberg)

E. Edward Grey: Look, we can't do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Lee: Why not?
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I'm really ready for Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive to come out already! Luckily, it will come out early 2014! WHO IS READY? Watch the trailer again and again as well as peeping their stills and clips!
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Goblin came to Beyond Fest and was their centerpiece showcase where they performed three sold out events following by a screening of Dario Argento's classic films such as Suspiria, Deep Red, and Tenebrae. One of the most incredible experiences I have had the pleasure of witnessing. Beyond Fest out did themselves this year! Check out what we had to say about the phenomenal event and Dario's greatest films!


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Kristin from SalesOnFilm is my AFI FEST correspondent and we watched Asghar Farhadi's The Past starring Berenice Bejo and Tahar Rahim. Although, A Separation resonated with me more, The Past is an intricate story about the miscommunication, nostalgia, and imperfections we as humans face in our day to day lives. This film will be a huge frontrunner for the Oscar's Foreign Film section! One of AFI FEST's best films!

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Secretary (2002, Steven Shainberg)

Lee: In one way or another I've always suffered. I didn't know why exactly. But I do know that I'm not so scared of suffering now.  I feel more than I've ever felt and I've found someone to feel with. To play with. To love in a way that feels right for me. I hope he knows that I can see that he suffers too. And that I want to love him.
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HOLY HELL! Lars von Trier's new film trailer of Nymphomaniac just came out and IT IS CRAZY WILD! (NSFW WILD!) I'm in filled tears my friends, I am in tears! Previous Trier collaborators like Charlotte Gainsbourg as the Nymphomaniac, Stellan Skarsgard, William Dafoe, and Udo Kier return for another crazy ride injected with unfiltered sexcapades, mental breakdowns, and naturally, a unrelenting cynicism in every scene. Apparently, Nymphomaniac is the final part of the "Trilogy of Depression" that also includes Antichrist and Melancholia, all of which stars Gainsbourg. I'm truly excited to see any Trier film but in particular this one considering my fav Shia LaBeouf is engaging in unsimulated sex!  Their use of metal music is making me want to bash my head against the wall in excitement! There is no exact release yet but I am obviously filled with excitement! Also check out the ORGASMIC posters that were released.

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Kristin from SalesOnFilm is my official AFIFEST correspondent and here we review Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin. Blue Ruin is Saulnier's second feature and it is a significant achievement from his debut film, Murder Party. He takes the overplayed theme of vengeance and gives a unique spin to the genre by playing with its conventions and our expectations. One of the best films shown at the festival!

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Eraserhead (1977, David Lynch)

Mrs. X: Henry, may I speak to you a minutes? Over here. Did you and Mary have sexual intercourse?
Henry Spencer: [stammering] Why?
Mrs. X: Did you?
Henry Spencer: Why are you asking me this question?
Mrs. X: I have a very good reason, and now I want you to tell me.
Henry Spencer: I'm, I'm very... I love Mary!
Mrs. X: [interrupting] Henry, I asked you if you and Mary had sexual intercourse!
Henry Spencer: Well, I don't... I don't think that's any of your business!
Mrs. X: [interrupting] Henry!
Henry Spencer: I'm sorry.
Mrs X: You're in a very bad trouble if you won't cooperate...
[nuzzling at his neck]
Henry Spencer: Well, I...
[calls]
Henry Spencer: Mary!
Mary X: [grabbing her away] Mother!
[sobs]
Mrs. X: Answer me!
Henry Spencer: I'm too nervous.
Mrs. X: There's a baby. It's at the hospital.
Mary X: Mom!
Mrs. X: And you're the father.
Henry Spencer: Well, well that's impossible! It's only been...
Mary X: Mother, they're still not sure it is a baby!
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I'm late on this but check out these unused posters for Spike Lee's remake of Park Chan-wook's classic film, OldBoy. Although,  I had been very skeptical of the remake considering that I hold the original film very close to my heart, but Artist Juan Luis Garcia's designs evoke the eerie and desperation that the film entails. I am currently reading the OldBoy manga and knowing that there are various differences from the book to Park's film, it gives me a sprinkle of hope to know that Lee will try to adapt more of the comic than the South Korean version. I would've loved if they made the official poster any one of the above but they chose the one below. Not bad eh? Spike Lee's OldBoy comes out November 27

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I recently visited Netflix after not being on it for while and almost fainted when I realized that one of my top films of 2013, Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha was on Netflix Instant! Not even just on Netflix but it is streaming! Amazing. Then naturally, I saw a plethora of other amazing films I've been DYYYYING to see and am elated that Netflix is making my life that much easier. So here's a list of films that were newly released (see list) and some that caught my eye that I think are worth watching.

1. Frances Ha (2013, Noah Baumbach) Streaming & DVD
Surprisingly, this film vlog of mine is the most viewed on my channel and it's no wonder why because this is one of his most accomplished films to date. It resonants on so many levels. A

2. Only God Forgives (2013, Nicholas Winding Refn) Streaming & DVD
I actually enjoyed this one (peep this review) despite that after my first viewing of Drive, I was one of the few that didn't like it as much. Only God Forgives on the other hand, really was like a perfect acid dream. B+ 

3. Europa Report (2013, Sebastian Cordero) Streaming & DVD
Europa Report showed at LAFF '13 and I should have done a review of this but obviously got too lazy (not a good enough reason!). But no doubt, this was one of the best low budget science fiction stories I've seen in a while. It plays on the reality of being in space and all the responsibilities and risks that come with the challenges of venturing in space. I loved it for the sheer fact that it didn't go for cheap tricks but just told the story like it is through found footage. A

4. Pacific Rim (2013, Guillermo del Toro) DVD
Pacific Rim was one of the big blockbusters this past summer that I truly loved (oogle at this review) Despite what other film critics say, this is one film in which the CGI overrides the story content and makes the movie that much better. Definitely worth watching but please watch it on the big screen with a deafening sound system. B+

5. The Heat (2013, Paul Feig) DVD
This estrogen-charged buddy cop film couldn't have been done better than Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Even though, they followed a lot of buddy cop genre conventions, it was hilarious and refreshing to see these two unlikely pairs in action. (Gander at this reviewB-

6. Blackfish (2013, Gabriela Cowperthwaite) DVD
Blackfish is one of the most important documentaries to come out in 2013. Excruciatingly devastating and potent, it shatters the happy facade of SeaWorld as it unveils the horrid condition and treatment of their killer whales. I did had a little beef with the construction of this film but overall, very effective. (Sob with this review) B+

7. Prince Avalanche (2013, David Gordon Green) DVD
It is humorous and touching but this film didn't fulfill me as a viewer as much as I wanted it to. Great soundtrack from Explosions from the Sky. (Gawk at my review) B-

Other films I've been wanting to see (streaming):

What Maisie Knew (2012, Scott McGehee)
Computer Chess (!!!) (2013, Andrew Bujalski)
Kon-tiki (2012, Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg)
V/H/S 2 (2013, Various Filmmakers) 
A Band Called Death (2012, Mark Christopher Covino & Jeff Howlett)
Haute Cuisine (2012, Christian Vincent)
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Kristen from Sales On Film is my AFI FEST correspondent and here we review Hayao Miyazaki's last film, The Wind Rises! It's a bittersweet moment as it is Miyazaki's last film it is one of my favorite films of his. He tackles adult themes and its a biopic of Jiro, an aircraft engineer. Definitely see it, it's one for the books!


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It is rare when a film makes you reexamine what you thought you knew about yourself and your beliefs. That's exactly the effect that Yeon Sang-ho's animated film, THE FAKE, provokes. What follows is my conversation with Yeon at AFI FEST 2013 about his challenges with faith, Studio DADAshow and comic books.

What inspired the story?

There was an incident some time back in 2002 that involved a celebrity making a statement that angered the Korean government. It was a sensitive political issue that caused a public outcry. But what he said wasn't completely untrue. That's where the inspiration came from.

Was this political figure in the film?

No, not exactly. I was asked this question a lot in Korea about where I got the inspiration for the film. But it was such a sensitive issue, I wasn't able to talk about it. The figure I'm talking about used to be an actor and said something negative about FDA [Food and Drug Administration] issues. The public was swayed against him because they were confused by what he was saying, and he was saying these things while he was shooting advertisements for loan sharks. Since that time, he hasn't been able to pursue his career as before, and I was watching this person speak for himself when no one was listening. I wanted to take this incident and dramatize it in an extreme way.

I just watched THE KING OF PIGS (2011) and was totally blown away. It was so much heavier than I thought possible. You deal with the theme of being a monster. What draws you to this theme and why is it so present in your films?

Considering my work is in animation, I want to draw out the emotions expressively. That's why the story is more dramatic than most live-action films and why the characters look more monstrous.

Like the characters in THE FAKE, has there ever been an incident where you had to deal with the dilemma of loss of faith?

I face this feeling very frequently. It even comes with the most minor things in life, like when I'm trying to wake up but can't, or when I'm trying to do something but don't. A feeling of failure arises that sways my faith and determination to achieve bigger goals. Trivial things put me in a more unstable position in regards to bigger things.

Do you plan on making a live action film?

Not at the moment.

For people who don't know about your production company, DADA Show, can you tell us a little bit about it?

It is very different from other production companies. I tend to work with very low budgets with a small staff. For me, it's easier to work alone, using my own methods for animation that is cost effective. I realized there weren't many companies that could work with my methods, and some people I knew helped create this production house and I have come so far. Animation often involves getting others to help, but we mostly do everything in house. So yeah, we do things a little differently at DADA Show.

Do you plan on expanding the company and working with other filmmakers?

Yes, I am willing to do that. At the moment we are creating another filmmaker's animation under DADA. He is also the line producer on THE FAKE, and this is his debut film.

There are not many animated films that come out of Korea, and they aren't always very good. You are like a pioneer for animation in Korea.

Yeah, I guess I would say so.

Your films are so hard-hitting and grim to the point where I am completely exhausted from the heartbreaking story. What is the message you want to give to the public?

There are a lot of comics and animated films that I like and I just wish the audience could feel the same response from my films as I do with those comics. I would say if my film drives people to think and rethink, it'll be great. My wife asks me where I learn about all these diverse subjects and I say comic books.

So what are some of the comic books you read that inspired you the most?

There's this particular comic book that I can't think of right now that inspired THE KING OF PIGS. Sion Sono recently made a film called HIMIZU that's based on Minoru Furuya'smanga that I like. But if I were to recommend something for you to read, I would suggest my friend's comic book. His name is Chae Gu-suk and he was the character designer for THE FAKE. There's also another book called “Korea's Native.”

Do you have anything you are working on now?

I am working [on a] project about Seoul Station. It is an animated film about the homeless people around Seoul Station.

I feel like your work is a commentary on Korean society, like Lee Chang-dong's films. Anyone that watches your films can learn so much about the culture.

I am a big admirer of Lee Chang-dong. Like SECRET SUNSHINE.

Yes, it is very reminiscent of your film because that film and THE FAKE both deal with faith in different ways.

I like OASIS, too. I feel that his films are told in a very tight way.

Are there any other Korean filmmakers who inspire you?

Lee Chang-dong, Park Chan-wook. For filmmakers my age, they would all say the same.


Be sure you also read my review of the film! (via. AFI FEST)
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Crome Yellow and I went to Beyond Fest to watch Mike Dougherty's Trick 'r Treat (see review!). I had not seen it before and it was absolutely one of the best Halloween films I've ever seen! Beyond Fest transformed the American Cinematheque into a haunted playground and it was awesome! I also got a free poster so I want to do giveaway so the rules are: 

1. Share this vid on Twitter and tag either me (@ssoyunum) or @CromeYellowWeb
or
2. Share this vid on facebook and tag either me or Crome Yellow
or
3. Share through Google+ and I'll be able to see who shared it! 

I will be picking a winner on the 20th of November!

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Beyond Fest: @BeyondFest
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