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September Film Favorites


Year: 2014
Director: J.C. Chandor
Writer: J.C. Chandor
Cinematographer: Bradford Young
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Elyes Gabel
Country of Origin: U.S.
Rating: N/A
Time: 125 min.

Kristen Sales (Sales on Film) and I went to AFI FEST this past month and we were able to catch some of the same films together and so we decided to do the natural thing and record some reviews together. J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year is bound to stir some much needed discussion among cinephiles and audiences alike due to the polarizing effect it had on people. Whether you liked it or not, it is undeniable the unique cinematic voice Chandor has for the struggles of everyday Americans. Kristen and I once again explore the themes and aspects of A Most Violent Year that makes us love it or hate it!



I can totally relate to Kristen when she compares A Most Violent Year to films from the old days and how it feels very old school. Indeed, it feels like it could've been made in the 60's or 70's but they made a very simple story seems a lot more complicated than it actually was suppose to be. But what I liked about it were the tones and moods that gave the story a sense of looming danger and struggle especially in the everyday lives of Americans and immigrants alike. Bradford Young's gorgeous cinematography captured the warm yet rigid and harsh environment during the dark times in 1980's New York where the crime rate was at it's all time highest. Whether you come out liking it or not, you can't help but appreciate Chandor's efforts and vision to highlight an unseen aspect of achieving the American dream.


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The first time I saw Leah Shore's I Love You So Much, it was at Los Angeles Film Festival '14 and I completely fell truly madly deeply in love with it, Savage Garden style. She took such a simple concept of two people who love each other so much but incorporated belly-achingly hilarious dialogue and wacky  animation that resulted in one of the most eyegasmic short films I have ever seen! Shore herself star in this piece that had me kicking and screaming on the floor due to it's insanely comical one-liners (Tinder-worthy) that may seems outlandish and ridiculous but I must admit, I've uttered these words to my once lover(s) (no shame) in my lifetime. Leah Shore is in all sense of the word an artist--an artistic force to be reckoned with even if she just wants to make you feel uneasy! But I mean who doesn't! 



Follow Leah Shore
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Badass Femmes is a bi-weekly column that I write on Crome Yellow about all the Badass Females in pop culture that has shaped my life.

2014 was a great year for women in film, from female directed films like The Babadook and The Midnight Swim, to female-centric stories such as Mommy, Two Days, One Night and more. You could say that this was the year of the badass femme; but nobody stood out more than the unearthly woman in Jonathan Glazer’s haunting Under the Skin. Named only as The Female, Scarlett Johansson went above and beyond as an out-of-this-world alien whose dead-pan stare and endearing smile was able to lure men to their impending doom. Although the true gender (if that even applies) of the alien is arguable, the character resonates as the year’s best dissection of what it is to be a woman first and foremost, and a human being on an even deeper level.

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Year: 2014
Director: Jennifer Kent
Writer: Jennifer Kent
Cinematographer: Radek Ladczuk
Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall
Country of Origin: Australia
Rating: N/A
Time: 93 min.



If you didn't hear already, Jennifer Kent's The Babadook is being helmed as one of the best horror films of this year, if not the decade! It was inspired by her short film called Monster which I posted up earlier today. Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman bring this simple story to unparalleled and frightening heights as a mother who is haunted by the death of her husband, all while dealing with her son being taunted by this "Babadook" bogeyman figure lurking around in the house. It's a deeply haunting, atmospheric, and jarring story that taps into your deep and darkest fears of motherhood and loss.


Be forewarned when I tell you that I have not slept properly in about two weeks because of Kent's masterful filmmaking. She takes this seemingly simple story but goes dives full throttle into the psyche of a fragile and tortured soul of Amelia. And that is what's so terrifying about the film is not the power the Babadook has but the one Amelia possesses. She takes all the conventional tropes of horror and gives the story a nice and tight little twist! There is even a real Babadook storybook being sold now all signed by Kent herself! Kent is a brave, bold, and brilliant new voice in cinema and I simply cannot wait what she does next!


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Before Jennifer Kent's directorial debut film. The Babadook (see review), there was her short film, Monster. Monster follows the simple premise of a single mother who is dealing with a child who is haunted by a boogeyman figure. Despite its short length, Monster is deeply haunting with its quick paced and direct climax that resurrected my buried anxiety of when I watched The Babadook. The short film shows Kent's uncompromising vision that she transfers to her feature length film that gives her room to be that much more detailed orientated about character development and plot to deliver one of the most jarring films of the last decade! Check out Monster and don't tell me that the "Bogeyman" in the film isn't like The Ring but next level scary! 

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George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road has got to be one of the most anticipated films of 2015! After the release of the teaser a couple months ago (see reaction link below), people were already excited! But now with the full trailer out only confirms what we already knew: MAD MAX IS GOING TO BE ONE OF THE BIGGEST FILMS OF 2015! There's no doubt about it with its sweeping cinematography of the harsh and warm terrain, equally manic performances and make-up, and of course, the heart-pumping action sequences! This film also have a very edgy cast consisting of Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Charlize Theron, Zoe Kravitz, and so much more (models)! I'm sure the whole world can agree with me when I say that this has got to be the most exhilarating trailers of this year! Mad Max: Fury Road comes out in theaters May 15, 2015!


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Badass Femmes is a bi-weekly column that I write on Crome Yellow about all the Badass Females in pop culture that has shaped my life.

When I first watched Lynne Ramsay’s unnerving We Need to Talk about Kevin, it was merely a week after the horrific 2012 Aurora theater shooting. You can imagine my shock when the real life event crossed over into the terrible events of the film, which features a mother coping with a terrible school massacre committed by her son. Fast-forward to present day where I’m in my mid-twenties and all of my peers seem to be getting married or having babies. With the myriad of films about marriage and children this year (Gone Girl, Force Majeure, The Babadook to name a few), it seems as though the idea of marriage and motherhood is feverishly taunting me, knowing that I’m nowhere near that point in my life. With that in mind, I decided to revisit We Need to Talk about Kevin, because of it’s exploration of nature vs. nurture and the “shocking” notion that not every woman may have the maternal gene that society likes to project.

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It was announced just this morning that Terrence Malick's new film Knight of Cups was going to premiere at next year's Berlin Film Festival and so naturally, the trailer is here! The only thing we knew about the Knight of Cups was that it is about a man who deals with temptations, celebrity, and excess but nothing more considering Malick is always super secretive about his future projects. But now we see from the trailer, it's about a man doing some serious soul-searching via multiple relationships, drugs, and so much more.

I did not like To the Wonder as much as I thought I would so I am extra excited to see Malick's iconic cinematography infused with an energetic vibe  about a man's journey to find himself that frankly reminds me of Gasper Noe's Into the Void. Come to think of it, Knight of Cups is what it would look like if Malick just took a couple of Mollies and made a film! This film has a stacked cast starting with Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Natalie Portman too say the least. Despite what the consensus will be come February when Berlin Film Festival starts, the film looks exhilarating and I'm glad Malick is taking a slightly different route that is still introspective but with a pump of amphetamine-like energy! 

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Year: 2014
Director: Xavier Dolan
Writer: Xavier Dolan
Cinematographer: André Turpin
Cast: Anne Dorval, Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Suzanne Clément
Country of Origin: Canada
Rating: N/A
Time: 139 min.



Kristen Sales (Sales on Film) and I went to AFI FEST this past month and we were able to catch some of the same films together and so we decided to do the natural thing and record some reviews together. And how can we go to AFI FEST without reviewing another Xavier Dolan film?! Last year we review Tom at the Farm and this year is one of the year's best films, Mommy. Mommy is about a widowed single mother (Anne Dorval) who has to raise her violent and volatile son all alone (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) until a peculiar neighbor (Suzanne Clément) offers some hope.



Although I have not seen his first feature, I Killed My Mother yet, I can already tell that Mommy is just another extension of that film about his personal relationship with his own mother. You can't help by fall in love with Mommy starting with it's pop culture references like having a 90's top hits soundtrack to shooting in an "Instagram" aspect ratio to emotionally potent performances by all parties that is universally relatable no matter how extreme. It's theme of volatile love in a family setting was wholly relatable to me as I have had my own share of these moments. Mommy went on to win the Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival and is Canada's official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at 2015's Academy Awards which I am sure, it will get nominated! Now, all I have left to do is watch his first film before he comes out with his sixth feature film next year!




Follow Kristen:
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Rise of the Planet of the Dogs? The trailer of Cannes' Un Certain Regard WInner, White God (Fehér istenjust came out and it is a ferociously enthralling story that'll make Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey seem like a cake walk. White God is an Hungarian film directed by Kornél Mundruczó about Lili, a 13-year-old girl's  fight to protect her dog Hagen. She is devastated when her father eventually sets Hagen free on the streets due to harsh "mongrel" fines imposed by the government. Determined to find Lili again, Hagan attracts a large pack of half-breeds who start a seemingly organized uprising against their human oppressors. You think it sounds awesome now, just watch the trailer below!



Initially, I thought it would be an innocent tale about a girl's love for her puppy but it soon turns out to be SO MUCH BETTER THAN THAT! It's a story unlike any other that shows the impenetrable bond between a girl and her dog. The story carries a lot of heart and a powerful social message about our society. The film went on to win Cannes' Un Certain Regard Award so you already know the film is good! The canine protagonist Hagen (played by brothers Luke and Body), was awarded the Palm Dog award in Cannes and attended the premiere! They went to the photo-call, red carpet, and even appeared on stage, becoming the first dog in Cannes history to do so and that is so exciting! White God is Hungary's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at 2015 Academy Awards. Hopefully I'll be able to catch it at Sundance because this is one film, I DO NOT WANT TO MISS!

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I have not heard of the band Cruisr before I stumbled upon their music video for "All Over," which is possibly my favorite thing on the internet at the moment ( & I'm on the internet a lot!!). Not only is their song super catchy but it is accompanied by imaginative and seamless animation that is an homage to iconic film couples and pairs ranging from oldies like The GraduateLolitaand Manhattan to small screen indies like Buffalo '66Under the Skin, and even Boyz n the Hood! It's hard enough to not shake your booty to this song all while trying to identify every single reference they are making! But let's see how many you can get!



The video's creator and director Chris Carboni explains his creative process on his website

"The concept was born out of the central theme of the track - the inexplicable but relateable allure of getting your heart stomped on in all the right ways. The clever simplicity of the lyrics combined with the instantly catchy rhythm of the song called for a narrative that could breeze by just as effortlessly. So I decided to visualize the story through notable film romance - from the iconic to the obscure - represented through colorful animated vignettes. A lot of the fun came in finding the right balance of love and chaos to represent such a volatile relationship. Echoing the idea of constantly cycling back and forth between these two extremes, I decided to have each section seamlessly transition into the next without any cuts."

Well damn, Chris Carboni! Well done! There were maybe a few I did not catch but this is a superbly constructed music video that delivers numerous eyegasms as the video unfolds. Can you name all the couples in this video? 
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We finally get the first (French!) trailer to David Robert Mitchell's much buzzed about horror flick, It Follows, which already made it's rounds at Cannes, Fantastic Fest, AFI FEST, and now it's going to Sundance! This is Mitchell's sophomore feature after The Myth of the American Sleepover (which is on Netflix) and it looks really good! Written and directed by Michell, It Follows is about 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe), who finds herself plagued by strange visions and an inescapable sense that someone (or thing!) is following her after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter.



Initially, I wasn't sure I was on board with the whole "being punished for being sexually-active" kind of premise but after watching the trailer, there is a omnipresent darkness, permeating through the trailer that'll surely leave many of us shaking in our boots come 2015. Many critics have already claimed that  this film and The Babadook could be 2014's scariest films which only makes me want to see it that much more! Even though, I am the worst when it comes to horror films, its premise about teen sexuality is of great interest to me so bring it on! Sadly, I couldn't catch It Follows when it was at AFI FEST. But thank goodness RADiUs and The Weinstein Company acquired the rights and will be distributing it early 2015. Doesn't it look so creepy and awesome?

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I love it when the film's marketing team knows exactly how to hype up the film even more by releasing a poster that is visually captivating and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I have compiled 30 poster, some from the same films, that I feel are some of the best posters of this year due to their imaginative artwork that translates the film's premise with impressive visual style. Whether it's the staged and cool toned photography in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, the imaginative and detailed design of Willow Creek, or even the seductive minimalism of the Under the Skin poster, this year has been another impressive year for movie posters! Take a gander and tell me which poster is your favorite, if you can even pick one (cause I can't)! 

       



             

       
(I love it how for The Interview, the Korean actually translate to "Don't believe these obnoxious American fools!")


   

     


       

      


             

       



      
     


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I am ashamed that this is my very first post about Tony Zhou's now infamous film channel Every Frame a Painting, which showcases a plethora of incredibly thorough and informative video essays dedicated to the analysis of film form that has focused on various topics ranging from Edgar Wright's Visual Comedy to A Brief Look at Texting and the Internet on Film. I suggest future film majors to quit school and just watch more of Zhou's videos if they truly want to be educated on film because once you watch one of his videos, it'll radically change how you consume and analyze film. Yeah, it's THAT great. It's the combination of his smooth and zen-like voice and the acutely edited video that provides a concise, contemplative, and detailed assessment on the film or filmmaker at hand.

Zhou's newest video tackles Jackie Chan's distinct acrobatic fighting style and how he managed to blend action and comedy, two seemingly incompatible genres, to reinvent a new form of filmmaking. I grew up watching everything Jackie Chan did from The Legend of Drunken Master to all the Rush Hour films to even the animated series, Jackie Chan Adventures. So, just when I thought I had known basically everything I needed to know about Chan's signature fighting style, Zhou swoops in and serves me a sweet dish of knowledge and wisdom. Zhou is quickly becoming one of the best film essayist out there, joining the ranks of Kevin B. Lee and Kogonada, who has already been widely praised by critics and fans alike for their immaculate and pensive take on various auteur's visual style. Definitely check out Zhou's video down below, you won't be disappointed.



Follow Tony Zhou
YouTube // Vimeo // Twitter // Tumblr
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Netflix's newest original show, Marco Polo nearly went under my radar when a string of articles on the interwebs lead me to the Business Insider article titled "Netflix Is Creating One of the Most Expensive TV Shows In The World--Here's Why It's So Important." After watching the trailer and reading the article, I became infinitely enthralled by Netflix's new series written and created by John Fusco, which focuses on the life of the famous explorer, Marco Polo, and his adventures in Kublai Khan's court in 13th century China. So here are 3 reasons why I will be tuning in at midnight on December 12!



1 // Marco Polo is going to be the one of the most expensive TV series ever made with a whooping cost of $90 million with merely 10 episodes. The only other show with a higher budget is HBO's Game of Thrones. And with the show produced by The Weinstein Company, it's a sure bet that Marco Polo will showcase the highest level of engaging performances, detailed production design, and gripping drama. I mean $90 million is bonkers especially for only 10 episodes so let's see why they shelled out so much money for a period piece like this one. The costs might have been for the construction of the entire set considering that the show was denied filming in China and they had to resort to filming in Italy, Kazakhstan, and the Pinewood Studios in Malaysia. But who knows. 


2 // Considering that the story takes place in Kublai Khan's court in 13th century China, we will seeing a large majority of the cast of Asians and Asian-Americans like Chin Han, Rick Yune, Benedict Wong, Zhu Zhu, Claudia Kim amongst many others. I don't think we've seen this many Asians in a mainstream and highly funded show since....ever! I just hope they don't heavily rely on old and trite stereotypes and fetishes of the Asian persuasion in hopes to amp up the drama. Netflix has always been a great platform that showcases  minorities and unconventional characters like in Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, so it'll be another refreshing take on Asians if they follow their trending ways and present some dynamic and diverse range for these actors and characters alike. 


3 // In the trailer, you get a glimpse of some epic sword fights by a naked women and even a Karate Kid-like training session between a man and the main protagonist Marco Polo played by newcomer, Lorenzo Richelmy. If anyone learned anything from the many mind-blowing martial art films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ip Man, and basically all pre-Rush Hour Jackie Chan movies, is that meticulously executed fight scenes are essential in  a Asian period piece which only makes the conflict even that much more thrilling and perilous. They already got me hooked when the naked lady whipped out her sword and fought and sliced several men's head! We definitely need to see more female action up in this palace. 

There are many other reasons why I want to watch this series but these are the 3 main reasons why I would even lose some sleep come December 12! The series was created and written by John Fusco who has had a lifelong background in martial arts first wrote The Forbidden Kingdom, starring Jet Li and Jackie Chan. Now, penning Marco Polo and the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it seems like Fusco will be the go-to guy when it comes to martial art films especially ones that are catered to the American public. What do you guys think? Do you think it's good enough for you to check it out?

Posters:

    

    

    

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