See The Accountant early and for free, with director Q&A!

We have more passes to see movies in advance this week – with a Q&A with the director! This time around, we have passes for a preview screening of The Accountant, the new Ben Affleck-fronted thriller with a title that doesn’t suggest that all. You’d normally have to wait until this hits theaters to see … Continue reading “See The Accountant early and for free, with director Q&A!”

We have more passes to see movies in advance this week – with a Q&A with the director!

This time around, we have passes for a preview screening of The Accountant, the new Ben Affleck-fronted thriller with a title that doesn’t suggest that all. You’d normally have to wait until this hits theaters to see whether a movie about an accountant could actually be exciting, but you can see it for free on Thursday, October 6th, at 7pm in Friendship Heights. Stick around afterwards for the Q&A with director Gavin O’Connor.

We only have physical copies of these passes, so you’ll need to swing by in person at the Media Serviecs desk to pick these up. As always, remember that these events are intentionally overbooked, so get there as early as you can to ensure that you get a seat.

What does a filmmaking class from Werner Herzog look like?

We just love this picture so much. Credit to sarkos on Tumblr. Last year, the startup company MasterClass began offering six-hour online video lectures hosted by luminaries in their fields. You can learn about acting from Kevin Spacey or signing from Christina Aguilera, complete with assignments to complete on your own. We don’t know how … Continue reading “What does a filmmaking class from Werner Herzog look like?”

We just love this picture so much. Credit to sarkos on Tumblr.

Last year, the startup company MasterClass began offering six-hour online video lectures hosted by luminaries in their fields. You can learn about acting from Kevin Spacey or signing from Christina Aguilera, complete with assignments to complete on your own. We don’t know how genuinely useful these courses are, but our eyes were caught by a filmmaking class led by Werner Herzog. What on earth would that be like?

Jesse Andrews at The Awl took the leap and watched Herzog’s class, and if it wasn’t completely instructive, it was at least, in his own words, “frankly insane.” He recommends “spend[ing] a night in the forest” and takes his screenwriting advice from a drunken bus ride where he wrote Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Still, Andrews says he offers solid advice, such as how to be close with your actors (or control them?) and the importance of reading.

It’s certainly not a traditional film course, though, with section titles like “Disorient Your Audience.” Herzog’s film skills were self-taught, and this sounds like an honest-to-goodness reflection of his approach to filmmaking – helpful or otherwise.

Director Edgar Wright names is favorite 1000 movies (Yes, 1000)

Edgar Wright is one of the most distinctive, stylized directors working in film right now. If you’ve seen Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, you’ll recognize his unmistakable, kinetic energy. We’re all ears when he wants to share his thoughts on the art of filmmaking. As it turns out, Wright was happy to … Continue reading “Director Edgar Wright names is favorite 1000 movies (Yes, 1000)”

Edgar Wright is one of the most distinctive, stylized directors working in film right now. If you’ve seen Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, you’ll recognize his unmistakable, kinetic energy. We’re all ears when he wants to share his thoughts on the art of filmmaking.

As it turns out, Wright was happy to oblige. Last week, he shared a list of his favorite 1000 films, ordered chronologically from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in 1920 to The Neon Demon from this year.

1000 films is a lot. I haven’t seen 1000 films. I couldn’t even name 1000 films. But Edgar Wright can. His list finds room for everything, from the expected big movies (Ghostbusters and Vertigo) to strange cult hits (Withnail and I and John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow II). Those odd ones are the most revealing about Wright’s taste and influences, and they’re the ones we really want to seek out.

We’d normally end a post like this with a list of some of the most interesting films on the list, but honestly, 1000 is more than we can reasonably sort through this afternoon. Dive in yourself, and we guarantee that if you’re interested in Wright, you’ll come back with a dozen movies you’ll want to watch.

It’s okay: Scorsese has guilty pleasures, too

Ingmar Bergman apparently loved Ghostbusters. He’s not alone among great directors. Even some of the most storied names in film loved popcorn junk once in a while; Film Comment magazine has been collecting lists of directors’ favorite guilty pleasure movies for years now, and The A.V. Club rounded up some of their favorite examples. John … Continue reading “It’s okay: Scorsese has guilty pleasures, too”

Ingmar Bergman apparently loved Ghostbusters. He’s not alone among great directors. Even some of the most storied names in film loved popcorn junk once in a while; Film Comment magazine has been collecting lists of directors’ favorite guilty pleasure movies for years now, and The A.V. Club rounded up some of their favorite examples.

John Carpenter’s love for B-movies probably comes as no surprise given his own work (Halloween and Big Trouble in Little China), but he also loves The Conqueror, the notoriously terrible Genghis Khan period piece starring John Wayne that may have endangered the cast and crew by filming near a nuclear weapons test site. Martin Scorsese admitted to liking Exorcist II and Howard Hughes’s opulent (and white-washed) Land of the Pharaohs. And Furious 7 director James Wan is a fan Disney’s Tangled – not really a movie you should feel guilty about enjoying, but it’s not what you’d expect from him.

Some of these movies are terrible or unwatchable today for their dated politics. But people like what people like, whether you’re one of the most famous filmmakers or history or just a random person reading this blog right now. There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure if you really enjoy it!

Fandor spotlights twenty acclaimed films by women

Fandor has established itself as the premier digital film service for cinema buffs: in addition to their streaming library, they run Keyframe, a daily film essay and video blog. If you haven’t followed them already and like film, you probably should. For one of their videos (embedded above), Keyframe polled fifty film critics about their … Continue reading “Fandor spotlights twenty acclaimed films by women”

Fandor has established itself as the premier digital film service for cinema buffs: in addition to their streaming library, they run Keyframe, a daily film essay and video blog. If you haven’t followed them already and like film, you probably should. For one of their videos (embedded above), Keyframe polled fifty film critics about their favorite works directed by women and created a montage of the top twenty results.

As with the cinematographer interviews, the question is whether it’s productive to view films primarily through the lens of the filmmaker’s gender. In short, it is. As the video’s creator Scout Tafoya says, women still face an uphill battle in terms of criticism, funding, and most troublingly acknowledgment for their work. “Unless we make noise,” Tafoya adds, “we’ll allow it to continue.”

Keyframe did their part, so we’re sharing it. Take at look at the striking imagery from twenty films by women. (Meshes of the Afternoon is unlike anything we’ve seen in a while.)

RIP Abbas Kiarostami, defining voice of Iranian cinema

Over the weekend, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami died at age 76. Kiarostami was perhaps the greatest and most renowned Iranian filmmaker; he is the only to win a Palme d’Or, had an outsized influence on world cinema, and brought international attention to the Iranian film industry. His admirers include Martin Scorsese and Jean-Luc Godard, who … Continue reading “RIP Abbas Kiarostami, defining voice of Iranian cinema”

Over the weekend, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami died at age 76. Kiarostami was perhaps the greatest and most renowned Iranian filmmaker; he is the only to win a Palme d’Or, had an outsized influence on world cinema, and brought international attention to the Iranian film industry. His admirers include Martin Scorsese and Jean-Luc Godard, who once reportedly said “Film begins with D.W. Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami.”

Kiarostami’s thematically powerful work often lands on lists of the greatest films ever made, not just for their historical significance but their artistic achievement. His 1997 Palme-winning Taste of Cherry is an milestone in minimalism, with long stretches of silence and inaction that divided audiences on its release.

Below, we’ve included a list of films by Kiarostami, including some shorts included in compilations. You might also consider watching Cinema Asia: Iran (streaming), a documentary about the history of Iranian cinema that mentions Kiarostami’s work.

Segment in Lumière & CompanyHU DVD 283
Crimson Gold (screenplay) – HU DVD 928
The Wind Will Carry Us – HU DVD 1334
Ten – HU DVD 1336
Close-Up – HU DVD 1344 and streaming
ABC Africa – DVD 1345
Where is My Romeo? – DVD 4320
Life and Nothing More – DVD 8247
Certified Copy – HU DVD 10031
Segment in Five: 5 Long Takes Dedicated to Yasujiro OzuHU DVD 10290
Taste of Cherry – HU DVD 10375
Where is the Friend’s Home – HU DVD 11633 
Like Someone in Love – HU DVD 11684
Through the Olive Trees – HU DVD 12018

An intro to double Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach

In a choice that shocked many critics, director Ken Loach won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for I, Daniel Blake, a drama about a carpenter fighting for disability benefits. This is Loach’s second Palme d’Or (a rare feat) after his 2006 Irish War of Independence film The Wind That Shakes the … Continue reading “An intro to double Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach”

In a choice that shocked many critics, director Ken Loach won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for I, Daniel Blake, a drama about a carpenter fighting for disability benefits. This is Loach’s second Palme d’Or (a rare feat) after his 2006 Irish War of Independence film The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Already, film critics are debating whether his newest work is too “aggressively Loachian.”

…but what does that mean? If you aren’t familiar with social advocacy British cinema, you may not have encountered the director before. Ken Loach’s films tend to address issues like welfare and labor with a focus on the realistic living conditions of the individuals affected. His 1969 film Kes, about a delinquent child with minimal family support who befriends a falcon, has often been considered one of the greatest British films of all time.

By all descriptions, I, Daniel Blake fits that mold for good or for ill; the filmmaker’s work has been criticized as maudlin and unsubtle at its worst. We have a bunch of Loach’s films in our collection – he’s been active for six decades after all – so you can judge for yourself.

Sweet Sixteen – HU DVD 1133
Bread & Roses – HU DVD 2619
The Navigators – HU DVD 2653
The Wind That Shakes the Barley – HU DVD 3374
The Spirit of ’45 – HU DVD 7594
Kes – HU DVD 8370
Ae Fond Kiss… – HU DVD 8803
Raining Stones – HU DVD 10683

Great Directors (interview with Loach) – Streaming video

New to the collection: rare car commercials from great filmmakers

Occasionally, we get an unusual item in the collection that we just have to share with everyone. Sometimes it’s just an oddity like Executive Koala (HU DVD 8910), but this time we have a special, unusual DVD with a place in film history. In 2001, BMW commissioned The Hire, an anthology of eight 10-minute short … Continue reading “New to the collection: rare car commercials from great filmmakers”

Occasionally, we get an unusual item in the collection that we just have to share with everyone. Sometimes it’s just an oddity like Executive Koala (HU DVD 8910), but this time we have a special, unusual DVD with a place in film history.

In 2001, BMW commissioned The Hire, an anthology of eight 10-minute short films starring Clive Owen about the driving features of their cars. They were among the earliest successful branded web video content – and make no mistake, they’re commercials.

What makes them special is that each film was directed by arguably one of the greatest film talents working at the time. Ang Lee, Wong Kar-wai, Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Woo, and others all participated; the names BMW attracted were astounding.

The high profile is also one of the reasons you can’t watch them anymore: The Hire was extremely expensive, and BMW opted not to continue hosting the videos. Very few DVD copies exist, and some versions omit one of the films because of a contract stipulation from Forest Whitaker. We got our hands on one of the complete promotional DVDs (DVD 13108), so the AU community will always have access to these lost works by great filmmakers.

See horror’s John Carpenter in DC… at a concert?

Master horror filmmaker John Carpenter is beloved for directing Halloween, They Live, and The Thing. Many people don’t know that he scored many of this movies as well. Carpenter composed the famous Halloween theme song, and since largely setting aside his film career, he has continue to dabble in the minimalist, terrifying synthesizer music that … Continue reading “See horror’s John Carpenter in DC… at a concert?”

Master horror filmmaker John Carpenter is beloved for directing Halloween, They Live, and The Thing. Many people don’t know that he scored many of this movies as well. Carpenter composed the famous Halloween theme song, and since largely setting aside his film career, he has continue to dabble in the minimalist, terrifying synthesizer music that he has helped popularize as the soundtrack of horror.

Even so, we’re surprised that John Carpenter has launched a national concert tour where he’ll be performing horror themes and original music. His second album, Lost Themes II, debuts on April 15th. To support it, Carpenter will be visiting DC’s Lincoln Theater on July 12th for a retrospective night of his music, past and present. He’ll probably perform the Halloween theme – of course – but we’re curious about what else will “[inspire] people to create films that could be scored with this music.”

Tickets are pricey, starting at $55, but we can’t really think of another event this unusual. Horror fans especially should jump at the rare chance to see a famed auteur working his craft.

Spotlight’s director talks about filmmaking failure

Tom McCarthy won deserved accolades for his directorial and screenwriting work on this year’s Best Picture winner, Spotlight. But only months before, McCarthy also wrote and directed The Cobbler, an Adam Sandler-starring dramedy about a shoemaker who learns life lessons by literally walking in others’ soles. The Cobbler was roundly considered one of the worst … Continue reading “Spotlight’s director talks about filmmaking failure”

http://www.vulture.com/2016/03/tom-mccarthy-adam-sandler-the-cobbler-spotlight-oscars.html

Tom McCarthy won deserved accolades for his directorial and screenwriting work on this year’s Best Picture winner, Spotlight. But only months before, McCarthy also wrote and directed The Cobbler, an Adam Sandler-starring dramedy about a shoemaker who learns life lessons by literally walking in others’ soles. The Cobbler was roundly considered one of the worst movies of the year, both for its maudlin tone and its surprising racism.

McCarthy has maybe the largest single-year quality swing of any filmmaker in history, and somebody finally asked him about it. The director’s interview with Jada Yuan in Vulture comes off as defensive, with McCarthy insisting that people actually enjoyed it. But eventually, he offers some wisdom to people having to ride through a failure. “You’re that athlete who’s a good pitcher and gives up a home run, and you might think no one’s ever going to forgive you for it,” McCarthy says. “But you’ve gotta be like, ‘All right! Next season!’ and you go back to work.”

Not everyone gets that opportunity, least of all first-time filmmakers, but the advice is well-taken for anyone facing creative rejection. Sometimes your work will be poor, and you have to push on through to whatever comes next. It probably won’t be Spotlight, though.