21 December, 2014

Review: "Wild" (****)

Reese Witherspoon and her backpack Monster star in "Wild"

“Wild” opens with a shot of gorgeous and serene, snow-capped mountains. We hear a woman gasping for air, breathing as if caught right in the middle of some pretty rigorous sex. This woman, as it turns out, is a hiker arduously laboring her way to a pretty stunning lookout. And it is here that we meet our heroine Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon). She removes her backpack called Monster (a rather appropriately named symbol for all the things in her life that weigh her down) from her sweat-drenched and filthy back, takes off her too-small boots, peels off her blood-soaked socks revealing her mangled and blistered feet. She picks and rips off a dead toenail, and in the process, somehow, knocks her shoe off the side of the mountain. In frustration, she hurls the other shoe, full force, into the abyss. She curses at the mountains, screaming her frustrations at the top of her lungs, and it’s this moment that we learn the defiant, grieving, willing-to-make-a-fool-of-herself nature of this woman. Very quickly after that moment, we then get these quick, successive clips: a fox, her mother, her as a girl, her life, the wild. They’re very snappy and colorful and expressive and perfectly capture everything that this film is. Then a quick cut to the title card. It’s a gorgeous introduction to a well-done film.

20 December, 2014

#GAfilm Review: "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" (***½)

Jennifer Lawrence stars in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1"

With every fiber in my being, I believe in the power of a story. That’s why I made it my business to study them (UGA, English/Creative Writing); that’s why, since graduation, I’ve made it my business to work within them. That’s why I read and watch them. It’s all for the story. So when I first saw “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” I loved it. I loved it because I love Suzanne Collins’ source material. Well, not all of it, there were some parts that, honestly, I’d rather do without, I didn't particularly love the third book for example, but that’s not the point. Whether or not I like what happens isn’t the point. The story is the point. And, I think, Collins’ story remains true and honest and in this third act of this "Hunger Games" trilogy specifically, she paints a bold and unsubtle picture of modern day warfare. The film itself does a wonderful job reflecting those narratives. That being said, after allowing my love-at-first-sight impression of “Mockingjay – Part 1” to simmer and steam, I no longer love this film. I do, however, like it a whole lot.

19 December, 2014

Review: "Interstellar" (***)

Matthew McConaughey stars in "Interstellar"

Here’s the first thing I have to say about Christopher Nolan’s newest film “Interstellar”: 159 minutes is too long. There are films, though rare they are, that warrant this kind of length: "Boogie Nights" (149 minutes), "Titanic" (195 minutes), "The Godfather" (175 minutes)… you get the picture. “Interstellar” does not belong on this list. That’s not to say it doesn’t belong on other lists, because I absolutely think this is a quality film with valuable insights. But there is a whole chunk of the movie, that had it not been there, I think it would have made for a much better viewing experience. Without spoiling or revealing too much, there’s a 30-minute subplot line that involves a very tragic and angry Matt Damon that is so maundering and unnecessary that it nearly defines the word superfluous. There was an extremely dumb looking fistfight (boys will be boys, I guess?) on am extremely gorgeous looking planet, and I found myself laughing at a part of this film that had no intention of being funny.

16 December, 2014

Review: "The Theory of Everything" (****½)

Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne star in "The Theory of Everything."

I’ve been very reluctant to write this review for James Marsh’s “The Theory of Everything.” I saw this movie a week ago and have since been chewing on my thoughts and feelings surrounding this film. You know that you get feeling where sometimes you enjoy something so much that you just want to keep it all to yourself? I don’t want to share it because I don’t want to risk someone not feeling the same way. That, and more simply, it was my experience; I don’t think anyone else deserves it something that was mine. But in this instance, I’ll suck it up, because this is a movie so absolutely worth seeing. “The Theory of Everything.” It was devastatingly poignant and magnanimously visceral.

14 December, 2014

Review: "Big Hero 6" (****)

The unlikely band of heroes that make up the "Big Hero 6."

I saw “Big Hero 6” all by my lonesome on a rainy Saturday morning. I didn’t have high expectations for this film. Why? I don’t exactly know. And I didn’t even bother asking any of my friends to go with me (They all would have laughed and said no. Why would they have said no? I don’t exactly know that either.). “Big Hero 6” was, to my pleasant surprise, an engaging, emotionally and comically driven adventure story, that I found to be extremely enjoyable. “Big Hero 6” isn’t a movie that demands a big screen, but if you want to see the gorgeously rendered, futuristic world of San Frantokyo in all it’s detailed glory, than you may want to run out and catch it while it’s still in theaters.

10 December, 2014

Atlanta Film Festival Needs Help Raising Money to Bring Filmmakers to Atlanta

The Atlanta Film Festival is following-up last year's successful #Artists2ATL Kickstarter campaign with another aimed to bring filmmakers into town during the festival. The campaign video is quick and to-the-point, illustrating the simple message that not having the filmmaker in attendance with their film is detrimental to the festival.

The campaign was launched three weeks ago and currently has seven days left, wrapping up at 11:59 PM on Wednesday, December 17, 2014. As of publishing date, over $8,300 has been committed, leaving them with just over $6,600 to go.

The biggest benefit of contributing to the Atlanta Film Festival's Kickstarter is that you can renew your year-round membership through the campaign. Your pass to the festival is your membership, so by purchasing a Moviehopper Card ($50), Film Pass ($125), Film & Conference Pass ($225) or All Access Pass ($325), you are paying the same amount that you would just before the festival, but you are getting your 2015 membership perks in place NOW and you are contributing to a worthy cause.
"A missing filmmaker is like a missing film."
The Atlanta Film Festival is gearing up to celebrate its 39th year in the spring. With arts-giving notoriously low in the state of Georgia and in the city of Atlanta, it is unfortunate that such a long-running and revered organization is struggling to raise only $15,000 in an effort to bring artists to the city with their films.

Please give and share the campaign with friends, family members and others in the community!

#GAfilm Review: "The Homesman" (****)

Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones star in "The Homesman"

"The Homesman" was the second film I saw at the 2014 Savannah Film Festival, but it was the first of many good films that week. I went into the SCAD Museum of Art pretty blind—only knowing that the film starred Hillary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones, who also directed. I didn't know it was partially shot in Georgia, or that it features a much more unique—and female-driven—story than most of the westerns you see hit cinemas these days.

09 December, 2014

Review: "Fury" (***½)

Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Brad Pitt, Michael Peña & Jon Bernthal star in "Fury"

Very rarely do I enter a theatre completely blind to what it is I’m about to see. I’m too greedy, too curious and far too impatient for the kind of diamond-like discovery that comes with digging in the dark. That analogy may have fallen a bit flat, but the point I’m trying to make here is that this was my experience with “Fury;” I went into the theatre knowing only that it was a war movie and that Brad Pitt was in it. I hadn’t heard too much about the film, and I never really felt any pressure to see it. I hadn’t heard anything too great about it, though to be fair, I hadn’t heard that anyone despised it, either. The buzz surrounding “Fury” was essentially non-existent… for me, at least. The only reason I did see this movie was because it was a very, very rainy Sunday and, quite simply, I love the movies. Plus, I have less a tendency to watch period pieces in the comfort of my own home. Had I not seen “Lincoln” in theatres, I never would have watched that movie; and I’m glad I did see it, it’s a very good movie, but I have some sort of mental block against them. They’re not very easy for me. All that being said, “Fury” was a movie I thoroughly enjoyed.

08 December, 2014

The 2015 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Deadline Has Been Extended

We’re nearing the end of 2014, which means that the 2015 spring festival season is closely upon us. If you’ve polished your screenplay to the point of perfection and are looking for a place to submit, the Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) has extended its deadline for feature length screenplays to December 15, 2014. ATLFF is offering a limited time 50% discount to anyone who submits before the deadline.

06 December, 2014

Georgia Film Critics Announce Dates for 2014 Awards

The Georgia Film Critics Association (GFCA) has released the dates for their 2014 awards.

Nominees will be announced the morning of Monday, January 5th, 2015. At the other bookend of that  same work-week, winners will be revealed on the morning of Friday, January 9th, 2015. The critics group uses their Twitter account to release the nominees and winners gradually, followed by the complete listing on their website.

This will be the fourth awards presentation for the GFCA. Founded at the tail end of 2011, Best Picture honors have been bestowed on films "The Tree of Life," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Her." Fourteen film critics across print, television and digital media are included in the group.

More information can be found at the GFCA website, www.georgiafilmcritics.org.