Category Archives: Post By: Sean T

Lore: The Holocaust and Unmanned Drones

LoreThe visually stunning Lore, directed by Cate Shortland, follows Lore and her siblings at the end of WWII as they trek across Germany after the Allies arrest their Nazi parents. Along the way Lore learns about the atrocities her parents were involved with. She is forced to reconsider her whole worldview as she learns more and a Jewish boy helps keep her family safe.

As I walked out of the film I asked a friend what they thought. “It was good, but I don’t really know why we need a film about Hitler’s youth…” I nodded in slight agreement. I was so overcome by the beautiful cinematography and evocative emotions the film elicits that I didn’t have the chance to think about the need for a story about these children. After giving it a lot of thought I realized this story is actually incredibly timely and important because something very similar is happening right now.  Continue reading

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Sean’s Thoughts on Zero Dark Thirty

Note: This is pretty spoilery, but let’s be honest. You know how it ends.

Zero Dark Thirty has been shrouded in controversy. Both sides of this countries political spectrum have attacked it. Initially, some on the right were outraged a film about the death of Osama Bin Laden would be released during an election year. They claimed the film was made to boost Obama’s ratings and help him win the 2012 election. First of all, most of you won’t see the film until mid-January, and incase you didn’t know, Obama won the 2012 election a month and a half ago. So…. Yeah. Secondly, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal were working on this film long before Bin Laden was killed May 1st, 2011 and actually had to scramble and change the film was his death occured. If Bin Laden had never been killed the film still would have been released this year, and then what? The left would have complained the film hurts Obama’s image by reminding us Bin Laden is still out there during an election year?
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Oscar’s Unchained: 2013 SAG Award Nominees

the-master-joaquin-phoenix-sailorIf Bradley Coopers gets a Best Actor Nominees at this years Academy Awards over Joaquin Pheonix I’m going to lose my mind. Let’s be serious here. Pheonix’s performance in The Master is something special, an all time performance. Bradley Cooper’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook? Merely serviceable. But it’s really starting to look like Pheonix is going to be snubbed, especially after the Screen Actors Guild announced their nominee this morning. COntinue reading for the nominees and some of my thoughts. Continue reading

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Teaser for Shane Carruth’s New Film, Upstream Color

I love this teaser. I don’t care that I have no idea what’s happening. I’ve said it before, but I really prefer teasers and trailers that sell their films with tone and images instead of giving away the whole plot. And boy, the atmosphere and this film looks amazing. If you don’t know, this is Shane Carruth’s first film since he won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival with Primer, NINE YEARS AGO! Continue reading

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The House I Live In is Important, but Frustrating

The War on Drugs has never been about drugs.” Whoa. That’s not exactly a statement you hear in everyday life. Let alone used to advertise a movie, but that’s the tagline for the Grand Jury Prize winning documentary, The House I Live In. “The war on drugs is a holocaust in slow motion.” This is what David Simon says about the war on drugs in the trailer, and towards the end of the film. This is a huge, potentially controversial statement said to really make people sit up (and it’s a great moment in the film). “Finally,” I thought, “Someone is going to critique of the racist ‘drug war’ that been that’s been ruining people’s lives for the last 40 years!”  Unfortunately  The House I Live In tackles the issue from an incredibly privileged, white perspective.  Continue reading

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Unchained Review: The SIlver Linings Playbook

What is The Silver Linings Playbook? Is it great? Or just good?  Is it the film that proves Jennifer Lawrence is one of the best actresses of her generation? Reminds us Robert Deniro is possibly the best actor of any generation? Reveals Bradley Cooper is actually good (with a talented filmmaker I guess)?  Does it prove David O. Russell is one of the best filmmakers working today? That he’s gone soft? Or that he’s smooching with the Hollywood elite until we can make evocative, personal films again? Is it the feel good film of the year? A real crowd pleaser? Is it a cute romantic comedy? The 2012 version of Jerry Maguire? Is it a dark comedy? The funniest film of the year? Is it Oscar bait? Exploits mental illness for laughs and awards?  Continue reading

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Wuthering Heights Is Why You Should Never Walk Out of a Movie

You can’t judge a film before the credits roll. Andrea Arnold’s brilliant and emotionally devastating adaptation of Wuthering Heights is the most recent film to hit me over the head with this knowledge. As I noticed fellow viewers get up and leave I couldn’t help but think about all the people who walk out of films without giving them a chance to reveal their characters or themes. When the lights went black and I sat alone, utterly devastated, I couldn’t stop thinking about the people who walked out of Wuthering Heights after 15 or 30 minutes and missed the most powerful film of the year. Continue reading

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The Master is Next Level Filmmaking

Jesus.” That word basically fell out of my mouth when Paul Thomas Anderson cut from black to reveal the first shot of his brilliant film, The Master. Since this is PTA you might have expected some intricate 3 minute tracking shot, but it was just the ocean, and it was beautiful. I have never seen that shade of blue in a film before. It was immediately clear shooting 65mm was a brilliant decision. More importantly, that shot, followed by the dizzying first 15 minutes of The Master revealed Paul Thomas Anderson was working on a different level than most American filmmakers. Continue reading

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Sean Tries to Close the Loop

Can Looper be disliked? As I walked out of the theater I don’t think I heard a single negative word uttered by anyone. And let me tell you, the theater was not full cinephiles. There were a lot of people throwing out words and phrases like badass, insane, fucking awesome, mind-blowing. Everyone I’ve talked to at least liked the film, and most loved it. But why did everyone love it? Why does Looper work so well? Continue reading

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Homeland is Returning

I love Homeland (want more reasons why? Click here) , but I never expected to. When I initially saw the marketing for the show last year I thought, “Oh great, another example of the media giving us even more reasons to be scared of terrorists. Another black and white show of good vs. evil.” Instead, I watched a show filled with shades of gray. That actively critiques the methods the government uses to find information, and even gave reasons terrorists believe the things they do. Wow. I have never seen a show do anything like that before. The show actually reminds me of Paul Greengrass’s Bourne films. Continue reading

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The Anticipation is Killing Me

Did you know I’m dying to see The Master? Well, if I haven’t made it obvious by now, let me hammer it home. Continue reading

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Unchained Resources: Cinereach Grants

Do you have a great idea for a feature film, but you’re only in the development stage? Then you should really look into Cinereach’s grant and awards program. Their website states:

Cinereach is a not-for-profit film production company and foundation that champions vital stories, artfully told. Created and led by young philanthropists, entrepreneurs and filmmakers, Cinereach empowers fiction and nonfiction filmmakers from all over the world through Grants & Awards, The Reach Film Fellowship, an internal Productions department, and through partnerships with the Sundance Institute and other organizations. Since 2006, Cinereach has disbursed close to $5 million in grant funds to more than 100 projects at the intersection of engaging storytelling, visual artistry and vital subject matter.

That sounds like my kind of production company. It’s one of the rare non-profit’s I’ve seen willing to help films in the early stages of it’s develop (it also funds films in production and post production). Cinereach produced Beasts of the Southern Wild and helped fund six other films that were at Sundance this year, including: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, Compliance, I Am Not A Hipster, Keep the Lights On, and The Queen of Versailles. After the jump is a lot more information about the grants. The deadline is September 4th, so get cracking! Continue reading

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Sean’s Thoughts on Beasts of the Southern Wild

I respect Beasts of the Southern Wild and its director, Benh Zeitlin. The film’s 16mm photography is absolutely beautiful, and the effect work is unbelievable. The immense amount of time he spent finding Hushpuppy is worth it because Quvenzhané Wallis is an amazing breath of fresh air. She’s raw and honest. It never feels like she’s acting, she’s simply Hushpuppy. The film is insanely ambitious (maybe too ambitious?), especially for a feature debut. As a filmmaker, Beasts is very inspiring. The film is about characters Hollywood doesn’t acknowledge and is definitely saying something about the world we live in.

This is exactly what I want to do with my films. Zeitlin also moved to New Orleans and helped create a filmmaking community, Court 13. They made many shorts together and finally made this tiny film that went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2012. But after all of that, I didn’t love Beasts of the Southern Wild. I really wanted to, but I never made a real emotional connection. I know I’m in the minority here. Most people I respect truly loved the film (including our own Christina), and I’ve spent a couple of months trying to figure out why Beasts of the Southern Wild didn’t resonate with me. Continue reading

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Wuthering Heights Poster

One of my most anticipated films of the year is Wuthering Heights by Andrea Arnold. I don’t know very much about the story but I know I love Andrea Arnold. She directed the brilliant film, Fish Tank. Which was about a young teenage girl trying to  become a dancer while falling for her mother’s boyfriend (who happens to be the brilliant Michael Fassbender). She makes raw and emotionally devastating films about working class individuals. She’s definitely a huge inspiration for me as a filmmaker. A new poster for Wuthering Heights was been released. It’s simple but beautiful. The film begins it’s limited release on October 5th and I’m still kicking myself for missing it at the Boston Independent Film Festival a couple months back. After the jump you can see the great poster and Andrea Arnold’s short film Wasp.  Continue reading

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Man of Steel Teaser

That is not the teaser I was expecting from a Superman film directed by Zack Snyder. If this is an accurate representation of what this film is going to be I think it marks a remarkable evolution by Snyder and I will be very excited for the film, but I don’t think this is what the film will be like. After all it’s going to be on the biggest films of the year directed by a guy who made 300 and Sucker Punch and produced by Christopher Nolan… Let’s be honest. This teaser makes me long for an actual Superman film by Terrence Malick.

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The Colorado Tragedy

What happened in Colorado on Friday morning was an absolute tragedy. I was riding the bus to work Friday morning, oblivious. As I began scrolling through twitter I began to feel numb. It broke my heart to think about the families that lost some one they loved. As the media quickly transitioned from mourning victims to revealing details and trying to find a reason for the acts of this 24-year-old man I couldn’t help but think about the other tragic shooting in Colorado. Dave Cullen, the author of the tragic but must read Columbine, spent 10 years trying to figure out why Eric and Dylan did what they did, and after all that time he didn’t have an answer.  Continue reading

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PTA is The Master

Excuse me while pick my jaw off the floor. Wow. Some how I get even more excited every time Paul Thomas Anderson releases a new picture or trailer. The cinematography looks absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t believe how beautiful some of the shots in this trailer are. I guess that’s what happens when you shoot 65mm film. I really wish this was the future, not the gimmick also known as 3d. The acting looks amazing. Phoenix really seems to bringing his A-game, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman seems like he’s going to bring a huge slice of humanity to his L. Ron Hubbard-esque character. Also, I definitely get the vibe the film deals with PSTD after war just as much as the Scientology stuff. I think this is a great decision. I can not wait to see this film, even if it makes me feel like an inadequate filmmaker. Continue reading

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2012 Emmy Nominations

The 2012 Emmy Nominations were announced this morning. Like any other awards there were some big snubs. Some how Louie & Parks and Recreation weren’t nominated for best comedy (even though they’re the best two comedies on television). But there were some choices that definitely make me happy. I love all the critical attention Homeland is receiving because it’s an incredible show and I highly recommend you watch the 1st season before the second begins this fall. After the jump is the nominations and I’ll bold what I think deserves to win and gives a few random thoughts a long the way. Continue reading

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