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La La Land

This is a beautiful film about love and dreams, and how the two impact each other.

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Jackie

There are two movies in "Jackie." One of these movies is just OK. The other is exceptional. The first one keeps undermining the second.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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1.

"Thank You, Donald Trump!": An impassioned open letter to the presidential hopeful written by America Ferrera at The Huffington Post.

“You, Mr. Trump, are living in an outdated fantasy of a bigoted America. Last week, America celebrated some amazing milestones -- marriage equality, universal healthcare, removing of the confederate flag -- making it clear in which direction the country is moving. That is why racist remarks that play to extremists won't change the tide, no matter how hard you try. They will only serve to rally more Latino voters to the polls. Your negativity and your poorly thought out speech ignited a fire in our community. Thank you, Mr. Trump! Thank you for reminding us that there remains an antiquated and endangered species of bigots in this country that we must continue to combat. Thank you for reminding us to not sit complacently at home on election day, but to run to the polls and proclaim that there is no place for your brand of racial politicking in our government. Thank you for sending out the rallying cry. You have made your thoughts on the Latino community clear and you continue to stand by them. And in return, we will do more than tweet about our indignation and beat piñatas of your likeness. We will silence you at the polls. We will vote and use our growing position in U.S. politics. Our fellow Americans who understand and value our contributions will join us. We know there is nothing that scares you more.”

2.

"'St. Elmo's Fire' Turns 30: A Perfect Portrait of Friendship that Outlived the Brat Pack": A fine essay by Vanity Fair's Kate Erbland.

“Although the film has plenty of romantic intrigue—McCarthy’s Kevin issues a stunning admission of affection for Sheedy’s Leslie that rivals just about everything he did in ‘Pretty in Pink,’ and Estevez’s character, Kirby, is bonkers in love with Andie MacDowell’s Dale—the emphasis is placed on the friendships between its core characters. It’s more reflective of something like ‘The Outsiders,’ rather than ‘Sixteen Candles’ or ‘The Breakfast Club,’ which were more concerned with the romantic entanglements that drove their story lines. (Even ‘The Breakfast Club,’ which is ostensibly about a group of incongruous students becoming unexpected pals, still ends with the new couples taking center stage. Sorry, Anthony Michael Hall.) This group is mismatched, too, obviously so, what with preppy Wendy (Winningham herself not considered an official Brat Pack member) and the perpetually saxophone-toting Billy (Lowe), sulky Kevin and party-girl Jules (Moore), and the bashful Kirby and yuppies-in-training Alec (Nelson) and Leslie—but their chemistry is strong enough to convince their audience that they’re all best pals and have been for some time.”

3.

"In Sofia Coppola's films, music says what characters can't": The Dissolve's Hazel Cills explores the filmmaker's expressive soundtracks.

“Coppola’s greatest use of a soundtrack to deliver, and dramatically alter, her narrative is in ‘Marie Antoinette.’ The film drew criticism for emphasizing style over substance, a charge based in part on the way the movie swerves away from historical accuracy. But the soundtrack, a mix of Baroque classics, ’80s New Wave hits, and contemporary indie rock, benefits from a punk-rock sensibility. The juxtaposition of music like Bow Wow Wow’s ‘I Want Candy’ over ’90s movie makeover-style montages of Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) testing out cakes, clothes, and boys help emphasize the fact that the famously reviled queen was merely 14 years old when she married Louis XVI. Once it becomes apparent that Coppola is painting a picture of teen-girl-driven excess and romanticism, bands like The Strokes and Gang Of Four seem more than fitting. And because the film’s characters say so little, Coppola once again lets her soundtrack serve as a reminder of Marie Antoinette’s youthful recklessness and spirit, something that can be hard to remember in the midst of a more traditionally staged period piece.”

4.

"'One Light in the Right Place Takes the Place of Three or Four in the Wrong Place': DP Darren Ganet on 'The Vampire Diaries'": Filmmaker and critic Jim Hemphill conducts another stellar interview for Filmmaker Magazine.

“Filmmaker: ‘One of the things I’ve admired about your work since I first encountered it in ‘All the Boys Love Mandy Lane’ is that you create gorgeous images on what are often tight schedules and limited budgets, whether it’s the world of independent film or television. How do you manage to achieve the effects you want when your resources are limited?’ Genet: ‘I think the most important concept in my work is to keep it simple. My training and taste has always been for single source lighting, using contrast in the lighting to create depth. One light in the right place takes the place of three or four in the wrong place. One of my favorite aspects of this show is the producers’ bravery for expressionistic and daring photography – we are encouraged to push the boundaries and encouraged to try new approaches, as long as we stay within the language of the show. The supernatural nature of this show lends itself to contrast, as the show itself is about the struggle between light and darkness. I think when you have limited resources, you challenge yourself to find a way to tell the story in a new and innovative way. Sure, it’s always nice to have all the toys and time in the world, but the limitations often inspire the creation.’”

5.

"Brian Clark, Former Indiewire Publisher and Digital Media Producer, Dies": Indiewire's Eric Kohn pens a eulogy to the trailblazer, who passed away yesterday at age 46.

“Friends and colleagues in the film community noted Brian's lively personality and tendency to single out oversimplifications of trends in the industry with a distinctive wit and incisiveness. Memorializing indie filmmaker Sarah Jacobson after her death in 2004, Clark wrote that her passing stimulated ‘a nostalgia for the D.I.Y. movement of the mid-1990s, before independent filmmaking because perceived as quite so important and proper a thing to do… Maybe that nostalgia will give way to a re-commitment, and an embracing of those ideals again among more filmmakers.’ In closing, he added, ‘Note to self: In memory of Sarah, make sure to emphasize subtle sneer/wink combo when I use the phrase ‘Indiewood.’’ Despite his work in transmedia, Clark always regarded the term with a degree of skepticism. ‘As a community, we have this tendency to really tie ourselves into knots over words,’ he said in a podcast discussion earlier this year. ‘This happens a lot when you talk a lot about this language of how you make objects. It's not so much that the object is what's important as the experience of the object. The meaning is applied by the audience… We have a really bad time as new media people trying to say things that aren't objects are objects. Maybe we would get further if we were talking about the experience of things.’”

Image of the Day

In his piece, "Wild, Dangerous, Imperfect Grandeur," published at Trailers from Hell, Dennis Cozzalio curates an excellent list of 11 double features "about America" including Richard Fleischer's 1975 film "Mandingo" and K. Ryan Jones's documentary, "Fall from Grace."

Video of the Day

INCEPT OUT: Mashup trailer of INSIDE OUT and INCEPTION from Nelson Carvajal on Vimeo.

Master editor Nelson Carvajal offers a trailer for Pixar's masterpiece, "Inside Out," set to the tone of Christopher Nolan's "Inception." The result: "Incept Out." This piece is so professionally cut that you'd swear it was headed for theaters (and, frankly, it should). 

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