BlackBook Exclusive: Austrian Electro-Poppers Hunger’s Guide To Vienna

Ceaselessly touted in international media (including BlackBook) as one of the most livable, prosperous, romantic, efficient, Trump-free and generally amazing cities in the world, the Austrian capital of Vienna oozes culture, sophistication, and excellent urban planning. This was the city of Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss, but also the cradle of modern design and psychology. Never mind the spectacular architecture, from gothic to baroque to contemporary.

But it’s also a city at the bleeding edge of art, style and nightlife, even if it doesn’t brag about it as much as London and Paris. Indeed, its club scene is one of Europe’s wildest and sexiest, and its 6th and 7th districts buzz with cool kids and creative energy.

Vienna’s contributions to recent pop music have also been a bit under the radar. But a new favorite is HUNGER, three stylish Viennese gents disposed towards evocative, cinematic and supremely catchy electro tunes. Their latest single “Gravity” is Duran Duran sexy, and like their predecessors, it’s accompanied by a glamorously artistic video (which we’re premiering here), directed by eminently fashionable photographer and filmmaker Christian Lamb (Madonna, Rihanna). Warning: may be NSFW.

Scene-makers as they are back home, we asked them to turn us on to some of the city’s grooviest spots, from bars to boutiques to galleries. Check it all out, below, as well as the BlackBook premiere of HUNGER’s “Gravity” music video:


Burggasse 24

Burggasse 24 Vienna 2

Burggasse 24 is an amazing second hand concept, both fashion shop and coffee house. It’s located in the 7th district, which is known for being one of the more hip and alternative neighborhoods in Vienna, with lots of great bars, cafes, local food markets and creative people.

True You

True You is a new Viennese fashion and lifestyle brand. Founder and blogger Ilja Jay and his crew are constantly promoting the most happening parties all over Vienna, so watch out for the TY logo. The clothes are available at Addicted To Rock.

WUK

WUK Vienna 2

The WUK is an amazing place, featuring different concert venues and art galleries and always hosting interesting cultural events. We’ve played several shows there with former bands. It’s most appreciated in summer for the outdoor bars and areas.

Cafe Jelinek

For an authentic, old fashioned Viennese coffee culture experience, this is the perfect place. Order our favorite, the Piccolo, a mocha with whipped cream.

Donaukanal

Donaukanal Vienna

Summertime is probably the best time in Vienna. Low traffic, less people and a lot of amazing outdoor opportunities. Our favorite spot is the Donaukanal, a smaller side branch of the Danube, full of pop-up bars, restaurants and hammocks. Go and check out Tel Aviv Beach, a bar that combines Oriental cuisine and fun in the sun.

Brunnenmarkt 

For the freshest food, we love to go to Brunnenmarkt. Much cheaper than the famous Naschmarkt, it features a daily outdoor market and several amazing restaurants.

Motto

Motto Vienna 1

A true classic in Vienna, a bar and a restaurant with an extravagantly designed space and enduring cult status. With great style and music, it continues to draw artists and the local creative scene. Amazing international cuisine, as well!

If Dogs Run Free

“Dogs” is one of our favorite bars in Vienna. It’s very small and intimate, serving the best cocktails while also playing amazing electronic tunes. Its dark, rough design was conceived by the architect owners. Located in the very much upcoming 6th District, with great cafes and bars.

Eden Bar

Eden_Bar_1332v5_1920x930a-1920x930

The Eden is one of the most beautiful and also oldest Viennese bars, located in the 1st District. It feels like going back in time and experiencing the city of classical times. Take note, they won’t let you in unless you’re wearing a suit or evening dress. We love it!

Daniel Hardy & Rupert Wyatt on ‘Gravity’ & the Death of the Medium-Budget Movie

Inside Movies is a series of video conversations hosted by screenwriter Daniel Hardy in conversation with various people from within the film industry. This series looks to offer an insider’s perspective—and an absurdly geeky passion for film —as all manner of current movie-related topics are discussed.

Our first guest, director Rupert Wyatt , has been Daniel’s co-writer of many years—whose 2008 debut movie The Escapist began both of their careers, with Rupert going on to make the well-received blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes. In this segment, they discuss Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity and the death of the medium-budget movie in current Hollywood.

And in case you ever find your self drifting off into space, we recommend packing the best medium-budget movie ever: The Godfather. Original budget $1 Million. Actual Budget $6.2 Million. Of course we’d bring the Audible Version, because if you clinging to life, how will you hold on the book?

Enjoy the conversation in full below.

 

What Was ‘Gravity’ Actually About?

By now, some friend has informed you that you absolutely must see Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity in IMAX 3D to be appropriately
overwhelmed by its 90 minutes of eye-popping visual effects and camera techniques as you try to make your heart beat correctly. It’s a very pretty and panic-stricken movie, you’d have to agree. But the struggle for survival in space—and the limits of personal strength—all that’s just the surface narrative. What’s this movie really about?

Well, first of all, it’s about god. Yes, god! All that stuff regarding how important it is to continue talking to ground control in Houston “in the blind” when you’re not even sure if they can hear you? Sounds an awful lot like an allegory for faith and prayer. Then, on the more practical side, Gravity is about the importance of user manuals. I have never been so concerned about my ability to read a Chinese instruction booklet in a high-pressure situation. Going to reread some old IKEA pamphlets for safety.   Gravity was also (slight spoiler here) about how terrible seaweed is. Toward the end, squeezing every last agony out of Sanda Bullock’s odyssey, Cuarón has her get tangled in some seaweed while swimming up to the ocean surface—in my audience there was even nervous laughter at this, with one woman whispering “Jesus Christ,” as in: “Jesus Christ, could a person really come this far only to be killed by seaweed? Yes they could.” Finally, Gravity was about irritating Neil deGrasse Tyson. You think those little “mistakes” weren’t on purpose? That was just to troll the astrophysicist community.  

 

20 Reasons to Celebrate ‘Gravity”s Huge Weekend at the Box Office

The big story of the weekend—cinematically speaking—was Gravity‘s surprising, and record breaking, take at the US box office. Even optimistic pundits were predicting something in the $35 million range, which would have been a win for all concerned, but the $55 million it ended up with puts it into a whole other league. It’s now the biggest October opening in history, and with an extremely rare Friday-to-Saturday bump, indicates that the stellar word of mouth is spreading like wildfire, making this one of those zeitgeist-y film experiences that propels certain movies to phenomenon-status. And I, for one, am absolutely thrilled about it.

Here’s why:  

1. It’s really good.  

There was a time not so long ago, when blockbusters were allowed to be smart, ambitious, and beautifully crafted (The Godfather, Jaws, Back to the Future), instead of the over-familiar lowest-common denominator spectacles we mostly get today (Iron Man 3, Fast 6, etc.).  It’s a refreshing reminder of the oft-ignored saying: "Quality is the best business model," and a message to Hollywood that they should pay more attention to it.  

2. It’s an original property.  

Of the eight films that have crossed $200 million this year, not a single one is a fresh idea. Instead we got sequels, prequels, superheroes, re-boots, animated sequels, and one book adaptation—giving creedence to the film industry’s fear of bankrolling anything that isn’t "branded." So when audiences vote for something original, they dismantle the lie that we don’t want new stories.  

3. It’s original sci-fi.  

This year alone, we saw Tom Cruise bomb with Oblivion, Will Smith bomb with After Earth, and Matt Damon bomb with Elysium —heralding the death of "original" sci-fi projects. (The fact that none of them were good movies seems to be irrelevant.) Gravity reverses that trend, in a big way.   

4. It’s a director’s vision.  

Alfonso Cuarón is an undisputed auteur, who has been obsessively, lovingly crafting this movie for eight years, inventing new technologies in order to do so. It’s the rare, expensive studio movie that hasn’t been compromised by meddling executives into a bland, globally digestible product – but that feels like an actual work of art – (albeit, a globally digestible one).  

5. It proves that reviews matter.  

Before the reviews came out, this was considered one of the riskiest studio projects of the year, but the deafening critical enthusiasm since its Venice premiere has been essential in Gravity‘s marketing campaign. And while critics still can’t deter the masses from the biggest franchise-protected turds, it’s good to know they can still champion some gems toward this kind of box office success, and that the disempowerment of the film critic has perhaps been prematurely claimed.  

6. It’s about a female protagonist.  

When Cuarón first presented his script to studios, they wanted to re-write the lead role for a male lead, arguing that stories about women can’t bring in all four audience "quadrants."  So again, a poisonous Hollywood lie dismantled.  

7. It’s about a female protagonist over 40.  

Good roles for actresses are hard to find in Hollywood (see above). Good roles for women over 40? Almost non-existent. Mothers and ex-wives, if they’re lucky, but for most actresses, the window of opportunity closes as the next round of starlets comes through the door.  

8. It’s about a female protagonist who is not defined by a man, or her quest for one.  

The lead character’s arc is a personal journey of self-actualization and re-birth, that has nothing to do with being completed by some romantic ideal. And that’s a genuinely empowering notion to voice in our culture right now.  

9. It cements a middle-aged actress as one of the most consistent box office stars today.  

After four movies in a row opening above $30 million—across all genres, none of them sequels—Sandra Bullock is beating the boys’ club at their own game, and is the first actress in a long time to gain that kind of clout, without being tied down to any one genre.  

10. It adds to George Clooney’s clout, which means more good movies.   

George Clooney believes there is an audience for intelligent, adult entertainment, and every time he has a hit, can use his status to help more great directors make great movies.  

11. It rewards Warner Brother’s director-nurturing philosophy.  

Warner Brothers has a reputation as the "director’s" studio, because of the relationships it likes to develop with quality directors, over many years. Just compare the movies on every other studio’s slate this year, and then look at the ones on WB’s: Gravity, Prisoners, Pacific Rim, The Great Gatsby, The Conjuring. Like them or not, no other studio so consistently supports directorial visions on such large budgets, and if they did, we’d have a lot more interesting movies filling our multiplexes.  

12. It will inspire a generation of new film-makers.  

The film-making is so exquisitely realized, jaw-dropping, and impossible to ignore—that, like Star Wars or The Matrix—pop sensations that utilized a real knowledge of film history and tropes with ground-breaking new technology. I have no doubt it will be ground zero for thousands of future film students, fascinated by…  

13. The use of long, elaborate takes.  

At a time when audiences are more ADD than ever, checking their phones and unable to surrender to an experience, and movies cater to that with ever more frenetic action and chaotic editing—the long, fluid single takes that make up Gravity are a welcome return to the kind of patient, beautifully crafted film-making that takes the time to orient us in the action, and pulls us into its world and its characters with real elegance and skill—resulting in a far more immersive experience as a result.  

14. More people will check out Children of Men.  

Alfonso Cuarón’s last movie was a masterpiece—one of the last big, bold, daring studio sci-fi movies to come out before the current fear-based, risk averse climate—and a fascinating stepping stone in his experimentation with long, uninterrupted takes. Unfortunately, not a lot of people saw it, though it’s gained a strong cult following in the years since.   

15. It means Alfonso Cuarón gets to make whatever he wants next.  

Like Christopher Nolan, who used his post-Batman clout to make Inception, this means Cuarón can keep playing on a large canvas, on his own terms, and that’s great news for the rest of us. Even if his next movie flops, we’ll get at least one more insanely ambitious, un-compromised movie to look forward to.  

16. It uses 3-D as a storytelling tool, not a gimmick.  

Since Avatar changed the landscape four years ago, it’s now a global profit imperative that all big studio movies be in 3-D, regardless of whether it enhances the story, or whether the style or subject matter fits. So it’s nice to watch one where the 3-D is essential, and wondrous, rather than just charging you extra for a headache.  

17. The obstacles are technical, not human.  

No villains, no fistfights, no guns, no vengeance, just good old-fashioned problem solving and courage-finding. Quick, think of another big, thrilling movie you can say that about…  

18. It creates renewed interest in space exploration.  

It’s a strange coincidence that Gravity opened the same week that NASA had most of its funding cut, and though it ultimately may not change that, it’s good to be reminded of how space exploration once bound us as a species, with a sense of limitless possibility and wonder at our place in the universe.  

19. It makes us appreciate our planet.  

From the opening shot of Earth spinning slowly below the astronauts, much of Gravity‘s awe is directed at the beauty of our planet, and the longing to return to it. Not to any one country, or continent, but to the one home that binds us all.   

20. It’s a film for everyone, in a good way.  

There is literally no one I would not recommend this movie to. It’s thrilling, moving, life-affirming, and restores wonder and awe to the cinematic experience. I’m not saying it’s perfect—as I’ve said before, it’s a thrill ride first and foremost,  not the cerebral existential meditation some might have hoped for—but it’s been a long time since I’ve felt like we could all, regardless of class, nationality, or age, rally around one movie of such undisputed quality, that satisfies in such a fundamental way. And I’m very, very grateful it made it through all the stupid, fear-based Hollywood "wisdoms" above, to sold-out theaters and the acclaim it rightly deserves. 

TIFF in Review Part One: Fall Movies

Attending any film festival, a common dilemma is whether to go for the upcoming fall movies a few months, or weeks, ahead of release, or whether to pick the more obscure indie/foreign films still awaiting distribution. The advantages of  the former are that there’s nothing quite like seeing a world premiere with a rapt audience and the filmmakers in attendance, while also having the space to formulate one’s own opinion before a consensus is formed (or too many spoilers revealed). The advantage of picking the latter, is the chance of finding diamonds in the rough, and championing them—sometimes frustratingly, to a world that may never get the chance to see what you’re on about. My personal way around this dilemma is to mix it up and pick a smattering of both. And since I’ve just seen 12 movies in five days, I’ve decided to split my reviews accordingly, in two parts.  

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12 Years a Slave

It’s hard to talk about Steve McQueen’s searing, masterful film without reaching deep for every available superlative, and a few more besides. It may not be the first film about slavery, but it feels like the first to treat it with no filter, no safety net, no redemptive catharsis , but as an American holocaust, told entirely from the black perspective. To watch it with an audience is to participate in an act of communal, immersive exorcism, and the element that makes it not just bearable, but transcendent, is the pure, jaw-dropping artistry at every level of its production. The true life tale of Solomon Northup’s Kafkaesque nightmare—kidnapped from his free life and sold into brutal slavery—feels like a major step in healing the wounds of slavery’s past, by allowing us to take collective responsibility as we watch horror turned to exquisite art, without lessening any of its impact.  In a perfect world, it would win every Oscar hands down, but given the Academy’s predilection for unchallenging feel-good entertainment, it doesn’t stand a chance.  Fuck ’em. It’s not just the best film of the year, but one of the best films ever made. And here’s a few of those superlatives to underline my point: Unmissable. Essential. Fearless. Profound. Unforgettable. (Opens in limited release October 18th.)  

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Prisoners

I loved Denis Villeneuve’s last film, Incendies, so I already had high hopes for his first U.S movie, but I was still completely blown away by this epic, harrowing, uncompromisingly dark thriller. Hugh Jackman gives the first performance of his career that I’ve unequivocally loved, full of rage and helplessness as the survivalist father who takes the law into his own hands after his daughter is kidnapped. If that synopsis sounds predictable, rest assured the movie is anything but, following its brilliantly realized characters to a true heart of darkness as it explores big themes (faith, forgiveness, revenge, grief) while twisting the screws of its nail-biting premise to almost unbearable levels of tension and dread. Jake Gyllenhaal is equally revelatory in the role of the jaded but determined cop leading the investigation, as is the entire supporting cast. A brilliant script, brilliantly directed, that joins Seven, Silence of the Lambs and Zodiac in the ranks of the all-time great criminal investigation thrillers that resonate far beyond their storylines. (Opens in wide release Sept. 20th)  

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Labor Day

Jason Reitman’s fifth movie in seven years breaks away from the knowing, arch humor of his previous work (Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult) and embraces the genre of the “woman’s weepie” with unabashed, uncynical enthusiasm that will alienate many but reward those willing to be swept along by its charms. Set in 1987and awash in a golden-hued nostalgic glow that brings to mind a Wonder Years episode by way of Douglas Sirk, the story is told from the point of view of a 13-year-old boy living alone with his fragile, heartbroken mother (Kate Winslet) as an escaped convict enters their lives, and proves to be the perfect father/partner for each of them. Josh Brolin sells a potentially ridiculous role with rugged real-man charisma and soul, and Reitman ratchets up the emotional tension and release with old-fashioned skill—though my main criticism would be an over-reliance on score, especially during a pie-baking scene that provided unintentional laughter in the screening I attended. Nevertheless, it’s a good film to take your mother to, or to watch alone if you fancy a good cathartic cry, though I would warn away anyone who has zero tolerance for melodrama or sentiment. (Opens in limited release Dec. 25th)

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Philomena

Another great pick to take your mom to, Stephen Frears’ latest boasts a smart, witty, emotionally satisfying script by Steve Coogan—who in the role of a cynical journalist helping an elderly woman find her long-lost son, may have found the movie that finally sells him to an American audience. His chemistry with Judi Dench, playing the title character, is wonderful, and the story takes some interesting turns into darker territory while always remaining warm, humane and funny. Frears’ direction is solid if uninspired—I always think his films belong on TV rather than on a big screen—but his old-school professionalism is undeniably effective, always finding the right emotional beat in every scene, as well as the laughs. It won’t blow your mind, but it’s good, solid stuff, and easy to recommend, to just about anyone. (Opens in limited release Dec. 25th)

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Gravity

Wow. Beginning to end, I watched this movie with my jaw hanging on the floor and the back of my brain exploded onto the back of the theatre. It’s so rare to see a big-budget special effects driven movie that is so uniquely an auteur’s vision, and while Alfonso Cuaron’s space epic isn’t the philosophical meditation some hoped it would be, it’s a thrilling, genuinely awe-inducing ride like nothing you’ve ever seen. Evolving his use of long takes—so well-executed in the brilliant, underrated Children of Men—to a mind-boggling extreme (the film’s first take is something like 45 mins long), the astonishing visuals on display are used in the service of a genuinely emotional journey, that sees George Clooney use his charming, comforting presence to ably support Sandra Bullock’s moving, fierce and vulnerable star turn, unlike anything we’ve seen from her to date. Of all the films playing at Toronto, Gravity is most likely the one I will return to most often, just to bask in the wonder of its technical achievements, and surrender to its immersive window into zero-g existence, with our beautiful, distant planet circling below. Wonderful. (Opens in wide release Oct. 4th)  

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August: Osage County

This much-hyped adaptation of Tracy Letts’ excellent play, is a mixed, though mostly successful bag. It’s an actors’ showcase through and through, with a cast to die for, and material that’s hard to screw up—boasting great characters, rich, blackly comic dialogue, and enough dramatic turns to fill an entire season of an American soap opera. Meryl Streep acts with a capital A, and she’s unsurprisingly impressive as the monstrous matriarch of a large extended family, but it’s the quieter turns that really stick in the memory—especially Julianne Nicholson as the quiet middle sister, and Chris Cooper as the benign but strong willed uncle. There are numerous meaty scenes for all the players to chew on (everyone gets their big emotional moment under the sun), and it’s a thrill to see Julia Roberts and Streep go head to head, most effectively in the film’s brilliant center-piece, a post-funeral dinner that spirals way out of control. Unfortunately, the film’s impact is dulled by a pace that lags thereafter, and what seems to have been a deliberate decision to soften the play for a wider audience (namely through the amber cinematography, classic Oscar-movie film-making, and obtrusive, somewhat treacly score), as John Well’s fine but uninspired direction never lets the material soar as high or dark as it wants it to go. Still, a very entertaining, very watchable few hours, that while not as great as it could have been, is most definitely worth your time. (Opens in limited release Dec. 25th)  

And that’s it for the big studio releases. Up next: Iranian immigrants in Paris, scrap-metal hunting kids in Northern England, broke musicians in Manhattan, teenage punk chicks in Stockholm, and foul-mouthed adults entering spelling bee competitions, as we round out the films that came to Toronto seeking distribution, and a place on next year’s movie calendar.

Top 10 Films of 2013 So Far

Ignore the 12 month calendar, when it comes to movies, the year is divided into two seasons: before the fall, and after the fall. We get mid-level genre fare from January until May, along with a couple of second-tier blockbusters. Summer brings out the big franchise sequels, and a few well-reviewed indies as counter-programming. But any studio—large or small—that has a promising movie made with artistry and intelligence, usually holds it back till the unofficial beginning of Oscar season, heralded by three festivals (Venice, Telluride, and Toronto) that take place in early September.

In Hollywood wisdom, this is where anything aimed at adults begins the four month race toward Academy Award nominations—without which, box office prospects are considered severely impaired. So, what this means for moviegoers, is that for right months we bemoan the lack of anything good in cinemas, catch up on all the quality cable TV shows, then find ourselves scurrying to catch up with a sudden embarrassment of riches, many of which get lost in the hustle. It’s a sad state of affairs, but it’s the way things are, and hey, at least we get a few months when loving movies is not a zero sum game.  

And yet, 2013 has been a schizophrenic year. On the one hand, the multiplexes have been filled with the usual bloated lowest-common-denominator dreck, but on the other, indie movies have been much stronger than usual, and I can count at least 10 films released thus far that I would heartily recommend without reservation. So, without further ado, my personal best of 2013, at the unofficial half-way point before the quality onslaught begins.  

Honorable Mentions: Pacific Rim was dumb as a brick, and yet, a movie aimed at 12-year-old boys that made me feel (and cheer) like one. The Great Gatsby was an over-stylized mess, and yet a bold and unique interpretation of a classic text. Spring Breakers‘s hallucinatory fever dream eventually fizzled, and yet contained a balls-out brilliant performance by James Franco. World War Z was instantly forgettable, robbed of the novel’s socio-political satire, and yet an undeniably exciting thrill ride with some fantastically realized set pieces.  

10. Stories We Tell

While I wasn’t a fan of Sarah Polley’s first two directorial outings, there’s no denying the emotional power and skilled construction of her very personal documentary essay—which interweaves an entire family’s memories and secrets into a fascinating rumination on the various facets of  so-called "shared truths" and the different ways people construct narratives from the seen and unseen events of their lives.   

 

9. Mud

Though not as transcendent or mind-blowing as Take Shelter, Jeff Nichols’ third feature is a well-told, laid-back Southern yarn, that blends Twain and Dickens for a sweet yet unsentimental coming of age story set in the swamplands of the Bayou, as a young boy’s chance encounter with an ex-con brings his ideas and notions about love crashing into reality.  

 

8. Frances Ha

Like an episode of Girls directed by Woody Allen, Noah Baumbach makes his best movie since Squid and the Whale, with this rarest of beasts—a romantic comedy with no romance. Greta Gerwig creates a vivid, completely unique character, whose growth and maturation has, refreshingly, absolutely nothing to do with finding a man.  

 

7. The East

Brit Marling writes herself a great role in this smart, complex thriller set in a grass roots eco-terrorist cell. The moral nuances are embraced, the characters are believable and fully realized, the pace is exciting, and the themes urgent and relevant without ever being preachy.  

 

6. Blue Jasmine

Woody’s best movie since Vickiy Cristina Barcelona is a searing indictment of 1% entitlement, and in Cate Blanchett’s performance, contains the best special effect of the year. Her performance is a thing to be amazed by—a slow motion breakdown that is never less than utterly hypnotic, and no matter how despicable, still manages to somehow, strangely retain our sympathies due to its unavoidable, messy humanity.

   

5. The World’s End

Edgar Wright’s third and final film in the loosely connected "Cornetto Trilogy" (`after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) is hysterically funny, riotously entertaining, mind-bogglingly ambitious, and actually, genuinely about something: the dead end nature of nostalgia, the corporatization of culture, the effect of time on friendships, and the self-destructive yet utterly unique nature of the human ego, that sets us apart from all other species, animal or alien. Like Invasion of the Body Snatchers beating up the The Big Chill after a dozen pints at a stand-up comedy night, The World’s End is two completely different films unapologetically smushed together to make something brilliant and unique, and the final ten minute epilogue is the most brazenly left-field and inspired ending I’ve seen this decade.  

 

4. Short Term 12

Depicting the lives of a young couple as they navigate a roster of damaged, abused kids in a foster care facility, this absolute gem navigates truly treacherous terrain and somehow manages to avoid cheap sentiment and predictability, achieving its own kind of clear-eyed grace without ever hitting a false note. Brie Larson is a revelation as a woman whose no-bullshit  compassion with her young charges conflicts with her struggles to heal her own past, but the entire cast does stand-out work in this hard-hitting, deeply humane, genuinely important film about the actual skill it takes to love others, and ourselves.

   

3. Upstream Color

Shane Carruth’s second feature after the Sundance-winning Primer, is one of the boldest American art films of this young century, that practically invents its own cinematic language. There are elements of plot, there are characters, but the narrative follows the logic of dreams and emotions, which, if you surrender to their flow, provide a truly unforgettable trip (in all senses of the word). I’m not sure I can tell you what it all means—it involves identity-theft, fear of intimacy, alienation, love, and ur… pigs—but it made sense to me at a deeply sub-conscious level, and there are images and scenes forever burned into my brain, that still have me in awe. An uncompromised work of art by a true visionary auteur—this is the future of independently financed, independently made, independently distributed film, that breaks the mold of all pre-existing cinema within the prevailing, and failing, current system. A one-of-a-kind masterpiece, pure and simple.

   

2. Before Midnight

The perfect end to a perfect trilogy. Richard Linklater’s third and final rumination on romance is one of the most mature, realistic, yet deliciously enthralling depictions of a long term relationship, beyond its characters’ fantasies and idealized expectations of what love should be. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are mesmerizing in their conversational dance around each other’s alter egos, who, after 20 years and sojourns in three European countries, reveal layers and complexities that most films daren’t even attempt. Before Midnight works as a great stand alone movie, but as the third part of a larger whole, completes one of the strangest and genuinely romantic cinematic experiments of all time.

   

1. The Grandmaster

Absolutely avoid the dumbed-down butchered version currently screening in US cinemas, head down to Chinatown or `yes.asia.com’, and buy the full, uncut, 130 minute Chinese version, in all its overstuffed, culturally specific glory. This jaw-droppingly beautiful movie is like Dr. Zhivago with martial arts, an elegiac tone poem for the honor-bound, highly coded world of kung fu before it spread its reach to the outer world. Ostensibly a biopic of Bruce Lee’s teacher, Ip Man, it is above all, another masterpiece from Wong Kar-wai, and like the rest of his oeuvre,  a highly stylized, achingly romantic mood mosaic about beautiful, heartbroken smokers, with the added bonus of the most hands down awesome fight sequences since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  

 

 

And that’s it for the first eight months. The rest of the year begins with a bang now, as I head down to the Toronto film festival. Stay tuned for thoughts on Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, The Past, Prisoners,  and many, many more, as we collectively forget the calamities on most studios’ slates, believe in a world where art and commerce happily co-exist, and let the fall feast of films begin.  

Daniel Hardy lives in a cabin in the woods, watches a lot of movies, and occasionally writes screenplays for a living. 

Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Gravity’ Looks Like The Scariest Thing Ever

Gravity, director Alfonso Cuarón’s new sci-fi chiller, a follow-up to the ambitious dystopian fable Children of Men, stars Sandra Bullock. Also George Clooney, and some pretty special effects, but mostly Sandra Bullock. Apparently the role—which both Angelina Jolie and Natalie Portman backed out of—involves floating in space alone for much of the film’s run time. Embrace your dread of the cosmic beyond with a heart-stopping new trailer below.

Perhaps since it’s such an unusual premise—no aliens, just astronauts dealing with the physics of the universe under exceedingly bad conditions—Warner Bros. has been a bit cagey about this film, which looked in danger of not getting made several times, moving the release from last fall to this October. But for all the rarified plot mechanics it promises, Gravity doesn’t look like it’s made for the academic. Just because the opening take is 17 minutes long doesn’t mean it won’t scare you silly with its balletic grace.  
 
 
An accident hundreds of miles above the planet, and the fight to survive thereafter. Could it be 2001: A Space Odyssey for the adrenaline junkie generation? Or just Open Water among the ring of debris orbiting earth? Either way, we’ve learned to trust Cuarón’s masterful instincts, wherever in the solar system they take us.

Guillermo Del Toro Has Really Nice Things to Say About Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Gravity’

One could argue convincingly that Alfonso Cuarón is the most talented filmmaker working in Hollywood. Though underrated when it came out, Children of Men eventually took its rightful place as one of the best movies of the aughts, a modern classic. Cuarón’s entry to the Harry Potter pantheon, The Prisoner of Azkaban, is also widely considered to be the best in that entire series. And Y Tu Mamá También, well, watch it. But Cuarón hasn’t made a feature film since 2006’s CoM, a hiatus that’s only added to his mystique. That changes next year with the release of Gravity, his long-gestating sci-fi picture starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Yesterday, one of Cuarón’s close friends and collaborators upped the anticipation factor with some tantalizing words.

Speaking to MTV, Guillermo Del Toro called Gravity, about an astronaut (Bullock) trying to find her way back to earth after a disaster, “completely mind-blowing.” According to him, Cuarón and his team traveled the James Cameron route and invented their own technology to shoot revolutionary anti-gravity scenes, which Del Toro thinks will “forever change certain types of productions.” You’ll recall that Children of Men featured several how-did-he-do-it single-shot sequences (like this one) that at the time were pretty groundbreaking. The last time a visionary sci-fi filmmaker took forever to make his next movie, James Cameron (who Cuarón consulted on this film) gave us Avatar. So color us blue with excitement. Del Toro’s full comments are below.