5 Ways to Celebrate the Oscars

Enjoy the Oscars. Enjoy film. Enjoy life.

celebrate family excited Oscars

This year, watching the Golden Globes blew my mind! Last month my roommate and I laughed at ourselves. As La La Land won all of their Golden Globe nominations we shouted and cheered and fist-pumped. Our enthusiasm trumped every other ceremony we had watched. We were deeply invested in the films.

Films are seriously thought-provoking, sometimes devastating, and sometimes exhilarating. They tell us stories about how the world works, and even make sense of our own stories. But, there is more than one way to engage with them. Take a break from the normal routine of everyday and celebrate life.

1. See a movie that’s up for best picture.

Go to the theater to see Fences and Lion. If you want to have a night in, Manchester by the Sea and La La Land are both available for purchase.

Fences Oscars

2. Listen to the songs up for best original song.

You can listen to a taste of the nominees here. Did you know that Lin Manuel-Miranda (writer of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton”) is up for receiving one of these?

3. Consider the story behind the story by tuning into some director interviews.

While you are grocery shopping listen to an interview with playwright Tarell McCraney and filmmaker Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) or Damien Chazelle (La La Land) on NPR’s Fresh Air. During your lunch break scan this LA Times interview with Denis Villeneuve (Arrival).

4. Invest in the actors and actresses.

Watch Stephen Colbert harass Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)—it’s not for this year’s movie, but it’s still pretty funny! Watch Denzel Washington (Fences) read greeting cards with Jimmy Fallon. Relate with Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) as she plays heads-up with Ellen Degeneres, or revel in (an oldie-but-a-goodie) Emma Stone’s (La La Land) epic lip sync battle.

5. Host an Oscars Party, complete with a ballot competition and Oscar statues. . .made of chocolate!

Print official ballots here. And, don’t forget to include the kids in the competition. They often have an astounding intuitive sense.Yes, Oscar-shaped chocolates are on the market! Snatch some up for an extra sugar kick to get you through the three-hour ceremony.

The Oscars air on ABC Sunday, February 26 at 7:30 CST

 

– K. Pastore

2 Film Magazines You Should Know About

Where can you find quicker access to new projects, trustworthy reviews, quality gear? Screen International and ICG Magazine.

 Linus Sandgren
Cinematographer Linus Sandgren, La La Land, ICG Magazine

Screen International

  Screen International is a movie-lovers dream. If you are one of those and do not yet have a fetish you can easily retrieve, I’ve got you covered. Screen has got it all from solid reviews and festival spots to special features on casts and crews. Sure, you can wade through IMDb and gather info on the ‘likely’ good films to be released in the coming months. But why would you do that when you could get served up a dish of spectacularly-edited, no-longer-secret cinema treats.
The January 6 issue showcased global upcoming film projects such as: Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson fashion project (UK), The Other Side of Hope (Finland), Our Time Will Come (Hong Kong), and Sheikh Jackson (Egypt). Editors traced the ins and outs of upcoming festivals. You may not get the low-down on Rotterdam’s impressive art installations anywhere else. One of their feature articles took a look at how the well-known comic director Denis Villeneuve made his gutsy move to the sci-fi drama Arrival.
Screen International’s online presence can be found at www.screendaily.com. Screen prides themselves in their “in-depth

Dir. Amr Salama creator of Sheikh Jackson

analysis, company profiles, interviews and expert insight into the global film industry.” If you need a basic or elaborate ‘what’s happening in film’ Screen is for you.

International Cinematographers Guild Magazine

ICG Magazine is one big how-did-they-do that?! If you’re like me, last December you found yourself in a theater ready and set to see Damien Chazelle’s stab at a modern musical. Three minutes into the film you were already near awe-filled tears: “That opening dance number, and oh oh, the music, but most of all, how did they shoot that?!” Enter ICG.
ICG specializes on the how-did-they-do-that. They do interviews with cinematographers, spots on film crews, reviews of equipment and visions for the future of filmmaking. Their December issue included a feature on La La Land where they picked the brain of cinematographer Linus Sandgren. La La Land is filled with innovative technology, and risky cinematic decisions. That issue also included a section of bios on emerging cinematographers. Theses artists, including Eve M. Cohen and Eric Dvorsky, share their personal stories, favorite gear and new projects.
Its combination of technical and street language, alongside industry specific and common interest pieces welcomes a host of readers. Whether you are an accomplished cinematographer or just a newbie, ICG will whet your appetite for more of this visual goodness.

 

-K. Pastore

Documentaries on U.S. Prison System & Syrian Civil War

At Sundance 2017, World and U.S. Documentaries masterfully spotlighted the things we need to know—now.

Kalief Browder

You can always expect innovative, provocative and stunning films at the Sundance Film Festival. Though I am a big fan of dramatic films, this year’s doc selections knocked me out. It was almost like these doc-makers flew on a prophetic wind. We need these stories. Filmmaking takes years. But, so many of the documentaries looked like they had slept, awaiting January 2017.

When it comes to the Syrian civil war and the state of the prison system, I think its safe to say the majority of us are out of the loop. The web of systems, the histories, the facts and claims seem impossible to grasp. “I don’t even know what I need to know about this!”—is a phrase that incessantly ricochets about my psyche. Enter documentaries. Directors Evgeny Afineevsky and Jenner Furst draw from the stories of specific individuals to explicate major world events.

Cries From Syria

HBO’s “Cries From Syria” film subject Kholoud Helmi, producer/director Evgeny Afineevsky and SVP of HBO Documentary Films Nancy Abraham

Cries from Syria guides the audience through the history of Syria’s civil war. It first dashes through the presidency of Hafez

al-Assad, 1971–2000 into the election of Bashar al-Assad. The quick paced scenes hit all of the major events that led to the Arab Spring. The majority of the film covers the brutal conflict in the last five years. Afineevsky presents an insider’s look at Syria through photographs and video that Syrians uploaded on social media. Journalists and activists, including children, guide the film with their personal stories and philosophies. The gruesome events reach beyond heart-breaking. When I looked at these courageous people I saw more than heroes. Cries from Syria premieres March 13 at 9 P.M. CT on HBO.

Time: The Kalief Browder Story

Time: The Kalief Browder Story exploits the bail-system trap and the gang-lorded prison,

Executive Producer Jay Z speaking about Browder at Sundance 2017

Rikers Island. The 16 year-old, Kalief Browder was falsely accused of stealing a backpack. He spent three years at Rikers Island maximum secruity prison. Browder explains that when his family failed to make bail, authorities sent him to Rikers—before he was even convicted of the crime. Scenes flash from Rikers security cameras to Browder to former Rikers correctional officers, bouncing from the personal to institutional.

 

Social injustice tends to get hidden behind the celebrity-idolized, egotistical social media and the hot-item-masquerade often referred to as ‘the news.’ Furst refuses to let us fall blind. The six-part documentary series, Time: The Kalief Browder Story airs on Spike TV March 1.

Afineevsky and Furst not only pieced together massive events into a digestible time-block. They did it for a reason, and they let you know. Neither of these documentaries are for the faint. Come ready to listen, ready to weep and ready to move.

 

– K. Pastore