Currently browsing the "Damien Chazelle" tag.

Review: First Man

I love Ryan Gosling (La La Land, Drive, The Notebook). I love space dramas, and true stories, and American heroes. I’m a big fan of director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land). But I just didn’t love First Man – much as I really, really wanted to. It’s a solid flick, for sure, with some great visual effects and a moving narrative about the risks and sacrifices astronaut Neil Armstrong (and many others) took in one way or another to advance our exploration of space. I was a mere toddler when Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, but I can assure you I was plopped in front of the TV along with half the planet to watch history unfold. No #FakeNews here! President John F. Kennedy issued a challenge, and we sent a man to the moon. How awesome is that? This is the stuff of movies! Which brings me back to… First Man.

La La Land

Believe the buzz. La La Land IS the best movie of 2016. It’s certainly my top pick for top honors in the Oscar pool. But here’s the twist. I had to see it twice to fully appreciate the story and the spectacle. The first time I saw it was at the Middleburg Film Festival in October, in cramped seats in a hotel ballroom. About a month later, I saw it again – on a big screen, in a real theater, with a good sound system. And I was hooked. It doesn’t fit neatly into any particular genre. It’s part musical, part drama, part comedy, part fantasy, part romance… all packaged together in a unique, thought-provoking, entertaining and bittersweet film about dreams, relationships, and the paths taken – or not taken – in life.

Reflections from the Middleburg Film Festival

I’m told this was the best slate of movies ever presented at the Middleburg Film Festival. So I picked a good year to make my debut trip into Virginia horse country to partake in four days of film, schmoozing, and lively discussion. Granted, I did not get the full-on glitz and glamor experience, choosing to stay in a lovely $79/night Hampton Inn about 30-minutes from the main venues, rather than the stunning but pricey $700/night Salamander Resort & Spa owned by the festival’s founder. But it was still a solid introduction to a festival that, in four short years, has sown the seeds to compete with the likes of Sundance, AFI, Toronto Film Festival, etc. (I think Cannes is safe). Here’s the blow-by-blow: