AFI FEST 2012

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln

Editor’s note: Lincoln gets its full theatrical release tomorrow, so please enjoy a re-run of our AFI FEST review of the film, originally published way back on November 9. It opens with a battle. Not the sort of battle we’ve come to expect from movies these days, not one punctuated by booms and blasts and bullets, but one that feels almost eerily and unnaturally quiet. There are hordes of soldiers attacking each other left and right, to be sure, and as they grunt and grasp in hand-to-hand (face-to-face, really) combat, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln immediately lets its audience in on what sort of film it is going to be – a personal one, a deeply felt one, and one startlingly free of what we’ve come to expect from big, bustling films about horrific wars and the beloved men who carry them out. No, Lincoln is not exactly what you’re expecting it to be – and it’s all the better for it. The plot of Lincoln can be briefly explained in few words – it centers on the last gasps of the American Civil War and President Abraham Lincoln’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) attempts to end it and get the Thirteenth Amendment (the one that outlaws slavery and serves as a a much stricter take on the Emancipation Proclamation) pushed through the divided House of Representatives. Adapted from Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s meticulously researched (and nearly 1,000-page long) “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” screenwriter Tony Kushner and Spielberg have distilled down […]

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Hitchcock AFI FEST

Alfred Hitchcock is, as the kids say, “having a moment” right now. On the heels of a HBO’s made-for-television film, The Girl, and a year before he’ll pop up in Olivier Dahan’s Grace of Monaco, ol’ Hitch is the subject of yet another feature. This one is simply named Hitchcock, and despite the promise such an eponymous title might deliver (“Hitchcock! That sounds like it will cover quite a bit of ground!”), Sacha Gervasi‘s film sticks to a slim (though important) period of the director’s life, focusing on the production of Psycho, a truly warts-and-all experience. And yet, despite working from intriguing material (the script, by John J. McLaughlin, has been adapted from Stephen Rebello‘s book, “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho”) and with a tremendously talented cast (led by Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren), the final product is a disparate and shapeless film that never finds its footing or its focus. A Hitchcock film this is not. Hitchcock attempts to immediately introduce us to both “Hitch” (Hopkins) and his obsessions, opening with a mildly amusing vignette that features mass murderer Ed Gein (Michael Wincott), the inspiration behind the book that inspired Hitchcock’s Psycho, offing his first victim while Hitchcock himself wryly observes, coming into frame like some sort of grand master of ceremonies (Gein will reappear throughout the film, each appearance becoming more laughable and ineffective than the last). Hitchcock, it turns out, has just come off the tremendous success of his North By Northwest and is now […]

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Kicking off this week with its Opening Night Gala for Hitchcock, Hollywood’s own AFI FEST effectively wraps up the year’s film festival-going season (a season that lasts approximately eleven months). Such calendar placement means that AFI FEST comes late enough in the year to serve as a last hurrah for titles that have been playing the festival circuit as far back as January (at Sundance) or as far away as France, Berlin, and Venice, and is the perfect opportunity for Southern California-based film geeks (or those willing to put some miles on their passport) to catch up on films they’ve been anticipating for months. Of course, of the 136 films playing at this year’s festival, we’ve managed to catch nearly a fifth of them at other fests, and we’re quite pleased to use this opportunity to remind you as such. Confused over what to see at the festival? Be confused no more! After the break, jog your memories of our always-extensive festival coverage with reviews for twenty-eight films set to play at this week’s AFI FEST that we’ve already seen (and, you know, reviewed). It’s like getting your festival coverage whole days early!

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As has become par for the course over the past few years, Hollywood’s own AFI FEST has brought out the big guns for its star-studded Galas screenings, with the festival set to open with Hitchcock and close with Lincoln – and yet, as exciting as both of those titles are (seriously, Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock? Steven Spielberg directing Daniel Day-Lewis as ol’ Honest Abe? it’s all a bit too good), the five films I am most anticipating will arrive smack in the middle of the festival. Some of these titles come with significantly less fanfare than either of the fest’s big guns, and some are just as primed for awards season domination, but all five of them are at the top of my movie-going list. After the break, take a look inside my AFI FEST-addled brain to get a sense on five films I think (hope?) are the true winners of this year’s festival.

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This year’s AFI FEST is certainly bringing festival-goers some of the year’s biggest titles, with world premieres of Hitchcock and Lincoln, not to mention favorites from this year’s festivals like Silver Linings Playbook and Amour, and yet, when I finally sat down to begin putting together my festival schedule, it seemed to be the smaller films that caught my eye and ended up on my personal must-see list. Certainly, films I have heard about from colleagues who have caught screenings of them at other festivals are accounted for here, but my tendency to gravitate toward lesser-known titles has led me to discover some amazing little gems such as films from director Ava DuVernay (I caught her film I Will Follow at AFI FEST back in 2010 and enjoyed her latest Middle of Nowhere during the LA Film Festival this year) and, of course, my love for music-focused stories always cause those films to get top billing from me. Check out the five films I am most looking forward to seeing during this year’s AFI FEST and let me know if you are also looking forward to any these films or if hearing about them here has piqued your interest enough to add them to your own most anticipated lists!

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As 2012 begins to wind down, your trusty LA Rejects, Kate Erbland and myself, plan to take on one final film festival – Los Angeles’ AFI FEST. AFI FEST differs from June’s Los Angeles Film Festival as the cooler temperatures (cool, not cold, I know it’s LA) of November seem to bring out slightly heavier fare. Plus, AFI FEST is located in the heart of Hollywood with many screenings taking place at the historic Grauman’s Chinese and Egyptian Theaters, giving further weight and importance to the selections shown during the festival. This year, AFI FEST brings us some of the year’s most talked-about films while also getting in a few last world premieres. The festival boasts an impressive list of titles on its roster, but we have rounded up the six must-see films that should be on the radar (and schedules) of all festival attendees. And for those who cannot attend, make note to track these films down when they come to you. AFI FEST runs from November 1st until November 8th.

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After weeks of anticipation, next month’s AFI FEST has today released the final listing of titles that will appear at Los Angeles’ own festival. This time around, we’re treated to World Cinema, Breakthrough, Midnight, and Shorts picks, and they’re just as wonderful as the last few rounds of announcements we’ve gotten from the fest. Seriously, if you live in LA and you’ve missed some of the year’s other great festivals, AFI FEST is crammed with best-of titles from the like of Cannes, Venice, and Toronto. And while the festival has already filled their schedule with a number of solid picks that have made their mark on the year’s festival circuit, and this final listing of titles only continues AFI FEST’s trend of being scarily on point when it comes to their picks. Notable titles announced today include Michael Haneke‘s Amour, Ken Loach‘s The Angels’ Share, Thomas Vinterberg‘s The Hunt, Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways, Wayne Blair‘s The Sapphires, and The ABCs of Death. After the break, check out all of the newly-announced selections, along with info on how to get your very own tickets for the festival.

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Silver Linings Playbook

It’s almost as if the programmers of this year’s AFI FEST cracked open my brain, poked around for a bit, and then pulled out a number of different film titles to use as part of their Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings schedule because, hot damn, what follows is a list of every single film I’m still aching to see this year. Man alive! The festival has just announced key additions to their lineup as part of both Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings, and the list reads like a who’s-who of some of the year’s most buzzed-about titles. Films like Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, Walter Salles‘ On the Road, Jacques Audiard‘s Rust and Bone, Ken Burns‘ The Central Park Five, Leos Carax‘s Holy Motors, Juan Antonio Bayonas‘ The Impossible, Rodney Ascher‘s Room 237, David O. Russell‘s Silver Linings Playbook, and almost impossibly, still more. Okay, it can be November now. After the break, check out full plotlines for all of the newly-announced selections, along with info on how to get your very own tickets for the festival.

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That crispness to the air that you’re probably feeling right now (unless, of course, you live in the western United States, and good luck to you) doesn’t just signal the coming of autumn, it also signals the swiftly approaching fall film festival season. We’ve already plowed through Venice, Telluride, and Toronto, just wrapped Fantastic Fest, and are currently in the middle of New York’s own NYFF, but there are plenty of other festivals on the horizon. Like, oh, how about Los Angeles’ own AFI FEST? Dear to my heart (because, unlike all those other previously-listed festivals, I can actually attend this one), AFI FEST continues to make great strides in its programming with every passing year. The festival has now announced their selections for two of their most exciting and forward-thinking sections: Young Americans (which features works by emerging U.S. filmmakers) and New Auteurs (which highlights first and second-time feature film directors from around the world). As ever, both programs are packed with films (and talent) that we’ll be talking about for years to come. Some of the Young Americans selections include Joe Swanberg‘s All the Light in the Sky (Swanberg is a consistent AFI FEST favorite), Rebecca Thomas‘ Electrick Children, David Zellner‘s Kid-Thing, Robert Byington‘s Somebody Up There Likes Me, Sean Baker‘s Starlet, and Amy Seimetz‘s Sun Don’t Shine. Stand-outs in the New Auteurs section include Brandon Cronenberg‘s Antiviral, Tobiaas Lindholm‘s A Highjacking, and Antonio Campos‘ Simon Killer (which caused quite a stir at Sundance this year). After the […]

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Hitchcock

As we draw ever closer to Hollywood’s own AFI FEST, the film festival’s little elves are hard at work issuing tantalizing press releases that clue us into some of the treats that await fest-goers this November. On the heels of announcing the festival’s Closing Night Film, Lincoln, last week, the fest has now announced which film will open the festivities, and it’s one hell of an appropriate pick. The world premiere of Sacha Gervasi‘s Anthony Hopkins-starring Hitchcock will open the festival on Thursday, November 1. The film centers on the making of Psycho and draws from Stephen Rebello‘s book “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho” with a script by John J. McLaughlin. It also stars Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, James D’Arcy, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Star-studded? You bet. Awards season fodder? You are two for two. Hitchcock himself was the recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1979, and four of his movies rank on AFI’s “100 Years…100 Movies” list: Vertigo (#9), Psycho (#14), Rear Window (#48), and North by Northwest (#55).

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Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln

While much of the FSR family is busy in our hometown of Austin, Texas, gorging themselves on equal parts barbeque and genre films at dear old Fantastic Fest, the rest of us must attempt to extract some joy from future festivals that we’ll be able to attend – like Los Angeles’ own AFI FEST. To that end, the Hollywood-based festival has just announced their Closing Night Film: the world premiere (swank!) of Steven Spielberg‘s Daniel Day-Lewis-starring Lincoln. The film will close out the festival on the evening of November 8 at the “historic” (and historically beautiful) Chinese Theatre. “Steven Spielberg epitomizes American filmmaking,” said Jacqueline Lyanga, Director, AFI FEST, “and who better to tell the story of one of the most significant figures in our country’s history. In this important presidential election year, Spielberg’s Lincoln reminds us that the challenges of the past remain as relevant today.” Spielberg has previously been the recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award (in 1995) and, just last year, his The Adventures of Tintin closed that year’s festival.

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published: 11.19.2014
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published: 11.19.2014
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published: 11.18.2014
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published: 11.14.2014
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