Top Short Films Made with Smartphone Cameras

icon-Sponsored-Post Top Short Films Made with Smartphone Cameras icon-Sponsored-Post


As new mobile devices become more equipped with better lenses and powerful processors, it’s no surprise they’re being used by filmmakers as tools to create their visual masterpieces. Thanks to this equipment, artists are able to weave tales with great visual quality without the burden of heavy production costs. In this entry, we will provide you with a list of the most dazzling smartphone short films that you must watch. Read more…

Mission:Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Mission:Impossible – Rogue Nation / Christopher McQuarrie / 2015 / threestar

Active Ingredients: Action setpieces; Rebecca Ferguson; Visual clarity
Side Effects: Pacing and length; third act complications

In today’s blockbuster climate, the Mission:Impossible series represents a refreshing and much-needed return to a bygone era of lighthearted action/adventure cinema. With no futuristic worlds to conjure, robotic mayhem to slog through or comic book lore to cater to, Tom Cruise‘s improbable franchise relies on a much more concrete and satisfying brand of spectacle. The latest entry, Christopher McQuarrie’s Rogue Nation, continues in the vein of the previous two successful films, pitting Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and his team of agents and quipping comic relief supporters against a tangible and formidable adversary as he dangles precariously from high places. Read more…

Horse Money (2015)

Horse Money / Pedro Costa / 2015 / fourstar

Active Ingredients: Sympathetic evocation of memory; Haunting imagery
Side Effects: Stillness and repetition


[Horse Money opens in limited release, including at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, on July 24th.]

A 19-year-old young man, green and optimistic from hope in hard work, is admitted to the hospital. He’s been wounded in a skirmish, briefly caught up in the leftist revolution of Portugal in the 1970s. Only the year is 2013, and the man isn’t 19 but in his seventies. He isn’t brash and viral, but old and infirm, his hands restlessly shaking from a nervous disease as he responds to the questions he was grilled with decades earlier.

Pedro Costa’s haunting documentary/fiction hybrid Horse Money is full of extraordinary temporal discontinuities like this one. Time becomes collapsed, splayed out before us in the darkened halls of an otherworldly interior space, a kind of purgatory inhabited by living ghosts, representing memory and disillusionment. Read more…

The Killer (1989)

The Killer / John Woo / 1989 / fivestar Available on Netflix Instant at time of posting

Active Ingredients: Balletic action; Intuitive editing; Genre themes
Side Effects: Melodramatic imagery; Sidelining of female character

The Killer is a remarkable film, not only because of the influence of John Woo’s style on future action films, but because of its exploration of a specific brand of stubborn masculine morals—familiar in genre films of all kinds—an ideal that leads to violence, but a violence that purifies and upholds above all else integrity. Call it “The Code.” Read more…

Two Shots Fired (2015)

Two Shots FiredMartín Rejtman / 2015 / twostar

Active Ingredients: Discursive narrative; Intersecting web of characters
Side Effects: Flat, unaffected performances; Imprecision of style

Argentinian director Martín Rejtman’s new film Two Shots Fired is an offbeat, serio-comic riff featuring a collection of entangled stories. Rejtman is an important voice in modern Argentinian cinema, and Two Shots Fired premiers as part of a retrospective of his work at New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center. “Sounds Like Music: The Films of Martín Rejtman” will run from May 13 to May 19. Read more…

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck / Brett Morgen / 2015 / fourstar

Active Ingredients: Intimacy; Editing of raw material; Focus on creativity
Side Effects: Simplification of psychology; Ending

[Montage of Heck is available via HBO, HBO Go and HBO Now.]

What is genius? Does it reside inside an artist, or is it bestowed upon him from the outside? How does it ignite, how is it expressed? Brett Morgen’s haunting and intimate portrait of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain doesn’t ask these questions directly, but this elusive quality of “genius” hangs over the film. Labels such as these repulsed Cobain, but his genius defined the pain and alienation he processed, the fleeting moments of joy he felt in creating and his unsuccessful attempts to disentangle himself from unwanted fame. Read more…

A Tale of Two Biopics: “The Imitation Game” & “The Theory of Everything”

Normally, I hate biopics. For every I’m Not There (a fascinating, prismatic exploration of the cultural persona of Bob Dylan, rather than the biographical details of his life) there are scores more films like Ray or Walk the Line. These “prestige” biopics that seem to dominate whatever sections of Hollywood remain un-franchised are imprecise, hagiographic, dramatically inert and stylistically dull. But do they have to be?

Half of last year’s Best Picture nominees where biopics. Of those four films, I saw only The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything, weary as I am of these films. Both films are about genius, mid-century British scientists. Both even succumb to the simplistic psychological readings that tend to plague biopics. And yet while neither of these films comes close to the originality or artistic ambition of I’m Not There, the relative success of The Imitation Game may illuminate a few ways prestige biopics, if we must live with them, could be improved. Read more…


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