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Interstellar-and-Particle-Fever

Paramount Pictures/Bond 360

A lot of Best Picture hopefuls each year have documentary counterparts. It makes sense, because biopics and other true stories are great fodder for Oscar bait. Some are as easy as Monster and Milk being linked to Nick Broomfield’s Aileen Wuornos films and The Times of Harvey Milk, respectively, in part because the dramas were directly influenced by their doc predecessors. Others, like Dallas Buyers Club and How to Survive a Plague and Captain Phillips and Stolen Seas are not as officially linked but certainly go together by being about the same real-life subject matter. Occasionally even the fictional contenders are informed by docs, as was Gravity heavily modeled after footage from the IMAX movie Hubble 3D.

Lately I’ve noticed a phenomenon where a lot of the 2014 Best Picture candidates are not just easily tied to past documentaries but specifically correspond quite perfectly with docs that are also in contention for Academy Awards this year. This isn’t to say all the following titles up for the Best Picture or Best Documentary categories will wind up nominees, but it sure would be cool for the five in the latter group to line up with five of the former and that could lead to a whole segment of the ceremony devoted to nonfiction and the different ways to tell true stories, depict actual events and address real issues and ideas. They could even make it a musical number.

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Nick Cave

Corniche Pictures

By most accounts, Nick Cave is a particular taste, only occasionally entering pop culture by covering iconic songs or collaborating with pop superstars like Kylie Minogue. Yet the man who “sings every line like a Batman villain” thrives on film. His idiosyncratic brand of storytelling songwriting morphs to the occasion.

It’s a strange phenomenon of film – that particular songs about particular experiences can become so universal in the right filmmaker’s hands. But this isn’t merely a songwriter whose early work is continually reembraced and reimagined like Leonard Cohen. Nick Cave is a ghost who haunts cinema with his melancholy and anger, and a noticeable presence within it – creating, scoring and performing for the camera.

20,000 Days on Earth, out this week, reinforces his image as the cinematic preacher, depicting 24 fictional hours of his life, but his life on screen stretches much farther – especially in these 7 glorious uses of his music and presence.

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Zoolander

Paramount Pictures

We’ve been hearing rumors about a second Zoolander feature for what seems like years now — hey, it has actually been whole years! — and while we never exactly gave up hope that we would (one day!) suck back another hot batch of orange mocha Frappuccinos with the gang again, we haven’t been holding our breath on the feature. Turns out, that’s a good thing! We, like, totally would have died! But Zoolander 2 does apparently live, and it’s started casting to prove it.

Deadline reports that Zoolander 2, set to be directed by star Ben Stiller and with a script by Justin Theroux (remember, he penned Tropic Thunder for Stiller), will feature a part for Penelope Cruz of all starlets, with Stiller back as the Blue Steel-faced model moron, and rumors that we can expect to see both Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell back for more vigorously persisting. There’s no word on what we can expect to see from the film beyond this particular line-up of talents, but we’ve got some ideas. Here’s what we need — nay, require — from Zoolander 2:

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Millennium Entertainment

Millennium Entertainment

The majority of Reach Me writer/director John Herzfeld‘s credits involve television, from TV series like Rob Lowe’s Dr. Vegas to TV films such as 1997’s Emmy-nominated Don King: Only in America. He’s done a bit of film work, notably 15 Minutes and 2 Days in the Valley, both films with enormous, famous casts that follow the lives of many supporting characters – falling in line closely with his latest. More importantly, he’s buds with Sylvester Stallone, who helped him crowdfund this project.

In the movie, a mysterious author (Tom Berenger) has written a self-help book, entitled “Reach Me,” that’s found its way into the hands of many unsuspecting Californians, slowly changing their lives and bringing them together in ways they could not have imagined. Its themes are relevant to all: freed inmates (Kyra Sedgwick), rich rappers (Nelly), and the journalists who pursue its elusive author (Kevin Connolly and Sylvester Stallone). The book will cause these characters to clash as their lives are enriched, bringing their friends, family and co-workers (like Thomas Jane, Cary Elwes, and Kelsey Grammar) with them.

The glaring issue with Herzfeld’s script is that there are just too many characters whose irrelevant stories distract from each other. The backbone of the plot rests on Connolly, whose bland character involves basically two aspects: his boss (Stallone) is always yelling at him, and he just can’t quit smoking. The actor’s effort is there, but the character’s predictable arc finishes too quickly. Others, like Jane, seem to be portraying caricatures of their previous work, while some of the big names, like Grammar, have only a few lines. Elwes rounds out the list as the only actor trying anything new, but by the time you realize which character he is, his scenes will be over.

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Double Edge Films

Double Edge Films

Like Christopher Nolan on a budget, writer/director Jamin Winans (Ink) creates worlds where imagination and emotion trump logic and traditional cohesion. That’s not a criticism of either man’s talents — instead it’s just to say that both place a high premium on the way their films make us feel and the ideas we’re left to mull over in our minds once the credits have rolled. Winans’ latest film, The Frame, continues that theme as it presents viewers with a beautiful, sci-fi tinged love story fueled by fate, forgiveness and wonder.

Alex (David Carranza) is a criminal with a conscience, but his desire to escape the life puts a target on his back. Sam (Tiffany Mualem) spends her days saving lives as an EMT, but her lonely nights are filled with guilt and shame over past deeds. They lead separate lives where co-workers take the place of real friends, where what’s left of family is hanging on by a thin thread and where day to day struggles threaten to drown out even the best and most hopeful of intentions. A crack in the world brings these two souls together, but what chance do they stand with the world itself trying to keep them apart?

You’ll get no real spoilers below, but I do hint at a very cool turning point that happens early on in the film — early as in around the fifteen minute mark. If you’d rather go in completely blind (an idea I support) then stop reading here and bookmark us so you can return after you’ve seen the film. Otherwise, keep reading (and then go see the film).

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The Graduate

MGM

This week the world lost a peerless filmmaker (and EGOT winner) who delivered a hot tub full of fantastic films. Mike Nichols put Dustin Hoffman in a compromising position, tortured Meryl Streep and found a grounding commonality even with his most extraordinary characters. We’ll celebrate his work with Professor John Whitehead, author of “Mike Nichols and the Cinema of Transformation,” and try to recapture what made his stories so moving.

Plus, Geoff answers your screenwriting questions about third person expository openings (so to speak), the new trend in query letters and whether you should get a script consultant.

Double plus, we’ll chat briefly about Bill Cosby and the question of enjoying good art from bad people.

You should follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis.

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1984

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Unless you’re a superhero movie with a release date set way in advance, it’s not easy these days to know when your movie will wind up produced let alone released. A good example is Selma, which despite being about one of history’s greatest real-life superheroes, Martin Luther King Jr., had initially been slated to shoot back in the Spring of 2010. Four years later it finally went in front of cameras, by this time with a new director and distributor attached, as well as an additional producer by the name of Oprah Winfrey. It opens this Christmas, a few months ahead of the 50th anniversary of the landmark events it depicts, the protest marches in support of voting rights in Alabama, and of course it now seems as perfectly timed as can be.

Not just because of the anniversary, either. There are plenty factors that make a movie like Selma relevant today. Many mentioned this summer’s Ferguson protests when the first trailer arrived, and then the cast also acknowledged the connection on the red carpet of its AFI Fest debut this month. Film critic James Rocchi also tweeted this week that “if you don’t think Selma is about 2014 as much as 1965″ you should read the comments on a Breitbart.com article about the movie’s premiere. And with this a significant election year, the issue of voter disenfranchisement has continued to be a big deal. Then again, the latter two things could have provided timeliness in any of the past six years that Selma had been in development.

There’s a thin line between what Selma gets right about timing and what a new adaptation of “Nineteen Eighty-Four” could get wrong. The latter, which has actually similarly been in development for years on a low burner, suddenly gained heat this week with news that Paul Greengrass will direct the movie for Sony from a script by James Graham (X + Y). And it’s hard to find a report on this updated status without comment about the movie’s significance in these times when government surveillance is so topical. That makes me wonder if a new 1984 is even necessary. If something is so obvious that it has everyone making the connection to why it’s being done, should it be done? Isn’t the comment about the significance before it exists already trumping its eventual significance?

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Fifty Shades of Grey

Focus Features

Denigrate Fifty Shades of Grey all you want. Call it smut; argue that those who read it are “at increased risk of engaging in binge drinking and having multiple sex partners.” Decry it, for as a piece of Twilight fan-fiction that (as a series) spent 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, it’s literal masturbation material being eaten up to a mass audience.

Go ahead and say it right now, if you’d like (I’ll probably agree with you). But for all the flack thrown Fifty Shades‘ way, there’s something curiously admirable about it. Not necessarily to do with the movie, but with its marketing: how a few brave souls have been tasked with repackaging cut-and-paste Twilight fan porn into something appropriate for a prime-time TV spot.

To that, a new trailer for Fifty Shades dropped last week. It’s steamy, but also weirdly cold and emotionless. It tells us explicitly that this is a movie about people doin’ it with whips and chains, but doesn’t deign to show us much whipping or chaining. On its own, that sounds pretty on the ball for a Fifty Shades movie. But what if we broaden the context? How do other sex movies — that is, films explicitly about sex, with porking as a central plot point — pitch themselves to potential viewers?

Well, let’s dig back through the years and find out.

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Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

As a large, bearded man whose wardrobe consists of many hooded sweatshirts and whose primary occupation includes typing words into the void, I’m not ashamed of many things. I’m certainly not ashamed of my unabashed love for Pitch Perfect, the 2012 musical comedy about the highly competitive world of collegiate acapella. It starred the adorable Anna Kendrick alongside a host of comedic and musical talents such as Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson and that guy from Workaholics whose name I always get confused with the guy from Maroon 5 (Adam DeVine). If you’ve seen the first film, you know that it’s about as infectious and fun as any movie we, the collective of moviegoers, have seen in the last half decade.

And now there’s making a sequel. As a teenaged girl might say, SQUEEE!!

The first Pitch Perfect 2 trailer is now online following a debut at a quote-a-long event in Los Angeles last night and it has plenty to offer: More singing, more pizazz and for some inexplicable reason, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. (and several of his teammates).

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Housebound Movie

XLrator Media

One of the more refreshing horror movies to come out lately is the New Zealand comedy Housebound. After an exciting film festival run, the movie has gotten a U.S. home video release. The story is an homage to various horror films, including The Legend of Hell House, The Changeling, and The Evil Dead. Spinning off the ghost hunting craze and borrowing from some home invasion thrillers, Housebound is one of those movies worth seeking out.

Recorded in August 2014, before the actors actually saw the final version of the film, the production brain trust took some time to drink beer and watch the movie together. Here is the result.

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panthers-1

Have you ever explored the places where movies were made in your city? We partnered with car2go to explore our own local movie landmarks and we think you should do the same. Click here to see our photo tour of Austin’s most famous movie locations.

discuss...
Steve Jobs biopic

Apple

On the surface, the news is strange: an Aaron Sorkin-penned script — an ambitious one, to boot! — about one of the modern world’s great visionaries just can’t get made. But upon closer examination, it seems clear that Sony’s Steve Jobs biopic was never going to pan out. With the news (via Variety) that Sony has effectively tossed their long-gestating project into a teensy, tiny trash can somewhere (perhaps someone just slid their mouse over an icon, clicked, held, and moved?), it seems as if this feature may never come to fruition. News that Universal may pick up the feature is initially heartening, but we’ve got a better idea: just don’t make it.

Or, perhaps more accurately — and yes, far less salaciously — just don’t make it as is.

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Breathless Movie

Les Films Imperia

Jean-Luc Godard’s career has been devoted to both honoring and destroying cinema, to taking it apart and refitting it anew, and to making it speak against those who most often speak for it. Godard’s film’s have addressed a wide range of subjects – from Vietnam to prostitution to revolution to Jane Fonda – but they are, invariably, about cinema.

From his Molotov cocktail of a debut, Breathless, to his latest push at the boundaries of form, Goodbye to Language 3D, the former Cahiers du Cinema scribe and New Wave pioneer has made a career out of exploring what can be done with a device as powerful as cinema. At age 83, he remains a tireless essayist of the medium, constantly provoking , questioning and challenging, searching for new ways to redefine and deconstruct what makes cinema work.

So upon the release of his latest, here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the director who once said that “all you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.”

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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