Magnet Releasing

Magnet Releasing

Here’s the thing. It’s fashionable to bash remakes from their very first announcement as unnecessary and doomed to failure, but there have been more than enough good (and even great) ones to know that’s just dumb. No remake, whether good or bad, has the power to alter the original which will always be available to watch and enjoy. Of course, knowing that doesn’t change the knee-jerk reaction you feel when a particularly fantastic foreign film is snatched up and scheduled for American consumption.

Kim Jee-woon‘s deliciously brutal I Saw the Devil has been on the path towards an English-language remake since its release in 2010, but details as to who would actually be involved have been up in the air until now. The Wrap just revealed — and producer Keith Calder confirmed via Twitter — that the team behind You’re Next and the recent The Guest will be writing and directing the film. Adam Wingard will direct from Simon Barrett‘s script, and while we’re still more than a year away from a finished product there’s reason to feel both excited and concerned… while still remembering that Kim’s original will always be here regardless.

Adam Sandler in Men Women and Children

Paramount Pictures

It’s an understood rule of comedic actors that they can all do drama, as well. Comedy is harder, of course. But then not every comedic actor is truly an actor. Not every comedic performance is about more than good line readings and having the necessary timing to tell a joke. Stand-up comedians often get starring gigs on sitcoms, but that doesn’t mean they’ll wind up with an Oscar nomination someday. (Sorry, Sinbad.) Those who do end up with Academy recognition are those who were always set to shine on the big screen and wound up on TV as a short little detour along the way. Jennifer Lawrence, for example. And Tom Hanks. And Leonardo DiCaprio. But there are also former TV comedy stars who do great work in dramatic movies and never garner Oscar attention, and then they have to go back and do a Dumb and Dumber sequel.

There is hope and buzz for quite a few former sitcom stars this fall. They could join the likes of Helen Hunt, George Clooney, Sally Field, Melissa McCarthy, Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Mo’Nique, Sandra Bullock, Marisa Tomei, Will Smith, Diahann Carroll, Woody Harrelson, John Travolta, Judd Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Patty Duke, Pat Morita, Kate Winslet, Billy Bob Thornton, Jamie Foxx and Robin Williams. I’m sure I’m forgetting some others (and not even thinking of all the variety TV players like George Burns, Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Cher and Goldie Hawn). Or they could be the next Jim Carrey. Check out the funny TV vets said to be in contention now that the Toronto International Film Festival has spewed out a number of this year’s awards candidates.

L4st Short Film

Mikko Löppönen

Why Watch? This short film proves that at least one filmmaking collective in Finland is obsessed with the fungus-murdering “The Last of Us.” Mikko Löppönen and company have created a slick action set piece that earns its haunting atmosphere with navel gazing music and uncomfortably long shots of a decrepit location.

L4ST barely has any dialogue, and it doesn’t exactly need what it has. It’s a brief anxiety attack, shot in a way that forces you to try to look around corners even though you have no control over the scene. That echo of video game views helps sell the survival, but the short’s greatest strengths are the choreography and execution of its fight scenes. Quick, sharp and simple, they mirror the ferocity necessary to survive in a world with few supplies and many dangers.

Someone give these people a bigger budget.

Edge of Tomorrow BTS

Warner Bros.

As you all know, Edge of Tomorrow is the story of a man facing a grueling mid-life crisis who can only save himself by escaping a workday grind where every day poses the exact same set of existential irritations and wide-mouthed aliens who want to blow him into tiny bits. We’ve all been there.

The movie required a lot of projectiles and explosions for Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt to run away from (or to), and this B-roll footage (via ScreenSlam) shows the pair doing their own stunts while practical fireballs blaze in the background.

It’s tough to say whether Edge of Tomorrow had more practical special effects than other big action flicks (I once saw a car thrown at another car while driving near the Transformers set), but it definitely feels like it. The kind of explosions and stunts they’re pulling off without CGI are really fantastic. The body-flinging segment at 3:00 is genuinely startling, and I’m waiting for someone to explain how they safely shot rockets (missiles?) above the heads of dozens of extras and movie stars. That’s the kind of phone call Ned Ryerson waits his whole life for.

Questions aside, this video is damned impressive, and it makes me want to see Cruise and Blunt star in a Zhang Yimou movie as soon as possible.

Focus Features

Focus Features

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival boasted dozens upon dozens of films to sate the cinema-hungry masses, and we’re willing to bet that we saw…well, at least a hearty fraction of them. The festival has just wrapped up, and as we all attempt to recover from ten-plus days of universally excellent film-going, it only seems appropriate to revisit our favorite films of the festival. These are the titles that stuck with us, the ones we recommended to anyone who would listen, the ones we couldn’t quite shake, a big mix of the funny and the fantastic, the sad and the silly, the wild and the weird. Are these the best films of TIFF? We certainly think so.

Top Five

Paramount Pictures

If we were to list some of the most horrific cultural tragedies of the 20th and 21st century, the paucity of films that have effectively captured the comic genius that is Chris Rock would have to … not make that list. It wouldn’t even make the honorable mentions. But still, it’s astounding that after three decades of work in cinema, Rock’s sensibility has failed to be transplanted successfully from stage to screen. Alas, Top Five is probably as close as we’ll ever get to a proper Chris Rock joint. Vulgar, obscene and insightful, Rock’s third directorial effort proves to be his strongest and most similar to his rollicking standup routines.

At once autobiographical and satirical, the film picks up with Andre (Rock), a celebrated comedian no longer interested in being the funny man. After four years of sobriety, Andre believes he’s incapable of making people laugh without being intoxicated. So instead of comedy, he does drama – cast as the leader of a Haitian slave rebellion in a self-serious film entitled Uprize! And yes, the fictitious film looks as abhorrent as it sounds, and Andre knows it.

To dive into Andre’s past and present states of mind we have New York Times reporter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), who spends a day with him walking around the city for a profile she’s penning. This conceit allows for Andre’s past to be explored organically. She pushes as the resolute reporter and he pulls away as the guarded celebrity. Rock and Dawson create this dynamic that oozes humor and warmth, a sensation one similarly receives when watching any of Rock’s ingenious HBO specials.

Radius / TWC

Radius / TWC

The Weekend Watch is an open thread where you can share what you’ve recently watched, offer suggestions on movies and TV shows we should check out (or warnings about stuff to avoid) and discover queue-filling goodies from other FSR readers.

The comments section awaits. I’ll get the ball rolling with the movies/TV my eyeballs took in this weekend.


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Doctor Who Orson Pink


What a clever girl, this episode was! Part of me should be disappointed that “Listen” wasn’t strictly the creepy installment that was promised in the preview and the first act (I revealed my excitement in last week’s recap). But in the end I am too impressed with the unexpected turns of its plot to complain. We began with an introduction teasing a new villain along the same lines as the Weeping Angels and The Silence. The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is wandering about the TARDIS talking to himself about the possibility that none of us is ever truly alone, that the fear of something under the bed or right behind us comes with good reason. Whatever might be there is always hidden, as the best baddies in the Doctor Who universe are — they come at us when we aren’t looking, or we forget about them when we’re not looking, or in this case they’re always there when we don’t see them.

But the creepiness quickly subsides for some rom-com-ness with Clara (Jenna Coleman) and Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) — or should I say Rupert Pink — which reminded me of how, two episodes ago, in “Into the Dalek,” the flow of the action was similarly interrupted by some cuteness between that budding couple. The show just can’t wait to get back to them any chance it can. Here they have some awkward get-to-know-you and a sudden walk-out from Clara, who gets home and finds her time-traveling pal in her bedroom amazed by her tri-fold vanity mirror (called back for a nice punchline later). The pair go off to investigate the Doctor’s suspicion about common nightmares of hidden and unknown constant consorts and through a distraction during psyche-navigation wind up meeting a younger version of Mr. Pink (Remi Gooding). The creepiness is back for a bit with a creature or kid or something under a blanket, but in a matter of minutes that subsides again to get us back to Clara’s retry of her dinner date.



Rocks in My Pockets is a rare commodity, a stellar example of something we rarely get to see: animation for adults. The film is a memoir, a family chronicle and a national history. Director Signe Baumane grew up in Soviet Latvia, one of an enormous brood of cousins whose grandparents lived through the tumultuous 1930s and 1940s, bracing for Communist and Fascist invasions and struggling to get by. More specifically, Rocks in My Pockets is a family history of depression. Beginning with her much-harried grandmother, Baumane traces emotional hardship and the manifestations of mental illness down through her own generation. More contemplative than sad, this shape-shifting odyssey of strength and weakness is an artistic achievement the like of which doesn’t come around very often.

But don’t take my word for it. I can offer you some proof of Baumane’s unique approach to visual storytelling in the form of a cartoon. Birth premiered at the Berlin Film Festival back in 2009. It’s the story of a young woman named Amina, pregnant at only 17 years old. She goes to the doctor alone and resists telling her mother. Seeking advice from her aunt and her friends, she builds up a great deal of anecdotal knowledge, some of it true and some of it almost mythologically distracting. She obsesses in particular with that monstrously vague word, “delivery.” This is a film about the state of the mind, pregnancy as a psychological process as well as a physical one.

Morgan Freeman Dolphin Tale

Alcon Entertainment

Somewhere, someone owes Morgan Freeman $20. Because someone was foolish enough to bet Hollywood’s sagest actor that he couldn’t land roles in both the Ben-Hur remake and the pot-smoking teddy bear sex comedy in the span of 36 hours. And Freeman has proved this poor fool wrong. At least, that’s what I assume has happened.

Here’s the news, which brings us the first official cast member for the latest adaptation of Lew Wallace’s classic Christian novel: Deadline announced that Freeman has come aboard Timur Bekmambetov‘s remake-stravaganza. He is playing Ildarin, the sheik who instructs Judah Ben-Hur in the ways of chariot racing. It’s most definitely a “wise old man” role, but that fits Freeman to a T — after all, he is our nation’s foremost expert in dispensing time-tested wisdom and then chuckling to himself, softly.

It’s been said roughly six billion times that doing a Ben-Hur remake is some kind of film blasphemy (although it might just be following the example set when Exodus: Gods and Kings stepped on the toes of another Charlton Heston religious epic). Even though the Ben-Hur everyone knows was actually a remake of a 1925 silent Ben-Hur. Which, in turn, was based on a 1907 film reel, which was based on a book. Plus it was already redone as an animated feature in 2003 and a mini-series in 2010. So it’s not as though remakes have no precedence here.


Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

The Shawshank Redemption is the greatest movie ever made, right? That’s what IMDb tells us, via the site’s users and their voting power. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but it’s definitely not the only movie in the world. And it wouldn’t even be what it is had there not been movies made beforehand. In fact, the very title comes from that of a Stephen King novella with a movie-informed extension: “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.” The adaptation removes the Hollywood actress’s name (apparently because people thought it was a biopic) but still prominently features her iconic face.

In the 20 years since the release of Shawshank, other movies have been influenced or informed by Frank Darabont‘s Best Picture nominee. You won’t find any of those on this week’s list, though, not Dolores Clairborne with its mention of Shawshank Prison nor multiple Muppets movies with visual allusions nor Toy Story 3 with its admitted inspiration. These dozen titles are all precursors, some of them informing parts of the plot, others informing parts of the making of the movie, and others that are relevant. I don’t think I give away too much that isn’t common knowledge, but just in case you haven’t seen Shawshank, you really should get on that already.

Katie Holmes in Thank You For Smoking

Twentieth Century Fox

Joey Potter, if there was any doubt you’d make it out of the Creek and make it big, that’s rightly been shattered. Katie Holmes is continuing her streak of pushing haters to the left and taking on unique, out-of-character projects by tackling her directorial debut with All We Had. Variety reports the drama, also a starring vehicle for Holmes, is an adaptation of the recently released Annie Weatherwax novel of the same name, scripted by Josh Boone.

Boone’s name may sound familiar, as he just directed the self-refilling teenage pond of tears and despair called The Fault in Our Stars last spring. This means he has ample experience in dealing with misery and emotional mayhem, which will bode well in writing the movie — it’s a story centered upon a mother and her 13-year-old daughter who are struggling to hold their heads above water and escape poverty.

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