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Raiders of the Lost Ark Story

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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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 […]

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birth

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.

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raquel-welch-one-million

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.

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Rick O Barry in The Cove

The first Dolphin Tale got surprisingly strong reviews for an innocuous family flick. While as of yet there is no verdict in for the film’s sequel, Dolphin Tale 2, it seems widely agreed upon that the fact that there is a sequel at all is rather baffling. Like it’s predecessor, the movie is based on true events that took place at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida, but there’s no hook to the story of (part 2’s) Hope the dolphin the way there is to that of (part 1’s) Winter, who needed to be fitted with a prosthetic tail by the Aquarium after losing her real tail to a crab trap. Oh wait, Hope was a baby when she was rescued, so the movie seems to be nakedly playing for “aww”s. If you’re in the mood for a movie about dolphins — and why wouldn’t you be? dolphins are great — but aren’t interested in a redundant feel-good movie, then you might want to consider a necessary though dire documentary about them. The Cove was able to ride a wave of controversy to an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature after its release in 2009, and with good reason. It’s full of stomach-churning imagery and immense urgency, and it exposes a subject that many people know nothing about. Everyone loves dolphins, which is why a movie like Dolphin Tale can be a success, but most are content to coo at them in aquariums or at TV and Internet footage of the creatures. Few actually truly care about dolphins, which is how people can get away with […]

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Nightcrawler Movie

It can be quite magical to be at a large film festival. There are hundreds to choose from – heaps of beautiful films that will never again leave their home country, indie delights that will receive the most minimal distribution, and of course, a smattering of Hollywood forays into deeper subject matter. You can meet people from all over the world, hear filmmakers and casts give insights into their productions, and have a valid excuse to eat piles of junk food as you race between screenings. But after the fiftieth time someone pushes their reclining seat back so far that it’s pinned your legs to your own chair, or people come and go repeatedly throughout the movie, or someone pulls out their phone and someone else yells at them, or any of the other results of hundreds of people seeing countless films together, any film fiend will start to descend into madness and wish for the joys of home couches and television screenings. This year, it’s not so hard to replicate the TIFF experience at home. There are filmmakers revisiting old tropes and material, actors honing talents that once made them stars, and features that nod to the films that came before. Here are seven films currently screening at TIFF, and the films they can be replaced with at home.

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Billy Madison

In response to A.O. Scott’s gorgeously organized, well thought out treatise on how maturity is and is not displayed in TV and film, we’d like to offer a free-wheeling conversation filled with half-formed ideas. How are we displaying adulthood in our art, and is it an accurate reflection of our lives and escapist desires? We’ll also check in Kate Erbland to hear about the best movies of TIFF that you’ll be able to see soon, and Jack Giroux interviews Jeremy Renner about his new biopic of Iran-Contra whistleblower Gary Webb, Kill the Messenger. You should follow Kate (@katerbland), Jack (@jackgi), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #71 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Braveheart Stirling Spears

September 11th is a date that will forever live in infamy due to the terrorist attacks 13 years ago. Every time it comes around, we remember and honor the victims of what is usually written as the date itself, 9/11. Parents wish for their unborn kids not to be stuck with it as their birthday. Couples no longer plan their weddings on the day. It’s not an occasion for any other memories besides those of the events of 2001. But it is one of 366 days on the calendar, and things have and will take place on that particular day in September. Famous people have died, including John Ritter. Other terrible incidents have happened, such as the U.S. embassy attack in Benghazi two years ago. Meanwhile, there are people celebrating anniversaries of weddings held before the attacks cast a dark shadow on the date (two of my own family members included). And people celebrate birthdays on September 11th, including Harry Connick Jr. and Moby. Also occurring on September 11th in years prior to 2001 were Henry Hudson’s discovery of Manhattan (1609), the groundbreaking for the construction of the Pentagon (1941) and the first public performance of Stephen Foster’s “Oh! Susanna” (1847). And at least four known historical events happened on the date that have been depicted in movies. Joined with one fictional scene taking place on a September 11th, see these movies below. 

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Captain America The Winter Soldier

One of the biggest hits of the year so far has been Captain America: The Winter Soldier, making it a bigger success than the first film. It helps that it follows up The Avengers and cross-pollinates with other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, what also helped it along was a fresh story that was less of a gee-whiz superhero film and more inspired by the conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s. Now that the film has been released on home video, the directors and writers have sat down and dissected it in their commentary track, available on the Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray. (Sorry, folks… the DVD does not have the commentary on it, so you’ll have to spring for a Blu-ray player if you want to listen. But, seriously, why don’t you have a Blu-ray player already? You do? Thought so.

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Annie Hall

Ashe never got to see a ton of modern classics from his youth, so we’re making him watch them all as a nostalgia-less adult. Check out the inaugural article for more info. Not only had I never seen Annie Hall before this week, I’d never seen any Woody Allen films whatsoever, which is kind of weird because I apparently share his sense of humor (or so I’ve been told). People have asked me if I’m a fan of his and I always have to tell them no. Not out of any kind of objection to his work, but just because I’d never sat down to watch any of it. The one thing I’d ever seen him in was the old version of Casino Royale, which was… I don’t think we’ve even invented words for what that movie was. Anyway, it’s not a great introduction for him. And, in fact, Annie Hall isn’t necessarily one either. It was his first “serious” film, since his oeuvre before that was primarily spoofs. The switch, apparently, is quite dramatic. And it’s funny, because Annie Hall was meant to be a dramatic murder mystery with a romantic subplot. Allen slowly dropped more and more of the main plot  (this was purportedly after he’d already shot quite a bit of it) until just the romantic subplot was left. And then he and his editor took the whole thing, threw it in random order and won some Oscars (which probably inspired Quinten Tarantino to do the same thing 17 years later).

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Vanilla Sky empty

Picture yourself in a New York City movie theater. It’s December 14, 2001. The film you’re watching is Vanilla Sky, a sci-fi fantasy from director Cameron Crowe and Tom Cruise, who delighted the world with Jerry Maguire a few years earlier. You are probably not enjoying yourself (it received a D- on Cinemascore) and as the film nears its twisty, trippy conclusion, your mind might be drifting towards more actionable realities, like which subway line to take home or what to eat for dinner. But then you come to the final scene, and you immediately snap to attention. You watch Cruise stand atop the tallest building in New York at dawn and willfully leap. He falls past endless office windows, braces for impact and hits the pavement. It’s hard to imagine any New Yorker watching this scene and not immediately flashing back to the events that occurred just three months prior, when as many as 200 Americans either jumped or fell to their deaths to escape the inferno raging inside some of the tallest buildings in New York. It would have been easy to read the film as a shameless ploy by Crowe to cash in on one of the most traumatic events in American history. Or maybe, if we were feeling generous, we could have seen it as an attempt to help the nation heal by forcing us to re-live the trauma in a safe space, much like Paul Greengrass’s United 93 did. But then you realize that, while Vanilla Sky was released in December 2001, it actually began […]

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We

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Capitalism Michael Moore

In our review for Fed Up, a documentary on the American obesity epidemic, I recommend that it be distributed free, at least to the poor. “Who wants to pay $10 or more to watch a bunch of talking heads make claims about how the food industry and government have made the problem even worse over the years?” I wondered. “This shouldn’t be the content of a theatrical release.” Now the film is on DVD and Blu-ray and through digital outlets, and we do think it’s worth seeing. But like many issue films of today, this is not a movie so much as it’s a necessary news report — the kind of thing that the networks would air to large audiences (albeit ones with much fewer choices in TV channels and other media options) in the ’60s and ’70s. Presumably, Michael Moore would agree with the stance on such a doc. He has long been arguing the case for more cinematic nonfiction films in theaters and on Oscar ballots. This week, while being honored at the Toronto International Film Festival with a 25th anniversary screening of Roger & Me, Moore spoke out on the need for docs to be more entertaining. The Guardian quotes him as saying, “People want to go home and have sex after your movie. Don’t make them feel ‘Urggggghhhh’.” In his speech, a keynote for the TIFF doc conference, he urged the filmmakers who are primarily lecturing viewers with their docs to quit the business and become teachers, because […]

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Super Movie

James Gunn made the movie that ruled the summer, which is really fucking weird. Not because he isn’t talented (because he is), but because his rise to prominence doesn’t make mathematical sense. The odds were astronomical. To think about it in the worst way possible, Lloyd Kaufman — the founder of Troma — is still hustling Troma films wherever he can while his Tromatic protege has the #1 movie of the year. He’s a bona fide mainstream success who got his start rewriting Shakespeare so that Juliet becomes a monster with a giant dick. Now, the world has officially gotten his dick message. But to try to nail down Gunn’s style is impossible. Beyond the genre fuckery of Troma which has proven itself to be a borrowed language, Gunn has also written and/or directed stripped-down horror, a surprisingly family friendly series where a talking dog solves mysteries and a hero satire that’s far smarter and more earnest than Kick-Ass. Gunn has a fantastically twisted sense of humor, but instead of toiling in obscurity or b-level experimentalism, he’s making blockbusters that millions of people love. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a guy who learned everything from the Toxic Avenger.

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Bill Murray Lost in Translation

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom

Will we eventually see Shia LeBeouf return to the Transformers movies? Could there ever be a Speed 3 starring Keanu Reeves? These are things I wondered when I saw that Orlando Bloom is talking about returning to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Let’s just go there and say he’d be crawling back, seeing as his career hasn’t been too hot since he left that series after the third installment (isn’t it enough that he was allowed back to Middle Earth for the Hobbit movies?). Among other reasons the fifth POTC will probably stink, its allowance for “Will Turner” to reenter the picture is a big one. This sort of thing looks bad for both the actor and the production, though it’s hard to tell which comes off more desperate. Probably Bloom, since I doubt anybody really cares if he’s involved. Turner’s story arc was fairly complete by the end of At World’s End (there is apparently some fan debate regarding this, but never mind all that). And it’s rather neat and clean the way those first three movies form a trilogy. Meanwhile, Johnny Depp is seemingly bound to the franchise through some devilish deal with Disney, and if that must be true than it’d be better to see him have to work with new characters in their own stories, whether they’re one-offs like On Stranger Tides or a new three-part adventure. Of course, Captain Jack Sparrow’s charms wear thin with each installment, too, and if POTC must sail on, the […]

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Joan Rivers

When Joan Rivers died last week, a common refrain resounded throughout the movie sphere of Twitter: “Watch Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.” It was good advice. Anyone who wants to understand her importance as a media figure, or just as a person, would do well to check out that documentary. And after seeing it, you might have a hankering to check out more docs about entertainers who are devoted to making people laugh. Here are ten, including the Rivers film, to catch up with: Elaine Stritch at Liberty (2002) and Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2013) The Broadway legend kept working right up until her death earlier this year. At Liberty is Elaine Stritch in her own words, a filmed version of her acclaimed one-woman show. She won an Emmy for her riotous recounting of her life and work, a two-hour cavalcade of memories shot by a team of directors led by D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. Shoot Me is Stritch as viewed through someone else’s lens. While the actress and singer is still on point with her defiant rambunctiousness, director Chiemi Karasawa delivers a more raw, vulnerable side of her. Footage of Stritch without makeup, lying in bed due to sickliness, are the sort of thing that you don’t get from a performer just talking about it on stage. It’s a funny but moving look at reflection in old age while still pursuing what one loves. READ MORE AT NONFICS

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Man Short Film

Why Watch? This short film from Richard Hughes is sweat and gristle. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a fist. Yet like most outstanding explorations of manhood, Man proves the power and pure muscle are not enough to make you whole. It focuses on a middle-aged sheep shearer who’s one bad afternoon away from being sent to pasture. He takes a young kid under his wing, trying to teach him to stay on the right path, but the young troublemaker has the unfortunate solution to the old man’s problem in a tiny plastic bag. Man is aggressive and unrelenting — with evocative shots that place us firmly in the dirt and heat of the barn to a storming performance from a feral Shane Connor as the old man. He growls his way through a forced paternal role, anchored by strident frustration and a too big piece of himself that wants to do the right thing. There’s a strong parallel here to the Oscar nominated Bullhead, both for its subject matter, its tragic sense of fading dominion and its exhausting intensity. This is one hell of a fantastic short film.

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Poltergeist

Everyone’s heard of movies that are cursed. One terrible event after another happens on set, things go horribly wrong, the movie goes way over budget. Sometimes, people even die. But it’s not a curse, it’s just bad luck. Right? Well, sometimes there’s just one little detail that elevates movie curses from “Oh, that sucks” to “Please, hand me the fucking holy water.”

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Breathless Movie

The legacy of the French New Wave looms large over modern film history, yet its legacy is decidedly messy, one that refuses to fit comfortably within one stable tradition or definition. The movement became popular alongside the rise of European art cinema during the late 1950s and early 1960s, yet many of its films preferred playfully anarchistic pastiche over a reverent approach to cinematic modernism. Unlike other European postwar filmmaking traditions, the French New Wave both loved and hated Hollywood filmmaking, with its members ranging from the political dissidence of Jean-Luc Godard’s work after 1965 to the cheeky MGM-invoking festivals of radiance that were Jacques Demy’s 1960s musicals. And there were as many, if not more, consequential French filmmakers only tangentially associated with the New Wave as there were decidedly within it, with Alain Resnais and Louis Malle’s late 1950s work often awkwardly placed as its inciting texts. The French New Wave was a school without formal rules, without clear qualifications for induction, and without an interest in legibly framing its own legacy – its criteria required seemingly little else than a distinct expression of difference from what’s come before. But beyond the intellectual and artistic changes the French New Wave brought upon the greater cinematic landscape, no contribution of the movement is more apparent than the term New Wave itself, a term that both reinforces and confuses the French New Wave’s legacy each time it’s applied. And while “New Wave” might be a useful shorthand for recognizing significant shifts in filmmaking style […]

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