Features

Lone Star Movie

Continuing through McGenreHey, Cargill and I further prove the power of Matthew McConaughey by dissecting a movie in which he barely appears, but one in which his character’s presence is felt in every scene: Lone Star. John Sayles, henceforth known as the patron saint of Junkfood Cinema, writes and directs this southern-fried noir that spans time and operates on so many fascinating levels. One of Cargill’s favorite films, Lone Star is a captivating exploration of myth, especially of the preference of myth over truth, and how Texas is particularly prone to uplift the legend while burying the ugly facts. Oh, and it’s a film in which Matthew McConaughey plays…Chris Cooper’s father? Download, listen, and return to the scene of the crime with us! You should follow Brian (@Briguysalisbury), Cargill (@Massawyrm), and the show (@Junkfoodcinema). Download Episode #32 Directly

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Disney logo

We’ve all felt it — that innate sense of happy that comes from consuming anything Disney. A vanilla ice cream bar with a chocolate coating tastes like vanilla ice cream with a chocolate coating. At least, until you mold it into the shape of Mickey Mouse’s face, then it tastes like a a smiling, satisfied inner child. We may never be able to explain the ice cream part (either it’s because Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream is only sold in Disney Parks, or because they’re lacing the vanilla with heroin) but we can at least explain how it works with Disney movies. What is it about a Disney film that so consistently gives us the warm and fuzzies? Is it just nostalgia? Well, yes and no. If we look to the Disney films of the late ’80s through the ’90s — commonly referred to as the Disney Renaissance – a pattern emerges. A formula, if you will.

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Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar

Christopher Nolan‘s outer space opera, Interstellar, has yet to crack the $100 million mark domestically — although it is close, and could potentially pass that marker as you read these very words — but Paramount Pictures is already banking on return viewers to help drive the film’s box office. In fact, they’re making it even easier for ‘stellar superfans to see the film again (and again and again and again) with a shiny new unlimited ticket program. The studio, in tandem with AMC Theatres, has just released word that they’ve launched an “out-of-this-world opportunity” to see the film as much as you’d like. In AMC Theatres. Until the movie is out of theaters, we guess. Although this specific ticket is the first of its kind, similar specialty deals have recently been offered for other blockbusters. Regal Theatres offered a so-called “super ticket” for Transformers: Age of Extinction — another Paramount offering — just this summer, allowing moviegoers to tack $15 on to their ticket price to get two different digital Transformers movies and a digital copy of Extinction upon its home video release. The year before, Paramount gave a “super” treatment to their Anchorman 2, a $33 offer that gave fans the chance to the sequel in theaters before its official release date, along with downloads of the first film, the “lost movie” Wake Up, Ron Burgundy and a pre-order of Anchorman 2 via digital download. Still, this Interstellar unlimited ticket is the first offer to specifically offer fans the chance to see the same film for a set price. But should you do […]

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The Three Stooges

The bowl cut is (as best summarized by Gary Larson), nature’s way of saying “do not touch.” This is the haircut of a child (worse, a child with zero fashion sense). If worn by a child, don’t touch, because hey- that’s not your child. On an adult, don’t touch, because whomever sports the bowl cut may not be of sound mind or body. Or they could be Jim Carrey, filming a Dumb and Dumber sequel. Lloyd Christmas has returned, and with him, the rattling rattlesnake tail of the haircut world. But Lloyd isn’t the only one to take his fashion cues from a salad bowl- he’s one of many in a long line of bowl-cutted heroes, American patriots who’ve upheld a ruler-straight hairline for nearly a century. Let’s take a look at a few, shall we?

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Bubble-quad-web_zps95384e39

Kino Lorber has been in the specialty DVD/Blu-ray business for years now, but while some labels make their home in niches based on genre (Scream Factory, Synapse Films) or ” important” films (Criterion Collection) Kino’s focus has been on quality world cinema both contemporary and classic. Their various imprints release films as diverse as The Long Goodbye, Elmer Gantry and Burt Reynolds’ Gator. They don’t dabble in horror a lot, but they don’t exactly shy away from the genre either as evident by titles like To All a Goodnight, Jennifer and Nosferatu. Their two latest horror releases — The Bubble and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari — fall heavy on the classic side as they’re 48 and 94 years old, respectively. The Bubble is the lesser known of the two and features a plot device that will feel familiar to fans of Under the Dome or The Simpsons Movie, while The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is still regarded as a highly influential film nearly a full century after its release.

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Dumb and Dumber Cartoon

There is a Dumb and Dumber cartoon. It is insane and it demands your attention. This may come as a shock if you weren’t watching animation on ABC in the mid-1990s. It was never exactly well-regarded, or even regarded at all. It was canceled after its first season, which ran from October of 1995 through February of 1996. Harry and Lloyd only managed to gallivant through 13 episodes before they were evicted from the screen until 2003’s ill-begotten prequel and, of course, Dumb and Dumber To. The characters, created by the Farrelly Brothers, have had quite a bizarre franchise history. That said, the Farrelly Brothers were not directly involved with Dumb and Dumber the TV series. It was their co-writer on the original film, Bennett Yellin, who stepped in to write the television series. It was produced by Hanna-Barbera, their last project for ABC. This was an important moment for the storied animation studio, which would be entirely absorbed into Cartoon Network Studios in 2001. Later series like Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls would become Cartoon Network productions by the end of their runs. Dumb and Dumber, for whatever it’s worth, is one of the last few projects that started and finished with a Hanna-Barbera stamp.

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The Little Mermaid and Magdalen

Hey parents, can you believe it hasn’t even been a year since Frozen came out? I know, it feels like you’ve been hearing you kids belt “Let It Go” for eons, but the Disney animated feature officially opened on a single screen in Hollywood on November 22, 2013, before going wide five days later. Technically, though, it did play as early as November 10th, at the New York Children’s Film Festival, so I guess we can start celebrating its first birthday. Stuff some cake in its face, because it’s barely a baby anymore. My son is pretty young, so he didn’t see Frozen until a couple months ago (it’s also when I had my viewing), and ever since he’s wanted to watch it all the time. Whether he calls the movie “Let It Go” or claims Elsa’s name is “Let It Go” or mostly wants to watch Olaf the snowman, not a day goes by that he doesn’t mention the possibility. Not that I give in every time; more often we’ll just sing or play one of the songs. I know he’ll eventually move on to something else (his last, and first, obsession was Dumbo). I also know I can’t force the change on him yet. I don’t even mind Frozen yet, strangely, but I bet parents who’ve been there for the past year are ready to forget it ever existed. Whatever the case, I’m devoting this week’s dozen movie recommendations to moms and dads who’d like some alternatives to try out. Most may […]

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we just didnt care short film

We’re teaming with The Current to deliver 10 short films from 10 different directors, focused on social trends explored through cinema. The seventh short film, We Just Didn’t Care, puts us into the bedroom crawl space of the last man on earth as he explains how he ended up alone. It’s the current concern played to its extreme, and it features an unbearable amount of light and a vision of us as Darth Vader. “The disregard for nature and human life nowadays has reached a level I never thought it would ever reach,” says 21-year-old director Eddie Mitra. “This whole idea started from my frustration with the illegal deforestation going on in Romania. Entire forests have been cut down not so far from my home. If you a few years ago you could go for a trip in the forest, you didn’t have to go far. Now, it’s only empty fields and mountains without a tree left on them. “I wanted to show that people’s priorities in today’s society are completely wrong. We lost touch with nature and money/power has become our sole goal. “There is no other species on this planet more hostile towards its environment than human beings. Pollution, deforestation or animal poaching are just a few examples of how people treat nature as a means to achieve financial profit through destruction. “I wanted to show a worst case scenario. Of course, there’s no guarantee what the future has in store for us, but if we keep up this destructive behavior, my […]

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ET Movie

Within the logo of Amblin Entertainment lies one of Steven Spielberg’s most iconic images: a boy flying on a bicycle with a shrouded extraterrestrial friend in tow. This image also provides a fitting summary of how Spielberg’s films have been popularly understood — as wondrous, spectacular articulations of imagination seemingly possible only through an affirmative style of filmmaking. But there’s also that other side of E.T. that’s absent within Amblin’s logo, that side that’s about the paranoia of a government that coldly quarantines and dissects a force it doesn’t understand, the parts of the film that met your childlike wonder with a stark nightmare. The tensions between these two poles of Spielberg’s work are explored in depth in a new book by film scholar James Kendrick, whose “Darkness in the Bliss-Out: A Reconsideration of the Films of Steven Spielberg” approaches the storied oeuvre of the most successful living filmmaker from the vantage point of his evident but less appreciated darker themes – his propensity to meet wondrous imagination with the worst tendencies of human nature. In fact, Kendrick argues that the dominant way we interpret Spielberg – as something of a reliable architect of affirming cinematic entertainment –prevents us from fully appreciating the depth and complexity of a director whose work oscillates on the pendulum between light and darkness, hope and despair. Here’s what Kendrick had to tell us about the darkness brooding within Spielberg’s films.

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Fight Club

Is Fight Club satire? That’s the question we’ll attempt to settle this week with a knock down, drag out debate where two men enter the ring, and two men also exit the ring safely. Fortunately, we’ve got special guest moderator Eric D. Snider to keep us honest, and since he takes bribes, I’ve got this one sewn up. Plus, we’ll discuss whether data can help make you a better screenwriter, and The Bitter Script Reader drops by to discuss his new book, “Michael F-ing Bay: The Unheralded Genius in Michael Bay’s Films,” where he argues that the much maligned director’s movies are more than meets the eye. You should follow Eric (@ericdsnider), The Bitter Script Reader (@bittrscrptreadr), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #76 Directly Or subscribe through iTunes

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Sandra Bullock in Gravity

A lot of people love the music in Gravity. Our review agreed that “Steven Price’s gorgeous and terrifying score only tie[s] up the film’s peerless technical package.” It even won the Oscar in that category. But there are also a lot of people who hate the music. And then there are people who like the score on its own but aren’t particularly fond of its use in the movie. The main reason given is that Gravity begins with titles regarding the lack of sound in space (not that non-diegetic things should ever be a weight on authenticity). For them, Warner Bros. is looking out. This February, the studio is releasing a two-disc Diamond Luxe Edition Blu-ray of Gravity, which is mostly being touted for its Dolby Atmos audio but which also offers the choice to watch the movie sans score. Called the “Silent Space Version,” this option is labeled a “surprising cinematic experiment.” As far as I can tell, it’s the first of its kind. For a modern sound film release, anyway (for silent cinema, you just mute the whole thing, especially if you’re watching some bad public domain copy). While there are plenty of DVDs and Blu-rays that allow you to watch a movie with just the score, I can’t find any others where you can isolate all except the music. I mean, why would there be? Are there any other movies where we’d want that? In response to the Blu-ray, The Guardian compiled a short list of movies they’d like to see without their soundtracks, […]

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Chappie

The first trailer for Neill Blomkamp‘s Chappie told us what Blomkamp enjoys most in life. Dingy brown landscapes. Socio-political commentary wrapped in a veil of science fiction. Sharlto Copley (this time, heavily autotuned). All were present in District 9 and Elysium, and all seem to play a part in this story of a robo-boy becoming a man. Also, robots! Blomkamp definitely loves robots. Kind of the same robots, every time, actually. Because if you take a thorough look at Chappie, and then the robots of Blomkamp’s other work, you’ll see the same distinguishing details every time. Here’s Chappie:

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20th Century Fox

No matter what anyone says, there’s no real downside to being a film critic. Sure the pay could be better and the commenters could be nicer, but there’s no real negative to being able to write about art you love (or you don’t, depending). But opinions change, and while a review should stand as an educated and informed viewpoint on a certain film that viewpoint can sometimes shift over time. What I’m saying my first viewing of Fantastic Mr. Fox back in 2009 left me unmoved and uninterested. Maybe it’s because I was a big fan of Wes Anderson‘s earlier films up until The Darjeeling Limited — which I still dislike strongly — and was disappointed that he moved away from live action. Maybe it’s because I didn’t understand why some of the animal species talk while others (chickens, the beagle) are just dumb animals. Maybe I just had a bad meal that day. I didn’t review the film, but had I done so it probably wouldn’t have been very positive. What I’m saying — for real this time — is that I’m glad those negative thoughts aren’t captured in a review somewhere, because this movie is a cussing gem. Having re-watched the film in the years since I’ve come to appreciate, enjoy and flat out love it, and since today is the five year anniversary I decided it’d be a great commentary to listen to… and this time I was right. Keep reading to see what I heard on […]

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The Heartbreak Kid

Sixty-four years ago today, one of Alec Guinness’ best films hit U.S. screens – Henry Cass’ darkly comedic Last Holiday. Guinness plays George Bird, a boring bachelor in a boring job who goes for a routine check-up and finds out he has a deadly and incurable disease. Upon his doctor’s advice he decides to clear out his savings and make the most of his final days, checking into a luxurious hotel. It is a choice that paints his remaining time with the most wicked irony. Having a moment to stop and live rather than work and worry, George earns all the fortune his life had been missing – friendship, love and professional success that he can’t act upon. Except, this is a wildly dark comedy with enough cruel life twists that make George’s experience anything but simple. Though its wickedness is irresistible, the film has been tragically forgotten, its themes only vaguely living on in Joe Versus the Volcano until it finally got remake in 2006. But George became Georgia, Queen Latifah was cast, and the film excised all the darkness that made the 1950 film such an atypical treat in order to whip up a chipper and typical comedy full of good tidings and bolstered by Latifah’s charm. Though we always lament the obvious remakes, there are many more where the source material is forgotten, wiped away because the remake came so long ago, or because the remake was so terrible that no one ever wanted to look beyond […]

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Nightcrawler

James Newton Howard is best known for his large, layered, cinematic scores for films like Maleficent, Snow White and the Huntsman, and The Hunger Games series. These orchestra driven scores are perfect for epic tales of good versus evil, intense battle scenes and journeys of self-discovery. But in Nightcrawler, Howard seems to have found his more edgy, electronic side, turning in a score that sounds more like something you would expect from a composer like Cliff Martinez – and that’s a good thing. Changing up your musical style not only helps push boundaries, it can also give us great music we may not have otherwise expected from certain composers. Danny Elfman created the quirky music for films like Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and Big Fish, but he also created the dramatic scores for Good Will Hunting and Silver Linings Playbook and action films like Mission Impossible and Planet of the Apes. Randy Newman created the music for some of Pixar’s most popular films like Toy Story, Monster’s Inc., and Cars, but he also created the 1958 styled score for Pleasantville and the 1925 styled score for Leatherheads. John Powell also created the thrilling score for How To Train Your Dragon, a project very different from the pulsating action films he worked on like Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Ultimatum. That leads us back to Newton. Unlike some of the more epic sagas he’s composed, Nightcrawler is rough and dirty, telling the story of tenacious videographer Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) who takes to filming gruesome crime scenes around Los Angeles […]

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Jenny Slate in Obvious Child

The Oscar Hopefuls is a new series that allows us to take a dive into the Oscar race. Instead of focusing on the marketing campaigns or the buzz, we want to focus on what really matters: the movies and performances themselves. This will include deep dives into individual movies and musings on various categories throughout awards season. Originally I had intended to kick this series off with a look at a spectacular movie that will likely be overlooked. However, today a topic was brought to my desk that feels equally deserving of the space. That great movie, to be named later, will be the focus of the next edition of The Oscar Hopefuls. For now, I’d like to focus on a topic that’s always been important to me: leading ladies. Over at The Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg writes about A Year without Best Actresses in response to a Gregg Kilday article at the Hollywood Reporter about the lack of quality Best Actress candidates in comparison to the wealth of choices in the Best Actor category. And while there’s much to be said about the balance between male and female leads overall, I’m not entirely sold on the lack of quality candidates in 2014.

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interstellar.black_.hole_

As one might expect following the release of any highly anticipated film from a well-respected director, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar was met with some rave reviews but also some harsh criticisms. All character issues aside, many people have been taking aim at the science in the film. It seems odd that such scrutiny is given to a movie when the director’s previous film involved a billionaire who dressed up as a bat to fight crime, who also managed to heal a broken back with a rope and some push-ups in an undisclosed hell-prison with only a dedicated CNN feed and an insane inmate to keep him company, but there you go. In fact, all the science dissection of Interstellar prompted celebrity astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson to offer his support for the film’s underlying scientific themes. He certainly enjoyed the film and was willing to forgive a number of science fiction issues, but we have to remember that the CBS interviewers are asking the difference between a black hole and a wormhole, so there’s a certain degree of dumbing down his answers needed. Tyson also claims Contact to be his favorite and the most realistic science fiction movie he’s ever seen, so we have to wonder if he’s just pushing for the McConaissance above all else. Instead of focusing on a sweeping examination of the science as a whole in Interstellar, I have to wonder about one part, and let’s give a big, fat SPOILER ALERT before getting to it. If you haven’t seen Interstellar, you’ll […]

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Horror films

Never fear, horror-heads, the box office has some creepy tricks and treats to gift with you very soon. Variety reports that The Conjuring 2 will arrive in theaters on June 10, 2016, and while that may sound very far away — after all, the film was first slated for a Halloween 2015 date — there are plenty of other horror features hitting the big screen between then and now. No, really. In fact, there are nineteen new horror films (and we’re talking straight horror outings, none of this “horror comedy” hooey) dated before we’ll see the new Conjuring.  That uptick in horror offerings is indicative of the box office at large, which is now rolling out a new horror film on a nearly monthly basis. No longer a strictly autumnal genre, the coming years are bringing plenty of horror films arriving at vastly different times. There are even summer release dates here, people! There’s something for everyone! And not every film is a sequel or a remake (even though, yes, plenty of them are). So what’s coming up on the calendar in the coming years? Turns out, a lot, including plenty of genuinely new features that range from scary pyramids to even scarier Skype messages. Take a look:

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Aunt May

I’m not sure what to do with the report that Sony is going to make an Aunt May spin-off movie without Spider-Man (other than have another cup of coffee and call it bullshit). Da7e at Latino Review has a solid enough batting average when it comes to wildly early scoops, but this feels like the studio narrowed down the source of its leaks and fed some bad information to confirm (Venom musical! Spidey Babies! Aunt May Solo Adventure!). Apparently it was suspect #3. But if we take it seriously for a second, I want to look at it in a radical way — one that sees superhero movies as a means for studios to get back to making non-superhero movies. In the same way that Captain America: Winter Soldier was essentially a spy thriller with a sprinkling of super punching, and in the same way Gotham is a gangland police procedural with only the occasional death-by-balloon, an Aunt May movie could be an excellent portrait of a young woman who is decades away from raising a young man to swing through Uptown. She wouldn’t have to deal with a world where superheroes and supervillains stalked the streets, so she’d have to deal with all the usual, spandexless traumas of life.

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Frailty

Cargill and I are still slow-rolling through our month-long celebration of our favorite genre films featuring Matthew McConaughey. And this week, McGenreHey slides into one top notch religious horror flick. McConaughey bookends the flick, regaling a bewildered Powers Booth with the story of how his father (played in flashback by star/director Bill Paxton) was convinced demons were L-I-V-I-N amongst us and had to be destroyed. Download the episode to hear us heap a sacrilegious amount of love on this sadly underappreciated thriller. You should follow Brian (@Briguysalisbury), Cargill (@Massawyrm), and the show (@Junkfoodcinema). Download Episode #31 Directly

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


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