Opinions

The Sixth Sense

“The Next Spielberg” was the kind of light M. Night Shyamalan was once seen in. His first big break, The Sixth Sense, was a global phenomenon, so you can see where that too-easy comparison came from. All of his films that followed were sold as “the next film from M. Night Shyamalan.” He quickly became a brand, and once he realized it, it killed his creativity. That’s the impression you get from reading Michael Bamberger’s “The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale” — the book which detailed the making of The Lady in the Water, Shyamalan’s first real stinker. I say it’s his first serious bust because The Village wasn’t an out-and-out failure. With William Hurt’s performance, Roger Deakins’ bold cinematography and James Newton Howard’s score, it had a lot going for it, including foreshadowing for Shyamalan’s fall. It’s the movie that made Disney question their golden goose’s talents. Disney President Nina Jacobson was not a fan of that gotchya ending, and even though The Village made over $250M worldwide, Jacobson felt it would’ve done even better with a less, shall we say, flat out ridiculous resolution. She thought it betrayed the audience, and she was right. It was also indicative of a larger creative problem. That twist showed Shyamalan saw himself as above genre. He couldn’t have simply made a monster movie. It’s as if that was just too simplistic for the man who would be the next Spielberg. He wanted that movie to mean something. The […]

read more...

peter-sellers-pink-panther

We all have one or two — filmmakers and actors who we just can’t get behind no matter how much acclaim they receive. Sometimes it’s just a matter of taste. You either love Wes Anderson’s style or you don’t. You either enjoy Tom Cruise’s charisma or you don’t. Other times it’s actually a matter of objective criticism, a certainty that the person is no good, and that’s the kind that can be very difficult to admit if most of the intelligent world considers the director or performer to be a genius. That’s also the kind of argument that can upset friendships, as I’ve known one critic to confess of regarding his stance on Stanley Kubrick — a stance he is not yet brave enough to put onto a public forum. After all, commenters can be so cruel. So can academic peers. My confession for today is relevant to the Kubrick one. I want to admit that I don’t like Peter Sellers. I never have. But it’s not enough anymore to admit that as a matter of opinion. I now believe that Sellers was in fact not a good actor, nor a good comedian. That’s not to say he wasn’t funny. He makes people laugh, so that’s irrefutable. Sense of humor is one thing, though, and talent is another. I can’t say that I’ve seen everything he was in, but how comprehensive a study must I make to find the exception? I’ve given him a chance over and over. I watched […]

read more...

captain america winter soldier 07

One of the issues Marvel’s Kevin Feige has admitted to being concerned about over the last few years is possible superhero movie overkill. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe grows, there’s potential for audiences to get tired of not just that multi-series franchise but with the whole genre. We’re already at a point where most tentpole blockbusters are comic book adaptations, and as long as they keep proving to be the safest bets, that number may keep increasing. And now it’s not even limited to the summer and holiday seasons. Captain America: Winter Soldier is opening on April 4th, and that’s too early to even make the usual “summer starts early this year” comment. Eventually we’ll have major superhero movies debuting in the usual dead months of January and September. This week’s Marvel Studios TV special, Assembling a Universe, might not have helped matters as far as not overwhelming the audience. It packaged the MCU’s past, present and future in a way that didn’t make the properties look all that distinct or independent, in spite of Feige stating on screen his idea that these movies (and now TV shows) offer a lot of variety, that the superhero movie genre is no longer really a genre because they represent a bunch of different kinds of movies and just happen to involve superheroes. Devin Faraci made a similar statement this week in a piece at Badass Digest tied to an interview he had with Feige. “Marvel has proven that ‘superhero movie’ isn’t so […]

read more...

The Secret in Their Eyes

In this corner of the world, and in this particular industry, spoilers are an unforgivable sin. They are tantamount to murder, to crimes against humanity, to leaving a flaming bag of poop on a clean and unsullied doorstep. I myself once nearly punched a computer screen after the wrong series of clicks led me to a leaked Breaking Bad spoiler. So an article like “Why I Refuse to Watch Movies Without Spoilers,” sticks out — partly because it’s so radically against the grain, and partly because it’s already been featured on this site, in a Required Reading last week. In the piece, one Esther Inglis-Arkell argues against the great status quo of the pop culture world. She spoils it all. Other than the occasional half-hour TV comedy, she’ll pre-read the ending to anything and everything she consumes, claiming it to be the better experience. Obviously, to get the best idea of her argument, you should just read the piece, but here’s a quick summary anyway:

read more...

the muppets movie

On Friday, we’ll get our second Muppet caper in three years courtesy of Muppets Most Wanted, the latest offering from writer-director James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller. The time since 2011’s The Muppets, also written by Jason Segel (the project’s poster boy, star and arguably biggest, giddiest fan) has seen a mini resurgence in Muppets mania, at least in some facets of the media. We’ve had Lady Gaga host a Muppets Spectacular full of singing and dancing and Jimmy Fallon invite the whole gang on his last episode of Late Night to perform “The Weight,” and we’ve seen Kermit and friends infiltrate everything from the Thanksgiving Day Parade to Lipton Tea commercials to brief moments of psychosis on 30 Rock. Whether or not Muppets Most Wanted is a success, it’s the gateway in a long list of examples that prove one important fact: it’s time for the return of The Muppet Show.

read more...

Need For Speed Movie

Need for Speed will not be remembered fondly. If that seems unnecessarily cruel towards Need for Speed (which it does), it’s because the truth can be cruel sometimes. And it is the truth. The film currently holds a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes, and although it was projected to win the box office with a mediocre $25M, it only managed a paltry third place with $17.8M. Two weeks from now, Need for Speed will be naught but faded memory. But there’s one place where Need for Speed will continue to thrive: in the great argument why “video game movies suck” (and if that seems unnecessarily cruel, which it does, take it up with all the many many many articles using that exact phrasing). It’s no secret. Films based off of video games have a garbage rep; the most critically acclaimed one, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, scored a 44% on our foremost bulbous red fruit-based scale. Every other video game movie in history has scored in the thirties or below.

read more...

Burrito Scene in Battleship

Pushing back against “Save the Cat,” The Bitter Script Reader recently looked to the burrito theft scene in Peter Berg’s Battleship as the inverse proposition. A story scenario that, instead of endearing the audience to the hero, leaves them uninspired by him. The quick and dirty version is this: Taylor Kitsch breaks into a convenience store, unprompted, in order to steal a burrito for Brooklyn Decker and win her heart with cold-in-the-middle fast food. It all goes very un-James Bond, the police are called, and he gets hilariously tased. Bitter sees it as a misfire. His money quote: Also – just because I accept a guy’s libido would make him stupid enough to do this, it doesn’t mean I’d respect any woman who was actually wooed by this behavior.  By extension, I question any audience member who looks at this and says, “I’m SO pulling for this guy.” No, this is a scene that makes me shake my head and say, “No, I REFUSE to accept this as our hero.” I can see the argument that starting this low gives the hero an opportunity for a redemptive moment later on. It would be more persuasive if the action didn’t require him to be so unbalanced in the first place. This is also what undercuts the “selfless” act of him offering the burrito to Brooklyn. Stealing food for a starving kid is one thing.  Stealing food as a down payment on some possible groping and sweaty action? That’s less laudible. So the […]

read more...

Jennifer Lawrence House at the End of the Street

In a stirring example of how poisonous the populist view on fame can be, Twitter was bubbling during the Oscars with negative comments about the same actor that made it glow with radioactive sunshine exactly a year ago. Of course, you can find steaming piles of antagonism about anyone on Twitter, but the response to Jennifer Lawrence that night was notable enough that Slate convened its XX writers for a thinkpiece conversation about her downfall that might make you slightly dumber if you read it. As a discussion about and a product of a limited view of celebrity, it reduces otherwise intelligent pundits to waxing poetic on whether we “like” someone we’ve never met. That’s the alien nature of extreme popularity. We don’t know Lawrence or her media-narrative-necessitated rival Lupita Nyong’o, but we have opinions about them beyond the work they produce. We see high profile actors on red carpets giving their opinions, spilling breath mints at press conferences and falling down at major award shows. Yet, apparently, we’ve become so cynical as a culture that even falling in love with naturalistic behavior (amid a sea of practiced, polished fakery) isn’t safe from suspicion that genuineness is also just an act.

read more...

2014 Academy Award Best Picture Nominees Cartoon

After all the handwringing and concern, this year’s Oscars were reasonably even-handed. After all, the directors for Adaptation, Shame and Children of Men all got to make acceptance speeches — and they got to give them while representing incredibly strong pieces of cinema, standing alongside some stridently beloved performers. The next morning, there was a general perception that the whole program had been “fair” after a few years where the politicking (and its results) were too overt, where decent had replaced outstanding, where ossification had set in. The Academy had finally gotten it right. Whatever that means. The thing is, to think of any given stack of Oscar ballots as being wrong is both faulty and perfectly natural. We do it every year with gusto even knowing that — for all the pomp and ceremony — the Academy Awards aren’t a final or definitive word on quality. They’re one group’s opinions, but they feel like something more. Something that has the power to solidify cultural merit or spark an artistic legacy. It’s why the digital pitchforks come out for “snubs.” With that in mind, Scott Beggs, Rob Hunter and Landon Palmer got together to argue what movies should have had their names etched in Oscar history, to do a calculation on Academy accuracy — admittedly with the benefit of clear-eyed hindsight and correct opinions. That didn’t make some years easier or anything. Some bad picks were obvious, but most years led to a lot of verbal fisticuffs. Still, we managed to come out with […]

read more...

Whats Eating Gilbert Grape

Another year, another Oscar ceremony in the books. Once the booze wears off from Matthew McConaughey’s final “Alright, alright, alright,” of our year in film, we can get down to the really important part of the Oscars and start second-guessing the winners. Sunday night is all about rewarding actors and filmmakers for their hard work in the past year. Monday morning is reserved for the art of tearing down our sacred idols, convincing our coworkers that we always thought American Hustle was a little overrated or that Dallas Buyers Club was more than just a Philadelphia knock-off. And somewhere in the middle of all these conversations, someone will ask about Leonardo DiCaprio. When will the poor guy ever win an Oscar? Last month, Esquire ran a story on Leonardo DiCaprio titled “The Moment Leonardo DiCaprio Became a Man.” In a throwaway line intended to highlight his perpetually boyish good looks, his agent Rick Yorn refers to DiCaprio as a character actor in a leading man’s body. This intended compliment instead offers a great deal of insight into DiCaprio’s performances and why he is so often overshadowed by those around him. Including last night’s nomination for The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for four acting Academy Awards (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, WoWS) without taking home a single statue. During that same period, DiCaprio’s films have generated an additional eleven nominations for his co-stars and supporting cast, with Cate Blanchett and Christoph Waltz each walking away with the final prize.

read more...

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in

This weekend schlock-master Paul WS Anderson (Resident Evil, Death Race) is bringing us his latest over the top action extravaganza, a story about adventure and romance set against the backdrop of maybe the most famous volcanic eruption in history, Pompeii. If you watch the trailer, it seems like the movie’s going to be pretty bad, but bad in that way that you’re going to end up watching and enjoying it regardless. Or maybe that’s just my crushes on Emily Browning and Kit Harington talking. Pompeii won’t be the first time a couple of attractive young kids have fallen in love against the backdrop of a volcano decimating an entire group of people, however. Back in 1990, writer/director John Patrick Shanley took a couple of actors who hardcore movie fans may have heard of, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, and used their one-of-a-kind chemistry to tell a unique tale that was part romance, part comedy, part adventure, and part genocidal disaster movie where an entire race of orange soda-loving Polynesian Jews called the Waponis got decimated by the eruption of a volcano known as The Big Woo. The movie was called Joe Versus the Volcano, and despite everything it has to offer, it still hasn’t received a high definition release of any sort.

read more...

Winters_Tale_19

I went to the movies on Friday night. Surrounded by friends in just the right mood, and a bit buzzed, I sat down to a 7:45pm screening of Winter’s Tale. And you know what? I had a fantastic time. It’s terrible, of course. Akiva Goldsman‘s directorial debut isn’t so much a train wreck as it is the colliding of planets, à la Melancholia. This apparently genuine attempt at epic, magical romance is the most spectacular disaster I have seen in a long, long time. Nothing works. The plot doesn’t make any sense, the actors all seem to be performing in different movies, and it is blissfully unaware of its own silliness. If I had to smack a label on it, I’d call it the perfect midnight movie. But what does that actually mean?

read more...

Endless Love Movies

Because nobody, absolutely nobody, even in this day and age is immune to the dulcet tones of an expertly tuned snyth or a finely-wielded keytar, two of the 1980s cheesiest offerings in the romance department are getting the remake treatment this week. Or three if you consider the stirringly deep enchantment of RoboCop. Endless Love and About Last Night, two films known for their immense subtlety and timeless love stories (Just kidding! It’s teen sex and voluminous bangs!), are being brought to the modern age because today’s youth needs to know: why is forbidden love so much sweeter when it also has the same name as a Lionel Richie song? and does navigating singlehood get any easier if you add Kevin Hart to the mix?

read more...

Independence Day White House

Will Smith isn’t going to star in the promised/threatened Independence Day sequel. If we’re all being honest, that’s not really a big deal except to Hollywood accountants still using actuarial tables from 2008 — he was hardly the only lifeline in the 1996 alien invasion flick, and a cigar-chomping cameo might be more exciting than seeing him monopolize the plot. The bigger question is why we need a sequel to it in the first place, but not in the typical insta-response way that decades-later sequels (and remakes) typically provoke. After all, you could look at Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and think, “Fine, there’s something new to say about greed in a post-Goldman Sachs era.” For ID Forever Part One (Part one!), it’s an exhausting prospect that we’ve got to fight the aliens again and save the planet again and escape that flaming traffic tunnel with the Labrador again. I hope you’ve all been training.

read more...

labordayfilm

This article contains spoilers for ‘Labor Day.’  Proceed with caution unless you have already taken in all of the nonsense it has to offer, or if you are for some other reason free of spoiler-fear. Seeing as I watched director Jason Reitman’s new film, Labor Day, after it was already a few days into its release, I figured that since I hadn’t heard much about it, chances were that it was just an ordinary movie. I mean, I’d heard some rumbling about how it was surprisingly bad, but given how much people have liked Reitman’s movies (Thank You For Smoking, Juno, Up In the Air, Young Adult) up until this point, it made sense that he was probably due to make something that would disappoint. And yeah, the trailer looked pretty hokey, but who can’t go in for a sappy love story every once in a while? It was pretty damned surprising to me then, just how contemptible Labor Day ended up being—and not in your usual bad movie way either. Sure, it was contrived. Sure, its characters often didn’t behave in any believably human way. And sure, it had some serious pacing problems. The real issues with this thing went so much further than problems with crafting though. At a very fundamental level, Labor Day tells a story that presupposes a woman can’t thrive in her life unless she’s permanently attached to a man, which is laughable. As soon as I got home I Googled the movie, expecting to […]

read more...

PetSemetary

With this weekend’s A Fantastic Fear of Everything, Simon Pegg stars as Jack, a children’s book author who becomes obsessive and paranoid about death and murder — even when there’s nothing at all to worry about. While Jack is an adult who can’t cope with the real world because of his obsessions, it’s more often the kids who are deemed the scaredy cats due to their irrational fears. Maybe that has a little to do with sneaking scary movies bright and early? It’s a rite of passage, really, that happens when Dad is snoring on the other side of the couch and the remote is blissfully, blessedly unattended for once. That’s right; it’s time to steal that remote and secretly switch the channel to the scariest programming possible. Nightmares be damned, you’re nine years old and you have living to do, man! Trying to watch horror movies (and just plain fear-themed films) before the appropriate age comes from a specific scientific combination of attempting to appear more grown-up and the innate desire that exists within all of us to do the opposite of whatever our parents say. When the lights go out and the moms are out of sight, it’s time to see exactly how brave you can be when facing down Freddy Krueger. As tough and gallant as we might fancy ourselves as children – and this especially applies if we’re literally talking about us, little movie buffs in the making – there are just some films you just really […]

read more...

peter-sellers-as-dr-strangelove

It was released 50 years ago this week, but as Dr. Strangelove‘s cryptic closing ditty promised, we do indeed meet again. Stanley Krubick‘s 1964 Cold War satire has reached the half-century mark, and for this writer and many others it remains a constantly-revisited favorite cinematic exercise in Kubrick’s storied career. Now we have received orders from C2 to execute Operation: Longevity, a highly classified mission to highlight those elements of Dr. Strangelove that provide for its continued relevance to a post-Cold War society. Classified as much as any freely-available internet editorial can be … so not at all. Dr. Strangelove‘s legacy is a funny thing, or more accurately its legacy is engrained in its use of humor. Indeed all comedies strive for humor — reference for such revelatory claims can be verified in the New England Journal of Obviousness – but Kubrick’s use of humor to tell this particular story is both innovative and staggeringly bold. The film serves as the premier satire of the Cold War, a tense period of sabre-rattling and missile-measuring between the stubborn superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union. Hey, if there is any subject guaranteed to elicit laughter, it’s mutually assured destruction.

read more...

X-Men: Days of Future Past

As we all know, 2015 is going to be the biggest year for big years in the history of big years. It’s going to be so gigantic for tentpoles, superhero movies, sequels and reboots that we’re finally all asking whether or not it’s possible to experience geek overload, and while the thought of that forthcoming summer sends chills through tingle-prone parts, we have to survive this year first. There’s a lot to look forward to, and now Kofi Outlaw over at ScreenRant has laid bare the simple questions facing geek property fans as we edge ever closer to the brink. He’s presented 5 big questions facing the calendar change, and I’ve decided to answer them all.

read more...

Sightseers

An interesting, probably inflammatory question has been posed by two filmmakers and a Kickstarter page. The British Film Industry: Elitist, Deluded or Dormant? is actually the name of the documentary, an unwieldy if certainly attention-grabbing choice. Directors Robin Dutta and Vinod Mahindru have assembled quite the star-studded list of filmmakers and film professionals, and are raising money to turn it into a finished feature. Ben Kingsley is the name they’ve put at the top of their page, but there is also testimony from Stephen Frears, Ken Loach, and Alan Parker. Presumably these important figures and the rest of the long list of interview subjects have a lot of very challenging opinions. Dutta and Mahindru, after all, claim this is a film that “Great Britain does not want you to see!” So what is it that they are actually saying? What’s killing British cinema and who are these elitists running it? It’s not exactly easy to tell, which is fair. They’d probably like everyone to help them finish the film in order to find out. Their biggest concerns seem to the difficulty of getting funding for a project, and the difficulty of getting it into theaters across the UK. Beyond that, the trailer mentions nepotism, the wasting of millions of pounds of public money, and even lines of cocaine being done presumably by industry executives who should be saving the British film industry instead. The claim is even made that there official policy to prevent the revival of British cinema.

read more...

The One I Love

Speaking yesterday from his second home at Sundance, Mark Duplass was direct about the catalyst for his success: “Getting yourself into theaters is great. Getting a big VOD pop is great, but my first movie made a grand total of $220,000 in theaters but about 5 million people have seen it on Netflix because they can click on it and they can try it out. And so I really recommend to get your get goddamn movie on Netflix. It made my career.” It’s difficult to see the flaw in Duplass’ logic here, especially since most indie filmmakers would be thrilled to see any kind of distribution online, let alone on a platform that commands 34 million members. However, it could be a boon to the network itself, and Netflix would be wise to piggyback on the comments to tell indie filmmakers, “Get your goddamn movie on us.” Except more eloquently. Maybe less creepy.

read more...
  PREVIOUS PAGE
NEXT PAGE  
Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Comic-Con 2014
Summer Box Office Prediction Challenge
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3