We do this every week. Because no one has time to read every great article we post here on Film School Rejects and be a productive member of society, the weekends provide us an excellent opportunity to get caught up on all the stuff that happened over the last seven days. This week we wrote a big helping of reviews, more than a few excellent, insightful editorials and as always, we were there when news broke to provide the necessary context (and snark). From Johnny Depp as a Hunter S. Thompson lizard to Oscar winners to solving your existential crisis with kids movies, this week that was had many twists and turns — all of which you’ll be glad you followed. So get set to get caught up with The Week That Was.
Because we just can’t help but guide you through the dangerous landscape of cinema…
Rango: A Johnny Depp Lizard Walks Into the Old West
Count this among the year’s surprises so far. Sure, anyone who follows the business could tell you that Johnny Depp is one of the most bankable stars working, but as an animated lizard who seems drawn from Depp’s previous Hunter S. Thompson characters? According to our Robert Levin, the result is “a damn fine western, an entertaining throwback to classic B-pictures that pays clever tribute to its predecessors” that “works as well as its live-action counterparts possibly could.” And who doesn’t love a good Western.
The Adjustment Bureau: Change Your Future, Win a Boring Romance
The problem with The Adjustment Bureau, as explained by our own Robert Levin, is that it’s “centered on a tepid, boring romance” between Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, who have almost zero chemistry. Which is said, because even Robert admits that there’s something cool to the film’s use of New York’s imposing, grandiose scenery in this “fate of the world” tale.
Take Me Home Tonight: A Surprisingly Fresh Take on the ’80s
Like anyone who lived through the 90s, Nathan Adams was done with all of the ironic referencing of the decade that came before and all of the VH1 joke-a-thons held at the expense of the decade that brought us hair metal and side ponytails. So it’s a bit of a surprise to see that he enjoyed the earnest take on the decade in Take Me Home Tonight. Also surprising: the movie is actually funny.
HappyThankYouMorePlease: An Indie Formula Infused with Honesty
At last year’s Sundance Film Festival, I gave the directorial debut of How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor a glowing review. Little did I know that Robert Levin would come along later and do similarly. He explains that “despite its propensity for clichés and occasionally sappy tone, as exemplified by the film’s tagline – “go get yourself loved” – there’s an uncomfortable honesty at the heart of writer-director-star Josh Radnor’s first behind-the-camera effort.”
Transcendent Man: Inside the Mind of Ray Kurzweil
He may be crazy, or a futurist unlike any other, but one thing is for sure about Ray Kurzweil: the man is beyond interesting. In his review of a doc about Kurzweil’s world, Cole Abaius says the entire experience “is about as compelling as it gets. It deals with a reality we face daily and extrapolates it through to the next forty years. If people in 1958 couldn’t quite yet see the internet, what is it that we can’t quite see yet?”
Cinequest: Live from San Jose
You should be keeping tabs on Rob Hunter’s reviews from Cinequest in San Jose. He has already featured a few very cool festival flicks that you may want to seek out in the future.
All the best original content that you’ll find, here or otherwise…
The Movie Watcher’s Guide to an Ass-Kicking March 2011
Who knew that March was the new start to the summer movie season? Our brilliant staff of cinematic prognosticators, that’s who. In our guide to the March cinematic landscape, we profile films from Zack Snyder, Kim Jee-woon, Greg Mattola and that one film that includes Los Angeles being destroyed by angry aliens. It’s going to be one hell of a month, for sure.
Culture Warrior: An Open Letter to James Franco
Was James Franco stoned on Oscar night, or was he playing out a long-form piece of performance art? Is he spreading himself too thin with a million projects and a graduate school schedule? All of these questions (and more) are answered in the latest essay from our own PhD candidate Landon Palmer, as he writes openly to that guy who cut his arm off, but not really.
How Cameras Changed Everything in Grey Gardens
This week, one of my favorite reads here on FSR, Criterion Files, explores how Albert and David Maysles changed the way documentary films were made in 1976. It’s a fascinating essay about one of the most successful docs of all-time.
8 Animated Kids Movies That Will Help You Conquer Your Existential Crisis
It seems fitting that a week that includes Johnny Depp in a flowered shirt would lead to an article (or 30) about existentialism. But even still, there’s something playful and ingenious about list-maestro Matt Patches’ take on kids movies that help us answer life’s great questions. Or in the case of movies like Ice Age, they help us understand that “schadenfreude makes everything better.”
Interview: Gore Verbinski on Bringing Leone and Realism to Rango
“We just didn’t approach it like an animated movie. We’ve done thousands of shots in live-action films, so we just approached it from a live-action standpoint whenever possible. We were constantly told, ‘In animation, they do this,’ and we just thought it didn’t make any sense to abandon techniques we felt comfortable with.” This and more in Jack Giroux’s excellent conversation with the Rango director.
Reel Sex: It’s Okay to Play With Your Food
In her weekly pass through the naughty side of cinema, Gwen takes on the world of foodie lovemaking. From Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart cooking up a storm, then storming to the bedroom, to the delicious creation that is Penelope Cruz, this week’s edition of Reel Sex will not only make you warm in your naughty spots, it will make you grumbly in your belly.
Interview: George Nolfi assesses The Adjustment Bureau
“…knowing you’re going to direct, you get to keep a side file for notes. Those notes are about how you’re going to visualize it. In a weird way, I was less explicit in the script itself than I would be for when I was writing a script for a studio. You may or may not be there when they’re having conversations about production designs and locations, and you want to give the reader as much as a feel as you can. You want the feel that comes from the detail, the costumes, and locations.” George Nolfi talks about writing a script, knowing that you’re going to also direct.
And now, the five most read news items of the week…
The 2011 Oscar Winners
Yes, that just happened. With a big snore and a sigh of relief from those of us in the media, Oscar night went off with a myriad of hitches. But you’ve heard all about what went wrong. Lets focus on something simple: the winners.
Attack the Block Trailer Arrives, Brings the Awesome
Rob Hunter chronicles the trailer of one of our most anticipated films from the upcoming SXSW 2011 slate: Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block. It’s aliens versus kids from the British version of The Wire. Look out, aliens.
The 13 Assassins Poster Premiere, An FSR Exclusive
We get excited about movies, in general. We get far more excited about great movies. Take for example, Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins, which had its poster debut on this very site this week. We are honored.
Cannes 2011: The State of Play So Far
Our guest contributor Simon Gallagher kicks off our Cannes 2011 coverage early with a preview of what to expect.
Henry Selick Wants to Scare Your Children
My prediction: he will succeed.