Film School Rejects http://filmschoolrejects.com A Website About Movies Wed, 27 May 2015 00:30:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Point Break Trailer: The Only Law That Matters is Don’t Remake the Classics http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/point-break-trailer.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/point-break-trailer.php#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 00:30:35 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260371 point break remakeFortunately, nobody is breaking any laws here

"Point Break Trailer: The Only Law That Matters is Don’t Remake the Classics" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Woah, they totally just ripped off the first Fast and the Furious movie. Obviously I’m joking, but it does make you wonder how much bigger and how much more extreme the remake of The Fast and the Furious will be when it arrives in 10 years. The original Point Break just involved surfing and simple skydiving, hardly extreme by today’s adrenaline addicts’ standards. With this remake, we get complex skydiving robberies, rock climbing, wingsuit BASE jumping, snowboarding and I think there’s some surfing in there just for old time’s sake.

Also, here the robberies are much, much bigger, yet the extreme-athlete robbers are more Merry Men, liberating cash and gold for the people, with Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez in the Patrick Swayze role) their Robin Hood. Luke Bracey plays the part of Johnny Utah (originally Keanu Reeves), an FBI agent who infiltrates the gang, Ray Winstone is his boss, taking over for Gary Busey, and Teresa Palmer is the new Lori Petty, Clemens Schick the new James Legros and Matias Varela is the new Grommet, originally played by Bojesse Christopher.

It would seem they went bigger in every way but the cast and the filmmaking talent. Interestingly enough, they got Ericson Core, the cinematographer who shot the first Fast and the Furious, to direct this remake. Kurt Wimmer, who also penned another recent remake of an early ’90s favorite, Total Recall, is the screenwriter this time around. There’s not much chance of it being great, but I don’t think the original is all that special, either. This one will be just fine for its thrill-seeking audience.

I’d love to take this opportunity, though, to recommend an actually great movie for those interested in extreme sport stuff like what you see in the trailer. Sunshine Superman is an exciting, cinematic documentary about the dawn of BASE jumping and its founder, Carl Boenish, and it’s out right now. Check out that film’s trailer below and see it if and when you can.

Point Break: The Remake opens on December 25th.

"Point Break Trailer: The Only Law That Matters is Don’t Remake the Classics" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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26 New Movies to Watch at Home on Blu-ray/DVD This Week http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/new-dvd-releases-may-26th-2015.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/new-dvd-releases-may-26th-2015.php#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 00:20:36 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=259856 discs ISLAND OF DEATHThe weeks best new Blu-ray/DVD releases are mostly films from the 70s and 80s. Make of that what you will.

"26 New Movies to Watch at Home on Blu-ray/DVD This Week" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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discs ISLAND OF DEATH

Welcome back to This Week In Discs!

If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon.

Discs Section: Pick of the Week

blu island of deathIsland of Death

Christopher and Celia arrive on the beautiful Greek island of Mykonos and immediately head out for some frolicking in the sun. One of their first stops is a phone booth where they decide to fornicate inside this glass display case… and call his mother while doing so. “Guess what I’m doing mother,” he says into the phone as he screws the squeaky blond. “I’m in a telephone booth on a small Greek island and I’m making love.” The two hypocrites then proceed to slaughter others on the island as judgement against their various lifestyles.

When people say “they just don’t make movies like that anymore” Island Of Death is the “that” they’re referring to. Murder is the least of the offenses in a movie featuring goat molestation, excessive tongue waggling, gun barrel fellatio, a golden shower perpetrated against a slutty old woman, hippie rapists, decapitation by bulldozer and some of the rudest dialogue to come out of Greece since the audience reaction to Nia Vardalos’ My Life In Ruins. For all the violence, sex and cruelty on display though this is one funny movie in a blackly comic, far from subtle mix of the intentional, unintentional and ridiculous. It is most definitely not for the easily offended, and if I’m being honest you’re probably going to hate it.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, interview, career retrospective, trailer reel]

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blu confessionThe Confession (Criterion)

Costa-Gavras followed up to his widely celebrated Z with another political thriller – this time, bringing to screen the story of Arthur London, a loyal Czechoslovak communist who during the early 1950s was arrested, imprisoned, and interrogated for months by Soviet secret police via unfounded allegations, then subjected to brutal tactics that included brainwashing and sleep deprivation in order to coerce him to participate in a publicly broadcast show trial.

Rejecting the austere social realism practiced by other political filmmakers, Gavras’s unique gift is his ability to deftly unweave a complex and, at first, enigmatic political story through brisk editing, kinetic camerawork, and dedicated performances, here led by Yves Montand. The Confession is a harrowing account of the maddening extents to which a paranoid and organized state will go in order to maintain consent. That it is also an enthralling, edge-of-your-seat thriller is not a contradiction to Gavras’s intents to reveal the deep corruption of totalitarianism. – Landon Palmer

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: An on-set documentary by Chris Marker; a French television program featuring London; new interviews with the editor and a Gavras biographer; archival interview with Gavras; illustrated booklet with essay]

blu empire jawsEmpire of the Ants / Jaws of Satan

A group of strangers mooching free food from a condo presentation find themselves in a nightmare involving giant ants and eerily compliant locals. A demonic serpent and its army of rattlesnake followers invade a small town with only a local doctor, an outside expert on snakes and a priest with wavering faith standing in their way.

Empire of the Ants is good fun and earns points for taking the story in directions beyond simply giant ants vs people. The gem in this new Scream Factory double feature though is Jaws of Satan which, as the title so neatly sums up, can only be described as Jaws meets The Exorcist. We have the local authority who calls in an outsider to help while being stymied by the mayor — who’s trying to avoid bad press and fear ruining the opening of the town’s new dog track — and then a priest forced to confront his growing doubts with the devil’s handiwork right before his eyes. Unexpectedly, this is also a pretty damn funny film. Most of the laughs come from minor characters — John McCurry’s town sheriff is especially entertaining, natch — but they’re nice breaks from the otherwise serious business of devil snakes.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary]

blu erik the vikingEric the Viking

Erik (Tim Robbins) is a really nice guy, but he’s a pretty shitty viking. Weary of looting and pillaging, and having never really discovered a taste for rape, Erik convinces his fellow vikings to head to sea in search of the legendary Rainbow Bridge. Their journey is fraught with immense danger and minor inconveniences, and even if they reach Asgard there’s little chance they’ll find their way home again.

In addition to the seeming impossibility of mining rape for some legitimate yet respectful laughs, Terry Jones’ mash-up of ridiculous comedy and adventure is a lot of fun. It sits comfortably somewhere between Jabberwocky and Time Bandits, and fans of the Monty Python boys should give it a chance if they haven’t yet. Even better, while it’s clearly a comedy the film manages some real sincerity in its third act.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

blu madmanMadman

Camp counselors and their young wards gather around a campfire spinning tales meant to induce nightmares, but when one of them recites the legend of Madman Marz he unknowingly seals the fate of several of them. Marz reportedly slaughtered his own family and was hung for his deeds, but his body along with those of his victims disappeared and were never seen again. Until tonight that is as he returns to kill again.

Produced at the height of the slasher craze this “killer in the woods” flick originally began life as a take on the Cropsey legend before mutating into its own creation. It’s a low budget affair, but the enthusiasm is clear throughout as the shadowy madman slices, dices, decapitates and strangles his way through the counselors. Sure it’s often amateurish, but time is given to building characters, the bloodletting is never shy and there’s a simple creepiness to some of the scenes. There’s no excuse for that six hour hot-tub scene though. Vinegar Syndrome’s new 4K restoration looks fantastic and comes loaded with fun and informative extras.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, making of, featurette, commentaries]

blu magicianMagician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles

Orson Welles was many things in his life — actor, director, writer, playboy, troublemaker, FBI target, wine-shill, genius — and this new doc attempts to capture a bit of his magic as it explores both his personal and professional halves. Welles left a trail of ex-wives, daughters and burned bridges in his wake, but through it all he remained true to his creative drive and desire to tell stories his way.

Welles’ story is a fascinating one, and Chuck Workman’s film does a fantastic job of covering the man’s early years as well as his time in and out of Hollywood. Clips from Welles’ numerous productions — both the ones released and the ones that remain unfinished — highlight his work while interviews with friends, family and the filmmakers who came after him add texture and anecdotes to what can only be described as an absolutely extraordinary life.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

blu sons of libertySons of Liberty

The streets of Boston are filled with pent-up frustrations as colonists become disenchanted with their British overlords and begin to strike back. The seeds of revolution are planted in over-zealous tax collection and the death of locals at the hands of Redcoats. We follow these early stirrings up through the Revolutionary War itself as a new nation takes its first breaths of freedom.

TV movies about history too frequently suffer from feeling stiff both in their effort to educate and their lack of interest in entertainment, but this History Channel mini-series surprises in that it’s actually well-produced and highly engaging. The cast helps in that familiar (and talented) faces add power to the smaller elements of the bigger tale that most of us already know. It also looks good with a fine and effective mix of solid locales and CG enhancement as backdrops for drama, character interactions and action set-pieces.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

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Assassin’s Game

El Viejo (Tom Sizemore) sends a trio of assassins to do what assassins do best, but the threesome drop the murder ball when Bai Ling surprises them with droopy pants and a machine gun. A ringer is brought in to finish the job, but when he balks at the gig El Viejo makes it mandatory by kidnapping the man’s son. Woof. The opening credit montage should be enough to scare off anyone, but if you make it past you’re rewarded with some incredibly poor action, rough acting from people who should know better (and Ling) and a script that is little more than “tough” gibberish.

[DVD extras: Deleted scenes]

Auschwitz

A film director addresses the camera, German guards march naked Jews into gas chambers, and that director returns to educate us some more. Also he plays one of the guards watching nonchalantly as men, women and children die horrible deaths. If nothing else, Uwe Boll means well. The self-acknowledged purpose of Auschwitz is to remind people of the atrocity that occurred in the infamous concentration camp almost seventy years ago. Does the world actually need reminding? Boll says yes as not only have the details faded over time but genocides are still a modern day reality in places like Rwanda and Bosnia. He’s right of course on both counts, but does that mean he’s the best man for the job? We all know the answer to that one.

[DVD extras: None]

Cut Bank

Dwayne (Liam Hemsworth) wants out of the small town of Cut Bank, but when his simple (read: fairly convoluted) plan to pocket some quick cash goes awry a madman begins dropping bodies in a trail that points right back to Dwayne’s front door. Ignore the cover quotes comparing this to Fargo and Blood Simple — for the love of god no — and don’t get suckered in by the strong supporting cast (John Malkovich, Teresa Palmer, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Platt). They’re all better than the film they’re in here which is nothing more than a slight little thriller. It’s never particularly smart nor twisty, and it’s difficult to care about any of the players.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, commentary, featurette]

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus

Dr. Hess Greene is a successful anthropologist whose latest find, a large ceremonial dagger, is turned against him in a fit of madness. The result is death and new life as he awakens with apparent immortality and a thirst for blood, neither of which get in the way of falling in love with a woman named Ganja Hightower. Spike Lee’s remake of the cult classic Ganja & Hess sticks close to the source material’s focus on addiction and assimilation while updating its commentary to modern America’s unfortunate obsession with urban violence. It’s a bloody and sexy affair too, but none of this can support its two hour running time. The characters simply don’t engage at the pace and depth they’re presented in, and we’re left with a limp tale punctuated by graphic bits of flesh and violence.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Food of the Gods / Frogs

A strange goo seeping up from the ground is makes its way into the bellies of a small island’s wildlife, and soon they’ve grown to monstrous size and begun turning the tables on mankind. A family of noise-sensitive millionaires find themselves at the mercy of their island’s reptile/amphibian population. Scream Factory’s second “nature gone amok” double feature of the week pairs together two ’70s classics, and both are probably worth seeing once. The Food of the Gods is dumb fun, but it’s a tough watch seeing as dozens of rats are murdered onscreen via gunshots, drowning and electrocution. I know it’s no longer the practice, but animals shouldn’t die for “art.” Frogs fares a bit better in part because it takes a slightly more serious route and features normal-sized creatures. Also, and this is no small thing, Sam Elliott sans mustache!

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, commentary]

Gun Woman

A doctor watches in horror as his wife is savaged and killed before he himself is handicapped with a broken leg and a blinded eye. The madman responsible resides in a fortified compound, so the doctor plans an elaborate revenge to reach him inside. He buys a sex slave (Asami), trains her in combat, drugs her to feign death, sews gun parts into her body and ships her “corpse” into the building where she’ll awaken, rip free the parts, assemble the gun and kill everyone in sight. Overkill? Perhaps. Lacking in empathy for another person’s pain? Obviously. This is exploitation designed to appeal to a specific audience — those who like seeing a nude woman brutalized and kicking ass —

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, behind the scenes]

Hello Ladies: The Complete Series and the Movie

Stuart (Stephen Merchant) is a recent transplant from England to Los Angeles, but while he aims to socialize with the city’s hot elite his efforts always seem to leave him standing alone in a corner. The problem being that he’s a bit of a delusional prick. The series follows his misadventures and interactions with strangers, friends and the woman who rents from him. The film came after the show’s end and continues in the same vein while wrapping things up in suitable fashion. Like most HBO comedy series the lead here is an asshole who’s funny and just barely likable enough for viewers to stick with him, but unlike Extras, Curb Your Enthusiasm and their ilk Merchant imbues his show with a more consistently emotional vibe. The mix doesn’t always work, but it maintains a steady appeal throughout.

[DVD extras: Behind the scenes, deleted scenes]

Let Us Prey

Rachel (Pollyanna McIntosh) is a rookie cop starting a new beat in a small town near the Irish coast, and there’s a very good chance she won’t survive her first night. A mysterious stranger (Liam Cunningham) appears on the streets and is soon brought in for questioning, but when he comes in contact with the precinct’s police officers and inmates all hell breaks loose. There’s some real fun to be had with this dark and bloody morality tale thanks to twisted turns, solid action and a menacing turn from Cunningham, but it’s too frequently held back by a script that devolves into goofiness time and again. The characters are too clearly black and white, our heroine behaves stupidly and too many in the cast are over-acting. Still, it’s never dull.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]

The Loft

Five friends (Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller, Matthias Schoenaerts and… Eric Stonestreet?) share a condo they keep hidden from their wives that allows the men a place to bring side dishes in short skirts for the occasional romp, but the fun and games come crashing down when they discover a dead woman in the bed. Who did it? And why? It made no waves at the box office, but this is a well-crafted and twisty thriller that works more often than it doesn’t. The script stays a step or two ahead of viewers, and the performances are solid across the board too. It’s not flashy or designed to stick with you after the credits roll, but it’s a fun ride while it lasts.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Nightlight

Five friends head into Covington Forest for some fun and games despite both its legendary status as a place of doom and the fact that an acquaintance recently killed himself there. Bad call teenagers! They soon find themselves in a nightmare of mysterious and deadly happenings. This is yet another disappointing POV horror entry — it’s not quite found footage, but it is all from the flashlight’s perspective — that thinks throwing obnoxious teens into some dark woods is enough to justify a film. The core story here has potential with its hint of teen depression, suicide and supernatural revenge, but its execution leaves far too much to be desired. It’s a shame too as the final shot is actually pretty fantastic.

[DVD extras: Commentary, behind the scenes, deleted scenes]

Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf

A man watches helplessly as his family is slaughtered, and years later he returns seeking revenge. It won’t be easy though as his target has taken the precaution of placing seven assassins around him for protection. The setup may sound familiar, but the execution is anything but. It’s a gory, bloody, goofy romp that finds time to throw in zombies and a topless female assassin who hypnotizes her adversaries. There’s definitely fun to be had here, but as is often the case with grindhouse-style homages the premise and highlights aren’t quite enough to warrant a feature. The craziness simply can’t stretch the length of the film, and when nutty things aren’t happening it’s easier to notice and be let down by the sketchy acting, slight script and lack of engaging material.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, making of, bloopers]

See You In Valhalla

A young man commits suicide by meth-dealer, but when his family reunites in the week leading up to his funeral their long-standing feuds return with them. The siblings (Sarah Hyland, Bret Harrison, Michael Weston) fight among themselves but also turn on their father who’s never quite been the man a father should be. There are some fun moments in this slight drama, but it feels ridiculously obvious in its various dramatic beats. The fighting is stagey without any real weight behind it, and the same goes for the display of grief which feels strangely absent through too much of the film. The third act is stronger than what comes before, so if the cast appeals to you it’s worth making it all the way through.

[DVD extras: None]

Seventh Son

The world’s most evil witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), a terrible woman totally not named after Fox News’ Michelle Malkin, had been previously drained of her power by the legendary Gregory (Jeff Bridges) the Spook, but those same powers are now returning with the rise of the blood moon. Gregory takes on a new apprentice, Tom (Ben Barnes), whose status as the seventh son of a seventh son makes him someone special despite his having been nicknamed Bland Tom by his fellow villagers. Their training ends early though as Malkin gathers an army around her and the pair are forced into action. If the synopsis sounds like the standard tale of a normal teen discovering he’s actually the only one capable of stopping some great evil, well, that’s because it is. Director Sergey Bodrov’s stab at studio film-making hits all of the expected beats — Tom discovers important truths about himself, he gets a minor love interest, some element of his uniqueness is required to save the day — and never really tries to reach beyond them. The story never deviates from its generic path leading to a mostly unexciting romp through CGI-enhanced British Columbia accompanied by disengaged performances.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, alternate ending, making of, featurettes]

Ski School

A slacker funnyman and a preppy bully clash on and off the slopes only to settle their squabble for good with a final race through the snow. No, it’s not the final tn minutes of Better Off Dead, it’s the entirety of Ski School! Imagine if someone decided to remake Hotdog: The Movie but without any laughs, charm or comedic stylings. Proceed accordingly.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

State of Siege (Criterion)

Costa-Gavras’s political thriller follows a guerilla group that infiltrates a secret operation in Uruguay regrding American intelligence agents who train police for counterinsurgency and track political dissidents. State of Siege was enormously controversial upon its 1972 release as a result of its allegations about clandestine US imperialism in Latin America, yet its assertions have been validated. As secret empires are able to infiltrate even further in the digital era, Gavras’s magnetic film about silent power only becomes a more potent cautionary tale as it ages. – Landon Palmer

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New interview with Gavras; 1970 news excerpts of the case upon which the film is based; illustrated booklet with essay]

Sword of Vengeance

Shadow Walker is a prince turned slave whose eventual freedom triggers a quest for vengeance against the man responsible. His journey leaves a trail of bodies in his wake, both bad guys and innocents, but his end goal remains more important to him than the present price he’s paying. As should be expected, this is a violent, action-filled film, but it’s too much of a stylized endeavor to ever really take hold. It never looks or feels like we’re in this world, and instead the filter and visual effects work to keep viewers continually at arm’s length from any feelings of immersion.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, behind the scenes]

Yellowbeard

The dread pirate Yellowbeard (Graham Chapman) is released from prison after two decades of torture and immediately sets out for the treasure he buried long ago. Along with a ragtag crew of pirates, weirdos and the son he never knew he had, he swashes the buckle of every man and woman he meets. Chapman is joined by Madeline Kahn, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman and more in this extremely broad comedy, and while just as many jokes miss their mark as hit there are enough laughs and fun cameos to keep things entertaining enough.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Discs Section: Also

Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and/or review material was unavailable:

Beyond Remedy, Drawn in Blood, Emancipation, Enter the Ninja, Heart of America, Invitation to a Gunfighter, Kings of the Sun, Planet USA, Ray Donovan: Season Two, Revenge of the Ninja, River of Death, Tooken, When Calls the Heart: Trials of the Heart, The Wonder Years: Season Three, Zombies from Outer Space

"26 New Movies to Watch at Home on Blu-ray/DVD This Week" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Robert Rodriguez is Taking Over the Live-Action Jonny Quest Movie http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/robert-rodriguez-jonny-quest.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/robert-rodriguez-jonny-quest.php#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 20:53:24 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260365 jonny-questWith attempts going back 20 years to make this movie, now the guy behind Spy Kids will give the idea a shot.

"Robert Rodriguez is Taking Over the Live-Action Jonny Quest Movie" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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jonny-quest

Remember when we told you back in 2013 that the live-action Jonny Quest movie is still happening as long as an evil scientist doesn’t stop it first? Well, it is still happening still, now with a mad scientist of cinema at the helm. According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog, Robert Rodriguez is taking over as co-writer and director of the very-long-in-development cartoon adaptation, replacing Peter Segal, who himself had taken over from Richard Donner. I imagine this attempt, if successful, will feature a global adventure shot completely in Rodriguez’s garage and look like his Spy Kids franchise and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D.

Rodriguez will be joined by Terry Rossio (the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) for a redo of the previous script, which was written by Dan Mazeau back when Segal was directing and Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron were linked to the project in starring roles. Producers Dan Lin (the Lego Movie franchise) and Adrian Askarieh (Hitman and its reboot, Hitman: Agent 47) have been with the thing for nearly a decade and aren’t giving up. Kids today may not know what Jonny Quest is anymore, but there’s no denying the premise of an 11-year-old boy going on adventures with his scientist dad has a lot of potential, brand-recognition or not.

The news does come ahead of another Jonny Quest project that’s about to be released. Tom and Jerry: Spy Quest is a direct-to-video animated feature that crosses the cartoon with Tom and Jerry, both properties created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. It’s the first production of such length to involve the Quest characters in 20 years, and it’s been almost as long since the last incarnation of the animated series.

Hopefully Rodriguez will pull the sort of casting idea his pal Quentin Tarantino would do and cast Tim Matheson in some sort of role — it doesn’t even have to be Dr. Benton Quest or Race Bannon. Matheson, who later became more well-known for wild comedies like Animal House and Black Sheep, was actually the original voice of Jonny Quest in his youth.

"Robert Rodriguez is Taking Over the Live-Action Jonny Quest Movie" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Felt Red Band Trailer: A Feminist Superhero Movie Based on a True Story http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/felt-red-band-trailer-a-feminist-superhero-based-on-a-true-story.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/felt-red-band-trailer-a-feminist-superhero-based-on-a-true-story.php#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 19:15:41 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260355 11169862_450638681770099_3076016317900957444_nCo-written, starring and based on the experiences of artist Amy Everson, this could be one of the most important movies made right now.

"Felt Red Band Trailer: A Feminist Superhero Movie Based on a True Story" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Are you still wondering where all the female superhero movies are? If you’re into comic book adaptations but hate how Black Widow is treated in the merchandising and publicity for Avengers: Age of Ultron or even if you don’t give a crap about blockbuster movies like that and simply support women in the struggle against a male-dominated society and rape culture, you’re going to want to see Felt. At least, that’s what I can gather from the new trailer seen above via Indiewire. I haven’t seen the movie yet. I really want to.

Directed by Jason Banker (Toad Road) and co-written by him and star Amy Everson (winner of the Next Wave Award for Best Actress at Fantastic Fest last year), the movie is based on Everson’s own experiences and artwork she’s previously done inspired by her own personal sexual trauma. The collaboration started as a music video then originally the movie was supposed to be a documentary on Everson, and much of that initial footage and that sensibility carried over into the somewhat fictionalized result. There is a seemingly familiar plot here, though, involving the movie’s “Amy” finding love with a guy (Kentucker Audley) who might just be too perfect.

Occasional FSR contributor Dan Schindel reviewed Felt for Movie Mezzanine, calling it “unshakable” (he’s quoted for the very word in the trailer). Here’s more:

Right now, a very necessary conversation about rape culture and the myriad ways that society is hostile to women is taking shape. Felt isn’t a piece for conversation, though. It’s an experience. It’s an unvarnished, unpretentious, and seemingly unassuming portrait of what it’s like to be a woman and feel the world crushing your throat under its heel.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Amy is hanging on by a thread. Struggling to cope with past sexual trauma and the daily aggression of a male-dominated society, she creates grotesquely costumed alter egos that re-appropriate the male form. While giving her the sense of power she craves, acting as these characters pushes her further into a world of her own making. When she begins a new relationship with a seemingly good guy, she opens herself up to him – but that vulnerability comes at a dangerous cost, and her alter egos threaten to lash out in explosive violence.

Based on the real experiences and art of co-writer/star Amy Everson, Felt doesn’t just point a finger at rape culture; it takes a full on swing at it, creating a feminist psychological thriller that audiences will be hard-pressed to shake off.

And here’s that initial music video that led to them making the movie:

Felt opens in theaters on June 26th.

"Felt Red Band Trailer: A Feminist Superhero Movie Based on a True Story" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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The Diary of a Teenage Girl Trailer: Yet Another of Our Sundance Favorites http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/diary-of-a-teenage-girl-trailer.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/diary-of-a-teenage-girl-trailer.php#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 18:38:21 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260354 The Diary of a Teenage GirlWatch yet another trailer from yet another one of our favorite movies of Sundance 2015.

"The Diary of a Teenage Girl Trailer: Yet Another of Our Sundance Favorites" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Slowly but surely our favorites from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival are rolling out into the world. First with trailers, then with actual releases. We can’t wait for everyone to be able to see and enjoy some of these movies as our team did in January in Park City. In the past few months, we’ve been happy to share with you the trailers for the urban coming of age film Dope and the heartbreaking yet heartwarming cancer dramedy Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

The latest addition to this list of teen-centric films from Sundance is The Diary of a Teenage Girla film from newcomer Merielle Heller. It is soon to launch the career of its leading lady, Bel Powley, who is phenomenal as the titular teenage girl. It’s raw, honest and emotionally resonant with great supporting performances from the likes of Alexander Skarsgard, Kristen Wiig and Christopher Meloni.

As our own Jack Giroux explained when we named it among the Best Movies of Sundance 2015, it’s “a beautiful, honest and moving portrait of becoming a woman and the kind of mistakes we all make that ultimately help us grow.”

The Diary of a Teenage Girl is due in theaters starting on August 7.

"The Diary of a Teenage Girl Trailer: Yet Another of Our Sundance Favorites" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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The Rise of the Transnational Western http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/transnational-western.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/transnational-western.php#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 17:46:56 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260325 A24Beginning in the early 1960s, the most inventive westerns came from outside the United States.

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A24

A24

Beginning in the early 1960s, the most inventive westerns – a film genre that is, in its classical form, quintessentially “American” for its reproduced myths and assumed values as well as its deep ties to domestic entertainment industries – came from outside the United States.

From inspired genre hybrids like Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and its sequel Sanjuro to Sergio Leone’s remakes of those films beginning with A Fistful of Dollars and the greater “spaghetti western” phenomenon at large, reinventions of the genre made abroad posed significant alternatives to the western’s veracity at home. Thus, the American western floundered by the late-1960s. A generation’s collective political consciousness mobilized around identity-based advocacy movements meant that many of the genre’s driving political conceits could hardly persist against a growing understanding that “civilizing the frontier” meant a troubling history whose accounts of theft and genocide did not align well with the romance intrinsic to the classical western.

As a result, modern westerns either staged further reinvention of the genre by uncovering or subverting its classical political assumptions (think Little Big Man or Billy Jack) or self-consciously reproducing its classical mode, rekindling some recognition of the genre’s initial formulation (think ‘90s Wyatt Earp movies or the Coen’s True Grit remake).

While the western is hardly as commercially popular as it was during its classical era, the political ambivalence with which the genre has been continually reworked during recent decades has inspired occasional films to bear remarkable insight into the early formation of the American empire. Three such films have been released this year, all of which bear a distinctive yet shared lens upon the genre.

Realizing that the western is only “American” to the extent that its setting follows a nation-building project taking place amongst conflicts between various immigrant and indigenous populations, these films embrace the western’s inherently transnational scope – something intrinsic to the story of “the West,” but rarely present in the western.

John Maclean’s Slow West opens with an introspective, bookish young Scotsman, Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) making his way through an unspecified American West in search for the love of his life (Caren Pistorius). As we come to learn, she is a peasant, and he a noble whose relative was killed when her father attempted to come to her defense. Father and daughter have traveled westward not to conquer, find riches, or build a better life, but as exiles. As Cavendish eventually realizes along his journey with hardened bounty hunter Silas (Michael Fassbender), a price has been put on the heads of the fellow Scots he seeks. Here, the law, such as it is, knows no national boundaries, beholden only to the power of the international language of currency. Previous overseas conflicts thus become local means of employment.

Maclean directs his feature debut with an unnerving, almost bleakly comic sense of fatalism, with the West established from the film’s opening moments as a place of certain death. The film’s perspective of the West is not simply that of an outsider – as brief flashbacks show, Cavendish is no less in his element in the adopted land through which he trespasses than his national home – but portrays it as a profoundly alien place, examined through uncannily symmetrical framing. Mclean’s image of the west abounds with reverberations of the languages of immigrants, natives, and nativists whose lives intersect but whose cultures don’t.

The West, here, is a constant encounter with “the other,” but as a rejoinder to the proverbial melting pot, this encounter only results – one way or another – in further distance.

Former Dogme filmmaker Kristian Levring also tells a story of troubled migration with The Salvation. Focusing on a group of Danish immigrants who traveled across the Atlantic after the 1860s German-Danish war, The Salvation opens Jon (Mads Mikkelsen), an established settler who greets his wife and son upon their arrival to the New World. After both are murdered during a carriage ride into town, Jon seeks retribution not only on their culprits, but the source of power that lets their gangsterism go untouched, a landbaron named Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

Supported by a burgeoning oil corporation and tied to the town through mutual economic dependency, Delarue makes The Salvation’s attempts at contemporary relevance clear with its emblem for corruption and injustice supported by structural and economic power. Jon’s role as the quiet lone ranger pursuing justice for its own sake thus takes on a slightly different meaning in its diasporic context: in order to find a place within a new land against an establishment that seeks only to exploit, subjugate, or silence him, Jon must create it on his own by removing the town of its central governing body, the owner of the town’s economy.

Thus, what begins as a story of assimilation becomes a story of survival, throwing into question the supposed values of Americanism that Jon could have assimilated into. The Salvation’s reworking of some of the genre’s basic tenets suggests that justice, for the populations not currently in power, has always been an uphill battle against power that benefits from injustice.

In addition to the its Japanese and Italian iterations, the western’s central conceits have proven readily transportable to numerous international settings in which it is still recognizable as a genre. Such is the case with David Oelhoffen’s Far from Men, an adaptation of an Algeria-set short story by Albert Camus that follows European Daru (Viggo Mortensen), a humble, neutral teacher who instructs his Algerian students in French, as he is forced to take Algerian prisoner Mohamed (Reta Kateb) to a local town for sentencing.

The western “road” movie, in which an unlikely pair bond over an arduous travel to a far-off destination, proves a fruitful invention in this case (the original short story took place only in its protagonist’s home). Oelhoffen’s decision inspires not only a North Africa-set iteration of the western’s panoramic vistas, but uses this setting as a means to ruminate on ideas about national identity, loyalty, and what one must do in the face of injustice.

The landscape here is as treacherous and beautiful as it is in any traditional western, but here foregrounds the genre’s themes of colonialism by following a European settler who identifies as Algerian as he decides on which side to stand within a nation divided between its people and its colonizers. Far from Men’s climactic moment beautifully illustrates this dichotomy when Mohamed stands at an intersection and decides whether to subject himself to French law or to his own destiny.

What’s so remarkable about visions of the western improbably connected between these films is that they sincerely bear out relatively new territory for the genre. They aren’t subversive reworkings, overtly tongue-in-cheek pastiches, or self-conscious reproductions of the genre’s classical style. The western’s concerns with themes of justice, loyalty, and overcoming the interpersonal and natural elements of the frontier are foregrounded between these films, but given new light through a lens that demonstrates how transnational issues have been hiding in plain sight within the genre’s setting all along, and how questions pertaining to national identity, immigration, and colonialism are a current that runs under the genre’s defining concerns.

More Culture Warrior essays here.

"The Rise of the Transnational Western" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Who Is Tomorrowland For? http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/who-is-tomorrowland-for.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/who-is-tomorrowland-for.php#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 16:45:25 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260335 TomorrowlandTomorrowland bombed because it missed the mark on its real audience.

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Tomorrowland

Walt Disney Pictures

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: movies are for everyone, but some movies are more specifically tailored for different audiences. Tomorrowland, Disney’s latest attempt at an original live-action outing, is a feel-good family-friendly feature that, thanks to an assortment of slip-ups and mishaps, was not only made for the wrong audience, but then sold to them to boot.

The George Clooney-starring feature opened over the holiday weekend, and was quickly dinged as a flop, thanks to a weekend take that currently sits just below $42 million (per BoxOfficeMojo). Various outlets and pundits (including this piece over at Variety) have pinned Tomorrowland’s failures on Hollywood’s “originality problem,” blaming audiences for being more interested in sequels and remakes to pay attention to films sparked by original material. But Tomorrowland’s problem is not that it is too original or too unique or too fresh or too new, but that it failed to leverage those charms—and charms they are—into a feature focused at the precise audience that should be learning to appreciate genuinely new movies right now: kids.

(Spoilers ahead.)

Brad Bird’s feature is all about wonder, possibility, and progress – basically, it’s got the kind of messaging that is perfect for a younger skewing audience. Although the film is also about combating pessimism and the creation of negative thoughts (in fact, within the context of the film, pessimism and negative thinking are capable of spawning literal disasters), Tomorrowland is mainly concerned with the possibilities of the future, particularly as it applies to kids. The savior of the entire film is Britt Robertson’s plucky teen genius Casey, who uses her unique (and very optimistic) worldview to literally save the planet. When Casey thinks something good could happen – like, oh, the world not going boom – it lowers the chances of the world actually going boom.

Youthful optimism is the lifeblood of Tomorrowland. It’s a little bit like someone decided to take a movie that was built on previous Peter Pan lessons, i.e. clapping really hard and believing something a lot – especially if you’re a kid – can make it happen. It’s a kids’ movie, or at least, it should be.

Tomorrowland is rated PG, “for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language,” and while that’s not enough to earmark the feature as being too mature for some audiences, it does hint at some of the issues that keep Tomorrowland from jiving with kids and families in quite the way it should have.

There’s a discomfiting level of violence to the film that, while not hinted at during the majority of the film’s marketing (an entirely different issue: what kid goes for mystery box marketing?), makes it an awkward watch for the younger set (or, at least the younger set’s violence-averse parents or guardians). Casey falls down a set of stairs and smacks her face repeatedly (and, later, is slammed into the ground by Frank’s tricked out house). Frank (Clooney) is similarly tossed around, while Athena (Raffey Cassidy) is hit by a car in one of those sudden, out-of-nowhere sequences that Hollywood as a whole should jettison right now (related: the sudden, out-of-nowhere car accident T-bone craze that has swept the world and that also needs to be put to a swift death, perhaps also by T-bone). It’s all a bit too smashy and loud, and that’s before the weirdo robots (who, now that we think about it, are never really explained) come after our trio of heroes in a thrilling/pretty scary action sequence.

Low-level violence isn’t the only thing that keeps the film from appealing to younger audiences, though. Another part of the problem? It just doesn’t look like a kids’ movie, and we mean that in the most basic way possible: casting-wise.

Hollywood has long enjoyed casting older actors and actresses as high school students, and although the twenty-five-year-old Robertson does her best to infuse Casey with the necessary youthful pluck and wide-eyed innocence, it doesn’t always stick. The age gap between Robertson and her character is made even more obvious by the appearance of Cassidy who, at age twelve, looks and moves like the real kid she is (that her character is an actual robot makes this all the more amusing, but Cassidy is very much the real deal, and she’s a total joy to watch). Robertson is good in her role, but she’s not right for it, and she certainly doesn’t sell the parts of Casey that are most interesting to younger viewers (you know, that she’s a kid, too).

And then there’s the Clooney issue. A film like Tomorrowland, one that is so rich in imagination and genuine good feeling, shouldn’t require the presence of a big-time (and adult) movie star. Clooney is fine as Frank, but it’s hard to imagine anyone seeing Clooney and thinking, “you know what, that guy needs to be in more kids movies.” Sure, he might be around to add gravitas and adult emotion, but the film already has someone who can do that – and it just so happens to be young Cassidy, the best part of the film and the one character that appeals to both kids and adults. No kid looks up to George Clooney, and casting him as the lead in a film like Tomorrowland will not change that.

So why did Tomorrowland fail? Because the exact audience that could have loved it didn’t even know it was made for them.

"Who Is Tomorrowland For?" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Templar Knights vs Predator: An Epic Fan Short Film http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/predator-dark-ages-short-film.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/predator-dark-ages-short-film.php#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 15:11:19 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260337 Predator Dark AgesWhat if the Predator was hunting 11th century knights? One short film explores.

"Templar Knights vs Predator: An Epic Fan Short Film" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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If the Predator has been hunting down Earthlings for centuries, how did 11th century knights handle the invisible bad ass without guns or Schwarzenegger-sized muscles?

This fan short film from James Bushe imagines those incredibly one-sided battles. The crowdfunded Predator: Dark Ages has a little low-budget wonkiness to it, but it’s a fun What If that echoes the teamwork (and slaughter) of the franchise. The second best element is that the film doesn’t hang on special effects. The ones that are present are passable, and the production team is more than aware of the limitation, building a story based on the hunt instead of on the spectacle. In that sense, it also stays true to the character — featuring a Predator who is methodical, sporting enough to make his kill streak more challenging and obsessed with trophies.

The best element is how something like the Predator could easily become a living myth in the era and the treatment that concept gets here. Forget dragons. Yautja are far more dangerous.

Overall, it’s a capsule version of a longer Predator movie where each of the team members get backstories and more time to cohere as a group.

"Templar Knights vs Predator: An Epic Fan Short Film" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Channing Tatum’s X-Men Spin-Off Will Be an Origin Story http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/x-men-origins-gambit.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/x-men-origins-gambit.php#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 14:45:55 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260339 Marvel ComicsWill it just be about Gambit's Thieves' Guild days or might it go darker and depict the Mutant Massacre?

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Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics

Although the official title hasn’t been announced, we can start assuming the solo Gambit movie starring Channing Tatum will be called X-Men Origins: Gambit. Unless, of course, X-Men Origins: Wolverine has tarnished that angle. But while we still know very little about this movie, not even who’ll direct, we now know for sure that it’s covering the back story of Remy LeBeau, aka Gamibit. In a recent interview with Empire, Tatum confirmed that the spin-off will indeed be an origin story. As quoted by ComicBookMovie.com:

Josh Zetumer just turned in the first draft of the script, and it’s killer. None of us were sure how he was going to deal with the X-Men world. But we’re going to be changing some of the tropes of these movies. It’s always about saving the world (Laughs), but maybe we’re going to shift things a little bit. There’s so many ways you can take [an origin story]. You could do it like Batman Begins, or a different take and go the Guardians of the Galaxy route. All I can say is, I’m super excited.

Presumably the reason this won’t be like most origin stories, aside from the fact that mutant superheroes don’t have some special “accident” or experiment leading to their powers, is that Gambit was a criminal before he joined the X-Men. Orphaned as a baby, he grew up a pickpocket and wound up a member of the New Orleans Thieves’ Guild. But this wouldn’t be a rarity in having super-powered lead who uses his gift for evil. There are plenty antihero stories, and Jumper and Chronicle come to mind.

Could Gambit go darker, though? As much as I’d love to just see a smaller crime film, that’s not going to be enough for this franchise and its fans, so perhaps they’ll start there and follow the character on to his regretful work with Mister Sinister and the Marauders in their massacre of the Morlocks. Antiheroes are cool and not uncommon, but how often do we see them go so far as to participate in such a slaughter? Plus, it’s about time we see Sinister on the big screen. Here’s more of what Tatum told Empire about his character:

He always felt the most real of the X-Men to me. He’s kind of a tortured soul and he’s not a good guy. But he’s not a bad guy, either. He walks his own path. And of course he plays cards and drinks and is a martial-arts badass!

It’d also be nice to see the new young Storm of X-Men: Apocalypse (Alexandra Shipp) turn up if they want to show how he was introduced to the X-Men. But that would also make this more of a one-off than I think it should be. As long as it’s not another X-Men Origins: Wolverine — and given that Gambit creator and longtime “X-Men” writer Chris Claremont is contributing to this movie, I doubt that’ll be the case — Fox is going to want sequels.

Gambit is scheduled to open on October 7, 2016.

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6 Filmmaking Tips From Brad Bird http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/6-filmmaking-tips-brad-bird.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/6-filmmaking-tips-brad-bird.php#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 13:00:52 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260221 Disney/PIxarTime for some free film school from the director of Tomorrowland and The Incredibles.

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Disney/PIxar

Disney/PIxar

Brad Bird cares about character development. He sets and specifies narrative stakes. He’s dedicated to meticulous world-building. He is amongst a steadily diminishing class of blockbuster directors: people who see themselves, first and foremost, as storytellers, not custodians of fleeting spectacle. That’s why, despite the mixed reviews that Tomorrowland is receiving, Bird’s is a cinematic voice that has earned sustained faith (plus, our reviewer-in-chief Rob Hunter fully endorses Bird’s latest). After all, he’s one of few sources of optimism in contemporary Hollywood.

So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a director so skilled that even his adaptation of a Disney theme park ride produces high expectations.

“Directing is About Getting Hit from a Million Different Angles”

“…Imagine being suffocated by questions…Everyone just wants the answer. But from your perspective, it looks like you’re being hit left and right. And sometimes you don’t even know after awhile what anybody’s talking about. It’s non-stop and it’s relentless and everything is being given equal weight. If somebody is in Shading, they really need to know if you care what’s on the wall. Now, that may be number ten on your list at the moment – you’ve got your giant plot problem and a scene that has to go into production – [but] now you can’t go, ‘Get away from me!’ because that person is just trying to do their job.”

“Sometimes I want to strangle somebody because I have something on my mind, but instead of strangling them I say, ‘Give me ten minutes,’ because in ten minutes I won’t want to strangle them. In ten minutes I will have done something that will have taken off some of the pressures so that I can hear what they’re trying to say. Everybody is just trying to do their job, and you want them to do their jobs as well as possible.”

“…One of the worst things is when you’re in a review process looking at the screen in a theater and you’re all together. Everybody is working their butts off, everybody’s tired, and they’re just looking for you to say ‘Approved.’ They’re willing it into your head. You can feel all fifty people saying, ‘Say approved!’…And you KNOW that it’s not what it needs to be.”

For what looks like a promotional interview, Bird seems to be letting off some serious steam in his frank recollections on the big stresses of high-stakes, long-term collaboration. But I can’t think of another director we’ve covered for this feature who so explicitly details why directors must maintain a firm, confident far-sightedness throughout all stages of production than the extended quote above.

Never give in to the building temptation of being agreeable for its own sake. Every short-term concession can transform into a long-term regret. Remember that the production process will end one day, but the final product will outlive you. And animation, especially, is all about the details.

Appeal to the Kid in Your Collaborators

Bird is once again straightforward about the “grueling” process of filmmaking, which is hardly an adjective one would automatically associate with a director who provides such immersive fun throughout his filmmaking, and who unfolds a story that feels so natural and sharply realized that it seems effortless. But that’s exactly the point. Maintaining a “sense of play” and surrounding oneself with creative people who are able to tap into imaginations that knew no bounds throughout their childhood – the very reason they aspired to a creative industry in the first place – is key for keeping inspiration alive throughout the exhausting process of filmmaking. It’s the strange juggling act of combining a kid’s imagination and an adult work ethic.

Work with Creatives Frustrated with the Established Way of Doing Things

“So I said, ‘Give us the black sheep. I want artists who are frustrated. I want the ones who have another way of doing things that nobody’s listening to. Give us all the guys who are probably headed out the door.’ A lot of them were malcontents because they saw different ways of doing things, but there was little opportunity to try them, since the established way was working very, very well.”

Nothing drains a potent sense of artistry quite like entering a creative field only to find out that it isn’t what you expected it to be. Bird attracts himself to the exact people who can’t find the standards they posited for themselves earlier in their career, or have even given up on finding them, and uses that energy to do something new. Not to mention, it’s entirely thematically appropriate to encourage malcontents to jump aboard a production like The Incredibles, which opens with an office functionary who longs to return to an exceptional life of superheroism.

Even Fabricated Worlds Should Bear a History

Time Out: “I read a piece on recent animation, called the Art of Degradation.”

Bird: “That thinking, there’s precedent for that. At the time that George Lucas made the first Star Wars space was always presented as pristine. And he wanted to show that they may be fabulous vehicles but they’ve been driven some miles. And, without anyone thinking about it or thinking that was going to help make it a pop hit, everybody believed in that world, because it looked inhabited. Well, the same is true with animation. We want to weave a spell here and make believe this. And although there’s not even remotely believable about a rat actually being able to cook in a French restaurant, if we get a lot of the other details right, they’ll go along with us, with our preposterous notion. If we make it believable. And that’s part of making it believable.”

Animation, specifically studio animation, is under considerable pressure to look dazzling and sleek. But more important than a pristine look is a vision that is evidently lived-in, which allows audiences to overcome the disconnect from reality inherent to animated filmmaking. A world in which everything is fabricated from scratch especially needs to look like a world in which its characters have actually lived. And this is borne out through attention to details and by applying an informed, coherent, and meticulous sense of history to said details. Ratatouille succeeded at this as few works of studio animation have.

Storyboards are a Rehearsal

What We’ve Learned: Never Underestimate the Unique Power of a Large Screen

While Bird is speaking specifically here of his decision to shoot part of his first live-action feature in IMAX, the point applies to his filmmaking more generally. To return to this post’s first quote, it’s evident that Bird takes very seriously the fact that films have a posterity that endures long after the completion of any fleeting production process, grueling or otherwise. What’s essential for Bird, as variously articulated across many of his interviews, is that it is both a) very difficult, and b) of utmost importance that a filmmaker maintain a long view of the film’s lifetime through every step of the production process. No decision is too small, and no on-set tension is too big to take the easy way out.

Months or perhaps years from the start of your production, audiences will see your film knowing and caring little to nothing of your filmmaking process, and you do not want to have made any decision that compromises the strict standards you should have for realizing the world of the film. And if you make films specifically for the big screen, as Bird does, you shouldn’t do anything that could undercut the majesty and unique power of that experience.

More filmmaking tips here.

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The Death of George Miller’s Justice League Finds Life in a New Documentary http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/george-miller-justice-league-documentary.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/george-miller-justice-league-documentary.php#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 02:55:40 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260318 DC ComicsThis film follows and was inspired by such docs as Jodorowsky's Dune and the upcoming The Death of "Superman Lives: What Happened?.

"The Death of George Miller’s Justice League Finds Life in a New Documentary" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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DC Comics

DC Comics

You loved seeing what Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune would have looked like. You’re anxious to get the full details on the failure of Tim Burton’s Superman Lives and the joke that is Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four. And if you’ve followed my recommendations you’ve been dazzled and saddened by the heartbreaking story of what became of Richard Williams’s The Thief and the Cobbler.  Now, following in the shoes of docs like Jodorowsky’s Dune, The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?, Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four and Persistence of Vision is a documentary in the works about George Miller‘s canceled DC superhero-team movie, Justice League: Mortal.

Tentatively titled Miller’s Justice League Mortal, the new project is surprisingly not on any crowdfunding site. Not yet. Director Ryan Unicomb told Australia’s Inside Film the plan is to gauge interest first and maybe hit up the fans later, though reportedly there are already private investors lined up. Unicomb references some of the titles listed above as similar ventures, and the success of those campaigns was likely in this doc pitch’s favor. His team (which includes film critic Maria Lewis and producers Aaron Cater and Steven Caldwell) hasn’t yet reached out to Miller, though, and everything could be determined on the Mad Max: Fury Road director’s willingness to participate. Unicomb also hopes to interview many of the actors who’d been lined up to play Batman, Superman, etc.

Since it hasn’t even started yet, Miller’s Justice League Mortal could be a while, but it would be smart to have it ready by the 2017 release date of Zack Snyder’s The Justice League Part One. Meanwhile, you should check out the basics on Miller’s collapsed movie in our recent eulogy to the project and maybe think about what other infamous film failures (Neill Blomkamp’s Halo? David Goyer’s Supermax? Darren Aronofsky’s Batman: Year One? James Cameron’s Spider-Man? Terry Gilliam’s Watchmen? Terry Gilliam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Terry Gilliam’s Good Omens? etc.) would also make a half-decent doc, and snatch up the idea now.

Also check out the teaser for Unicomb’s own superhero movie, an upcoming short titled Gifted:

[h/t: THR’s Heat Vision]

"The Death of George Miller’s Justice League Finds Life in a New Documentary" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Game of Thrones Explained: It Seemed Like a Good Plan at the Time http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/game-of-thrones-explained-the-gift.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/game-of-thrones-explained-the-gift.php#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 19:42:00 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260294 HBOAfter last week’s controversial and clunky episode, Game of Thrones returned this week for “The Gift,” an episode that reminded us that sometimes every single storyline must be accelerated quickly in order to get to the big finish.

"Game of Thrones Explained: It Seemed Like a Good Plan at the Time" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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HBO

HBO

After last week’s controversial and clunky episode, Game of Thrones returned this week for “The Gift,” an episode that reminded us that sometimes every single storyline must be accelerated quickly in order to get to the big finish. It’s a formula the show has followed, for better or worse, for several seasons (with the exception of season 4, which was seemingly filled with big moments). These middle 3–4 episodes are all about getting the pieces into their final positions and setting up the season’s most iconic moments. At least, we hope so. It’s hard to tell with season 5, as a lot of what the show has been doing has been all over the place.

This erratic streak extends beyond the show’s writers and has seeped into the storylines themselves. It seems as if everyone has a plan these days. In this episode in particular, some of these plans were turned on their heads. Other schemes moved into their latter phases, setting up some solid drama.

The show seems to be rushing to tell us how this is all going to work out. Then again, there are only three episodes left. And if my spoiler-free intuition is correct, we’re in for some fireworks. In this week’s column, we’re going to take a hard look at each of the big schemes that remain and explore their viability. Whose plans actually stand a chance to work out?

Obligatory Spoiler Warning: What follows will discuss everything through the most recent episode of Game of Thrones: season 5, episode 7, “The Gift.” It does not include any book spoilers. My spoiler column will be up on Thursday with the new episode of A Storm of Spoilers.

HBO

HBO

Sansa Stark’s Plan

With the way that last week’s episode ended, it’s hard to think of Sansa as being much of an active participant in this situation with Ramsay. The show sought to tear down her agency and make her a victim. But in this week’s bounce back, we see a few interesting things that suggest that Sansa is still very much in the game. It is through her will, not the traumatic experience, that Theon almost snaps out of his Reek-state. Even though that ultimately fails, leading to the horrific flaying of “The North Remembers” Lady, it’s good to see that Sansa is not resigned to her circumstances. It doesn’t make that wedding night scene any more necessary, but it does prove that the show is interested in Sansa being more than a victim.

By the time we leave Winterfell this week it’s clear that Sansa isn’t escaping anytime soon. She’s also not any closer to being “saved” by Theon, who showed us why Reek rhymes with meek. She’s squirreled away a small weapon (a corkscrew, if I caught that correctly) and she’s now going to have to regroup. Meanwhile, Brienne and Pod are losing their staring contest with the exterior facade of Winterfell.

Viability of Sansa’s Plan: She’s still in a lot of trouble, but we can see her starting to work things out. She’s now excessively aware of how Ramsay plays the game, so if there’s going to be any triumph for the Wardenesse of the North, she’s going to have to do it on her own. I’d like to say that I believe it’s going to work out for Sansa, but that seems like some seriously misplaced optimism at this point.


 

HBO

HBO

King Stannis’ Plan

“Winter is coming isn’t just the words of the Starks,” explains Stannis, whose army has become increasingly buried by a major snowstorm. The show has been promising us some Winter for five seasons and now here it is, primed to muck up Stannis’ plans to take down the Boltons. To the chagrin of Ser Davos, The One True King is pushing on regardless of the cost. We can’t ignore the fact that things don’t look good for Stannis. Part of his army has run off in the night, food is dwindling and his supply lines are frozen shut. The advice of his most trusted counsel, Ser Davos, is to turn back. The advice of his other most trusted counsel, Melisandre, is far darker. She wants to do something terrible to his daughter Shireen (who saw that coming?) that likely involves a stake and some fire.

For Stannis to execute his ultimate plan, it appears as if he’s going to have to put more faith in the Lord of Light than ever before. I’ve long been a skeptic about how much Stannis really believes in the power of the Lord of Light. He keeps Melisandre around because she’s proven herself useful, but he’s also a pragmatic guy who values results over anything else. He subscribes to the “Whatever It Takes” school of warfare because he believes in his own right to the Iron Throne over anything else. Would he let go of that pragmatism and put his full faith in the Lord of Light, sacrificing the daughter he fought so hard to save from Greyscale? Those are some huge sacrifices with huge stakes.

Viability of Stannis’ Plan: This seems to all be coming down to a big decision: To sacrifice Shireen or not. And what if burning the little girl doesn’t work? Stannis is in a tough spot, one that requires faith and terrifying sacrifice. I can’t see this working out well. The snow isn’t stopping anytime soon and if he does decide to let Melisandre have his child, that’s not going to go over well with Ser Davos. It feels like a lose-lose for poor Stannis and a major opportunity for those sneaky Boltons.


 

HBO

HBO

Jon Snow’s Plan

Jon went riding off with my spirit animal Tormund Giantsbane (don’t you just love the look he gave Ser Alliser Thorne after being unchained?) to rescue the remaining Wildlings. While we can’t yet see the direct consequences of his actions, his decisions have begun to afflict everyone around him. Maester Aemon’s passing only enhanced the feeling that any protection of Sam (and subsequently Gilly) has been stripped away.

What follows is a moment of intense threat — two Night’s Watch bros trying to assault Gilly — followed by two heroic moments. The first is Sam standing up for her in a situation in which he’s far outmatched. The second and more subtle heroism is Gilly’s urging of Sam that no matter what happens, protecting little Sam should be his top priority. We get a showing of fortitude from Sam, inspired by love, followed by a showing of fortitude by Gilly, born out of her protective motherly instincts. It is perhaps one of the best scenes in the episode, a well acted culmination of a long-blossoming love story. Two characters, on equal terms, surviving the darkness and finding small bits of happiness along the way. With a little help from The Preeminent Feminist of Westeros: Ghost.

Viability of Jon’s Plan: Still up in the air. Despite the good feelings we get from Sam and Gilly’s continued survival, darkness looms. If Jon even makes it back from his journey, what will be left of his friends upon his return? The Wall is a dangerous place, after all.


 

HBO

HBO

Cersei’s Plan

Far from the events in The North, Cersei Lannister’s plan seems to have come to fruition. She has used the arming of the Faith Militant to put the Tyrells on notice. In her mind, this was probably a reasonable course of action. All she cared about was protecting her remaining son Tommen from the clutches of Margaery and preventing the prophecy we saw in the opening scene of this season.

But as we see in this week’s big finish, Cersei isn’t quite the cunning strategist that her father was. She gravely miscalculated the notion of arming the many against the rich and devious few. In the march toward the big turn for Cersei, King’s Landing delivered several exceptional scenes. Lady Olenna and the High Sparrow verbally sparring, leading the Queen of Thorns to discover that the High Sparrow’s “man of the people” routine is not a ruse, but something far more dangerous (a genuine commitment to his ideals). We also get some Lady Olenna and Littlefinger action, reaffirming their alliance. For the first time, Lady Olenna is in a tough spot, lashing out and threatening to expose Littlefinger’s role in Joffrey’s death. And as per usual, the Master of Chaos delivers. He’s playing all sides, even the one that gives Lady Olenna the ammo she needs to pay Cersei back.

It’s a muddy situation for the show’s writers, as we could infer that Lancel Lannister has already revealed his Cersei-related sins (killing King Robert, sleeping with his married cousin, etc.) to the High Sparrow. What’s the point of having Littlefinger and Lady Olenna involved at all? In my book, that doesn’t matter so much. Any excuse to put those two characters in a room together is fine. The same can be said for the High Sparrow’s big speech at the end. Jonathan Pryce has brought a towering presence to this role and this scene feels like his big coming out party as a major player.

It all ends with Cersei in trouble, crouched in a cell, revealing her true Lioness nature: “Look at me. Look at my face. It’s the last thing you’ll see before you die.”

Viability of Cersei’s Plan: It’s all gone to shit for Cersei, but in a way that is immensely entertaining. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.


 

HBO

HBO

Jaime and Bronn’s Plan

The storyline in Dorne continues to be treated like an afterthought, but we do get a few peeks into the southernmost of the Seven Kingdoms this week. In one scene, Jaime finds out that his daughter-niece Myrcella doesn’t want to leave Dorne. She seems to have grown fond of her betrothed, she’s not a fan of her mother’s hot-and-cold demands and she is having none of Jaime’s “it’s not safe” argument. To be continued, I suppose.

In the Dornish dungeons, we finally get a decent moment for the Sand Snakes. The best of which is the eye-rolls from Obara and Nym as Tyenne begins her seduction/death threat routine with Bronn. It’s as if they’ve seen this tired routine before, providing a little bit of color for these otherwise one-dimensional characters. For Bronn, he may have met his sexy-dangerous match in Tyenne, who isn’t afraid to use all of the weapons at her disposal. I’m glad he didn’t die. I really like that guy.

It’s a short scene, but one that still has me hoping that our trip to Dorne won’t end after this season. There are some fine characters and storylines to be explored and even though it’s been an utter disaster thus far, the show can still turn it around.

Viability of Jaime and Bronn’s Plan: File under: at least they are still alive.


 

HBO

HBO

Ser Jorah’s Plan

In the preliminaries of the great fighting pits tournament, Ser Jorah gets some heroic fighting action. And while he thinks that might get him back into the good graces of Queen Daenerys, she doesn’t seem quite to happy to see him. What did he expect? Regardless of the quality of his “gift,” Jorah is still very much in Dany’s doghouse (dragonhouse?)

The moment we’ve all been waiting for since the release of the season five poster has arrived, however. Tyrion Lannister has introduced himself to the Mother of Dragons. This meeting alone should help elevate the Meereen storyline considerably. And she needs the help, as we’ll explore in the next section.

Viability of Jorah’s Plan: Dany will likely come to appreciate his gift in time, as Tyrion could become a very useful advisor, but the notion that it’s going to save Jorah from her wrath seems a bit silly. And if the Mother of Dragons doesn’t dispatch him, he’s still got Greyscale.


 

HBO

HBO

Dany’s Plan

I continue to worry about Dany’s plan to unite with the 1% of Meereen in the hopes that it will bring stability to the region. For starters, every step she takes toward fortifying her position in Slaver’s Bay takes her one step back in her quest to retake the Iron Throne. Beyond that, no one trusts this Hizdhar guy. Especially not her sidepiece Daario Naharis. What if he’s right about Hizdhar being the leader of the Sons of the Harpy? What if this was all a ruse to slide him into a position of power only to ultimately turn on Dany and try to seize her throne, her army and even her dragons?

Hopefully Tyrion can provide a quality third-party perspective and help her navigate these murky waters.

Viability of Dany’s Plan: We can only hope that she keeps both Tyrion and her dragons close, because this could all go wrong in a hurry.


 

HBO

HBO

The Benioff and Weiss Plan

After being upset with the show’s creators for a week after that last episode, I’m feeling a little better about the work that Benioff and Weiss are doing in season 5. This episode took a number of major storylines and pushed them forward in a big way. It feels like a bit of a rush, but this creates space for the last three episodes to find some major moments. Anyone who has been reading my Game of Thrones columns all season or listening to me on the Storm of Spoilers podcast will note that I’m not yet sold on a number of storylines, including the major diversions from the book in Winterfell and Dorne. But I remain hopeful that both can be turned into something interesting by the time the season concludes.

This marks the end of season 5’s gestation period — those middle episodes that are all about getting the pieces into place. The time for action is coming and it’s hard not to be very excited.

"Game of Thrones Explained: It Seemed Like a Good Plan at the Time" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Ex Machina Star Alicia Vikander is Hollywood’s New It Girl http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/alicia-vikander-it-girl.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/alicia-vikander-it-girl.php#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 16:37:35 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260290 A24The Swedish actress is on the rise with reported roles in the next Bourne movie and the video game adaptation Assassin's Creed.

"Ex Machina Star Alicia Vikander is Hollywood’s New It Girl" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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A24

A24

Alicia Vikander has spent the better part of the last decade making a name for herself, first in her native Sweden and then in the internationally popular costume dramas A Royal Affair and Anna Karenina. She even had a major role in the recent Hollywood YA fantasy adaptation Seventh Son. But it wasn’t until her role as the experimental robot Ava in Ex Machina that she really caught everyone’s attention.

Or maybe I’m just speaking for myself. But even if Ex Machina isn’t technically her breakout, Vikander is definitely on a notable rise in stardom since its release. The measure is in how desirable she is for big Hollywood tentpoles and franchises. She’s already co-starring in this summer’s action-oriented TV adaptation The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and now Deadline reports she’s in talks for the next Bourne movie and the highly anticipated video game adaptation Assassin’s Creed.

These join the just-announced casting of Vikander in the Dave Eggers adaptation The Circle, where she would have starred opposite Tom Hanks. She’s apparently quickly out of that, though, with Emma Watson due to replace her. That sort of thing shall happen a lot now that she’s so in demand and likely hitting shortlists for roles all over the place. Maybe not for Assassin’s Creed, though, since that will pair her up with boyfriend Michael Fassbender, with whom she also co-stars in the upcoming drama The Light Between Oceans.

It’s unclear what kind of role she’ll be playing in either of these big movies. And we don’t want to jump to the conclusions that she’s simply “love interest” or “female lead.” Jason Bourne doesn’t need another romance in the next installment, which brings back star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass. Assassin’s Creed, meanwhile, already has one lead actress in the form of Marion Cotillard, whose own role is also unknown.

In addition to The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Light Between Oceans and the transgender drama The Danish Girl, Vikander potentially has at least two more movies just out this fall — The Weinstein Company’s period-set painter drama Tulip Fever and the Bradley Cooper-led chef dramedy Adam Jones.

Bourne 5 would be the earlier release of the two, with the sequel due July 29, 2016. Assassin’s Creed is expected to be released on December 21, 2016.

"Ex Machina Star Alicia Vikander is Hollywood’s New It Girl" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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50 Things We Learned From The Rundown Commentary With Peter Berg and The Rock http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/50-things-we-learned-from-the-rundown-commentary.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/50-things-we-learned-from-the-rundown-commentary.php#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 15:37:30 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260274 Universal Pictures"What would your strategy be if you had to fight Tom Arnold?"

"50 Things We Learned From The Rundown Commentary With Peter Berg and The Rock" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson‘s latest film hits theaters this Friday, but before we see him punch an earthquake into submission I decided to revisit his best movie. That’s right. 2003’s The Rundown is still Johnson’s best feature, and don’t even pretend you think otherwise.

Director Peter Berg — he of the excellent and under-appreciated The Kingdom — recorded a commentary track with Johnson for The Rundown‘s dvd release back in 2004, and I gave it a listen while taking note of the bits that seemed the most interesting. The film was released back when Johnson acted under his wrestling moniker, The Rock, but I’m referring to him as Johnson below as that’s how we know him now. (And because formally referring to someone as The Rock is kind of dumb.)

Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for The Rundown.

The Rundown (2003)

Commentator: Peter Berg (director), Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (actor)

1. “A lot of people don’t realize that we actually filmed the movie entirely on location,” says Berg, “on a small island off the coast of New Jersey.” Sounds sketchy, but I don’t think directors are legally allowed to lie on commentary tracks. Johnson even confirms it noting that this is where Jamoans (“Jersey Samoans”) come from.

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cameo wasn’t planned, but when he joined Johnson for lunch on set one day Berg was able to “twist his arm” into making a brief appearance. “He flew himself to New Jersey,” says Berg. “And met with the Jamoans,” adds Johnson.

3. Some of the sports footage ADR was recorded by Berg himself. He seems most proud of “Stay down bitch!”

4. Berg was originally going to play the part of Knappmiller, the guy whose ring Beck (Johnson) takes during the pre-title fight in the club, but he was talked out of it. Instead he cast a friend of his girlfriend’s — “I hope she’s still my girlfriend when this comes out.” — who he felt fit the part even better than himself. “Well that’s just it,” says Johnson. “When you’re getting your ass whupped by myself you have to have the proper amount of cockiness and the proper amount of pride as well.” Berg argues the point saying it would take stupidity to fight Johnson, not cockiness. “I’m cocky,” he says, “but I wouldn’t fight with you.”

5. Berg asks Johnson how he would fight five guys at once in the real world. “Well it’s real simple,” replies Johnson, “I’ve been in this situation 2 or 3 times. When I was in Budapest and when I was doing the underground chute fighting back in ’97–” Berg interrupts to say “Oh that was crazy, that’s where you guys would get in a pit with the guns and just shoot?” Johnson sets him straight saying “The only guns we had were right here, these guns.” Presumably he’s pointing at his bulbous arms. He then acknowledges that if he actually had to fight five guys this is how he’d do it.

6. Martin, the guy who shoots Beck with the beanbag projectiles, is played by an adult film star named Paul Power. He was working as a storyboard artist on this film but kept bugging Berg for a part. “I thought he’d be good as Beanbag Blaster, which was one of his pornos,” says the director through a laugh.

7. Johnson says that William Lucking, the actor who plays Walker, “literally scared the hell out of Seann William Scott every day.”

8. Berg suggests a fun thing for viewers to do at home regarding the two thugs in the background of Walker’s introduction scene. “Later in the film, look at the two guys again close-up, see if you notice anything different.” Okay Berg, we’ll play your little game, but it better not be something as simple as they’re different actors.

9. Walker’s house belonged to Dorothy Chandler and once hosted President John Kennedy for a sleepover.

10. Johnson had difficulty keeping a straight face during his scenes with Ewen Bremner, and it’s not just because he thinks the Scottish actor works out. “He’s got a great ass.”

11. They had dozens of possible introductions for Scott’s character, Travis, but Berg couldn’t settle on an action-oriented one like he wanted. “I thought this opening was okay,” he says, “but it would have been funnier to see him thrown through a wall or hooked up to the back of a jeep and dragged through the jungle.” “With his pants down,” adds Johnson. “I don’t know where that came from.”

12. No one has ever uttered the word “refrigerator” better than Christopher Walken does here. To be fair, I knew this before listening to the commentary, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it here all the same.

13. Both men express their love for Walken with Berg pointing out that he’s just as much of an entertaining genius off camera. Like Lucking, Walken also apparently scared Scott on occasion. “He kept walking up to Seann,” recalls Berg, “looking at him and kind of getting up close and saying ‘Do you steam? I love to steam. Do you want to steam?'”

14. Berg loves to spoon. Johnson does it on occasion.

15. Berg points out that Mariana’s (Dawson) orange juice levels are fairly inconsistent in the scene where she meets Beck. “Somebody should have been fired,” says Johnson.

16. “Rosario actually does 15 different types of accents in this film.” They claim it’s intentional in an effort to match the 15 different Portuguese dialects.

17. Johnson thinks Dawson works out. Berg disagrees saying he just thinks she’s perfect. Don’t worry, they return to this topic later.

18. They had to cut the headbutt out of the Beck vs Travis fight for the UK. “You’re not allowed to headbutt anybody in England,” says Berg.

19. Johnson loves the bit where the small-ish man interrupts the bar standoff to run through the scene and out the bar door. “I want to know what is behind the creative genius,” he asks. “Well, let me think,” says Berg. He never really remembers aside from saying that he liked giving everyone their moment.

20. “That’s Mr. Whipple’s son,” says Berg, about the guy wielding the whip in the bar. He’s referring to Stuart F. Wilson who also has a side career in being Bruce Willis’ stunt double in 14 films and counting.

21. “So let’s talk about all the people who got hurt filming the scene about to come up,” says Berg, in reference to bit where Beck and Travis drive off the road and roll quickly down hill. He doesn’t, really, and instead says “I’m very happy with the way this all came out.”

22. The waterfall and pond that Beck and Travis plunge into after falling is named after Hawaii’s King Kamehameha. “For those of us that don’t know,” says Berg, “he was a big shit in Hawaii.” The two mention that Johnson is planning on playing the king in an upcoming film as his story is similar in nature (in some ways) to that of Braveheart. That project apparently never came to fruition, but Johnson is set to voice a character named Maui in next year’s Walt Disney animated film Moana.

23. Johnson says the two parts of the film most mentioned to him in public are the “Option A, option B” bit and Travis’ “Thunder and Lightning” shtick. Berg agrees and shares that he was — surprise — at a high school football game in Texas the week before and witnessed the cheerleaders having a playful “Thunder and Lightning” fight. “Were they paying attention to the game?” asks Johnson.

24. Berg thinks a good alternate title would have been Move! Johnson suggests the theme song could have been Ludacris’ “Move Bitch.” Seven years after this commentary was recorded Johnson starred with Ludacris in Fast Five. Coincidence? Or the power of positive thinking. Never give up on your dreams kids.

25. Hatcher’s (Walken) speech about the Tooth Fairy was originally supposed to be about Winnie the Pooh and the time Pooh broke all of Rabbit’s furniture in his quest for honey, but the day they were going to shoot it they got word that Walt Disney would sue if they went forward with the reference. They changed it to the Tooth Fairy at the last minute. Six years after this commentary was recorded Johnson starred as the title character in Tooth Fairy. Coincidence? Or the power of positive thinking. Never give up on your dreams kids.

26. Re-shoots were done for the scene where Beck and Travis discuss the former’s issue with guns. They wanted to beef up the conversation and provide a bit more information, so it was filmed later on Universal’s backlot in Los Angeles. Johnson is also wearing a wig in the scene because he was filming Walking Tall at the time. “What would happen if you were to go ten years without cutting your hair,” asks Berg. Johnson laughs and says “It would be a horrible afro. It has a mind of its own, it’s just not a smooth afro.”

27. Johnson says the worst days of the production were while they were filming the scenes where Beck and Travis were hanging upside down in the foot snares. “We were upside down for probably increments of 10 to 15 minutes at most,” he says. “At one time?” asks Berg incredulously, “no, no, excuse me. You were upside down maybe at the most 65 seconds.” Johnson’s reply? “Aww that’s horseshit.”

28. Also during the upside down snare scene, Johnson points out that he scratches his groin at the 39:46 mark. “I’ve never noticed that. Why did you do that?” asks Berg. “Because it itched,” replies Johnson.

29. The monkey scene became a ratings challenge as it was originally shot with the monkey humping Johnson’s face far more directly. To secure the PG-13 they had to edit t down and re-position it to the side of his face. “I didn’t mind,” says Johnson.

30. Berg loves Ernie Reyes Jr., although he was disappointed that Reyes didn’t get in shape for the role. “His Portuguese is quite good,” he offers. “I guess, I don’t speak it.” They also praise his fight skills and speed during this brawl.

31. They made an effort to not flaunt Johnson’s body. “We kind of played it low key and took the high road,” says Berg, but having witnessed female audiences screaming at his one shirtless scene he wonders what would ave happened if they fully embraced his pecs instead.

32. During the scene where Beck and Manito (Reyes) talk boxing Berg points out one of the extras. “I didn’t like the guy in the hat,” he says. “He just freaked me out. He was really loud. We had to cut around him a little bit.”

33. They both like the “sweet moment” where Manito gives Beck his necklace. Johnson says that his Walking Tall co-star, Ashley Scott, asked him how he got it over his “big-ass head,” and Berg asks how he responded to that insult. “Oh I slapped her,” says Johnson before quickly pointing out that he was kidding. “She would have whupped my ass.”

34. The scene where Manito’s rebels are attacked by Hatcher and his men was filmed partly in Los Angeles’ Arboretum and partly on a pig-hunting compound in Hawaii. They agree that the guys who own the place are crazy, sweet and deserving of their own movie.

35. “She’s so hot,” says Berg, returning to the topic of Dawson. “She’s one of the hottest chicks I’ve ever scene in my life,” he says. “Ever.” This devolves a bit between the two as they dig themselves holes with their current girlfriends by getting all kinds of creepy.

Berg: Rosario Dawson, she’s gotta be like top five.
Johnson: And the great thing about it is she’s all real.
Berg: That’s what I’m saying.
Johnson: There’s no silicone. There’s no plastic surgery. It’s au naturale.
Berg: She’s like a really cool girl, runs with the bulls, likes sports, you know, feminine and soft. Not a bimbo by any stretch of the imagination. And you respect her, she commands your respect, didn’t fool around with anybody on the movie.
Johnson: No.
Berg: I mean she’s just a class act. She’s wife material for sure.”

36. Three days before shooting the scene where Beck, Travis and Mariana swim behind the waterfall Scott acknowledged that he didn’t know how to swim. Surprisingly, one of Scott’s main stuntmen/doubles also couldn’t swim. The interior cave scene where they resurface was actually filmed on the Universal back lot. Berg says it’s easier than finding a real cave accessible only by underwater swimming, especially as many people apparently don’t know how to swim.

37. The pair make numerous claims throughout the commentary, claims that are humorous lies made for laughs — some of the helicopter shots were done handheld without the aid of a helicopter, Johnson did all of his own stunts, Johnson punched the makeup girl in the mouth when his favorite football team lost a game — and the scene with the sticks inside the cave is no exception. It was devised during production, and Johnson says with a straight face (voice?) that he had to pay half the cost to get the scene in the film. “I paid about a million dollars.””

38. Berg thinks there’s a chance people don’t notice that the rock avalanche inside the cave is made with CG. If he wasn’t commenting on it directly I’d suspect he’d never actually seen it. “I think it came out pretty good,” he says, completely serious.

39. Scott gets nauseous easily, so Johnson and Dawson made a point of eating tuna fish, drinking Diet Coke and burping in his face all night long.

40. The konlobos fruits eaten by Beck, Travis and Mariana were actually filled with pear chunks for the actors. Also, konlobos is a fake fruit made up for the film.

41. I was just joking earlier with the whole “Never give up on your dreams kids” bit, but Johnson does say that his motto is “I will things to be therefore they are.” Berg says that’s good advice for any 16 year-old kid. “From what I understand there’s a lot of 16 year-old kids out there,” he says. “I would say 14 to 17 right now,” corrects Johnson, “15 to 18 possibly, is create your own destiny and will things to be and therefore they are.”

42. Johnson’s arm tattoo of the cross and 6-12-82 signifies the date his grandfather passed away. “I just wanted a date that I associated with pain.”

43. The scene where Beck and Travis are drugged, paralyzed and surrounded by monkeys was one they almost cut from the script as they didn’t have enough time to film it, but Berg credits producer Mark Abraham with fighting for it to get them an extra half day of filming.

44. Sled Reynolds, the animal wrangler, put his own dog in the film during the scene where Beck and Travis decide to head back into town to rescue Mariana and the gold idol. He was adamant that no one touch the dog. “He would go crazy, go ape-shit,” says Johnson. “You’d get lectured for like an hour,” adds Berg.

45. Johnson says that he’s talked to “a lot of women,” and their overwhelmingly favorite scene is when Beck decides to go back for Mariana. They told him it’s because Beck acts with honor even though he wasn’t “hitting that.”

46. Berg and Johnson disagree as to what Declan (Bremner) says at the end of his bagpipe speech. Berg seems confident that he says “It’s time to get back on the path. Johnson believes he’s saying “It’s time to get back on the bags.”

47. They also disagree as to whether or not cows feel fear. Berg says no and cites the wisdom of Sled Reynolds again, while Johnson believes the fact that all of the cows had upset stomachs during the stampede is evidence enough that they were feeling anxious.

48. Two fight scenes were filmed that were ultimately cut from the film. The first featured Mariana scrapping with Harvey (Jon Gries) in the jungle, and the second involved Travis brawling with Harvey and others while Beck has his big 3 vs 1 whip fight. Berg likes both but says they were cut for pacing.

49. Walken didn’t like the “Oompa Loompa” insult he hurls at the villagers in his final moments because he didn’t understand it — he had never seen Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Berg sent him a copy of he movie, and the next day Walken came on set with a big smile saying he got it. “I’d make a great Willy Wonka wouldn’t I?” asks Johnson rhetorically. Berg agrees but then grows incredibly animated as he starts pitching Johnson on playing an Oompa Loompa instead with a premise similar to Will Ferrell’s Elf. “You were raised by Oompa Loompas, but now you’ve been set free, you’ve lost your family, like a kid raised by wolves,” says Berg. “We could set this movie up right now. We could just make one phone call.”

50. Berg pays off his earlier challenge by pointing out the difference in the two henchmen at Walker’s house. They’re different actors. “We recast,” he says. So yeah, that was a bit anti-climactic.

Best in Commentary

  • Berg: “I wonder if he’s [Arnold Schwarzenegger] still governor by the time everybody’s watching this.”
  • Johnson: “I would have [Missy Elliott] her like on top like dancing where the girls were, singling this song, and then I would have the Spice Girls reunited in the back of her, backing up Missy, and then Missy would get so angry because they’re the shits she would slap the lips off all their faces.”
  • Berg: “People don’t realize what you [Johnson] bring to a production. All the looks, the charm, the power and the ability to throw shit? I mean you have good aim.”
  • Berg: “It’s just so obvious to me when we’re using photo doubles. There’s one shot in particular — it’s like a 90 year-old man with a short red wig is doubling you [Johnson] and like a 15 year-old girl is doubling Bremner, and no one seems to notice.” It’s at the 14:17 mark when the jeep drives past the El Dorado sign.
  • Berg: “I should have had you throw Seann down harder.”
  • Berg: “What would your strategy be if you had to fight Tom Arnold?”

Final Thoughts

Berg and Johnson give a pretty great commentary together. There are a few lulls here and there, but for the most part they keep a solid banter going filled with anecdotes, production details and a weird obsession with fighting Tom Arnold. Their riff about Dawson’s perfect qualities is a bit much, but it’s one sketchy blip on an otherwise fun track. Johnson asks Berg where the story should go in The Rundown 2 to which her replies “I think we’re gonna go to Italy, southern Italy, Sicily.” Hell, I’d be super excited for a sequel even if they went to New Jersey.

Check out more commentary commentary in the Commentary Commentary archives

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Slow West and Forbidden Empire Are Unconventional Genre Adventures http://filmschoolrejects.com/reviews/slow-west-forbidden-empire.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/reviews/slow-west-forbidden-empire.php#comments Sun, 24 May 2015 03:00:19 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260060 poster SLOW WEST"Slow West" features a multitude of familiar western beats, but it executes them with a fresh, exciting attitude, a air of melancholy and an unexpected sense of humor. "Forbidden Kingdom" isn't quite as lucky.

"Slow West and Forbidden Empire Are Unconventional Genre Adventures" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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A24

A24

It’s probably safe to say that there aren’t nearly enough westerns being produced these days — by way of a depressing example last year’s sole wide release was A Million Ways to Die in the West — but thankfully 2015 is already looking up for fans of the genre. The Salvation played to critical acclaim earlier this year, and we still have The Hateful Eight, Jane Got Her Gun and Bone Tomahawk to look forward to. Even better? There’s an excellent western playing in limited theatrical release right now.

Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a Scottish teen newly arrived in the uncharted American West in pursuit of the girl he loves. She and her father had been forced out of their homeland after an altercation, and Jay is intent on finding her again. The frontier is a dangerous place in the 1800’s — something Jay’s handbook for immigrants in the New World neglects to tell him — and when a shifty outlaw named Silas (Michael Fassbender) saves his life Jay hires the man to help guide him to his heart’s destination. The plan works well until it doesn’t.

Slow West, the feature debut of writer/director John Maclean, features a multitude of familiar western beats — eccentric characters, tensely-crafted gunfights, beautiful landscapes — but it executes them with a fresh, exciting attitude, an air of melancholy and an unexpected sense of humor.

Silas narrates the tale allowing us his insight into not only Jay’s actions and motivations but also his own, and one of the results is that it becomes an odd take on our hero from an outsider’s point of view. He’s most definitely not a hero, but this slight peek behind the ruffian’s veil adds to the dynamic between the pair. There’s deception and mistrust aplenty, but time and proximity work to create the near beginnings of a begrudging friendship.

The pair’s journey is the film’s focus, but along the way we’re given glimpses of Jay’s time with Rose (Caren Pistorius) back in Scotland as well as snippets of her present. We also meet some less friendly faces including a gang of true thugs led by an against-type Ben Mendelsohn as the villainous Payne. Just kidding, Payne is completely and utterly Mendelsohn’s type — a peculiar bad guy with a love of conversation and enormous fur coats — and he puts a face to the film’s otherwise hazy menace.

Maclean keeps his story moving forward, but the expected action is occasionally interrupted by dream sequences and dollops of surprisingly dark humor. Both should feel out of place in a western, but they fit seamlessly into the film’s mood and atmosphere. The script is deserving of credit for that blend, but it’s aided immensely by the two lead performances.

Smit-McPhee’s Jay is a determined innocent focused on an end goal with little concern or acceptance of what lies between it and him. He’s something of a straight man at first, but a shy, nervous humor arises showing a comedic subtlety he’s been unable to express in his more purely dramatic roles. Fassbender meanwhile balances the serious and the slyly sarcastic well, a mix he’s displayed previously as the X-Men films’ Magneto.

Slow West is a curiously engaging, beautifully-shot western that builds a strong narrative with some unusual turns. The action is sporadic but impactful culminating in a third act that delivers visceral thrills, dramatic weight and one hell of an unexpected laugh.

grade_b_plus

———————————————–

eOne Entertainment

eOne Entertainment

Fantasy films, as opposed to westerns, have seen no such shortage at the cinema. They’re usually based on literature — either actual classics or YA fiction — and the new VOD release, Forbidden Empire, is no exception. And happily, it falls under the former category.

Jonathan Green (Jason Flemyng) is an English cartographer on a self-appointed mission to chart previously unexplored regions of Transylvania, and it’s not long before he hears about a mysterious village with a secret. It seems a young priest standing witness over a dead girl’s body in the town’s church barely escaped with his life when the girl rose from the dead. It seems she’s a witch controlling a revolving door into the bowels of hell, and while most men would turn the other way Jonathan sees this as an opportunity.

He arrives in the village with something of a flourish — well, he arrives in a puddle of mud anyway — to find a community living in terror. A horned creature roams the woods, evil seeps from the church walls and not everyone is being truthful with the new visitor.

Russian author Nikolai Gogol‘s 1835 tale (“Viy”) has reached the screen before — most notably in Mario Bava’s loosely adapted 1960 thriller Black Sunday — but director Oleg Stepchenko‘s equally loose film is the most elaborately produced version yet. The English lead is an effort to expand the story and, most likely, expand the potential audience, but Flemyng also brings a welcome goofiness to the otherwise dark and fantastical proceedings.

Those fantastical elements are where the film truly shines. CG and practical effects are used throughout to bring all manner of creatures to life, and the creative variety is staggering when compared to Hollywood’s plague of digital sameness. The highlight here is a dinner scene where Jonathan witnesses the diners transform into hellish beasts of fresh originality and razor-toothed menace.

Unfortunately that highlight is where the film peaks — and it comes in the first half. At over two hours the movie runs far too long for the story it’s telling. Time spent on the woman Jonathan loves, not to mention her easily angered father (Charles Dance), is unnecessary filler that adds little if anything to the narrative. That part of his life, those motivations, are distractions here that eat up precious screen-time. The village-set shenanigans feature some padding as well that serves to confuse viewers with players who never earn their distinction.

Forbidden Empire is too long, too convoluted and unable to hold interest in its narrative. There are some laughs, and the visuals are enough of a reason to give it a watch, but the film as a whole becomes a mostly forgettable mash of entertaining effects and dull interactions. The film ends with the promise of a sequel presumably continuing Jonathan’s map-making adventures elsewhere, and if the filmmakers can rein in the less essential parts of their storytelling I’ll be excited to see what monstrosities they dream up next.

Grade: C+

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Black Mass Trailer: More Uncomfortable Table Talk With Whitey Bulger http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/black-mass-trailer-2.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/black-mass-trailer-2.php#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 02:42:32 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260258 BLACK MASSIf nobody sees it, it didn't happen

"Black Mass Trailer: More Uncomfortable Table Talk With Whitey Bulger" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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The most feared, most notorious gangster in US history. Watch Johnny Depp in the exclusive new #BlackMass trailer. https://t.co/LuVNxK9yUU

— Black Mass (@BlackMassMovie) May 23, 2015

Another trailer for the Whitey Bulger biopic, Black Mass, has arrived, and if you weren’t impressed with the first one than this might not do any better. It all comes down to whether or not you buy Johnny Depp‘s makeup and voice in the role and are interested in seeing another gangster movie in the spirit of Martin Scorsese. I remain intrigued and hopeful, though for all I know this could turn out to be a disappointment along the lines of Blow. But I really want to like Depp again in something.

The last trailer revolved around one scene set at the dining room table as Bulger (Depp) dug into another guy with intensity just to rattle him up. This one revolves around one scene set at the dining room table as Bulger gives inappropriate advice to his six-year-old son, Douglas (Luke Ryan), much to the disapproval of his girlfriend (Dakota Johnson). By the way, if you want to get sad all of a sudden, go read about the fate of that kid, who was indeed Bulger’s but all in secret and not in name.

Also seen in this trailer are Joel Edgerton and Adam Scott as FBI agents, Jesse Plemons as a member of Bulger’s gang and Benedict Cumberbatch as Bulger’s politician brother, Bill. Not seen in this trailer are these additional members of the exceptional ensemble cast: Kevin Bacon, Rory Cochrane, David Harbour, Julianne Nicholson, James Russo, Corey Stoll, Juno Temple, W. Earl Brown, Bill Camp, Brad Carter and Jeremy Strong.

In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the true story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement, consolidate power, and become one of the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in Boston history.

Black Mass hits mass theaters on September 18th.

"Black Mass Trailer: More Uncomfortable Table Talk With Whitey Bulger" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Northwest Passage to Explore a Dark Side of Twin Peaks Fandom http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/northwest-passage-kickstarter.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/northwest-passage-kickstarter.php#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 00:47:29 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260253 American Broadcasting CompanyShot over the past four years, the upcoming documentary is currently crowd-funding on Kickstarter

"Northwest Passage to Explore a Dark Side of Twin Peaks Fandom" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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American Broadcasting Company

American Broadcasting Company

Crowdfunding sites are filled with documentaries involving fandom. I think there have been five just focused on the love of Back to the Future. But here’s one that’s unlike all the rest. Northwest Passage is about one teenage boy’s unhealthy obsession with Twin Peaks. That’s unhealthy as in it influenced him towards drug and alcohol abuse and prostitution, because he considered Laura Palmer a role model.

Travis Blue grew up near Snoqualmie Falls and North Bend, Washington, where David Lynch filmed much of his early ’90s TV series. He hung around the set, met cast members and eventually started attending Twin Peaks Fan Festivals and following in the footsteps of Palmer, whose murder was the center of the show’s story. Blue’s descent over 12 years is the center of this true coming-of-age tale.

The documentary, which has been shooting for the past four years, is currently seeking funds through Kickstarter and only has a week and a half left in its campaign to raise the rest of its $60k goal. Director Adam Baran, who is making his feature debut with the doc, is best known in the film and LGBT community as co-curator of NYC’s Queer/Art/Film series at the IFC Center. Helping him out are Tarnation director Jonathan Caouette and Room 237 producers P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes.

Northwest Passage definitely reminds me of Tarnation, not because it’s also about a gay teen coming of age, but mainly for its aesthetic, as seen in the trailer part of the campaign video down below. Baran also compares it to narrative features My Own Private Idaho and Mysterious Skin and says it will appeal to other fans of Twin Peaks, as well as the shows it has inspired, including the current series True Detective.

The Kickstarter campaign, though, will primarily appeal to fans of Twin Peaks, as most of the perks are related to that show. There’s even a new incentive with personal involvement from series regular Kimmy Robertson (Lucy). Based on perk delivery estimates, the doc seems like it will be ready for digital distribution this fall. Hopefully withe the show returning to TV soon, there will be a lot of interest in this.

"Northwest Passage to Explore a Dark Side of Twin Peaks Fandom" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Look Out, Gone Girl Fans, The Girl On The Train Is Pulling Into Theaters http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/the-girl-on-the-train-movie.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/the-girl-on-the-train-movie.php#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 20:00:35 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260238 The Girl on the TrainPaula Hawkin's bestseller is going to run right over eager Gone Girl fans.

"Look Out, Gone Girl Fans, The Girl On The Train Is Pulling Into Theaters" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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The Girl on the Train

Riverhead Books

Every morning, Rachel Watson rides a train from her house in the suburbs to her job in the city. Every night, she rides it back. In between, she has secrets to spare (that we won’t spoil here), but the most exciting part of her day always happens early, when a tricky signals stops her morning commuter train on the backside of a charming bedroom community where Rachel, not so very long ago, used to live. Unmoored by various aspects of her life, Rachel is rooted to few things, but her commute is one of them, so it’s not entirely surprising that it’s within the confines of this routine that she finds something to obsess over.

Unlikable, rude, thoughtless, drunk, and horribly wounded, Rachel isn’t a “likable” character, a wild anti-heroine who has been compared (quite rightly) to Gone Girl‘s own Amy Dunne, but Paula Hawkins‘ The Girl on the Train chugs its story and its characters (mainly Rachel) right into some new territory. Hawkins’ novel, released earlier this year, is a smash hit and a New York Times bestseller that appears to be sweeping the book club crowd (my book club read it after it was recommended by a member’s mom, whose own book club had just finished it) thanks to its heady blend of big mystery and canny storytelling — and now it’s going to be a movie.

Hawkins’ book slips seamlessly between time periods (most of the novel’s action takes place over a spring and summer span of a few months, which keeps things interesting but very manageable) and points of view — Hawkins neatly notates who are narrator is at the start of each chapter, along with the dates it takes place, which should be easy enough to translate to the big screen, but that already has a readymade cinematic feeling built right in — and though it’s definitely Rachel’s story, two other ladies get their own say, too.

Rachel becomes fixated on a young couple she sees most mornings on her daily commute, a happy-looking pair that live right along the train tracks. Rachel doesn’t have a whole lot going on in her own life — and we soon find out why that’s so — and she also has a weirdo attachment to the street that “Jess” and “Jason,” as she terms them, live on, so her unsettling obsession sort of makes sense. When Hawkins’ book opens, Rachel has been watching Jess and Jason for months, and she’s certain she’s figured out their lives. She’s idealized them really, which makes the truth of their relationship that much more awful for an already unhinged Rachel to deal with. Jess — her real name is Megan, and she gets her own chapters, too — goes missing one day, and when Rachel realizes it’s her, she starts connecting some dots.

It doesn’t help matters that Rachel, who is especially prickly about infidelity, saw Megan embracing a strange man the day before she went missing (nope, not “Jason,” who is really named Scott). As Rachel starts investigating the disappearance for herself, she — and the readers — learn lots more about both Megan and Rachel. Oh, and there’s even a third narrator, just for grins: Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife, who has her own links to Megan.

It’s all very twisted and thrilling and dark and weird, and it’s also a book that, thanks to its popularity and zippy narrative, will absolutely make an excellent movie. Did you like Gone Girl for its twists and thrills? The Girl on the Train will hit those buttons. Enjoyed getting to know a twisted and very different heroine? This one has that, too — well, it has it three, but you get it — and Rachel, Megan, and Anna are all especially screwed up characters with fascinating points of view.

Too bad then that the inevitable The Girl on the Train film — it was optioned in 2014, months before the book itself was published, with screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson on board for scripting duties — has set Tate Taylor to direct the film, per VarietyDavid Fincher he is not, and though Taylor has directed some serviceable adaptations in the past, most notably The Help (from a book) and Get on Up (from a whole life), he’s never demonstrated an eye or hand for tension in the past.

The Girl on the Train is all tension, and lots of questions, two things Taylor hasn’t ever had to work for, and given the tremendous potential of the movie, it’s kind of disheartening that he’s the one who has been picked to helm it — and yet, if The Girl on the Train teaches us anything, it’s that perspective is essential. Maybe Taylor has a new view we haven’t even seen coming, chugging along the tracks (please let this be so).

"Look Out, Gone Girl Fans, The Girl On The Train Is Pulling Into Theaters" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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12 Movies to Watch After You See Tomorrowland http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/movies-to-watch-tomorrowland.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/movies-to-watch-tomorrowland.php#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 19:10:58 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260220 2f67881061See old movies that were hopeful about the years to come, documentaries about people trying to make a brighter future and a musical starring Richard Dreyfuss hanging out in an underwater house.

"12 Movies to Watch After You See Tomorrowland" was originally published on Film School Rejects for our wonderful readers to enjoy. It is not intended to be reproduced on other websites. If you aren't reading this in your favorite RSS reader or on Film School Rejects, you're being bamboozled. We hope you'll come find us and enjoy the best articles about movies, television and culture right from the source.

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Meet the Robinsons

Disney Enterprises

This week I want to assume you’ve already seen Back to the Future Part II. Given the year that we’re living in and all the address of the version of 2015 portrayed in that sequel, I don’t know how you can ignore it. It’s also best if you’ve seen BTTF2 before seeing Tomorrowland, Disney’s new sci-fi movie that feels like an unintentional response to all the address of the version of 2015 portrayed in that sequel. Particularly the part where people are disappointed that we don’t now have flying cars, hoverboards and dehydrated pizza, as “promised.”

As for what movies you should see after Tomorrowland, the list below is primarily focused on movies of the distant and near past that deal in optimism for the future. The kind of future that Tomorrowland thinks we don’t strive for anymore nor portray in the movies. Tomorrowland is only half right in its thinking, as it’s true that we’re generally pessimistic about the future but we were also plenty worried about war and the apocalypse and dystopia in the 1960s and going back many decades prior. And since then we’ve still remained excited about future technology (it’s what keeps Apple so popular), even if it’s just to amuse us until it all goes up in flames.

There shouldn’t be any spoilers for Tomorrowland in the selection of or comment on these dozen titles. It’s therefore not necessary for you to see the new movie before reading further, but it will help you appreciate the choices and their recommendation. The list is in chronological order so you can start with the first title and then feel like you’re moving forward in time.


 

Things to Come (1936)

Written by H.G. Wells, this sci-fi classic is not all unicorns and rainbows — or jet packs and monorails — as far as its positive outlook, but it’s ideas about progress towards a utopian future are quite similar to those in Tomorrowland, especially how the shiny new civilization, called “Wings Over the World,” is a technocracy conceived and founded by inventors and engineers.


 

Design for Dreaming (1956) and A Touch of Magic (1961)

Sponsored films like these were a staple of world fairs and Disney amusement parks and, specifically for these, branded trade shows like General Motors Motorama (a precursor to Apple’s big media events), with the optimism of the future tied into commercial products and gadgetry already being made. In addition to promoting GM and its cars, these two shorts also spotlight Frigidaire’s advances for the “kitchen of tomorrow.” The products are all about making things easier, but they were obviously also to distract bored housewives. As an aside, listen to the first few seconds of A Touch of Magic and tell me that didn’t influence part of the Back to the Future score.


 

1999 A.D. (1967)

Another sponsored film, this one from Philco-Ford, it looks ahead more than the previous two. You can see how home computers, music file sharing, online shopping and banking, 3D televisions, microwaves and more were predicted alongside the usual fantasies. For more of this kind of thing, check out an old slideshow at Mashable on vintage visions of the future as well as the blog Paleofuture.


 

Hello Down There (1969)

While not exactly set in the future, at least not far into the future, this musical comedy has always reminded me of the futurism on display at Disney parks. Tony Randall stars as a scientist who moves his family into a new kind of underwater home to test it out. Surprisingly, the idea doesn’t turn out to be a disaster. There is threat of shark attacks, though, but that’s understandable given that a young Richard Dreyfus costars (and clearly just lip-syncs) as the singer in a rock band. Also recommended: the 1971 TV movie and would-be-series-pilot  City Beneath the Sea, about a, you guessed it, city beneath the sea.


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Knock Knock International Trailer: Keanu Reeves Has a Bad Threesome http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/knock-knock-trailer.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/knock-knock-trailer.php#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 16:11:35 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260234 Suraya FilemNow we know that all Mr. Smith had to do was tempt Neo with two hot girls

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Since the beginning of storytelling, heroes have been tempted and even brought down by sexual desire. That’s why fantasy epics have their sirens and alien invasion flicks tend to have a secret weapon in the form of an alien disguised as a sexy human woman (see the trailer for Pixels for the latest). Eli Roth‘s Knock Knock is not fantasy or sci-fi, though given the kinds of movies Keanu Reeves is best associated with, it probably should be. Instead, it’s merely a spin on the home invasion thriller genre, with Reeves brought down by two sexy human women (Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas) who go door-to-door playing a deadly game with married men.

Sounds a bit like Funny Games, but instead of two guys humiliating a woman with forced stripping, it’s two girls seducing a guy into a threesome. And then later maybe raping him, too, but it’s that presumed notion that men are easily lured into sex with strangers, even when they’re supposedly really good husbands and fathers who would never do such a thing, that always separates the sexes in cinema. I find it hard to believe here, but I’m also just watching a two-minute trailer and not getting the full sense of how the seduction plays out. Or how the ending plays out. I’m hoping that Reeves’s character doesn’t just kill these girls and have a happy ever after ending. Then it would be a fantasy film. A male sex fantasy film.

Our own Rob Hunter reviewed Knock Knock at Sundance, and he’s not a huge fan but did enjoy the first half. “Roth’s latest eschews the blood and gore he’s most typically associated with and trades it in for a film that’s one half sexy comedy and other half frustratingly stupid morality tale,” he writes. “Up to and including the trio’s night of debauchery, the film is a fun cat and mouse-like romp as the two vixens work to wear down and corner their prey for a wet and wild good time. It’s a rhythmic build towards the inevitable, and while the script (by Roth, Guillermo Amoedo and Nicolás López) is littered with stilted and forced dialogue it’s undeniably fun seeing the recently reborn-as-action-star Reeves outmaneuvered by two young women.”

Knock Knock was picked up by Lionsgate at the festival, but there’s still no US release date set. You can, however, catch it in the UK beginning June 26th.

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Well Now We Want Rick Baker to Design The Joker http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/rick-baker-the-joker-greg-capullo-design.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/rick-baker-the-joker-greg-capullo-design.php#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 14:00:58 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260139 Rick Baker JokerRick Baker made his own design of The Joker, and it looks disgustingly good.

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Rick Baker Joker

To be clear, I don’t have a problem with the design for the Jared Leto incarnation of The Joker for Suicide Squad. He looks a lot like Sonny Crockett lost his mind in a Hot Topic, but it’s different, it’s very Ayeresque, and that’s important. Let’s reserve full judgement until we see how the style works with the tone of David Ayer’s movie and the character of Leto’s Joker.

On the other hand, this Joker design from Rick Baker is disgustingly good.

That’s not surprising, because it’s Rick Baker. With this, he’s channeled Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s version of the character from the “Death of the Family” story arc where The Joker has his face carved off. Apparently his cell walls were looking too bare.

Joker Face Death of the Family

Baker shared some of the steps of the creative process on Twitter:

Beautiful, grotesque work. Somehow it’s tough to see this version ever making it to the screen, but we can all dream, can’t we? For some reason it reminds me of the Juggernaut from 13 Ghosts. Massive, exaggerated features and a thin muscular face with malice behind the eyes. There’s a hint of Dafoe’s Green Goblin in there, too.

Oddly enough, Baker posted the first Joker entry shortly after sharing a painting of his dog he made for his wife, and now I desperately want to see that dog included in this version of The Joker’s look.

Baker says he did it to prove that not all of his artwork is monstrous, but there’s still time to use this dog for evil. Give it to The Joker. He needs a pet to put a smile back on his face.

Hat tip: Screen Crush

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Poltergeist (2015) Is a Mere Ghost of Its Former Self http://filmschoolrejects.com/reviews/poltergeist-2015.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/reviews/poltergeist-2015.php#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 13:55:44 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260225 poster POLTERGEIST 2015Remakes are frequently dismissed sight unseen because they show a lack of creativity and far too many have proven themselves to be outright stinkers, but there have been enough exceptions to the rule over the years to warrant giving each reboot a chance to stand on its own. While many are pure cash grabs the successes are often ones that wisely targeted lesser films from the past in the hopes of improving them for today’s audiences. Tobe Hooper’s 1982 haunted house classic Poltergeist is in no way a lesser film, and even today — and even with some dated visual effects — the movie delivers a fine balance of fun, scares and heart. The point being that the only area ripe for improvement is the special effects, and in a world where anything and everything is made “better” by CG that appears to be enough of a reason to make a movie. But is it enough of a reason to see a movie? No. No is the short answer. Keep reading for the longer one. “Why would someone have a box of clowns?” The Bowen family is in the middle of a transition as they arrive at their new home — Eric (Sam Rockwell) is recently unemployed, Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) is suffering from writer’s block and their three kids each bring their own baggage to this quiet little pocket of suburbia. Financial concerns meant they had to settle for a home in a less desirable neighborhood, but it’s not like it’s built on an ancient Indian […]

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20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

Remakes are frequently dismissed sight unseen because they show a lack of creativity and far too many have proven themselves to be outright stinkers, but there have been enough exceptions to the rule over the years to warrant giving each reboot a chance to stand on its own. While many are pure cash grabs the successes are often ones that wisely targeted lesser films from the past in the hopes of improving them for today’s audiences.

Tobe Hooper’s 1982 haunted house classic Poltergeist is in no way a lesser film, and even today — and even with some dated visual effects — the movie delivers a fine balance of fun, scares and heart. The point being that the only area ripe for improvement is the special effects, and in a world where anything and everything is made “better” by CG that appears to be enough of a reason to make a movie. But is it enough of a reason to see a movie?

No. No is the short answer. Keep reading for the longer one.

“Why would someone have a box of clowns?”

The Bowen family is in the middle of a transition as they arrive at their new home — Eric (Sam Rockwell) is recently unemployed, Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) is suffering from writer’s block and their three kids each bring their own baggage to this quiet little pocket of suburbia. Financial concerns meant they had to settle for a home in a less desirable neighborhood, but it’s not like it’s built on an ancient Indian burial ground or anything.

Teenage Kendra (Saxon Sharbino) is upset there are no malls nearby, young Griffin (Kyle Catlett) is terrified of every little creak and moan and youngest Maddy (Kennedi Clements) begins talking to something in her closet. That “something” soon takes her — soon as in on the second night — and when her voice begins emanating from the flat-screen television the family quickly calls in support from some paranormal experts (Jane Adams, Jared Harris).

Director Gil Kenan‘s (Monster House) Poltergeist is so busy rushing to exceed the original’s iconic beats that it neglects to create any of its own. Worse, it actually fails to even match the effectiveness of those classic moments. The original film’s signature scare for example, the clown, is aped here to negative effect. The time from its introduction to its big move is so fast that we’re given little chance to grow scared of its potential — and that’s despite the reboot’s bold thought process that essentially boiled down to “what’s creepier than one clown doll? Several clown dolls!” Except they’re not creepier, and the scene ends up a masterclass in wasted potential.

The film’s hurry to move forward leaves us with an absence of atmosphere and character depth, and even the house itself — arguably the most important “character” in a haunted house film — is dull and unmemorable. When Maddy is pulled into the netherworld there’s no time given to doubts, disbelief or emotional distress either. Everyone simply accepts it and moves forward as if this child’s disappearance is commonplace, and a distinct lack of urgency settles over them all.

I hesitate to point a finger at the cast as the adults are all proven talents — although that said, Harris is no Zelda Rubinstein — but there’s simply no emotional weight to any of the events. One issue on that front involves a misguided attempt to have viewers care about a relationship among the paranormal team — not only does that take time away from the family but it’s also poorly handled and bungled in its final moments anyway. The screenplay (by David Lindsay-Abaire) also neuters its version of the biggest emotional beat from the original film’s third act.

The script’s bigger failure is in forming its own identity. Hooper’s film explored the idea of suburban crawl, the slow spread of cookie-cutter neighborhoods pushing ever outward, but here the geographical explanation for the haunting feels like the simple checking of a box. The television also played a role as subtext in the original film as a child was literally lost to its endless blast of meaningless white noise, but here, again, Maddy is in the TV simply because it’s franchise canon.

The CG is solid throughout, and the argument could be made that it improves visual elements like the closet portal and the child-snatching tree, but a dependence on it also acts as a hindrance. The mystery of the netherworld, the place where young Maddy is taken, loses that facet as we’re taken inside and shown what previously existed only in our imagination. It doesn’t help that we’re shown this ghostly nightmare via a drone camera operated by young Griffin — a major selling point of this particular model appears to have been a video signal capable of transmitting from the great beyond — displayed on a screen making it look like a video game.

Many of us hoped/expected that Rockwell would be the film’s secret weapon, that no matter how bad it got he would never be less than entertaining, and thankfully that’s pretty much the case. He’s never dull here — and to be honest neither is the film — and instead delivers most of the film’s humorous bits, but he does seem to take a while before fully committing to the narrative. For a while here he’s busy being “Sam Rockwell” when he should be “grieving and confused dad.” It’s part of the same emotional detachment touched on above, but it gets special mention because, come on, it’s Sam Rockwell.

Poltergeist 2015 is harmless, but it ultimately and unfortunately falls under the heading of unnecessary, unworthy and uninteresting remakes. Between the CG and its frequent daytime scenes there’s no doubt it looks good, and at ninety minutes it never grows tedious, but horror films — even family-friendly ones — should aim a bit higher than that.

The Upside: Fantastic cast; sense of humor

The Downside: Too busy chasing original’s iconic tail to build its own tale; no sense of urgency; rushes forward in its laziness; lacks emotional punch; never scary

On the Side: Rockwell, DeWitt and Adams all co-star in another 2015 release, Digging for Fire.

grade_c_minus

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A Man Finds a Pyramid in His Crappy Apartment in This Short Film http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/shane-carruth-short-film-everything-and-everything-and-everything.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/shane-carruth-short-film-everything-and-everything-and-everything.php#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 13:00:10 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260132 everything and everything and everythingShane Carruth stars in this short film about a man who finds a magical blue pyramid in his crappy apartment.

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Starring Shane Carruth, this short film makes a worth companion to Primer with its enigmatic delivery and the simplicity of its sci-fi premise. Everything & Everything & Everything is the story of a bored, poor young man who discovers a glowing blue pyramid in his apartment one day that produces doorknobs out of thin air. Its appearance changes his entire life when he realizes he can make money selling those doorknobs, if he can get enough help to make it profitable.

Writer/director Alberto Roldan has crafted a special film here — one that is simultaneously wide open to interpretation and grounded enough to make sense from every logical angle. It’s like an ink blot; the image is there, it’s crystal clear, but it may mean something different to you.

The simplest read is that it’s a representation of running a small business. It starts with a product that comes out of the blue (like ideas and innovation often do), it finds success and growth, and it runs into trouble when the business itself outgrows the product. At its center, Carruth’s character’s life becomes tied to the business in an inexorable way, making other joyful images of real life (kids playing in the street, music being made upstairs) almost unbearable. He had dreams, this thing helped him and got in the way, and now what is he left with?

The short film is also a strong example of crafting a time-spanning narrative with what amounts to an extended montage sequence. It essentially leaves all the blanks for us to fill — not in an ephemeral, poetic way, but in the sense that excess explanatory fat is left out. We’re left with the vital beats of the story, shaded by Carruth’s character’s response. The result is a Being John Malkovich-esque balance of straightforward plot and an absurd situation that no one laughs at.

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Reese Witherspoon to Star as a Live-Action Tinker Bell in Tink http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/reese-witherspoon-is-tinker-bell.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/reese-witherspoon-is-tinker-bell.php#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 01:18:33 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260215 Walt DisneyThat means Elizabeth Banks is out. And so is animated Tinker Bell voice Mae Whitman.

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Walt Disney

Walt Disney

With all the live-action remakes of Disney animated classics, it’s slipped our mind that the studio had also been developing a Tinker Bell-focused Peter Pan spin-off called Tink a while back. That movie was to star Elizabeth Banks, who seemed excited and was going around comparing it to Elf. Well, a lot has changed in five years. Banks is busy makin’ bank at the box office with her directorial debut, Pitch Perfect 2, and Tink is back in play with an even bigger star: Reese Witherspoon.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog has the Oscar-winning actress, whose own new movie (Hot Pursuit) isn’t quite as hot at the box office right now, taking over the role of Peter Pan’s fiery fairy friend and also producing. Victoria Strouse is taking over screenplay duties from previous writers Marti Noxon and Elizabeth Shapiro. Presently, the only feature released with a script by Strouse is the forgettable 2002 drama New Best Friend, but she also wrote the upcoming Pixar sequel Finding Dory.

Presumably the angle and story will be completely different from the exile plot of the Banks-led version. According to Heat Vision, Disney is obviously selling this one as similar to Maleficent and “the story you don’t know.” But I can’t imagine it’ll be a retelling of the whole Peter Pan narrative from her perspective. She needs more than that. I also don’t see it being a prequel or origin story after Warner Bros.’ upcoming Tink-less movie Pan (which I think is going to flop). They need their own thing.

Tinker Bell has already had a number of her own movies, all animated and direct to video releases and all starring Mae Whitman as the voice of Tink (she’s also done the voice for Tink in TV cartoons and video games). Apparently this is another instance of one of her characters being stolen away from her. Sort of. In the past, Tink has also been portrayed in live-action form by Julia Roberts, Keira Knightley, Ludivine Sagnier and Rose McIver, who has the role on TV’s Once Upon a Time.

Meanwhile, Melissa McCarthy is also set to star as the character for an untitled Shawn Levy comedy for Fox. This is now my new favorite competing-projects duel.

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Remake Report: New Villains for The Crow and The Magnificent Seven http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/new-villains-for-the-crow-and-the-magnificent-seven.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/new-villains-for-the-crow-and-the-magnificent-seven.php#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 23:03:12 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=260211 GL-0123<br />
PETER SARSGAARD as Hector Hammond in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “GREEN LANTERN,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.Andrea Riseborough and Peter Sarsgaard will play the respective antagonists, both of them different in some way from the original film's baddies.

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Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Here are some casting updates to two remakes in the works, both of them garnering more of my interest as a result:

First, Deadline reports that Andrea Riseborough will likely play the main villain, Top Dollar, in the new version of The Crow. For those familiar with James O. Barr‘s graphic novel and the 1994 adaptation by Alex Proyas, the character was originally male. Michael Wincott had the part in the earlier movie. Riseborough, who you should know from Birdman and maybe Oblivion, will be the target of the new incarnation of Eric Draven, aka the Crow, as portrayed by Jack Huston. After she kills his girlfriend (Jessica Brown Findlay).  Corin Hardy (The Hallow) is directing the movie, which currently has no set release date. Given the remake’s history, we’re still not sure there ever will be one.

GL-0123 PETER SARSGAARD as Hector Hammond in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “GREEN LANTERN,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Warner Bros.

Then there’s The Magnificent Seven, the remake of the 1960 Western remake of Seven Samurai, which Deadline also has the scoop on. And this scoop is also about the movie’s main antagonist. Peter Sarsgaard will play a robber baron named Bartholomew Bogue, who doesn’t sound too different from Eli Wallach’s baddie, Calvera, from the original. Maybe a little more deadly, as he reportedly kills a man, whose wife hires seven magnificent guns for hire to defend her town from Bogue’s next raid. Previously it was thought that Jason Mamoa had the movie’s villain role, but he was to be one of Bogue’s henchmen. Well, now he’s dropped out, allegedly because the part wasn’t big enough.

As for who are filling the good guy boots in the remake, the septet includes Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ethan Hawke and Wagner Moura, with Byung-Hun Lee and Luke Grimes maybe rounding out the bunch. Matt Bomer is reportedly playing the man who is killed, and Hayley Bennett is his wife. The movie, which is due January 13, 2017, will be directed by Antoine Fuqua.

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