Film School Rejects http://filmschoolrejects.com A Website About Movies Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:38:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Spy Trailer: Jason Statham is the Secret Weapon http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/spy-trailer-2.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/spy-trailer-2.php#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:33:11 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257614 004aThe latest trailer provides an extra tease of Jason Statham's apparent status as the movie's MVP

"Spy Trailer: Jason Statham is the Secret Weapon" 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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Another Spy trailer is here, and given that it’s probably going to play ahead of Furious 7 this weekend there’s an appropriate Jason Statham bit right at its center. “I once drove a car off a freeway on top of a train while I was on fire,” he says, seemingly describing a stunt from the Fast and the Furious franchise that he’s now a part of. He’s not in in too much of the latest Spy trailer, though, and that’s either a good thing or a bad thing. I had assumed his role was just slightly above a cameo after seeing him in the first spot. Then I read our review of the movie from SXSW and became aware that he’s a major supporting character. And the best part of the movie, at that.

“Then there’s Jason Statham,” our own Neil Miller wrote, comparing the actor’s appearance to all other cast members. “If there was ever any doubt as to whether or not Mr. Statham has a sense of humor about himself, this movie will stand as proof that he absolutely does. His character is the super spy ID personified and his over-the-top machismo works so perfectly in conjunction with McCarthy’s wit. No one had reason to expect that Tammy and the Transporter would have such wonderful onscreen chemistry, but they absolutely do.”

That’s all only teased in this trailer, and I want more. I also want more Rose Byrne, who is still not heard much in the marketing of the movie. I should be grateful that their best stuff isn’t being given away. But Neil’s movie is also not a rave, and I’ve wondered if I should even bother at all just for a few enjoyable moments with the two secondary performances (and, yes, maybe a decent lead performance from Melissa McCarthy). Most of the criticisms in that review is on Spy‘s staying power. That doesn’t surprise me, as comedy’s with high-concept plots are typically burdened by those plots. Comedy works best when the plot can be almost background material, window dressing behind the jokes.

“This sort of thing might wear off after multiple viewings,” Neil wrote, “especially with a story that’s a very run-of-the-mill spy tale. That doesn’t preclude it from being a lot of fun the first time around, but even upon initial inspection its easy to see how this movie might not be quite as fun once you’ve watched it a few times on cable.”

Spy hits theaters on June 5th.

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23 New Movies/TV Shows to Watch on Blu-ray/DVD This Week http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/new-movies-dvd-this-week-march-31st-2015.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/new-movies-dvd-this-week-march-31st-2015.php#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:23:44 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=256958 WITHOUT A CLUE discsWelcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Without a Clue Dr. John Watson (Ben Kingsley) is the world’s greatest living detective despite telling the world a man named Sherlock Holmes is the actual genius. Tasked with putting a face to his fictional creation he hires an actor named Reginald Kincaid (Michael Caine) to play the legend, but when a master criminal sets a major plot in motion that threatens the British Empire Watson and Holmes are forced to work together — this time for real. The biggest challenge isn’t Moriarty though, it’s Kincaid’s idiocy. This is easily one of the two best Sherlock Holmes films ever — the other being Murder By Decree of course — thanks to an extremely funny script and two fantastic lead performances. Caine turns bumbling into a hilarious art form, and Kingsley’s exasperated straight man manages to be equally entertaining. Even better the story and mystery playing out are as smart as Kincaid is dumb. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: None] Day of Anger The unfortunately nicknamed Scott Mary is something of a loser in his small, dusty town. He’s the local waste collector, used to being harassed and mistreated by everyone as he hauls away their shit, but when a legendary gunslinger named Frank Talby (Lee Van Cleef) arrives in town Scott signs on as the man’s apprentice of sorts. He’s a quick learner and soon has the gumption required to stand up to […]

"23 New Movies/TV Shows to Watch 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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WITHOUT A CLUE discs

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

WITHOUT A CLUE bluWithout a Clue

Dr. John Watson (Ben Kingsley) is the world’s greatest living detective despite telling the world a man named Sherlock Holmes is the actual genius. Tasked with putting a face to his fictional creation he hires an actor named Reginald Kincaid (Michael Caine) to play the legend, but when a master criminal sets a major plot in motion that threatens the British Empire Watson and Holmes are forced to work together — this time for real. The biggest challenge isn’t Moriarty though, it’s Kincaid’s idiocy.

This is easily one of the two best Sherlock Holmes films ever — the other being Murder By Decree of course — thanks to an extremely funny script and two fantastic lead performances. Caine turns bumbling into a hilarious art form, and Kingsley’s exasperated straight man manages to be equally entertaining. Even better the story and mystery playing out are as smart as Kincaid is dumb.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

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DAY OF ANGER bluDay of Anger

The unfortunately nicknamed Scott Mary is something of a loser in his small, dusty town. He’s the local waste collector, used to being harassed and mistreated by everyone as he hauls away their shit, but when a legendary gunslinger named Frank Talby (Lee Van Cleef) arrives in town Scott signs on as the man’s apprentice of sorts. He’s a quick learner and soon has the gumption required to stand up to the townspeople who made his life hell, but the price Talby is asking for that lesson may be too steep.

“The weapon that’s going to kill me hasn’t been invented yet,” says Van Cleef’s rough and tumble cowboy, and that pretty much sums up the film’s tough tone. It’s gritty and bloody in all the right places, and the story is well removed from the typical western which helps keep things interesting. Arrow Video’s North American rollout hits an early high point with an Italian western that’s been out of proper view for too long — it looks and sounds fantastic with rich colors and a memorable score.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Italian version and the shorter international cut, interviews, deleted scenes]

IMITATION GAME bluThe Imitation Game

Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is picked up by police in ’50s London after a suspicious burglary of his home, and rather than give a simple explanation Turing shares the story of what he accomplished during the war. It’s a tale of racing against time to save millions of lives by breaking the Nazi’s unbreakable code, but it’s also a tale of a man forced to obfuscate his own secrets from his government and the people around him.

Turing’s story comes to the screen in a film that frequently feels like a typical biopic, but Cumberbatch’s performance elevates the movie into a compelling and dramatic experience. There’s drama and minor suspense in the tale, but the overriding feeling is one of sadness. This is especially true in the film’s third act as everything comes to a head and Turing’s accomplishments and fate are revealed.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, deleted scenes, Q&A]

INTERSTELLAR bluInterstellar

The Earth is in bad shape, and mankind is on the fast track to follow okra and obesity into extinction. A devastating blight has swept the planet, killing off plants and crops and making way for epic dust storms that leave the small communities that remain in constant struggle for food, good health and cleanliness. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a farmer growing the only viable crop left, but his heart is in the skies above. Now someone, or something, wants him to reach for the skies once again, and they’re communicating through his daughter Murph’s (Mackenzie Foy as a child, Jessica Chastain as an adult) bedroom bookshelf. He’s soon forced to choose between the draw of his family and that of the unknown, and with the fate of humanity at stake he’s compelled to choose the latter. Along with a few other astronauts he sets out for a wormhole that promises to hold the key to the continued existence of our species.

This is in many ways as ambitious and messy a film as the sci-fi adventure it’s portraying, and its themes, visuals and pockets of bald emotion are guaranteed to appeal to fans of director Christopher Nolan‘s (who also co-wrote with his brother Jonathan Nolan) previous films. It walks his usual line between science and heart, hope and cynicism — that’s not a knock — and delivers an experience well worth a watch, but it’s also a disappointing series of diminishing returns. As the ideas and images grow in scale to epic proportions across its nearly three hour running time their actual effect becomes less and less satisfying. Still, it’s big and beautiful and occasionally mesmerizing to the eyes.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

VEEP dvdVeep: The Complete Third Season

Vice President Selena Meyer (Julia Luis-Dreyfus) has just discovered that her boss, the President of the United States, will not be running for a second term. It should be a smooth and straightforward move for her to throw her hat into the ring and run for the highest office in the land, but as history has shown us, nothing is smooth and straightforward for Selena Meyer.

The third season of HBO’s most consistently hilarious sitcom continues the trend of wicked put-downs, brutal insults and truly embarrassing situations for the various characters. That supporting cast — Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Matt Walsh, Gary Cole, Reid Scott and others — continues to excel with some of the best comic deliveries in the business too, and while it’s unclear how far this particular storyline can take the crew I’ll happily follow them anywhere.

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

WILD bluWild

Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) has reached the lowest point of her life — she’s thrown away her marriage on addiction and infidelity and her mother has lost her battle with cancer. Determined to make a fresh start of things she sets out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail with no real experience or expectations about hat she’s about to endure.

Jean-Marc Vallee follows up his award-winning Dallas Buyers Club with another biographical tale of a very troubled soul. The film moves back and forth between Strayed’s earlier life and her adventure on the trail, and it makes for an inconsistent journey for viewers. The film’s at its strongest during the hike as Strayed interacts with nature, strangers and her own struggles, but the flashbacks are far less successful (and far more melodramatic). Witherspoon is strong throughout and gives a performance filled with vitality and playfulness, and that energy carries the film from beginning to end.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary]

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Alice’s Restaurant

Arlo Guthrie (playing himself) is trying to avoid the draft by enrolling in college and staying out of trouble, but things don’t quite go according to plan. His attempts to blend in are spoiled by jerks and cops compelled to give the hippie grief. As much a protest against the Vietnam war as a tonally flexible comedy, Arthur Penn’s film is an interesting (albeit inconsistent) look at a very specific time. Fans of Guthrie’s music and hippies at heart will enjoy.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold

Allan Quatermain (Richard Chamberlain) and his bride-to-be (Sharon Stone) are due to return home to America before being sidelined by news that Allan’s brother has made an epic discovery in the jungle. Now if only Henry Silva’s hair wasn’t standing between them and the treasure. This even campier sequel to the already ridiculous King Solomon’s Mines is an acquired taste for fans of low-rent Indiana Jones rip offs, but anyone expecting good action and legit laughs will probably be disappointed.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Beat Generation

A serial rapist is stalking suburban housewives in late ’50s America, and only a misogynistic cop can stop him. Richard Matheson co-wrote this Bohemian detective thriller, and he filled it with touches both dark and goofy. Jazz music weaves through the events — Louis Armstrong even cameos — and the woman-hating cop travels an interesting character arc on his way to a face to face meeting with the (other) bad guy.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Behind Enemy Lines

Two American soldiers on a mission to prevent terrorist bastards from acquiring powerful weapons succeed, but it comes at the cost of one one of them being captured. Years later Mike returns to the jungle on a rescue mission. This isn’t even the second best movie called Behind Enemy Lines.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Dirty Dozen: Deadly Mission / Fatal Mission

Major Wright (Telly Savalas) leads a rag-team group of thugs and criminals on two missions of vital importance. These two made-for-TV movies are loose sequels to the popular big screen hit, but they lack anything resembling that film’s power. Instead they feel every inch of their TV origins. Both films are filled with recognizable faces including Ernest Borgnine, Bo Svensen, Jeff Conaway, Erik Estrada, Heather Thomas and multiple Van Pattens, so that may be a draw for some of you too.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Facts of Life

You take the good you take the bad you mix it up and there you have Bob Hope and Lucille Ball as a married couple on vacation — one issue though, they’re not married to each other. We flash back to the months prior to see how the two acquaintances came to risk their marriages to see if the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence. Hope and Ball are comedy legends, but the roles here have them splitting their time between laughs and more serious issues. The funny bits work better.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Housekeeping

A young woman in financial straits takes on a housecleaning job to make ends meet, but each day that passes brings a weird combination of madness and terror ever closer. This low budget chiller has an intriguing idea at its core — is this a slow descent into insanity or horror — but the execution is a bit of a stylistically frustrating experience. The lead character is passive, information is passed along in voiceovers and onscreen text and we feel constantly removed from anyone or anything of value.

[DVD extras: None]

How to Beat the High Cost of Living

The ’70s are over and the ’80s have just begun, and with the new decade comes a reminder that the economy is still in the tank. Three friends (Jane Curtin, Susan St. James, Jessica Lange) with troubles in their relationships and bank accounts set on a plan to rob large amount of cash right under the nose of a police guard, but criminal intentions don’t make for criminal minds. All three leads do great work here in a film that feels like a slighter 9 to 5 — it even includes Dabney Coleman! It’s not as laugh out loud funny as that much bigger hit, but it’s a fun slice of suburban mom antics.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar

Morgan Freeman narrates a short look at the lemurs of Madagascar with a focus on the efforts being made to keep them from going extinct. The island is the only place in the world where the creatures live naturally, but as the human population grows in size and continues to burn and cut the forests the animals are running out of options. The photography here is as stunning as you’d expect from an IMAX production, but too much of the 40 minute running time is devoted to people — it’s a good cause and all that, but their mugs are the last thing we want to see in such a short nature film. They take time away from the bouncy, funny, oddball creatures of the title.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Night Game

A serial killer is stalking the young women of Houston, and Det. Mike Seaver (Roy Scheider) is on the case. Is he the inspiration behind Kirk Cameron’s Growing Pains character? We’ll never know, but for now we’ll just have to accept that he’s a rock star of a detective. This is a solid enough thriller, but one of the biggest draws for film fans is a supporting cast that includes a wonderfully terrible threesome of asshole character actors — Paul Gleason, Lane Smith and Richard Bradford.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Outcast

Gallain (Nicolas Cage) and his protege Jacob (Hayden Christensen) have been doing the Lord’s work for years as Catholic warriors during the Crusades, but their most recent assault has left an indelible, blood-soaked image in their heads. Fed up with the slaughter the two men leave the war behind and go their separate ways (and wind up in relatively the same part of China), but Jacob is drawn back into his violent lifestyle when he comes across locals in need of a champion. For all that fails to make Outcast memorable, the film remains a harmless and fast-paced diversion. Weak dramatic moments are numerous, but they’re wisely kept brief and interspersed with action beats. It’s destined to be forgotten, but if nothing else it stands out in Cage’s filmography in ways his steady string of limited release modern action-thrillers fail to do — seriously, can you recall the difference between Seeking Justice, Trespass, Stolen and Rage without looking them up first?

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview, featurette]

The Rewrite

Keith Michaels (Hugh Grant) won an Oscar for his first screenplay, a critically acclaimed and immensely popular film called Paradise Misplaced, but years later he finds himself divorced and in a rut of endless pitch meetings and a lack of offers. His agent suggests a sabbatical away from Hollywood to the only place currently willing to pay for his services — a university on the East Coast wants him to teach a screenwriting class — and he reluctantly says yes. Writer/director Marc Lawrence continues his ongoing collaboration with Grant and delivers a comedy that fits somewhere behind Two Weeks Notice and well ahead of Did You Hear About the Morgans? (Sorry Music and Lyrics, I never got around to seeing you.) The framework is visible from the very first minutes as Keith crosses paths with a fawning student with daddy issues, a more age-appropriate student/love interest (Marisa Tomei) and a stuffy fellow teacher (Allison Janney). We know where each of these storylines will lead, but at least we’re on this predictable ride with an immensely talented cast (also including JK Simmons and Chris Elliott).

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, deleted scenes]

Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season

A group of friends and acquaintances living in the same Silicon Valley house join forces to bring one of their projects to fruition as two tech companies race towards the same goal. It’s not all fun and games in the early days of a tech startup, but it is apparently ridiculous. HBO’s sitcom is frequently funny thanks to sharp writing and a cast of fantastically witty performers (Thomas Middleditch, Martin Starr, TJ Miller, Christopher Evan Welch, Zach Woods, etc), but early episodes do have a frustrating element to them as too much of the humor comes from Meet the Parents-type situations.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry

Harry (George Sanders) is a bachelor still living with his two sisters, but when he enters into his first real romance he finds the downside to family meddling. His sister Lettie (Geraldine Fitzgerald) has no intention of letting him go — especially into the arms of another woman — and she quickly goes about trying to break up the happy couple. This mix of romance and devious behaviors is a deliciously dark look at family, and it takes some dark turns along the way, but then the final minute hits and ruins it all. Seriously, the final sixty seconds kill it. And to make matters worse the final frame is a plea asking audience members not to ruin the ending for anyone else.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Stranger at My Door

A bank robber with horse trouble is forced to lay low in the home of a minister an his family, but as the days pass he finds himself drawn to the man of god’s wife and growing fond of his little boy. As the law closes in the morally bankrupt villain must choose if his safety is more important than theirs. There’s a simplicity to this tight little western, but good performances and a short running time go a long way towards making this a harmless and enjoyable picture.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

What Did You Do in the War Daddy?

An American military unit is assigned to occupy a small Italian village, but while they expect the locals to put up a fight they’re instead met with open arms. All the villagers ask is that they’re allowed to move forward with their celebratory festival, but things are complicated by interactions, misdirections and an approaching enemy. Blake Edwards directs this mildly comedic romp from a script by William Peter Blatty (?), and the result is a fun little comedy with a comedically game cast including James Coburn, Harry Morgan, Carroll O’Connor and more.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Wild Card

Nick Wild (Jason Statham) is scraping by in Las Vegas with a dream of escaping to Spain for a few years of bliss, but his attempts to win big always end up with him broke again. His financial woes are the least of his concerns though when a favor for a friend finds him crossing paths with a violent and well-connected ruffian. Simon West’s adaptation of William Goldman’s novel Heat is an odd film for Statham in some ways — most notably in its near lack of action. There are three fights, and they’re all excellent, but the majority of the movie is Wild’s dilemma and interactions with a series of characters. Some are friends, old and new, and others are not, but the end result is a character drama punctuated with a small handful of fantastic brawls.

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

Discs Section: Also

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

3 Nights in the Desert
Cries and Whispers (Criterion)
David & Lisa
Harlock: Space Pirate
Hoop Dreams (Criterion)
The Quiet Gun
The Shanghai Story
What Would Jesus Do? The Journey Continues

"23 New Movies/TV Shows to Watch 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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Junkfood Cinema: Configure It Out http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/junkfood-cinema-configure-it-out-ninth-configuration.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/junkfood-cinema-configure-it-out-ninth-configuration.php#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:22:35 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257576 Ninth ConfigurationWe close out March madness with a truly bizarre freakout: William Peter Blatty's The Ninth Configuration.

"Junkfood Cinema: Configure It Out" 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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Ninth Configuration

March has ended, and so too has its madness. But before Cargill and I hang up our straight jackets, we take you to an ancient, long-forgotten castle in the Pacific North…nation of Hungary. That’s right, skipping over the first eight (that don’t exist), we’re talking about The Ninth Configuration! That’s right, the best movie EVER…to be produced by a soda company (true story).

The writer of The Exorcist makes his directorial debut with this story of insanity, identity and Christianity. Apart from its astounding cast, The Ninth Configuration is a fascinating exploration of faith that, as we conclude in the episode, takes place within the same universe as Exorcist. Its existential underscore and philosophical deconstruction makes for a movie that is both entertaining and was described by one critic as being “deep as fuck.”  That critic was Cargill…during this show.

Come for the crazy, stay for the laughs, get tricked into hearing some insight. That’s our kind of madness.

You should follow Brian (@Briguysalisbury), Cargill (@Massawyrm), and the show (@Junkfoodcinema).

Download Episode #50 Directly

On This Week’s Show:

  • Pre-Ramble [0:00 – 1:42]
  • A War Called Madness [1:43 – 56:54]
  • Denouement [56:55 – 59:22]

Films Discussed:

[Click to buy, help us keep the lights on]

Ninth Config

Get In Touch With Us:

Email Junkfood Cinema

Follow the Show:

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"Junkfood Cinema: Configure It Out" 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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Bookmark Now: Two Sites That Make Finding Streaming Movies A Lot Easier http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/streaming-movie-sites-flixfind-a-good-movie-to-watch.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/streaming-movie-sites-flixfind-a-good-movie-to-watch.php#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:16:07 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257596 FlixFindrFlixfindr and A Good Movie to Watch are a one-two punch when it comes to finding streaming movies online.

"Bookmark Now: Two Sites That Make Finding Streaming Movies A Lot Easier" 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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FlixFindr

The boredom Holy Grail right now is finding a reliable way to navigate the convoluted online world of streaming movies and TV shows. The entertainment’s there, we know it’s there, but it’s not always easy to find exactly what you’re looking for (or to find something you didn’t know you were looking for that perfectly fits the mood). It’s not difficult to understand the problem. There are a handful of companies out there with a handful of contracts that expire at a handful of times, and keeping track of all that is exhausting.

We all know about Instant Watcher — which does a better job of listing what’s on Netflix streaming than Netflix does — and we try to do our part with custom monthly lists to keep you occupied, but both are admittedly lo-fi answers to an ever-shifting problem.

Fortunately, I’ve found two relatively new sites that offer convenient, user-friendly, up-to-date ways to discover streaming movies online. As a bonus, they complement each other because one focuses on the biggest hits and the other focuses on critical favorites.

agoodmovietowatchlogo

The first is A Good Movie To Watch, which is curated by a staff that’s obviously keyed into where the best of indie cinema lands online. The hook here is that they only cover the movies they want to, but their taste isn’t obscure or outrageous. It’s hip and smart without being snobbish. Current staff picks include Short Term 12SennaFour LionsThe Perks of Being a Wallflower and Inside Jobso you’re in relatively safe yet prestigious hands.

You can hunt by specific titles and genres, or you can go random. You can also tell it what you’re in the mood for, and the site will create a list of potentials.

Clicking the site’s Random button three times gave me: Warm BodiesWinter’s Bone and Waking Life.

Clicking the “action-packed” Mood button gave me: WarriorSnowpiercer and Zodiac.

Switching over to a “beautiful” Mood gave me: Linklater’s Before Trilogy, Enough Said and Her.

All the movie pages feature links for trailers, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes and Wikipedia, and the site will let you know if the movie is available on Amazon or Netflix. The downside is that the site is focused on the curation, sometimes regardless of whether the movie is on Netflix or not, so you could end up finding something that sounds excellent only to discover that it’s not online, but AGMTW also has a section dedicated to what’s on Netflix Instant that focuses on movies like MudIp ManTucker and Dale vs Evil. You get the picture.

It’s not as high gloss as some other fully responsive sites are, but it definitely gets the job done. It’s also still a scrappy insurgency, and hopefully they’ll add links to iTunes and other streaming portals soon, but since they’re particular about what movies they feature, they have their bases decently covered for now.

 

FlixFindrLogo

On the more populist side of things, Flixfindr is an incredible maze of movies indexed not only by Netflix and iTunes, but also Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Showtime Anytime, Crackle, Amazon and Xfinity. The goal of the site seems to be helping everyone who is paying for streaming access to get the most out of those subscriptions. You tell it what you have access to, and it will populate a line-up of movies (as you can see in the article’s header image).

You can also toggle between genres, date ranges (1920-present), MPAA ratings and Tomatometer scores. There’s also a search bar that auto-populates as you type and works cleanly.

As opposed to A Good Movie To Watch’s mantra of quality, Flixfindr has everything. Plug in the right vectors, and you can find Super Babies: Baby Geniuses 2 next to Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever. It’s an algorithm that will gleefully comb the streaming world no matter what horrible search criteria you feed it. On the other hand, you can also find Rear WindowMy Left Foot and 12 Angry Men if you crank up the Tomatometer reading.

All in all, it felt like I could find indie, prestige and festival favorites easier on A Good Movie to Watch and feel-good, popular, block-busting films on Flixfindr. It’s a solid combination, and with Projection List already bookmarked, we’re all essentially unstoppable when it comes to boredom now.

 

"Bookmark Now: Two Sites That Make Finding Streaming Movies A Lot Easier" 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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A Man Falls In Love With His Dominatrix In This Jarringly Comic Short Film http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/dream-house-short-film-ben-kitnick.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/dream-house-short-film-ben-kitnick.php#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:00:26 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257590 Dream House ShortFilmmaker Ben Kitnick returns with Dream House, a short film where a dumpy guy starts to have feelings for the woman he pays to dominate him.

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It’s easy to see over the course of several short films that Ben Kitnick is a huge fan of finding characters. Real or imagined, it doesn’t matter. He seeks out quirks and bold details, then typically throttles back in order to show the everyday elements, proving there’s a person below the personality. This short film is a bit different.

Dream House offers a brief window into the low-rent life of a pathetic piece of man who spends his money on frozen dinners and a dominatrix.

The real power of this short is in incongruous imagery and the sharp, staccato editing technique where a riding crop becomes like a pair of snapping fingers signaling a viewpoint change. It allows for pleasant surprises and much-needed laughs in the face of a decently bleak existence. Not Gummo bleak, but still not enviable. Ultimately, the short film focuses on a simple message that might not ever be received.

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Masterminds Trailer: Brace Your Boobies, This Could Be a Fun Heist Comedy http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/masterminds-trailer.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/masterminds-trailer.php#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 04:38:45 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257571 masterminds-zgFrom the director of Napoleon Dynamite comes a movie that actually looks funny

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We love idiot criminals almost as much as we love crazy true stories. Put them together and you’ve got yourself one appealing movie. This one also happens to star Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis. Two of Wiig’s future Ghostbusters costars, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, too. And Buzz from Home Alone! (Sorry, Devin Ratray.) It’s all a bunch of wacky hijinx and slapstick and tomfoolery, but if this doesn’t make me slip off my grudge against director Jared Hess for Napoleon Dynamite, nothing will.

Masterminds is about the biggest heist ever pulled off in America — and by pulled off I just mean accomplished in the time of the crime, but not necessarily in the end. It is indeed a true story, known as the 1997 Loomis Fargo Robbery in North Carolina, if you’re looking for the facts on Wikipedia. The main job was done by an armored car driver, but he had help from at least 23 other people. The booty was $17m. Galifianakis plays that driver, Wiig is Kelly Campbell (not a relative of mine, as far as I know), his associate at Loomis Fargo, Wilson is her old friend, Steve, who is also brought into the robbery plot to hide the money after the heist. Mary Elizabeth Ellis, best known as The Waitress on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is Wilson’s wife, Michelle.

How silly was the actual job? There was indeed some idiocy, hijinx and buffoonery, as you can see in the local NBC news report on the story:

After watching that report, it makes the movie a little clearer. It’s not a lead-up to the heist but a lead-up to everyone’s arrest following the heist. Sudeikis would have to be the assassin hired to kill Galifianakis’s character. And that mansion Wilson and family live in was bought stupidly with $20 bills and a lack of logic about suddenly spending like you’ve won the lottery. This is the sort of movie we go to to feel smart and moral in comparison.

Masterminds opens on August 14, 2015.

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An Extra Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Movie is in the Works http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/scary-stories-to-tell-in-the-dark-documentary.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/scary-stories-to-tell-in-the-dark-documentary.php#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 00:22:19 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257564 scary storiesIn addition to the fiction adaptation, now there's a nonfiction effort, too

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scary stories

Cody Meirick

There’s a movie based on the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” children’s books currently raising money on Indiegogo, but it’s not what you think. You may have heard about the Scary Stories movie being made by CBS Films and screenwriter John August (Frankenweenie; Big Fish). That’s definitely not a thing that needs to go the  crowdfunding route. This here’s another movie about the books. It’s a documentary, and it needs your help to get to its $28k goal. The campaign is already about a third of the way through and it’s only taken in 15% of the goal.

Somehow, even though I’m a child of the 1980s, I’ve never read these books, which are apparently a big deal to a lot of my generation and the next. Maybe they became more popular following the publication of the third of the three in 1991, which is past my time hanging out at the elementary school library. As far as I know of as an outsider, they’re collections of the kinds of spooky folktales you tell around the campfire. And they were apparently banned in many places.

Director-producer Cody Meirick, who is a program manager at Chicago’s Erikson Institute, a graduate school focused on childhood development, and who also lists telling ghost stories as a camp counselor as part of his background, makes this thing sound very geared to fans of the books. That does make me feel out of the loop, which is unfortunately because the content of the film sounds more broadly concentrated on the psychology of the appeal of ghost stories for children.

It is specifically about the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” series, though, enough that Meirick has gotten the attention and then support of the family of author Alvin Schwartz who died in 1992 after the release of the third book. He also hopes to get an interview with illustrator Stephen Gammell, whose artwork has been instrumental in attracting kids to the stories. He also acknowledges that there’s a fiction movie based on the books in the works. His will probably arrive sooner, with filming still ongoing but a release expected sometime next year.

Watch the Scary Stories: A Documentary campaign video:

Thanks to Scott Weinberg for bringing this project to our attention.

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Disney Announces a Live-Action Remake of Mulan http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/mulan-live-action.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/mulan-live-action.php#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:42:19 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257556 mulanThis is the most recent Disney animated feature to join the trend, and it's the first since the Pixar age began

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mulan

Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Saturday Night Live seems to have picked a good time to parody Disney’s mission to remake all their animated classics as live-action features. Imagine if the studio had planned to announce an actual live-action Bambi movie this week. Fortunately their next choice was not the one about the deer and his forest friends but the one about the female Chinese warrior who cross-dressed in order to fight against a Hun invasion. Yes, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Mulan is the latest added to the trend. At 17 years old, it’s also the most recent of the animated features to hit the remake block and the first since the age of Pixar began. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised if a live-action Frozen is announced next.

Like many Disney animated movies, Mulan isn’t an original work and so this remake won’t be the first live-action take on the story. They’ve all pretty much been Chinese productions, going back almost 90 years, and the most recent was 2009’s Mulan: Rise of a Warrior, which did get a US release, probably helped by the possible familiarity of audiences with the Disney version, from which it is vastly different. Disney’s live-action take will likely stick closely to their 1998 release, similar to the model of Cinderella and the upcoming Beauty and the Beast more than Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent. So, I assume we’ll be getting motion-capture incarnations of Mushu and Cri-Kee.

The script for the live-action Mulan comes via newcomers Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin, whose background is mostly in local Cincinnati theater (their recent production was called “Saturday the 14th,” and sadly mulan a stage version of the bad ’80s movie of the same time). No release deadline is set yet, but Disney has quite a few more live-action remakes queued up already, including Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book and Dumbo. They’ll probably announce Lady and the Tramp, The Emperor’s New Groove and an actual Bambi before we see it hit screens.

Watch a trailer for the animated original:

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Shooting Clerks Trailer: Kevin Smith Got a Biopic http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/shooting-clerks-trailer.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/shooting-clerks-trailer.php#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:41:53 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257552 Shooting ClerksThis appropriately very indie movie dramatically depicts Smith's struggle to make his directorial debut

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Yes, there’s a biopic about Kevin Smith. If we can have movies like My Week with Marilyn and Hitchcock and The Girl and Saving Mr. Banks and RKO 281 and Baadasssss! — which respectively dramatize the making of The Prince and the Showgirl, Psycho, The Birds, Mary Poppins, Citizen Kane and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song — then we can and should have Shooting Clerks, which dramatizes the making of Clerks. Never mind if you think Kevin Smith is as good a moviemaker as Laurence Olivier or Alfred Hitchcock or Orson Welles or even Melvin Van Peebles. Smith and his debut are still an important part of film history, particularly regarding the indie explosion of the 1990s.

Shooting Clerks is appropriately small and sort of amateurish looking. It raised less than a tenth of its goal on Indiegogo, even with Smith’s support and endorsement of the project (he also has a cameo, as do many of the people involved in the actual making of the 1994 classic). But they went ahead and made it anyway — hopefully by maxing out a bunch of credit cards, the way the Clerks budget famously came together. Writer/director Christopher Downie (who also plays Richard Linklater in the movie) has been a huge fan of Smith’s work for a long time and the influence is clearly there in the tone of this biopic as well as previous things Downie has done. Why wouldn’t he try to finance as his idol had?

This isn’t the first time Downie has depicted the life of Smith, who is always portrayed by actor Mark Frost. Check out the 2013 short The Twelve Steps of Jason Mewes: Get Greedo, which is about Jason Mewes (Chris Bain, who also plays him in Shooting Clerks) kicking his heroin addiction post-Chasing Amy and which Smith executive produced and distributed on his SModcast YouTube channel below.

There’s no release date set for Shooting Clerks, but I think it deserves at least a special screening at Sundance next year. It looks like a fun little homage to an important time for cinema. There’s even someone playing Quentin Tarantino.

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Q&A: It Follows Director David Robert Mitchell On Turning Nightmare into Magic http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/interview-it-follows-director-david-robert-mitchell.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/interview-it-follows-director-david-robert-mitchell.php#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:28:44 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257472 Radius-TWCWe chat with the director of the one of the freshest American horror movies in years.

"Q&A: It Follows Director David Robert Mitchell On Turning Nightmare into Magic" 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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Radius-TWC

Radius-TWC

For most horror filmmakers, the goal is to create a cinematic experience that foster nightmares for each and every member of the audience. It’s fair to say that David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows has certainly be the cause of some sleepless nights, and that many more horror fans will get the chance to sleep with the lights on as the film has just been released wide.

However, after sitting down with Mitchell recently, we learned that the genesis of It Follows was itself a nightmare. Read on to hear about this, the Redford Theater, and how Fantastic Fest assured Mitchell that his movie had the right following.

The conceit that a haunting can be its own type of sexually transmitted disease is really innovative. Where did that come from?

I don’t know. No, I’m kidding. It came in pieces, and it wasn’t formed in that way. It started with the idea of a monster that follows you, that is slow and always waking towards you. That idea came from a recurring nightmare I had when I was very young. It really freaked me out and I always remembered it. In the dream it looked like different people and was always coming closer. I could always get away from it, but it was just about this feeling of anxiety knowing that something’s always following me.

That sounds terrifying.

That idea sat in the back of my head for many years. I had always intended to try to make a horror film, and I started thinking that I could build on that idea; turn it into something. Then a little later I started thinking it would be fun to have it be something that passed between people, like a game of tag to some degree. Then eventually I realized that if it were passed through sex then it would tie in thematically to some of the other things that I wanted to do. It would link people not just physically, but also emotionally. It just seemed like the right way to connect this strange curse.

At that point it was very clear to me that if I’m doing all this, certainly one of the interpretations of this films is going to be STDs or AIDS, but there are also a bunch of other interpretations that I had in my mind. This starts through sex, but it’s also a way of pushing it away. To me that sort of lead to some other interpretations, but I was completely aware that that would be one of them. So that wasn’t how the idea was formed, but I’m totally conscious that that is a very valid interpretation of the material

Yeah, I mean the best horror is always about vicarious confrontation of the things that scare us in our actual lives. Adolescence and one’s first sexual experiences, that’s a scary time for anyone, so the supernatural angle effectively underscores that.

 100% For sure, totally.

What filmmakers inspire you? Maybe not even in the sense of paying homage in the movie itself, but whose work do you always keep in mind when you direct?

I idolize many different filmmakers. Right at the top would be Truffaut, Francis Ford Coppola, and Hitchcock. I’ve loved their movies since I was a kid, and I have a very deep respect for what they’ve been able to do.

I love the the music in It Follows, how did Diasterpeace come aboard and how much did you collaborate with him on the score?

I knew I wanted an electronic score. When I heard his music, I thought he was phenomenally talented and thought that it would be a really cool and interesting approach to creating music for the movie. We had a lot of conversations about what we wanted to achieve. The editor and I built a pretty elaborate temp score as we were cutting the film together, which was a way to begin some conversations regarding certain sequences. Rich, who goes by Disasterpeace, would go and write music for sequences, send me what he was doing. Sometimes we’d just drop it in, or sometimes I’d have notes and we’d have further conversations. We were definitely very in touch regarding creating that music. It is his stuff though, and he’s fantastic.

I’m curious, since you’re still coming up as a filmmaker, during the early stages of production, did you get any studio notes or did anyone try to get you to change your supernatural beings to more traditional-looking monsters or give them digital J-Horror eyes or anything?

I don’t remember if anyone said that. Ultimately if people came on board, they believed in what we were doing, or at least they put some trust in me. But yeah, I heard all kinds of things, it was probably a little bit risky when I look back on it, but it didn’t seem that way to me. I could see it in my head and it made sense. There are many aspects of this story that I think would be very easy for someone at the script stage to look at and go, “what is this, is this really going to work for anybody?”

And don’t get me wrong, if that note was passed to you, I’m glad it wasn’t followed. The way it stands, the things that follow are so much creepier because they look like normal people. It’s as unsettling as something like the homeless horde in Prince of Darkness.

Totally!

I’m a huge nerd for movie palaces, and you have a gorgeous one featured in It Follows. What is that theater and where is it?

Redford, Michigan. It’s the Redford Theater. It’s a really fantastic theater. They play all kinds of classic films and stuff there. They have a live organist, and it’s really great!

You’re from Michigan, both your films have been set there, are you thinking about setting all your films there? Making Michigan for you what Illinois was for John Hughes or New Jersey used to be for Kevin Smith?

There will be others that take place there. It’s very possible that the next one won’t. I have a bunch of stuff that doesn’t take place there, but I have a bunch of stuff that does. I love writing stories that take place there, but I think there will probably be a break before I do more there. It depends. It’s hard to say. It’s also possible that I won’t get money for one that I’m trying to do. That’s actually what happened with It Follows.

Really?

I had intended to make it as my third film. I was gonna do another drama in between, I was gonna do two dramas and then make the horror film, but then I couldn’t get the money for that drama. So I moved up the third film to be the second film. So until I’ve actually made it, I can’t promise what the next one will be.

So the plan now is to make that drama the third film, but who knows?

Well that, and I also have this very interesting mystery with some adventure. Without saying what the film is, I have a bunch of different kinds of stories in very different genres. I do still wanna make that drama, so it might be that one next, but there’s a couple of others that it could be too.

Lots of uncontrollable variables.

I don’t even mean to be vague. If it were up to me, I’d just say, “well this is what I’m making.” I can’t control it at all.

What did the overwhelming Fantastic Fest reaction to It Follows mean to you?

It feels really nice. For me, I was always making a horror film, but I hadn’t worked in the genre before. The film first played Cannes and then played a bunch of European film festivals. I therefore didn’t know for sure how specifically a horror crowd would respond to it, and if they would like the movie to be blunt. It’s hard because I’m a huge horror fan, but I also like so many different kinds of films. You can probably see some of that in the movie. The influences come from a lot of different directions. What has been really nice about Radius getting behind the film and then the Fantastic Fest reaction is seeing that there has been a really nice response from people who really love horror films specifically. It’s always nice if people like your work.

Nobody makes movies just for themselves to watch, right?

On a certain level, you’re making a film because you want to do something that means something to you. I don’t believe in making films just to make a film or to work on something that 20 other people could do. I want to try to do things that I don’t think would exist if I didn’t do them. Not coming from some kind of egotistical place, it’s just that it’s really hard to make films. It’s painful. I only want to do it if I can make something that feels unique in some way or at least to some people. It’s not just about making movies, it’s about doing things that mean something to me. Then you hope that people will like it.

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You Shouldn’t Miss The Rock as Bambi from SNL http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/the-rock-bambi-snl.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/the-rock-bambi-snl.php#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:05:00 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257541 the-rock-bambi-featSomeone get they online petition machine going, we need this to become a real movie.

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Disney has recently found success in updating some of its classic animated films as live-action features. For example, Cinderella was both a good movie and wildly successful at the box office. Now thanks to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Saturday Night Live, we’ve got a new live-action Disney movie over which we can obsess.

From the director of Furious 7  comes Disney’s Bambi. They should absolutely green-light this project right now.

It was all part of The Rock’s fourth hosting stint on Saturday Night Live, which went pretty well. Over at Rolling Stone, our own Kate Erbland named this as one of three sketches you shouldn’t miss. The other two are very funny (especially The Rock Obama in the open), but this Bambi trailer might be the funniest video we’ve seen from SNL in a long while.

Give it a watch while we go start our online petition for Disney to make this a real movie.

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These 9 Episodes of The X-Files Got Me Hooked http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/these-9-episodes-of-the-x-files-got-me-hooked.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/these-9-episodes-of-the-x-files-got-me-hooked.php#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:00:17 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257413 x-filesKumail Nanjiani made a list of 9 episodes of The X-Files that would get someone hooked, so I watched them to see if he was right.

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x-files

In honor of the future return of The X-Files to television, Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley, other funny things) suggested nine episodes from the original run that would get someone hooked on the show, and I decided to put his list to the test. I can do that because, until now, I’ve never seen a single episode.

I know. I know. Calm down. Take a deep breath.

It’s a serious gap in my cultural appreciation, but I’ve started filling that gap with Nanjiani’s guidance in an attempt to answer the question of whether those episodes really would get me hooked on the show. Granted, I’m a soft target because I’m a genre enthusiast, but aliens have also never been a personal favorite. At least not the gray, spindly ones that probe anuses and mutilate cattle.

I’m also going into this experiment with the knowledge of the show that got absorbed through osmosis. I know about the truth being out there, I know about Mulder’s sister, I’ve heard of The Smoking Man. All the unavoidable kernels and icons. Regardless, I’ve definitely got a bias that should make me a fast fan of the series, and I admit that upfront.

So, clearing a Saturday schedule, I dove in. For science.

Pilot/Squeeze/Humbug

X-Files Pilot

  • Scully meets Mulder over an alien abduction case where their evidence gets torched.
  • A humanoid killer pushes himself through air ducts and eats his victims’ livers.
  • Murders in a town of circus freaks might be committed by a mermaid myth.

It’s immediately obvious why this show was such a hit in its time and found such a dedicated following. Gillian Anderson is sharp, David Duchovny is handsomely sarcastic, and they work perfectly together as the calm eye of the sci-fi storm. There’s also an appropriate balance between the fantastical elements they’re exploring and a self-awareness of how absurd each episode’s focus really is. It’s a bit like a sci-fi Picket Fences — unless you’re Scully, and then it’s just like Picket Fences.

After watching these three episodes that span through the end of the second season, that’s the question that stands out most: how long can they keep Scully in the dark about what’s going on? Is it realistic that’s she always just around the corner when something undeniably supernatural happens in front of our faces?

Having never seen an episode, my assumption was that the series would play coy with the weirdo stuff. Maybe each entry would offer competing theories and keep things vague enough to make the audience wonder, but, nope, they own it from the onset. Aliens exist, bizarre creates are real, all our nightmares are possible.

We get to see the insane stuff happen even as Scully gets knocked out in the forest. But how sustainable is that? How many episodes will she be somehow shielded from what we — and Mulder — get to witness? Forty-four episodes in, she’s still acting like she doesn’t consistently encounter supernatural insanity, but her hypotheses-forming methods are comfortable with knowledge gaps so she seems unfazed.

A monster like Tooms (in “Squeeze”) fits perfectly into the pocket of Mulder’s addled understanding. Scully sees him and seems to think human beings are simply fucked up genetic pools capable of building newspaper bile nests and snacking on toxin-burning bodily organs. For an episode like “Humbug” that’s comprised wholly of red herrings, the ultimate solution to the puzzle favors Scully’s more disturbing view of people and our DNA cocktails.

As for my own experiment, it’s already over. This show is excellent. I’m hooked. I didn’t even need the other 6 entries, but I’m damned sure going to watch them. Witty, charming, intense at times despite its limitations, and it holds up well. If we could magically change the aspect ratio and HD-ify the pilot, The X-Files could premiere today and stand up to every other police procedural currently on air. Call it CSI: Top Secret, and it would break banks.

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose/Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space”/Home

X-Files Home

  • A psychic helps solve a series of murders and tells Mulder how he’ll die.
  • A genre writer attempts to get the real story about an alien abduction from unreliable sources.
  • Zombie Redneck Torture Family gets caught killing a baby.

I’ve never intentionally watched a series out of order before, so it’s been interesting to see the dynamic of episodes stay relatively the same through four seasons. That’s not so unusual for cop shows, though, supernatural or not. Scully and Mulder remain perfect foils for each other. They also work because of our impulse as humans to remain skeptical and curious at the same time. I find myself nodding along to what Scully says only to be seduced by Mulder’s confidence. The world is a weird place — aren’t they just arguing over what particular brand of weird it is?

The thing I appreciate most about Nanjiani’s list is that he doesn’t claim that these are the 9 best episodes of The X-Files (so getting hooked shouldn’t be like watching a trailer with all the best beats of a movie only to be let down later), but he also lists Clyde Bruckman” as the best X-Files episode ever and “Home” as the scariest television episode of all time. I can’t vouch for the latter contextually (obviously) but it’s a gorgeous piece of storytelling. Heartfelt and heartbreaking. Peter Boyle is unsurprising as a fiercely human figure doomed to understand death in a way few can.

There are a thousand ways for a show like this to be good, but the only way for it to be great is to allow for kind souls to emerge from the muck of government conspiracies and puddles of blood. Meanwhile, Scully’s skepticism still manages to hold strong even after the most tragic prediction of the case, foretold in detail, comes true while holding her hand. She’s a tough nut to crack.

(Or maybe a natural sense of competitiveness keeps her from jumping onto Mulder’s bandwagon wholesale.)

As for “Jose Chung,” I can see why fans of this show must have lost their minds over Cabin in the Woods, and “Home” is genuinely disturbing when not outright terrifying. A stellar grouping that has me glued to the show even tighter.

Bad Blood/Drive/X-Cops

X-Files Drive

  • A small Texas town might be the feeding ground for a vampire.
  • Bryan Cranston can’t slow down below 50mph or his head will explode.
  • A cross-over with COPS where an elusive monster stalks a low-income neighborhood.

It’s been apparent for sometime, but after finishing every episode on Nanjiani’s list, I feel even more certain that the core question of The X-Files is, what if an FBI agent took the craziest victims and witnesses at their word?

In fact, a deputy in “X-Cops” asks Mulder why he believes him when he says a giant insect creature attacked him. After all, the cameras didn’t capture it, and he’s a stranger. That’s Mulder, though. Not only does he believe in every corner of the supernatural world, that belief allows him to trust in spooked people who don’t believe their own eyes. Think you saw something crazy? He’ll trust you. He’ll also operate from a position that what you’re saying is the reality that he’ll eventually uncover.

Most of the plots are allowed to exist because of that mindset. In any other show (and in reality), Cranston’s character in “Drive” would have died after stalling out at a police blockade, but Mulder was there to trust in the madman instead of procedural authority. The same way he trusted in a fear-based monster, an adorable old psychic and countless others. That’s what he’s there for. But even though Scully’s mind flies in the opposite direction, she’s also there to save the day, to protect the innocent and to run toward danger. They sharpen each other. Make each other better.

This process has made me question why I never watched the show before. I was 9 when it premiered, mesmerized more at the time by dinosaurs than demon liver-eaters, but as time went on, the real reason I avoided the show was because of how deeply its fans loved it. That may sound strange, but everyone I came into contact with who loved the show, loved the show, so having it recommended was a bit like having heroin recommended to me. Wild-eyed people telling me just to try it once because I’d be hooked; me staring down the barrel of 200 episodes to needle through. You have to be in the right place to walk into an addiction.

I’m there now. I want to believe.

"These 9 Episodes of The X-Files Got Me Hooked" 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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What is Your Favorite Pixar Movie? http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/best-of-pixar-supercut.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/best-of-pixar-supercut.php#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:46:14 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257538 WalleVoiceThis new Pixar supercut made us cry. Now it's time to talk about our feelings.

"What is Your Favorite Pixar 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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We can’t be sure that it was the goal of Casper (aka CLS Videos), the creator of this “Best of Pixar” compilation video, to make us cry a little bit on a Monday morning. But if it was, he has succeeded.

Casper’s video celebrates some of the most beautifully animated and exhilarating sequences from the filmography of Pixar Animation Studios. Everything from riding on floating doors in Monsters Incto bouncing on jellyfish in Finding Nemo. There’s also a house that flies away in Up and some quick bits from Pixar’s upcoming film Inside Out, which is due out this summer.

The video reminds us of a number of things we already know. That Pixar’s filmography is full of wonderfully vibrant landscapes, characters with whom we’ve so easily fallen in love and plenty of adventure (which is, as it turns out, out there.) It’s 5-minutes of clips that reminds us that Pixar has a special sort of magic. It also reminded me that I haven’t watched Wall-E in a while, so I’m going to go do that.

While that’s happening, jump into the comments below and tell us about your favorite Pixar movie: what is it and why?

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20 Things We Learned from Larry Cohen’s Commentary for Q the Winged Serpent http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/things-we-learned-from-commentary-q-the-winged-serpent.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/things-we-learned-from-commentary-q-the-winged-serpent.php#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:22:52 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257492 Q commentaryLarry Cohen hasn’t directed a film since 1996 (Original Gangstas), but he’s stayed busy as a writer with thrillers like Phone Booth, Best Seller and Cellular. It’s a bit of a shame as the man’s directorial touch is usually a guarantee that a movie is going to be a fun ride — think It’s Alive, The Stuff, The Ambulance — and one of his best is 1982’s flying monster movie, Q the Winged Serpent. Scream Factory released the film to Blu-ray in 2013 complete with a new commentary track from Cohen, and we decided it was time to give it a spin. It was a smart decision as the track is a fun, informative and occasionally surprising listen. Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for Q the Winged Serpent. Q the Winged Serpent (1982) Commentator: Larry Cohen (writer/director) 1. They had an early preview of the film prior to distribution, and a rumor started that it was a sneak preview of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Half the audience got up and left when they realized it was a Samuel Z. Arkoff production instead. “Nobody even gave the picture a chance. Actually except Carl Reiner and his wife. They stayed for the first scene.” 2. The opening scene is hot at the top of the Empire State Building. The window washer is played by a real window washer. 3. Cohen and David Carradine were old friends since serving in the army together. They were part of […]

"20 Things We Learned from Larry Cohen’s Commentary for Q the Winged Serpent" 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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Q commentary

Larry Cohen hasn’t directed a film since 1996 (Original Gangstas), but he’s stayed busy as a writer with thrillers like Phone Booth, Best Seller and Cellular. It’s a bit of a shame as the man’s directorial touch is usually a guarantee that a movie is going to be a fun ride — think It’s Alive, The Stuff, The Ambulance — and one of his best is 1982’s flying monster movie, Q the Winged Serpent.

Scream Factory released the film to Blu-ray in 2013 complete with a new commentary track from Cohen, and we decided it was time to give it a spin. It was a smart decision as the track is a fun, informative and occasionally surprising listen.

Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for Q the Winged Serpent.

Q the Winged Serpent (1982)

Commentator: Larry Cohen (writer/director)

1. They had an early preview of the film prior to distribution, and a rumor started that it was a sneak preview of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Half the audience got up and left when they realized it was a Samuel Z. Arkoff production instead. “Nobody even gave the picture a chance. Actually except Carl Reiner and his wife. They stayed for the first scene.”

2. The opening scene is hot at the top of the Empire State Building. The window washer is played by a real window washer.

3. Cohen and David Carradine were old friends since serving in the army together. They were part of the army transportation corp although they “never did any transportation work.” Instead the duo managed to get assigned to the chaplain’s office where Cohen wrote sermons and Carradine painted the walls. “He spent most of his time at the dentist’s office getting new teeth. Except for the time he was court-martialed for shoplifting from the PX… but acquitted, of course.”

4. Cohen recites Michael Moriarty’s resume and list of awards before sharing how he first met the actor while at lunch with someone else. Moriarty was sitting nearby and heard Cohen reciting Moriarty’s resume and list of awards. The actor smiled so Cohen took the opportunity to introduce himself and share the script.

5. This film came together pretty quickly as Cohen was already in the city filming a movie called I the Jury that was slowly falling apart due to his conflicts with the producers. “I guess you could say I got fired.” Rather than leave town he moved quickly into a new project. The two films ended up opening against each other, and Q won out at the box office.

6. Cohen found Moriarty listening to music between shots and discovered it was the actor’s own music, both piano and singing, so they decided to incorporate this into the character.

7. He notes that Bong Joon-ho was influenced by this film while making The Host. Bong was excited by the idea of mixing humor with a monster picture.

8. Cohen wanted the Chrysler Building as the creature’s nesting place, but he kept it out of the script in case it ended up being unavailable. That would have disappointed the investors. He was turned down repeatedly until the production offered the management $15k. He revisited the building a few weeks before recording this commentary, and he regrets that time and terrorism concerns have closed off these upper levels to visits.

9. They couldn’t fit the egg and nest into the Chrysler Building’s attic, so they shot these scenes in an old, abandoned police building. When they were finished shooting the crew removed everything except the nest. “Close to a year later there was an article on the front page of the New York Times,” he says, detailing a flurry of activity from anthropologists flying into town to examine a mysterious nest found in the old, abandoned police building. “I wasn’t about to say anything about it, I didn’t know what the liability might be.”

10. Shepard’s (Carradine) wife is played by Carradine’s actual wife at the time. “But I don’t think she remained his wife for very long. He had many wives, but I couldn’t use them all.” He pays his respects to the late actor, acknowledging that they had a falling out — Cohen had to fire him from a film due to excessive drinking — but had made up before Carradine’s death. “I’m sorry he had such a short life,” he says about the actor who died at the age of 76.

11. He has some words about Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s Godzilla reboot. “They more or less stole the plot to Q,” he says. He ran into Devlin before that film was released, and apparently ran away when Cohen mentioned how they both made a monster movie. Cohen took no legal action after seeing the similarities, and believes that was a wise choice as Devlin actually bought one of his scripts (Cellular) years later.

12. When they shot the scene with people firing machine guns at the beast from the top of the skyscraper the ejected shells fell eighty stories towards the streets below, but luckily they were caught by a canopy installed to prevent construction debris. Cohen expected and hoped to get footage of real people reacting in shock to the gunfire, but the civilians barely gave the commotion a glance. That didn’t stop the New York Daily News from reporting a more colorful story about poor behavior by the production. It led to Cohen being told that he couldn’t fire any more guns in the movie.

13. Cohen thinks that whole Orson Wells/War of the Worlds nationwide panic story was blown out of proportion. “I don’t think too many people listened to that radio program and really believed it,” he says. “It wasn’t that believable.”

14. Moriarty becomes the focus of Cohen’s praise several times and suggests viewers check out his single scene in The Last Detail. “If you’ve never seen anybody steal a scene from Jack Nicholson you will see it in The Last Detail.” Cohen worked with Moriarty five times — Q, The Stuff, A Return to Salem’s Lot, It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive and an episode of Masters of Horror — and he believes there’s no one better.

15. He recalls how Carradine’s career began with hints toward stardom before becoming mired in an endless string of B-movies. “He just did every part that was offered to him, probably because he needed the money. I never went to David Carradine’s home anywhere — and he had a lot of different homes — that there wasn’t a notice posted on the door from the IRS saying the property had been seized for back taxes.”

16. Cohen made sure to have his review clippings handy for this commentary and goes on to read several of the highlights.

17. The willing human sacrifice in the third act is played by Carradine’s brother, Bruce. “I don’t think he and David had the same mother.”

18. A young actor named Bruce Willis auditioned for the role of Detective Shepard, but Arkoff insisted they go with a bankable name like Carradine instead. A young comedian named Eddie Murphy was considered for Moriarty’s role, but the investors didn’t think a black unknown would do well in overseas markets.

19. The hotel sequence towards the end was shot at the Mayflower Hotel. It was full of actors including Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Robert Duvall and offered special rates for film productions. It’s since been torn down and replaced with expensive condos.

20. Cohen credits the original stage play of Wait Until Dark for “inventing” the cliche of the supposedly deceased bad guy jumping up again to scare the protagonist (and audiences).

Best in Commentary

  • “I’m Larry Cohen, and I don’t know what I’m talking about.”
  • “There’s Samuel Z. Arkoff’s name which caused us nothing but trouble.”
  • “The dog wasn’t in the script.”
  • “I wish that Carl Reiner would have stayed to see this scene, he wouldn’t have walked out.”
  • “If a bird monster was going to find a place to roost I think it would choose the Chrysler Building.”
  • “Both of these actors who are playing the gangsters went on to have nice long careers playing gangsters.”
  • “Surprisingly many NYC police officers are members of the Screen Actors Guild.”
  • “Now, we could probably have done this bird better, but, what can you say.”
  • “It’s the exact same scene as the end of the $150 million Godzilla picture. Gee, if I had that money I could have made 150 movies.”

Final Thoughts

It’s a wonder Cohen finds time to breathe as he almost never stops talking during this commentary, and it’s pretty damn amazing. He moves from production detail to anecdote to recollection to praise for his cast and crew, and he rarely stops. The result is a fun and engaging commentary that works as a fine companion to this equally entertaining little movie.

Check out more commentary commentary in the Commentary Commentary archives

"20 Things We Learned from Larry Cohen’s Commentary for Q the Winged Serpent" 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 Trevor Noah, The New Host of The Daily Show http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/trevor-noah-the-daily-show.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/trevor-noah-the-daily-show.php#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:00:14 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257525 Trevor NoahThe third host The Daily Show has finally be named, so who is he?

"Meet Trevor Noah, The New Host of The Daily Show" 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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Trevor Noah

Comedy Central

Our long national nightly nightmare is over: The Daily Show has picked its Jon Stewart replacement. Despite the recent exodus of long-time contributors like Samantha Bee and Jason Jones and the relatively unavailability of former stars like John Oliver and Stephen Colbert, the Comedy Central series has managed to lock down an actually (kind of) familiar face for the gig: newbie contributor Trevor Noah. Rumors of Noah’s hiring hit the wire late last week, and The New York Times now reports that Noah will indeed take over Stewart’s job when the beloved host leaves later this year (as of now, it’s unclear when that transfer will actually happen).

Despite the seemingly shocking news of Stewart’s departure back in February, the long-term host’s decision to step down came as little surprise to anyone aware of Stewart’s obvious interest in focusing his attentions on filmmaking (Stewart, quite memorably, took time off from the show to make his Rosewater, allowing fill-in host Oliver to really show off his skills behind the desk) and the somewhat diminished energy he brought to the nightly series upon his return. Also not shocked by the news? Comedy Central, which reportedly had a short list of possible replacements already on hand. The search for a replacement has been mostly low-key, despite the twisting of a persistent rumor that Jessica Williams could take over into something as gross as this piece (that this post is filed under “sexist bullshit” still sets my blood on fire — what’s more sexist than assuming a professional woman doesn’t have a handle on her own career?). But anyway!

So who is Trevor Noah? He’s a thirty-one-year-old South African comedian who has only appeared on The Daily Show three times since December, but he’s also uniquely qualified for a job that requires both humor and authority in equal measure.

Noah first joined The Daily Show late last year, when a markedly excited Steward introduced him as a new contributor to the show. Stewart didn’t go to deep into Noah’s background during his first introduction, but the South African native has quite a varied resume, including turns on a soap opera, his own radio show, an educational program (perfect, right?), a variety of hosting gigs (from gossip outings to sports shows, dating shows to a dance competition), and a ton of stand-up gigs. Noah may be young, but he’s already tried his hand at a mess of different formats that speak to the needs of his new job: hosting and comedy with a timely edge (for Noah, much of his humor hinges on issues of race, which suits The Daily Show just fine).

Here is Noah’s first appearance on the show, from back in December, during which the comedian showed off a love for bad puns and an ability to poke fun at mostly horrific topics like apartheid, Ebola, and the state of the American infrastructure:

In January, Noah returned to the show to discuss Boko Haram — and the general lack of awareness surrounding the terrorism organization’s worst crimes in Africa — in a manner that so gently walked the line between funny and genuinely upsetting that it was, quite honestly, hard to shake.

Earlier this month, Noah reported on America’s plans to buy foreign chess masters — nerd-cenaries, as Stewart deemed them — in order to win important chess competitions against other countries more capable of actually breeding and raising wily chess players:

Noah turned his professional focus to comedy a few years ago, and his YouTube page is filled with plenty of videos from his stand-up routines, including hits from his two best-known specials, “Trevor Noah: The Racist” and “Trevor Noah: African American.” Here are some samples:

In 2012, Noah was even the subject of his very own documentary, You Laugh But It’s True, which basically describes his brand of humor to a tee. The film chronicles the lead-up to Noah’s very first one-man show, and oh look, you can watch it on Netflix right now. Need more? Our own former contributor Matt Patches points us to this 2013 interview with Noah from The Leonard Lopate Show. Noah may be young, but he’s also got an enviable resume and a fearless ability to poke fun at (and holes in) news items that would make other comedians uncomfortable — and that’s exactly what The Daily Show requires.

"Meet Trevor Noah, The New Host of The Daily Show" 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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Broken Projector: Smoke Monster and Mirrors http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/broken-projector-smoke-monster-and-mirrors.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/broken-projector-smoke-monster-and-mirrors.php#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:00:30 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257504 Smoke MonsterShould TV shows and movies with mysteries at their hearts reveal their answers or is it better to let the top spin? What’s the right balance in making your audience wonder and making your audience gasp at the answers? Geoff and I will consider these questions with Lost, Agatha Christie and Inception in tow. Plus, Geoff offers a 4-layer dip for categorizing mysterious stories. We’ll call it the Oldboy Upstream Color Spectrum until someone else comes up with a better name. The bigger question on the show this week is whether we want the things we think we want. With new episodes of The X-Files coming soon, and so much geek culture co-opted, repackaged and dumped on our doorsteps, it’s starting to seem like the disappointments outweigh the anticipation. Our big finish is a conversation with Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the filmmakers behind the romance-horror Spring, where a misguided old monster and a misguided young monster help each other while falling in love. It’s as if Linklater and Cronenberg had a baby (with dragon wings and squid arms). You should follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Download Episode #90 Directly Or subscribe through iTunes On This Week’s Show: We Learned Nothing This Week [0:00 – 0:00] Unsolved Stories [0:00 – 20:00] What We Think We Want [20:00 – 42:30] Sprung (w/ Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson) [42:30 – 59:00] Heroes of the Week [59:00 – 60:00] Get In Touch With Us: Ask Us Your Screenwriting […]

"Broken Projector: Smoke Monster and Mirrors" 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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Spring Movie

Should TV shows and movies with mysteries at their hearts reveal their answers or is it better to let the top spin? What’s the right balance in making your audience wonder and making your audience gasp at the answers? Geoff and I will consider these questions with Lost, Agatha Christie and Inception in tow. Plus, Geoff offers a 4-layer dip for categorizing mysterious stories. We’ll call it the Oldboy Upstream Color Spectrum until someone else comes up with a better name.

The bigger question on the show this week is whether we want the things we think we want. With new episodes of The X-Files coming soon, and so much geek culture co-opted, repackaged and dumped on our doorsteps, it’s starting to seem like the disappointments outweigh the anticipation.

Our big finish is a conversation with Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the filmmakers behind the romance-horror Spring, where a misguided old monster and a misguided young monster help each other while falling in love. It’s as if Linklater and Cronenberg had a baby (with dragon wings and squid arms).

You should follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis.

Download Episode #90 Directly

Or subscribe through iTunes

On This Week’s Show:

  • We Learned Nothing This Week [0:00 – 0:00]
  • Unsolved Stories [0:00 – 20:00]
  • What We Think We Want [20:00 – 42:30]
  • Sprung (w/ Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson) [42:30 – 59:00]
  • Heroes of the Week [59:00 – 60:00]

Get In Touch With Us:

  • Call Broken Projector: (512) 212-1301

Subscribe on iTunesSubscribe on StitcherFollow on Twitter

"Broken Projector: Smoke Monster and Mirrors" 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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Twilight Time Finds Love and Death in Four Films From the ’60s and ’70s http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/twilight-time-february-2015.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/twilight-time-february-2015.php#comments Sat, 28 Mar 2015 04:24:58 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257217 Twilight TimeTwilight Time released five titles in February, and while their monthly selections never really have an official theme between them four of the films share something of a common thread this time — the importance of love and the inevitability of death. To Sir, With Love follows a reluctant teacher’s efforts to empower teenagers to respect others and themselves, and he wins their hearts in the process. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is Roger Corman’s take on one of the more infamous gangland killings from the ’20s. Lenny features Dustin Hoffman in Bob Fosse’s biographical film about famed and troubled comedian Lenny Bruce. Finally, and fittingly, Woody Allen’s Love and Death is about both of those things. I haven’t seen the fifth title, Stormy Weather, so we’ll just have to presume that someone in it loves and/or dies. To Sir, With Love (1967) Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) is an engineer in search of an engineering job in late ’60s London, but with no real prospects he accepts a teaching job at a tough high school in the city’s rough and tumble East End. The students see no reason to respect adult authority, and the other teachers see no reason to treat the kids as anything but children. Thackeray takes a different tact, instead attempting to create a classroom built on mutual respect, but it’s not an easy road to travel. This sweetly affirmative film is remembered by many for Lulu’s title song, but it’s more than simply a vehicle for a […]

"Twilight Time Finds Love and Death in Four Films From the ’60s and ’70s" 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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Twilight Time

Twilight Time

Twilight Time released five titles in February, and while their monthly selections never really have an official theme between them four of the films share something of a common thread this time — the importance of love and the inevitability of death.

To Sir, With Love follows a reluctant teacher’s efforts to empower teenagers to respect others and themselves, and he wins their hearts in the process. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is Roger Corman’s take on one of the more infamous gangland killings from the ’20s. Lenny features Dustin Hoffman in Bob Fosse’s biographical film about famed and troubled comedian Lenny Bruce. Finally, and fittingly, Woody Allen’s Love and Death is about both of those things.

I haven’t seen the fifth title, Stormy Weather, so we’ll just have to presume that someone in it loves and/or dies.

TO SIR bluTo Sir, With Love (1967)

Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) is an engineer in search of an engineering job in late ’60s London, but with no real prospects he accepts a teaching job at a tough high school in the city’s rough and tumble East End. The students see no reason to respect adult authority, and the other teachers see no reason to treat the kids as anything but children. Thackeray takes a different tact, instead attempting to create a classroom built on mutual respect, but it’s not an easy road to travel.

This sweetly affirmative film is remembered by many for Lulu’s title song, but it’s more than simply a vehicle for a top ten pop hit. Just as Dangerous Minds (and Jim Belushi’s The Principal!) would do years later, the film focuses on someone who successfully bridges the gap between generations in order to show the importance of education — not book-learning so much as real-world learning. It’s rarely overly cheesy and instead manages a sincere, heartfelt tone.

The core strength of the film is present in Poitier’s powerful yet restrained performance. He’s a charismatic actor with more than a few roles that saw him as a man pushed to a verbal breaking point, and while the stakes here aren’t as severe as the life or death ones faced in something like In the Heat of the Night they still feel every bit as important. Poitier imbues Thackeray with real responsibility — personal, professional, societal — and that intense care comes through in his performance.

Twilight Time’s Blu-ray features two commentaries — including a fun one with Judy Geeson — five featurettes, an isolated score track and a theatrical trailer. The image is grainy by design but sharp in close-ups, and all of it combined makes for the label’s best February release.

[Buy it from Screen Archives here.]

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VALENTINES DAY bluThe St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967)

’20s Chicago is a place where prohibition has met its match — gangsters turn the streets red on a daily basis as competition and corruption lead to gun fights and organized assassinations. The massacre of the title is one of the latter, a real life event, and the film explores the days leading up to the slaughter as it moves between competing criminal factions including Al Capone, Bugs Moran and other recognizable gangsters (as played by Jason Robards, George Segal, Bruce Dern and other recognizable faces).

Roger Corman’s ode to the tommy gun-toting underworld is a mix of narrative and documentary filmmaking — it’s similar to 1976’s The Town that Dreaded Sundown with narration and character introductions throughout meant to walk viewers through every purportedly true detail of the incident, but that commonality extends to the film’s overall feel. It’s cold and impersonal with characters and events that seem detached, and the strongest scenes are the centerpiece ones focused on the action and killing.

Happily Corman knows his way around violent cinema, and the film delivers more than a few bloody demises. Gore aside, the action sequences are well-crafted and shot with a bigger eye than many of his earlier films too making for some visually exciting scenes. They pop enough to make the dialogue exchanges feel perfunctory by comparison.

Twilight Time’s Blu-ray features an isolated score track, a theatrical trailer, a few minutes of archival footage showing the real gangsters and a brief interview with Corman discussing the film’s production. The picture looks good sharpness-wise, but the colors feel a bit washed out — that may very well be a part of the “faux-documentary” feel though.

[Buy it from Screen Archives here.]

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LENNY bluLenny (1974)

Lenny Bruce (Dustin Hoffman) was a stand-up comedian by trade and a social provocateur by design until his death in 1968, and while he was revered by some and reviled by others there wasn’t a soul who knew (of) him who didn’t have some kind of opinion. He pushed audiences to — and beyond — their limits, and he did the same to those in his life.

Bob Fosse’s film eschews typical biographical format to jump around in Bruce’s adult life as informed by his wife’s recollections, and it moves back and forth between his early career and final days. The trouble comes from two areas that lead to the same result — both the fractured format and Honey’s POV keeps us removed from a more personal, developing narrative. To be clear, it delves into Bruce’s personal struggles, but it’s from an outside source.

Structural/narrative problems aside, Hoffman is pretty spectacular here. He’s played the straight-talking and brusk guy before, but past characters with that trait have usually had an ulterior motive — Bruce simply wants to provoke. Hoffman portrays that non-violent aggression with a dangerous edge that keeps the film watchable despite its flaws.

Twilight Time’s Blu-ray features a commentary, an isolated score track and two trailers. The film is in black and white which goes a long way in helping the image appear sharp (when not intentionally feeling hazy with smoke and drug-addled memories).

[Buy it from Screen Archives here.]

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LOVE DEATH bluLove and Death (1975)

Boris Grushenko (Woody Allen) is about to die, so it seems like the ideal time to tell his life story. He’s a poor Russian schmuck leading a life that sees him frequently questioning his own mortality — something he knows even as a young man is far from a certainty. As Napoleon makes himself an uninvited guest (along with his army) Boris’ focus becomes the love of his life, his cousin Sonja (Diane Keaton), who’s planning to marry an older, more established (and unrelated) suitor. With the promise and threat of war looming, the kissing cousins discuss and debate existential issues with a casual bent.

I’m on record as being far more a fan of Allen’s early films (Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask, The Purple Rose of Cairo) than his later, more critically-acclaimed ones (Blue Jasmine, Magic in the Moonlight) — his pure comedies work for me on a more consistent basis than his later character comedy/dramas. (Although my favorite Allen film is Match Point so, yeah.)

The film goes broad and slapsticky at times, but the biggest laughs come from angsty back and forth conversations, historical riffs and Allen’s well-timed delivery. Comedy is the film’s biggest strength, but there’s something to be said for the “big” feel of it all as the historical period and ongoing war add a grand atmosphere to the proceedings. Less effective are the actual story and characters who feel slight even by Allen’s ’70s standards.

Twilight Time’s Blu-ray features an isolated score track and two trailers. The image is fine

[Buy it from Screen Archives here.]

"Twilight Time Finds Love and Death in Four Films From the ’60s and ’70s" 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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This Surreal Sci-Fi Movie is the Next Short Being Turned Into a Feature http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/sundays-short.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/sundays-short.php#comments Sat, 28 Mar 2015 03:32:15 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257419 SundaysMischa Rozema's surreal sci-fi effort Sundays is blatantly inspired by Terrence Malick and Christopher Nolan

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Sundays

PostPanic

Either this is a really good week for short film directors looking to adapt their work as a feature or this is simply going to be a common thing. Sundays is the third short this week to be announced for an expanded effort, following The Leviathan and Realm. Actually, though, all three are better described as proof-of-concept teasers than actual short films. They don’t really tell stories so much as set up worlds and/or characters. Sundays is more of the former, a look at a surreal science fiction ideas without a strong narrative. It’s mood more than movie. And it’s clearly influenced by Terrence Malick and Christopher Nolan.

The 14-minute short hit Vimeo a week ago, went viral and according to Deadline the studios hungrily went after Dutch filmmaker Mischa Rozema for the rights to the feature that he saw Sundays as a first step towards. Warner Bros. won the bidding. The project began with a Kickstarter campaign nearly three years ago, from which more than $50k was raised for what looks like yet another indie movie created primarily with a computer. That’s fitting for Sundays, which is inspired by the concept of the singularity. I don’t know if I’d have known that just by watching the film. There’s a lot you get better when reading the extensive synopsis, in fact, and that’s not really a good thing.

Rozema is hardly an amateur. He’s been doing commercials and other shorts for decades. But while he shows a lot of visionary promise, for the feature-length version of Sundays I really hope he can collaborate with some better writers and work on his human elements. Warner Bros. will likely want something clearer than what’s on screen in the short anyway.

Watch the short version of Sundays below. And then read the original long synopsis that sort of explains it.

A dreamy sequence. Open on the sun. A massive sun flare shoots out. Mexico City. A little kid looks up and sees multiple planes drop out of the sky. Our lead looks out his high rise apartment window; all the city lights go out. In the dark background a few comets rain down. Suddenly all communication stops.

A new day.

Our protagonist works at a software and robotics company. A talented software developer.  Has a nice family. Lives in Mexico City but is American.

There’s a certain strangeness to the world he occupies but we can’t quite put our finger on it. For now we act like it’s Mexico City in the near future; a bilingual huge post modern city with big social extremes. The world is being surveilled and maybe even guided but we don’t know by who or what. The people don’t even seem to notice or mind this clear difference to our reality. The sun’s light is different and very present.

Family life and career seem to be going the right direction until a piece of space debris crashes through the office and takes away his cubicle along with 2 of his colleagues. When he comes home he seems a different person. He starts to see the world around him differently, questioning. When he’s in the bathroom, ready to go to bed, he pulls out a huge piece of space debris from the back of his neck. Wondering but telling no one, not even his wife.

We also get to know a poor Mexican female factory worker doing her shifts in the same factory in sterile surroundings. She has a radiation accident without anyone witnessing. She also starts to behave differently.

Together they start a search for truths.

The more they search, the more questions they find; this world is slowly revealing itself as a very strange place. They even start to doubt their own lives. What about the holes in their memories? Major events are just not there.

There are forces attempting to silence him as he gets closer to the truth. Our lead grows more paranoid as he is followed by complete strangers. Who are they?

One day the Mexican woman mysteriously disappears. Later on our lead thinks he sees her, following her past the city’s borders where he makes a strange discovery: that outside of town, civilization has eroded. There’s nothing except nondescript, unfinished structures and landscapes. Some are merely facades, others simply concrete boxes. Whole mountain ranges look low poly and very abstract, only looking good from a certain distance. It’s as though we’re looking at an unfinished render of our planet. Our lead is rapidly becoming aware that the world as he knows it, the world he thinks he knows, is a lie. Everything we’ve seen before us throughout the story is simply an emulation of humanity. A copy of the world right before the solar flare. 

But like any copy; it has flaws. 

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SPECTRE Trailer: James Bond Has a Secret http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/spectre-trailer-james-bond-is-back.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/spectre-trailer-james-bond-is-back.php#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 23:50:09 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257460 Spectre poster imageCheck out Christop Waltz as the latest Bond villain, introduced in shadow, of course

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The first teaser for the new James Bond movie, Spectre, has arrived, and it’s sort of got our first look at Christoph Waltz as the latest villain. He’s cloaked in shadow, but he does apparently have hair, so maybe he’s not Blofeld after all? Before that we see the return of Daniel Craig as 007, Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny and Jesper Christensen as Mr. White, who we haven’t seen since Quantum of Solace. Also Bond has a secret, Spectre has some cool rings and Waltz’s voice in a trailer can still make me excited for the movies.

See Spectre, directed by Sam Mendes, in theaters on November 6, 2015.

Here’s information about the upcoming installment revealed last year:

The film, from Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Sony Pictures Entertainment, is directed by Sam Mendes and stars Daniel Craig, who returns for his fourth film as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007. SPECTRE begins principal photography on Monday, December 8, and is set for global release on November 6, 2015.

Along with Daniel Craig, Mendes presented the returning cast, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw and Rory Kinnear as well as introducing Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci and Andrew Scott. Mendes also revealed Bond’s sleek new Aston Martin, the DB10, created exclusively for SPECTRE.

A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

The 007 production will be based at Pinewood Studios, and on location in London, Mexico City, Rome and Tangier and Erfoud, in Morocco. Bond will return to the snow once again, this time in Sölden, along with other Austrian locations, Obertilliach, and Lake Altaussee.

Commenting on the announcement, Wilson and Broccoli said, “We’re excited to announce Daniel’s fourth installment in the series and thrilled that Sam has taken on the challenge of following on the success of SKYFALL with SPECTRE.”

Written by John Logan and Neal Purvis & Robert Wade, Director of Photography is Hoyte van Hoytema and Editor is Lee Smith. Production Designer, Dennis Gassner returns along with Costume Designer, Jany Temime and Composer, Thomas Newman. Action Specialist, Alexander Witt is the 2nd Unit Director. Stunt Coordinator is Gary Powell, SFX Supervisor is Chris Corbould, and Visual Effects Supervisor is Steve Begg.

Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, was a worldwide box office phenomenon, opening #1 in 70 territories around the world, taking over $1.1 billion worldwide and setting a new all-time box office record in the UK by becoming the first film to take over £100 million.

"SPECTRE Trailer: James Bond Has a Secret" 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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Transformers Spinoffs Will More Than Meet the Ire of Expanded Universe Haters http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/transformers-expanded-universe.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/transformers-expanded-universe.php#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 22:33:15 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257452 Paramount PicturesCould we eventually get a crossover between the Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises?

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Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Don’t tell me you’re surprised. Every franchise is becoming an expanded universe now, and of course Transformers is finally hopping on board the band wagon. Deadline reports that Paramount is aiming for more, more, more. And not bothering to ask how do you like it. The studio is looking to Akiva Goldsman, the Oscar-winning writer of Batman & Robin and Angels & Demons (neither of which got him the award) to come up with ideas for Transformers sequels and spinoffs. The sequels will be of the multi-part cliffhanger sort, obviously. There’s not much better to hope for, you know, a series of blockbusters based solely around toys and explosions.

Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg and Lorenzo di Bonaventura are all still involved with the franchise, and Bay is still set to direct Transformers 5 (which is probably the two-parter) as long as it’s ready when he’s done making the Benghazi drama 13 Hours. That next installment has a release date of June 24, 2016, and that seems awfully soon if there’s no script written yet. But perhaps if they move quick enough and have something in place for Bay to pick up all ready to go he can at least do part of a movie to be released sometime next year and then deliver a conclusion at a later time. Goldsman, meanwhile, is not expected to be the writer of any of the movies, just possibly serve as a Kevin Feige-type master planner.

What could the spinoffs entail? A Dinobots movie? A prequel set on Cybertron? For me, a solo origin story of T.J. Miller’s character from Transformers: Age of Extinction, who deserved more screen time? Many are of course wondering if there’ll be room for a G.I. Joe crossover, as has been done before in the comics. I think there will be, and not just because last year di Bonaventura told Total Film it’s a possibility, albeit not one anyone had been talking about for the near future. As for crossovers with other Hasbro-based properties, I’d be down with Transformers Meet Battleship, but only if Bay and Peter Berg co-direct for their own battle of the flag-waving filmmakers. Too bad those properties are not at the same studio.

"Transformers Spinoffs Will More Than Meet the Ire of Expanded Universe Haters" 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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Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn Team-up for Heist Remake http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/steve-mcqueen-and-gillian-flynn.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/steve-mcqueen-and-gillian-flynn.php#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:00:53 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257449 American Broadcasting CompanyThe duo are adapting the 1983 UK series 'Widows,' which was previously remade in the US for television

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American Broadcasting Company

American Broadcasting Company

If you’re unfamiliar with the 1983 British miniseries Widows, then you’re probably just a regular American. The six-episode program aired on ITV and was very popular, but as far as I can tell wasn’t distributed in the US then nor with its two follow-ups in 1985 and 1995, titled Widows 2 and She’s Out, respectively. You’re probably also unfamiliar with the much-less-successful American remake, which aired on ABC in 2002 and starred Mercedes Ruhl, Brooke Shields, Rosie Perez and N’Bushe Wright.

If both things are true, you’ll have no problem with another remake coming our way, especially given the talent involved. Steve McQueen, whose 12 Years a Slave won the Oscar for Best Picture last year, is directing a feature film version of the story. And he’s co-writing the adaptation with Gone Girl author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn. The movie doesn’t seem to be using the Widows title, or at least isn’t sure to be using the same name at this juncture.

The plot, either way, involves a heist gone wrong, during which three men are killed trying to pull off a job on an armored vehicle (in the US version it’s art theft). Their wives find the plans and decide to attempt the heist themselves, with help from a fourth woman. There’s a twist, of course, and it leads into the second series. I wouldn’t be surprised if McQueen and Flynn combine the first two parts as one. I don’t see McQueen being a sequel guy, though New Regency, the production company on board, might be thinking of franchise potential.

Fynn, who is also involved in a Strangers on a Train remake and has talked about wanting to do a Gone Girl 2, might be more inclined to see the UK version’s narrative through to the end or further. Not that She’s Out, which takes place a decade later and mostly has new characters, has any necessity.

Check out the first episode of the UK version of Widows below.

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Foreign Remakes and an Assumption About American Cultural Literacy http://filmschoolrejects.com/opinions/foreign-remakes-and-an-assumption-about-american-cultural-literacy.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/opinions/foreign-remakes-and-an-assumption-about-american-cultural-literacy.php#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:41:40 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257421 Force Majeure MovieWhenever a studio or producer remakes a foreign hit for American audiences, they make an assumption about what American's can tolerate.

"Foreign Remakes and an Assumption About American Cultural Literacy" 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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Force Majeure Movie

The most prevalent photo from Force Majeure is the shot of the avalanche coming down the mountain toward the blissful vacationers. The one above — featuring what appears to be Swedish Jason Sudeikis, Norwegian Bridget Moynahan and two children who hate oral hygiene — is far closer to the spirit of the film. It’s a slow trek uphill before the big catastrophe that sets everything in motion, and even after that, it’s a testament to how funny/nerve-shearing awkward silences can be. The avalanche isn’t just the biggest action of the movie, it’s the only action, and that will undoubtedly change when it’s remade by Fox Searchlight. Not that they’ll add explosions, or anything. They’ll simply have to add more more energy. Force Majeure is a movie where the scenarios are quiet, and the audience is loud.

Scoring Julia Louis-Dreyfus for the project is an eyebrow raiser in the best way (so hopefully that sticks), and there’s promise, but I’ll eat Werner Herzog’s shoe if they keep in the stunning amount of silence and uncomfortable build-up that the original has. I’d even be surprised if they resist giving the married couple at the heart of the movie more backstory. Or resist squeezing into a tighter three-act structure where the outcome has more significance and meaning than the original’s microcosm nudging finale.

I understand the temptation to quickly remake foreign films with momentum, but every time it happens I pick up the distinct implication that producers assume a fundamental gap in American movie literacy. This thing is great, but you won’t watch it, so we’ll change the wrapper so that you will.

After all, what’s the point of remaking a 2014 Franco-Scandanavian comedy if not to repackage it in a way that you think will resonate more with Americans? Americans don’t like movies in not-English, so make it in English. American like familiar faces, so hire familiar faces. Americans don’t like slow-burns with large segments focused on scenery, so punch it up and give it more energy.

That last one is an assumption, too, but it’s not outlandish, and you get the point. It’s a situation where the movie and its idea were big enough successes to score name-recognition points but not successful enough to score bigger box office points as is.

On that front, let’s look to Let the Right One In for a moment. It was a foreign movie practically made for remaking, and it existed at the beginning of a new trend in co-opting dramas and in the middle of a long history of co-opting horror from other shores. It scored $11m, and most fans scoffed when a remake was announced so quickly. Let Me In got a familiar cast, an Americanized location, and the original was already structured in a horror style Americans are familiar with (which added to the confusion over why it would be remade at all, except how scary subtitles are). Then a funny thing happened. At $24m, it barely made back its budget, so from a financial standpoint, remaking it was a terrible idea, but from an artistic standpoint, Matt Reeves managed to justify the decision by making a gorgeous, thrilling, different-enough entry. Life’s little ironies.

(Also, remaking foreign movies is rarely a slam dunk from a financial perspective anyway, but studios keep doing it.)

Force Majeure is a different animal in a few ways. The most pressing is that it’s a comedy — a fact only magnified by the tone, structure and source (i.e. the vulnerability created by traditional masculinity’s impossible standard) of this particular movie’s laughs.

Of course there are cultural differences inherent in watching movies from other countries, but that’s part of the enjoyment — discovering something new, challenging tired formulas and doing it all with the safety net that somebody finds it funny/moving. Even if you don’t share the appreciation, you can find out why it works for others fairly easily.

As you might have guessed by now, the twist here is that I don’t necessarily disagree with the assumption producers of foreign remakes are making. We Americans don’t watch enough foreign films. We just don’t. The truth is that Force Majeure has already been released here, and it’s not like we ran red lights in order to get to the theater. Fox Searchlight also wasn’t its distributor so scoring remake rights is the best option for a group interested in profiting from a movie that already exists without being able to profit from it directly. Maybe they like the name recognition, or maybe they simply like the core idea and want to build a comedy around it that works for a local audience.

There are a lot of factors involved in these decisions (and who knows if what I’m assuming will be called The Avalanche or The Ski Trip will even get made), but at the core of each of these foreign remakes is at least a hint at an ugly truth about an American unwillingness to see movies that aren’t our own.

"Foreign Remakes and an Assumption About American Cultural Literacy" 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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Everything is Right With This First Look at Deadpool in Costume http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/deadpool-costume-ryan-reynolds.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/news/deadpool-costume-ryan-reynolds.php#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:29:20 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257441 deadpool-featOur first look at the Merc with a Mouth is absolutely glorious.

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deadpool-first-look

“With great power comes great irresponsibility.”

That’s the caption left on this photo by Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, who revealed this first look at the titular character’s official costume via Twitter today.

Everything about this image is right. The costume is looking sharp — a very classic Deadpool look that is very much in line with the test footage released last year by Reynolds and director Tim Miller. The tone is also perfect. If Deadpool the character were introducing himself to the world, this feels about like the way he’d do it.

There are two things we have learned here:

  1. Reynolds and Miller are keeping everything wonderfully in line with our greatest expectations for Deadpool. Look, tone, everything.
  2. It’s going to be fun to see more as we get closer to the February 12, 2016 release.

If you’re excited, that’s the appropriate response.

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It’s Time To Let Go Of Your Mad Men Theories For Good http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/mad-men-theories.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/mad-men-theories.php#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:00:57 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=257352 Mad MenYour Mad Men theories are wrong. So are everybody else's.

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Mad Men

AMC

Your Mad Men theories are not going to come true. My Mad Men theories are not going to come true. Collectively, the world’s Mad Men theories are not going to come true.

The venerable AMC series is finally coming to a close in mere weeks, as the second half of its final season kicks off on April 5, giving us just seven more episodes until the entire thing is over. It’s the end of an era, the taglines tell us, but more than that, it’s almost the end of Mad Men theorizing. Overanalyzing Mad Men has been a beloved pastime for entire years now, with whole theories built on slim slices like teaser trailers, images from opening credits, and even the cut of someone’s coat. The vast majority of these theories – especially the bigger, crazier, and more earth-shattering ones – have not come true. And they’re not going to.

When the sixth season of Mad Men wrapped up in June of 2013, I examined some of the better, wackier, and just plain bonkers-ier theories surrounding the series. With just one season left, it seemed high time for Weiner’s show to dish out what its most rabid fanbase apparently wanted (if, in fact, that show was going to go in that direction). Still, even before the series entered it final season, I had mostly tossed aside the – admittedly, really excellent and intriguing – theory that Megan Draper was either going to a) become a Sharon Tate stand-in or b) simply be otherwise inserted into the Manson Family Murders. (Of all the theories that have sprung from the series, this one was my very favorite.)

As the show’s penultimate season ended, there were at least five major theories being floated, from total game-changers to small details. A few of them ended up being true. Most of them didn’t.

The most popular theory of all is that Don dies at the end of the series, a theory mostly backed up by the “falling man” that floats across the screen – and has always floated across the screen – during the show’s opening credits. If there’s one theory worth holding on to, it’s this one, if only because it’s the one with the most wiggle room in terms of timing, as the theory itself entails that we wait for the very last episode to see if it comes true. Yet, considering that the series has already staged one majorly shocking partner death (RIP, Lane Pryce) and taken actual body parts from other characters (small spoiler: Ken’s eyepatch comes off in the newest episode, and the results are shocking), it seems both shocking and cheap that the whole thing would lead up to the death of Don Draper.

Other post-season six theories posited that Peggy would become Head of Creative (she didn’t, but she did get a bigger job), that at least part of the company would move to California (they did…for a bit), or that Don would never return to SC&P (didn’t happen). The returns on these particular bits of speculation aren’t strong.

There’s also another theory to explore, one that is on the same level as Megan-is-Sharon-Draper, and one that – although just as intriguing and compelling as that theory is/was – will never come true. Matthew Weiner’s series has always incorporated actual history into the series, though it has only occasionally changed history to fit its narrative (for example, whenever a big name product or company becomes and SC&P client, that automatically negates the real-life relationship they had with another ad agency). Changing the identity of one of the world’s most famous murder victims (Sharon Tate) to suit the series was never going to happen, and deciding that Don Draper would ultimately become American folk legend and plane hijacker D.B. Cooper is not going to happen either.

Mad Men touches the edges of history, it doesn’t change its fabric.

Back in January, Weiner himself said as much in an interview with HitFix, telling the outlet:

“And the Sharon Tate thing, you know, it’s so flimsy and thin, and at the same time, I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of coincidence.’ I don’t know what to tell you. I would like to think that people would know that the show’s striving for historical accuracy that I would not add a person who was not murdered by the Manson family into that murder. So that in itself is the dumbest argument in the world for me. But I love that people have conspiracy theories, that they have all this other stuff, and I don’t know what to tell you. I immerse myself in ’60s culture from a literary and historical point of view. I’m not a historian. Maybe some of the stuff is just happening, you know.”

And, yes, while you could read that quote as one that only applies to the Tate thing, you can also read it in a more plain-faced manner (emphasis mine): “I would like to think that people would know that the show’s striving for historical accuracy that I would not add a person who was not murdered by the Manson family into that murder. So that in itself is the dumbest argument in the world for me.”

The dumbest argument in the world. Let those theories go, people, and just enjoy the rest of the ride (sorry about wanting you to die, Megan).

"It’s Time To Let Go Of Your Mad Men Theories For Good" 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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Don’t Get Hard If You Don’t Have To http://filmschoolrejects.com/reviews/get-hard-review.php http://filmschoolrejects.com/reviews/get-hard-review.php#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:45:57 +0000 http://filmschoolrejects.com/?p=256949 get-hard-posterWill Ferrell and Kevin Hart get... mostly offensive.

"Don’t Get Hard If You Don’t Have To" 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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Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart in Get Hard

Warner Bros.

In a strange twist of fate, I find myself writing this afternoon about Will Ferrell’s most lukewarm performance to-date in Get Hard. This is after spending the morning gushing over Amy Schumer in Trainwreck and comparing her career trajectory to that of a young Ferrell. It’s an accurate assessment, though. Young Will Ferrell was a comedic force to be reckoned with, while the Will Ferrell of today is a lot more hit-or-miss. What’s most telling is that his hits have mostly been smaller parts and producer credits while the misses have been the his headlining affairs.

We can safely chalk Get Hard up as a miss for a number of reasons.

The product of a script by longtime Ferrell collaborator Adam McKay, Key and Peele writers Jay Martel and Ian Roberts, and director Etan Cohen (co-writer of Tropic Thunder), *Get Hard begins as if it has something interesting to say. It’s the story of millionaire broker James King (Ferrell), who is hit with major fraud charges and is sentenced to 10 years in prison. Out of sheer terror, he turns to Darnell (Kevin Hart), the man who washes his car for advice on how to survive prison.

In one of its opening sequences, Get Hard shows a horizontal split screen in which various people are getting ready for and traveling to work. On the top we see rich investment bankers putting on their suits and getting into their Mercedes Benzes. On the bottom we see Latina women in maids uniforms getting on a bus. This is a movie about inequality, we’re led to believe. It’s about a rich guy who has screwed over a bunch of honest people and we’re about to watch him get screwed back for almost 2 hours.

Only it’s not that movie. This is a comedy vehicle for Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart. The film is thoroughly lobotomized in a wash of racial stereotypes and homophobic prison rape paranoia. It gets a few laughs, but it never gets to the point.

Get Hard can’t escape the race issue. There’s no surprise that an audience member called the film “racist as f**k” in a question for director Etan Cohen during the Q&A following the SXSW premiere. It plays strongly with racial stereotypes. Sometimes it works, including a moment when Kevin Hart’s character gives a white power gang a piece of his mind. Sometimes it doesn’t, including a scene in which Hart simulating a prison yard with an especially stereotypical hispanic impression. The entire punchline of the film — in which Hart’s black protagonist is the upstanding citizen and not an ex-con as Ferrell’s character sees him — is based on stereotypes.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the movie had stuck to its original message. To turn racial stereotypes around and say something interesting about inequality (while being funny along the way) would have been a worthwhile endeavor. Instead, Get Hard discards any social themes and strings together a 100-minute homophobic paranoia joke. In one scene — which is likely what earned the movie an initial NC–17 rating before being cut — Will Ferrell spends several minutes learning how to perform a blowjob with the help of a creepy stranger (Matt Walsh). The scene goes on longer than necessary and beyond the shock value of Will Ferrell smashing his face into another man’s penis, doesn’t serve any purpose other than to punctuate an overused and frankly offensive theme. I’m no prude — in fact, I’ve still got my green hat and I’m ready to streak with Will Ferrell from Old School — but this all just seems unnecessary.

Don’t get me wrong, Ferrell and Hart are fun together. They get some laughs because individually they are very funny and together they have solid chemistry. But it’s hard not to wish that they were teaming up in a smarter movie.

It is sad that a movie like this gets to hide behind the fact that it’s a dumb comedy. It should not be afforded that luxury. Get Hard recklessly deals with serious issues like inequality, racism and the people who caused our most recent financial crisis. It’s been proven time and time again that comedy can be used as a force for good. In this instance, it’s not even a force for average.

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