Movie News

2014review_docs_fsr

2014 is the year documentaries began to take over. At least this seemed to be the case. The most acclaimed fiction film of the year, Boyhood, has primarily been praised for its nonfictional element of showing the actual 12-year growth of its cast. Another critical favorite is Under the Skin, a sci-fi/horror film that prominently features non-actors interacting with its protagonist, unknowingly captured with hidden cameras. Then there’s the footage from The Dust Bowl in Interstellar, the footage from Baraka and Samsara in Lucy and documentary material in Selma, Godzilla and Foxcatcher. Meanwhile, some of the best nonfiction films of 2014 veer into fiction film territory. Although this kind of blurring of real and scripted isn’t new, docs like Robert Greene‘s Actress and Roberto Minervini‘s Stop the Pounding Heart continue to find creative new ways of mixing up modes of storytelling as the most appropriate way of exploring and presenting certain subjects. More and more docs are playing like cinema rather than term papers, giving us works that are thrilling, beautiful, funny, frightening — entertaining as well as enlightening. Even issue films are tending to focus on character study over arguments and data from so-called “experts.” Documentary in 2014 saw few mainstream standouts, but it seems to have delivered more knockouts for those of us who love nonfiction cinema. There were few simple trends, more variety of styles and genres, overall a broad range of exceptional works that made it terribly difficult to determine an ordered ranking of only 14 titles released this year. The following list was compiled […]

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Universal Pictures

The world of movies is a little darker today thanks to the cancellation of The Interview‘s release over threats from a group of hackers. Theaters backed down then Sony backed out. It’s all gone to hell in a fear-soaked hand basket. Then Universal Pictures released this new image of Chris Pratt in Jurassic World. At first, it could very well be confused for the first look at a future season of True Detective, but it’s really just Pratt and his raptor buddy. Star-Lord’s relationship with said predator is explained below.

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IFC Films

No matter how influential you think you might be as a critic or pundit, you are often reminded that you’re just a cog in a much larger system, soon to be aggregated right alongside everyone else. Take for example this year’s Austin Film Critics Association Awards. As longtime readers will note, this is a group that counts me among their members. For me there’s a great deal of pride in being a member of such a critics group, especially one with such an eclectic membership. That said, sometimes I vote for things and they don’t win. Such is life in the big city, as I’ve been told. 

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Snap Short Film

We’re teaming with The Current to deliver 10 short films from 10 different directors, focused on social trends explored through cinema. The final short film, Snap!, features a young woman admitting to her boyfriend that she cheated on him before he can find out through the online grapevine. Naturally, there’s a video. It becomes a living, shared relic of the ruination of their relationship, and the short film shrewdly toys with the question of whether he’ll watch it and how much more damage can be done. “I’m from a small town in Western Zealand, where I attended a hippie school with only 60 pupils far out on the countryside,” says director Kristian Foldager.  “It was a good playground for my creativity – a safe haven from the rest of society that I still feel rather detached to. Today my playground is an office I share with four fellow filmmakers in Central Copenhagen. I’ve been self-employed for eight years – doing shorts, docs, music videos and commercials. “As a child I observed people and situations around me, but was scared of interaction. Today I’m not afraid of interacting, but often struggle with the fascination part. I probably was a better filmmaker as a child. “I wrote this little story around Snapchat, since everyone seems eager to share embarrassing videos with this app.  Four days later the Snapchat leak happened, exposing erotic content with young kids. “The film deals with loss of innocence and the danger of exposed secrets. No one in the film is bad or […]

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Open Road

The Gunman. Call it a prestige version of Taken. It even has the same director. The difference? In the place of Liam Neeson, The Gunman stars multiple Academy Award winner and very serious actor Sean Penn. Based on the first trailer, released today and presented for your viewing pleasure below, the story seems pretty similar. Penn plays a former killer whose past comes back to haunt him, leaving him with his back to the wall and a gun in his hand. Hard Cut to: he shoots his way out.

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Warner Bros.

You really don’t need to watch this second trailer for next year’s Mad Max: Fury Road. You’ll want too of course, especially after the magnificence of the first trailer that premiered this past summer, and we honestly can’t blame you. But you still don’t need to watch this new one. The problem isn’t that this latest trailer underwhelms — on the contrary as it’s loaded with awesomeness that makes the wait for the film’s release next May even more of a struggle. And it’s not like the trailer spoils any plot points or character reveals either. No, our suggestion here is simply that you save the epic action-beats on display here for the big screen. Wait until you’re actually seated for the movie itself so your first time viewing of the orgasmic mayhem is in context and projected at bigger than life size. But, if you can’t resist another glimpse at the explosive siren call of director George Miller‘s long-awaited return to the dusty and deadly future, if you definitely can’t wait another five months, then check out the new trailer below.

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Disney/Pixar

Here’s what’s great about the trailer for Pixar’s Inside Out: it’s adorable realism. Yes, the dinner conversation where mom is prying, dad is tuned out (or tuned into sports) and young daughter is lashing out can be a cliche, but this is an excellent look at what it means to twist convention enough to make it work wonders. Instead of three personalities at a table, we get 15. We’ve known for a long time that the film would focus on the different emotions inside a little girl’s head, and we found out recently that we’d see other characters’ emotions as well, but the command center they’ve got set up is a smart touch. It’s not that these emotions live in the same space, but that they are meant to work together 24/7 even if they don’t always work well as a team. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Magnolia Pictures

New trailers drop every day. Here are three recent ones. There’s no overriding theme between these three aside from their 2015 release dates and ability to capture our attention and leave us wanting to see more. San Andreas is a disaster picture featuring Dwayne Johnson as the head of an ensemble struggling to survive a massively devastating earthquake in California. Still Alive focuses on another tragedy, but this one is far more personal as Julianne Moore plays a woman diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Lastly, White God is a Hungarian film featuring an uprising by the abused and downtrodden who just happen to be canines.

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It Follows Movie

It makes an insane amount of sense that on the 10th anniversary of Saw‘s release, the most hyped horror film has a stripped down concept that produces tense magic with nothing up its sleeve. There are no intricate traps, just raw fear. Rob reviewed It Follows at Fantastic Fest, and I can echo every word of his review. David Robert Mitchell’s sophomore feature has teenage touches of his Myth of the American Sleepover, but it uses a simple mistrust of connection (specifically sexual) to create a monster with a billion faces whose real power comes from persistence. I’ve always thought of zombies working as villains because, despite moving like molasses, there are enough of them to make the attack overwhelming. In It Follows, there’s only one thing coming (slowly) for the young woman unlucky enough to bed down the guy cursed with murderous baggage, but somehow it’s abjectly terrifying. It’s a horror film that explores what happens after “just run away!” fails miserably. Now there’s a teaser trailer for it, complete with French review quotations. Classy. Check it out for yourself and start looking over your shoulder for the rest of the day. Oh, and being careful who you have sex with.

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Spectre poster image

This morning, the next James Bond installment went from being known as “Bond 24″ to having an actual title we can sort of hold on to. And also wonder about. The movie, which is being helmed by Skyfall director Sam Mendes, is now called SPECTRE, which should probably always be capitalized as it’s the acronym name of the franchise’s most notable villainous organization. For more than 50 years, since the Ian Fleming novels, SPECTRE has stood for “SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion,” and their shadowy existence has been either prominently featured or in the background of many of the 007 movies, beginning with the first, Dr. No. The current reboot of the screen franchise with Daniel Craig as Bond had seemed to be purposefully avoiding the organization, with a similar group known as Quantum being invented for the series instead. In fact, it was intentionally, having to do with a copyright dispute going back decades, but that legal matter was settled last year allowing Bond movie producers EON to use the SPECTRE name as well as that of a certain iconic nemesis who many of us (including former 007 Roger Moore) assume will also be in SPECTRE: Ernest Stavro Blofeld. If he is, it’s all but completely obvious that he’s being portrayed by Christoph Waltz. However, that significant detail was not confirmed by the studio or filmmakers today.

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Paramount Pictures

It’s been a long past few weeks for movie fans who aren’t into remakes, sequels or reboots. In fact, the dodging of nostalgia has been at an all-time high with trailers for a new Jurassic Park film, a new Star Wars film and a few films featuring characters we’ve heard of before (Cinderella, Pan). It would be easy to be burned out at this point. The timing for a film like Terminator Genisys — a reboot of sorts that recasts all the original Terminator roles (save for that main guy) and breaks the timeline into something vastly different — couldn’t be worse. Despite poor timing and the still looming shadow of the Star Wars trailer, Paramount has released the first trailer of the film from Game of Thrones and Thor: The Dark World helmer Alan Taylor. And guess what? It’s a lot of fun.

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Annie Awards

The Annie Awards are the most ebullient part of the awards season, always beaming with a real love for animated film. You can tell just by looking at yesterday’s list of nominees, which includes a whopping eight films in its Best Animated Feature category. The Los Angeles branch of the International Animated Film Association, which runs the show, seems to prioritize quantity and excitement over self-serious rule-making. The whole list feels like an enormous, giddy smile. The biggest hit yesterday morning was The Boxtrolls, with a grand total of 13 nominations. Almost as much love was given to How to Train Your Dragon 2, which was mentioned ten times. Even Cyndi Lauper made the list, nominated for a direct-to-DVD baseball drama to which she lent her voice. Yet while that film might be a bit hard to find, some of the shorts that made the roster are already online. Eight films are nominated for Best Animated Short Subject, of which five have also been shortlisted for the Academy Award. What that means, essentially, is that we likely have to wait until the ShortsHD release after the Oscar nominations to see them. That they’ll be released on the big screen makes it worth the wait, of course. In the meantime, one of the eight is already on Vimeo.

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LucasFilm/Disney

It’s been three days since J.J. Abrams and the forces behind Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens delivered unto us 88-seconds of a teaser trailer to whet our appetites for the December 2015 release. It will be a year before hardcores will be standing in line on opening night and other movie lovers will follow in succession. The trailer itself was 88-seconds of new and nostalgic alike, featuring (fittingly) seven quick scenes to introduces to a few new faces — Attack the Block‘s John Boyega as a marooned Stormtrooper, Daisy Ridley as a scavenger, a soccer ball-styled droid who sounds like a familiar robotic friend, a still secretive yet menacing hooded figure — and of course, one very old friend in the Millennium Falcon. Beyond these seven little peeks, we’ve still seen almost nothing from Episode VII. But in the days since people began watching the trailer over and over again, we’ve learned quite a bit. Here’s what we know so far.

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Walt Disney Studios

The first teaser for J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens has finally dropped! (And the “Episode VII” part has apparently been dropped as well.) Now we only have to wait another fifty four weeks for the actual film to open. Little is known about the film’s plot, but much is suspected and rumored. We do know that the story takes place roughly thirty years following the events of Episode VI and that familiar faces (Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher) will be returning alongside newcomers including John Boyega, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Daisy Ridley. We probably won’t see his face, but Andy Serkis‘ body movements will be on display as well. Check out the first teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens below.

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Warner Bros.

It’s been 11 years since we last saw Peter Pan. In 2003 P.J. Hogan made a surprisingly exciting and faithful adaptation of Peter Pan — one that really delved into the sexual subtext of J.M. Barrie’s text — but it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Since it wasn’t much of a hit, that means nobody is complaining about already bringing the character back to the big screen. Joe Wright’s Pan isn’t a remake or reboot, though, but a prequel. Pan stars Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard, Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily, and Garrett Hedlund as the innocent James Hook (who one day, of course, becomes Captain Hook). The trailer begins with an introduction to Pan (Levi Miller), an orphan during WWII. One night him and his buddies are kidnapped by pirates disguised as clowns, led by Blackbeard.

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Jurassic World

They promised us a Thanksgiving debut, then they opened the park a few days early. This doesn’t bode well for the ultimate fate of the Jurassic World theme park — an early opening of sorts is what got the original Jurassic Park into a lot of trouble — but it’s great for the rest of us. Especially everyone who is clamoring to see what director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) has cooked up for the rebirth of one of the seminal franchises of the 1990s. The first trailer is here and it has everything you could want from a Jurassic Park flick: unaccompanied minors (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson), a dangerously innovative park owner (Bryce Dallas Howard), one guy who clearly sees that this is all going to end terribly (Chris Pratt) and a moody version of John Williams’ original score. See for yourself below.

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Walt Disney Pictures

Just as Matthew McConaughey slept through the trip to Jupiter in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, sometimes we just want to skip to the end. With that in mind — and more importantly as a break for our extremely hard working editorial team — Film School Rejects is going into a state of suspended animation — or as Winnie the Pooh might call it, hibernation — over the next week and will return on Monday, December 1st. This means no daily updates for the next week to give our team some extra time to relax and enjoy time with their families. If you can’t live without us (aw shucks…) there are plenty of great recent features to read and when we get back, we’ll surely be updating you with all kinds of news. Plus, it’s possible that someone will sneak back in the office to post something about the Jurassic World trailer that debuts on Thanksgiving. Need something to do in the mean time? Check out our Netflix recommendations, go out and explore your local cinematic landmarks or peruse the Nonfics list of essential streaming documentaries. And go to the movies. That’s probably what we’ll be doing. From all of us here at Film School Rejects, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. We’ll see you again in December.

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Universal Pictures

As a large, bearded man whose wardrobe consists of many hooded sweatshirts and whose primary occupation includes typing words into the void, I’m not ashamed of many things. I’m certainly not ashamed of my unabashed love for Pitch Perfect, the 2012 musical comedy about the highly competitive world of collegiate acapella. It starred the adorable Anna Kendrick alongside a host of comedic and musical talents such as Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson and that guy from Workaholics whose name I always get confused with the guy from Maroon 5 (Adam DeVine). If you’ve seen the first film, you know that it’s about as infectious and fun as any movie we, the collective of moviegoers, have seen in the last half decade. And now there’s making a sequel. As a teenaged girl might say, SQUEEE!! The first Pitch Perfect 2 trailer is now online following a debut at a quote-a-long event in Los Angeles last night and it has plenty to offer: More singing, more pizazz and for some inexplicable reason, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. (and several of his teammates).

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A24

New movie trailers drop every day, and it’s not always all that easy to keep up with them. Okay fine, it is easy, but sometimes there just isn’t a lot to say about a film that’s still many months away from release. We covered a few of this week’s offerings already — the big ones (Cinderella), the unfortunate ones (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2), the ones that just annoy us (The DUFF) — but there are more that either by accident or intention managed to slip between the cracks. So allow me to bring you up to speed with the rest of this week’s new trailers for movies due out in the months to come. I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, but one of them just might just be for a certain upcoming film starring Harrison Ford. Yeah, that’s right. Keep reading for your first look.

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Disney Cinderella 2015

Bursting with triumphant music and what appears to be most of the iconic fairytale, the trailer for Cinderella brings us all the way to the lost glass slipper. Kenneth Branagh looks to have delivered a fairly standardized version featuring Lily James as the title cleaning wench, Helena Bonham-Carter as her fairy godmother and Richard Madden as the prince who can’t remember people’s faces. Seriously, why would he need a shoe to fit unless he can’t recognize a person he spent all night dancing with? Oh, and Cate Blanchett looks syrupy sick as the stepmother from hell. At any rate, it looks sweeping and lyrical, and probably no one will cut off their toes or heels. Unfortunately. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B


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