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Where To Watch

MPAA

As we all know, the MPAA has a host of problems. It’s antique, it’s funded by the six major studios in their own interest, it’s not nearly as useful as it should be. However, we can hopefully all give credit where credit is due in the case of their new streaming search tool. Granted, we shouldn’t be popping champagne for Where To Watch just yet — it’s a clean program that apes what Can I Stream It and other sites are doing, and it’s an olive branch to a large, growing audience who wants to see movies online legally, but it’s also only a tepid step in the right direction.

It works exactly how you’d expect something called “Where to Watch” to work — you search for a movie, and it tells you where you can watch it online (either through sub services or through paid rental/purchase). I tested it out with ten movies, and it worked perfectly (yes, The Usual Suspects is on Netflix streaming!), but The Verge apparently got one false positive. A small problem in the scheme of things, particularly with something that’s in Beta. It’s also toddler-level easy to use with very few frills.

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Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar

Paramount Pictures

Christopher Nolan‘s outer space opera, Interstellar, has yet to crack the $100 million mark domestically — although it is close, and could potentially pass that marker as you read these very words — but Paramount Pictures is already banking on return viewers to help drive the film’s box office. In fact, they’re making it even easier for ‘stellar superfans to see the film again (and again and again and again) with a shiny new unlimited ticket program. The studio, in tandem with AMC Theatres, has just released word that they’ve launched an “out-of-this-world opportunity” to see the film as much as you’d like. In AMC Theatres. Until the movie is out of theaters, we guess.

Although this specific ticket is the first of its kind, similar specialty deals have recently been offered for other blockbusters. Regal Theatres offered a so-called “super ticket” for Transformers: Age of Extinction — another Paramount offering — just this summer, allowing moviegoers to tack $15 on to their ticket price to get two different digital Transformers movies and a digital copy of Extinction upon its home video release. The year before, Paramount gave a “super” treatment to their Anchorman 2, a $33 offer that gave fans the chance to the sequel in theaters before its official release date, along with downloads of the first film, the “lost movie” Wake Up, Ron Burgundy and a pre-order of Anchorman 2 via digital download.

Still, this Interstellar unlimited ticket is the first offer to specifically offer fans the chance to see the same film for a set price. But should you do it?

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The Three Stooges

Columbia Pictures

The bowl cut is (as best summarized by Gary Larson), nature’s way of saying “do not touch.” This is the haircut of a child (worse, a child with zero fashion sense). If worn by a child, don’t touch, because hey- that’s not your child. On an adult, don’t touch, because whomever sports the bowl cut may not be of sound mind or body. Or they could be Jim Carrey, filming a Dumb and Dumber sequel.

Lloyd Christmas has returned, and with him, the rattling rattlesnake tail of the haircut world. But Lloyd isn’t the only one to take his fashion cues from a salad bowl- he’s one of many in a long line of bowl-cutted heroes, American patriots who’ve upheld a ruler-straight hairline for nearly a century.

Let’s take a look at a few, shall we?

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Bubble-quad-web_zps95384e39

Kino Lorber has been in the specialty DVD/Blu-ray business for years now, but while some labels make their home in niches based on genre (Scream Factory, Synapse Films) or ” important” films (Criterion Collection) Kino’s focus has been on quality world cinema both contemporary and classic. Their various imprints release films as diverse as The Long Goodbye, Elmer Gantry and Burt Reynolds’ Gator. They don’t dabble in horror a lot, but they don’t exactly shy away from the genre either as evident by titles like To All a Goodnight, Jennifer and Nosferatu.

Their two latest horror releases — The Bubble and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari — fall heavy on the classic side as they’re 48 and 94 years old, respectively. The Bubble is the lesser known of the two and features a plot device that will feel familiar to fans of Under the Dome or The Simpsons Movie, while The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is still regarded as a highly influential film nearly a full century after its release.

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Dumb and Dumber Cartoon

ABC Television

There is a Dumb and Dumber cartoon. It is insane and it demands your attention.

This may come as a shock if you weren’t watching animation on ABC in the mid-1990s. It was never exactly well-regarded, or even regarded at all. It was canceled after its first season, which ran from October of 1995 through February of 1996. Harry and Lloyd only managed to gallivant through 13 episodes before they were evicted from the screen until 2003’s ill-begotten prequel and, of course, Dumb and Dumber To. The characters, created by the Farrelly Brothers, have had quite a bizarre franchise history.

That said, the Farrelly Brothers were not directly involved with Dumb and Dumber the TV series. It was their co-writer on the original film, Bennett Yellin, who stepped in to write the television series. It was produced by Hanna-Barbera, their last project for ABC. This was an important moment for the storied animation studio, which would be entirely absorbed into Cartoon Network Studios in 2001. Later series like Johnny BravoDexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls would become Cartoon Network productions by the end of their runs. Dumb and Dumber, for whatever it’s worth, is one of the last few projects that started and finished with a Hanna-Barbera stamp.

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The Little Mermaid and Magdalen

Walt Disney Studios

Hey parents, can you believe it hasn’t even been a year since Frozen came out? I know, it feels like you’ve been hearing you kids belt “Let It Go” for eons, but the Disney animated feature officially opened on a single screen in Hollywood on November 22, 2013, before going wide five days later. Technically, though, it did play as early as November 10th, at the New York Children’s Film Festival, so I guess we can start celebrating its first birthday. Stuff some cake in its face, because it’s barely a baby anymore.

My son is pretty young, so he didn’t see Frozen until a couple months ago (it’s also when I had my viewing), and ever since he’s wanted to watch it all the time. Whether he calls the movie “Let It Go” or claims Elsa’s name is “Let It Go” or mostly wants to watch Olaf the snowman, not a day goes by that he doesn’t mention the possibility. Not that I give in every time; more often we’ll just sing or play one of the songs.

I know he’ll eventually move on to something else (his last, and first, obsession was Dumbo). I also know I can’t force the change on him yet. I don’t even mind Frozen yet, strangely, but I bet parents who’ve been there for the past year are ready to forget it ever existed. Whatever the case, I’m devoting this week’s dozen movie recommendations to moms and dads who’d like some alternatives to try out. Most may seem obvious, but that’s so they can be easy transitional works, and I’ve provided some concrete reasoning for each that maybe you can also use on your children.

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we just didnt care short film

The Current/Eddit Mitra

We’re teaming with The Current to deliver 10 short films from 10 different directors, focused on social trends explored through cinema.

The seventh short film, We Just Didn’t Care, puts us into the bedroom crawl space of the last man on earth as he explains how he ended up alone. It’s the current concern played to its extreme, and it features an unbearable amount of light and a vision of us as Darth Vader.

“The disregard for nature and human life nowadays has reached a level I never thought it would ever reach,” says 21-year-old director Eddie Mitra. “This whole idea started from my frustration with the illegal deforestation going on in Romania. Entire forests have been cut down not so far from my home. If you a few years ago you could go for a trip in the forest, you didn’t have to go far. Now, it’s only empty fields and mountains without a tree left on them.

“I wanted to show that people’s priorities in today’s society are completely wrong. We lost touch with nature and money/power has become our sole goal.

“There is no other species on this planet more hostile towards its environment than human beings. Pollution, deforestation or animal poaching are just a few examples of how people treat nature as a means to achieve financial profit through destruction.

“I wanted to show a worst case scenario. Of course, there’s no guarantee what the future has in store for us, but if we keep up this destructive behavior, my film could easily become a reality.”

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Paul Blart Mall Cop 2

Sony Pictures

America: you demanded a sequel to Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and now you’re getting it. We’re all getting it. It’s been gotten.

Wait, you might be thinking, I did not personally demand this sequel! Not I! Too bad, because your brethren did — they had to, really, voting with their movie ticket-buying dollars, enough to make the first film a bonafide hit, pulling in over $183m in worldwide box office returns. The feature even tops BoxOfficeMojo’s list of “bumbling” comedies (also, points to you, BoxOfficeMojo). Someone saw this movie. Was it you? It doesn’t matter, because the damage has been done: we’re getting Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, and now there’s a trailer to prove it.

Feast your eyes on it, America, you know you want to:

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Big Eyes Movie

The Weinstein Company

Twenty years after Tim Burton‘s greatest achievement, Ed Wood, he’s teamed up once again with screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszwewski to tell Margaret Keane’s story. Keane’s art was hugely popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Her bold, beautiful and beloved paintings of sad big-eyed children were even sold at hardware stores and gas stations. The problem was, she didn’t receive any credit for them.

Her failed artist of a husband, Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), took credit for her work. He claimed nobody would buy the paintings if they knew they were painted by a woman, so why not instead make a boatload of cash passing them off as his own? The initially timid Margaret (played soulfully by Amy Adams) went along with his story — that he’s the real artist, not her. Walter became consumed by the wealth and acclaim, while the lie ate away at Margaret and, at one point, greatly upset her daughter Jane (Madeleine Arthur), a major inspiration for Margaret’s work.

The story grows progressively sadder and stranger. When Margaret finally does stand up for herself, Walter reacts in frightening and ridiculous ways. Most of her husband’s manipulation is played for laughs, but it never detracts from the drama of Margaret’s situation. Alexander and Karaszwewski’s script pulls off a real tonal challenge in that regard. Even when events take an exceptionally silly turn in the third act, the film manages to earn both the huge laughs and emotional catharsis.

Like Ed Wood, Big Eyes is often outrageous but totally human. We understand what drives Walter’s cartoonish antics: he won’t accept the fact he’s a failure. At first glance, it’s easy to ask, “Why would Margaret let Walter take advantage of her like that?” Some will dismiss her as weak, but a part of the reason for her acquiescence is the time she was living in. Many people, including a priest, tell her to support her husband because he’s the man of the house.

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ET Movie

Universal Pictures

Within the logo of Amblin Entertainment lies one of Steven Spielberg’s most iconic images: a boy flying on a bicycle with a shrouded extraterrestrial friend in tow. This image also provides a fitting summary of how Spielberg’s films have been popularly understood — as wondrous, spectacular articulations of imagination seemingly possible only through an affirmative style of filmmaking. But there’s also that other side of E.T. that’s absent within Amblin’s logo, that side that’s about the paranoia of a government that coldly quarantines and dissects a force it doesn’t understand, the parts of the film that met your childlike wonder with a stark nightmare.

The tensions between these two poles of Spielberg’s work are explored in depth in a new book by film scholar James Kendrick, whose “Darkness in the Bliss-Out: A Reconsideration of the Films of Steven Spielberg” approaches the storied oeuvre of the most successful living filmmaker from the vantage point of his evident but less appreciated darker themes – his propensity to meet wondrous imagination with the worst tendencies of human nature. In fact, Kendrick argues that the dominant way we interpret Spielberg – as something of a reliable architect of affirming cinematic entertainment –prevents us from fully appreciating the depth and complexity of a director whose work oscillates on the pendulum between light and darkness, hope and despair.

Here’s what Kendrick had to tell us about the darkness brooding within Spielberg’s films.

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Open Road Films

Open Road Films

The idea of incarceration, whether justified or unlawful, is terrifying, and when solitary confinement and torture are added to the mix the thought that any of us would last a day — let alone 118 — is most likely a pipe dream. But that’s exactly what Iranian-born Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal) faced after leaving his pregnant wife in London and returning to his home country in 2009 to cover the presidential elections. After the results are announced as heavily and suspiciously in favor of the incumbent leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the populace reacts with outrage and protest. Bahari captures footage of the people in the streets and awakes the next morning to Iranian authorities rousting him from bed and taking him into custody.

He’s immediately placed in solitary confinement, labeled a spy and interrogated mercilessly by an unnamed man whom Bahari calls Rosewater (Kim Bodnia). The days and weeks tick by as he’s threatened, pressed and pushed to the emotional brink by the possibility that he’ll never see his wife, never meet his unborn child and never walk free again. It’s his desire for all those things alongside imagined conversations with his deceased father and sister — both of whom faced their own conflicts with the Iranian government — that keep his hope alive.

Rosewater achieves most everything it sets out to do with skill, grace and a powerful lead performance by Bernal, but its most glaring fault is that it doesn’t actually try to do all that much. In a sense that’s a smart play for a writer/director making his feature debut — especially one in a genre far removed from the comedy Jon Stewart‘s accustomed to — but it results in a film that feels far too safe from beginning to end.

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Fight Club

Fox 2000

Is Fight Club satire? That’s the question we’ll attempt to settle this week with a knock down, drag out debate where two men enter the ring, and two men also exit the ring safely. Fortunately, we’ve got special guest moderator Eric D. Snider to keep us honest, and since he takes bribes, I’ve got this one sewn up.

Plus, we’ll discuss whether data can help make you a better screenwriter, and The Bitter Script Reader drops by to discuss his new book, “Michael F-ing Bay: The Unheralded Genius in Michael Bay’s Films,” where he argues that the much maligned director’s movies are more than meets the eye.

You should follow Eric (@ericdsnider), The Bitter Script Reader (@bittrscrptreadr), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis.

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Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Pictures Classics

Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a beautiful, intelligent, respected, accomplished linguistics professor, but she’s also starting to forget things. Nothing big – a name or where she put something. As an academic with an insatiable desire to learn and teach, plus a bustling family who still look to her for advice and guidance, it’s not surprising that Alice might be a little distracted or overwhelmed from time to time.

After she loses her place in a lecture she’s giving a UCLA, Alice decides to take the practical approach and make sure her random moments of forgetfulness are just that, but after consulting with a neurologist (Stephen Kunken) she discovers she’s suffering from the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. For a woman who has dedicated her life to the study of language and how people communicate with one another the idea of slowly losing her memory is a fate worse than cancer.

As Still Alice begins, we see Alice celebrating her 50th birthday surrounded by her family, and it’s clear she’s the strong matriarch holding this group together. Whether discussing her daughter Anna’s (Kate Bosworth) desire to start a family, mediating a conversation between her son Tom (Hunter Parrish) and husband John (Alec Baldwin) or explaining why her youngest daughter Lydia (Kristen Stewart) is absent from the event, Alice is the pillar everyone looks up to.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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