Amistad

Brie Larson in Short Term 12

Another month, another batch of recommendations for everyone out there who’s currently adrift in the sea that is the Netflix Watch Instantly menu without a good flick to float on. Click on the films’ titles in order to be taken to their Netflix page and to add them to your queue. Or—sorry—to your “My List.” Pick of the Month:  Short Term 12 (2013) Critics have been talking about Short Term 12 pretty incessantly ever since it started making the festival rounds last year. To the point where some of you who read about movies a lot may be getting sick of hearing about it. There’s a reason why the film keeps getting brought up, though, and that’s because it’s really that good. It’s also the kind of micro-budget movie that absolutely depends on word of mouth in order to get seen. This is the sort of small release that couldn’t even afford to launch an Oscar campaign that would have brought it to the attention of Academy voters, so it wasn’t able to earn buzz through the winning of little golden men, which it arguably deserved a handful of.  The movie, which is from a relatively new filmmaker named Destin Cretton, is set in the world of a residential treatment facility for troubled youth, which means that it’s full of characters whose lives can be mined for quite a bit of drama—and mine them Cretton does. This is one of the rare films that manages to dig way deep into themes […]

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ejiofor kinky boots

This weekend, the exceptional 12 Years a Slave began its initial expansion into wider release. Currently, the Steve McQueen film is playing in 123 theaters around the country, so a lot of people are just getting the chance to enjoy its brilliant performances and to be horrified by its most powerful scenes. When they exit the cinema, while wiping the tears from their eyes and attempting to rid their throats of the lump that’s been lodged there for at least half an hour, audiences are going to be curious about who Lupita Nyong’o is and where they’ve seen Chiwetel Ejiofor before. They’ll also be interested to know that they’ve just watched a remake, of sorts. 12 Years a Slave still has a ways to go before it reaches the mainstream, Middle America mall crowds. But when it does end up on a few thousand screens and watched by millions more, this guide will be here to recommend past films from the makers and stars of the movie, as well as some other relevant titles worth checking out.

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Django Unchained Sam Jackson

After I saw Django Unchained for the first time, I jokingly tweeted that it was going to be funny when a bunch of white people get nominated for Academy Awards for this movie about slavery. Then the Academy Award nominations came out, and it became less of a joke and more an eerily accurate prediction. I’m not telling you that to give you the impression that my twitter feed is magical or that following me will make your life immeasurably better (even though it is, and it will), just to remind you that the Oscars aren’t really about the best or most important movies, performances, or artistic accomplishments, which is why when you look at a history of the winners you’ll see a curious absence of classics like Die Hard or Star Wars, and an overabundance of moviesthatsuck. Because instead of telling us what movies were the best, the Oscars tell us what movies made the Academy feel the most warm and safe.  Nowhere is this more apparent than when looking at how the Academy treats movies about slavery. They don’t want a smart, artistic analysis that properly explores the darker aspects of the fact that the United States contributed to a centuries-long genocide. They want movies that gloss over the pain and suffering. At best, they want movies that cut right to the part where white people get forgiven. Which is why we see the following trend in this brief list of every movie to deal directly with slavery […]

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With a giant pile of movies to his name, Steven Spielberg has the considerable honor of being the only filmmaker who makes entertainment that’s massively popular, critically acclaimed and decade-enduring. It’s an illusive triumvirate. His fundamental success is owed to a lot of things, but principle among them is his childhood sense of wonder and magic – a sense he’s never let go of. His childhood was also spent with a camera in hand. From Jaws to Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Indiana Jones to The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun and Jurassic Park and Amistad and Schindler’s List and Munich and, and, and…he’s been a prolific, skilled presence in the filmmaking world for going on 5 decades, and he’s done so by spanning genres, tones, and subjects. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a little kid who hid under his bed after watching Bambi.

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You’ve stumbled upon Circle of Jerks, our sporadically published, weekly feature in which we ask the questions that really matter to our writers and readers. It’s a time to take a break from our busy lives and revel in the one thing that we all share: a deep, passionate love of movies. If you have a question you’d like answered by the FSR readers and staff, send us an email at editors@filmschoolrejects.com. You guys were probably too busy watching “The Dark Knight” again to notice we had an election, but it was a pretty huge night that led my roommates and I into a discussion social change and movies. Question time: What movie actually changed your mind about a social or cultural issue? Thanks. – Ted F.

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I know there’s already a list of historically inaccurate films featuring Braveheart and 300 online (they’re here too), but here’s a few more you might not have thought of. Who am I kidding? You’ve thought of them. You’re pretty clever.

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