Another Earth

Cahill and Marling

There are few films that I’ve come around on as much as I’ve come around on Mike Cahill‘s Another Earth. When the film bowed at Sundance 2011, it was as one half of the buzzed-about “arrival” of star and co-writer Brit Marling, who quite memorably debuted yet another film at the festival that she also co-wrote and starred in (the still far superior Sound of My Voice). While SOMV instantly captivated me (and continues to do so), Another Earth frustrated and, quite frankly, angered me. Its unique plot – a twin Earth is discovered heading towards our own Earth, and it soon becomes obvious that said twin Earth also contains a twin of everything else, including Marling’s unlucky Rhoda Williams – seemed utterly wasted, with Cahill and Marling more concerned with mining the non-drama of Marling’s inappropriate relationship with a guy whose family she accidentally killed. Another Earth only came, well, down to Earth in its final scene, and that scene’s masterful use of mystery and revelation made the rest of it all the more frustrating. We knew what the film could have been, and it simply wasn’t that. (Then again, the film did win both a Special Jury Prize and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the festival, so what do I know.) And yet. Over the years, my disdain for Another Earth has given way to curiosity and respect. If it’s on TV, I am going to watch it. I want more from Cahill, even if I am not sure if I actually liked his first film (I think I […]

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Aural Fixation - Large

Ever since Napster hit the scene and forever changed the way we distribute music, the music industry has been fighting a slow death over the past few years and while record labels still exist, they are quickly becoming a dated way to “make it” with YouTube, at home ProTools rigs and countless social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Soundcloud) available for artists to truly DIY their careers rather than wait for the elusive record contract to “change their lives.” While established artists like The Chemical Brothers, Phoenix and Daft Punk have taken to the conductor’s podium to create scores for films such as Hanna, Somewhere and Tron: Legacy (can someone also get Muse attached to a project, please?), bands that are not yet well-known are taking their music out of local clubs and putting them onto the silver screen for better (and bigger) exposure. One band, a multi-media group based out of Brooklyn called Fall On Your Sword, caught people’s ears (and attention) with their score for Another Earth and are following that up with their score for the upcoming Lola Versus (due in theaters this Friday, 6/8) as well as 28 Hotel Rooms and Nobody Walks (which both premiered at Sundance this past January.) Rather than getting lost in the shuffle as just another “band from Brooklyn,” FOYS took matters into their own hands and began to diversify themselves by not just looking to release albums of their music, but explore other outlets for potential exposure.

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The Best Films of 2011: The Staff Picks

As you may have noticed, this final week of 2011 has been almost completely taken over by our third annual Year in Review. It was born in 2009 out of our love for lists and your thirst for reading, discussing and ultimately hating them. And each year the entire project gets a little bigger, a little bolder and slightly more absurd. With that in mind, I’m once again proud to present you with The Best Films of 2011: The Staff Picks. Each of our 14 regular staff writers, contributors and columnists, almost all of whom have been with us the entire year, were asked to present their top 5 films, in no particular order (although many of them placed their top film at the top, as logical people tend to do), each with an explanation. Some even included curse words as a bonus to you, the reader. Read: The Best Films of 2010: The Staff Picks | The Best Films of 2009: The Staff Picks Once again, the Staff Picks are a testament to the diversity we have here at Film School Rejects, with picks ranging from the likely suspects (Take Shelter, Hugo, Shame) to the slightly more nerdy (Attack the Block, Super 8, The Muppets) to several movies that may not yet be on your radar (see Landon Palmer’s list for those). And once again, it’s with a deep sense of pride that I publish such a list, the best of 2011 as seen through the eyes of the movie […]

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Reel Sex

Most people, as they recover from seasonal snacking comas and hangovers brought on by liquid medication for too much concentrated family time, spend these last few weeks of December reflecting on the year past. While fellow Reject Landon Palmer pointed out earlier today that 2011 has already been lauded as a “quiet” year by many of our peers, I would like to address how cinematic sex and relationships embrace this quietness through an enveloping theme of sadness. As base as it might sound, a lot of tragic shit went down in 2011; from the Arab Spring to the Occupy Oakland riots to the honoring of ten years post-9/11, this year was a study in human perseverance. And as great art always succeeds at doing, film mirrored the world’s rising tension, air of tragedy, and sense of loss time and time again.

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Culture Warrior

Usually I’m quite cynical about end-of-year lists, as they demand a forced encapsulation of an arbitrary block of time that is not yet over into something simplified. I typically find end-of-year lists fun, but rarely useful. But 2011 is different. As Scott Tobias pointed out, while “quiet,” this was a surprisingly strong year for interesting and risk-taking films. What’s most interesting has been the variety: barely anything has emerged as a leading contender that tops either critics’ lists or dominates awards buzz. Quite honestly, at the end of 2010 I struggled to find compelling topics, trends, and events to define the year in cinema. The final days of 2011 brought a quite opposite struggle, for this year’s surprising glut of interesting and disparate films spoke to one another in a way that makes it difficult to isolate any of the year’s significant works. Arguments in the critical community actually led to insightful points as they addressed essential questions of what it means to be a filmgoer and a cinephile. Mainstream Hollywood machine-work and limited release arthouse fare defied expectations in several directions. New stars arose. Tired Hollywood rituals and ostensibly reliable technologies both met new breaking points. “2011” hangs over this year in cinema, and the interaction between the films – and the events and conversations that surrounded them – makes this year’s offerings particular to their time and subject to their context. This is what I took away from this surprising year:

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The Worst Films of 2011

There are two things you don’t want to watch getting made – sausage and the official Film School Rejects’s year-end worst-of list. Hideous, dirty, bloody, illegal stuff; many animals die in the process (disclaimer – no animals were harmed in the making of this list). It’s a fool’s errand, a losing battle, a terrible way to dig up the past pains of the year’s biggest flops – reverse therapy for cinephiles. But damn if the results aren’t hilarious. For this year’s Worst Films of 2011 list, our own Kevin Carr and myself teamed up to pick the most wretched of the wretched, the worst of the worst, the Adam Sandler films we’re all struggling to forget. There were many emails and even more tears. I doubt we’ll ever be able to look each other in the eye again. By the time Sir Carr and I were done volleying bad films back and forth at each other via the electronic mail system like a game of cinematic badminton that absolutely no one was capable of winning (and, really, how does one win badminton?), we were far too exhausted to even attempt to number the following twenty-two films in any kind of order. No matter, they’re all bad. We’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to take to the comments to call what you think is the worst (and what we’ve, quite unforgivably, left off).

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The Holiday Gift Guide: DVD and Blu-ray

Merry Christmas movie/TV/goat-cheese lovers! As part of our week-long gift guide extravaganza thingamajig we’ve put together a list of Blu-rays, DVD and a few other ideas for you to use when shopping for others or for putting on your own Christmas list. Or both. Some of the films below are from years past, but they all hit Blu-ray and/or DVD this year so they totally count for this gift guide. Click on the links to be magically transported to Amazon, AmazonUK and other places where lovely things can be found.

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This Week in DVD

It’s the last DVD release week of November, and judging by the stellar releases out today it’s fair to say Christmas has come early. There are several titles, big and small, deserving of a purchase or at least a rent, and they’re pretty widespread genre-wise too. Some of the week’s offerings include Tucker & Dale vs Evil, Our Idiot Brother, Friends with Benefits, 30 Minutes or Less and more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Another Earth The unfortunately named Rhoda (Brit Marling) is a bright high-school graduate with a limitless future, but on the night a new planet is discovered in the night sky above she celebrates a bit too hard and smashes her car into a family of three. A few years later, Rhoda is released from prison and makes an attempt at an apology to the man (William Mapother) she injured and whose wife and child she killed. Communication with the new planet has also revealed that it is a mirror image of our own as far as geography and population, but that different choices there may have given way to different events. Marling co-wrote this intriguing and often mesmerizing sc-fi/drama with director Mike Cahill, and while the logic and explanation behind the science fiction aspects are woefully lacking the drama, character work and “what if?” scenarios are excellent. As she does in the somewhat superior Sound of My Voice Marling brings an ethereal and fragile presence to […]

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Remember all the way back to last night when the Gothams announced their annual awards and thus declared that awards season was like, so totally on? No? Really? It was just last night, come on. In that vein, the Film Independent Spirit Awards have just announced their nominations for their annual awards (held in February, on the beach, as ya do in Los Angeles), and their picks come with their own surprises. Remember (no, seriously, I need you to remember back less than twenty-four hours) how the Gothams didn’t give squat to Take Shelter or 50/50 or Martha Marcy May Marlene? Or Drive? Or The Descendants? Well, the Independent Spirit nominations are here to ease that pain. Leading the nominations pack are just those very films, along with Gotham darling Beginners and black and white sensation The Artist, with Take Shelter and The Artist tied for the most nominations, with five each. Following the lead, with four nominations each are Beginners, Drive, The Descendants, and Martha Marcy May Marlene, with 50/50 logging three noms. And, coincidentally, it’s those top nomination-getters (save MMMM) that are all nominated for Best Feature. Funny how that works out, right? Other nominations of note include Best First Feature (Another Earth, In the Family, Margin Call, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Natural Selection ), Best First Screenplay (Another Earth, Margin Call, Terri, Cedar Rapids, 50/50), and the John Cassavetes Award, which is given to the best feature made for under $500,000 (Bellflower, Circumstance, Hello Lonesome, Pariah, The […]

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Since busting on to the scene with her work in two of Sundance 2011’s biggest hits, Brit Marling’s next roles have been the source of constant speculation and chatter. But the multi-hyphenate’s skills go far beyond just acting, and one move was always for sure – she would be reteaming with Zal Batmanglij for another film, titled The East. With Marling serving as female lead and co-writer with director Batmanglij, the film was in need of strong male lead to play against Marling. They may have gotten that with Alexander Skarsgård, who is in talks to join the film. We don’t know much about the film (and I don’t expect that to change, considering that the little we do know seems so intriguing and not in need of any sort of big elaboration), but we do know that it will revolve “around a female agent who infiltrates an eco-terrorist group. The title of the movie refers to the group’s name.” Marling will play the agent, with Skarsgård in talks to take on the role of the group’s leader. The East will chronicle the type of fringe group not normally seen on cinema screens. It brings to mind the documentary If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, which opened this year. That film focused on true stories of some of the ELF’s members, a number of which are certainly interesting enough to go the big feature route. The East should play as an interesting counterpoint to Marling […]

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Another Earth isn’t a sci-fi film. It’s a drama. While this idea may disappoint some of you, the sci-fi backdrop for the film is purely there for symbolism. Blending the science-fiction element with the core drama, on a structural and tonal level, must not have been an easy task. As director and co-writer Mike Cahill discusses, it wasn’t. It’s difficult to really talk about Another Earth fully without going into spoiler territory, so the conversation I had with Cahill was a revealing one. Once you’ve seen the film, then you’ll know why the ending can’t go un-discussed. Another Earth asks a handful of questions, and the ending raises the biggest and most divisive one. So, of course, beware of Spoiler-y hints. Here’s what Mike Cahill had to say about end theories, finding a cohesive structure, and the similarities between the star and co-writer Brit Marling‘s other feature, Sound of My Voice:

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Friends With Benefits director Will Gluck teaches us proper technique in the bedroom, Another Earth star William Mapother confronts what he’d do if he met himself, and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil director Eli Craig packs for Comic-Con with us. We can bring liquids on planes now, right? Listen Here: Download This Episode

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as DogEatsHeart and 5Obstructions5 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the pair apply some sun screen and some green screen in order to forecast how the movies of Summer 2011 might shape up. Is there a secret weapon to its inevitable success? Is its success inevitable? Anything would be better than last year, right?

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Last summer was a good (not great) movie season. Granted, there were some notorious duds with Robin Hood, Jonah Hex, Avatar: The Last Whatever-It’s-Called, the one where Jake Gyllenhaal talked real funny and had his shirt off a lot, and many, many others. And, of course, there were some rather disappointing missed opportunities (*COUGH* Iron Man 2 *COUGH*). But overall, it was a solid time for both big event films and the smaller ones. There were two excellent high profile films (Toy Story 3, Inception) and a handful of great little-seen ones (Animal Kingdom, Cyrus, Solitary Man, etc.). And who could forget about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? This summer will most likely be no different. There are a few films not to get too excited about, but there are plenty of other films to get tingly about. There are two Marvel films, a new frickin’ Terrence Malick epic, a great looking new X-Men…the list goes on and on. In fact, the list goes on right now with the 15 Must See Movies of Summer 2011:

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What is Movie News After Dark? Starting tomorrow, it will continue to be your best source of news from around the world of film. Or rather, all the best news that isn’t picked up during the day by the FSR news team. For tonight, it’s going to be avenging, traveling through time and space, and of course, checking in on the lack of development on Ghostbusters 3. Hooray! “Tomorrow we start shooting (I THINK I’m legally permitted to say that). Day one. That’s right. We’ll be shooting the pivotal death/betrayal/product placement/setting up the sequel/coming out scene, at the following address:” That’s Joss Whedon updating fans with a letter to Whedonesque. The Avengers is go, and one of them is gay. I knew it would be you, man with the mighty hammer.

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Maybe going in blind to this movie is the best option, because going in blind worked brilliantly for the trailer. I knew nothing about Another Earth until scoping out these few minutes, but those minutes are built to cause goosebumps. The less said the better. Check it out for yourself:

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Editor’s Note: In a fevered rush to get straight to the movies he loved, intrepid reviewer Robert Levin didn’t write an intro. In fact, he might not even believe in them. Maybe he believes you’d rather dig into the movies than read one. So without any ado, here’s Robert’s list of the best movies he saw at Sundance. Look out for a few of them coming to a theater near New York and LA and On Demand throughout the year.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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