Apocalypse Now

Sarah Polley in

A big new chunk of movies gets added to Netflix every month—which is awesome—but with the constant glut of new content, how are you supposed to know which movies are worth your time and which are just going to force you to hit stop after twenty minutes? This column will give you a place to start. I had to hit stop on a lot of bad movies in order to get this list together, so you owe me. Without further ado, here are 18 good movies to stream that were recently added to Netflix’s Watch-It-Right-This-Second service and should keep you entertained from start to finish. As always, click on the films’ titles in order to be taken to their Netflix page, where you can add them to your My List. Pick of the Month: Stories We Tell (2012) Stories We Tell is a documentary from director Sarah Polley that’s largely about Sarah Polley. Or, it’s about her origins, at least. Okay, a lot of it is about her mom, and how it came to be that Polley’s parentage became a point of contention among her older siblings. Is her dad really her dad, or might it have been this other guy? What kind of a life did her mother lead for this to even be a question? How does Polley herself feel about the ambiguity, and how would her relationship with her father change if she found out they weren’t biologically linked? This movie attacks the situation from a lot of angles, […]

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Francis Ford Coppola Produced By Conference

This post is in partnership with Cadillac Cadillac and the Producers Guild of America recently launched Make Your Mark, a short film competition that challenges producers to create compelling content with limited resources. Contestants will make a short film over a single weekend in late June, and the 30-second Cadillac spot featuring the grand prize winner’s film will air during the 2015 Academy Awards. The Guild also recently hosted the Produced By Conference, offering some incredibly storytellers sharing their filmmaking experiences, and the event couldn’t have ended on a better note: an hour-long discussion with Francis Ford Coppola. That’s right, the legendary director behind The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Jack, The Outsiders, and perhaps his most underrated work, and one of my favorite movies, Rumble Fish. If that isn’t reason enough to attend the Produced By Conference in the future, then what is? This panel was easily the most talked about. Up until that point, I hadn’t seen a line as long or a more packed house. Thankfully, the wait was worth it, because Coppola knows how to work a crowd. He’s charming, thorough, and exhibits no signs of an ego he’s earned. Not once did he refer to one of his many landmark films as a “classic.” In the case of Apocalypse Now, he didn’t go much further than saying it’s looked upon more fondly now. Coppola could’ve said he made one of the greatest pictures ever, and everyone still would’ve applauded his modesty. He was that charming. His 1979 epic was one of the many talking points of a panel that everyone would have been […]

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Pulp-Fiction-Diner

We all love to quote our favorite movies. Even my one-year-old son just started uttering “I’ve got it!” all the time, having picked up the phrase from his most-watched movie, Dumbo. I don’t know that it’s the most original or noteworthy piece of dialogue, but he hasn’t seen much yet. Usually the lines we remember and recite are those that stick out for a reason. They don’t always have to be something never heard before, as the quote’s notability could be all about the way it’s delivered by the actor saying it, though most of the time it’s a line specific and exclusive to a certain movie. Even if a hundred scripts since have borrowed “I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” we all know it comes from The Wizard of Oz. Aside from the fact that it gives us something with which to represent our fandom or appreciation of a movie, though, original dialogue isn’t that important. A lot of the time it’s really clever and stylized and therefore wouldn’t likely be found in a film with characters intended to sound natural. Imagine a serious realist drama where someone suddenly said something like “Fasten your seat belts… It’s going to be a bumpy night” or “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” or “I feel the need — the need for speed.” Sometimes original, quotable dialogue is so unnatural that it makes some people cringe, as in the cases of Juno and Napoleon Dynamite. Other times it might […]

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All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in November 2011, David C. Bell explores some of the toughest roads to the big screen for a score of great movies. Most films tend to be technological and logistical nightmares right from the start; clusters of egos working together with complicated equipment in an attempt to capture what is essentially a really elaborate lie tends to be a rather surreal process, so it’s not really surprising to hear that a whole lot of craziness can go down during the making of a movie – however as unsurprising as it may be, it’s still damn entertaining. That’s why DVD documentaries, in my opinion, are like the ultimate kind of reality TV: stick a bunch of millionaire actors, union laborers, and eccentric artists in a room with expensive and possibly life-threatening electrical equipment and you’re surely going to get something worth watching. These are the sets that were no doubt the worst to be party to, and the best to be a fly on the wall for – that is if you happen to be a really sadistic fly.

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IntroMacGuffins

First popularized by Hitchcock, Merriam-Webster defines a ‘MacGuffin’ as “an object, event, or character in a film or story that serves to set and keep the plot in motion despite usually lacking intrinsic importance.” Basically it’s the thing that makes the movie go. For example, R2-D2 is considered by George Lucas to be the MacGuffin of the Star Wars films. But what of human MacGuffins? Anyone can be a hostage or damsel in distress, so lets look at some of the less than conventional living beings that have propelled a plot.

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Apocalypse Now

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they imagine a world where all of the massive disasters that took place during the filming and post-production of Francis Ford Coppola‘s Apocalypse Now never happened. Would smooth sailing had delivered a bland war film? A forgettable trip into the jungle with a by-the-book villain at the end of a mad road? And why is it the highest-ranked war movie in the first place? In the #14 movie on the list, Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) hunts down a rogue Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) during the Vietnam War and learns all about napalm and surfing. But why is it one of the best movies ever?

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Francis Ford Coppola

Despite the fact that he’s best known for his sweeping, epic-in-scope work from the ‘70s like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, director Francis Ford Coppola has been spending his recent years making smaller, more experimental, or at least more under the radar projects like Tetro and Twixt. Yet, even with a smaller scale bringing lower expectations, his most recent work hasn’t been able to gain the same level of esteem as the smaller films of his past, like say 1974’s The Conversation. So what does a directing legend have to do to make a dang impact in this town? Some comments he made while pushing his new five film Blu-ray box set to Inside Movies suggest that he’s planning on returning to his epic roots. When explaining why he’s recently moved from the relative seclusion of his Napa Valley vineyard to new offices at Paramount, Coppola said, “I have a secret investor that has infinite money. I learned what I learned from my three smaller films, and wanted to write a bigger film. I’ve been writing it. It’s so ambitious so I decided to go to L.A. and make a film out of a studio that has all the costume rentals, and where all the actors are.”

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Apocalypse Now

This content series is in partnership with smartwater. smartwater, good taste travels well. Click here to learn more. It’s widely known that Quentin Tarantino worked at a video store before making it big, but it’s a widely held misconception that he earned his movie education while restocking the shelves of Video Archives. The filmmaker told MSN in 2009: “I want to clear something up about this. People always say I became a movie expert by working in a video store. I was employed by the video store because I was a movie expert. Before I went to Video Archives, I’d get the TV guide every week and read it cover to cover. Look at every movie playing. Circle all the movies I was gonna record. When I first discovered Howard Hawks, I spent a year and a half reading the TV guide and they played about 80 per cent of his entire oeuvre on Los Angeles TV.” Obviously, “Watch as Many Movies as Possible,” isn’t much of a secret, but it’s a more honest, tougher-to-take method for success than our vision of Tarantino soaking up movie knowledge through osmosis in Manhattan Beach. The secret involves a lot more homework. In that same spirit, here are 3 other secret ingredients that made great films as great as they are (and in some cases, possible at all).

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Culture Warrior

As much as I admire the incomparable films made during the era, New Hollywood (the term referring to innovative, risk-taking films made funded by studios from the mid-60s to the mid-70s) is a title that I find a bit problematic. The words “New Hollywood” better characterize the era that came after what the moniker traditionally refers to. Think about it: if “Old” or “Classical” Hollywood refers to the time period that stretches roughly from 1930 to 1960 when the studios as an industry maintained such an organized and regimented domination over and erasure of any other potential conception over what a film playing in any normal movie theater could be, then if we refer to the time period from roughly 1977 to now “New Hollywood,” the term then appropriately signifies a new manifestation of the old: regimentation, predictability, and limitation of expression. Where Old Hollywood studios would produce dozens of films of the same genre, New Hollywood (as I’m appropriating the term) could acutely describe the studios’ comparably stratified output of sequels, remakes, etc. What we traditionally understand to be New Hollywood was not so much its own monolithic era in Hollywood’s legacy, but a brief, strange, and wonderful lapse between two modes of Hollywood filmmaking that have dominated the industry’s history.

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Culture Warrior

Warning: Some of the links included in this article depict disturbing real-life violence against animals. When we talk about movies, we often talk about representation. And when we talk about representation, we’re most likely talking about people. How does this character’s personality fit in with my understanding of people in my daily life? What are the roles that men and women of different races, sexualities, and ethnic backgrounds play in a given narrative? What does an old film tell me about people during a different era? Who are the people that made a given film possible, and how did they contribute creatively? Simply put, cinema is a medium made by people, about people, and for people. But we often represent and depict other living beings through our narratives as well. We may be human, but we often identify with things that aren’t. This weekend I co-hosted a repertory screening of F. W. Murnau’s silent American classic Sunrise (1927). One of the film’s most memorable scenes features George O’Brien chasing after a precocious circus pig. The pig stumbles into a quiet kitchen and, through a series of screwball antics, causes a cook to drop a glass of wine onto the ground. It shatters, and the pig drinks the wine. What follows is a brilliant close-up of the pig, its eyes slowly drooping and its snout out-of-focus, which rather effectively conveys the animal’s state of inebriation. Through an intuitive implementation of form, the human audience is permitted to identify with the subjectivity […]

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Culture Warrior

A genre nearly as old as filmmaking itself, the western thrived throughout the years of the studio system but has zigzagged across rough terrain for the past forty or so years. For the last fifteen-ish years, the struggling, commercially unfriendly genre was either manifested in a neoclassical nostalgic form limited in potential mass appeal (Appaloosa, Open Range) or in reimagined approaches that ran the gamut between contrived pap and inspired deconstructions (anything from Wild Wild West to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). But last December, True Grit – a bona fide western remake that relied on the opportunities available in the genre’s conventions rather than bells, whistles, or ironic tongues in their respective cheeks – became a smash hit. Did this film reinvigorate a genre that was on life support, as the supposed revitalization of the musical is thought to have done a decade ago, or are westerns surviving by moving along a different route altogether? Three westerns released so far this year – Gore Verbinski’s Rango, Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff, and, as of this weekend, Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens – suggest mixed directions for the dusty ol’ genre.

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Culture Warrior

You hear the phrase “This movie could never be made today” quite often, and it’s typically a thinly veiled means by which a creative team allows themselves to administer loving pats on their own backs. But in the context of at a 35th anniversary exhibition of the restoration of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver with a justifiably disgruntled Paul Schrader in attendance, such a sentence rings profoundly and depressingly true. Like many of you, I’ve seen Taxi Driver many times before. For many, it’s a formative moment in becoming a cinephile. But I had never until last weekend seen the film outside of a private setting. And in a public screening, on the big screen, I’m happy to say the film still has the potential to shock and profoundly affect viewers so many decades on. For me personally it was the most disturbing of any time I’d ever seen the film, and I was appropriately uncomfortable despite anticipating the film’s every beat. Perhaps it was because I was sharing the film’s stakes with a crowd instead of by myself or with a small group of people, or perhaps the content comes across as so much more subversive when projected onto a giant screen, or perhaps it was because the aura of a room always feels different when the creative talent involved is in attendance. For whatever reason, I found the film to be more upsetting than in any other context of viewing. But one of the most appalling moments of Taxi […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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When asked by Hitfix about the images for The Hangover Part II that director Todd Phillips released to the public, actor Ed Helms seems to have come off a bit nonplussed. The only bit of information he seemed to be able to offer up about this much anticipated sequel is that, “…this one’s nothing like the first one.” This doesn’t seem like a very good way to hype up an upcoming project to me, seeing as people tended to really like the first one. But perhaps the lack of big hype could have stemmed from the fact that the release date for the film is still several months away and Helms didn’t feel prepared to talk about it. There was one bit of stammering in the article that caught my eye, however. The four month long film shoot in Thailand gets describes as “basically the comedy version of Apocalypse Now, always on the edge of total chaos, shooting in places Helms said felt genuinely ‘unsafe’”. He goes on to sputter out the sentence fragment, “…once we’re overseas, once we’re in Thailand, it’s just…” Did Ed Helms go crazy on the set of The Hangover Part II? Are there any reports of heart attacks and obscene drug use happening on the set? Not that I wish anything ill on the cast and crew of the film, but a bit of chaos may have been just what this one needs. Much of the appeal of the first movie was the “what’s going […]

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Robert Duvall turns 80 today, and that’s an achievement all on its own. It’s also important to keep in mind that Duvall has been in the filmmaking business for 49 years. That’s 61% of his life. The last thing any of us dedicated that much time to was our Regarding Henry action figure collection and doing the math for that problem. Duvall is an icon amongst icons, a living legend that has put just as much love into his craft as he’s gotten back, a cinematic luminary that still continues to make great films. Attempting to pay tribute to him is a difficult task not only because there’s not enough space on the internet to do it, but because his career is a difficult one to wrap one’s mind around. He’s done just about everything except compose a film score, and he’s done so while staying at the top of his game through almost five decades of Hollywood evolution.

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I believe it was Robinson Crusoe who once said “Fess up, Friday” after discovering a urine puddle on his straw shack’s linoleum floor. As revolutionary as that statement was almost three hundred years ago, it took a young man by the name of William B. Goss to bring it into the digital age. Thanks to his initiative, #fessupfriday is the most-used hashtag in Twitter’s four decades of existence. There are certain movies that every cinephile should have seen, but only the brave foolhardy movie lovers immune to ridicule actually admit to the acknowledged classics that have so far eluded them. Which brings me to Francis Ford Coppola’s epic Vietnam adventure, Apocalypse Now. #fessupfriday

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Back in 1979 Francis Ford Coppola took a vacation to South East Asia and filmed a family movie over a weekend. While that is probably untrue, in 1979 he did spend months in hell toiling to create what more than one reputable critic has described as “one of the greatest films of all time.” Hitting the streets on October 19th, Coppola’s Apocalypse Now comes to Blu-ray in stunning high definition for the first time. Available in two versions, the 2-Film Set and the Full Disclosure set, the former will run you $40 and the three disc latter version is $60. Unless of course you happened to know some handsome fellas willing to give you a copy for free….

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Culture Warrior

Synesthesia (syn-es-the-sia, Brit. syn-aes-the-sia): “The production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.” Synesthesia is a neurological disorder in which the experience of one sense motivates an involuntary association with another sense. Those who experience synesthesia, known as synesthetes, are able to either perceive letters or numbers as inherently colored, hear movement, or – in probably the best-known cases of the disorder – see music in the form of colors and/or associative shapes. Now, cognitive sciences seem, on the surface, to have little to do with the study of cinema, but the topic of synesthesia can be particularly helpful in understanding the way in which we interpret the interaction of the two senses most available in watching movies: the aural and the visual.

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Michael Cimino has gone over budget, beyond his schedule, and generally through hell for Heaven’s Gate. Now his cut is 5 and 1/2 hours long. Is artistic freedom really what Hollywood needs?

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This week’s Culture Warrior says that cinema is the ultimate form of art. And it has nothing to do with ‘Avatar.’ Seriously, it doesn’t.

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