Arbitrage

2012-overlookedmovies

The movies listed here aren’t necessarily the year’s best, but they’re still great movies that never found an audience during their theatrical run for one reason or another. At least one of those reasons is you, but instead of berating you for failing to support the films while they were in theaters and needed your help, we’re hoping to point you in their direction now. (Which reminds me… go see Jack Reacher!) But first, a few qualifications. I’ve excluded movies that played in fewer than 100 theaters since that’s the distributor’s fault. I’m not featuring films that made over $30m, and I’m not including subtitled foreign releases which the masses avoid by default. These are only films that had a real chance of making a lot more money, so while I wish more people saw the LCD Soundsystem concert doc Shut Up and Play the Hits, I’m not surprised that it only made $510k. So here are 12 great movies that failed at the box office but deserved much better (and should be sought out immediately on Blu-ray/DVD, streaming, whatever)… and 6 terrible flicks that you were right to avoid.

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The Best Soundtracks of 2012

Looking back over the past year in film, it is impressive to remember the different styles and forms of music that accompanied these various releases as they bring back the memories and emotions felt when first hearing a particular song or watching a piece of orchestration pair perfectly with what was happening on screen. When it comes to music, it is not simply a question of what was the best; it is a question of what resonated the most. Music created for film is unlike any other type of music because it is intended to be listened to while watching specific images. Of course there are songs that stand well on their own (see: Adele’s “Skyfall”), but hopefully even outside of the film, those songs conjure up memories of the films they came from. Sometimes a song placed in a particular scene can take on a whole new meaning, giving you a new ideas to reflect on when you hear it (see: “The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies as used in a pivotal scene in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.) Soundtracks and scores help add to the emotion of a film and this year’s musicians delivered in spades. From turning found sounds into orchestration to adding a new layer of depth to the end of a trilogy to proving that sometimes words simply are not enough, 2012 was filled with new, inventive, and memorable music. Let’s look back and listen to the twelve selections […]

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Killer Joe Chris (Emile Hirsch) is having a bad day, but when he decides the key to solving all of his problems is to have his mother whacked by a hit man (Matthew McConaughey) he discovers that things can always get worse in this refreshing return from William Friedkin. Gina Gershon, Thomas Haden Church and Juno Temple are all along for the violent and darkly comedic ride, but it’s McConaughey who shines through the grime, brutality and Southern hospitality gone bad. He excels as a cruel bastard looking for love in some very wrong places who’s unafraid to take what he wants even if that means abusing Gershon with a KFC drumstick. Also available on DVD. [Extras: Featurette, Q&A, SXSW intro, commentary, trailer]

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Aural Fixation - Large

We may stand in line to get our hands on the latest technology and watch as record stores close their doors as more and more music fans turn to iTunes and digital downloads instead of physical CDs, but there is still something about vinyl records that keep people coming back for more. While digital files are crisp and polished, it is almost impossible for a studio to duplicate the richness that comes from vinyl – plus those little imperfections and pops that come from listening to a record can sometimes be the best part. Even though CDs may seem like they are becoming a way of the past, there is a new trend coming forward and one that seems to be popping up more and more with soundtrack releases – the option to get these compilations on vintage vinyl. While he is known for creating electric scores for films such as Traffic and Contagion, Cliff Martinez’s work is also layered making it a prime choice to take a spin on the ol’ record player. This year Martinez’s work got the vinyl treatment twice with Milan Records releasing his dark and seductive score for Arbitrage and Mondo releasing his iconic score for Drive as a double vinyl album and enlisting artist Tyler Stout to create the album cover and package design. While the large cover that house these records allow artists more room for creative expressive and memorable images, it is the records themselves that give these scores added depth, providing […]

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Arbitrage 2012 Film

Resident Evil: Retribution won the box office this weekend with $21.1m domestic (an average amount for the franchise), but it was The Master which impressed most with a stunning $146,000 per theater average (scoring a total of $730,000 before expanding next week) and Arbitrage which scored over $2m in just under 200 theaters. The 5-theater feat from Paul Thomas Anderson‘s latest makes it the second-highest opening per theater average in history for a limited release live-action film (behind Red State). If that seems like a lot of qualifiers, it’s because it is. However, it’s important to keep in context that top record-makers for per theater averages are 6 Disney-released films (The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Princess and the Frog, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, Hercules) followed by Red State, followed by another Disney-released film (Atlantis: The Lost Empire), followed by The Master in the #9 spot. So it’s not like this is a wide-open field or anything. This is an achievement almost solely regulated to animated features, but it’s unsurprising considering the massive buzz that The Master has achieved ahead of a very small release. [Box Office Mojo]  

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Aural Fixation - Large

Have you ever looked at the expensive highrises that dot the New York City skyline and wondered what it would be like to run one of the companies housed within them? Not necessarily the long hours, tough decisions, and stress that would come with such a position, but the type of life that kind of work leads to – a life of privilege, beauty, and lack of consequences. A life where working above the fray causes you to feel like you may almost be above the fray itself. Director Nicholas Jarecki takes us past the velvet ropes and doormen into this decedent and stunning world, a world you usually only find in people’s fantasies, but one that is a reality for those select few able to afford it. While this life is unquestionably beautiful and enticing, the big businessman it is afforded to got a bit of a shake up when things started crashing down on Wall Street and those who may once have been viewed (and viewed themselves) as untouchable started to experience some undeniable cracks. Arbitrage focuses on the life of powerful businessman Robert Miller (Richard Gere), a man whose world is surrounded by rich mahogany, dollar signs, and the insides of town cars. His life is one you would expect for a man in his position, but Cliff Martinez takes a more unexpected route with his score, giving this stiff and almost antiquated environment some real texture and vibrancy. The juxtaposition of these classic settings with Martinez’s more modern, electronic sound helps create a […]

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Arbitrage 2012 Film

Editor’s note: With Arbitrage hitting theaters this week, here is a re-run (totally free! no financial risks to you!) of our Sundance review, originally posted on January 22, 2012. Last year’s Sundance Film Festival featured a break-out hit with J.C. Chandor’s Margin Call, a taut and talky tale of investment bankers trying to chuck bad money and bad books in the early days of the financial crisis. Chandor’s film cleaned up nicely on the awards circuit, and it’s surely paved the way for screenwriter and documentarian Nicholas Jarecki‘s feature film debut, a sexier sister to Margin Call.  Arbitrage brings out the big guns to tell its twisted story – starring Richard Gere as hedge fund magnate Robert Miller attempting to sell his family business, with Susan Sarandon as his charitable wife Ellen, Brit Marling as smarty-pants daughter Brooke, and the ever-solid Tim Roth as a police detective steadily cracking open their rarefied lives. Here, Jarecki has crafted great atmosphere – we understand the Millers’ lifestyle and relationships within mere minutes, and the film holds that tone and that feel throughout its perhaps slightly-too-long runtime. Arbitrage is slick and watchable, well-made and with some nice surprises, but it’s void of any sense of humanity, and seeing rich people doing bad stuff doesn’t amount to stick-to-your-ribs cinema.

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Arbitrage Movie

The feature narrative directing debut of writer and documentarian Nicholas Jarecki features a flaming car, a businessman, and way too much money on the line to tell the truth. Arbitrage – starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, and Brit Marling – is the story of a car accident that threatens to derail the gravy train of a morally-questionable man facing a large merger. The trailer makes a huge impact. It’s incendiary and thrilling, hopefully marking the arrival of a stunning work of drama. Not too bad for a movie channeling a super sexy macro-economic pricing theory. Check it out for yourself:

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There’s a solid chance that you haven’t heard of most of these movies. Yet they exist – out there somewhere as a thorn in the side of movie fans trying to see as much as possible. Nuggets of potential waiting to be picked up from the movie orphanage by a distributor and given a warm home with cup holders in every seat. The European Film Market is fascinating for that reason and for the way people attend it. Tickets this year were around $600, but that’s a reasonable price for companies sending representatives trying to find the next moneymaker for their company or the hot movie to bring to their festival. That means screenings come complete with people on cell phones and unimpressed buyers walking out after ten minutes to hustle next door to see if the other movie playing has any promise to it. It’s a bizarre way to watch movies, but it makes a kind of sense given the massive size of the movie list compared to the tiny amount of time to see everything. There were upwards of 675 movies in the EFM this year, all of them with their own selling points. Here are the 87 most interesting-sounding with descriptions found in the official catalog. For the most part, I haven’t seen these movies (and didn’t even know about many of them until the Berlin Film Festival), but they all have something going for them that should earn them a spot on your radar.

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The annual week I spend in sleepy Park City, Utah, carousing with the rest of the online film criticism glitterati, eating criminally overpriced pizza, barely sleeping, and consistently worrying about early on-set frostbite is my favorite week of the year. Not just for the pals, the pizza, and the sleep deprivation, but for (shockingly!) the movies. I’ve been lucky enough to see some truly great stuff at Sundance over the past two years – The Freebie, Winter’s Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Take Shelter all come to mind quite quickly, particularly because those films all stuck with me long enough to make it on to my top ten lists for their respective years. That’s staying power, and that’s the power of Sundance – seeing films in January that stay top-of-mind (and top-of-top-ten-list) for eleven months (and beyond). So which films from this year’s Sundance will prove to be long-range winners? While I can certainly make some very educated guesses, there’s no way to know for sure until my eyeballs meet Park City’s theater screens. That said, it’s probably safe to assume my ultimate favorite is somewhere on the following list of my ten most anticipated films for this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

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Sundance is many things – cold temperatures, snow, memorizing the shuttle schedule, training your body to take two hour “naps” each night, Simon Baker stopping your delirious self from walking into on-coming traffic on Main Street (a true, and embarrassing, story), but most importantly – it’s about movies. The Sundance Film Festival is the first big film festival of the year and as such, it never fails to set the bar high with standout programming from premiere features to moving documentaries to midnight scare-a-thons. With an impressive (and at times overwhelming) slate of films to choose from, I narrowed down the films that seem to be getting the most buzz already and are popping up on people’s “must-see” lists. Of course there will probably be a film or two here that do not live up to expectations while there is also a good chance that I have left something out that will end up being a standout at this year’s festival, but it is that unpredictability that’s part of the fun. Stay tuned to FSR as Kate Erbland and I head to Park City this weekend to take in as many of these titles as we can and report back on whether they live up to the hype and what should stay on your must-see lists as these films (fingers crossed) get picked up for distribution over the next eleven days. A mix of features and documentaries, comedies and horror, this list features both actors and filmmakers returning to Sundance and […]

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2011 gave us a lot of great music (as I rounded up here), but there was one composer who stood out from the pack with his distinctive scores (two of which made my year-end list) for films that ranged from a backseat law practice (The Lincoln Lawyer) to a viral epidemic (Contagion) to a near silent stunt driver by day, getaway driver by night (Drive). Three very different films with three distinct scores, all from the same composer – Cliff Martinez. Martinez has garnered the most attention and praise for his score for Drive, but he also created impressive (and memorable) music for The Lincoln Lawyer and Contagion. The Lincoln Lawyer may not have been the biggest hit at the box office, but it was a decent film and it stood out in my mind more than I thought it would, thanks to its music. The same was the case with Contagion, a film I enjoyed well enough, but kept thinking back on thanks to its score. When I looked into who was behind these scores it was no surprise when I came to find Martinez behind the conductor’s baton for both.

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Last week, the 2012 Sundance Film Festival announced their first wave of programming, featuring twenty-six titles that will be screening in competition. They followed that with the announcement of their Spotlight, Next, Park City at Midnight, and New Frontiers films. It was two days of absolute madness and glee, and the festival sagely waited a few days, giving us the buffer of a weekend to catch our collective breath, before breaking out the big guns. The Premiere and Documentary Premieres. That’s a bit clunky – so the Premieres! The Premieres are here! Per usual, here’s a list of films that immediately jump out at me: Julie Delpy’s follow-up to 2 Days in Paris, the Delpy and Chris Rock-starring 2 Days in New York, Nicholas Jarecki’s Abritrage (which stars one of last year’s break-out stars, Brit Marling, in her fist big-time feature role), Lee Toland Krieger’s Celeste and Jesse Forever (which stars co-writer Rashida Jones), Stephen Frears’ Lay the Favorite, Josh Radnor’s second film Liberal Arts (also starring one of last year’s big stars, Elizabeth Olsen), Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer, Stacy Peralta’s Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, and Amy Berg’s West of Memphis. Check out the full list of Sundance Film Festival Premiere picks after the break.

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