Barton Fink

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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As far as I can tell, regular folk don’t care for movies about movies or films about filmmaking. They used to, back when Hollywood was a more glamourous and idolized place for Americans. Classics like Sunset Boulevard, Singin’ in the Rain, The Bad and the Beautiful and the 1954 version of A Star is Born were among the top-grossing releases of their time. But 60 years later, it seems the only people really interested in stories of Hollywood, actors, directors, screenwriters, et al. are people involved with the film industry — the self-indulgence being one step below all the awards nonsense — and movie geeks, including film critics and fans. If you’re reading Film School Rejects, you’re not one of the aforementioned “regular folk,” and you probably get more of a kick out of stuff like Living in Oblivion, Ed Wood, Get Shorty, State and Main, The Hard Way, The Last Tycoon, The Stunt Man, The Big Picture, The Player, Bowfinger, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Argo than those people do. While it is true that The Artist faced the challenge of being a silent film, another major obstacle in the way of box office success must have been its Hollywood setting. Argo isn’t really literally about filmmaking, though, and that might be working in its favor. Ben Affleck‘s period thriller, which is expected to finally take the top spot at the box office this weekend, is about not making a film, so it should have the opposite result of most movies in which […]

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Filmmaking Tips from The Coen Brothers

There are a lot of stories about colleagues and reporters asking Joel and Ethan Coen questions only to get the same exact answer from both (or to get one finishing the other’s sentence), so it seems at least plausible that they’d both agree on all these tips – no matter which brother they came from. Joel Coen got his start as an assistant editor on Fear No Evil and The Evil Dead. He and his brother then partnered for their first movie without the word “evil” in the title, Blood Simple., which rightly launched them to prominence where they’d go on to craft Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, countless other modern classics and a trophy case for all their awards. All of this fulfilled a childhood dream of making movies that started with a Super 8 camera and a hobby of remaking what they saw on television. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from two young masters who think exactly alike.

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Sound Works Collection has done a panel interview with the sound team of True Grit that is an interesting listen for a couple of reasons. They’ve gathered together longtime Coen collaborators Skip Lievsay, who is the Sound Re-recording Mixer and Supervising Sound Editor, Greg Orloff, who is also a Sound Re-recording Mixer, and Byron Wilson, who is a Dialogue/ADR Editor. Much of the interview centers on their work on True Grit, complete with clips of key scenes and their analysis of what they did and why to create the sound of the film. They go into not just the technical aspect of how they got the job done, but also explore the themes of the film and why they made the choices that they did in order to support the storytelling as a whole. It’s an interesting listen in that respect for audiophiles and prospective filmmakers.

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. If you’re thinking about going out to Hollywood, especially in the 1940s, to make it big – this trailer might have something to say about it. Pro tip: Don’t set up shop in a hotel next to John Goodman, don’t fall for the wrong woman, and don’t flirt with the Devil. Think you know what it is? Check out the trailer after the jump.

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Culture Warrior

I know no cinephile whose taste in movies survives completely the decades of aging and growing as a filmgoer. I have little doubt that others like myself look back at films they loved ten or more years ago with different eyes, either with a more informed context, renewed appreciation, or even developing befuddled questions as to why they felt such affection for these films in the first place. I recently found an interesting connection and disparate paths of meaning-making with regard to two films that originally inspired my love and appreciation for cinema, and it is in the respective ways in which these films use ambiguous objects.

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