Cast Away

Claire Danes Cry Face

There’s a way to do sadness in film, and there’s a way to make sadness all about you. Many of our favorite films feature a heartbreaking scene or two that tug at the emotions ever so gently, but there are some that take that premise and run with it all the way to the cry bank by using the supreme talents of their actors and their abilities to tear-up like there’s no tomorrow. Can you scrunch up your face and look like death’s just arrived? Excellent, Claire Danes, we’ll see you tomorrow. From Danes to Brando, here are some truly impressive cry faces.

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GRAVITY

With less than a week left before Alfonso Cuaron‘s Gravity hits theaters, you’re likely to see an increase in the already heaping mound of raves claiming it’s the best original sci-fi film of the year, if not years. The problem is that this is not sci-fi. I’ve been having minor debate about this for weeks now, and there are numerous critics and non-critics, both people who have seen and haven’t seen the film yet, on each of the two sides of this argument. At the end of the day, you can say I’m being too stubbornly semantical. That the genre doesn’t even matter these days. But this is a movie involving science, and science itself deals a lot in classification and semantics, so I feel it perfectly appropriate to stand firm on genre categorization with this one. And I keep cringing every time I see the term sci-fi or words science fiction applied to this film. Gravity features no aliens, no interstellar space travel, no time travel, and it doesn’t take place in the future. In fact, given that it involves a space shuttle as its method of travel into space, it would seem to be set in a past. And while I don’t know all the technological accuracy evident on screen, I do know the production aimed for this to be a realistic film of the world and science that is or was existing. To me, that’s not sci-fi. Just like Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff, never mind their […]

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The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  Even the most visionary and original films can seem derivative, especially to those of us who watch tons of movies on a regular basis. Occasionally it’s intended for the audience to spot certain allusions and apply them to our experience with this new work, as in the case of Holy Motors. Other times it’s not so deliberate, and the fact that new movies trigger memories of older movies (and vice versa depending on when they’re seen) is all on us, yet not totally without reason given how there are really only a few base plots and themes in existence and also given that our comprehension of things, particularly imaginative things, has to be relatable to other things we’ve comprehended previously. That’s why a movie like Avatar can be “like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” but only to an extent. For it to be accessible to a wide audience — let alone be one of the biggest worldwide hits of all time — it has to “unfortunately” resemble other movies. And now Life of Pi can be likened by critics to Avatar for similarly giving us spectacle like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It sounds ironic but it’s not. Even if the magical island in Pi may even further remind us of […]

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Culture Warrior

Editor’s Note: Normally it’s Landon Palmer hustling your brain through the mental gymnastics of popular culture and film theory, but he’s grading papers or something, so Cole Abaius is taking the reigns to drop kick your mind (instead of completely blowing it). Check back next week for the brilliance if you survive the completely adequate. It’s dark. Not the kind of dark where you strain to make out figures in the near distance or the kind of dark that sends a thrill through you in a movie theater. It’s the kind of darkness that your eyes never adjust to because there’s no light, and there never will be. I’m at the bottom of a cave near the small town of Bustamante, Mexico, and after passing graffiti from the 19th century, my friends and I have all decided to turn off our headlamps before heading into the grand hall. With the lights gone, the cool of the room becomes more tangible, and the walls begin to creep inward. Fortunately, this seems to be the latest trend in movie-making: shoving someone into the solitary confinement of life threatening danger, and seeing if they can work their way out.

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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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