Compliance

Zero Dark Thirty

Consider awards season fully, totally, and irrevocably on as of this very moment. The National Board of Review has just announced their winners for the 2012 movie-going season, and their list is packed with a lot of names we should just get used to hearing attached to accolades – names like Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Looper, and many more. Missing from the list? Anything related to Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master, Ang Lee‘s Life of Pi, and Joe Wright‘s Anna Karenina. Also shocking? Bradley Cooper‘s Best Actor win (for SLP) over Daniel Day-Lewis‘s work in Lincoln. Last year’s big winner was Martin Scorsese‘s Hugo, with that film picking up both Best Film and Best Director, much like Bigelow and her Zero Dark Thirty have for this crop of awards. But ZBD already has a leg up on Hugo here, with Jessica Chastain earning Best Actress honors for her work in the film, while Hugo went without any acting accolades. While the winners list is dominated by ZBD, SLP, and Beasts, there are definitely some wonderful surprises tucked away within the picks – winners like Ann Dowd for Best Supporting Actress for Compliance, the Spotlight Award to John Goodman (for his work in Argo, Flight, Paranorman, and Trouble With the Curve), the inclusion of The Perks of Being a Wallflower in the Top Films list, and a Top Independent Film listing rounded out with some superior picks (like Compliance, End of Watch, […]

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Actor Pat Healy doesn’t have an easy role in Craig Zobel‘s Compliance. In the controversial Sundance hit, Healy is mostly seen alone in his scenes, doing one of the most dull cinematic acts around: talking on the phone. Not only that, the character’s reasoning is all a mystery, motivations which Healy has to completely internalize. Those feelings he has to capture aren’t the most pleasant ones as well. “Officer Daniels” (as he likes to go by) is a self-loathing emasculated man who revels in power, or at least that’s how Healy sees him. Zobel doesn’t give plain answers for the many of the characters’ bone-headed and disturbing actions. Compliance could be about how far misogyny can drive an emasculated dweeb or, as our Kate Erbland put it, an “exceedingly well-made interpersonal drama that hinges on the limits (and, oftentimes, depths) of human nature and people’s response to certain carefully calibrated psychological tricks.” Here’s what actor Pat Healy had to say about having to carry around feelings of self-loathing, why he couldn’t do his scenes in his pajamas, and the childlike wonder of Werner Herzog:

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Obamas America

The Expendables 2 and The Bourne Legacy continued to make money this weekend. In fact, the top 7 box office earners from last week all kept their spots this time around except for Sparkle which dropped to 11th place and allowed The Dark Knight Rises and Timothy Green to improve their positions. Premium Rush opened to 7th place with $6.3m on 2,255 screens – resulting in a per screen average that was on par with movies that have been out for two to three weeks and lower than some new offerings. It wasn’t an auspicious opening, but even as the top winners ossify in the August doldrums, the real winners are indie films, and at the top of the heap is 2016: Obama’s America. Based on the book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” by Dinesh D’Souza and co-directed by D’Souza and John Sullivan, the documentary takes a look at what the country and world might be like if the President were to earn a second term. After a limited run in July, the documentary had a successful weekend with $6.2m (which you’ll note almost beat out Premium Rush), vaulting to the number 6 spot on the list of highest-grossing political docs. Even more dramatic, it’s now the highest-grossing right-leaning political doc, beating out Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (which was produced by Sullivan) for the honor. It seems possible that Obama’s America might be able to increase its position on the overall list by earning $5.3m more to overtake Capitalism: A Love Story. Depending on how the expansion is handled, and how audiences […]

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Editor’s note: With Sundance’s most controversial film hitting theaters today, here is a re-run of our Compliance review from that festival, originally published on January 25. It seems that there is always at least one film at Sundance that stirs up some sort of controversy – the kind the leads to people running out of screenings or ends with people screaming at post-movie question-and-answer sessions. In 2011, it was Lucky McKee’s The Woman, this year, it’s undoubtedly Craig Zobel‘s Compliance. Much like McKee was taken to task about presumed misogyny in his film, Zobel endured post-screenings Q&As in which the film was damned as being exploitative. In those cases, however, the hecklers were quite wrong. Compliance is an exceedingly well-made interpersonal drama that hinges on the limits (and, oftentimes, depths) of human nature and people’s response to certain carefully calibrated psychological tricks.

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Craig Zobel Interview

Compliance caused quite a stir at this year’s Sundance. Many labeled the film exploitative, finding its subject matter too much to bare. There were also other viewers, such as our Kate Erbland, who perfectly described the film as “an exceedingly well-made interpersonal drama that hinges on the limits (and, oftentimes, depths) of human nature and people’s response to certain carefully calibrated psychological tricks.” It’s a fine line between exploitation and conveying the harsh reality of the true story, but that’s not the sole challenge director Craig Zobel faced. A majority of Compliance features one of the most dullest acts to watch on screen: characters talking on the phone. There’s rarely anything cinematic about it, but Zobel managed to make every phone call ooze with dread, which probably helped him land a pretty nice gig with Tobey Maguire… Here’s what Compliance director Craig Zobel had to say about the film’s exploration of authority, never giving clear answers for the truly terrible decisions made in the film, and making one long phone call between a psycho and an average joe manager exciting:

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This hasn’t been the most prolific of summers as far as blockbusters are concerned. The Avengers gave this season a promising start, but no action film came close to matching its scope and sheer love for fun. Last month was the most disappointing proof of that, with the very flawed Amazing Spider-Man and the messy finale we got with The Dark Knight Rises. However, there’s been a good run of independent releases so far — Killer Joe, Headhunters, Safety Not Guarnteed, Your Sister’s Sister, Take This Waltz, etc. —  and this August is no different, with plenty of small and greatly satisfying offerings to be discovered.

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Buried in my viewing notes from Craig Zobel‘s Sundance premiere, Compliance, is a one-line note from a fellow journalist. Scrawled out, almost angrily, it reads “no one is this stupid!!!” Oh, but they are. Zobel’s film was one of the most controversial of the festival – subject to walk-outs and heated Q&A sessions – but it was also one of the absolute best productions unveiled in Park City this past January. The film is based on a true story (no matter how confounding and bizarre that story may be) and one that Zobel distills down into one singular event. Compliance centers on fast food worker Becky (Dreama Walker) and her generally nice (if a bit of overbearing) boss Sandra (Ann Dowd). On a day like any other, Sandra receives a phone call from a police officer who says he’s working on a case that involves Becky, and would Sandra be so kind as to help him detain Becky until he can get there? And could she possibly search Becky? And she possibly help him out with a full strip search of Becky? And…well, you get the idea. Compliance is as uncomfortable and riveting as cinema gets, and so is its first trailer. Get ready to get uncomfortable, and check out the first trailer for Compliance after the break.

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Spend enough time on the festival circuit and certain films just keep coming back around – but fortunately, they’re usually good ones we’re happy to see again. As the first big film festival of the year, Sundance often features some of the best independent films that people like us Rejects will be jawing about for months to come. SXSW offers the chance for cinephiles to catch a bevy of films that other people have been carrying on about for weeks and weeks, thanks to both their regular programming and their ever-clever Festival Favorites section, which is packed with (you can probably guess) films that have played recently at other festivals that the SXSW crowd will eat right up. After the break, get reacquainted with ten films we saw, reviewed, and (in some cases) loved back in January in snowy Park City, Utah. All ten are playing at this month’s (let’s be real, this week’s) SXSW Film Festival in Austin, our very own hometown film fest. Luckily enough, some of our favorite Sundance films pop on this list, including one I enjoyed so much that I am going to see it again in Austin.

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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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