Enemy

Warner Bros.

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Winter’s Tale Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) is a man out of time in early 20th century New York City. He’s on the run from a devilish mob boss (Russell Crowe) when a last minute detour lands him in love with a socialite (Jessica Brown Findlay) dying of tuberculosis. Can their romance survive human mortality, a Jimi Hendrix-loving Satan and a self-directed script by Akiva Goldsman? Winter’s Tale, so named because some scenes take place when it’s cold out apparently, is a terrible movie in most senses of the word. The romance doesn’t work, the fantastic elements feel out of place, there’s barely a single effective moment of suspense or emotion and the metaphysical message is a confused jumble of words randomly typed by chimpanzees while peyote smoke is blown into their anuses by drunken clergymen. There’s no getting around any of that, and yet… I want you to see it. To experience it. And to confirm for me that I didn’t just dream the whole damn thing. Check out my full review here if you still need convincing. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

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Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson in THE ROVER

Lionsgate was a pioneering label for brooding dramas, compelling imports and insightful nonfiction until it partnered with Tyler Perry, Jigsaw, and a certain YA book series. Miramax was the flagship of envelope-pushing American indies until the Weinsteins became better known for re-cutting films than for supporting filmmakers. Focus Features was the home of young early-aughts visionaries like Sofia Coppola, Michel Gondry and Joe Wright until CEO James Schamus was ousted to “broaden its portfolio.” As indie distributors and studio subsidiaries refocus their efforts towards studio-sized earnings, their previously coherent brand identities as vessels of imaginative filmmaking quickly fade out. Since the indie boom of the ‘90s gave way to the ‘00’s bottom lines, it’s been increasingly difficult and frustrating to rely on name distributors to continually devote their efforts toward risky films. All of which makes it all the more incredible that A24 has made itself into a distributor dedicated to anything but convention – and, at that, has assembled a slate of films defined by a certain amount of risk and subversion. With its 2013 slate – which included Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, Coppola’s The Bling Ring, Sally Potter’s Ginger and Rosa and James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now – A24’s first year was (intentionally or not) focused on films that produced a dark, incisive and more complex vision of youth than can be found elsewhere. But A24’s 2014 films have provided something even more needed in the current cinematic landscape: central performances that openly defy cinematic convention and expectation.

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Scarlett Johansson Movies

Last year, Steven Spielberg postulated that sometime within the next few years, a series of subsequent major flops will, in effect, dismantle the blockbuster mentality that has dominated Hollywood since Spielberg himself became a well-known director. While this doesn’t look like it will occur anytime soon – certainly not in 2015 – it’s not hard to imagine that the culture industry of remakes, sequels, adaptations, umpteenth reboots and general unoriginality will one day go the way of the September 2008 stock market. It’s happened before. When Hollywood attempted to compete with the rise of television, studios produced an onslaught of lengthy widescreen Technicolor historical pictures, all with massive star power and even bigger budgets. But this model of putting so much money into fewer individual films proved unsustainable, and now even massive hits like Cleopatra are remembered as flops in part because the stakes were so high and their productions were so troubled. It’s hard to believe, but the series of epics that Hollywood produced during the 1950s and 1960s are a blip on the radar of Hollywood’s history compared to the exponential bloating of budgets and expanding of franchises now. We’ve been swimming in the Blockbuster Mentality since 1980 and it’s only intensified since. Hollywood has dug its heels in, only to continue reproducing the same existing properties – thus limiting both the imaginations of audiences and filmmakers – in a way that’s unstoppable unless a West coast economic catastrophe happens. Well, at least, that’s the conventional wisdom.

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Jake Gyllenhaal and Jake Gyllenhaal in ENEMY

Last year’s Prisoners had an atmosphere driven by dread. Still, it was completely accessible and even with a clunky finale still managed to deliver conventional genre thrills. Director Denis Villeneuve‘s followup, Enemy, is a thriller that makes Prisoners light and cheery by comparison, thanks in part to screenwriter Javier Gullón‘s ceaseless desire to ask thought-provoking questions throughout his meaty mystery. Villeneuve’s film is an intense experience. Nothing ever feels right in this loose adaptation of “The Double,” even at the start of the film when we see the protagonist’s harmlessly repetitive lifestyle. Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a reclusive professor whose personal life is almost nonexistent. The most he has going for him is his distant girlfriend (Melanie Laurent). Everything in his life is on repeat until a fellow staff member recommends a local film to him. This is when Adam discovers Anthony St. Claire (Jake Gyllenhaal), an actor who looks exactly like him.

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Enemy

This coming Friday, Jake Gyllenhaal will take to the silver screen in Enemy, from Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve. It’s about a disheveled history professor who sees someone in a movie that looks exactly like him, sending him spiraling down the rabbit hole in search of the truth. Beyond the prestige of a Gyllenhaal/Villeneuve reunion, the film’s also got a killer supporting cast with the likes of Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) and Isabella Rossellini. It’s usually the kind of mistaken identity story that would be played for comedy, but here it appears to have taken a much darker and brooding turn. I hope this isn’t a guessed spoiler, but it’s giving me a real Orphan Black vibe. In celebration of the release of Enemy, we’d like to give you a little piece of Jake Gyllenhaal. His signature, to be exact. On a poster. We’ll also throw in a copy of the film’s soundtrack. All we ask in return is that you check out something else that may interest you: The Weekly Edition of FSR.

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Grand Budapest Hotel

March may not be the most wonderful time of the year, but this year it’s a pretty wonderful 31-day span. There’s a Wes Anderson movie, Muppets, a biblical epic, and the return of one of TV’s most charming characters. This month is overwhelming with quality, so much so that I had to exclude Eva Green’s performance in 300: Rise of an Empire from this list. Not only is that semi-sequel more fun, self-aware, and bonkers than the original, but Green chews up every bit of CG scenery in her sight. I already feel shame for scratching it off. Make sure to experience Green’s performance in 3D. Never before has a woman kissing a decapitated head been portrayed with such grace, but somehow Green and the power of a third dimension makes the romantic act more beautiful and visceral than ever. None of the 10 films featured below has the actress killing it in the third dimension, but they all have their own things going for them. Again, it’s an excellent month to look forward to.

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I’ve always wondered what it’d be like to watch Jake Gyllenhaal go through his daily routine. To see him use public transportation and brush his teeth and peruse nondescript work papers. And now, with the first teaser for Denis Villeneuve‘s Enemy, all my dreams have come true. Check it out just after the jump.

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Enemy

Yes, film festivals are wonderful to attend (and this month’s just-concluded Toronto International Film Festival is one of the most wonderful I’ve ever personally covered), but for those cinephiles who can’t get to Toronto or Park City or Cannes or Venice, it’s the ultimate question – which of these films will I actually get to see? TIFF is, of course a bit different than the vast majority of other festivals out there, simply because its biggest titles arrive with not only a large studio or production company footing the bill, but with set release dates we’ve known about months in advance. For a lot of the largest films at TIFF, the festival is simply a good place to have a premiere, get some buzz, and prep for the upcoming awards season – getting bought and distributed has already been taken care of. It’s no surprise that we’ll get to see films like Rush, August: Osage County, The Fifth Estate, Prisoners, and many more sooner rather than later (seriously, Rush comes out this week), but what about all those films that screened at TIFF with the intent to get bought? Plenty of them did get snapped up, and hopefully that means they’ll be hitting a theater near you soon enough. Take a look:

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TIFF

It happens at every film festival, and this year’s Toronto International Film Festival is no different – a string of titles are announced that sound almost laughably similar, either thanks to their actual titles (there’s a film called October November and one called September? Are you kidding me here?) or their overriding themes (no, you didn’t imagine that there are two films about regular dudes who discover creepy doppelgangers that are also both based on novels at this year’s festival). How will you ever unravel such strange mysteries? As a public service, we’ve compiled a guide to some of the most confusingly similar films at this year’s TIFF. Who’s going to be the first person to forget that Paradise is a standalone and Paradise: Hope is part of a trilogy? Not you! After the break, learn to tell the difference between Bastardo and Bastards, find out just who Joe and Belle and Therese and Violette are, unravel the mystery of dueling doppelganger-centric features, and find out if Love is the Perfect Crime has anything to say about Life of Crime (hint: it doesn’t).

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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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