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Tomboy Movie

The beginning of each month is an exciting time wherein Netflix dumps a large number of new titles onto their streaming service. Comb through those titles as well as others added in the past couple of weeks, and a few great titles bubble to the surface. Let’s take a look at a documentary about urban design, a drama about adolescent sexual identity, an existential Western from the vaults, and a few more movies worth streaming this week.

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If one were to conduct a scientific study meant to determine what the most successful action movie of the 90s was, chances are pretty dang good that Speed would be near the top of the candidates for consideration. A success both financially and critically, this high-octane tale of a bomb on a perpetually moving bus solidified Keanu Reeves as one of Hollywood’s go-to leading men, launched the gigantic career of Sandra Bullock, and even gave its director, Jan de Bont, a success to add to his resume. All of that should be enough to solidify Speed’s place as one of the most important 90s action movies already, and we haven’t even factored in how it also managed to introduce the phrase, “Pop quiz, hotshot,” into the cultural lexicon. So, pop quiz, hotshot: Die Hard was the greatest action movie ever made, but its sequel, Die Hard 2, was a derivative bore churned out by one of the most prolific manufacturers of schlock of the last few decades, Renny Harlin. What do you do? You get the director of the original, the inimitable John McTiernan, to come back for the third film, Die Hard With a Vengeance. DHWAV, from what I can tell, isn’t hated. It’s widely considered to be the second-best entry in the Die Hard franchise, it certainly made its makers some money, and it doesn’t get derided as the death of the franchise like the belated fourth sequel, Live Free or Die Hard, does. But it doesn’t get […]

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Reel Sex

Ladies and open-minded gentlemen, this is the weekend for which we have been waiting ever so patiently. Years of watching our fellow sisters remove clothing and undulate for the good of “story” has finally paid off, and we will have our day in the sun. Our fearless prince, director Steven Soderbergh, has reached into the depths of his vast (yet dwindling) bag-o-tricks and presented us with a simple masterpiece that has been on the tip of wagging tongues for months. Magic Mike is the product of a genius, and while it isn’t a perfect film, Soderbergh’s dedication to objectifying his male cast is reassuring and welcomed. It is about time ladies get a fluff movie that isn’t about shopping, shoes, or relationships, but instead two hours of glorious female gaze. These men are hotter than this Texas drought I’m currently suffering through, and I appreciated every moment I had with them. But what makes Magic Mike something of dreams is the film’s playful self-awareness that it is, in fact, meant to be a sort of man droolfest. Soderbergh knows what he’s doing, and instead of alienating his audience he embraces them, offers up a beer, and presents six sexy, shirtless men on a platter for the world to see. I’m sure a discussable plot is in there somewhere (and I will leave that to our film review), but I am more interested in reflecting on a handful recent films that paved the way for this glorious moment of shirtless wonderment.

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Kathryn Bigelow is the sort of director who’s been defying perceived gender limitations her entire career. The biggest of those accomplishments came when she became the first woman in history to win the Oscar for Best Director. Her Oscar-winning film, The Hurt Locker, was a tense look at military bomb defusers that created more movie chills than 99% of the horror films that get released in any given year. And it showcased a strong performance from Jeremy Renner that essentially made his career and catapulted him toward being one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Before she ever won her Oscar, however, she was already defying expectations by shattering the myth that a woman couldn’t direct kick-ass action movies. Her 1991 film Point Break is probably one of the most manly movies ever made. It’s about extreme sports-loving adrenaline junky bank robbers, and it stars Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze as the cops and robbers. But, despite the fact that Point Break has a cult audience, it’s viewed by most as being a guilty pleasure, a relic of the early ’90s when cheesy action movies ruled the day. Maybe it’s because Keanu is milking his dense, surfer persona for all it’s worth, or because the movie is so unapologetically an action film, but people just don’t take Point Break seriously these days. And that sucks, because it’s really well-made.

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Despite the fact that we’re getting pretty close to its 75 year anniversary, The Wizard of Oz is just as recognized and celebrated today as it’s ever been, and we’ll probably still be showing it to our kids another 75 years from now. There’s good reason for that. Its music is gorgeous and iconic, its cinematography is ageless, and its production design and in-living-color presentation must have been something to see back in 1939. But, in the grand scheme of things, is this really a movie that’s so great that we should still be treating it with so much reverence? Or has watching The Wizard of Oz simply become a tradition we mindlessly follow, like always eating a turkey on Thanksgiving or puking up green food coloring on St Patrick’s Day? Steven Spielberg’s 1991 film Hook spins off of a legendary story, continues the tale of a handful of legendary characters, and was brought to us by maybe the most legendary director there’s ever been… but to say that it isn’t considered a legendary movie would be a pretty big understatement. It’s got a tone right in line with the best of Spielberg’s work, and it’s photographed just as beautifully as anything else he’s done, but ever since its release it has largely been considered a trifle, or even an annoyance. Critics have called Hook full of bad humor, overstuffed with exposition, and devoid of any of the magic of the original Peter Pan tale. Many consider it to be […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? This week it’s a series of second stringer fill-ins trying not to run things into the ground while regular columnist Neil Miller disappears for a while due to reasons both glamorous and mysterious (in true Lohan fashion, he’s cited both “exhaustion” and “being dehydrated”). And today it’s a laundry list of Internet people still crushing on Joss Whedon’s superhero extravaganza, The Avengers, because Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows shit the bed this weekend and we haven’t had anything shiny to come along to steal away our fickle attentions yet. Let’s get to it. The above image comes from an artist named Hannah, who has proven that her finger is firmly on the pulse of the Internet by paying tribute both to the death of beloved children’s author Maurice Sendak as well as the work of beloved nerd-God Joss Whedon by mashing up Sendak’s artistic style with the cast of The Avengers. Is cute, no?

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Comedic actor Mike Meyers has had an interesting film career. On the one hand he can be considered an amazing success, because he has three huge franchises under his belt. On the other hand, he sometimes gets looked at as something of a failure, because everything he’s done outside of those franchises has been less than stellar. The first two franchises Meyers launched were Wayne’s World and Austin Powers; moneymaking juggernauts in their own rights for sure. But it was the third series of films he was involved in, the animated Shrek movies, that really broke the bank. This tale of an overgrown ogre finding true love managed to connect with children and parents alike, and the original spawned a series of sequels that broke all sorts of box office records and pushed mountains of merchandise. I’m sure Meyers was a rich man already, but Shrek made him very rich. One project that didn’t do so well for the guy was So, I Married an Axe Murderer. It was Meyers’ big followup to his breakthrough success with Wayne’s World, the movie that could have  seen him moving away from the heavy character work he did on Saturday Night Live and moving closer to taking more mainstream roles playing regular guys. Unfortunately it didn’t even make a tenth of the money that Wayne’s World pulled in, it’s been largely forgotten over time, and Meyers hasn’t been accepted in a role where he plays a regular guy since.

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Reel Sex

To turn a phrase from my favorite family of Northerners, “Summer is Coming.” And by coming, I mean today. After waiting what felt like an eternal Westeros winter, Marvel Studios will finally reward us with the release of Joss Whedon’s take on The Avengers. If you haven’t already, take a moment to read our review of the film, re-watch the trailers, and then meet me back here for some fireworks and sno-cones. People have been saying for weeks now that the film is pretty great, and thankfully that is true. Whedon built a rich world for these Marvel characters; putting so much detail into their stories and their lives that it’s virtually impossible not to get wrapped up in the battle trickster Loki (Tom Hiddleston) wages with his brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the rest of the Avengers gang. But there is one surprising element lacking from The Avengers—pivotal women sharing scenes. Shocking considering Whedon has always been an advocate for female role models and has fought TV and film studios for years over the way he prefers to portray women in his cannon. Yes, he had huge pressure on his shoulders to craft a stellar superhero film, but of all the things Whedon could have done wrong why did he have to separate his two major women characters from each other? It’s a bit troubling to say the least.

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Though Frank Oz hasn’t meant much as a director in recent years, once upon a time he was a pretty successful go to guy. And his 1991 comedy, What About Bob?, is considered by many to be a modern comedy classic. His tale of an obsessive compulsive, overly dependent nut job and his doormat therapist going on vacation together is the sort of movie that friends constantly quote amongst one another, that fans revisit year after year. Is it really that great a comedy though, or is it more the case of a solid film getting propped up to mythic status due to the cult of Bill Murray deifying anything the sad-faced actor touches? On the flip side, You, Me and Dupree came and went in 2006 without much notice from the public, but not without earning some pretty damning reviews from critics and a decent amount of derision from Internet pundits. This comedy about a newlywed getting stuck with the task of taking in his wayward, eccentric best friend got called words like “lazy,” “tired,” and “obvious” in the film press. Whether it was due to the overexposure of Seth Rogen and Owen Wilson, who were each putting out about ten movies a year at this point, or the inclusion of Kate Hudson, whose name slotted in as the female lead is usually poison for comedies, people really responded to this one negatively. But is it really that bad, or was its release just a case of wrong movie, […]

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When writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman teamed up on the 2007 film, Juno, the responses were mixed. Some people liked it quite a bit, not just because it was clever and quippy, but also because it presented a realistic, affecting look at the inherent drama of teenage pregnancy. Other people thought that it was painfully self-conscious in its hipness and insufferably annoying in its quirk, so they raged against any praise that came its way. Their next team-up, Young Adult, was different though. Not only did this look at a washed-up YA author traveling back to her home town in order to break up her high school sweetheart’s marriage do well with Juno fans, it did quite well with those who couldn’t stand Cody’s writing up to that point, as well. Charlize Theron’s painfully honest protagonist and Patton Oswalt’s achingly tragic supporting character really hit home for most. On the other end of the spectrum, the 2005 film Lonesome Jim doesn’t get very many mentions in a very many circles. On a couple levels, that makes sense. It’s a micro-budget indie that doesn’t provide any spectacle and didn’t get much promotion, and it was only seen on a handful of screens during its theatrical release. On the other hand, there are several reasons why you’d think this movie would have gotten more play over time. It’s one of the few films directed by Steve Buscemi, who everybody seems to love, it’s got great lead performances by Casey Affleck […]

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Apocalypse Soon: Top Gun

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Top Gun (1986) The Plot: Two renegade fighter pilots, the now iconic Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Goose (Anthony Edwards), are selected to hone their skills as pilots (and as men) at an elite program known as: Top Gun. Veritable underdogs, Maverick and Goose find themselves testing their talent against advisories like Ice Man (Val Kilmer), their charm against love interests like Charlie (Kelly McGillis) and learning from veteran pilots like Viper (Tom Skerritt), all while discovering what it truly means to be the best of the best.

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Reel Sex

The past few weeks have been incredibly exciting for anyone following the curious case of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, the sexually adventurous stars of E.L. James’s erotic romance e-book Fifty Shades of Grey. What started off as a Twilight fan fiction has turned out to be at the center of an American literary explosion not seen since James’s own inspiration was up for auction at Little, Brown, and Company in 2007. Now the foreign erotica import has not only been snatched up for seven figures by a literary arm of Random House Publishing known as Vintage (I am shocked, honestly), but as Kate Erbland mentioned Monday it has also been optioned by Focus Features and Universal. This has been a very busy month for the British author, and I don’t even have the heart to hate her for it. As an unabashed fan of erotic romance novels, I was taken aback by the fervor this bondage novel has caused, but not for the reasons many of my colleagues and friends share. Although I do tend to favor BDSM in cinema, bondage in erotic literature has never been my favorite. I’ve often felt it to be far-fetched, overly clinical, and even a bit stale. I mean, as clinical and stale as sexual power play, leather cuffs, and object insertion can possibly be when story and character development take a back seat.  This isn’t to say something like Fifty Shades of Grey couldn’t change my mind, because it instantly intrigued me […]

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Tim Burton’s Batman wasn’t a movie, it was an event. It spawned a tidal wave of merchandise, video games, roller coasters, an animated series, a ridiculous music video, etc… He dropped that movie on the world like a bomb, and in many ways it could be considered the high point of his career. His artistic approach was finally paired with mainstream material, and his success there has propelled him to being one of the go-to money making directors in Hollywood. But, as an 8-year-old fan that was blown away by the gritty comic book take on the character that was developing throughout the 80s, the release of Batman is forever marked by me as a day of huge disappointment. I hated that boring, goofy movie. It was lamer than that show from the 60s I watched back when I was 6. Pathetic. Batman: Under the Red Hood was a straight to video cartoon that kind of gets lost in the sea of DC straight to video cartoons. Most of these movie are pretty strong, don’t get me wrong, but they’re strong with the caveat that they’re just cartoons. They’re for kids, but they’re good enough to be enjoyed by adults, not good on the level of the best feature films. Under the Red Hood is a step above the rest though. Other than The Dark Knight, I would say that it’s my favorite Batman thing that doesn’t come from the medium of the page.

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Countdown to the End: Love Actually

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Love Actually (2003) The Plot: Love Actually marked one of the first multi-plot story line films (that actually worked) which explored the different stages, phases and versions of love set against the magical background of Christmas time in London. From the young love of Sam (Thomas Sangster) and Joanna (Olivia Olson) to the forbidden love of David (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) to Daniel (Liam Neeson) dealing with heartbreak, Mark’s (Andrew Lincoln) unrequited love for Juliet (Keira Knightley) and the blossoming relationship between John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page), each relationship depicted a different side and aspect of that crazy emotion that seems to drive and link us all. Love Actually showed audiences that in the end, all you need is love (despite the pain, anguish and complications that can come with it) and did so in a way that was sweet, humorous and touching.

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Reel Sex

Woosh! You hear that sound? That’s the air finally making its way back into my brain after 10 days of the taco-eating, famous people elbow-rubbing, beer-chugging, and back-to-back movie-watching one happens to experience at South by Southwest. I’m sure you’ve been reading the Rejects’s extensive coverage of the all-encompassing festival of exhaustion (even I have some opinions to share shortly), and have been living a bit vicariously through each of us. Let me tell you now, it was just as great as you would imagine. Being a Texas native, SXSW is one of my absolute favorite film festivals, and I’m lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to watch it grow to some pretty epic proportions over the past eight years. SXSW Film prides itself on having a bountiful lineup of films from the tiny directorial debuts to the star-laden big budget features audiences stand in line for over two hours to see. While it does succeed at being a taste marker for new talent, the festival does have a tendency to execute lackluster panels. Of course, this isn’t a huge priority for the over 20,000 people attending, but for a lady obsessed with sex-positivity in cinema I have to admit I was over the moon thrilled when I discovered the fest had finally booked a sexy-time movie panel. Brought together by the fabulous Lisa Vandever, director of the all erotica film festival Cinekink, the “Bringing Sexy Back: Where’s the Line Today?” panel introduced me to a pair of directors who […]

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I’m not any sort of sports guy at all. Corner me in a bar and try to talk to me about last night’s big game and I’m going to stare back at you blankly and stupidly. Invite me to your Super Bowl party and I’m going to politely decline for fear of dying of boredom. But even I understand the appeal of baseball: the lazy pace, the fresh-cut grass, the hot dogs and peanuts, the crack of the bat. Hollywood has a long tradition of movies that have tapped into this seemingly universal love, but ever since it was released, the Kevin Costner-starring Field of Dreams has been considered by most to be the king of the mountain. And while pretty much everyone has seen Field of Dreams at some point in their lives, or at least understands that it’s the source of the, “If you build it, they will come,” quote, almost no one I know has ever seen Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s 2008 film Sugar. It got a brief release in New York and L.A., and then was shunted off to DVD without playing for anyone else. That’s a shame, because this tale about a young Dominican prospect trying to improve his station in the world by making it to the majors is my favorite film about the game.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Bringing a beloved (or at least nostalgia inducing) television show to the big screen is no easy undertaking (especially for shows that have been off the air for a few good years.) The task of adapting existing material (whether it be from a book series, a comic book or a well-known public figure) can be daunting as you hope to live up to expectations while also trying cultivate new fans. When it comes to turning a television show into a film, having a few well placed cameos from the original cast, rooting the film in a story true to that show’s world and (seeing as many of these shows were comedies) not letting the film version take itself too seriously seem to be the keys to these adaptation’s success. With Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s updated 21 Jump Street taking to the silver screen this weekend, I realized that the one thing all these shows have in common (regardless of when they aired, who starred in them or what they were about) is also the one element that many television shows on air today have done away with – a catchy theme song.

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Woody Allen is a legendary filmmaker, to be certain. But he’s also a filmmaker who is perceived to have had a golden age, a period where the movies he made were head and shoulders above the things that he makes now. That’s not such a great place for an artist to be, but Woody managed to shut up a lot of his critics with Midnight in Paris. It’s not only one of Allen’s most financially successful films, it’s also one of his most critically acclaimed, and it’s been held up as proof that we might be in the midst of a Woody comeback. Is it really worthy of all the hype though? Lots of people love this movie—like me—but it’s also a film that has glaring flaws. What is it about Midnight in Paris that makes our Internet culture, that is so quick to tear everything down with snark, give it such an easy pass? Back in 1989 Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was also a huge success. It made so much money that it spawned not only a sequel, but also an animated series, video games, and who knows how many other kinds of merchandise that time forgot. Yet, despite this success, it’s not a film that many people take seriously. There’s a love for it still, but one that seems more ironic than anything else. Why is that so, when there’s so much respect for the other big genre hits of the 80s? Why doesn’t this film get […]

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Aural Fixation - Large

Who wouldn’t love to have their own personal soundtrack playing wherever they went? An epic theme song that announced your arrival when you walked into a room or a electric guitar riff whenever you might need an extra rush of adrenaline – these touches would make every move you made seem movie worthy. And sure, you can throw in your iPod ear buds as you walk around town or crank up your car stereo as you hit the gas to get a similar effect, but without having someone follow you around with a boom box, having a personal soundtrack is not very likely because (unfortunately) that is not how things work in real life. In normal, everyday life music isn’t always playing, underscoring our more emotional moments and highlighting the intense ones. With the emergence of found footage films bringing a new style of filmmaking to the industry (with mixed results and reactions), the idea that these films are made up of footage anyone could capture if they were to pick up a camera and hit record leaves these films (as is the case in life) without much music. Real life is full of ambient noises, awkward pauses and people accidentally talking over one another so a film capturing these moments would break that unedited feeling if it had perfectly scored music fleshing out scenes because that is simply not true to reality.

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When Jeremy said he needed someone to fill in on Commentary Commentary so that he could focus his energies primarily on South by Southwesting, I simply replied, “As you wish.” But then I was left with a conundrum. What movie should I watch the commentary track for? After rifling through my DVD collection I ended up with a handful of possibilities, and I wound up choosing The Princess Bride for one reason: when else would I ever listen to the commentary tracks on this movie, if not now? The Princess Bride is so much fun, such a whimsical experience, that if you’re going to put the DVD on, you want to watch the movie. You don’t want to hear some old guy rambling over all of the classic lines. Consequently, this thing has been sitting on my shelf essentially since DVDs began, and I still haven’t listened to either the Rob Reiner or the William Goldman commentaries. So, here we go, I’ll take the hit and give them a listen, pick out all the interesting stuff, and you can go about your usual business of properly soaking in all the action, adventure, and romance the next time you need to get your Princess Bride fix.

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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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