Hugo

High Noon

Are you into horror movies? Well, good news for you, it’s October, which means that there’s going to be a horror moving playing on a screen in basically any direction you look for the whole month. But what of the people out there who are too anxious to be in the room as things are going bump in the night, or too squeamish to watch as gore erupts into geysers? There’s no need for them to worry, because plenty of other types of movies are always being added to Netflix, and here we have a list of 20 recent additions that will get them past Halloween and into November. As always, click on the films’ titles to be taken to their Netflix pages. Pick of the Month: High Noon (1952) Old cowboy movies are fun. Generally they’ve got dusty frontier towns, a handful of good guys trying to uphold the law, a handful of bad guys trying to break the law, and eventually a big shootout where someone falls off the roof of a building and into a horse trough. High Noon has all of that stuff, and it even features a lead performance from Gary Cooper that raises it up a notch above the other old cowboy movies out there. That doesn’t really paint the whole picture of what this movie is though. This is truly one of the greats—the sort of thing that rightly gets studied in film classes—and that’s because it’s just such a goddamned marvel of […]

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Not to take anything away from the fine people who create digital effects in films, but there are certain things that just look better when done for real. One of which has and always will be chases, crashes, and explosions. Trains are a solid example of this, so I’ve opted to share what I consider to be the best train crashes done primarily through practical methods such as model work or – in some cases – by just blowing up a damn train.

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In his review of Mean Streets, Roger Ebert claimed that Martin Scorsese had the potential to become the American Fellini in ten years. It probably didn’t really take that long. Scorsese is a living library of film, but he isn’t a dusty repository of knowledge. He’s a vibrant, imaginative creator who might know more about movies than anyone else on the planet, and that makes him uniquely qualified to be both prolific and proficient. Over the course of his career, he’s created indelible works bursting with anger, violence, fragility, care, and wonder. Never content to stick with one story mode, he’s run the gamut of styles and substance. So here’s a free bit of film school (for filmmakers and fans alike) from our American Fellini.

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Culture Warrior

Way back in the summer of 2004, on the heels of the great success of I Love the 80s and (later) I Love the 70s, VH1 tested the bounds and justifications of the nostalgia market by releasing the initial ten-part I Love the 90s. Instead of simply reflecting upon the most memorable and oft-canonized popular culture products and national news events of the 1970s and 1980s (two decades whose iconography had become ever more apparent, stylized, and parodied during its reappropriation in late 90s/early 00s pop culture), VH1 instead attempted (perhaps unsuccessfully) to create a trend rather than merely follow the typical, perhaps “natural” cycle of nostalgia. Because I Love the 90s aired only a few years after the actual 90s ended, VH1 situated the early 21st century – a time that ostensibly marked a major temporal shift but (save for 9/11) had yet to be self-defined – as a time that uniquely necessitated an immediate reflection on how to understand the 20th century, even the years of that century that were not so long ago. The experiment was both engaging and bizarre. By 2004, the early 90s had come into stark, VH1-friendly self-definition. Yes, we could all collectively make fun of Joey Lawrence, Pogs, oversize flannel, and Kevin Costner’s accent in Robin Hood, and share in the memories and irony-light criticisms therein with Michael Ian Black and Wendy the Snapple Lady. However, by the time the show reached 1997-99, I Love the 90s seemed less like a program banking […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

Tonight! We visit in with some of our favorite whacky Brits as they power through the seventeenth season of one of the greatest reality television programs in the history of time, space and everything else. We explore a historic, beautiful look at cinema’s start through the eyes of contemporary film’s biggest nerd. We watch a 9-foot tall man roundhouse kick an entire country. And we watch Rowan Atkinson continue to spit in the face of reason, churning out more laughs. Also, James May talks to a gurrrl. Top Gear: The Complete Season 17 If you are anything like me, then you’ve never really been much of a gear head or a car freak. That’s okay, we’re simply the kind of people who would rather be in the living room watching a movie than in the garage tinkering around with engine parts. That said, there’s nothing more magnetic to me than the musings of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. This triumvirate odd couple of motorist journalism is the most consistently entertaining group of hosts you’ll find anywhere on TV. Forget about Idol or The Voice, it’s all about these three middle-aged British men and their clear overcompensation issues. The fact that the BBC allows them to smash up expensive cars, light segments of Sweden on fire and hold monumental tributes to the Jaguar E-Type is all just a bonus in the end. Did I mention that they let celebrities drive around in reasonably priced cars? If you’re not giving […]

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD and the last day of February! Well, what should be the last day but is instead actually the 2nd to last thanks to the shenanigans of the evil and gilled Leap Dave Williams. Only one big title hits shelves this week, but it’s an Academy Award winner! Other titles that aren’t named Hugo include a few fantastic and exciting foreign films (The Front Line, Rabies, The Yellow Sea), a few less exciting foreign films (The Conformist, Tomorrow When the War Began, Mandrill) and more! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. I Melt With You Four old college friends (Thomas Jane, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, Jeremy Piven) get together annually for a drug-fueled weekend, but their latest reunion finds each of them at the lowest point of their lives. All four leads do a fantastic job in this energetic but terribly depressing movie that examines the ideas of failure, depression and expectations at the mid-point of a man’s life. Things tease the point of over-doing it, but the lasting effect is a powerful one as the men face the lives and mistakes they’ve made. Plus Carla Gugino, Arielle Kebbel, and Sasha Grey! Director Mark Pellington has a couple solid films under his belt (Arlington Road and The Mothman Prophecies), but his main career focus seems to be music videos so it’s fitting that his latest film matches the stylish visuals, heavy emotional toll and powerful […]

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Boiling Point

The 84th Academy Awards have come and gone: let the bitching begin! As someone who is more of a genre fan than anything, I’ve never really cared too much about the Oscars, but that sure as hell doesn’t prevent me from complaining about them. Granted, over the years, some great films have won. I’m a big fan of Unforgiven and I dug Shakespeare In Love. I just think far too many good films are ignored in favor of “Oscar movies.” I can’t say that I was particularly impressed with any of the films nominated this year, but there were a few categories were I feel like the little golden man statue when to the wrong film. Luckily, the internet exists and I can complain about it!

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Academy Awards broadcast. Please join us for our Live-Blog tonight (because we ask nicely), and while you wait for the winners, check out our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. It’s finally here! The time of year where I can write a paragraph that no one will read because they’ve already scrolled down to see who’s won. But even though this won’t be seen by humans, here’s a personal reminder that this night may be about politics and back-slapping, but it’s also about the splendor of cinema. It’s about the magic of movies. The genius of thousands of images all strung together with blood, sweat and tears to create characters and a journey through the heart of a story. There are some great stories on display tonight. That’s what matters second most. What matters most, of course, is crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you and hearing the lamentation of their women. Let’s get to the winning, right? And the Oscar goes to…

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Picture

The Best Picture Academy Award is really what explains film as a collaborative effort. The Best Picture is what the Academy has found to be the best combination of every aspect that film has, whether thematically or structurally. The producers of the winner take home the Oscar, because, well, they footed the bill. They were also the decision-makers. We know its more of a gray area than that, but the classic Academy likes to think like classic movie-making. It doesn’t stop the Best Picture winners from being some of the greatest pieces of work in the artform. One film this Sunday will be written in along with films like It Happened One Night, On The Waterfront, The Godfather parts 1 & 2, and No Country For Old Men. That’s a list of 83 movies that will be or already are considered essentials when it comes to film history. We don’t look down on the nominees who didn’t win. What are they called? Oh, yeah. Losers. But, seriously, they are all films of value in some form or another, films that were still able to make their mark on some part of this history. But it’s that big boy. That one who gets its name yelled out at the end of the night, who hears the orchestra play their music for the climax of the show, that’s the one that’ll make headlines come Monday morning. Which one is it gonna be? The odds seem better for some, but here’s the breakdown […]

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Director

Film directors are responsible for every single aspect of their movie. That doesn’t mean they actually do each and every task on set, but it’s their job (and prerogative) to get each element just right. It’s a lot of responsibility, and judging by the nominees for this year’s Best Director, it’s clearly too much for a woman to handle. Sorry, Kelly Reichardt, Lynn Ramsay, and Sarah Polley…maybe you can bake something nice for the boys who were nominated? For the record, the director who should walk away with the Oscar this year isn’t even nominated. Nicolas Winding Refn deserved (at least) a nomination for Drive as he was able to craft something of raw beauty from some seemingly disparate parts. The film’s look and style, its exquisitely jarring shifts from calm to explosive, and its unexpectedly affecting score and soundtrack all make for a unique cinematic experience. The nominees are listed below with my prediction for the winner in red…

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Original Score

As I note each week in Aural Fixation, music is one of the most important components in a film, providing the underlying emotion in certain scenes as well as the overall tone of a film. Creating this musical landscape is no easy task and the five scores nominated this year were brought to the screen by four talented composers (yes, someone got nominated twice.) While last year gave us slightly more innovative music with scores from first time composer Trent Reznor and the more electrified Hans Zimmer, the past year in film seemed to hearken back to the more classical era of filmmaking and the scores followed suit. From tales of adventure, spy thrillers, a different perspective on war to a look back at the early days of filmmaking, the nominated scores kept pace with their respective films and came from composers that ranged from Academy veterans to first time nominees. While I was admittedly more excited (and felt slightly more invested) in the nominees last year, the composers selected for the potential honor this year are well-deserved and created scores that undeniably elevated each their films. Who will take home the golden statue this year? Stay tuned to see if my prediction of who will win proves true. Read on for the nominations and my predicted winner in red…

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Adapted Screenplay

While it’s inevitable that one day, perhaps one day soon, the Best Adapted Screenplay category will be jam-packed with reboots and comic book stories and robot superheros flicks, it’s not quite that day just yet. For now, Adapted Screenplay (which, over the years, has also been called Screenplay Adapted From Other Material, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, and Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published) is the refuge of book nerds and theatre wonks. And, also, weirdly enough, sequels (did you know that all sequels are automatically considered adaptations because they must be based on the original story?). This year’s category includes some of the year’s best films (and one I absolutely hated, mainly because I love the original material so much), from a family drama to a kiddie flick for grown-ups, all the way to a political drama and a sports drama and a big, smart spy flick. But, in my mind, there’s just one clear nominee deserving of the award – but do you agree? Read on for the nominations and my predicted winner in red…

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What is Movie News After Dark DRINKING? It’s what happens when Neil leaves and Kate Erbland and I joke about me doing this column drunk and then don’t realize that’s probably a bad idea until the next day. So hello and welcome to maybe the only installment ever of Movie News After Drinking, brought to you by Old Crow Bourbon. Old Crow Make it a Double! (Note: We should get paid for this). I think my introduction needs to be longer before I put that page break thing here and before I get fired for making a mockery of this column. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance came out today and it should come as little surprise that most people hate the movie. Our boy Jack Giroux reviews the flick over at TheFilmStage where he politely points out that Jerry Springer jokes are old enough to be getting paternity tests themselves (that means they’re like 15 years old).

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Culture Warrior

The Oscar montage reel is a genre on its own. It’s transparently demonstrative of the overall function of the Academy Awards. These montage reels summarize and make explicit what the annual ceremony attempts to accomplish writ large: to create and solidify a canon of important American films, along with a delimited understanding of their importance. Yes, the Oscars have occasionally given a voice to the indie underdog and rush through their obligatory movies-with-subtitles category, but besides the occasional screenplay nomination for a truly innovative film and the rare foreign language film that broaches through the marginal categories, the Oscars are by and large a celebration of American cinema, specifically Hollywood cinema. During the 2006 ceremony, a moment occurred that has been seared into my memory. I haven’t been able to find a clip of it online since it aired six years ago, so I hope this isn’t wishful or inaccurate. The 2006 ceremony consisted of a spate of overtly political films, as Crash, Brokeback Mountain, Munich, Good Night and Good Luck competed for top honors, and Syriana was in the running for other awards. In likely hopes of gaining cultural capital from celebrating mainstream cinema’s rarely explored but ever-present political function, the Academy aired a self-congratulatory reel of past Oscar-nominated films that have addressed other topical social problems, from In the Heat of the Night to Philadelphia. When the lights came back and the audience applauded with anticipated decorum, host Jon Stewart then graced the stage and stated, in a […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of movie and television news that throws caution to the wind, but never ever pees into the wind. That’s just not smart, friends. We begin this evening and this week with artist Kinjamin’s depiction of the Community cast as the characters from Street Fighter. It was found via Twitter, as posted by the show’s executive producer Dan Harmon. Needless to say, it’s inspired. So inspired, perhaps, that it makes us hope that Harmon is writing this one down. How about a Street Fighter episode in season four? Hey NBC, how about a season four?

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Aural Fixation - Large

With the 84th Academy Award nominations announced last week (and me finally coming up for air post-Sundance), I wanted to give the five Original Score (and two Original Song) nominees a closer look. Each nominated score is full-bodied and as varied as the films they are featured in ranging from fun (John Williams for The Adventures of Tin Tin) to lush (Ludovic Bource for The Artist) to dramatic (Howard Shore for Hugo) to tense (Alberto Iglesias for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) to emotional (John Williams for War Horse) while each of the nominated songs are quirky and catchy (Bret McKenzie’s “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets and Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown and Siedah Garrett’s “Real In Rio” from Rio.) While I am not going to propose to understand why the Academy makes their choices the way they do (the lack of Drive and Shame nominations alone had me scratching my head last week) and I do not think that the scores and songs that were selected are unworthy of their nominations, I was still left with some questions when looking into who may come out on top on February 26th.

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The Reject Report - Large

Not to be confused with Reject Report, The White, which is what happens after we do battle with the Balrog. Reject Report, The White is never NEVER wrong. But in our current form we have to take into account things like star power and demographics and mass appeal, the kinds of aspects that go into making a film financially successful. This week sees three new movies wanting that success and one Oscar contender expanding to wide release. Liam Neeson fights wolves, Sam Worthington faces a ledge, and Katherine Heigl takes on…money, I guess. I’m not really sure. Only one of these movies can be the victor while the other two scrounge for scraps to make up $10-15m. Not even worth the effort really. It’s the Reject Report, and you shall not pass. Okay, now you can pass. Go ahead.

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It’s been a year filled with silent screen stars seeking redemption, the 1920s coming alive in Paris, a young boy searching for the first great director, sex addicts in New York City, horses going to war, maids of dishonor, and skulls getting crushed in elevators. Now it’s time to celebrate all of those things and more with the 84th annual Academy Awards. They’ve come a long way since the Hotel Roosevelt in 1929 (although sex addicts have almost always been a fixture). Get to ready to smile, ball your fists with snubbed rage, or be generally unsurprised. Here they are. The 2012 Oscar nominees:

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It’s not often that word of a large-scale adaptation of an existing theatrical property thrills me to my absolute core, but I am willing to forget all the weird Les Miserables Starring Country Pop Star Taylor Swift talk if this next project works out as well as it should. Word about a cinematic adaptation of the Tony and Grammy-winning hit musical Jersey Boys (originally produced by Dodger Theatricals, written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, directed by Des McAnuff, with music by Four Seasons member Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe) has been brewing for awhile, and it’s such a welcome concept for a film that I might actually be dancing in my chair right now. The musical centers on the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and their incredible rise to fame in the 1960s, and it’s one of those rare musicals that deserves all the heaping and glittery praise it has received. Dancing in the aisles? Check. Smiling from ear to ear? Drama laced in with a great story and fantastic music? Check, check, check! In case it’s not yet readily apparent, I love this musical. It’s my favorite musical. The way people feel about Les Miz? That’s how I feel about Jersey Boys. So the news that two-time Academy Award-nominated screenwriter John Logan has been picked to adapt the film has excited me so much that I’ve very nearly passed out six times while writing this.

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The Writers Guild of America has released the nominees for their Writer’s Guild Awards today, and while there’s certainly some room for quibbling as far as their choices go, the screenplays they’ve nominated in their film categories are at least a diverse array of projects. There’s something here for everyone. I balked at these choices a bit on first glance, they’d left off many of my favorite films of the year. But after thinking about what was missing for a few seconds I started to realize that a lot of the films I really loved over the course of 2011 relied more on mood and photography than they did their screenplays. In my mind, there was no real superstar script this year, like Inception and The Social Network last year. I loved things like Drive and Shame, but did their greatness really lie in their screenplays? Still, I can think of a handful of things that I would have liked to have seen included that weren’t. As far as original screenplays go, I think a film like Warrior was a master of structure, and is more deserving than something like Bridesmaids, which was a fairly generic comedy plot and which probably relied largely on improvisation for its humor. And I really miss a nomination for something like The Skin I Live In when it comes to the adapted screenplay section; especially when they’ve nominated a film like The Help, which cannot name writing as one of its strengths. Check out […]

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