Labor Day

labordayfilm

This article contains spoilers for ‘Labor Day.’  Proceed with caution unless you have already taken in all of the nonsense it has to offer, or if you are for some other reason free of spoiler-fear. Seeing as I watched director Jason Reitman’s new film, Labor Day, after it was already a few days into its release, I figured that since I hadn’t heard much about it, chances were that it was just an ordinary movie. I mean, I’d heard some rumbling about how it was surprisingly bad, but given how much people have liked Reitman’s movies (Thank You For Smoking, Juno, Up In the Air, Young Adult) up until this point, it made sense that he was probably due to make something that would disappoint. And yeah, the trailer looked pretty hokey, but who can’t go in for a sappy love story every once in a while? It was pretty damned surprising to me then, just how contemptible Labor Day ended up being—and not in your usual bad movie way either. Sure, it was contrived. Sure, its characters often didn’t behave in any believably human way. And sure, it had some serious pacing problems. The real issues with this thing went so much further than problems with crafting though. At a very fundamental level, Labor Day tells a story that presupposes a woman can’t thrive in her life unless she’s permanently attached to a man, which is laughable. As soon as I got home I Googled the movie, expecting to […]

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reitman in god we trust

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. It is perhaps a bit odd to celebrate the early work of Jason Reitman on the opening weekend of his first critical failure. Labor Day is not only the Canadian director’s first “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s also his first feature to even drop below 80%. Frankly, given the way the film has been kicked about the calendar since its Toronto International Film Festival debut, it seems as if the various people involved would prefer that we not talk about it at all. And so we won’t! (I haven’t seen it yet, anyway.) Instead let’s take a look back at Reitman’s early shorts and program a half-hour film festival brimming with nostalgia for the early 2000s. He directed six of these before his first feature, 2005’s Thank You for Smoking. Half of that number are available to watch on Vimeo, thanks to character actor and Reitman regular Jeff Witzke. They’re all fast-paced experiments in screenwriting and editing, clever and really quite delightful.

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JACK RYAN

This dreaded dump month is only going to look worse considering all the terrific December releases we just saw: Martin Scorsese, Spike Jonze, and the Coen Brothers’s three incredible films; Ron Burgundy’s hilarious return; and David O. Russell‘s pretty good movie. Even with 47 Ronin kind of stinking up the joint, it couldn’t ruin last month’s holiday filmgoing spirit. December ended a satisfying year on a tremendous note. Of course the start of 2014 can’t live up to all those award contenders, not even with I, Frankenstein going to bat for it. Frankenstein’s monster turned pretty boy action hero should at the very least give us something to talk about, but if the trailers are any fair indication, I, Frankenstein is not one of the five must see movies of the month.

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The Wolf of Wall Street

After years of anticipation, the wait is nearly over. Worry no longer: 47 Ronin is finally coming to theaters. The Keanu Reeves vs. CG monsters movie somehow wound up with a Christmas release, and it’s one of the most bizarre Christmas releases in recent history. Universal either has immense confidence in the film or is blatantly dumping the mega-expensive picture into a snow-covered grave. Thankfully, 47 Ronin isn’t the only movie you can see this wonderful Holiday season. If it turns out to be a dud, you can watch 47 Ronin director Carl Rinsch‘s collection of fantastic commercials and short films online for free instead, and if that still doesn’t do it for you, then there are nine other films for your must-see list this month.

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Labor Day Movie

In 1993, Clint Eastwood delivered Kevin Costner as a man on the lam in A Perfect World. It was a smart, dusty twist on coming-of-age featuring a kidnapped boy and ketchup sandwiches. It’s one of Eastwood’s best as a director, and watching the new trailer for Jason Reitman’s Labor Day, I couldn’t help but pick up an echo of it. Reitman looks like he’s doing what he always does (which also means casually going after a fifth Oscar nomination) with the story of an escaped convict (Josh Brolin) playing house with his collateral. Naturally, there’s more to his and the family’s stories. Our review is here. Check out the trailer for yourself and be prepared for a flash of James Van Der Beek as a lawman:

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Labor Day

There’s no funny or punny way to put this – Jason Reitman’s Labor Day is a film about human needs and desires and so how they so often (and so irrevocably) lead to human stupidity and error. A domestic drama about grief, tragedy, growth, and renewal, there’s not a hamburger phone to be found in the whole production, and even Reitman’s trademark banter is held at bay for nearly the film’s entire runtime (the filmmaker does let it fly for a truncated dinner sequence). A film about the human condition, Labor Day is both incredibly relatable and deeply frustrating – after all, those are the sort of emotions anyone would feel if they let an escaped convict into their house and promptly fell in love with him.

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Labor Day

Toronto: land of prestige films, poutine, and Oscar buzz. At least, that’s what happens every September during the Toronto International Film Festival (poutine is, of course, available year-round). With the festival kicking off later this week, we thought it prudent (and let’s be honest, sort of necessary and obvious) to run through the list of our most anticipated titles set to screen at TIFF. It’s a hell of a list, mainly because unlike so many other film festivals, a large number of the films set to screen at TIFF are already kitted out with their own (upcoming!) wide release date. This isn’t Sundance, where you can wait two years for a film that was beloved at the festival to come to a town near you. (Though, this is TIFF, where you can wait seven years for a film that was beloved at the festival to come to a town near you – looking at you, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane!) In any case, there are dozens upon dozens of films screening at TIFF (many of which sound alike), but only one dozen that we’ve deemed our Most Anticipated of the festival. Which one will be the breakout hit? Which one will pull in all the awards? Which one will you get to see in seven years? Let’s find out.

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Why Watch? Charlie Chaplin‘s first film, Making a Living, features the man who would go on to be the planet’s biggest star donning a top hat and the creepiest face he could muster. It’s the earliest example of his potential for genius, and one of the few where we get to see a talent that’s still in the raw. By his next film, Kid Auto Races at Venice, he had debuted his Little Tramp character and launched a career in earnest. So, what better way is there to spend Labor Day than to watch how Chaplin worked? What does it cost? Just 9 minutes of your time. Check out Making a Living for yourself:

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There’s a ton of Oscar caliber piled high on Labor Day – the adaptation of the Joyce Maynard novel. Its plot asks the high concept question of what you’d do if you were approached by a mean-mugging, bleeding man while out shopping with your young teenager. The correct answer is, “run,” but the answer that divorcee Adele gives is, “offer him a ride in my car!” Bad life decision. Great set up for a thriller. Jason Reitman is directing, and EW is reporting that Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin have both signed on to star as Adele and the mean-mugging escaped convict respectively. Feel free to count the Oscar nominations and wins for yourself. The wins should be easy. With Young Adult already in production, Reitman is definitely exploring the concept of divorce seriously, but it’s also nice to see him branch out into a new genre. This stark thriller will make an interesting double feature with Juno. Winslet is no stranger to characters living in broken homes, and Brolin could let his mustache show up to set and garner another Oscar nomination. The point? This casting is insanely great and promises to continue Reitman’s winning streak. It will start filming next year in New England.

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This week on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Kevin Carr attempts to continually steer the discussion toward why his addiction to animated pornography is not a social problem, but I get us back on track and talking about horrible, terrible films like clockwork. Plus, chopped and screwed music!

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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