Lifeboat

The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  Even the most visionary and original films can seem derivative, especially to those of us who watch tons of movies on a regular basis. Occasionally it’s intended for the audience to spot certain allusions and apply them to our experience with this new work, as in the case of Holy Motors. Other times it’s not so deliberate, and the fact that new movies trigger memories of older movies (and vice versa depending on when they’re seen) is all on us, yet not totally without reason given how there are really only a few base plots and themes in existence and also given that our comprehension of things, particularly imaginative things, has to be relatable to other things we’ve comprehended previously. That’s why a movie like Avatar can be “like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” but only to an extent. For it to be accessible to a wide audience — let alone be one of the biggest worldwide hits of all time — it has to “unfortunately” resemble other movies. And now Life of Pi can be likened by critics to Avatar for similarly giving us spectacle like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It sounds ironic but it’s not. Even if the magical island in Pi may even further remind us of […]

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This Week in DVD

There’s an unusual trend in this week’s releases in that they’re genre heavy with a high percentage of horror films for some reason. I love horror movies, but sadly only two of the six genre titles covered below are really worth your time and money. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Innkeepers The Yankee Pedlar Inn is closing its doors for good, and only two employees remain for its last few days of very light occupancy. Claire (the ridiculously adorable Sara Paxton) and Luke (the equally adorable but in a totally different way Pat Healy) wile away the late night hours hunting for the Inn’s supposed resident ghost, but what begins with a pair of overactive imaginations soon becomes a terrifying reality. Ti West’s second feature shows a deft hand at pacing, humor and scares and delivers beautifully on all three counts. Best of all, this is a rarity among genre films in that it manages to make you care for the characters and fear for their safety. And did I mention Paxton is freaking adorable?

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Culture Warrior

Editor’s Note: Normally it’s Landon Palmer hustling your brain through the mental gymnastics of popular culture and film theory, but he’s grading papers or something, so Cole Abaius is taking the reigns to drop kick your mind (instead of completely blowing it). Check back next week for the brilliance if you survive the completely adequate. It’s dark. Not the kind of dark where you strain to make out figures in the near distance or the kind of dark that sends a thrill through you in a movie theater. It’s the kind of darkness that your eyes never adjust to because there’s no light, and there never will be. I’m at the bottom of a cave near the small town of Bustamante, Mexico, and after passing graffiti from the 19th century, my friends and I have all decided to turn off our headlamps before heading into the grand hall. With the lights gone, the cool of the room becomes more tangible, and the walls begin to creep inward. Fortunately, this seems to be the latest trend in movie-making: shoving someone into the solitary confinement of life threatening danger, and seeing if they can work their way out.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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