Margaret

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Last week, Rob Hunter was so befuddled and inspired by Drafthouse Films’s newest resurrection project The Visitor that he coined a term to make sense of it: “WTF Cinema.” Says FSR’s resident critic Lorde Mayor, “Basically, these are movies that consistently challenge expectations (both visual and narrative) to the point that viewers have literally no idea what to expect. This has nothing to do with plot twists, reveals, or shock endings, and instead has everything to do with leaving an audience in a frequent state of head-scratching awe as the unexpected appears onscreen again and again.” Hunter’s coinage is a useful idiom to describe (or express one’s total failure to describe) a certain type of movie that defies easy comprehension or simple justification for its existence. But I think there’s another aspect of The Visitor worth focusing on that tells us a lot about why it’s taken on this wonderful WTF currency: The Visitor, despite not having been re-edited since its initial theatrical run, is in no way the same film it was when originally released. The Visitor is a film of 2013 more than it ever was a film of 1979.

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Lots of solid releases this week including the first season of Adventure Time, Fatso, the latest seasons of The Glades and iCarly and more. Also out today? The obviously terrible American Reunion and the inexplicably lauded Margaret. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Flowers of War The Chinese city of Nanjing has been invaded and occupied by the Japanese, and one of the many traumatic stories unfolding in this crumbling urban jungle involves a group of prostitutes and another of schoolgirls who hole up together in a church for safety. They’re joined by an American (Christian Bale) pretending to be a priest to save his own skin who’s struggling to balance his self interests with the need to protect others. Director Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) crafts some stunning battle scenes alongside a truly heartbreaking narrative. Seriously, my eyes may or may not have been leaking profusely at the final scenes. Check out my full review. [Extras: featurettes]

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Nick Fury

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that frankly doesn’t have much to say this evening. So it’s all good stuff. Quality over Quantity and whatnot. We begin tonight with a new image from The Avengers, as published by Marvel.com in a new batch of images from the highly anticipated film. In this one, Nick Fury, as played by Samuel L. Jackson, has some gnarly eye scarring going on. As if that guy needed to look more like a badass.

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Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises

What is Movie News After Dark? … um, it’s about movies. And it takes place after the sun goes down. We begin this evening with another new image from The Dark Knight Rises, one of several that worked their way onto the web today thanks to Entertainment Weekly. Unlike all the previously interesting shots from the film, this one does not involve Bane. It’s Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) standing in front of the bat-suit. I love that bat-suit.

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The Best Films of 2011: The Staff Picks

As you may have noticed, this final week of 2011 has been almost completely taken over by our third annual Year in Review. It was born in 2009 out of our love for lists and your thirst for reading, discussing and ultimately hating them. And each year the entire project gets a little bigger, a little bolder and slightly more absurd. With that in mind, I’m once again proud to present you with The Best Films of 2011: The Staff Picks. Each of our 14 regular staff writers, contributors and columnists, almost all of whom have been with us the entire year, were asked to present their top 5 films, in no particular order (although many of them placed their top film at the top, as logical people tend to do), each with an explanation. Some even included curse words as a bonus to you, the reader. Read: The Best Films of 2010: The Staff Picks | The Best Films of 2009: The Staff Picks Once again, the Staff Picks are a testament to the diversity we have here at Film School Rejects, with picks ranging from the likely suspects (Take Shelter, Hugo, Shame) to the slightly more nerdy (Attack the Block, Super 8, The Muppets) to several movies that may not yet be on your radar (see Landon Palmer’s list for those). And once again, it’s with a deep sense of pride that I publish such a list, the best of 2011 as seen through the eyes of the movie […]

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After all these years of Margaret being stuck in legal and release limbo, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Kenneth Lonergan‘s (subtle) post-9/11 film turned out to be a misfire. All the turmoil made it doubtful that we’d ever get the masterpiece that Scorsese and many others claimed Lonergan’s film to be. The final, two-and-a-half-hour cut — which is unfortunately being dumped on a few screens — actually features hints of that masterpiece. Those hints, ultimately, make for a messy-yet-poignant dramatic opera about the power of regret, loss, and worst of all, being a teenager. Lonergan aims high in a way that, even if Margaret was a disaster, it’d still be an admirable (but failed) passion project. This isn’t that film, though. The playwright’s tremendous You Can Count on Me was small-scale, but full of power. His follow-up attempts to operate on a grand-scale, and it contains most of the power exhibited in his directorial debut.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly news thingy, that publishes link thingies, some of which are sort of interesting. You should really read on, as it can only get better from here. We open tonight with television, and one of the big stories out of the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour happening this week. Glee and Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy debuted a first look at his upcoming FX pilot, American Horror Story. Word from NPR’s Monkey See is that it’s a “sex-filled gorefest” and subsequently “flat-out crazy.” The image above is a first look. Nothing too crazy yet, especially for the seasoned horror fan or the sexually liberated.

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Sympathy for Delicious is Mark Ruffalo‘s directorial debut. It explores themes of faith, selfishness, and also artistic integrity. It chronicles the story of a man, Dean (screenwriter Christopher Thornton), who discovers he has the gift to heal others. Ultimately, he selfishly uses this gift to his profit alone. He’s a sellout. Instead of doing something bold and wonderful, he does the opposite. One could apply that idea to many actors working who don’t act under the purest of intentions. Some see it as a business and some see it as an art form, and Mark Ruffalo falls into the latter category. Ruffalo reminded me quite a bit of his character Paul from The Kids Are All Right. He didn’t come off as an oblivious hipster, but one of those rare people — mainly, actors — that seemed completely comfortable in his own skin. Even over the phone, there was a laid back and open quality to him that set a smooth and easygoing tone for the conversation. The actor/director was nice enough to make the time for an interview while on the set of another one of his little ensemble indies, The Avengers, and we discussed at length the challenge of keeping artistic integrity in a business, the themes of Sympathy for Delicious, finding realism in take 100, and even Michel Gondry.

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This year, movies like Battle: Los Angeles, I Am Number Four, Hoodwinked 2 (did anyone even see the first one?), another Tyler Perry movie, Red Riding Hood, and the Justin Bieber documentary all easily made their way into theaters. Know what hasn’t come out this year (or the past couple) while films like Something Borrowed get their big studio pushes?  Margaret. Kenneth Lonergan‘s follow-up to his brilliant debut, You Can Count on Me, has had a notoriously rough time making it to theaters, both due to legal issues and a dispute over final cut. The film was shot almost six years ago. The editing process has been called a nightmare. Lonergan has a three-hour cut that Fox Searchlight isn’t too keen on releasing. Why? Because they won’t release a version over two hours long. Lonergan has final cut, which hasn’t made the situation any easier. Great talents such as Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese, Scott Rudin, and Sydney Pollack did passes on the film to get it down to a shorter length. And right now, Scorsese is doing another edit of the film with Lonergan.

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