Moon

goodfellastable

This week’s list of movies to watch is not inspired by a single new release, because there isn’t anything big enough out this weekend to warrant such a focus. Instead, I’ve got a year-end feature for you inspired by the entirety of 2013 in film. I can’t sum up every title released this year with only ten recommendations, but the movies I’ve selected are, I believe, the best representatives of the more notable titles and trends seen in the past dozen months. Most of the selections are familiar. Chances are you’ve seen more than a few. But obviously this edition has to involve more popular fare because they have to be influential movies to have informed so much of this year’s crop, even if unintentionally. Just take it as a call to watch them again, along with whatever you haven’t seen before, as a special sort of year in review of the most important movies of 2013 released before 2013.

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The Usual Suspects

It’s pretty much impossible to avoid movie/TV spoilers these days, and that’s just a sad reality. Is it the worst thing? Not even close, but that doesn’t mean that those who partake in the spoiling are anything less than pricks. Still, is it possible they’re simply confused pricks? Pricks unknowingly trafficking in the art of premature infojaculation? The past week has seen two interesting discussions arise on the subject, and both of them stem from Tom Cruise’s new film Oblivion. The first one appeared on Twitter as people who had seen early screenings of the film shared their 140-character-long opinions as to what other movies this one reminded them of. They weren’t explicitly stating plot points, but in naming certain, specific movies in their comparisons, those plot points were made implicit and obvious. The second issue was voiced a few days ago by Calum Marsh in a post on Film.com about how film critics shouldn’t care about spoiling a film for their readers. There’s a kernel of truth to his point, but it’s drowned out by the rest of what he says (and how he says it). In both cases the originators claim these circumstances aren’t worthy of being called a real spoiler. In both cases these people are wrong. Before we go any further though, know that there will in fact be spoilers below for Oblivion and Moon as well as a handful of older movies (I’m talking decades old), so consider this your spoiler warning. See how easy that is, […]

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Over Under - Large

Ask any movie geek what their favorite horror movie is, and there’s a good chance they might say Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Ask them what their favorite war movie is, and there’s a good chance they might say Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. Stanley Kubrick is just that kind of director. Perhaps his most beloved movie ever though is 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ask any movie geek what their favorite sci-fi film is, and it’s very likely they’re going to name drop this tale of evolved apes, space ships, murderous computers, and space babies. It’s got very deliberate, very beautiful photography, it’s long and slow paced, and it contains plenty of subtext that’s ripe for dissection. This movie is basically movie geek catnip, and it’s become so popular over the years that even regular folk who don’t know much about movies are aware that it’s considered to be one of the top “classics” of all-time. A similar movie that was much-loved by film geeks but that hasn’t broken through to having mainstream recognition among regular folk is Duncan Jones’ directorial debut from 2009, Moon. Here’s a movie that has quite a bit in common with 2001 as far as look, feel, and thematics go, but that combines all of the good stuff from Kubrick’s art film with a human story that’s so much easier to follow and relate to. And yet, Moon is also a movie that came and went without causing so much as a ripple outside of the […]

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Look – computers will never have souls. It’s disappointing to admit, but we all have to face facts at some point in our lives. Maybe one day they’ll manage to act alive, but they will never feel our love. They have no feelings. They are soulless, uncaring devices that we all too often assign our own humanity to – just like cats. But of course, in film, that would just be no fun. It’s better to have an A.I. that is dynamic and has some kind of personality, even if that personality is a lack of any kind of personality. The key is the voice, and here are some of the most unforgettable ones…

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It’s got to be difficult enough to simply stand there in front of all those people and equipment and play costume make-believe. So that must go double the moment you’re asked to interact with anything that isn’t there, such as a big CGI dinosaur or any given Andy Serkis role. Worse than that, there are also times when actors have to play both sides of a conversation. Not only do they have to pretend to interact with an imaginary role – but also play that imaginary role interacting right back at them. It sounds complicated, so here are some of the best instances.

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Some of you may already know me by my Twitter handle: @thefilmcynic. It’s a name I’ve gone by for nearly a decade (so, before current social media outlets), because I’m very cynical about the film industry and try to keep my expectations low. I’m also very cynical about the Academy Awards and awards season in general, because we devote so much focus on them — with a wide spectrum of positive and negative angles — and they’re really a bunch of malarkey (much like the V.P. debate, which has inspired my newfound obsession with that word). So, the higher ups at FSR have asked me to write a cynical column devoted to the Oscars. The first one is inspired by the films Seven Psychopaths, Looper and Lincoln and their celebrated performances. As someone who has studied acting (I’m not very good at it), I’ve long taken issue with the way people look at film performances, because there are just so many different kinds. But there are two real distinct types that we tend to recognize while watching and writing about movies that aren’t acknowledged by the Academy: realistic and artificial. The former has been a big favorite since method acting came into play, though it doesn’t necessarily apply to that style nor does that style necessarily always mean realism. The latter could be more expressive and therefore goes back to the dawn of cinema and its silent performances or could even be more stiff, if that’s what’s intended. Directors who […]

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Rian Johnson’s new film, Looper, is a pretty awesome time travel flick, one with as many elements that are clever and original as there are purposefully derivative and influenced. It’s the kind of smart and stylish sci-fi cinema we expect every once in a while on the festival circuit, like Sound of My Voice (which hits DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday), rather than from a major Hollywood studio. Looper does fit the indie model, though, since Sony/Tristar picked it up for distribution only after it was done shooting, yet as Brian’s review of the film attests, we can still consider it a good sign for mainstream movies of this genre, and we can hope that Hollywood will see Johnson as the sort of directorial talent they need. But is it the best science fiction film since The Matrix? That’s a question posed in a headline from Time magazine yesterday, though its respective post doesn’t address such a discussion let alone attempt to answer the inquiry. Well, if we exclude superhero movies, animated features (Pixar, Miyazaki and The Iron Giant among them) and the Star Trek reboot, Looper is currently one of only two original studio films of its order to be battling for the status of best reviewed since the Wachowskis’ groundbreaking modern classic. The other is Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men.

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Culture Warrior

For filmgoers frustrated with a visionary filmmaker whose films’ quality provided diminishing returns as he became ever more prolific, Prometheus was anticipated as a welcome return to form. For those hungry for R-rated, thinking person’s science fiction, Prometheus provided a welcome respite from a summer promising mostly routine franchise continuations. For those who see the 1970s and 1980s as the height of modern Hollywood filmmaking, Prometheus promised a homecoming for a type of blockbuster that was long thought to be dead. Prometheus even beat out The Dark Knight Rises as the most anticipated summer film of 2012 on this very site. But then the reviews came in. And thus began the qualifying, criticizing, parsing out, hyperbolizing, dissecting, backlashing, and disappointed exhaling. There were many responses to Prometheus, but very few of them were the songs of praise that a film this hotly anticipated – and highly desired – by all means should have satisfyingly warranted.

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Aural Fixation - Large

I had the opportunity to see one of my favorite composers perform selections of his work live a few weeks back, and to say it was a magical evening would be an understatement. But before I went completely over the moon (pun!) from the experience, I was given the opportunity to speak with the man himself about the evening, what led him decide to bring his scores to the stage and his process as one of the industry’s most successful and innovative composers. Keep reading for my interview with composer Clint Mansell (Moon, Black Swan, Requiem For a Dream) and keep your eyes (and ears) peeled as it sounds like these live performances may just be the start of a whole new way of experience film scores.

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Duncan Jones burst onto the scene three years ago with his debut film, Moon, a quiet slice of science-fiction perfection that featured Sam Rockwell as a lone space station astronaut counting down the days to his return to Earth. Jones followed that up two years later with the sci-fi thriller Source Code. It was a far more traditional film than its predecessor, but there was still lots of speculative fun to be found. Sophomore slump successfully averted the question became what would Jones do next? He was rumored for several projects (including the Superman reboot) and has spoke openly of his plans to return to the sci-fi genre with his original script, Mute. Per Variety, Jones has signed on to direct a biopic about 007 creator, Ian Fleming. The film will follow Andrew Lycett‘s biography “Ian Fleming, The Man Behind James Bond,” but there’s no confirmation yet if it will focus on a singular section of Fleming’s life or be more all-encompassing. Fleming worked briefly as a journalist before finding his niche in British Naval Intelligence during WWII, and later went on to create the most famous fictional spy in the world.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Los Angeles’ Largo at the Cornet is a small venue where even the last row in the house is a good seat. There is no preferential treatment here, no seats sectioned off for “special” guests. In previous trips, I did the non-spoken eye move indicating that the two seats in my row were open to a tall man in a baseball cap (who I later realized was Rainn Wilson) proving that everyone here is equal, we have all gathered for the same reason and that unspoken knowledge makes the link between each person in the room (at least for those few hours) palpable. The man of the hour this particular night even pointed out that while he had put him on the guest list, he was not sure Moon director Duncan Jones had actually made it out only to have Jones confirm his presence by shouting, “I’m right here, mate!” from only a few seats down from me. This layout gives the sense of an intimate and unique experience that makes you feel like the artist is performing from the couch in your living room. There are no backstage passes here or over inflated egos, just a group of people who have come together for a common interest, and on this night it was the music of Clint Mansell.

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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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Duncan Jones is a movie-making treasure. These days, saying that you’re going to go see a science fiction film pretty much means you’re going to watch a movie about space ships blowing up the Earth, and that’s about it. There aren’t many people making science fiction that’s based heavily on ideas rather than action, like the greats of the genre used to in pulp magazines like “Astounding Science Fiction,” these days. But with his first two directorial efforts Moon and Source Code, Jones proved himself to be a strong voice capable of making sci-fi the way it should be; full of forward thinking ideas and philosophical quandaries. The good news coming out of an interview that Jones did with DIY is that he’s currently readying his third science fiction project. The bad news is that it could potentially be his last. When talking about what will make his third film different from his first two, Jones said “Moon was done at a tiny budget and we really squeezed everything we could out of it. Source Code was a chance to work on a bigger budget with name actors, but on a project that wasn’t my own. Hopefully, this third film will be the kind of sci-fi I want to make, on a budget where I can afford to do it as I see it in my head,” he then added, “After that, I’ll change genres.” Jones paired with a hefty budget and creative freedom sounds great to me, but if […]

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Culture Warrior

This editorial contains spoilers for Source Code and Moon. If you haven’t seen the movies yet, go check it out first before diving in. When I watched Duncan Jones’s sophomore effort Source Code, I couldn’t help but think about how much it resembles, nearly beat for beat in its structure, his first film Moon. This is not necessarily a criticism of Source Code or Jones, as repeated thematic occupations and narrative revisitation can be the sign of the auteur, and I’ve enjoyed both his films. But the films are, admittedly, structurally identical in several ways. Both involve a lone protagonist who discovers something unexpected about their identity that changes their relationship to their given tasks (Sam Bell realizing he is a clone in Moon, Captain Colter Stevens’s “near-death” state in Source Code), and combat some form of repression against a bureaucratic organizational body (a private corporation in Moon, military scientists in Source Code) while being assisted by an empathetic, benevolent subordinate of that organization (GERTY the robot in Moon, Vera Famiga’s Captain Goodwin in Source Code). But it is rather appropriate that both of Jones’s films be so structurally similar, for the major themes connecting them, and the narratives by which those themes are exercised, are enveloped in the topic of the repetitive structures of everyday life.

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Source Code really solidifies a suspicion we all have had about director Duncan Jones: he’s a real people person. Yes, unlike most sci-fi filmmakers, there is very little cynicism or dread to his films. While both Moon and his successful sophomore effort, Source Code, do explore the idea of man abusing science, ultimately, there’s a huge amount of hope in his work. Not only that, but he follows generally fun and – if a tad flawed – good people. That’s right, there’s no mopey, emo action lead in Source Code. Colter Stevens, the hero of the film, is the Han Solo archetype. He’s charming, brash, and sometimes, thinks more with his fists than his head. Stevens is quite similar to Duncan Jones’s previous antagonist, Sam Bell. There’s an everyman quality to both leads. They’re not macho. They’re not invincible. And they’re both flawed individuals. Like Bell, Stevens doesn’t shy away from acting like a jerk here and there. The predicament he’s in – once again, just like Sam Bell – raises ethical questions. Although Source Code isn’t entirely hardcore science-fiction, Jones does what all classical films of genre should do: ask a few questions. If you’ve ever seen Jones an interview before, then you already know he’s a personable and fun-seeming filmmaker. He manages to take that upbeat spirit of his and interject that good nature in his films, and as was the case with Moon, it works. WARNING: This interview contains major spoilers.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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Moon director Duncan Jones’ sophomore effort Source Code hasn’t even hit theaters yet, but he’s already talking about what he wants to do for his third film. Before he even began Source Code, Jones was trying to get producers to sign off on a script he had written called Mute. It was described as a sci-fi influenced noir with a sprawling, futuristic version of Berlin serving as the backdrop. Unfortunately, times are tough, and Jones hasn’t been able to find funding for such an off the beaten path project. He’s moving on to another pitch instead, but this isn’t the last we’ve heard of Mute. Jones told Gordon and the Whale that he is going to take the Darren Aronofsky doing The Fountain approach and produce the script as a graphic novel, “I’ve been talking to my producer today and we have decided that we’re going to release Mute as a graphic novel. Because we’ve had so many problems trying to get this film made, you know? The people who are involved with financing films have just been…shy…shy of making the script. So what we decided to do is we’re going to make a graphic novel of it, prove it…prove it to an audience that this works and maybe in the future get the chance to come back and make it.”

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After spending all that time isolated on the dark side of the moon (mere miles away from Michael Bay and never knowing it), and then re-living the same explosive scenario over and over, Duncan Jones is ready to move to the city. Moon was great, Source Code is highly anticipated, and Jones is already looking to the future. Far into the future. According to We Got This Covered, the director wants to homage Blade Runner by setting his next film in a city of the future. The man gets to do an intimate psychological drama with Sam Rockwell, tap into time travel, and now he paves his own way to filmically celebrate an iconic sci-fi favorite? It’s official. Duncan Jones is a replicant.

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Groundhog Day was the first thing that came to mind while watching the first trailer for Duncan Jones‘s Source Code. If you don’t know Jones, he’s the man behind Moon, one of the best sci-fi films of the last decade. Hopefully, this (studio backed) followup will be of the same caliber. From the looks of it, it just might be. If there’s anything surprising in this trailer, it’s is how heightened the world seems to be. The moments of Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) communicating with the military fat cats has a slightly surreal feel to it. There seems to be a sense of grounding as well, but this looks surprisingly out there. I’m not quite sure this is a hard sci-fi film or more of an action film, but I’m getting hints of it being the former.

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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: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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