Mud

Tye Sheridan in

Ever find yourself itching with the desire to plant your ass on the couch all day, but facing the dilemma that you can’t find anything in the endlessly scrolling Netflix menu worth watching? We’ve all been there. They don’t make it easy on us, do they? There’s no need to worry though, because there are actually always plenty of movies on Netflix well worth watching, and here we have a list of 18 of them that have either been added or re-added to the service (these things do tend to come and go, don’t they?) in recent months. Click on the titles to be taken to the films’ Netflix pages, where they can be easily added to your queue. You’ll thank yourself next time the concept of leaving your house and interacting with other humans seems unthinkable.

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2013review_music

This year brought moviegoers an array of music that ranged from uplifting (About Time “How Long Will I Love You”) to depressing (The Great Gatsby‘s “Young and Beautiful”) to catchy (Inside Llewyn Davis‘ “Please Mr. Kennedy”) to nostalgic (Saving Mr. Banks‘ “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”) to just plain out there (Spring Breakers‘ “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”). Whether it was a film about throwing (or attending) the best party of your life or one about intense family drama, the music pushed stories to new heights, whether it was an Alien rapping on the beach or two mothers pushing their children to the breaking point. Film music is no longer just orchestration and catchy pop songs – it is dubstep and bands you would normally hear on the radio taking to the conductor’s stand. Simply put – it is an exciting time for music in film because there are no rules. Now it’s time to relive some of the best music moments from this past year with scores from composers new to the scene and those continuing to churn out groundbreaking music, as well as soundtracks that featured songs from bands and artists who discovered new talents while collaborating.

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2013.moviedoppelgangers

Every year, there seem to be unintended themes emerging from movie releases. It’s almost as if the studios called each other to coordinate projects like friends in high school planning to wear matching outfits on a Friday. Sometimes this effect is unintentional, like when an emerging movie star manages to have multiple films comes out the same year (see Melissa McCarthy below); other times, it’s a result of executives switching studios and developing similar projects (like the infamous Disney and DreamWorks 1998 double-header grudge match of A Bug’s Life vs. Antz and Armageddon vs. Deep Impact). This year is no different, producing a slew of movie doppelgangers. For the sake of creativity, I left the painfully obvious off. Still, who can forget offerings like Olympus Has Fallen up against White House Down as well as This Is the End paired with The World’s End? And, if you really hate yourself, you can watch a terrible trippleganger of A Haunted House, Scary Movie 5 and 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Whether it’s similar themes, the same actor in noticeably similar roles, or parallel stand-out moments in two films, this list of 13 movie pairings can provide a nice selection of companion pieces for your viewing pleasure.

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2013review_missed (1)

The 13 movies below range from the very good to the great (while the 6.5 that follow are just mostly bad), but the one thing they all share is that they each failed to find an audience during their theatrical run for one reason or another. At least one of those reasons is you of course, but instead of berating you for failing to support the films while they were in theaters and needed your help, we’re hoping to point you in their direction now to atone for your sins. But first, a few qualifications. I’ve excluded movies that played in fewer than 75 theaters since that’s the distributor’s fault, I’m not featuring films that made over $30m, and I’m not including subtitled foreign releases which the masses avoid in general. These are only films that could have had a real chance of making a lot more money than they did, so while I wish more people saw the Jared Leto-led Mr. Nobody, I’m not surprised that it only made $3,600. Finally, I’m also sharing the wealth a bit by skipping movies that will be making our Best Films of the Year list next week. So here are 13 great movies that failed to catch on at the box office but should be sought out immediately on Blu-ray/DVD, streaming, whatever… and 6.5 relatively terrible flicks that you were right to avoid.

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paulson

In Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave the main Louisiana plantation we see, run by Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), is an authentically cruel environment. McQueen makes you feel the heat, tears, and fear there. Among all that sweat is Marry Epps, an Ice Queen played by Sarah Paulson. She’s unfazed by the sweltering brutality, engaging in it in a way that’s as terrifying as her husband Edwin, if not more so. McQueen and Paulson turn her movements into moments of pure tension. She’s a villain seemingly without remorse, making her a character most actors might shy away from. Paulson, though, isn’t afraid of taking on the challenge. Speaking with her, it was obvious that under the right circumstances she’d be game for almost anything.

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Mud Hunter

There are many reasons to compare and contrast current films with historical ones. One is to attempt to explain why some films have been spotlighted in place of a possible litany similar films. Another is to show the machinations of cinematic influence, or explore the persistence of repeated narratives throughout film history. And yet another is because it’s damn fun. Here at Criterion Files, we have (on a not-at-all-regular basis) compared recent films with relevant counterparts canonized in the cinephilic annals of the Criterion collection, including two Lincoln biopics, two iconic exercises of the close-up, and the overwhelming similarities between Pierrot le Fou and a certain beloved Wes Anderson film. But rarely has a crop of films released in a single season echoed the specific work of classic counterparts than the summer of 2013.

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discs strike back2

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Strike Back: The Complete Second Season Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) weren’t always best of friends, and while they still argue on occasion they’ve also learned that they can trust each other when the bullets start flying. Their latest adventure finds the duo along with their new commander (Rhona Mitra) running and gunning their way across Africa in search of stolen nuclear triggers. Technically the series’ third season, this is Cinemax’s second as the producing entity, and they continue to show why no one even talks about that initial UK season any more. They also continue to show that a TV show can actually best many a lesser action movie in nearly every aspect. The acting and cast here are solid, the cinematography is theater-worthy, and the action sequences are impossibly great for a television series. They also impress with their awareness of both weaponry and tactics that add to the feeling of legitimacy. Hell, Cinemax even ensures the show maintains their high (or low?) standards when it comes to T&A. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries]

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Sound City Movie

July marks the middle of summer, but it also marks the half way point of each year which means half the movies you were looking forward to seeing this year have already hit theater screens! With so many major studio releases out each weekend (plus a healthy offering of indie fare) it can be overwhelming to try and remember what you’ve seen, what you wanted to see, and any unexpected titles that may have caught your eye, but you never got a chance to actually sit down and check out. At the beginning of the year we posted a list of the 52 Most Anticipated Movies to come out in 2013 and with half the year already gone, it seemed like a good time to look back on the films that have already come out and highlight those with fantastic music you might have missed. Summer is the perfect time to play catch up on entertainment with most television shows on hiatus and long summer nights to fill so if you are looking for a list of movies from this year that featured noteworthy tunes, you have come to the right place. Some of these films are still out in theaters, some are already available on DVD, and some may need to be added to your Netflix queue to ensure you don’t miss them a second time, but all ten of these soundtracks should have you humming along well into December.

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Oscar 2013 Mid-Year

What kind of movies get released in January? In the summer? From November through December? Exactly. We know the cycle so well that a movie with only half a dozen explosions in June is considered counter-programming while Fall films are actively baiting golden statues and podiums. We know it so well that people predict the following year’s Oscars the day after the Oscars. We know it so well that the ceremony “shaking things up” has become the status quo. So I wondered what would happen if they truly shook things up by holding the Oscars in July. A kind of mid-year awards ceremony where The Weinstein Company hasn’t even brought out its heaviest hitters yet. This alternative universe isn’t necessarily about what movies are the best — because the Oscars almost never are. It’s about finding the close enough blend of prestige and popularity from the first half of the year, but make no mistake, it would still result in a wildly different list of nominees.

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IMG_7996.CR2

Editor’s note: Allison’s review originally ran during Sundance earlier this year, but we’re re-posting it as Jeff Nichols’ film hits theaters in limited release this weekend. What would be most exciting to two young boys living a slightly boring life along a river bank in Arkansas? An adventure, of course. And that is exactly what Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) think they have found when they come across a peculiar sight — a boat trapped high up in the tree tops thanks to a recent flood. But what the two boys end up finding in that boat is a much bigger adventure because they are not alone, and are not the only ones looking to get it down. Enter Mud (Matthew McConaughey), a charming drifter living on the boat who, unlike the boys, is not looking for adventure, he is looking for a way off the island that the boat (and Mud himself) is trapped on. Ellis is quickly drawn to Mud with his cross-heeled boots and endless stories, but Neckbone is more wary, especially when Mud asks the boys for a favor. Ellis remains intrigued, and it becomes clear that it is not simply the prospect of adventure that has his attention, it is Mud’s story explaining why he is stranded on that island — the pursuit of true love.

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jeff

Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter are no lightweight cinematic affairs, and writer/director Jeff Nichols certainly didn’t pull any emotional punches when making them. While both Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter put put their audience through the emotional ringer, his third film, Mud, is a departure. While Nichols’ old-fashioned picture deals with heartbreak, for both youngsters and oldies, it’s more of a crowd-pleaser than the filmmaker has made previously. That’s not because Nichols decided it was time to lighten up and make a movie for everyone, however, but unlike Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, his last film follows the perspective of two kids. Centering the feature on children gives Mud a more innocent and adventurous spirit, while also pushing Nichols as a filmmaker on a technical level. Here’s what Mr. Nichols had to say about his “big American movie”:

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Mud

Growing up on a riverbank in the rural outskirts of Arkansas is equal parts bleak and beautiful. The stark landscape can feel confining, but when it is all you know (or the only place you want to be) it is easy to find the beauty in the things that surround you. And that is how we find Mud (Matthew McConaughey), a charismatic drifter with an eye for this beauty, but one who ends up in the exact place he should not be. Mud is a story of redemption, but Mud himself is driven by another emotion: love. And it is his love story that captures the attention of two young local boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), who end up learning more about themselves while trying to help Mud escape his own troubled fate. The film’s music, created primarily by David Wingo and Lucero, creates a captivating duality of sounding both ominous and playful (much like Mud himself.) Wingo, who also created the music for director Jeff Nichols last film, Take Shelter, clearly knows how to bring Nichols’ vision to life and make his worlds feel like an interesting combination of tangible and magical elements. Ben Nichols, whose track “Shelter” also appeared on the Take Shelter soundtrack, returns with two new blue-grass infused songs, “Davy Brown” and “The Kid,” which bring texture to Ellis and Neckbone’s world while tracks like Wingo’s “Juniper” add that sense of magic.

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Pain and Gain Red Band

This is the month we’ve been building towards ever since the start of 2013. This year was made for this month. Why did the Mayans postpone their destruction of our dear Earth? So they could see what Michael Bay‘s small movie was like. Pain and Gain is his first non-Transformers movie in nearly eight years, and it’s about time the Mayans and the rest of us saw it. That Hasbro series had its moments, but not in the way The Rock and The Bad Boys films did. Pain and Gain looks to fit into that half of Bay’s career. Summer comes early with his dark, ‘roided up comedy, and the same can be said for the movies we’re seeing from Danny Boyle, Shane Carruth, and Joseph Kosinski. In fact, Kosinski’s Oblivion is the only blockbuster on the list. April is shaping up to be a huge month for smaller movies.

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sxsw anticipated

SXSW 2013 begins in a couple days, and we couldn’t be more excited. By “we,” I mean FSR founder, publisher and beard-model Neil Miller, professional interviewer and lanky ladies man Jack Giroux, and myself. We’ll be descending on Austin this Friday to take in as much festival film-going, socializing and Alamo Drafthouse food as we possibly can. Of course we’re excited to see movies too. A lot of movies. And to give you an idea of what we’re most looking forward to film-wise the three of us have each listed our five most anticipated films of SXSW 2013 below.

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The Spectacular Now

Forgive us if we may be so bold, but this year’s round of “Ten Best” films from the Sundance Film Festival is really just the ten films we liked the most. We have taste, and we’re not afraid to use it! (Or, alternately, please like all these things that we like, we promise they are really good!) This year, five Rejects attended the festival in the snow (can you believe they let us in?), and while we all have different cinematic soft spots, you’d be surprised over how many films struck all of us, and in different ways. (We cried a lot.) This year’s festival certainly had a few themes that stuck out – lots of sex, nudity, inappropriate relationships, and so much more seemed to be the order of the day – but our list of the ten best films of the festival is far more interested in less lascivious features, much more tuned into films that delivered strong characters and even stronger senses of self. Boldness paid off. Honesty was rewarded. Tears? Well, tears definitely didn’t hurt. Find out which ten films won our hearts at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, presented after the break.

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sundance survival kit

Whenever Sundance begins again and I prepare to head back to Park City, one word comes to my mind: early. Because every time I have headed off to the snowy mountains that surround this festival, I find myself — and I know many others do as well — setting my alarm for the wee hours to get up, get to the airport, and get to the festival with hopes of making the most of those precious few hours left in the day by the time I arrive. This is especially true for me, as I usually get in on the official third day of the festival and screenings are well under way. But the second I’m here, that early wake up call is a distant memory and it feels like I’m back in a home away from home (granted this home is a bit colder and I have to be even more careful not to slip and fall while walking), getting back into the festival swing of things.

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Mud

If there was one film missing from our 2013 film guide, I’d say it was Jeff Nichols‘ Mud. Although he only has two films under his belt, Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, Nichols has quickly risen to prominence as an A-list art house director. With Mud, the filmmaker finally has his chance to move into the mainstream, and this first trailer for the film does a decent job of pushing it as something easily digestible. Take a peak at Jeff Nichols’ newest film (via Yahoo! Movies):

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Mud

The prospect of heading back to the snowy mountain that houses the Sundance Film Festival brings up many questions – is my jacket warm enough? Do I have boots with good traction so I do not slip on the ice? Will I be able to use my iPhone with gloves on? But beyond these basic survival questions, the one major question is: what films do I want to see? The Sundance lineup gets increasingly more impressive with each passing year and the festival program for 2013 certainly lives up to that standard. After putting together the puzzle that is a festival schedule (a task not for the faint of heart) I am genuinely looking forward to all the films on my list, but these are the ten films I am most looking forward to plopping down in a (hopefully) warm theater to watch. Stay tuned to FSR for my reviews and see if these films end up being ones that should be added to your own “must-see” lists for the year.

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After literally days of rampant speculation and fanciful rumor-spreading (on my part), this year’s official line-up for the Cannes 2012 Film Festival has officially been unveiled by officials in the South of France. Officially. Unsurprisingly, and as predicted, my own 13 film wishlist was largely completely wrong – but I did predict a massive four (including the absence, thankfully, of Terrence Malick), and in my defense, Michael Haneke’s Love was the 14th film on my list until I decided to oust it for timing reasons. Brad Pitt, Robert Pattinson and Tom Hardy will battle each other as Killing Them Softly (the awfully renamed adaptation of Cogan’s Trade), Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis and the other needlessly renamed flick, Lawless (why not just keep it as The Wettest County?) compete for the Palme d’Or.

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Jeff Nichols

One of my most anticipated films of the year is Jeff Nichols‘ Mud. Nichols is behind one of, if not the, best films of 2011: Take Shelter. With only two pictures under his belt, he’s quickly established himself as a filmmaker to get excited about. Earlier today Nichols was kind enough to make the time for an interview to discuss Take Shelter, for the upcoming Blu-ray release. We discussed an array of topics, and Mud was briefly covered. Nichols was hard at work in the mood swing-sounding editing room when we spoke, and although he stated he’ll have clearer answers for the movie once it comes out, the writer-director shared enough details to give us a small sense of what to expect from Mud. After talking about the love-hate relationship with editing, the joy of shooting the Mississippi river with 35mm anamorphic cameras, the no bullshit (and awesome) attitude of Sam Shepard, Nichols touched upon the themes of the film:

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