Napoleon Dynamite

Austenland

Editor’s note: Kate’s review originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-running it as the film opens in limited theatrical release this weekend. Obsession with fictional literary heroes is nothing new, but Austenland’s Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) has taken her love for Jane Austen’s (again, fictional) Mr. Darcy and the Regency-era world he (as written in a fictional novel) inhabited in Austen’s (still fictional, Jane) “Pride & Prejudice” to new lows. While the source material for Jerusha Hess’s film, Shannon Hale’s very popular novel of the same name, found its heroine focusing her attentions on a still more fake Darcy – the one played by Colin Firth in the also very popular but not entirely true to Austen’s work BBC miniseries version of “Pride & Prejudice” – Hess wisely expands Jane’s obsession to apply more thoroughly to the rest of Austen’s work and her Regency Era. It is perhaps one of the few wise choices made in service to the adaptation, as Hess’s film, though frequently funny, is almost disastrously goofy and doofy, headed up by a poorly-drawn leading lady who, had she not been played by someone as lovely as Russell, would be the target of scorn by everyone she meets. We quickly learn that Russell’s Jane has been obsessed with Mr. Darcy for most of her life, with Hess kicking off the film with an amusing sequence of flashbacks that show Jane progressing through her teen years and on into adulthood with a moony-eyed stare […]

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Channel Guide: A Column About TV

Ah, the television midseason. By now, the public has decided which new shows they’ll stick with (Revenge, 2 Broke Girls, New Girl), which they’re unsure about (Pan Am, Prime Suspect, Once Upon a Time) and which aren’t even worth thinking about (The Playboy Club, Free Agents). There’s little chance that if something hasn’t become appointment viewing by now, it’s worth cancelling the DVR season pass. So while we’re all finally getting over the tragedy that was Charlie’s Angels, the network bigwigs are using their highly-representative sample (comprised, one can only imagine, of elderly people, religious zealots, and the entirety of the state of West Virginia) to determine just what they’ll throw at us next. Sure, some of the best shows have been birthed out of a midseason replacement (ahem, Happy Endings, ahem), but the pickings are often more than slim – shows the networks don’t often find strong enough to debut with their fellow newbies in the fall. So what will we have to look forward to (or to run away from) in our TV Guide in the coming weeks? Sure, PBS will kick off the second season of critical and ratings darling Downton Abbey January 8th, while NBC’s 30 Rock is back January 12th. Cee-Lo Green will once again be gracing our television screens with The Voice’s post-Superbowl premiere, and Timothy Olyphant will be emanating his rugged swagger on Justified once more, as the lawman drama kicks off its third season January 17th. But what of the newly minted […]

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Channel Guide: A Column About TV

After all of the hype from the fall television premieres has died down, we are now in for the second wave of excitement that happens midseason. If all of the shows that begin airing in September are dinner, then the ones that come in the winter are dessert – of course, that dessert can be horrible, you know, maybe taste a little like Sons of Tucson. This metaphor is wearing thin, so before I start talking about oatmeal raisin cookies and non-fat yogurt, here’s a list of the midseason series premieres that I have my eye on.

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Criterion Files

Part of me is in complete disbelief that the release date of Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums will have been a decade ago next month. It doesn’t feel so long ago that I was sixteen years old, seeing it for the first time in a movie theater and spending my subsequent Christmas with The Ramones, Elliot Smith, and Nico playing on repeat in my car (two years later, after hearing of Smith’s death, my friends and I gathered together and watched Richie Tenenbaums’s (Luke Wilson) attempted suicide with new, disturbing poignancy). And ten years on, even after having seen it at least a dozen times, and armed with the annoying ability to know every beat and predict every line, something about Tenenbaums feels ageless and fresh at the same time. But when you look at the movie culture that came after Tenenbaums, the film’s age begins to take on its inevitable weight. Tenenbaums was Anderson’s first (and arguably only) real financial success. Previously, Anderson was perceived as an overlooked critical darling following Rushmore, a promising director that a great deal of Hollywood talent wanted to work with (which explains Tenenbaums’ excellent cast and, probably, its corresponding financial success). With this degree of mass exposure, other filmmakers followed suit, establishing what has since been known as the “Wes Anderson style,” which permeated critical and casual assessment of mainstream indies for the following decade and established a visual approach that’s been echoed in anything from Napoleon Dynamite to Garden State to less […]

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Culture Warrior

Last week, as I watched Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber, I noticed that the trailers on the rental Blu-Ray were all of titles sharing space at the top of my queue: titles like Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins, Kim Ji-woon’s I Saw the Devil, and Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun. All, I quickly realized, had been released by the same studio, Magnet Releasing, whose label I recalled first noticing in front of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson. After some quick Internet searching, I quickly realized what I should have known initially, that Magnet was a subsidiary of indie distributor Magnolia Pictures. The practices of “indie” subsidiaries of studios has become commonplace. That majors like Universal and 20th Century Fox carry specialty labels Focus Features and Fox Searchlight which market to discerning audiences irrespective of whether or not the individual titles released are independently financed or studio-produced has become a defining practice for limited release titles and has, perhaps more than any other factor, obscured the meaning of the term “independent film” (Sony Pictures Classics, which only distributes existing films, is perhaps the only subsidiary arm of a major studio whose releases are actually independent of the system itself). This fact is simply one that has been accepted for quite some time in the narrative of small-scale American (or imported) filmmaking. Especially in the case of Fox Searchlight, whose opening banner distinguishes itself from the major in variation on name only, subsidiaries of the majors can hardly even be argued as “tricking” audiences into […]

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Like the dinosaur blood found inside ancient, tree sap-encased mosquitoes, short films can often be cultivated and grown into something bigger and more rewarding: a feature film (sorry if you were hoping for a T-Rex). Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, there are more and more quality short films popping up everyday (and we’ve been trying our darndest to pay them their due around here), many of them hoping to hit it big and make a name for the filmmakers. It’s not an impossible dream — in fact, while you have heard of most of these writers and directors, they weren’t all that famous back when they made their shorts. Here are twelve films that started small before hitting the cineplexes:

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Earlier today FOX unveiled their fall schedule which I’m sure left us all excited for the prospect of a new Abrams show. And just to keep that excitement alive they have now released some trailers for all their new series, including Terra Nova, Napoleon Dynamite, and Alcatraz. So without any ado whatsoever, here are the latest promos for all of FOX’s new prime time programming:

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gentlemenbroncosheader

Jared Hess has had trouble proving that he’s completely insane, so he and Sam Rockwell are putting out these short videos for Gentlemen Broncos to drive the point home.

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FantasticFest2009

Gentleman Broncos! Journey to Saturn! Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl! Trick ‘r Treat! A fantastic line up for a Fantastic Fest.

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In Rocket Science, writer/director Jeffrey Blitz clearly shows his inspirations for making this coming-of-age tale. There are two obvious ones that need mentioning.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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