Natural Born Killers

stone

A lot of film fans had their eyes opened by the trippy blur of David Lynch, who showed them that movies need not be literal or especially concerned with losing audience members for one or two or all the moments. For me, such a cinematic shakeup didn’t come from Lynch, but Oliver Stone. Much like his underdog characters, he continually challenges the norms of his field. Throughout his career, Stone has been able to shift between yarns spun with either a calm eye or full-on bombast, whether he’s showing modern gladiators in Any Given Sunday, the fractured life of Richard Nixon, or hell’s dirty underbelly as depicted in U-Turn. It’s also obvious that Stone is a history nut, and, with The Untold History of The United States, he spent these past four years crafting a project he’s called his most “ambitious.” It’s a comprehensive, warts-and-all look at the behind-closed-doors shaping of America, all done in an approach we’ve come to expect from Stone. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Stone to talk about that approach, his greater body of film work and his antagonism toward perfection.

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Culture Warrior

Part of the appeal of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films is that the basic conceit informing their aesthetic seems so natural. Batman is one of few major superheroes that isn’t actually a super-hero. Batman mythology, then, lends itself to a degree of plausibility more than, say, Superman or Spider-Man, so why not manifest a vision of Batman that embraces this particular aspect that distinguishes this character from most superhero mythologies? But realism has not been a characteristic that unifies Batman’s many representations in the moving image. Through the eyes of Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, the Batman of tentpole studio filmmaking has occupied either a world of gothic architecture and shadowy noir, or one of schizophrenic camp. From 1989 to 1997, Batman was interpreted by visionary directors with potent aesthetic approaches, but approaches that did not necessarily aim to root the character within a landscape of exhaustive Nolanesque plausibility.

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Patton Oswalt in Big Fan

I’ve found that this list comes up fairly often on the Internet – however every time I read one I’m surprised by how many redundancies they all share. While a few of said redundancies will also appear in the following (because sometimes you just can’t deny a good performance) I’m going to try and mix this up and give a you a few of my personal favorite and slightly less talked about non-funny roles some real funny people took on. Let’s get started with a picture of a pen jabbed into Jon Stewart’s eye.

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Jared Harris must be one of the few lucky actors to play a non-evil doctor in a horror movie. The biggest convention John Carpenter avoids in his return to the screen is taking the possible role of a villain, and making a doctor that is actually interested in helping his patients. Harris doesn’t chew up any scenery and, as the actor points out, isn’t playing ‘Dracula’. Speaking of Dracula, Harris revealed he’s a big admirer of Francis Ford Coppola‘s version. Yes, not a very good transition, but how many people actually love that film? Not many, unfortunately. And, of course, we did discus Mad Men. Last season was arguably the show’s finest hour. Matthew Weiner showed nearly the whole ensemble at their lowest and most vulnerable. There was no real reason to ask Harris about the next season — considering it’s a bit far off from actually shooting — but Harris and I did talk about Lane Pryce’s place in the “boy’s club” as well as the revealing drama of last season. Here’s what actor Jared Harris had to say about not hamming things up, Carpenter’s professionalism, and great scripts making bad movies… and fair warning, our talk features spoilers for The Ward.

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It’s a seminal element of the human experience. We grab a few friends, hop into the car that has the least chance of breaking down (but will end up breaking down anyway), and go off in search of that bottle of Dom we buried/that porn tape we accidentally made/Brad Pitt and the nearest cliff. It’s the road! The appeal of the freedom promised by the very founders of this fine country themselves. Fresh air, endless pavement, and the anticipation of leaving yourself open to new experiences in towns large and small alike. Will you end up having a fireworks fight in a graveyard? Will you fall in love with the girl behind the counter at Dairy Queen? Will you go skinny dipping as the Summer sun sets in a blaze of oranges, purples and pinks? Not in these films. In these road trippers, the situations are all a bit different. Buckle up and reset the odometer for 12 Unconventional Road Trip Movies.

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For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by examining a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today. Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, please don’t fly us to the country of Wyoming. Part 20 of the 36-part series takes a look at “Crimes of Love” with Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon.

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thisweekindvd-header1

Rob Hunter loves movies. He also loves working as a delivery driver for Planet Express. These two joys come together in the form of cash money payments that he receives every week and immediately uses to buy more DVDs. So join us each week as he takes a look at new DVD releases and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which titles are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all cost. (And yes, I am the guy who won’t be recommending Drag Me To Hell.)

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