Noah Taylor

Tom Cruise Dumbfounded in Edge of Tomorrow

It may be the best action movie of the summer, but Edge of Tomorrow is far from perfect. Like most Hollywood blockbusters, the latest Tom Cruise vehicle has a good share of plot holes. And because it’s sci-fi, there are also a lot of questions left over that maybe even the screenwriters can’t explain. It’s no Oblivion, of course. Where that got overly convoluted with its Moon-like reveal, this one is still easier to figure out than its own Duncan Jones-directed precursor. Not that anyone is referencing Source Code so much as Groundhog Day. The classic time-loop comedy left us with a ton of questions of its own, yet in a fun way, proof that just because we make one of these lists for a movie doesn’t mean we necessarily think it’s bad. There is a ton to love about Edge of Tomorrow, for instance, including its energy and its surprisingly suitable self-aware humor. But it almost loses a lot of us in that ending. There’s much to discuss about that, and in fact many of our questions below are devoted to elements of the third act, with a couple directed at the last few minutes. Maybe the key is that we need to watch the movie again and again and again until we get it all. Maybe there’s an appropriate trick involved where things become clearer in retreading. Is Edge of Tomorrow itself a game? Or is it just a little too complicated and also a little too sloppy? Obviously, everything beyond […]

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Sarah Snook and others in PREDESTINATION

Movies featuring time travel as a central plot device immediately and unavoidably put a target on their back for the numerous plot holes and inconsistencies sure to arise from such a twisty narrative structure. Even the best will sometimes have moments or scenes that just don’t work given too much thought, but if audiences are willing to go along for the ride those inevitable bumps in the road can be smoothed over through execution and other strengths. Predestination is one such film, and a few caveats aside, it’s one of the most dramatically thrilling and emotionally satisfying time-travel movies of the past several years. Two figures fight in the basement of a busy travel hub. One is trying to blow up hundreds of people, and the other is trying to stop it. Injuries from the ensuing blast leave a Temporal Agent (Ethan Hawke) burned and near death, but he pulls through and is soon assigned a new mission from the past. The confusingly-named “Fizzle” bomber will be destroying a few blocks of NYC in 1975, and the time traveling government agency has been unable to stop him in time again and again. The agent is sent back to recruit fresh blood, a man named John (Sarah Snook), and together they set out to stop the bomber before he kills again. Again.

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s the whitest casting round-up you know. Even though everyone knows that Godzilla is the true star of any Godzilla movie, there usually has to be some sort of human element on the ground to give the fire-breathing lizard’s destruction some sort of context. So Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla reboot is in the need of a principal actor, presumably a young and fresh-faced one, because Deadline is reporting that the newest actor they’re courting for the job is Aaron Taylor-Johnson. In addition to having the whitest name on the planet, you know Taylor-Johnson from recently blending into the wallpaper in Savages and shrinking into the background of Anna Karenina. Let’s hope that if he gets the Godzilla gig he’s able to rekindle a little bit of that spark he showed in Kick-Ass, because he certainly didn’t come out of 2012 looking like the next big thing.

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Submarine is the coming-of-age tale of a cold, calculated, and pretentious teen by the name of Oliver Tate. Oliver, like Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate, could easily come off as a downright off-putting and self-absorbed kid. He starts off as an arrogant and creepy kid dealing with what seems to be the weight of the world on his shoulders. Oliver’s romance that comes out of seeking pure lovemaking turns into something genuine. His parents’ love is dying, and he can’t fix it. Through nearly all of this, Oliver stays near-emotionless and blank. His transformation and revelations are shown through writer-director Richard Ayoade‘s unique visual eye, which also never sugarcoats Oliver’s oddness. Ayoade has crafted a young protagonist that while many will love many others will question his sanity… a rare type of lead these days. Here’s what Richard Ayoade had to say about not writing too much style, the moral ambiguity of the film’s characters and, of course, Oliver Tate.

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Richard Ayoade’s Submarine is a much-needed corrective to the twee adolescent indie dramedy. The film maintains many of the recognizable bells and whistles of that exceedingly tired subgenre, but like the potential available in any catalog of clichés, Submarine finds a way to make them work. Instead of simply presenting us a socially outcast teen protagonist who speaks and thinks like somebody possessing cleverness and insight far beyond his years, Submarine provides specific reasons why its protagonist is so articulate while still giving us plenty of evidence that he is indeed an inexperienced teenager who has a lot to learn. Instead of assembling random visual quirks into a Jared Hess-style landscape in which decades of fashion are collapsed into one oppressively ironic and ahistorical moment, the setting and style of Submarine is (mostly) consistent in presenting a historical moment informed by nostalgia, even if we don’t quite know when that moment is (but we don’t really need to). In short, Submarine is refreshingly sincere. It’s an all-too-familiar coming of age tale, but the film gives us plenty of reasons to give a damn – its story in particular.

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Walking down the street in Austin one fine afternoon, I made the remark that I wasn’t sure how to feel about a film that just played Fantastic Fest because it had a happy ending. “No one was raped or killed, I’m not sure how to feel about that.” I’m not an advocate of raping and killing (except when they really, really deserve it), but the vast majority of films I saw this year dealt with those themes heavily. Seeing something happy and cheery actually threw me pretty hard. Luckily, Red White & Blue from writer-director Simon Rumley was there to bring me right back down into a pit of despair and make me want to give up on life. Red White & Blue follows a trio of Austin residents as their stories intersect and collide with unfortunate events. Erica (Amanda Fuller) is a promiscuous girl down on her luck who finds something close to a relationship developing with the off-kilter Army veteran Nate (Noah Taylor). Rock-n-roller Franki (Marc Senter) has a brief fling with Erica and the results of said fling have ramifications for all.

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Red White and Blue

Simon Rumley’s Red, White & Blue is a film about grey areas. There are no heroes or villains in the unforgiving landscape of this film, a landscape featuring characters that make life-altering bad decisions or knowingly do unforgivable things. It’s a dense, serious study of unfortunate happenstance, one which implements a brooding quietude throughout.

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


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