O Brother Where Art Thou?

Fight Club Doctor

One of the trickiest things for a movie to pull off is the derailment of the narrative at the hands of a character we barely get any time with. We’re trucking along with a hero we like, and some plucky upstart with only a few lines of dialogue changes the game completely. It seems deeply unfair, like young Bruce Wayne enjoying his delightfully privileged upbringing when a guy with a gun in an alleyway puts all of that to an end, launching a deep psychosis and a billion-dollar franchise. Tellingly, Tim Burton and company proved they couldn’t handle the random nature of the situation when they turned that grinning alley guy into The Joker. It’s closure we didn’t even know we needed. Since embodying raw chance is a difficult job, it’s amazing when a movie uses it as an advantage, launches the story with it or hides it so thoroughly that we don’t even recognize how powerful a day player was. It can also be a powerful tool in seeing how the protagonist deals with the roadblock. Some rise to the occasion, others fall off the cliff, and still others grab their toys and go home.

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goodfellas scenes

Is anyone else surprised that Gangster Squad isn’t a comedy? First of all, the word ‘squad’ in the title reminds us of goofy material like Police Squad and The Monster Squad. Then there’s the fact director Ruben Fleischer‘s last two movies were darkly humorous. But his new feature is indeed a crime drama, based on true events and apparently serious and very violent. At least one review calls it “silly,” but that’s a negative criticism and surely not the intended tone of the filmmakers. Of course, a gangster drama can still have some humorous moments (see below), but even if there are any lighter scenes in Gangster Squad we may still be disappointed that Fleischer hasn’t done for the crime genre what he previously did with zombie horror. It’s been a while since we had a good, funny gangster movie in America — by which we mean not imported from foreign filmmakers like Guy Ritchie and Martin McDonagh. Not that we want Hollywood to try anymore spoofs like Jane Austen’s Mafia. So, given that a list of straight gangster scenes we love would be too long anyway, this week’s list of clips is narrowed down to funny moments, to make up for the presumed total lack of comedy in Gangster Squad. Watch these five scenes after the break.

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We rarely get to see movies being watched in other movies – probably because while it’s fun to watch films, it’s fairly boring to watch other people watch films. That being said – there are plenty of characters out there who would no doubt be a blast to watch movies with… Batman, for example. Anyway, when we do see a real life movie being watched in another movie it tends to be a film that most likely inspired the filmmakers either in their own upbringing or as a plot device in the film itself. Because of that one thing is certain – if you see a real movie being watched in the movie you’re watching, there’s a good chance that movie is awesome. Before anything though, I gotta shout out to Mr. Cole Abaius for coming up with the idea for this list. The man is a true demigod, and from what I hear the other half is pretty good too.

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Filmmaking Tips from The Coen Brothers

There are a lot of stories about colleagues and reporters asking Joel and Ethan Coen questions only to get the same exact answer from both (or to get one finishing the other’s sentence), so it seems at least plausible that they’d both agree on all these tips – no matter which brother they came from. Joel Coen got his start as an assistant editor on Fear No Evil and The Evil Dead. He and his brother then partnered for their first movie without the word “evil” in the title, Blood Simple., which rightly launched them to prominence where they’d go on to craft Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, countless other modern classics and a trophy case for all their awards. All of this fulfilled a childhood dream of making movies that started with a Super 8 camera and a hobby of remaking what they saw on television. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from two young masters who think exactly alike.

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You’ve stumbled upon Circle of Jerks, our sporadically published, weekly feature in which we ask the questions that really matter to our writers and readers. It’s a time to take a break from our busy lives and revel in the one thing that we all share: a deep, passionate love of movies. If you have a question you’d like answered by the FSR readers and staff, send us an email at editors@filmschoolrejects.com. What movie universe would actually want to live in? Susan C.

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Just over 3,000 films were released in the past ten years. Instead of sleeping, Neil and Cole (with the help of a supercomputer) whittle that list down to the best 1%.

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MWLBigFish

Will Bloom struggles to reconnect with his father Edward Bloom as Ed’s entire life is retold in epic, tall tale-style, and Tim Burton discovers primary colors.

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OBrotherWhereArtThou

You seek a great fortune, you three who are now in chains. You will find a fortune, though it will not be the one you seek. But first, first you must travel a long and difficult road, a road fraught with peril.

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If there is one thing we can’t seem to stay away from here at FSR, it is a good discussion about what is the best or the worst movie in any particular category…

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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