Reagan

RoboCop

Few years in the history of recent Hollywood have gone by without a sizable pile of ‘80s remakes. Typically, those remakes are at least somewhat spread out. But this Valentine’s Day weekend greeted us with a grand total of three remakes, all bearing (with the exception of a conspicuously absent ellipsis) the titles of their predecessors: RoboCop (original: 1987), About Last Night (original: 1986), and Endless Love (original: 1981). So many ‘80s clones haven’t opened wide the same weekend in two and a half years, when Footloose 2.0 battled the prequel to re-re-make of The Thing. Recycling the ‘80s is hardly exclusive to cinema. Indie and mainstream pop have been revisiting the era of New Wave and post-punk for years. Sometimes this results in uncanny synergy, like two singles from the past few months referencing the opening sequence of The Hunger. And, of course, in the political sphere the ‘80s are ever present, as the exponential concentration of wealth to the very rich have forced a public conversation rethinking Reaganism and neoliberal economics. Few films used popular culture as a platform for exploring this political climate quite like RoboCop and About Last Night. So rather than taking to task whether these remakes are “worthy” or “necessary” or not (is any?), I’d rather mine how the subtle differences between these revisitations and their originals betray our complicated relationship to the era of “Just Say No” and “Where’s the Beef?”. Perhaps we keep recycling the ‘80s because that decade in particular, invited […]

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A repeated critique leveled at Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is that it doesn’t show the consequences of Jordan Belfort’s actions – we don’t see, in other words, the direct repercussions of Belfort’s lies to and manipulations of ordinary people. In contrast to the director’s otherwise very similar Goodfellas and Casino, it’s easier (cinematically speaking) to show somebody getting beaten to a pulp than panicking about their house payments. However, Wolf does have one interesting moment in its final minutes that stands distinctly from the miasma of excess coating its other three hours – when Kyle Chandler’s Agent Denham takes a subway ride home, surrounded by an anonymous underclass whose lives and identities never breach Belfort’s bubble of expensive distractions. Had The Wolf of Wall Street spent significant time representing those directly affected by Belfort’s actions beyond the class seclusion suggested by this brief moment, it would have illustrated a type of everyday financial struggle rarely addressed in detail in American cinema. Class differences and conflicts have been an ever-present topic in American movies, especially in Romeo and Juliet renditions like Titanic and Love Story, but there are have existed few narrative traditions for representing in detail particular class struggles, specifically those pertaining to poverty.

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Ben Affleck

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that finally gets to stop talking about Walk of Shame, which was really being something of an attention hog lately. Some real bad news hit today for everyone looking forward to seeing what a trainwreck Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart starring opposite of each other as romantic interests would have been. Affleck announced that, due to his busy schedule of being a busy person, he’s not going to be able to act in Focus after all. This means that the Glenn Ficarra- and John Requa-helmed pic will have to find someone else to vibe with Stewart as its in-the-mood-for-romance con artist, and Affleck is going to have to stick to directing movies, a place everyone seems to feel way more comfortable with him being in anyway. [Variety]

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Editor’s Note: In a fevered rush to get straight to the movies he loved, intrepid reviewer Robert Levin didn’t write an intro. In fact, he might not even believe in them. Maybe he believes you’d rather dig into the movies than read one. So without any ado, here’s Robert’s list of the best movies he saw at Sundance. Look out for a few of them coming to a theater near New York and LA and On Demand throughout the year.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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