Satire

Editor’s note: This review originally ran during Cannes 2012, but we’re re-running it as the film’s limited theatrical release begins this weekend. Those expecting Matteo Garrone to follow up 2008’s excellent Gomorrah with another authentic new world crime drama might be surprised to hear that his latest project replaces the seedy criminal underworld for a thoroughly modern exploration of the current fascination with reality TV and its particular brand of disposable fame. In Reality, we follow the tragi-comic story of Luciano (Aniello Arena), a Neapolitan fishmonger with aspirations to find his fortune on the Italian version of Big Brother at the behest of his family who see him as a star and inspired by the success of former housemate Enzo (Raffaele Ferrante). We also follow his subsequent delusional breakdown. Reality is effectively Garrone’s take on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, replacing the golden ticket with the chance to make it into the Big Brother House and instead of giving Charlie his fantastical pay-off, tricking him and trapping him in a perpetual hunt through Wonka bars for his one big shot. Offered an irresistible glimpse at what the prize would mean for his future, and intoxicated with the modern Fame Disease, Luciano quickly turns from charming family man to an obsessive, paranoid reclusive, convinced that the casting team of Big Brother are testing him for selection long after the show has started.

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The Best Short Films

Editor’s Note: With Sundance 2013 upon us, we’re revisiting some of our favorite shorts from Sundance years past. This wonderful little film played the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, played in our Short Film of the Day series in August 2011 and is back for another run as we kick off a week of Sundance shorts. Why Watch? Because WTF stands for “Genius.” The vibrant, skillful blend of puppetry and animation, the hammer-to-nail satire of children’s programming and the huge wad of creativity make this short a winner all around. As a bonus, the song is catchy as hell. This is what everyone is thinking whenever they see kid’s shows as adults. Fortunately, it’s done as smartly as possible. The easy joke is avoided, and the rest is a frantic, jaw-lowering exercise in insanity. What does it cost? Just 3 minute of your time. Trust us. You have time for more short films.

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King Kelly Trailer

If modern technologies like video upload sites and HD video cameras small enough to fit into phones are scaring you because of the new possibilities they bring to narcissistic vanity goblins like Internet porn stars and reality TV actors, then King Kelly might be the scariest horror movie you see all year. But, if teenage-aimed movies like Project X, which glorify the most vapid and soulless aspects of party-obsessed youth culture, really get under your skin and make you mad, then King Kelly might be the funniest piece of satire you see all year. Shot entirely on iPhones and telling the story of a teenage girl who makes amateur strip videos (Louisa Krause) looking to get into the world of indie filmmaking (you know, so she can be famous), King Kelly appears to be a brutal skewering of the self-obsession and celebrity worship that’s running rampant in today’s culture. Thanks to advances in modern technology, nearly anyone can now take a shot at becoming famous (as long as they’re willing to humiliate themselves), and the effects of that seem to be a gradual poisoning of our society that’s not looking like it’s going to end anytime soon.

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Culture Warrior

Will Ferrell is a funny man. This seems to be a fact undeniable even to those who don’t otherwise care for his brand of comedy. Even though his schtick has become reliably familiar – he often plays variations of an over-privileged adult child who is hopelessly naïve in certain categories of social life and prone to random bursts of livid anger – its regularity has yet to prevent Ferrell’s comic talents from growing stale. There seems to also be some indescribable aura at the core of Ferrell’s comic talent, something about his appearance and demeanor that can’t be explained through analyses of timing and punchline, as evidenced by his strange appearance on Jimmy Fallon last May. For many, Ferrell’s comic appeal has been this essential, indescribably funny core since his SNL days. Ferrell is funny not exclusively because of his physical comedy or imitable characters; he, as a force of nature, is pure farce (a farce of nature?). But as his film career continues to accumulate titles and as his unique comic sensibilities become better-known with his roles as producer and writer, it’s clear that, beneath his farce, Ferrell has a confrontational political and satirical streak underlying much of his work, which has naturally led to him portraying a politician in Jay Roach’s The Campaign. Ferrell’s roles, however, often exercise a fascinating and occasionally self-defeating tension between satire and farce, with one element substituting, rather than laying the groundwork for, the other. Here’s an overview of the politics of Will […]

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Dark Horse Movie 2012

The parallel is too easy, but Todd Solondz‘s Dark Horse really is a Dark Horse. Not only does the main character, Abe (Jordan Gelber), take some time to get any empathy, the movie itself isn’t exactly an instant winner. The reason is clear: so much of it is tied directly to a curly hair-chested baby of a man who drives a yellow hummer and doesn’t understand anything except his own victimhood. With only ten minutes under its belt, it’s difficult to see falling in love with it. That’s where the saying about books and covers comes in. Almost any other director might struggle to avoid making a movie focused on Abe into a chore, but Todd Solondz is most comfortable when he’s most uncomfortable, and the result is a drama that is singed with comic moments that belong in a therapist’s waiting room.

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Most of us are going to have to wait until next year to read Australian author Max Barry’s next novel “Lexicon,” but one man who got an advanced copy is Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn. Deadline Broken Hill reports that Barry’s agents sent a copy of the book to the director, and he gave it pretty much the most glowing review possible by coughing up enough of his own money to option its movie rights. Barry’s books are generally thrillers that satirize marketing and big business, and according to Deadline’s description of “Lexicon,” it seems to be sticking to those themes. Apparently it takes place in an alternate reality where words are powerful weapons. In this world there’s a secret cabal of people who have been using the power of language to manipulate the public into submission and promote their own positions since the beginning of time. The wrinkle in the story comes when a young member of the secret organization breaks one of their primary rules and falls in love. As we all know, love ruins everything.

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Every Girl’s Guide to The Avengers By Internet Princess Quartney Vagington Hey, gurrrrls! It’s your BFF Quartney Vagington! I’m gonna save your cute butts again, so get ready to thank me. Your boyfriend has probably looked up from his Xbox a couple times in the last week to say, “Dude, we gotta see The Avengers on Friday! It looks totally sick!” I know Trevor has! I just rolled my eyes and was like, “LOL, whatever you want, honey-bun,” and then I went back to texting. But guess what, bitches? He’s totes serious about it! Your boyfriend is too, unless he’s like a dork or whatever, in which case, ew, why are you dating a dork? Anyways, me and Trevor are gonna see The Avengers on Friday cuz it’s his turn to choose the movie, cuz he let me choose which Olive Garden we went to last week (the nice one, or the one close to Pinkberry), and so I was like, “Aah! I don’t know what these dumb comic book movies are about!” So then I was like, “Help me, Facebook, LOL!” And so then Facebook was like, “Here are some Tumblrs and Wikis about it!” So you guys, I totally did some research to help you know what the eff is going on when you see “The Avengers” with your boyfriend! You can thank me later, I accept Hot Topic gift cards, LOL. (P.S. if you do not have a boyfriend then I don’t know what to tell you […]

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Why Watch? “Upon seeing the eye with one’s eyes, we deconstruct the fourth wall.” Ker-smack! Much like its fight against pretension, the title of this short film is simple, direct, and promises exactly what we get: a badass girl in aviators delivering knuckle sandwiches to film students saying incredibly dumb things. Yes, learning is a process where a lot of mistakes are made, but sometimes a stereotype is annoyingly accurate, and this is catharsis in movie form. What does it cost? Just 3 minutes of your time. Check out Film Students Getting Punched for yourself:

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Headphones on. DVD player loaded. Blank page open. That’s right, folks. It’s another edition of Commentary Commentary, our weekly look at a film’s commentary track and all the amazing anecdotes and discernment that come with it. This week we’re going international for the first time here in Commentary Commentary. We’re headed all the way to South Korea and all the way back to 2006. Not exactly sure which of those two settings are further away, but we have them right here on this pressed, metal disc. This week we’re listening to Bong Joon-ho‘s commentary on his monster movie, The Host. Does he end up revealing in it how much he hates everything America stands for? Spoiler alert: he doesn’t, but I’m sure this article isn’t going to help matters. So take a look at what I learned. I suddenly have a craving for Kimchi and Soju.

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Probably the most controversial film screening at the festival, thanks to the usually virulent reaction that anything that is even remotely anti-religion tends to get these days, Habemus Papam is director Nanni Moretti‘s latest irony-laced film, which takes a firm stab at the institution of the Vatican (and unsurprisingly has already inspired notable calls to boycott it). This isn’t new territory for Moretti, who follows up 1984’s religious satire The Mass is Ended, with this look at the Vatican’s attempt to elect a new Pope, which remarkably is also the Italian director’s sixth film in Competition at Cannes over the years. In Habemus Papam, otherwise known as We have a Pope, we are introduced to the conclave of Vatican Cardinals as they meet to elect the new pontiff  from their ranks (a process which hilariously is presented like a group of school children unwillingly sitting for an exam). Panic ensues when the eventually-chosen candidate played by Michel Piccoli (who I swear is Carl Reiner’s long-lost twin), has a major anxiety attack at the responsibility and refuses to present himself to the crowd assembled in St Peter’s Square. In desperation the Vatican turn to a psychoanalyst (Nanni Moretti himself) to try and help the Pope deal with his issues, only for him to go on the run in Rome, posing as a normal civilian to hide from his Godly duty. Hang on, a major world leader with a psychological crisis? A therapist brought in to help him? So really, it’s sort of like a comic The King’s Speech, only with more full frontal […]

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Whether you’re trying to avoid the releases this week or augment them with even more movies, Your Alternate Box Office offers some options for movies that would play perfectly alongside of (or instead of) the stuff studios are shoving into the megaplex this weekend. This week features a hammer-wielding Norse God from the pages of Marvel, a woman who can’t keep her hands off her friend’s fiance, and a crazed Mel Gibson with a puppet on his hand.

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Perhaps the most famous rendering of Saddam Hussein on-screen was as a bowling alley shoe attendant in one of The Dude’s vivid daydreams. Now, that’s about to change. Although he won’t be playing him directly, Sacha Baron Cohen will be playing a courageous dictator fighting tooth and nail to keep democracy from infiltrating the country he’s severely oppressing for The Dictator. The tongue-in-cheek treatment of the bad guy and the title are obvious callbacks to Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, which mocked Hitler with wondrous dance sequences and gibberish. Borat and Bruno director Larry Charles is back, but this is an entirely different animal. It’s great to see this kind of comedy being made, and it’ll be interesting to see how well Charles and Cohen can pull it off. According to the press release, the movie is set for release through Paramount May 11, 2012.

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Comedy. Drama. Thriller. These are the three words that the Apple website uses to describe Rubber, but you could add to that list, Horror, Psycho-Satire, Meta-Parody and a few other made up words. Rubber is a hell of a movie. It’s a ridiculous film about a killer psychic tire (named Robert) that shows that some filmmakers out there still have the stones and creativity to make something truly new under the sun. Directed by Quentin Dupieux, the movie now has a trailer for you to enjoy/decipher and a sweet release date of April 1st.

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There’s nothing quite like a quiet summer day, rocking back and forth on the front porch, watching the parade slowly pass by, waiting to see which one of your neighbors will end up brutally murdered. Mark Carter has been shopping around Serial Killer Days for a while now. In fact, it looked as though Jason Reitman was going to direct it back in 2008 after Juno came out, but he found his way to another project and another Best Picture nomination. However, a producer of both Thank You For Smoking and Up In The Air, Dan Dubiecki, is on board alongside Paramount to finally make the horror satire. The film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name which focuses on a town that has a serial killer at large that strikes on the same day every year. Of course, the town responds by throwing the murderer lavish parades, nominating the Scream Queen, and getting in a generally festive spirit for death.

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The man who brought us Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, The Fountain, and the forthcoming Black Swan isn’t known for his sly humor. However, his next project sees him moving out of his wheelhouse a bit in order to deliver an adaptation of Machine Man – the serial and soon-to-be novel by satirist Max Barry. Aronofksy is an interesting choice for director because he has almost exclusively done thrillers and dramas, but Barry’s writing (which I was introduced to through “Jennifer Government” and the addictive, interactive game the book used as an early form of online marketing) is known for calm sarcasm and a near-constant smirk when telling tales of modernism and our new role in the corporate structure. In Machine Man, an engineer replaces his weak, fleshy limbs with strong metal ones, but it turns out other people might want to use that sort of thing for evil. Being called an “amped up pop thriller,” the novel still has that trademarked tongue in cheek attitude of Barry’s writing (or, at least, the amount of it that’s already currently online does), and it’s always exciting to see a director try something new – especially before delving back into the world of gritty drama and Wolverine. [THR]

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As the only literate Reject, it’s my duty to find the latest, the greatest and the untouched classics that would make great source material for film adaptations. I read so you don’t have to. This week, Print to Projector presents the story of a political theory, a governmental style, and the greatest nation on the planet with the bald eagle as its official bird. This Daily Show guide to everything you could ever possibly want to know about the United States of America packs in the infographics and the Judge Judy references that the people demand. It’s time someone made it into a movie.

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With so many rights, how could this be wrong? The Oscar-nominated director plans to produce (at least) a prep school satire where a young loser is taken under the wing of the kid with the longest rap sheet in school.

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Get ready to laugh at terrorism! In this completely non-exclusive clip, we take a look at the lighter side of stockpiling bleach for bomb-making.

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in-the-loop-review1

Armando Iannucci’s ‘In the Loop’ is a smart political satire with a terrific cast.

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mwl-josieandthepussycats

Josie and the Pussycats is the best movie ever! Josie and the Pussycats is the best band ever! Orange is the new pink! For some reason, Cole Abaius loves this movie. Has he been brainwashed by subliminal messages in pop music and Mr. Moviefone?

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


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