Schindler’s List

discs intouchables

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Intouchables Philippe (François Cluzet) is a wealthy quadriplegic in need of a full-time caretaker. The list of applicants is long, but it’s a lower class Senegalese immigrant named Driss (Omar Sy) who gets the job because Phillipe wants someone who won’t look at him with pity. The relationship is bumpy at first, but the pair become fast friends through mutual respect and a shared sense of humor. Writer/directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano based their film on a true story, and while the subject of Philippe’s reality could very easily have made for a sappy melodrama, they wisely avoided that route. Instead the movie finds real humor and compassion in the developing friendship and the effect it has on these two lives. The script is surprisingly funny and never maudlin, and both leads show spectacular chemistry and personality. [DVD extras: None]

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With a giant pile of movies to his name, Steven Spielberg has the considerable honor of being the only filmmaker who makes entertainment that’s massively popular, critically acclaimed and decade-enduring. It’s an illusive triumvirate. His fundamental success is owed to a lot of things, but principle among them is his childhood sense of wonder and magic – a sense he’s never let go of. His childhood was also spent with a camera in hand. From Jaws to Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Indiana Jones to The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun and Jurassic Park and Amistad and Schindler’s List and Munich and, and, and…he’s been a prolific, skilled presence in the filmmaking world for going on 5 decades, and he’s done so by spanning genres, tones, and subjects. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a little kid who hid under his bed after watching Bambi.

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Universal Pictures will turn a century old on April 30, and in advance of their 100th birthday, the studio has trotted out a new (shiny!) logo that touts their triple-digit age. Why they didn’t get Willard Scott to do one of those Smuckers Jam birthday label shout-out things on The Today Show, I simply don’t know, but there’s still time! Of course, that new logo is neat and all (and, again, shiny!), but what’s most exciting about this news is the studio’s announcement that they will also celebrate their centennial with the restoration of thirteen of its most famous films. THR reports that the studio has restored All Quiet on the Western Front, The Birds, Abbott and Costello’s Buck Privates, Dracula (1931), the Spanish-language Dracula (which was filmed on the same set at night), Frankenstein, Jaws, Schindler’s List, Out of Africa, Pillow Talk, Bride of Frankenstein, The Sting, and To Kill a Mockingbird. The studio plans to release the restorations throughout 2012. Many of the restorations will be sold in “collectible book style packaging with memorabilia.” Moreover, Universal is reportedly quite happy with the work on previously damaged films, particularly when it comes to crisper sound in Frankenstein and “appalling graininess” in To Kill a Mockingbird. Also, fans of Out of Africa can breathe a sigh of relief – as “Meryl Streep loses a weird wobble in her walk possibly caused by projectors that enlarged the sprocket holes.” I wish it was Universal’s 100th birthday every day!

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Criterion Files

One major aspect of the Nazi propaganda machine that gained their support from the German people was their promotion of nostalgia. And like any form of nostalgia (and especially in nostalgia’s frequent political function), this was a selective nostalgia, decidedly exploiting certain tropes and icons of German history and heritage. A major component of this nostalgia was the promotion of nature as the means of returning to pure German identity. Nature provided a convenient contrast to the values that the Nazi party wanted to work against, and it’s opposite – the urban center – was the focal point of all they problems they perceived Germany as having been misguided by, most explicitly centralized in the supposed decadence of 1920s Berlin. The political, aesthetic, and sexual aspirations (not to mention the diversity) of the Weimar period posed a threat to the ideals of tradition, uniformity, and the assumed hierarchy of specific social roles. This nostalgic and romantic preoccupation with nature is readily available in German cultural products of the 1920s and 30s. Anybody who has seen Inglourious Basterds (2009) is familiar with the “mountain film,” or “bergfilme” genre that had peaked by this point. This genre was popular years before the Third Reich took power, and its prevalence speaks volumes to the German peoples’ preoccupation with nature leading up to the Hitler’s rise to power. Leni Riefenstahl, perhaps the most famous of Nazi-era filmmakers, starred in mountain films and went onto make Olympia (1938) and Triumph of the Will (1935), a […]

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Culture Warrior

The Help has started a conversation that’s stretched far beyond the 137-minute confines of the film itself. And in its second week in a row atop the late-summer box office, the critical conversation surrounding the film has continued amidst (and, sometimes, against) the sleeper popularity it endures in a fashion similar to the success of the book it was based on. In interest of full disclosure, I have deliberately chosen by this point not to see The Help (perhaps a combination of my reservations against it combined with its daunting running time). However, in following the many editorials published in response to the film’s release, it oddly enough feels appropriate to comment on the conversation that the film has inspired without having seen it, as it’s a conversation that is hardly limited to the film itself. The Help seems to represent a breaking point, the last piece of white liberal guilt that broke the clear-cut racial fantasies of Hollywood cinema’s back, so to speak. The film is bearing the brunt of a decades-long history of similarly minded feel-good studio fare about race relations. While The Help certainly has its full-throated detractors, one interesting component about the overall critical reaction to the film is that it is politically simplistic while also presenting good or perfectly competent filmmaking, carried by a couple of strong female performances at its center (which, when considering what’s lacking in terms of identity and representation in Hollywood, is itself no small miracle).

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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. I heard a rumor somewhere that FSR founder and big time publisher-guy Neil Miller had never seen The Empire Strikes Back until recently. First of all, if this is true he should be beaten. Second of all, what movies have some of the rest of you never seen that you’d be embarrassed to tell your movie-loving friends? – David D.

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sm-transformers2-head

Now that everyone on the planet has had a chance to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, to make hilarious YouTube videos calling out Rob Hunter’s review of it, and to send us emails about us covering the film too much – we’re covering it EVEN MORE. What happens when two Rejects disagree this strongly? Get angry and find out.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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