social commentary

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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If you’ve ever seen a Tim Burton movie, you know the guy is probably pretty awkward. At the very least, he’s gotta be soft-spoken, right? Which begs the question, “How interesting can a Tim Burton-only commentary be?” Well, we’re here to answer that very question with this week’s Commentary Commentary. In honor of Dark Shadows, Burton’s latest collaboration with Johnny Depp, we’ve decided to go back and delve into their first pairing, Edward Scissorhands. Burton took the commentary duties by his lonesome here, and I’m sure amid all the fumbling of words and general gracelessness there’s enough to pack in here to hold our interest. At the very least it’ll be an entertaining car wreck. So here, without further ado, is everything we learned about Edward Scissorhands from listening to its director, Tim Burton, speak on it. We didn’t learn Tim Burton is a strange guy. We knew that one already.

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In the latest issue of Empire, writer/director/custodian Adam McKay explained that a sea of change was going to attack the news team from Channel Four in the upcoming Anchorman 2. After dealing with sexual politics and women in the work place, the sequel will jump ahead just a few years to the issue of racial diversity. “It’s right when all the news started changing with the 24-hours news cycle in ’78 or ’79,” said McKay. “All of a sudden, local news stations diversified and had Latino anchors and African-American anchors, and any time you’re talking about diversity and the Action News team, that’s always fun to deal with.” A fantastic idea. McKay has never shied away from making political statements, but it’s both surprising and unsurprising that Anchorman 2 would take this tilt. After all, the original isn’t touted as a champion of social consciousness. The fact that it should be is why it’s excellent to see diversity on the menu for the next adventure for Ron Burgundy and friends.

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“They’re coming to get you Barbra!” This movie is a lesson to never, ever abide your elderly mother’s wishes and visit your father’s grave hundreds of miles away. If you do, you’ll get eaten to death. Or, you’ll have to hole up in a farmhouse that’s slowly but surely becoming overrun with the hungry undead. Night of the Living Dead is the first film from George A. Romero, the one that started a massive genre craze, the movie with working titles like Night of Anubis and Night of the Flesh Eaters and Monster Flick. It was a case of accidental racial and social commentary that has resonated throughout decades. It is the standard for how zombies should look and act like. Yet, for some strange reason, it doesn’t have a pie fight.

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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. You guys were probably too busy watching “The Dark Knight” again to notice we had an election, but it was a pretty huge night that led my roommates and I into a discussion social change and movies. Question time: What movie actually changed your mind about a social or cultural issue? Thanks. – Ted F.

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doubleindemnityposter

What begins as a standard sales visit about car insurance renewal, slowly builds piece by piece into a tale of infatuation, intrigue and murder.

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


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