Somebody Up There Likes Me

discs day of the dead

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Day of the Dead The zombie apocalypse continues to ravage the Earth, and one of the last pockets of survivors makes their home in an abandoned missile silo. The group is divided unevenly between civilians and soldiers, but as the days pass and the undead keep coming, the tension among the living rises to dangerous levels. George Romero‘s Dead films currently number six, and while his most recent three are mostly forgettable, the original trilogy remains a classic both collectively and individually. And this is where I admit that I find Day to be the best of the bunch. Tom Savini‘s effects are the most gorily effective of the series, and while it lacks the previous films’ allegory and metaphor, it manages a self-contained story complete with good guys, bad guys, and entertaining set pieces. And hell, even John Harrison‘s score is fantastic. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray gives the film the treatment it deserves complete with original artwork, a new HD transfer, and a load of extras including a documentary almost as long as the movie itself. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Documentary, commentaries, featurettes, galleries, trailer]

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Austin Cinematic Limits

As many of you probably know, I have been juggling an all-consuming day job with various writing gigs, essentially leaving no time for anything else (life, sleep); and, as the saying goes, all work and no play makes Don a dull boy. We have enough Jack Torrance’s in this world, and before I start running around abandoned hotels with an ax, I figured it was in my best interest to start hacking away at my current workload.

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Kicking off this week with its Opening Night Gala for Hitchcock, Hollywood’s own AFI FEST effectively wraps up the year’s film festival-going season (a season that lasts approximately eleven months). Such calendar placement means that AFI FEST comes late enough in the year to serve as a last hurrah for titles that have been playing the festival circuit as far back as January (at Sundance) or as far away as France, Berlin, and Venice, and is the perfect opportunity for Southern California-based film geeks (or those willing to put some miles on their passport) to catch up on films they’ve been anticipating for months. Of course, of the 136 films playing at this year’s festival, we’ve managed to catch nearly a fifth of them at other fests, and we’re quite pleased to use this opportunity to remind you as such. Confused over what to see at the festival? Be confused no more! After the break, jog your memories of our always-extensive festival coverage with reviews for twenty-eight films set to play at this week’s AFI FEST that we’ve already seen (and, you know, reviewed). It’s like getting your festival coverage whole days early!

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Billed as “a deadpan fable about time sneaking up on and swerving right around us” by the SXSW programmers, Bob Byington‘s Somebody Up There Likes Me is boring twaddle masquerading as something more exiciting and more important, thanks to a barely hidden high concept conceit that frequently make the production just look sloppy and inattentive. The film and its often blank-faced lead, Keith Poulson, are without any of the charm and cheekiness of Byington’s previous films, namely the lovely and funny Harmony and Me. Poulson’s Max Youngman is a typical shiftless twentysomething – a waiter, he doesn’t appear to have many life or professional goals and, personally speaking, he’s not doing so hot either. His ex-wife (Kate Lyn Sheil) doesn’t want to get back together, which she proves handily by having sex with another dude within minutes of Max leaving her house. Max’s only friend is his waiter co-worker Sal (Nick Offerman) who, even later in the film after over thirty years of friendship and a number of job changes, Max still calls “the waiter.” A slightly spur-of-the-moment date with co-worker Lyla (Jess Weixler) appears to signal a positive change in Max’s life, and thus the film, but while Somebody Up There Likes Me tracks decades in Max’s life and innumerable changes, there’s little actual evolution to be found.

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There are a tremendous number of mistakes that one can make when it comes to film festival attendance, though the least of which is probably showing up late. Which I do. Pretty much all the time. It’s long been my bag to arrive at out-of-town festivals on Saturdays, even if those festivals kick off on Thursdays or Fridays. It always sounds good in theory – a square week of travel (Saturday to Saturday), I get to miss the initial crush, badge pick-up is usually easier, and there’s a lot more excitement from friends when I pop up hours or days after everyone else. But, no matter what, it always means that I get to spend a couple of days wishing that I was already there, which is a nice way of saying I always regret it during the interim. And though that’s personally awful, it does put me in the unique position of understanding, even temporarily, how terrible it feels to not be at a festival when seemingly everyone on your Twitter feed is. In the spirit of wanting to be at SXSW, and because I’ll be feeling mopey and sad until I land in Austin tomorrow at 11AM, let’s have some fun – and watch a bunch of SXSW trailers I’ve pillaged from around the web for some films that us Rejects (read: me, bitter me) are pretty pumped to see. Hey, it’s drier and cheaper than being there! After the break, check out trailers for Fat Kid Rules […]

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Nerdist Late Night

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie and entertainment news column that brings you all the stuff you should be reading that hasn’t already been published on Film School Rejects. We admit that we’re honored to be an inspiration to every person, writer and sentient being mentioned in the links below, and would like to pay them back with a link. Also, it’s a column whose author is going on vacation for a week starting tomorrow, so you’ll be seeing some fresh faces pinch-hitting over the next week. It’s likely that they will do a much better job, but lets not tell them that. We’re already having problems with their egos, as it is. We begin this evening with an image Tweeted by Chris Hardwick, king of the Nerdist empire. It’s a preview from his appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, in which he will assuredly be pimping his new book, hitting on Zooey Deschanel (because who wouldn’t) and talking about nerdy things with another nerdy famous person. If Questlove plays the drums with lightsabers, I’m in.

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