Spellbound

spellbound-harry

When brainstorming movie ideas, “raunch comedy” and “spelling bee” are not two things that one would expect to come together. And yet it’s exactly that combination that landed the script for Bad Words on the Blacklist. And now a film of that script, directed by and starring Justin Bateman, is hitting theaters. Unfortunately, the film is of the variety of comedy that mistakes shock value for quality humor, and it’s mostly insufferable as a result. If there’s a cinematic spelling bee itch that you must scratch, look no further than Spellbound. Filmmaker Jeffrey Blitz and his crew followed eight kids as they prepared for and later competed in the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee. It turns out that spelling is much more than just memorizing words. These contestants dive into whole histories of languages and get to understand English in and out. There’s a reason they’ll ask for a word’s language of origin or definition if they’re stumped — such information can help them intuit how to spell it. The amount of studying it takes to master this, on top of already above-average course loads (these are all honors students, of course), builds a not-inconsiderable amount of pressure on the kids. READ MORE AT NONFICS

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray may be coming to you a few days later than usual, but fear not, as it was worth the wait. Fox and MGM decided to drop a number of great films on me at the last minute, meaning long hours of pouring over special features, drinking heavily and ultimately turning myself into a late-1970s Woody Allen character by the end. It was all worth it, as you’re about to experience 2500 words or so of the most full edition of this column we’ve seen in a long time. Plenty of unsung heroes of 2011, classics of yesteryear and boxing robots to go around. Also, Rob Hunter stops by for some cross-column reviewing with Rebecca. 50/50 In a week that will see the release of a bevy of classics coming to Blu-ray for the very first time, it would be a crime to overlook one of 2011′s most heartfelt works, complete with some ranged performances from the likes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Bryce Dallas Howard. Jonathan Levine (The Wackness), working from a script by Will Reiser based on a true story, tells the tale of Adam, a 27-year old guy who gets diagnosed with spinal cancer. Dealing with his overbearing friends, his smothering mother and a relationship that hangs on the edge, Adam must find a way to not only beat cancer, but all the situational drama it’s caused between him and those he cares about most. It’s funny, touching and full of memorable performances. […]

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. It’s the Old Ass Movie today, and this movie was also up for an Academy Award back in 1945 (but it lost, just like its director always did). Speaking of that director, his famous cameo is featured heavily as the hook of this trailer. Forget about Ingrid Bergman. Forget about Gregory Peck. Just remember that portly fellow coming out of the elevator smoking a cigarette. Think you know what it is? Check the trailer out for yourself:

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Every Sunday in February, Film School Rejects presents a nominee for Best Picture that was made before you were born and tells you why you should like it. This week, Old Ass Movies presents the story of a brilliant psycho-analyst, an impostor, some trademark Hitchcock, a little aiding and abeting, and the dreams of Salvador Dali. All of these elements are wrapped up in an Oscar nominated movie (that did not win) that Scientologists probably banned from their video library.

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