Stephen Graham

review blood

Crime-related dramas usually do one of two things well. They’re either interested solely in the mystery itself, or they’re more focused on the characters and their journey into darkness. In rare cases, like David Fincher’s Zodiac or Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder, a movie can nail both halves with equal skill and effect. Blood takes the second path, eschewing any real mystery or suspense to focus on two brothers, both in blood and in blue, whose investigation into a teenage girl’s murder leads to a crime of their own. They’re soon tasked with solving the very crime they committed, and as the pressure to close the case mounts the fragility of the two men’s lives begins to crack. Unfortunately they crack and crumble in the ways viewers will most likely expect.

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The Coroner

Doghouse, which was called Zombie Harlem in Japan (I can’t tell if that’s better or worse), is a British horror-comedy that’s been resting in my Netflix queue for the better part of two years. One of those films that sounds interesting, but has an air of uncertain quality about it. The official synopsis goes a little something like this: a group of men head to a remote village to help their friend get over a divorce, only to find it overrun with women who hunger for flesh. Sounds titillating right? And by titillating, I mean it should have a lot of boobs in it, right? And carnage? And death? Correct! That’s what it sounds like. But that’s not what it is.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr hunkers down and braces for award season. He also prepares for an onslaught of celebrity guest stars in New Year’s Eve, which features a poster that looks like a “Friends available to chat” sidebar on Facebook. In order to watch all the movies for the week, Kevin hires the only babysitter available… Jonah Hill. What could possibly go wrong with that? Fortunately this frees him up to see some of the smaller releases, like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, W.E. and I Melt with You. And he wraps up the week wondering why everyone needs to talk about him.

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Ani Canaan Mann’s second feature film, Texas Killing Fields, has had a somewhat long journey to the screen, and has gone through some slightly different incarnations, from involvement with other behind-the-camera talent (namely Danny Boyle) to the shorter, gentler title of The Fields. But with the film showing in competition at Venice, it looks like it may be smooth sailing from here on out. Despite a pretty standard true crime plotline, there’s something about Texas Killing Fields that has kept me intrigued for many months. Maybe it’s that the film’s cast is almost murderously good, as it includes Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sam Worthington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jessica Chastain, Stephen Graham, Jason Clarke, and Annabeth Gish. That’s got to be it.

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy comes to us thanks to Tomas Alfredson, who is best known to horror freaks as the director of the original Let the Right One In, which is nervy and terrifying and better than just about any other vampire film made, oh, well, pretty much ever. Now it looks as if Alfredson is trying to do for the spy genre what he did for the vampire genre – basically, make it exciting and interesting again. The loverly Rob Hunter showed us the first trailer for the film back in June, and I proceeded to slobber all over it like I’d never seen a piece of movie marketing before. The film features an all-star cast packed with badasses, including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, John Hurt, and Stephen Graham. It’s essentially as if every single actor you’ve ever wanted to see in a spy flick got together and made that spy flick, but made it much more clever than you would have been able to craft on your own.

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The fourth step in a franchise can often be the sticking point, especially when that franchise has taken a break of sorts after the third installment – just ask fans of Die Hard, Indiana Jones, Alien and Scream. The issues are generally two-fold, as the filmmakers are charged with somehow making a high-numbered sequel that retains the spirit of the original, at the same time as offering something new and compelling enough to entice new fans. Add to that the fact that that gap generally means that the fourth installment has to make enough money to turn heads, and certainly a lot more than would traditionally accepted of a third sequel, and you have a minefield of potential pitfalls. But surely Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides would be okay? Regardless of the critical reaction, the film will make an obscene amount of money, so that won’t be an issue, but the pre-release noises coming from the Mouse House, and director Rob Marshall actually seemed to suggest that this particular number 4 was going to address the problems of the preceding two sequels, which for fans and filmmakers alike set some exciting bells ringing. So swelled by that excitement, I donned a pair of the Palais’ frankly ridiculous 3D glasses and settled in to watch a rum and gunpowder caper.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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