Super

Super Movie

James Gunn made the movie that ruled the summer, which is really fucking weird. Not because he isn’t talented (because he is), but because his rise to prominence doesn’t make mathematical sense. The odds were astronomical. To think about it in the worst way possible, Lloyd Kaufman — the founder of Troma — is still hustling Troma films wherever he can while his Tromatic protege has the #1 movie of the year. He’s a bona fide mainstream success who got his start rewriting Shakespeare so that Juliet becomes a monster with a giant dick. Now, the world has officially gotten his dick message. But to try to nail down Gunn’s style is impossible. Beyond the genre fuckery of Troma which has proven itself to be a borrowed language, Gunn has also written and/or directed stripped-down horror, a surprisingly family friendly series where a talking dog solves mysteries and a hero satire that’s far smarter and more earnest than Kick-Ass. Gunn has a fantastically twisted sense of humor, but instead of toiling in obscurity or b-level experimentalism, he’s making blockbusters that millions of people love. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a guy who learned everything from the Toxic Avenger.

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There were some supposed protagonists I loathed this year — everyone in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, that asshole narcissist Hal Jordan, the annoying Jack Sparrow — but there were plenty who showed honorable and, yes, badass traits. 2011 brought a few real American heroes (and from parts elsewhere), both in personality and actions. One doesn’t need superpowers or a gun to be a hero, but, as shown by a few choices I made, those simple good traits. And, even if one’s not the greatest of people, you can still be a great hero, as shown by the a*hole category that kicks off the list…

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What is Movie News After Dark? It is a nightly film industry news column dedicated to hacking away with the precision of a drunkenly wielded axe at the world of entertainment news. It has lopped off a few heads in its day, so keep your eye on it. We begin tonight with an image from the special Fright Night event held at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin last night. In attendance were McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Anton Yelchin and Dave Franco, who looks just a little bit less stoned than his brother James. They made people drink other people’s blood and whatnot. Photo by Jack Plunkett

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Super isn’t tied to the world of comics. Writer/director James Gunn didn’t make a satire or a spoof; instead Super is its own extremist beast. The Taxi Driver-inspired religious tale is a gritty, dirty, and dark comedy that just so happens to have the leads sporting superhero costumes. These aren’t your fluffy and perfect men-in-tights leads, but some seriously damaged individuals. There’s a jarring dichotomy to the film and its characters, which is something that split both critics and audiences back in April. Frank D’Arbo, a.k.a The Crimson Bolt, is a sympathetic and understandable protagonist, but you question his sanity. Libby, a.k.a. Boltie, gains great glee from slicing up goons in the bloodiest ways possible, and yet has an endearing charm to her psychopathic and wish-fulfillment ambitions. These are repellant characters on the outside, but understandably unstable in the inside. Here’s what James Gunn had to say about the fluctuating tone, writing a character driven film versus a set-piece driven film, and making possible psychotics sympathetic in Super:

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This Week in DVD

Another week, another Tuesday filled with DVD goodness. We’ve got four titles worth owning, and they come in two distinct pairs. First up is a one-two punch of nostalgia from the fine folks at Shout! Factory as they release Hey Arnold! and M.A.S.K. unto the world. And then on the more adult front we have two awesomely violent (in completely different ways) movies from Asia including the action romp Clash and the gory but thoughtful thriller Dream Home. Other releases this week include Paul, Camp Hell, Super, Your Highness, and more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. M.A.S.K.: The Complete Series With a name like Matt Trakker you can’t help become the leader of an international team of good guys fighting terror and evil wherever you can find it. M.A.S.K., or Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, is Trakker’s team of do-gooders who lead normal everyday lives as chefs, rockers, and billionaires, but when their Casio watches beep they head out to save the world. Sure Miles Mayhem and his nefarious VENOM organization can get a bit silly, but it follows a similar structure to GI Joe in its acronyms, code names, and constant use of explosions that continually toss everyone to safety. Still, it’s a fun hybrid of Joe and vehicular shifting shows like Transformers. All sixty five episodes are spread across twelve discs (in two cases, both held within a sleeve) alongside a handful of featurettes on the show.

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray we take trips around the world, from the car-loving world of the UK to the war-torn lands of 1950s Algeria to the sci-fi wasteland of the American southwest with a stop in the middle ages and perhaps even a little jaunt over to Mars, which apparently needs a little bit more than moms. In a balanced week of releases, we’ve got plenty to buy, a few to rent and yes, even a few real stinkbots to avoid. So lets get to it. Top Gear: The Complete Season 16 Being not a car guy, I have only recently discovered the consistently brilliant world of Top Gear, courtesy of the folks at the BBC. It’s hard to imagine myself enjoying such a show, as I’m not into the nitty gritty, nuts and bolts of what makes a car I will never be able to afford tick. That said, I do love watching crazy people. And more than being a show about cars, this is a show about crazy people who are allowed to drive very expensive cars in very dangerous ways. Enter Jeremy, Richard and James, the three amigos of motor enthusiasm. In series 16, they begin with a trip up the coast of the United States, where they find themselves in situations that allow them to be every bit the snobby, ridiculous Brit stereotypes that would drive Aston Martins. Their subtle prejudices are hilarious, making fun of every Joe Bob and Jim Bob Nascar country has to offer. […]

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It started with a conversation I was having with my friend Robert about Salo. You’d be surprised how many ideas for articles arise from discussing this film. Not so many dinner plans, though. Makes sense for a film subtitled 120 Days of Sodom. Anyway, being avid film lovers, we agreed Salo was a film we were glad we had seen despite the inability to ever be able to “unwatch” it. We love film, and we love the notion we could sit through and appreciate a movie like Salo despite the graphic imagery therein. This spiraled the conversation into other films that our desensitized minds could handle, films we could observe from a film-lover or even a critical perspective even though they had imagery that could not be unseen. An hour later, we had disgusted ourselves to the point of seppuku, we went our merry separate ways, but a lingering idea was stuck in my head. Amidst all the onerous images I had conjured back into my mind from years and years of watching whatever whenever, a nugget of a question remained. It was basically this: As a film connoisseur, can you desensitize yourself for the sake of cinematic appreciation?

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Everywhere you look there’s another superhero movie these days. Countless studio dollars, a stream of big stars and endless articles have been expended on the subject. Thor, Captain America and the Green Lantern headline an upcoming summer movie season that’s chock-full of various forms of masked avengers. Concurrently, there’s arisen a far less prolific counter-industry of satirically oriented films, such as Kick Ass, that attempt an indie-friendly examination of the questionable sanity and real world practicality of these figures. It’s these latter films that I’ve personally flocked to, having long-grown tired of the formulaic non-Christopher Nolan big-budget superhero aesthetic. Thus, James Gunn’s Super is – in the same vein as protagonist Frank’s heavenly calling to justice – a gift from above. In framing the birth of a real-life superhero as a disturbed man’s religious awakening, the Slither filmmaker gets to the heart of the grandiose self-absorption at the core of superherodom. To don a mask and tights, formulate a nickname and spend your nights prowling the streets, seeking out drug dealers and other unsavory elements, you’d have to be, well, more than a little bit crazy. Frank (Rainn Wilson), the luckless, depressed everyday schlub central figure here fits the bill, driven to unhinged rage when his wife Sarah (Liv Tyler) leaves him for scuzzy drug kingpin Jacques (Kevin Bacon).

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Whether you’re trying to avoid the releases this week or augment them with even more movies, Your Alternate Box Office offers some options for movies that would play perfectly alongside of (or instead of) the stuff studios are shoving into the megaplex this weekend. This week features a man who’s only got 8 minutes to save the world, a house that’s not haunted, a superhero who isn’t a superhero, and an Easter bunny who’s not the Easter bunny.

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The Reject Report

It ain’t Easter, right? It ain’t Easter. It ain’t white rabbit day. Don’t tell Universal that. They’re looking to bring in the golden egg with the seasonal Hop, and there’s a very good chance of that happening. Duncan Jones’s second film, Source Code, and the new horror film from the guys who brought us Saw – thanks, guys to be named later – may have something to say about that, but whatever that is will probably fall on deaf bunny ears. See what I did there? Well, see some more this week with the Reject Report the hollow chocolate bunny edition.

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There are certain expectations that come with any filmmaker’s work based off the movies that have come before. Their styles, attitudes, and overall creative skill-set are usually visible to some degree throughout their career. James Gunn is no different. His last feature, Slither, was an incredibly fun and gross monster movie that maintained a good balance between the laughs and the horror. That combined with his previous efforts should leave you unsurprised that his latest would include copious amounts of bodily fluids, a complete disregard for good taste, and a face made of fecal matter floating in a bowl. What you don’t expect to see are scenes of real beauty, wit, and sincerity floating in a sadly disjointed mess of a film.

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South By Southwest has already begun heating up, but there are still plenty of movies and buckets of Schlitz to go. If you’re in Austin right now, you’re probably puzzling day to day over what you’re going to see. If you’re not in Austin, you’re probably still wondering what might escape the confines of the festival to see theaters near you. Although there’s no guarantee (except for a few big names we already know will see theaters), here are the hot tickets that might just earn themselves distribution deals. Our intrepid SXSW patrol (comprised of Adam Charles, Jack Giroux, Rob Hunter, Neil Miller, Luke Mullen and Brian Salisbury) have put together a list of what they’re most looking forward to for your reading and viewing pleasure. Keep in mind, there are over 250 movies playing this year, so this represents only a small amount of the quality programming. These are the movies that stand out even amongst the best of the best at the fest. Check it out for yourself:

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So you’ve eaten at Pita Pit and Best Wurst (because there’s nothing wrong with two lunches) and you’re scoping out theaters ready to get more movies on, but you have no idea what you’re going to see. That teary indie drama or that ridiculous sci-fi comedy? You don’t know do you? And you can’t figure it out on your own for some reason. Fortunately, we’ve created this handy guide to help you in your time of duress. Use it wisely. There’s no chance it’ll send you to the porno theater across the highway, so if you end up there, it’s on you.

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The film I’m by far the most excited to see at the upcoming SXSW is James Gunn‘s dark superhero tale, SUPER. Everything about it sounds like the perfect film for nerds that crave divisive dark humor. Rainn Wilson as a wrench-wielding, head-busting vigilante? Awesome. Ellen Page as his annoying and narcissistic sidekick? Even better. The best part, though? Kevin Bacon as a slimy looking drug dealer. It’s been quite sometime since Bacon has done some solid scenery chewing and played the bad guy, which he rarely often does. I mean, who would have thought that kid from Footloose would one day be playing a charming wife-stealing drug dealer? Check out the trailer below.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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There are 130 films this year at Austin’s SXSW, and 60 of them being world premieres. When you scroll down the list of the films showing there, 99% of them you’ve never heard of before. Only a handful stick out that you actually know about or have eagerly (or mildly…) been anticipating. The films at the fest that currently are the most exciting for us are also the most high profile. That’s not to say there won’t be far superior little known flicks playing there – there most definitely will be – but the big ones showing are always the early attention grabbers. We’ll be running a bigger and more comprehensive list of SXSW must-sees closers to the fest, which is basically when we’ll have more info on the films there that aren’t being released by Universal or Summit. But as of right now, here are a few features that already got our excitement on high. As for those of you interested right now in knowing more about those 130 films, check out the full list here.

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Comic-Con 2010

Last weekend was the crucible of Comic-Con, and no fewer than one billion trillion news stories came out of the convention aimed directly at your sensibilities as an audience member. We weren’t the only site on the block that had coverage of course, and hopefully you read more than a few of our peers (because there really are some great sites out there). You were most likely inundated with new information about the movies hitting theaters soon or in the next year. Did any of it change your mind? Was there a movie you were dying to see that you cooled on? Was there a movie that landed on your radar for the first time? Is your confidence renewed in anything?

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One of the few minor highlights of Comic-Con this year was the charming and charmingly foul-mouthed Super from the totally well-adjusted mind of James Gunn. The film stars Rainn Wilson as a man who loses his wife to drugs and another man and straps on the spandex in order to get her back. Because, as we all know, every hot woman (including Liv Tyler) is helpless to resist even the schlubbiest of men if they’re skin tight in red tights and a cape. Brace yoursef. You, too, may not be able to resist sliding your tongue against the computer screen in an inappropriate manner when you see Dwight Schrute ready to fight for justice.

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The real-life superhero movie is becoming a genre unto itself. With Special, Defendor, Kick-Ass and now James Gunn’s Super – the premise of regular men and women putting on costumes and fighting crime seems to be steadily growing. There hasn’t been a lot of information about the film, and without that information, it’s seemed a little generic. However, with the footage shown at Comic-Con this morning, James Gunn took a monkey wrench to that idea’s forehead and then shoved its grandmother out of her wheelchair. After all, if you’re going to make a film, why not make an “F’d up, low rent Watchmen“?

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For some reason, they also show Ryan Reynolds with bleached out hair. Because that’s what Superheroes do.

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