T.J. Miller

Curse of the Golden Flowers at Wulong

Whether or not you have any desire to see Transformers: Age of Extinction, this week’s list of recommended movies is worth a look. I’ve even tried to avoid spoiler-y relevance for once, although I guess that doesn’t matter if you have no interest in the movie at all. Consider this a mere checklist of titles to catch up with after or instead of seeing the fourth Transformers. As usual, most of them are linked to something or someone in the new release in question, mainly for a better, earlier reference point for scenarios and tropes and themes. None of them require your viewing of Age of Extinction to appreciate them overall, though. Before I get to the movies, I’d like to note some non-movie recommendations. One is the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley, unless you’re some person without a sense of humor who is glad actor T.J. Miller only has a little bit of screen time in the new Transformers. Another is any match featuring Olympic gold medalist turned professional boxer Zou Shiming, who plays an extra in an elevator who just happens to know martial arts (because Hollywood thinks all Chinese people do). Many can be found on YouTube. There’s also Transformers: The Premake, a video essay that I guess could count as a movie. I already wrote plenty about that recently.

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Sucessful_alcoholics_filmstill6

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. In a few days, The Kings of Summer opens in theaters. One of our favorites out of Sundance this year (where it was titled Toy’s House), the coming-of-age dramedy is filled with big laughs, a huge amount of heart and great performances from a handful of young actors who are all sure to go places. Also on the rise now is director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, a veteran of web and TV work who now enters the big time with this feature directorial debut. In an interview with AFI this year, he declared that this is only the beginning for him with feature filmmaking: “That’s why i’m here. I grew up falling in love with movies and the worlds they created. That’s my priority and that’s where I want to be.” Fortunately for us short subject lovers, he’s not against continuing non-feature stuff on the side. He admits to enjoying all mediums, including commercials, and wants to do a second season of his Comedy Central show with T.J. Miller, Mash Up. Hopefully he also makes more legitimate short films, because he’s shown a terrific grasp for not just concise storytelling but also an awareness for what sort of running time suits a particular story. Thanks to Vogt-Roberts having a well-stocked Vimeo page, we’re able to see a lot of his prior short and sketch work, and this week I’d […]

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The Best Short Films

Successful Alcoholics from Jordan Vogt-Roberts on Vimeo. Why Watch? The second shot of this short from Jordan Vogt-Roberts snags an unexpected, great laugh and then builds the comedy moment to moment from there, led by two hilarious performances from T.J. Miller and Lizzy Caplan. It also features a few familiar faces from character actors who nail down small parts along the way. With highly quotable lines and an absurd premise made believable through sheer force of will, the heart of this short is a pair of lovable characters who are absolute assholes. Fortunately, the story knows more than one note. It’s a look at adult children who manage to rock life despite blacking out every night – a comedy done with a smiling bulldozer, drawing humor from two people scoffing at consequences no matter how serious they get. But what happens when they run out of booze? What will it cost you? Only 24 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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Welcome back to Commentary Commentary, your weekly dish of directorial insight and/or, as indicated by last week’s column, shenanigans. This week we’re looking inside the mystery box with director Matt Reeves and uncovering what he has to say about our favorite recent monster movie, Cloverfield. Reeves did this commentary all by his lonesome, but something tells me J.J. Abrams was standing over him with a loaded gun lest Reeves divulge too much information. I’ll be listening intently for any Morse Code warnings or cries for help. Since this commentary track was laid down years ago, and since Matt Reeves has since directed Let Me In – more Morse Code messages. Hmmm – I have a feeling everything turned out okay. So here, in all of its Slusho wonder, is what I learned on the Matt Reeves commentary for Cloverfield. I wonder if there are going to be any Lost secrets. I hope there are Lost secrets. Or Star Trek 2. Okay, wishful thinking is over. Shutting up now.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr enters the grid (which is what he likes to call his local IMAX theater) to try and find an old and hairy Jeff Bridges amidst a bunch of young-looking sexy-time people in tight body suits. Afterwards, he has a pic-i-nic at Jellystone Park and faces a bear attack. It’s a good thing he had his hunting rifle with him… but he still wonders why that grizzly he shot was wearing a hat and tie. Finally, he hands out some grades on two limited release award flicks that really don’t jazz him as much as a big, dumb IMAX 3D movie.

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