Tabloid

Reel Sex

People were up in arms Tuesday after the announcement of nominees for the 84th Annual Academy Awards. So many seem to forget that every year they are disappointed with the nominees and every year there is some film or performer who was left off or included on the prestigious list. I may have spent the final weeks of 2011 lamenting my utter ennui with last year’s films, but I never in a million years expected some of the Oscar outcomes. No Supporting Actor nomination for Albert Brooks, whose performance in Drive unnerved audiences to the core? Or the blatant disregard for solid documentary filmmaking in The Interrupters, Buck, or Project Nim, three entries into filmmaking that will forever impact the way we view the world around us? No, the Academy seemed to forget the impressive and daring offerings in favor of an adorable dog in a silent film. What is this, 1920? Last I checked The Jazz Singer pushed us into the land of the talkies. I could spend all day gnawing my tongue over which films shouldn’t have been included in this year’s awards recognition, but just like arguing the virtues and evils of the MPAA, our time is better used talking about some of the sexy pieces of work that the Academy felt were too provocative to include (for reasons I have completely made up in my mind. Hey, they have their prerogative, I have mine.). Going along with the Academy’s new voodoo math rules of deciding the […]

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Culture Warrior

Usually I’m quite cynical about end-of-year lists, as they demand a forced encapsulation of an arbitrary block of time that is not yet over into something simplified. I typically find end-of-year lists fun, but rarely useful. But 2011 is different. As Scott Tobias pointed out, while “quiet,” this was a surprisingly strong year for interesting and risk-taking films. What’s most interesting has been the variety: barely anything has emerged as a leading contender that tops either critics’ lists or dominates awards buzz. Quite honestly, at the end of 2010 I struggled to find compelling topics, trends, and events to define the year in cinema. The final days of 2011 brought a quite opposite struggle, for this year’s surprising glut of interesting and disparate films spoke to one another in a way that makes it difficult to isolate any of the year’s significant works. Arguments in the critical community actually led to insightful points as they addressed essential questions of what it means to be a filmgoer and a cinephile. Mainstream Hollywood machine-work and limited release arthouse fare defied expectations in several directions. New stars arose. Tired Hollywood rituals and ostensibly reliable technologies both met new breaking points. “2011” hangs over this year in cinema, and the interaction between the films – and the events and conversations that surrounded them – makes this year’s offerings particular to their time and subject to their context. This is what I took away from this surprising year:

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This Week in DVD

Another week, another pretty solid group of DVD titles released for your viewing pleasure. Our wallets and bank accounts will be a lot happier this week too as compared to last Tuesday when the number of DVDs worth buying numbered eight. Eight! That’s more than most DVD columns feature in their entirety! But like I said, this week is filled with rentals (and one title worth buying) including Crazy Stupid Love, Cars 2, Bunraku, Trespass and more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Adventures of Mark Twain (UK) “Naked people have little to no influence in this society.” So says the always wise and wonderful Mark Twain as captured in clay in this funny and whimsical claymation adventure. The film mixes bits and pieces of several of Twain’s works, short and long, into an adventure that sees Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Becky Thatcher join Mr Samuel Clemens himself on a steam powered airship across the sky. Twain is hoping to find Halley’s Comet so he can end his life in its flames, but the children attempt to convince him that he still has much to offer mankind and that mankind has much to offer him. Fanciful visuals and eminently quotable observations from Twain’s writing make this a fun film that speaks to kids as well as adults. **NOTE – This is a region2 DVD which requires either a region-free player or the willingness to watch on your PC.**

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Today is a good day to be a musician who is far more interested in making movies than crooning out jams (or whatever the kids are calling it these days). Deadline Dartford reports that somehow, between wondering just who the hell that Adam Levine kid is and artfully arranging his collection of scarves, Mick Jagger had an idea for a film and now someone is penning it so that the Jags can also star in it. Celebrity is so choice. A History of Violence screenwriter Josh Olson (who also has credit on the Tom Cruise vehicle One Shot, thanks to his first draft of the Lee Child novel source material), will pen a screenplay for the film, currently called Tabloid. Jagger himself cooked up the idea for the flick, which he also hopes to star in. The film follows “a global media mogul with dubious morality, and…a young journalist who gets seduced and sucked into that immoral world.” Jagger is gunning for that mogul role. Jagger has appeared in a few feature films over the years, but mainly in smaller and often uncredited roles. He has, however, had some meatier roles in films such as Freejack, Bent, and The Man From Elysian Fields. And, trivia! Jagger was once set to play a main character in Werner Herzog’s ill-fated Fitzcarraldo. He then started his own production company back in 1995 to make his own projects (wise).

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Culture Warrior

We often don’t think of commercials as having authorship, at least not in the same way we think of movies. Commercials are created by advertising companies, by focus groups, by strategists; not by “artists.” But while the purpose of a 30-second ad may on the surface differ from the motive of a feature length film (though not always), both are media assembled through a particular economy of storytelling devices and are made often by a collaborative company of individuals. But commercials don’t often contain credit sequences, and thus the phenomenology of its making is cloaked and the personalities who made it unconsidered. The focus is on the product being sold, not the creative team selling it. So it can be surprising to find out that well-respected, top-tier, artistic filmmakers often direct commercials. Sure, many filmmakers regularly make commercials as a more lucrative and less time-consuming alternative to feature filmmaking, and there are many visual artists who have honed an ability to express their personality in various media forms, but a surprising number of supposedly cinema-specific auteurs make commercials, despite a lack of apparent monetary need or professional benefit. This subject came to my attention recently because of a series of articles on Slate last week by David Haglund about the oeuvre of the Coen brothers that included the filmmaking duo’s commercials in considering their larger cinematic contribution. It’s an interesting way to view a filmmaker’s career, for it forces you to look for their identifying traits and revisited themes via […]

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Errol Morris is the kind of master filmmaker that can essentially do no wrong. He’s one of the best documentarians of our time, and his output seems to get better and better. With Tabloid, he sets out to try to capture every side of a truly complex story – one that involves that damned old sin of love and lust and the press. Depending on who you ask, Joyce McKinney either rescued the man she loved from brainwashing Mormons by taking him on a sex-laden trip or she kidnapped him from his devout religious community, chained him to a bed and raped him. Or, there are several other options if those don’t suit you. Sexy and confusing. That’s how I like ‘em.

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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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published: 10.30.2014
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published: 10.29.2014
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published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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