The Big Chill

Greenfield and Plaza in About Alex

If About Alex seems a little too much like an unofficial remake of The Big Chill, that’s the point. The drama centers around a group of estranged friends from college who are reunited at a country house when one of their schoolmates attempts suicide. It even opens with a scene involving a bath, followed by a montage introducing all the characters in their present grown-up worlds. And, of course, the guy who slits his wrists here is also named Alex. The main difference, though, is that he doesn’t die. The others aren’t in town for his funeral, therefore, but rather just to be with him for his recovery. Where the movie is similar to its 1983 inspiration and where it’s different is significant to what it says about today’s generation of post-grad people on the cusp of being thirty-something. The ensemble gathered for this Alex (Jason Ritter) includes types who parallel the characters of 31 years ago, only in a kind of mashed up manner. Nate Parker plays a writer unhappily working as a journalist for an outlet of ill repute. But he’s hardly the Jeff Goldblum of the bunch. Aubrey Plaza works for a law firm, though not too comparable to Mary Kay Place’s role in The Big Chill. And she might want to open up a restaurant, which is like Goldblum’s character’s nightclub dreams. Max Minghella is sort of the rich guy equivalent to Tom Berenger, but he works at a hedge fund instead of in Hollywood. And he’s got […]


IFC Midnight

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Den Liz (Melanie Papalia) has received a grant to study The Den, a popular online video-chat service (like ChatRoulette) that matches up strangers for conversations, interactions and dick pics. After being pranked a few times by bored kids she witnesses what she believes to be a real murder and calls the police. Nothing comes of it, but she’s thereafter harassed by a particular user capable of infiltrating and controlling her laptop. Soon her friends and family are targeted by the unknown assailant and Liz is forced into an online fight with real-world consequences. You have every right and reason to be leery. This horror flick is composed entirely of footage captured on webcams, cell phones, GoPros and more. Even less promising, the images are displayed as video windows on a computer screen. I know. It sounds terrible. But here’s the thing. The Den is a fantastic slice of A/V horror that handily avoids most of the issues the “found footage” format is saddled with again and again. It’s also legitimately scary, creative and features a heroine who grows on you like a sexy, spunky, grad school fungus. [My full review.] [DVD extras: Commentary, behind the scenes, trailer]


Lawrence Kasdan Star Wars

A lot of people who comb through movie news will recognize Lawrence Kasdan‘s name next to all the Star Wars developments that have been pouring out in the past two weeks. Some will know the franchise (as well as Indiana Jones) as his legacy while others would point to his intimate portrayals of life’s difficulties in movies like Grand Canyon and The Big Chill. He’s gone through eras of great prolificness and droughts where work seemed impossible to find, and after four decades, he’s amassed a great amount of wisdom and expertise. He’s also in the unique position of abandoning (and being all but abandoned by) the studio system years after having been a mid-wife to massive franchises. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the man who told us who Luke’s father was.


Circle of Jerks

You’ve stumbled upon Circle of Jerks, our sporadically published, weekly feature in which we ask the questions that really matter to our writers and readers. It’s a time to take a break from our busy lives and revel in the one thing that we all share: a deep, passionate love of movies. If you have a question you’d like answered by the FSR readers and staff, send us an email at With cold and flu season coming up it seems vitally important to ask what movie you always watch whenever you get sick. What’s your “chicken soup movie”? – Denise S.

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published: 01.31.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.29.2015

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