The Double

Scream Factory

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Legend of Hell House The Belasco House had seen its fair share of tragedy and carnality even before the man who had it built disappeared, but the years since have seen a continuation of death and terror. It’s known as Hell House, the Mt. Everest of haunted houses, and now a team consisting of a scientist, his wife and two mediums is going in to prove once and for all whether or not ghosts and the afterlife exist. Two of them are going to find out first hand before the week is out. Richard Matheson’s novel (Hell House) was adapted to the screen way back in ’73, but it remains one of the best haunted house flicks out there. There are legitimate chills throughout, some PG-rated sexiness and a wonderfully intense performance from Roddy McDowall too. Even better, at least for someone like myself who favors grounded explanations, the script gives nods to both the supernatural and the scientific. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: interviews, trailer]

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Radius-TWC

This will probably be difficult to believe for some of you, but we walk into every movie hoping it will be the best movie. We may criticize a trailer or point out early concerns, but once we sit down and the movie starts digitally unspooling before our eyes our hope every single time is to experience something fantastic. When a film succeeds on that front we shout it from the highest virtual rooftops, but that isn’t always the outcome. The pure flip-side of this of course are the movies we leave absolutely despising. Usually the films in this group aren’t exactly surprises — think Blended, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Sex Tape, Hercules — and while we hoped for better we ended up with pretty much what we expected. But sometimes the movies we expected more from end up being major disappointments too. A quick poll of the staff revealed a pretty varied list of films fitting this description, some of which are viewed as unqualified successes by the rest of us. Keep reading to see ten of the movies that left us unsatisfied, underwhelmed and ultimately disappointed.

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Moss IT Crowd

Today is Richard Ayoade’s birthday. You might know him as the random British inclusion in The Watch, the filmmaker behind the Jesse Eisenberg doppelganger movie, The Double, and of course, he’s Moss from The IT Crowd — a character that Christopher Campbell once dressed up as for Halloween. He’s also a great serving of comedic joy. Ayoade wouldn’t agree. He self-deprecatingly says he’s “just terrible. At talking. With words.” But if Ayoade is not, by his estimation, an actor, he is certainly a man who can banter brilliantly and absurdly in ways that make every manner of words seem natural. Even better: he has his own much-needed spin on nostalgia, one that replicates old styles rather than old toys, and relishes in the remnants of real life rather than computer-crafted graphics, as these 8 examples reveal.

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Jesse Eisenberg in

Have you ever wished a fantastic song struck up the moment you walked into a room? It’s something that happens in movies, never in real life. But there are sounds that do accompany us in our every day lives. The ambient sound of the wind, cars driving by, idle chatter, coffee brewing. We rarely notice these noises because they are simply a part of the background, but what if suddenly all these unnoticeable noises were amplified? A subway car rushing by so loudly you’re forced to cover your ears. The chatter in a coffee shop becoming deafening. A copy machine sounding like gun fire. And no one else seems to notice. You would think you were going crazy, right? This is exactly what seems to be happening to Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) in The Double. Simon seems like an ordinary guy with a boring job, a small apartment, and a crush on a girl, but his world also seems off-kilter thanks to the film’s choice to turn up all the ambient noises that usually help give a scene a sense of grounding reality. Then again, Simon may not be living in reality, and The Double‘s ambient assault helps convey this idea without needing to explicitly say it. When Simon is introduced to his new co-worker, James, who happens to look exactly like Simon, it makes sense that Simon would start to feel like he is losing his mind — especially when no one else seems to agree that their similar appearance is striking and more than a little strange. But director Richard Ayoade creates a world that seems to live […]

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James McAvoy in Filth

Don’t let the bland, bloated, and messy The Amazing Spider-Man 2 fool you, this May is chock full of quality releases to start the summer off right with. While one would be better off seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier again this weekend for  a comic book sequel done right, there’s plenty of movies following The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s release that promise a good season for movie-going. One of those movies may or may not be A Million Ways to Die in the West. That film likely won’t change anyone’s mind, for better or worse, on Seth MacFarlane. It will be interesting to see if his fans have any interest seeing him in his live-action work, though. He’s a talented vocal actor, but does he have the chops for a live-action performance? The trailers indicate not, but maybe this super expensive comedy will surprise us skeptics. Before we see those 2 hours of “isn’t the old west crazy?!” joke play out, there are 10 releases not to miss this May before MacFarlane’s film arrives at the end of the month. Here are the must see movies of May 2014:

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Jesse Eisenberg in

Anyone who’s experimented with watching modern British sitcoms at all knows who Richard Ayoade is. As more and more people get hip to things like Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and The IT Crowd, more and more people fall in love with his peculiar energy and geeky charm. It turns out acting isn’t the only skill that Ayoade has in his bag of tricks though. He’s also been writing and directing movies recently, with his 2010 film Submarine being both a strong debut for a filmmaker and an underrated coming of age tale that more people probably still need to see. It looks like fans of Ayoade’s acting who have been slacking when it comes to getting hip to his career as a filmmaker are going to have another chance to hop on board soon enough though, because the second film that he served as writer/director on, The Double, is fresh off of a successful debut on the festival circuit, and is getting ready ready for a limited run in theaters. And seeing as this one looks to be a noir-influenced thriller that features already well-regarded actors like Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, and the legendary Wallace Shawn, maybe more people will actually give it a look.

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76046

No, you don’t need to adjust the prescription on your glasses; your vision is just fine. It’s the posters for Richard Ayoade‘s The Double, featuring stars Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska, that are a bit off. The Double, based on the Fyodor Dostoevsky novella of the same name, centers on the meek Simon James, whose world is turned upside down with the arrival of his doppleganger. Everything Simon is not, the doppleganger takes over his life, sliding into his job and wooing his girl without anyone even remembering Simon existed. Watch the trailer here.

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The Double Jesse Eisenberg

If there’s anything that could make Jesse Eisenberg more jittery than the man usually seems, it’s the presence of a menacing dopplegånger that nobody else has seemed to notice. The first teaser trailer for The Double, written and directed by Richard Ayoade (Submarine), doesn’t feature any dialogue, but it’s apparent from the little shown that we’re getting a glimpse at someone’s descent into madness. The Double, loosely based on a Fyodor Dostoyevsky novella of the same name, follows Simon as he struggles to comprehend the fact that there’s an identical version of himself out there who’s much more outgoing and confident, who’s starting to take over parts of his life. As he walks hard through scene after scene of dramatic lighting to Son House’s “Grinnin’ in Your Face,” it’s clear that his moodiness will likely develop into something more sinister. Check out the trailer for yourself here:

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TIFF

It happens at every film festival, and this year’s Toronto International Film Festival is no different – a string of titles are announced that sound almost laughably similar, either thanks to their actual titles (there’s a film called October November and one called September? Are you kidding me here?) or their overriding themes (no, you didn’t imagine that there are two films about regular dudes who discover creepy doppelgangers that are also both based on novels at this year’s festival). How will you ever unravel such strange mysteries? As a public service, we’ve compiled a guide to some of the most confusingly similar films at this year’s TIFF. Who’s going to be the first person to forget that Paradise is a standalone and Paradise: Hope is part of a trilogy? Not you! After the break, learn to tell the difference between Bastardo and Bastards, find out just who Joe and Belle and Therese and Violette are, unravel the mystery of dueling doppelganger-centric features, and find out if Love is the Perfect Crime has anything to say about Life of Crime (hint: it doesn’t).

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The last time we heard about director Richard Ayoade’s follow-up to his quirky and likable teen drama Submarine, we were hit with the news that Jesse Eisenberg had been cast in the lead. The Double is based on a Fyodor Dostoyevsky novella called “The Double: A Petersburg Poem,” which is a trippy tale about an average Joe who’s being followed around by his exact double, an evil doppelganger intent on ruining his life. Eisenberg, of course, is playing the lead and the lead’s evil twin, which is exciting in itself; but now that THR is reporting that up-and-coming young actress Mia Wasikowska is also joining the cast, my excitement surrounding this one has, well, doubled. Seeing as this is less a direct adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s novella and more a work written by Ayoade and Avi Korine that’s inspired by the original story, it’s hard to say what role Wasikowska will actually be playing in the film. But seeing as she’s a major actress, I guess we can infer that it’s going to be a large one? What THR does seem to know for sure is that Ayoade promises that his film is “funny, frightening and dream-like” and it will “reflect on loneliness and our need to love and be loved.” Sounds like The Double is going to share some themes with Submarine. Is this the first glimpse we’re going to get at Ayoade the auteur? Couple this onscreen duo with the satiric wit that Ayoade displayed in his first film, […]

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Another week another ton of DVDs hitting shelves both real and virtual, and while there are several worth renting and avoiding there are only two worth buying. One is visible immediately below, and the other? One of last year’s best films. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Perfect Sense (UK) A chef (Ewan McGregor) and an epidemiologist (Eva Green) meet and fall in love just as a strange new disease begins to spread worldwide. People are struck with a strong emotional response immediately followed by the loss of one of their senses. It’s like Contagion but with heart and personality. This is a beautiful film about life, love and what it means to be human. It’s a must-see about mankind’s resilience in the face of loss and devastation. Just be sure to watch it before your vision goes. **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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The Reject Report

And we’re back. Three cups of coffee, and these boots are made for walking. Granted, the walking might be a little jittery. That’s what happens after you’ve gone through a whole pot of the magical, black stuff. It’s kind of like catnip for adult humans. And it all comes back full circle. The circle this week leads to Puss in Boots, that lovable side character from the Shrek films who’s finally getting his own animated adventure. He’s sure to take the grand ball of yarn this weekend, but he’ll have some stiff competition from the returning Paranormal Activity 3 and the triple threat himself, Justin Timberlake, finally getting his name above the title on an action/sci-fi/epic. It’s the Reject Report this week, and we’re seeing the bottom of the cup. Coffee coffee coffee.

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The Double has only just been announced, and already there’s a lot to like about this project. Directed by Richard Ayoade, starring Jesse Eisenberg, and adapted from a novella by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, this is a project with a pretty strong pedigree. If you’ve never heard of Ayoade, he’s not only one of the stars of the BBC comedy series The IT Crowd, he’s also the director of the feature film Submarine, which got a limited release in the United States earlier this year and probably didn’t get seen by enough people. It was a quirky look at a coming of age young man, kind of in the vein of a Harold and Maude or a Rushmore. Fyodor Dostoyevsky is the challenging but rewarding Russian author whose work you’ve probably been assigned and hopefully didn’t avoid at some point in your academic career. This film will be adapted from his novella “The Double: A Petersburg Poem”, which is either a surreal story where its main character is followed around by an exact double of himself that tries to ruin his life, or a look at the schizophrenic breakdown of a man who is hallucinating that an exact double of himself is following him around and ruining his life. And Jesse Eisenberg, well hell, you know who he is. He will most likely be doing his usual, nervous and neurotic shtick for this film, but this time doubly so. Looks like it might be time to call up his old co-worker Armie […]

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
C-
published: 10.24.2014
C-


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