The Grey

IntroPlausible

It’s almost Halloween, and so you’re contractually obligated with Satan to watch a horror movie. He takes those contracts seriously, folks. But as you go over all the countless sub-genres to watch, keep in mind that just because it’s a sub-genre of horror doesn’t mean it has to be a horror movie at all – or even fantasy. After all, reality is way scarier. Here’s proof, listed conveniently with the horror movie tropes they echo.

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sorel_pi

When contemplating my favorite films of the year, I keep forgetting about Life of Pi. Yet very few narrative features wowed me as much as Ang Lee’s spectacular adaptation. Given how much I enjoyed it in the theater, the film should have stuck with me more than it has. I blame the ending, which traded the magnificent visuals and wondrous sea adventure for a talky bookend that too directly spelled out the point of the story within the story. I don’t know that I’d say the ending ruined the rest of the film for me. I could go back and re-watch the whole thing and still appreciate all the effects and thrills and drama that excited me the first time around. But if that’s the stuff I want to remember first and foremost, I’ll probably have to leave a few minutes early next time. Lee surely is familiar enough with the craft of storytelling to know that endings are extremely important, that they can make or break an audience’s satisfaction with a movie by being the part that it is left with. He would presumably disagree with me that Life of Pi has a weak ending. And at least the staff of Entertainment Weekly believes the film actually has one of the best endings of the year. And that is fine, because a lot of people hated the endings of Prometheus, The Bourne Legacy and Savages, and I think those movies have three of the best endings of 2012. The […]

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The Best Soundtracks of 2012

Looking back over the past year in film, it is impressive to remember the different styles and forms of music that accompanied these various releases as they bring back the memories and emotions felt when first hearing a particular song or watching a piece of orchestration pair perfectly with what was happening on screen. When it comes to music, it is not simply a question of what was the best; it is a question of what resonated the most. Music created for film is unlike any other type of music because it is intended to be listened to while watching specific images. Of course there are songs that stand well on their own (see: Adele’s “Skyfall”), but hopefully even outside of the film, those songs conjure up memories of the films they came from. Sometimes a song placed in a particular scene can take on a whole new meaning, giving you a new ideas to reflect on when you hear it (see: “The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies as used in a pivotal scene in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.) Soundtracks and scores help add to the emotion of a film and this year’s musicians delivered in spades. From turning found sounds into orchestration to adding a new layer of depth to the end of a trilogy to proving that sometimes words simply are not enough, 2012 was filled with new, inventive, and memorable music. Let’s look back and listen to the twelve selections […]

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The Best Movies of 2012

I watched 439 new-to-me films in 2012 (so far), and the majority of them were new releases. So, it is with no small measure that I say that this has been a spectacular year for movies, both domestic and foreign made, and anyone who claims otherwise is a dipshit. Narrowing the great ones down to just twelve was predictably difficult… so I’ve included twenty honorable mentions. There are still a few high profile films I need to see, most notably Zero Dark Thirty, and I’ve caught the vast majority of the big titles, but stay tuned through to the end of the piece for all the necessary sidenotes. And this should go without saying, but any film critic’s best-of list is essentially nothing more than a list of his or her objectively preferred movies, and what follows below is mine for 2012. That said, the movies listed below are in fact the twelve (correct) best films of the year. In alphabetical order.

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The Grey

As was rumored last week, Joe Carnahan‘s The Grey will be getting a brief and limited theatrical re-release later this week in order to allow the Liam-Neeson-punches-wolves-and-stuff-and-also-you-cry extravaganza to get a late-breaking awards season push. Why anyone would not already have Neeson down as a lock for Best Wolf-Punching Performance of the Year is unknown, but hey, attention spans are short in Hollywood. Caranhan confirmed the news via his Twitter, tweeting out: “Guys, December 7th ‘THE GREY’ begins a two week run at the Laemmle Santa Monica theatre & the Laemmle Town Center, Encino. GET THE WORD OUT!” As our pals over at /Film note, the film is already on both DVD and Netflix (it was released nearly a year ago, after all), but if you’re not interested in seeing Liam Neeson fight a wolf with his bare hands and broken bottles on the big screen, I’m not sure what you could possibly be interested in. Also, now you can see The Grey and Flight in theaters back-to-back for one hell of a double feature, one that will guarantee you won’t want to fly anywhere, possibly ever again.

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End of Watch

On the heels of two Independent Spirit Awards nominations for actor Michael Pena (for Best Supporting Male) and cinematographer Roman Vasyanov (for Best Cinematography, naturally), Open Road Films has just announced that they will re-release End of Watch into theaters on December 7th. Yes, this is what a late-breaking awards season push looks like, and it’s a damn fine way for audiences to catch up one of the year’s best underseen gems. But End of Watch might not be the only awards contender that Open Road has on their hands, nor the only one they might re-release for a late-year push. Earlier this week, The Grey director Joe Carnahan tweeted: “Not official yet but @OpenRoadFilms looks like its going to re-release @TheGreyMovie in December for an awards qualifying run. Stay tuned.” While we haven’t heard any other news since about this possibility since Carnahan’s tweet, with the official news that End of Watch is coming back to screens, it seems even more likely that Open Road would roll out a similar strategy for their other best film of the year.

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Hot Rod

Netflix just doesn’t slow down its new streaming releases, with a huge crop recently being added on the first of the month and more noteworthy titles appearing on regularly. The great variety in titles can be easily seen by taking a look a rich, slow Western-horror, an absurd comedy, a dude punching wolves in the face, a prescient media classic and .

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Ever since Marvel Comics created its own movie studio and started making its own movies, much ado has been made about the other studios holding rights to some of their characters. How long does Sony have the rights to Spider-Man? Will Marvel ever get to make an X-Men movie, seeing as they’re already tied up elsewhere? While those properties seem to be staying in their current homes, at least for the foreseeable future, there’s one character out there who actually is close to making a jump back home to the House of Ideas: Daredevil. Recently, Fox was trying to get together a reboot of the character’s adventures on film under the watch of director David Slade, but a few weeks ago he dropped out of the project. That’s bad news for Fox, because if they don’t manage to find a new director and get a Daredevil movie in front of cameras before October 10, then film rights for the character will revert back to Marvel, and all of their efforts to reboot the property with a more gritty, Frank Miller-inspired take on the material will be in vain. In the same report that announced Slade’s departure from the new Daredevil film also came the news that Fox had lined up a director for another of its Marvel-born properties, The Fantastic Four. Chronicle helmer Josh Trank is now in control of rebooting that franchise. But a report that came out of Variety today could have consequences for both his upcoming Fantastic […]

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Joe Carnahan’s Liam Neeson vs. wolves thriller The Grey isn’t just one of the most well-regarded releases of this year so far, it’s also a grizzled, badass guy’s film the likes of which we haven’t seen in a while. So you would think Hollywood should be lining up to help Carnahan slip into his next tough guy-themed project as soon as possible. And thankfully, they are. Twitch has word that Carnahan has been given the go-ahead by 20th Century Fox to start work on a passion project he’s been trying to develop for a while called Continue. It’s an action-centric take on the story trope of a protagonist having to re-live the same events over and over again; kind of like a Groundhog Day with guns, or that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where the same attack keeps happening, but not in space. Carnahan’s story is about a former soldier who has to keep reliving the day where assassins came to kill him for unknown reasons. Days like that are the worst.

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! After a couple of sparse weeks we’re rewarded with a bevy of worthwhile DVD releases suitable for your viewing pleasure including a Criterion edition of Being John Malkovich, the teen super power adventure Chronicle, Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, Woody Harrelson playing bad cop/worse cop in Rampart, and Liam Neeson going head to head with wolves in The Grey. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Michael Michael works at an insurance firm, he hangs out with co-workers, he visits his mom and sister… and he has a ten year-old boy captive in his basement. The boy isn’t in chains, in fact he’s treated quite well aside from the captivity and occasional diddling. This calmly mesmerizing little Austrian drama about a few months in the life of a pedophile isn’t a thriller in the conventional sense, but goddamn are the final fifteen minutes suspenseful as hell. It’s a methodical and beautifully acted film that gets under your skin with its normality and subtle unpredictability.

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Joe Carnahan

The first reaction of anyone coming out of The Grey probably won’t be, “I bet the director of The A-Team, Smokin’ Aces, and that BMW short Ticker made this!” Joe Carnahan prefers it to be that way. The director’s fifth feature film isn’t a full-blown action romp, but is instead a thrilling meditation on life, death, and survival. (Check out our review here.) Similar to Carnahan’s breakout feature, Narc, The Grey shows all the trappings of a true personal project — the kind of story that a filmmaker had to tell. And, after speaking with Carnahan for 25 minutes, that was clearly the case. From White Jazz to Killing Pablo, when the personable man finds a story that comes from his core, he’s got to get it made. Here’s what Joe Carnahan had to say about the life and death themes of The Grey, writing and portraying real men, and why he never wants to become a “one for them, one for me” filmmaker:

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The Hobbit

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news collection that doesn’t usually involve so much nudity, or Dance Dance Revolution references, but Mondays are always a little special. We begin this evening with a new shot from The Hobbit, a film you may have heard about. It’s also a film that will undoubtedly be filled with little people, tall wizards, shires, middling earths and rings inscribed with “From Sauron, with love.” This one features Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, standing amongst friends.

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The Grey

Once again Liam Neeson stood up to the January graveyard slate of movies, and once again Liam Neeson took charge. The Grey took top honors this weekend, proving that the combination of Neeson and good, adult action is the way to go when you want to make some decent coin. It wasn’t up to the standards of films like Taken ($24.7m opening weekend in 2009) and Unknown ($21.8m opening weekend in 2011). Considering the R rating, the lack of star power outside of Neeson (Dermot Mulroney isn’t what he used to be, and the wolves themselves don’t have a great agent yet), and Joe Carnahan not being the golden boy when it comes to box office returns, The Grey‘s $20m is still a respectable debut. Neeson isn’t losing clout as quickly as Katherine Heigl, whose One For the Money came in at #3 with $11.7m. That’s slightly lower than expectations, but looking at Heigl’s track record, her opening numbers seem to be whittling down further and further. Since Killers in 2010, Heigl’s opening numbers have progressively gotten smaller and smaller, dropping from $15.8m to $14.5m for Life As We Know It in 2010 and $13m for New Year’s Eve early last month. A change of pace for Heigl might be in order, or, when all else fails, the DVD/Blu-Ray and VOD market is not a bad option to take.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Getting lost in the freezing cold wilderness with little to no hope of survival is frightening enough, but when the threat of a killer pack of wolves start descending on a group of blue collar workers who just survived a plane crash, the stakes are set even higher. Composer Marc Streitenfeld creates a sonic landscape that is both moving and terrifying, perfectly mirroring the snowy landscape that surrounds these men as they try to survive the elements. The heavy use of strings and piano are faint enough to keep from overpowering the already intense scenes and performances that make up The Grey, but are still powerful enough to support those moments and help add to the emotional weight of each actor’s striking performances. The Grey also makes an interesting choice in choosing not to turn up the volume or throw in a ton more instrumentation, even when those on screen are running and fighting for their lives. Streitenfeld instead scales back to allow those more natural sounds (and the sound of those ferocious wolves) to take over.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr tapes some alcohol bottles to his knuckles and gets ready to brawl with wolves. Unfortunately, he first drinks all the booze in the bottles and ends up passing out in the snow. When he wakes up, he brushes himself off and heads downtown to climb on the ledge of a tall building. The police are called to try and save him, but Kevin ends up jumping when he learns that Katherine Heigl is brought in to talk him down. Fortunately, Kevin survives the fall and stumbles to the local multiplex to check out this week’s new movies.

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The man vs nature genre of action/adventure films is usually a pretty reliable one when it comes to attractive scenery and entertaining scraps between man and beast. From the popcorn perfection of Jaws to the bloody thrills of Savage Harvest there’s a visceral thrill to be found in battles fought fist against claw (or teeth, beak, trunk, etc). With the exception of the very best however the films are usually pure entertainment that stop well short of anything resembling engaging human drama. The Grey is one of those exceptions. Mostly.

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The Reject Report - Large

Not to be confused with Reject Report, The White, which is what happens after we do battle with the Balrog. Reject Report, The White is never NEVER wrong. But in our current form we have to take into account things like star power and demographics and mass appeal, the kinds of aspects that go into making a film financially successful. This week sees three new movies wanting that success and one Oscar contender expanding to wide release. Liam Neeson fights wolves, Sam Worthington faces a ledge, and Katherine Heigl takes on…money, I guess. I’m not really sure. Only one of these movies can be the victor while the other two scrounge for scraps to make up $10-15m. Not even worth the effort really. It’s the Reject Report, and you shall not pass. Okay, now you can pass. Go ahead.

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Reel Sex

One of my greatest loves, besides full-frontal male nudity in films, is a beard. Normally I would get up on my soap box and spout out tributes to the greatness of male facial hair, how it can instantly make a baby-faced boy look tough and intimidating. Or take a scrappy young man and make him appear soulful or whimsical. Facial hair can even play as much importance in telling the difference between a hipster or a homeless person (a game that is one of my favorite past times). And while I like to think more people share my love of male facial muffs, I’ve come to realize many audiences see facial hair as a costume or accessory meant to show a level of untrustworthy or roguish manliness that a clean-shaven character lacks. This is unfortunate as any level of facial hair can really mean more than just good versus evil on screen. I have spent many years disappointing my parents with my choice in men and their accompanying facial hair, starting from the celebrities I chose to crush on (90s teen boy bands aside) to the men I brought home for Sunday night dinners. I have long been cursed with a love of beards I cannot deny myself. And as I have spent years writing about and stroking them (research!) it is about time Hollywood takes note of the diversity in beards and how they aren’t just for the bad guys anymore.

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The Must See Movies of January 2012

With the gut-wrencher Shame, an uncomfortably funny Young Adult, Spielberg’s heart-string pullin’ War Horse, a high-flying Tintin adventure, the shining return of Cameron Crowe, the oversized popcorn blockbuster Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the overlooked hilarity of Carnage, the pulpy thrills of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the subdued near-masterpiece that is Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, last month was a pretty fantastic time at the movies. Now we’re entering January. While this time of the year is usually a dumping ground — and we’ll be getting plenty of films of that low-caliber — there’s a surprising amount of films to check out this month, mainly the award-ready expanding releases.

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Liam Neeson in The Grey

One of the few, if only, highlights of seeing Breaking Dawn last night was seeing some new trailers, including a brand new one for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a much leaner and brisker peak at the film. The teaser for The Grey, which hit the net back in September, was shown as well. It played well and managed to get an audience full of girls excited, despite the film being a total sausage fest set in the middle-of-nowhere. Now a day later another trailer has been released, and it’s much longer and spoiler-y than the previous footage we got. This plays out more as a sizzle reel than an actual finely-tuned trailer, but the first half is attention-grabbing. The set-up is sold tremendously well. Unfortunately, the second half of the trailer is a little long-winded. Still, Joe Carnahan‘s film looks like a fun, brutal, and atmospheric man vs. nature survival tale. Carnahan certainly a knack for hilarious brutality, as shown in the extremely fun Smokin’ Aces and The A-Team, but this seems more dramatically and tonally related to Narc.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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