The Rover

Summit Entertainment

Not even Hitler liked to see dogs die in movies. That’s probably a fact, and it tells you just how unappealing the idea of seeing(or hearing) man’s best friend get shot, strangled, drowned, beaten, electrocuted or otherwise snuffed out is to audiences. Our distaste for it runs to the point that a movie can feature a psychopath murdering people, but the second a family pet investigates a noise only to whelp and die off-screen viewers see it as an unnecessary line being crossed. I agree in part because it’s usually a cheap move by filmmakers attempting to elicit an emotional reaction. It’s unearned and lazy, and it happens far too frequently in movies. But while roughly 97% of dog deaths in movies are gratuitous I’m here to suggest that sometimes, just sometimes, it’s okay that the dog bites it. John Wick — one of the year’s best action movies that you owe it to yourself and Keanu Reeves to see if you value fun, thrilling, immensely satisfying films — features Reeves as an ex-assassin who gave up the life for the love of a good woman, but as the film opens she’s died from cancer leaving him alone again. A knock at the door reveals one last gift from her — a puppy named Daisy — in the hopes that he’ll still have something to care for and love, but it’s not long before a random act of violence leaves the dog dead and Wick, like Lone Wolf McQuade before him, on a bloody path […]

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WE ARE THE BEST discs

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. We Are the Best Three girls form a tight friendship over their shared interest in hairstyles, punk music lyrics and remaining true to themselves in a sea of disco-loving, brightly dressed automatons. Two members of the trio have never even held an instrument before, but their infectious determination drives them forward and helps them navigate the all too recognizable perils of being a twelve to fourteen year old. Lukas Moodysson‘s latest film is an absolute pleasure to watch and experience, a rare treat that fully immerses you in a world that’s foreign yet familiar with its story of the time in our lives when we still believed anything and everything was possible. Watching We Are the Best! is a genuinely positive experience, one that leaves you smiling inside and out even days later as you think back not only on scenes from the film but also to memories of your own life and friends from that magical time of your life. Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me said it best — “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” Turns out that sentiment is the same the world over. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurette, photo gallery, trailer]

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Marvel Studios

2014’s summer movie season comes to an end in a week or so, but while some folks will be editorializing about the box office being down 15-20% compared to last summer and others express surprise that a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy could be days away from becoming the year’s highest grossing domestic hit, we here at FSR have a different agenda. Simply put, we saw a lot of great movies this summer, and we hope you did too. The year’s best “big” movie (per me anyway), Captain America: The Winter Soldier, missed the summer cutoff as it opened in early April, but there were still some fantastic blockbuster-type flicks that entertained the hell out of us over the past four months. Of course, there were also some brilliant smaller films too. An informal staff survey revealed a mix of both to be our favorites of the summer. Keep reading to see which movies moved us the most from May through August.

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2014-halfway-best

2014 is half over, and while that means we’re still six months away from our official ‘Best Of’ lists it also means it’s time to point out several great movies that you may very well have missed so far. Granted, if you’re a regular reader here at FSR than you’ve probably already heard us praising some or all of the films below, but either way the list of films here should serve as a guide of movies to seek out when you’re in the mood for something other than studio releases. As we did last year Landon Palmer and I have selected ten fantastic films from the past six months that we think deserve more attention than they received. It’s worth noting though that we’re not including festival-only titles and instead are limiting ourselves to small releases that have had some degree of exposure in theaters or on VOD. This made it a little bit tougher as half of my own top ten of 2014 so far only played Sundance (or other fests) while the other half are wide releases. But while these ten films may not be the ten best of the year so far they are great movies well worth watching.

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The Rover Movie

The Rover opens with a man at the end of his rope. Eric (Guy Pearce) has nothing. Except for his car. Naturally, when Eric steps out of his vehicle to grab a drink, it’s stolen by a group of bandits, and for the first time in a while, Eric has a purpose: get his car back. It’s deliberate in its simplistic structure, but sweating from point A to point B is only the surface of director David Michôd‘s layered second feature film. It’s a lean movie compared to Michôd’s directorial debut Animal Kingdom, and that was by design. “I wanted to make something much more elemental and an intensely intimate about a small number of characters in vast and empty landscape,” Michôd tells us, reflecting on The Rover‘s stiflingly hot environments while sitting in the air conditioned meeting room of the Four Seasons Hotel. “I love the idea of making a movie that would work in a similar tonal world as Animal Kingdom, but be of a different form.” But Animal Kingdom and The Rover are kindred spirits in more ways than tone. Both films focus on introverts facing an internal struggle within the framework of the more obvious, more aggressive external threat. However, this time around Michôd’s lead is far less passive, stopping at nothing until he retrieves his property. At the center of this “dark fable that plays by slightly different rules,” Eric roams through a quasi-post-apocalyptic Australian desert. Who Eric was before the economic collapse is mostly a mystery, but the man in his mid-40s was never an enigma to Michôd. “He’s old enough to remember […]

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Edge of Tomorrow

May was a rough time for major releases. With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and A Million Ways to Die in the West, the first month of summer blockbusting got off to a messy start and ended with an equally toxic finish. Although I’m not a fan of Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past, they have their supporters, so maybe May wasn’t as bad of a month as I’m pegging it as. Maybe it’s just that when a studio comedy as tedious and frustrating as A Million Ways to Die in the West comes around, it’s always going to poison the whole calendar page. Thankfully this summer is about to receive a large improvement, because there’s a terrific blockbuster coming out this Friday. While the Tom Cruise-starring action movie isn’t tracking so hot, let’s hope the tides change and people flock to Edge of Tomorrow. Plus, there’s a solid amount of releases this month you should plan to see. Here are the must see movies of June 2014:

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Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson in THE ROVER

Robert Pattinson is an idiot, or at least he plays one in The Rover. A dopey criminal with a mealy mouth and a gunshot wound, he’s the Lennie to Guy Pearce’s George as the reluctant duo hit the road in a vaguely post-apocalyptic Australia. Here’s what we know: ten years after an ill-defined economic and social collapse, the Seventh Continent has attracted all manner of men seeking to capitalize on its mineral-rich resources. Bearded loner Eric (Pearce) doesn’t seem so ambitious; all he has is his car, and all he wants is his car back once a robbery goes south, prompting ringleader Henry (Scoot McNairy) and his panicked partners to steal Eric’s silver sedan and leave Henry’s little brother, Rey (Pattinson), behind. And so Eric and Rey give chase, with the former displaying little sympathy for the latter’s slowness or general well-being. To be more precise, our protagonist is a single-minded sociopath whose reasons for so prizing his vehicle are left unanswered for much of the film’s running time. A series of vignettes ensue, often comprised of the same few questions (“Where is my car?” “Have you seen my car?” etc.) and riddles in return, alleviated by the occasional evacuation of brain matter from its natural home. If Animal Kingdom was director David Michôd’s character-driven love letter to classic crime family films, then his much-anticipated follow-up evokes any number of precedents: the near-future desolation of The Road and The Road Warrior, the Old West grit of The Proposition and 3:10 […]

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The Guardians of the Galaxy

The summer season may not be the best time of year for film, but it’s usually the most exciting. 2014’s blockbusting period starts this coming Friday with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Unsurprisingly, that will be the first and last mention of the film on this list of our most anticipated summer movies. We polled the staff and tallied the votes to determine the ten summer movies we’re most excited about this year, and while some of the results are expected one or two surprises made (or missed) the list, too. Some of the films that came close to making the list but not close enough include the long-awaited adaptation The Giver, the animated sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2, Disney’s Maleficent and Seth MacFarlane’s Ted follow-up A Million Ways to Die in the West. A title that not a single one us picked as one of most anticipated? Transformers: Age of Extinction. I mean seriously… someone even picked Sin City 2 over Michael Bay’s latest. Keep reading to see the ten films that we’re most looking forward to this summer.

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A24

As it turns out, you can take the vampire out of Twilight and find some pretty unexpected results. With The Rover, the new film from director and writer David Michôd (Animal Kingdom), Robert Pattinson sheds his sparkly teen vampire image yet again to take part in a dark and dreary drama devoid of all supernatural intervention. Pack all your girlish screams away somewhere, because this isn’t the time or place. “Anarchy is loosed upon the world,” and it’s up to Eric (Guy Pearce) to dig through that chaos as “things fall apart” in the Australian outback (things are really bleak out there). His quest: to hunt down a strange band of criminals who have taken hold of his last possession as he attempts to stay alive and keep his head above water in the process. In his journey, he meets Rey (Pattinson), one of the members of the gang who have messed with his life. Rey is injured and alone, no longer the menacing threat he used to pose to Eric when he and his gang stormed into his life long before. But now Eric recognizes that Rey can no longer hurt him, and scoops him up along for the ride. With Rey’s gang leaving him in the dust by himself at the beginning of the trailer, he doesn’t have much of a choice, now does he? Check out the trailer for The Rover below.

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_ROV7508.nef

Here’s a tip for your own survival: don’t steal Guy Pearce‘s car. Any joy you might get from it will be swallowed whole by the crushing debt you’ll endure as a result of your hospital bills. Animal Kingdom writer/director David Michod knows this, and he’s gracefully created a reminder for all of us in the form of The Rover. The film features an idiotic gang that steals Pearce’s characters car, leaving their injured comrade (played by Robert Pattinson) behind and futilely hoping that Pearce won’t force Pattinson to help track them down for revenge. Guess what happens. The teaser trailer for the film is a struck match. Angry and desperate, it’s an aggressive introduction to a world built by men who have nothing left to lose. Enjoy it, and ask Pearce nicely not to beat you to death next time you see him.

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What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that’s ready for the weekend. Colin Firth is kind of a sneaky hunk. At first glance he’s pretty handsome, but not the most attractive dude in the world, and then he’s got this charm to him that just grows on you until you’ve scrawled his name on all of your Trapper Keepers. He’s such saucy dish that it looks like he can make even a big name star like Nicole Kidman develop a schoolgirl crush. THR is reporting that she liked playing his wife in the recent World War II drama The Railway Man so much that she’s now actively recruiting him to join her in her next project, Before I Go to Sleep. Apparently, Before I Go to Sleep is an adaptation of a S.J. Watson novel about an amnesiac woman whose husband must reintroduce himself to her every morning. Early attempts at titling the film The Rich Man’s 50 First Dates were reportedly rejected by the studio.

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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