The Way Way Back

2013review_missed (1)

The 13 movies below range from the very good to the great (while the 6.5 that follow are just mostly bad), but the one thing they all share is that they each failed to find an audience during their theatrical run for one reason or another. At least one of those reasons is you of course, but instead of berating you for failing to support the films while they were in theaters and needed your help, we’re hoping to point you in their direction now to atone for your sins. But first, a few qualifications. I’ve excluded movies that played in fewer than 75 theaters since that’s the distributor’s fault, I’m not featuring films that made over $30m, and I’m not including subtitled foreign releases which the masses avoid in general. These are only films that could have had a real chance of making a lot more money than they did, so while I wish more people saw the Jared Leto-led Mr. Nobody, I’m not surprised that it only made $3,600. Finally, I’m also sharing the wealth a bit by skipping movies that will be making our Best Films of the Year list next week. So here are 13 great movies that failed to catch on at the box office but should be sought out immediately on Blu-ray/DVD, streaming, whatever… and 6.5 relatively terrible flicks that you were right to avoid.

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discs abominable dr phibes

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Vincent Price Collection Six of Vincent Price‘s horror pictures for AIP are collected here in HD including The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit & the Pendulum, The Haunted Palace, The Masque of the Red Death, Witchfinder General, and The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Scream Factory hits another one out of the park with this fantastically produced and packaged collection of films featuring Price in all his glory. All but the final film bear some connection to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, a couple of them being very tenuous connections at best, and three were directed by Roger Corman. The movies run the gamut from good (Palace) to great (Masque) to WTF (Phibes), and they all look better than they ever have thanks to new HD restorations and a bevy of extras. Price was always an interesting and underrated actor, and this set offers a glimpse at a fun and fascinating variety of performances. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Introductions, commentaries, interviews, trailers, featurettes]

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A Single Shot

“It’s kind of like a detective movie but it’s set in the Appalachians,” is the way Sam Rockwell encapsulates his latest film, A Single Shot. Rockwell plays John, a true anti-hero who gets in way over his head after a hunting accident and finding a good deal of cash. What follows that opening is a dirty film noir, where you rarely know who to trust, despite having a positive attitude to all the familiar faces Rockwell is surrounded by in the film: Jeffrey Wright, William H. Macy, Joe Anderson, and Jason Isaacs. It’s an impressive ensemble that Rockwell relished working with. This adaptation was another opportunity for the acclaimed actor to transform himself in subtle ways, which, as Rockwell puts it, is always a bonus. Here’s what else Sam Rockwell had to say about A Single Shot, performing adaptations, and having to take risks:

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rock

With Frost/Nixon, Moon, The Green Mile, Matchstick Men, Seven Psychopaths, Snow Angels, Heist, and (deep breath) Galaxy Quest, there’s a likely chance actor Sam Rockwell has appeared in one of your favorite films from recent memory. With that array of performances, Rockwell has built up a filmography most actors would rightfully be jealous over. He has a political drama, a Stephen King adaptation, a character study rooted in science-fiction, and a David Mamet crime yarn all under his belt, but now he can add another genre to his resume: a coming-of-age summer tale. With The Way, Way Back, Rockwell plays Owen, that cool uncle-esque character every kid would be so lucky to have. It’s a well-known archetype with plenty of templates for Rockwell to learn from.

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Sound City Movie

July marks the middle of summer, but it also marks the half way point of each year which means half the movies you were looking forward to seeing this year have already hit theater screens! With so many major studio releases out each weekend (plus a healthy offering of indie fare) it can be overwhelming to try and remember what you’ve seen, what you wanted to see, and any unexpected titles that may have caught your eye, but you never got a chance to actually sit down and check out. At the beginning of the year we posted a list of the 52 Most Anticipated Movies to come out in 2013 and with half the year already gone, it seemed like a good time to look back on the films that have already come out and highlight those with fantastic music you might have missed. Summer is the perfect time to play catch up on entertainment with most television shows on hiatus and long summer nights to fill so if you are looking for a list of movies from this year that featured noteworthy tunes, you have come to the right place. Some of these films are still out in theaters, some are already available on DVD, and some may need to be added to your Netflix queue to ensure you don’t miss them a second time, but all ten of these soundtracks should have you humming along well into December.

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Pacific Rim

We’re now halfway done with the summer movie season, and thus far, it’s been a good one. This month is the most exciting of the bunch, as July usually is, but June was no slouch. Man of Steel wowed audiences while dividing critics, but best of all, World War Z became the surprise, if modest, hit of the summer. Not only that, director Marc Forster proved the negative buzz wrong with a clever and efficient action thriller. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for White House Down. Shame on me for not including it on last month’s list, because, according to plenty of trusted sources, it’s a boatload of fun. I still haven’t had the time to see it for myself, but it sounds like the type of self-aware, focused blockbuster Roland Emmerich‘s career has been building up to. Thankfully people turned out for This is the End, so Sony has that going for them. Let’s hope none of these must-see films of July meet the same box-office fate as the rocket launcher-wielding president:

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THE WAY, WAY BACK

Editor’s Note: My review of The Way, Way Back originally ran during its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens theatrically. You should really make a point of going to see this one. Coming-of-age films are almost as ubiquitous as rom-coms and Resident Evil sequels these days, and it’s not often that one of them manages to stand out in the crowded field. The ones that do succeed usually feature a combination of star power to get their foot in the door, a smart and funny script to keep the audience’s attention and a lead who embodies the joy, frustrations and awkwardness of teen life with equal spirit and veracity. The Way, Way Back succeeds on pretty much all of those counts. Duncan (Liam James) is heading to the East Coast for the summer with his mom Pam (Toni Collette), her boyfriend Trent (Steve Carrell) and Trent’s teen daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). A summer spent at the beach should be any teen boy’s idea of awesome, but Duncan is shy and no fan of the overbearing Trent, so the next three months promise to be hell. But when he crosses paths with an immature and odd water park manager named Owen (Sam Rockwell), he dares to think that the summer may not be so bad after all.

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THE WAY, WAY BACK

The past few years have been good to Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Both of them have built solid acting careers out of memorable roles. Rash is Community‘s Dean Pelton and Faxon, of course, was the pretentious college kid who couldn’t shut up about his vampire novel in Orange County. But beyond acting, the duo found the spotlight in a major way in 2012. Rash and Faxon, along with Alexander Payne, won the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for The Descendants. They probably could’ve moved on to write some fat paycheck gigs after that, but they used the golden moment to breathe new life into a passion project of their own, The Way, Way Back – the story of a young man (Liam James) on a hellish summer vacation who finally finds a place to fit in at a local waterpark.

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THE WAY, WAY BACK

The Los Angeles Film Festival has finally rolled out their full lineup for the upcoming summer fest, and it’s packed with a number of Sundance picks, the return of Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn, and everyone’s favorite film that hasn’t been released just yet, You’re Next. Basically, you should probably start making your schedule now, because this is easily one of LAFF’s best lineups yet. The festival will open with Pedro Almodovar‘s I’m So Excited (Almodovar is a Los Angeles favorite, as he’s also served as guest artistic director for LA’s other big festival, AFI FEST), close with Nat Faxon and Jim Rash‘s The Way, Way Back, and include special gala presentations in the middle of both Refn’s Only God Forgives and Ryan Coogler‘s Sundance winner Fruitvale Station (formerly known as Fruitvale). Didn’t think you could get a large portion of your awards season movie-viewing out of the way in June? Bummed you missed out on Sundance? You were so wrong. Check out the full lineup after the break.

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THE WAY, WAY BACK

Who doesn’t love a good coming-of-age film? Terrible, terrible people, that’s who. One of the best of the genre premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and while some folks might think I’m referring to The Spectacular Now (which to be fair is a pretty good movie too) I’m actually talking about The Way, Way Back. Screenwriters (and co-stars) Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants) make their directorial debut with this comedic drama about an awkward boy coming into his own. My full review is here. Duncan (Liam James) is said awkward teenager on the edge of who knows what, but the last thing he needs is a summer vacation trapped with his mother (Toni Collette), potential step-sister, and annoying soon-to-be step-dad (Steve Carell). He finds solace though in a local girl (AnnaSophia Robb) and part-time job at a water park staffed with weirdos. And lucky for him (and us) the king of the weirdos is played by Mr. Sam Rockwell. Maybe the summer won’t be so bad after all. Check out the trailer for The Way Way Back below.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Films that are submitted to festivals come with many questions. Will my film be accepted? Will people be interested in watching it if it is? Will it get distribution? What will happen if it does get distribution? But these questions are also what make film festivals so exciting – the great unknown and all the possibilities it contains. This year’s Sundance Film Festival gave festival attendees (and soon audiences all over) many different films from comedies to dramas to horror. Signing up to work on an independent festival film can end up being a labor of love, but it can also open doors and catapult otherwise unknown talent into the spotlight. The road to Sundance has been seen through the eyes of writers, directors, and actors (which can be found on the Sundance website), but I wanted to look at the process from the composer side of things and was lucky enough to speak with not just one, but two composers who ended up with a total of three films at this year’s festival between them. Rob Simonsen who composed music for two of Sundance’s most well-received coming-of-age films, the heart-felt The Spectacular Now and the funny The Way, Way Back and Heather McIntosh who created the inventive and sinister soundscape for the surreal The Rambler.

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The Way Way Back

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the ongoing saga of one man’s quest to catalog every great movie and TV-related link the blogosphere has to offer. It happens on weeknights, just before bed time, and you should read it often. Share it with your friends, even. We begin tonight with a first look at The Way, Way Back and its stars Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell, who will get in front of the camera for Jim Rash and Nat Faxon the Oscar winning duo behind The Descendants and two men who have acted their way into your hearts in various other properties. In the case of Rash, it was as the Dean on Community. The NYT has a great piece on the pair and their upcoming film.

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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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published: 12.05.2014
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