Veronica Mars

2014_review_disappointments

Let me just say this right up front before you declare us legally insane and/or possessing of piss-poor taste in films — inclusion on this list doesn’t necessarily mean we think the movie is bad. Sure, that’s true of some of them (I’m looking at you Horns), but in most cases these are simply films we had reason to expect so much more from only to be let down — sometimes dramatically — in the end. 2014 was a spectacular year filled with great cinema, and there’s a lot that we absolutely loved (as evidenced by many of our other year-end lists posting this week), but these are the films that fell short. We walk into every movie hoping for the best, but sometimes our expectations get the best of us whether due to the talent involved or the power of a great trailer. We’re only human after all. So here are fourteen movies we had good reason to suspect we’d like more than we did.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Obscene Gesture

In Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill slowly unwinds his middle finger like a jack-in-the-box as men gaze at him from the other side of smart glass warning of his imminent “obscene gesture.” Flipping the bird has now become interstellar, the latest in a long history of imaginative fingering. The gesture has evolved beyond a simple way to say “fuck you.” It’s the obvious and subtle threat between the fingers, no longer happy to simply pop up, now it dances in many forms. Some fling it in anger, some let it tease, and some see theirs blown off. It can be bloody, robotic, disembodied, Tank Girled and adamantiumed. If Hollywood put half as much effort into storytelling as they put into creative uses of the middle finger, many of the industry’s problems would be solved. For now, we have the following 10 birds, some of which are part of the “Movie Middle Finger”video montage featured way down. Is your favorite missing?

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Raro Video

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Death Occurred Last Night A young woman has gone missing, and while that’s distressing enough for her father it’s made worse by the fact that she’s mentally challenged and has the awareness of a child. Her concerned father pressures the police to step up their search, but as he and the detectives narrow in on the truth it becomes clear that they may be too late. This dark, violent Italian thriller was a bit rough upon its release, and the years since haven’t made it any softer. Part procedural, part suspense, the film doesn’t shy away from the sex or violence and is most definitely not for the PC crowd. If the scene where good old dad helps his gorgeous adult daughter put on her bra doesn’t stop some people the idea of a handicapped woman being put to use as prostitute just might, but Duccio Tessari‘s film moves beyond its exploitation tease to become a solid adult thriller unafraid to head in some truly dark directions. Raro Video’s new Blu-ray isn’t loaded with extras, but the film looks and sounds fantastic. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Booklet, interview, trailer]

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TV Collage 2014

The agreement we make with a TV show is that we’ll spend time with it as long as its interesting, as long as we want to hang out with its characters. Beyond the one-shot that movies demand, TV shows require a thirty minute testing period or eleven hours if you like it. More if you get in deep. And who knows if your favorite show will last 10 seasons. We get devoted. But even a favorite show has the potential to lose its luster (or jump right over the shark), and we know when it happens — when to give up. Or we end up straggling along anyway, because we get devoted. So what would it take for you to give up on a favorite? What would a TV show have to do to get you to quit?

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Veronica Mars

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Veronica Mars

We spent an entire week talking about movies at SXSW 2014. Between Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Letterboxd and our published reviews on the very site which you are currently reading, myself and the team of Film School Rejects covered a solid swath of the 130+ feature films that played this past week in Austin, TX. Some of them are still playing (and still to be reviewed, so stay tuned). But those are just the ones that we made it to. Which ones did you, the fans and attendees of SXSW, talk about most? Wonder no further, as the folks from Way to Blue have invested some time and energy into researching the buzz around the 10 most discussed films of this year’s festival. “We’ve broken down not only how many mentions the movies have secured as a result of their screenings at SXSW,” they explain. “But also what proportion of the conversation has resulted in social chatter expressing a desire or excitement to see the films themselves. We call this Intent To View.”

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Veronica Mars Movie 2014

The high school reunion at the center of Veronica Mars is a perfect symbol for the movie. All the swirling feelings that come with blunt-force nostalgia are there, and it’s amazing to slip back into the old rhythms with beloved friends. The entire thing is like returning home to smiling faces and warm embraces. But the prickly awkwardness is there, too. Questions about why we’ve stayed away for so long, why people haven’t evolved as much as they should, whether those old rhythms are really the best ones. Wanting what we’re used to while demanding something more. If ten-year reunions are for people on the cusp of understanding adulthood, Veronica Mars‘ reunion comes with a full on mid-life crisis. A dozen years and a thousand lifetimes after Veronica (Kristen Bell) solved the biggest, most personal case of her young life, she returns to Neptune to help out former/eternal flame Logan (Jason Dohring) when his pop star girlfriend is murdered and he becomes the prime suspect. Maybe more important than what she’s returning to is what she’s leaving behind: a jumpstart job with a law firm before she’s even taken the bar and a stable, steady boyfriend in Stosh “Piz” Piznarski (Chris Lowell). Or maybe what she’s leaving behind isn’t that important.

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VERONICA MARS

Veronica Mars is apparently a very satisfying return of some clearly beloved characters from a TV series that went off the air seven years ago. Fans will love it. In fact, fans do love it, as I witnessed at the packed premiere in the 1100-seat Paramount Theater at SXSW. There’s nothing wrong with a movie catering to fans of a property, and there’s no reason to assume something serving as a continuation of a pre-existing entertainment product should work for those attempting to jump in blind. This certainly isn’t the first feature spun-off from a TV show that expects you to have at least some familiarity, nor is it unlike many sequels throughout the history of film, nor is it unlike a ton of made-for-TV movies offering a reunion of characters (and of cast members that play them) and, more importantly, of reunion of fans with those characters they’ve missed. Veronica Mars, however, is not for me and the majority of people who’ve never seen one episode of the show. Why did I go into something like this without catching up? I was curious to see if it would be worthwhile for others in my shoes. And now I can say that it is not. Maybe that’s all I need to say, but I’d like to offer more, because I believe that fans deserve better than what they get here, regardless of all the direct service they receive in the form of recall references that only exist to make someone feel […]

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Grand Budapest Hotel

March may not be the most wonderful time of the year, but this year it’s a pretty wonderful 31-day span. There’s a Wes Anderson movie, Muppets, a biblical epic, and the return of one of TV’s most charming characters. This month is overwhelming with quality, so much so that I had to exclude Eva Green’s performance in 300: Rise of an Empire from this list. Not only is that semi-sequel more fun, self-aware, and bonkers than the original, but Green chews up every bit of CG scenery in her sight. I already feel shame for scratching it off. Make sure to experience Green’s performance in 3D. Never before has a woman kissing a decapitated head been portrayed with such grace, but somehow Green and the power of a third dimension makes the romantic act more beautiful and visceral than ever. None of the 10 films featured below has the actress killing it in the third dimension, but they all have their own things going for them. Again, it’s an excellent month to look forward to.

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Guardians of the Galaxy - Groot

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Veronica Mars Movie

A long time ago we used to be friends, and then a lot of people pitched in to bring you back into our lives. With Veronica Mars, fandom is going to get an interesting experience because the Kickstarter campaign ensured they’d be both audience and financier. We’re starting to see the fruits of that crowdfunded labor of love with a trailer that looks like it’s for a television show. Which is unfortunate but expected. As cool as it would be to see Veronica and Friends given a cinematic scope, it’s still a fairly low budget movie, and Kristen Bell’s plucky character was never much of a globe-trotter. Still, as exciting as a reunion is, everything about the film’s setup  feels too been-there. Director Rob Thomas was always doomed on that front. Shifting the story outside of the crew’s hometown might have made the whole affair feel alien, but bringing it back to the high school auditorium might ultimately make it feel stunted. The fine balance of delivering enough of the same difference. The good news? The same old energy is clearly there. The cleverness, the dangerous depths and the mystery that explodes all the way to the top. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Veronica Mars

It’s been ten years since Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) was the pluckiest crime-solver in Neptune, but that doesn’t mean that the former teen detective can resist the allure of one more major case – especially when it involves her ex-love Logan Echolls. A new featurette goes behind the scenes of Rob Thomas‘ infamously Kickstarted film, giving us the scoop on the important aspects of Veronica Mars, like who she should ultimately end up with: Logan (Jason Dohring) or Piz (Chris Lowell)? You would think that ten years later this debate would finally be over, especially when Veronica is shacked up with Piz in New York City, but things get weird when you visit your hometown. Also, there’s the little detail that Logan is accused of murder, Veronica’s reason for getting back into the detective biz in the first place. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was framed, but maybe all of these very enthusiastic actors should step off the “I heart Logan + Veronica” bandwagon for just a bit while she gathers evidence. Check out the Veronica Mars: Love Triangle Featurette here:

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Veronica Mars

Despite all the ballyhooing about whether or not Kickstarter is right for people like Rob Thomas and Zach Braff, people still gave them plenty of money to fund their projects. And now the world has a Veronica Mars movie on the way. Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: they are actually making it. And they are showing off footage to the world, beginning at yesterday’s Comic-Con panel. Less than 24-hours later, the rest of the world can get a look at what Thomas, Kristen Bell and a number of familiar faces have been working on. The first look featurette includes some talking heads, a few thanks-yous to fans who contributed to Kickstarter and in the last minute or so, a teaser full of actual footage from the movie. At first glance, it looks just like the TV show.

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clarke-zero-dark

What is Casting Couch? It’s diligently gathering together all the last bits of casting news that are hitting before Comic Con starts up later this week and takes over everyone’s attention with its water cooler-worthy sneak peaks and complaint-inducing lines. Read on for news regarding Juno Temple, an English-language voice cast for a Spanish movie, and Paul F’n Reiser. It’s hard to say which has been more on fire lately, Jason Clarke’s career or Child 44’s casting process. Probably that’s a debate we don’t need to have though, because the two have just converged and are now fighting for the same side. Heat Vision is reporting that Clarke is negotiating to join director Daniel Espinosa’s tale of Soviet-era child murders and coverups, in the role of a shady character named Brodsky who just may be a traitor. If Clarke’s involvement becomes official, he’ll join his Lawless co-stars Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman, as well as the already cast Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Paddy Considine, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, which is just ridiculously impressive.

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lopez

What is Casting Couch? It’s a safe place where you can read all the casting news you want without being afraid that anyone is going to judge you. Today we are happy to inform you that Hollywood has given new jobs to TV funnymen Donald Faison and Ryan Hansen. From judging reality shows on TV to recently co-starring with Jason Statham in Parker, it seems like Jennifer Lopez is slowly dipping her toes back into the world of celebrity. Probably it’s only a matter of time before we even have to start listening to “J-Lo” music on the radio again. Before you shudder at that notion though, let’s just focus on the movie world. THR is reporting that she’s just taken another role, this one in the dramatic retelling of the Chilean mining collapse of 2010, The 33. We already know that Antonio Banderas is starring in this one, and as an addendum to the news of Lopez’s casting also comes word that Martin Sheen and Rodrigo Santoro are on board as well. That’s only 29 to go.

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bullock

What is Casting Couch? It’s the place actors go to try to get jobs, and it’s the place you can go to find out who got which jobs in which movie. Today we’ve got word that Chris Tucker is set to make his triumphant return to leading man status. Every good orphan story needs a mean old jerk who makes the orphans’ lives miserable, and it’s starting to look like producers Will Smith and Jay Z have found theirs for the Quvenzhane Wallis-starring update of Annie they’re putting together. Sandra Bullock had already been in talks to play Miss Hannigan, the cruel lady who runs the orphanage Annie lives in, back in March, but things fell apart at the time. THR is reporting that things are now back on, however, as talks with Bullock have recommenced, and one would tend to think that the only reason that would be the case is if the fundamental thing that was tripping them up last time had changed. Get ready to see Sandra’s scowl.

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helms-undies

What is Casting Couch? A compilation of casting news that touches on the Veronica Mars movie, Clint Eastwood’s plans for the Jersey Boys movie, and other things you may or may not find interesting. It all depends on how into casting news you are, really. Due to his work in The Hangover and The Office, we’re mostly used to seeing Ed Helms being funny and whatnot. But Joe Carnahan seems to think he’s got some dramatic chops, because word from Heat Vision is that Helms is in negotiations to join his upcoming thriller, Stretch. The movie is set to star Patrick Wilson as a gambling-addicted limo driver who’s trying to get his life back on track and Chris Pine as his current customer, who’s a sleazy criminal and is described as being “the passenger from hell.” If he signs, Helms will be playing another dude who drives limos, a nicer one, who serves as the Wilson character’s conscience.

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Kickstarter Last Resort

Recently, the act of donating to or promoting a Kickstarter campaign has become a highly politicized and moralized one for movie fans, an act brimming with questions, crises, and conundrums about systemic economic disadvantages normalized by dominant industries of filmmaking. Suspicion has been directed in droves toward legitimate-seeming yet vastly-supported projects like the studio-release Veronica Mars movie or Zach Braff’s directorial follow-up to Garden State, whose constellation of multiple funding sources perhaps says more than we’d like to admit about the complex process of realizing even the most distinctly above-the-line indie projects. While frustration directed at a feature adaptation of a canceled UPN show or Braff’s seemingly boundless ability to produce haterade may appear legitimate when accounting for Kickstarter’s role as the possible final refuge for American alternative filmmaking, fingers should instead be pointed to the reasons that a resource like Kickstarter has become necessary in the first place.

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Zach Braff Wish I Was Here

After all the hand-wringing and pearl clutching and doomsdaying about celebrities utilizing Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site is reporting that both the Veronica Mars movie and Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here helped raise $400,000 for 2,200 other projects. How did they do it? By attracting more people to the site — 63% of their backers had never backed a project before, and many went on to find other worthwhile projects to give money to. The rising tide lifted all boats. Obviously this doesn’t dismiss other concerns about famous people and corporations mitigating their risk by asking their potential audience to pay what amount to inflated upfront ticket prices. However, this set of numbers is a powerful one that blasts any gut-notion that “blockbuster” projects take away money from the “true indies.” In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. As a for-profit company, these large projects are in Kickstarter’s best interest, but there’s also something amazing going on at that site. Great work is being done, people are finding new art to support and creators are getting the funding they need. If larger-profile appeals like these help everyone, then more power to them.

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FILM JOCKEYS HEADER

What happens when a legendary film critic brings is geriatric crankiness to an internet movie show? Film Jockeys follows the adventures of Carl Barker, his far-too-young production staff, the filmmakers and the movie characters that inhabit their world. Written and illustrated by Derek Bacon, it’s the perfect webcomic for passionate movie fans who also love love getting t-shirts when they Kickstart a movie. For your consideration, Episode #14:

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published: 12.18.2014
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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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