WarGames

Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor

With its inspiration coming from both ’70s paranoia thrillers and today’s headlines, there’s a lot of background to cover for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Basically, the list of movies to watch for this new Marvel sequel could simply be: all post-Watergate conspiracy theory movies from around 40 years ago and all documentaries of the last 10 years dealing with post-9/11 fearmongering and domestic surveillance. But I’m going to be a little more specific with those targets while also highlighting some directly referenced movies, some earlier features starring cast members of The Winter Soldier, a new documentary about one of the supporting players and more. We’ve actually already featured a whole trilogy that compliments the plot of the Captain America sequel, which you can read about over on our sister site, Nonfics. Unlike that post, this one is hopefully pretty light on spoilers. However, I like to give the warning with these lists that it’s best to actually see the movie in focus before reading ahead. 

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goodfellastable

This week’s list of movies to watch is not inspired by a single new release, because there isn’t anything big enough out this weekend to warrant such a focus. Instead, I’ve got a year-end feature for you inspired by the entirety of 2013 in film. I can’t sum up every title released this year with only ten recommendations, but the movies I’ve selected are, I believe, the best representatives of the more notable titles and trends seen in the past dozen months. Most of the selections are familiar. Chances are you’ve seen more than a few. But obviously this edition has to involve more popular fare because they have to be influential movies to have informed so much of this year’s crop, even if unintentionally. Just take it as a call to watch them again, along with whatever you haven’t seen before, as a special sort of year in review of the most important movies of 2013 released before 2013.

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aaron swartz documentary

One of the best documentaries of last year is We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, a film that looks at the history of Internet activists/hackers/pranksters Anonymous while remarkably tying together stuff like LOLCats and the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement (stream it now via Amazon or download from iTunes). Now that doc’s director, Brian Knappenberger, is taking on another web-based story, which will show how the movie WarGames led to the suicide of one of the 21st century’s greatest geniuses. Not that it will put any blame on a 1982 movie starring Matthew Broderick nor focus on that particular chain of events. The Internet’s Own Boy will tell the short life story of computer programmer Aaron Swartz, one of the minds behind numerous Internet-related projects including RSS (at age 14!), Reddit, Markdown, Watchdog.net, and Creative Commons and an activist against SOPA and for WikiLeaks. Sadly, he hung himself in January of this year (at age 26), following two years of being hit with felony charges stemming from illegally accessing and downloading material from the online journal database JSTOR.

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“In a perfect world, ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ would be a lock for a Best Original Screenplay nomination.” – Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit It must be frustrating to write for an awards blog (aka an Oscar blog, since the Academy Awards are always the main focus of these sites), and know that the best films of the year are not necessarily the ones that will be nominated. Magidson’s comment above, from his April review of The Cabin in the Woods, sort of sums that up. But at the same time I don’t know if the movie truly deserves the statement. Something to consider, semantically speaking, is that the Academy’s award is not for “Most Original Screenplay” but “Best Original Screenplay.” This isn’t to say that the script, by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, isn’t well-written, and you’re welcome to argue its case for a nomination. Is it the best-written original screenplay of the year, though? All my time as a movie lover and watcher of the Oscars, including the past few years of hate-watching, the original screenplay category is one I’ve constantly been excited about. It’s the place where you could find some of the more clever and creative efforts, including a number of films that might not get other nominations. You could find a good number of interesting foreign films outside of the foreign-language award ghetto (such as Bunuel‘s two nominations for writing), as well as an interesting showing of mainstream and blockbuster fare, especially in the […]

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MGM is mining the 80s for remake gold, and the latest nugget is a remake of WarGames that people will be all a titter about when they see Matthew Broderick’s inevitable cameo role as a janitor at the War Room or something. The good news is that it will incorporate modernized video games (as opposed to Pong Extreme), and that Seth Gordon will be directing it. Even though it only makes sense in Hollywood logic, as the director of King of Kong, he’s at least got some video game street cred. Who doesn’t have that street cred is Noah Oppenheimer, the man recently hired to write the script. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oppenheimer is a senior producer for The Today Show, but has recently branched out into feature film writing with a script called Jackie O that’s perked up a few ears. Plus, he was attached to that Snabba Cash remake that, so far, hasn’t been made yet. So it goes. Oppenheimer is an untested element here, and his last name makes it sounds like he invented the nuclear bomb, but he’s certainly not lacking for experience. At least, he’s got nearly 650 episodes of a morning news/entertainment show under his belt, and that can’t be the easiest program to pull off. Still, it will be interesting to see how far this project goes down the field. Or if MGM thinks it’s making a movie, but is really starting World War III.

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Years ago director Seth Gordon made a big impression with his critical doc darling, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. The film made our own best 30 films of the decade and you’d be on a fool’s mission to find someone who doesn’t enjoy that unique story. To no surprise, the heavily pirated documentary kicked down a lot of doors for Gordon. Just recently he’s been attached to direct the WarGames remake, so it’s obvious he’s come quite a long way in a quick amount of time. His latest comedy, Horrible Bosses, also represents how rapid the filmmaker is rising. The greatest surprise of the film is that, tonally, the film isn’t all that mean. The story’s about three guys plotting to murder their respective bosses, but even with that dark concept and some bastardly antagonists it never goes to the extreme. Gordon flirts with some darkness and satire, but it stays relatively safe. Here’s what director Seth Gordon had to say about the doors The King of Kong opened up for him, going with a lighter version of Horrible Bosses, and the nature of comedic filmmaking:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It is not a sentient being sent to Earth to bring you nightly doses of absolute and unquestionable brilliance. It is not the wittiest chap at the tea party. It is not an ad-free experience. It is, however, a nightly gathering of entertainment news and views that works very hard to win your affection. Except for last night, when its usually diligent author felt pain so bold that it had him contemplating watching Glitter again… Breaking tonight is the news that Seth Gordon, director of such films as The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters and Four Christmases, is now attached to direct a remake of the 1983 film WarGames. This news will undoubtedly be met with mixed reactions, as their is a delicate balance between people’s hatred for remakes and their enjoyment of the works of Seth Gordon. Which will win out? More at 11…

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