We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin

With adults, you have to put in a lot of effort to make them creepy – layering on makeup and blood and involving them in increasingly horrific acts to impact increasingly apathetic audiences. With children, however, you often need little more than a cherubic face juxtaposed with an evil act to make an impact. Mixing evil into childhood innocence is often the perfect horror concoction for movies, whether it’s a horror movie teasing at the fear of the unknown or a drama exploring the world of a truly terrible child. Of course, sometimes it’s nothing more than the result of really bad parenting. In the premiere of The Affair, Dominic West’s son fakes a suicide to get a rise out of his dad. But when West’s Noah quickly gets over his anger and shrugs off the stunt, it’s perfectly obvious why his kid is acting out – dad is an ineffectual parent. But sometimes it’s about much more than slightly atypical adolescent rebellion. Nothing compares to the chills that a child can evoke, whether they’re the perpetrators of evil or the seemingly innocent guardians of it with their redrum warnings. Many of our most chilling cinematic moments come at the hands of children, whether it’s little Gage bringing Mommy knives in Pet Semetary, twins wanting to play in The Shining, or some of the most truly terrifying images, like Linda Blair’s young Regan in The Exorcist – a film whose frights transcend the tarnish of age. Here are some of […]

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Lots of new releases today with the common theme being that they’re all worth a watch at the very least. So head on down to your local Hollywood Video and check out Coriolanus, A Necessary Death, Goon and yes, even We Need To Talk About Kevin. Seriously, check out that last one as I need someone, anyone, to validate my opinion that the film is more ridiculous than impressive. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Henning Mankell’s Wallander: Swedish Series Two Chief Inspector Wallander has a knack for solving crimes even as he grows tired of man’s inhumanity towards man in this second Swedish TV series (season) to be based on Henning Mankell’s most famous character. Krister Henriksson stars as the talented but beleaguered detective through thirteen episodes of murder, deceit and drama, and he brings real pathos to the character while still keeping him an engaging but likeable grump. The mysteries are well-constructed and excitingly shot, and they serve as a reminder that our own TV series could benefit from a shorter schedule that allows for more quality over quantity. Now to track down Henriksson’s season one…

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Reel Sex

People were up in arms Tuesday after the announcement of nominees for the 84th Annual Academy Awards. So many seem to forget that every year they are disappointed with the nominees and every year there is some film or performer who was left off or included on the prestigious list. I may have spent the final weeks of 2011 lamenting my utter ennui with last year’s films, but I never in a million years expected some of the Oscar outcomes. No Supporting Actor nomination for Albert Brooks, whose performance in Drive unnerved audiences to the core? Or the blatant disregard for solid documentary filmmaking in The Interrupters, Buck, or Project Nim, three entries into filmmaking that will forever impact the way we view the world around us? No, the Academy seemed to forget the impressive and daring offerings in favor of an adorable dog in a silent film. What is this, 1920? Last I checked The Jazz Singer pushed us into the land of the talkies. I could spend all day gnawing my tongue over which films shouldn’t have been included in this year’s awards recognition, but just like arguing the virtues and evils of the MPAA, our time is better used talking about some of the sexy pieces of work that the Academy felt were too provocative to include (for reasons I have completely made up in my mind. Hey, they have their prerogative, I have mine.). Going along with the Academy’s new voodoo math rules of deciding the […]

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Culture Warrior

Ambiguity is no stranger to the arthouse film. Over fifty years after a group of daytrippers never found their lost shipmate in Antonioni’s L’Avventura, the ambiguous ending still retains the power to frustrate, confuse, anger, and challenge viewers. Continued controversies over ambiguity in narrative films point to Hollywood’s enduring dominance over the notion that films must be coherent and contain closure. However, the convention of closure can be a maddening limitation for filmmakers who intend to ask questions with no easy answers, or pose problems with no clear solutions (assuming that such answers or solutions exist in the first place). But ambiguity can take on a variety of forms, and with different degrees of effectiveness. Sometimes a film’s ambiguous hole can be more fulfilling and thought-provoking than any convention of linear causality in its place, but at other points ambiguity can become a handicap, or a gap that simply feels like a gap. Here are a few films from the past year that engage in several modes of intended ambiguity.

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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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The Best Movie Trailers of 2011

They say it’s hard to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to world of cinema and movie marketing (and the plethora of films that hit theaters each weekend), it’s hard not to use a film’s three-minute long trailer to judge whether or not it will be something you’ll be interested in seeing (and with movie prices on the up and up, it’s hard to go in blind these days). The illustrious Jack Giroux and Allison Loring rounded up the top 11 trailers released over the past year. They’re both for films that came out in 2011 and either lived up to or fell short of their promise and for films due to be released next year that have begun teasing us early. Plus a few honorable mentions because Jack and I aren’t super great at math (we’re writers, and I’m pretty sure you can only be good at one or the other). From horror to action to comedy (and much discussion about the merits of underwear – you’ll see), our picks spanned the genres proving that it does not matter what type of film you are promoting, just whether or not you are able to grab people’s attention. Listed in no particular order, let us know in the comments if you agree, disagree or if there was a trailer you loved that we missed on our list.

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This started out as a list of overrated movies, but we (“we” being Rob Hunter and Kevin Carr, rabblerousers) decided fairly quickly that “overrated” is an overused and abused term. Who are we, or anyone, to tell you that you like a movie too much? It’s a rude thing to say regardless of whether or not we’re right. But thanks to the internet sometimes one person’s exuberance can find a virtual megaphone in all the tubes and anonymous users online, and that misguided praise can become deafening. And yes, we’re just as guilty as the rest of you…especially in regard to our first pick below. To be clear, most of these are not bad movies. The majority of them are actually good. But none of them deserved the near-constant accolades that seemed to echo from one corner of the web to another ad nauseum. So without further ado, pomp, or circumstance, here are 11 12 movies (in alphabetical order) you people wouldn’t shut up about in 2011. (**Note, there may be a few minor spoilers below.**)

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Reel Sex

Last week we delved into the top layer of sexy films out this past year, suggesting that 2011 might have been one of the bolder years when it came to honest portrayals of sex in cinema. In 2011 we saw characters dealing with sexual violence, sexual addiction, and sexual curiosity, all in the most brutal and thoughtful ways possible. It’s years like this that we are reminded film is art that not only speaks to our souls, but also to our real life experiences while captivating us in intense and engaging 90+ minute periods. But as you’d expect for all the good we saw this year, there was also awkward, ridiculous, uncomfortable, and even maddening sexual depictions. We could spend the next four paragraphs discussing the “sharting” scene in Hall Pass or attack the universally despised wet dream that is Sucker Punch (despite how much I enjoy the latter film), however the really disgusting cinematic sexual moments this year actually said something about a film’s characters while making the audience squirm with disgust. While there are a few films I have yet to see before next Sunday ushers in the beginning of a new year, I have seen enough this year to offer up a varied selection of some of the worst sex moments in 2011.

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There has been a lot of talk about We Need to Talk About Kevin. It’s divisively made its way through the festival circuit, even being kind enough to grace Fantastic Fest 2011 with its presence. After an Oscar qualifying run, it was all set to bow on January 27th in limited markets, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, Oscilloscope is delivering it two weeks early. The film from Lynne Ramsay starring Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly will now hit New York on January 13th (up against a re-re-release of Beauty and the Beast 3D, The Iron Lady and foreign remake Contraband starring Mark Wahlberg) and Los Angeles January 20th (up against a dozen other movies). Oscilloscope head David Fenkel touts the critical strength of the movie and large reception during its qualifying run as the reason to get it in front of eyeballs sooner, but there’s also a shrewd move here to make the film capture the spotlight just before Oscar voting is completed. If it can expand the stir it’s already caused beyond the festival and critical circles, the move to change the release date might just pay off in statuettes.

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I spoke with John C. Reilly a few months ago for Terri, and now the seemingly always-working actor has two drastically different films coming out for the holiday season. While Terri was a humanistic and empathetic portrayal of naturally flawed people, Roman Polanski‘s Carnage is a cynical and full-blown satire of pretentious, childish adults. It is 79 minutes of characters slowly revealing their dark, immature, and somewhat understandable views. Reilly’s other film, We Need to Talk About Kevin, a mostly liked but slightly divisive film, is probably one of the most misunderstood movies of the year. Lynne Ramsay‘s film, as Reilly perfectly puts it, is meant to be taken almost as a dream. Very few scenes should be taken literally. I recently had the chance to discuss both films with Reilly, along with Roman Polanski’s specificity, the responsibilities of an actor, and when tools become human beings.

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Good morning from Los Angeles, where we announce major award nominations at 5:30AM on a Thursday morning. That’s how much we value your sleep patterns and sanity. Now that I’ve pulled myself out of a state of under caffeinated shock over some of the Golden Globe nominations – namely, that Ryan Gosling was nominated for lead actor in both the drama and comedy and musical categories, though neither of those nods was for Drive (Crazy, Stupid, Love.? really? I had no idea that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was so into abs!). Beyond that jolt to the system, there were a number of standard choices for the awards. The Artist? Well, of course? But all that Ides of March love? Interesting. The Artist leads with six nominations, followed by The Descendants and The Help with five each, and The Ides of March, Midnight in Paris, and Moneyball with four nods. But despite the overwhelming sense that (per usual) the Globes are just softball awards, there are some surprisingly good picks buried amongst the fluff – Tilda Swinton getting a lead actress (drama) nomination, Michael Fassbender earning a lead actor (drama) nod for Shame, Bridesmaids and Midnight in Paris up for Best Picture (comedy or musical), Charlize Theron getting a lead actress (comedy or musical) nomination for Young Adult, The Skin I Live In up for Best Foreign Film, and Albert Brooks getting his nod for supporting actor for Drive (drama). The Golden Globes will air live on January 15. Check out […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr hunkers down and braces for award season. He also prepares for an onslaught of celebrity guest stars in New Year’s Eve, which features a poster that looks like a “Friends available to chat” sidebar on Facebook. In order to watch all the movies for the week, Kevin hires the only babysitter available… Jonah Hill. What could possibly go wrong with that? Fortunately this frees him up to see some of the smaller releases, like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, W.E. and I Melt with You. And he wraps up the week wondering why everyone needs to talk about him.

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There are few human connections as assured and indelible as the bond between a mother and her child. At least, that’s what we’re led to believe. But what happens when that connection simply isn’t there? What happens when these two beings physically part ways after existing as one for nine months only to see their emotional tethering end as well? We Need to Talk About Kevin explores that theme to a tragic and painful conclusion, but it does so with a beautiful emptiness. Style trumps content in an effort to examine the origin of a monstrous act, but while the film seems content letting everyone blame the mother (including the mother herself) for what eventually happens it never passes up an opportunity to show the child’s inherently evil nature. Neither of them change or grow from beginning to end, but the lack of a real narrative or character arc sure does look pretty.

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One of the biggest cinematic disasters in recent years is, without a doubt, Peter Jackson‘s adaptation of The Lovely Bones. The word “disaster” gets hyperbolically thrown around too often, but that film earns the title. Jackson bit off far more than he could chew, which is only one of the few major problems with the ’09 release. The book isn’t exactly cinematic, so all of the film’s faithful-to-a-fault problems made sense. Jackson tried to cram a whole lot into a two-hour-and-so runtime, including some of the hokier-sounding aspects of the book. Through the blockbuster visionary’s eyes, Susie  Salmon having fun in that bland CG heaven could not have been more tonally wrong. If only a director knew that the book doesn’t lend itself to film too well… Well, one director did know that: Lynne Ramsay. The indie darling was once attached to helm the film and turned in several drafts, even before the book was published. Once the book hit big, her greater and less faithful-sounding adaptation went out the window. It wasn’t an easy experience for Ramsay, and I almost felt bad for probably being the thousandth person to ask her about it. However, I was less interested in the politics of the situation and more intrigued by how she was going to handle the sprawling structure. After I asked what her script was like and mentioned how the book isn’t very cinematic, the director – who I was talking to about her fantastic new film, We Need to […]

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If you’ve been paying as much attention to the lineup for this year’s AFI FEST as the rest of us Rejects (read: quite a bit), you’ve surely noticed that the festival’s programming is packed with a number of films that have played some of the year’s biggest festivals. If you’re in Southern California, the Hollywood-based (and free) film festival will give you a chance to check out the same films that played at Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, Venice, New York, Fantastic Fest, Sundance, London, and more. It’s like traveling without leaving your own area code, or spending the cold, hard cash it would take to fly halfway around the world. Sounds pretty simple now, huh, shut-in? AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets for all screenings are free (and available right HERE). The complete schedule grid is online for the festival, which you can check out HERE. After the break, check out 22 festival favorites (and a sampling of some of the other festivals they’ve played) that you may have missed throughout the year. Not sure if they’re worthy of clearing your AFI FEST schedule for? I’ve linked to all of our previous coverage, too, so you really have no excuse.

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As it turns out, I’ve been slightly remiss when it comes to praising this year’s 25th edition of AFI FEST 2011 presented by Audi. I’ve tossed off comments about how the festival gets better with every passing year, but in the wake of today’s announcement of the festival’s Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings, I’ve realized that I have not gone far enough. AFI FEST has not just gotten better this year, the festival has made a dramatic jump to top-tier status, rolling out titles that play like a cinephile’s Christmas list for 2011. Today’s lineup announcement is essentially a “best-of” list of this year’s festival favorites, including Michel Hazanavicius‘s The Artist, Steve McQueen‘s Shame, Oren Moverman‘s Rampart, Lynne Ramsay‘s We Need to Talk About Kevin, Roman Polanski‘s Carnage, Simon Curtis‘s My Week with Marilyn, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, Gerardo Naranjo’s Miss Bala, and Wim Wenders‘s Pina. AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. The best part? Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting October 27). After the break, check out the full list, including descriptions and showtimes, of the films to be featured as AFI FEST Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings.

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This weekend’s 38th annual Telluride Film Festival has just announced their slate, including a number of buzzed-about titles from the likes of Cronenberg, Payne, Ramsay, Kaurismäki, Scorsese, Herzog, and McQueen. Telluride differs from other film festivals by keeping mum on its lineup until the day before the festival opens, though speculation runs high in the weeks before opening, with a bevy of well-educated guesses often revealing the festival’s top picks well in advance (an example from this year would be We Need to Talk About Kevin, as star Tilda Swinton is a consistent Telluride favorite). The festival will continue to announce additions to its lineup throughout its run. The festival seems to have a taken a number of cues from Cannes and Venice, with Cannes picks The Artist, Le Havre, Footnote, The Kid with a Bike, Bonsai, and We Need to Talk About Kevin showing, along with Venice films A Dangerous Method and Shame. The festival also announced that they will be bestowing the Silver Medallion Awards (which “recognize an artist’s contribution to the world of cinema”) to George Clooney (starring in The Descendants at the festival), Swinton, and French filmmaker-actor Pierre Etaix. The festival runs this weekend, from September 2 through September 5. Check out the full lineup for the festival’s main program, which also includes Albert Nobbs, Living in the Material World, and The Tuirn Horse, after the break.

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After nearly a decade out of the cinematic limelight, director Lynne Ramsay returned to the film world with her Cannes Film Festival entry, We Need to Talk About Kevin. The film drew stellar reviews at the fest, with most people pointing squarely at Tilda Swinton‘s performance as one to watch. The film was also nominated for the Palme d’Or, which it lost to The Tree of Life. Simon saw the film at Cannes and gave it an A-, with his review paying particular attention to the strengths of the film’s performances, and adding to the kudos heaped on Swinton’s performance. The film tells the story of Swinton and John C. Reilly‘s characters, a regular married couple who have a not-so-regular son in the titular Kevin. Classy festival terminology aside – Kevin is a Grade A whack job, a nutcase of the highest order, an utterly terrifying child who grows up to be an even more unnerving teenager. And if the few glimpses we get at Ezra Miller‘s dead-eyed stare are any indication of his performance in the film, it looks like his eldest incarnation of Kevin will join the pantheon of all-time cinematic creepsters. Basically, watching this trailer will make you never want to have children – ever. You’ll never be able hear a baby cry without listening for a sinister lilt underneath the howls ever again. Fine, you should probably just never have sex ever again, because you may spawn something like Kevin. Consider it birth control by way of movie […]

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22 films in 11 days. One walk-out. One mighty fine steak. Such is the story of this writer’s coverage of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and now that Robert De Niro and his panel of the great and the good of world filmmaking have sat down over coffee and cheese to decide the real winners, I’d like to offer my own thoughts on who I would have liked to see win. This is all based on my personal experiences of the films, and you might notice the categories don’t match up to the split competitions of the festival itself, but I’m in charge here, and I can do what the flaming hell I want. So here we go with the best parts of the 64th Cannes Film Festival…

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Aptly, one of the most talked-about movies of Cannes 2011 was We Need to Talk About Kevin, which had a stronger impact on our reviewer than Tree of Life did. The film from director Lynne Ramsay stars Tilda Swinton as the mother of a son who commits a grand atrocity. Through alinear storytelling, more and more of her life is shared as she copes with motherhood, aftermath, and responsibility. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oscilloscope head Adam Yauch was one of the audience members affected, and the group has bought rights to distribute the film in North America. Great news for movie fans hoping to see this in a theater near them. It’s also generally good news for anyone who loves seeing that Oscilloscope logo and assuming they’re about to see a science fiction B-movie from 1954. It’s no surprise that the goal is a winter release. Be on the lookout for plenty of awards season push for this one alongside Best Actress prediction headlines entitled “We Need To Talk About Tilda Swinton.”

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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