Winona Ryder

glenn shadix heathers

Did you know that Heathers screened in competition at Sundance? Even I wasn’t aware of this (or I’d forgotten), and I swear I’m one of the movie’s biggest fans. It’s not a fact revealed on the DVD commentary, apparently. It’s not even listed among the release dates on IMDb or Wikipedia, both of which tend to include major film festival appearances. The dark teen movie classic didn’t premiere in Park City, but following its debut in Milan, Italy, at the MIFED film market in October 1988, it went on to Sundance (then still known as the U.S. Film Festival) in January 1989, where it faced such features as Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies and videotape (winner of the inaugural audience award), Martin Donovan’s Apartment Zero and Nancy Savoca’s barely remembered True Love, which won the dramatic jury prize (nice going 1989 jury member Jodie Foster!). According to Peter Biskind’s book Down and Dirty Pictures, Heathers had the highest budget of the program at $3M, making it a “questionable” choice given that it was too Hollywood for the event at that time. You can see the original guide entry for Heathers on the Sundance website, where the original festival program director, Tony Safford, describes the film as a mix of River’s Edge and Something Wild while also championing the performance of U.S. Film Festival vet Winona Ryder (she was there previously with 1987′s Salt Lake City opening night selection, Square Dance). I find no record of what date Heathers first screened at the fest, […]

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heathers-commentary1

Going to high school in the 1980s, I was the perfect age to connect with a film like Heathers. Knowing a friend who struggled with suicide and together rolling our eyes at the idiotic depiction of it in many films made it hit even closer to home. Extremely daring for its time, Heathers challenged and threatened media stereotypes of teenagers and high school. Long before Diablo Cody gave an edgy pop vocabulary to high schoolers in Juno, Daniel Waters’ script introduced moviegoers to a particularly colorful jargon that we all licked up. The commentary from Waters, director Michael Lehmman and producer Denise Di Novi on the original DVD release was recorded nine years after the film was released, revealing a look at the film only recently after evolving into a full-on cult classic. Fortunately, the hindsight adds to the darkly sardonic experience.

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The Iceman

When you see in a film synopsis that Michael Shannon is going to play a serial killer/hitman, it’s safe to assume that you are poised to see an amazing performance. And, yes, in Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman (Vromen co-wrote with Morgan Land), Shannon more than fulfills your hopes and dreams as real-life serial killer turned mob hitman Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski. He claims to have killed over 100 men over the course of his killing career while at the same time being a fiercely devoted husband and father to his wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) and their daughters. The film perhaps suffers from some structuring issues, making Kuklinski’s story somewhat fuzzy at times, but on the whole, it delivers with its amazing performances from Shannon and the stellar ensemble cast, as well as with its beautiful, unrelentingly dark cinematography.

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Mean Girls

With his debut feature, Heathers, director Michael Lehmann created a cult hit that’s still earning new fans more than two decades after its release. Heathers stars Winona Ryder as Veronica, the newest and most reluctant member of her high school’s popular clique, the Heathers (referred to as such because the other three members are all named Heather). After falling in with a rebel boy named (hilariously) JD, (Christian Slater), Veronica decides that maybe it’s time somebody takes the Heathers down a peg, and maybe it should be her and her new beau. Things get out of control and murdery after that. The film sticks with audiences because it’s honest and brutal in its portrayal of the social strata of high school and the level of abuse that rolls downhill from the popular kids to the geeks. And it sure doesn’t turn a blind eye to the melancholy and melodrama that comes along with having teenage hormones. It faces the issue of teenage suicide head on and makes sick jokes about it, and it’s just that brand of nihilism that young people respond to most. Mark Waters’ Mean Girls isn’t quite yet a decade old, but already it seems to have faded away much more than Lehmann’s look at high school life. This is strange, because not only does it deal with many of the same concerns as Heathers, but it also comes from a script that was written by Tina Fey. From her work as the head writer on SNL, […]

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Holiday Gifts for Movie Lovers

We may be midway through December, but it’s not too late to be thinking about what to get for those movie lovers close to your heart. Speaking from personal experience, it’s oftentimes hard to surprise your movie lover with something, as they likely have every DVD you can think to get them, and what interests are more interesting than movies, anyway? Fear not – I’ve got a few week’s worth of good ideas that will delight even the biggest movie nerd with a variety of gifts that reach beyond the $5 DVD section at Target. Today, in a special edition, the idea is gifts inspired by your friends’ favorite movie characters. Either they’ll delight in the fact that these gifts remind them of their favorite films, or perhaps they resemble these characters in certain ways that would make these gifts a naturally good fit. Of course, self-gifting is never discouraged….

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Michael Shannon in The Iceman

t’s been a big week for Michael Shannon. Just seven days ago his latest film, Premium Rush, hit theaters and earned the man heaps of critical praise for his quirky, Dick Tracy villain performance as a dirty cop; and now the trailer for his latest starring vehicle, The Iceman, has hit the net. This is big news because, oh boy, does this true telling of the life of contract killer Richard Kuklinski look like it’s going to be a doozy. Detailing the life of a hired gun all the way from the late ’60s to the early ’80s, The Iceman doesn’t just give Shannon a chance to do that intense, conflicted, rolling sea of emotions just beneath the surface of his skin thing that he does so well, it also gives him the opportunity to experiment with all sorts of ridiculous facial hair combinations. Oh wait, and who’s that? Why, it’s Captain America himself, Chris Evans, and his sleazy Lemmy beard looks like it wants to get in on the action too.

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The Letter Trailer

Ever think that Winona Ryder always looks like she’s creeped out about something? Ever think that James Franco always looks kind of creepy? Then The Letter is the movie for you. Because, from the looks of its new trailer, it seems like that’s pretty much the only thing the movie is about. Sure, there’s some talk about bad dreams, and some talk about poisoning people, but what’s definitely clear is that Ryder spends 90% of the movie either looking creeped out or screaming, and Franco spends 100% of the movie staring at people like a total weirdo (or doing unseen things to their nether regions while staring like a total weirdo). Given the vague nature of the advertising, I guess we need to turn to Lionsgate’s official synopsis  for the film to discern what it’s really about. According to their blurb, “Martine Jamison (Winona Ryder) is a NY theatre director beginning rehearsals for a new play starring her boyfriend Raymond (Josh Hamilton) opposite a young beauty. They are joined by an unknown newcomer, Tyrone (James Franco), who develops a peculiar fascination with Martine and is openly hostile to all others. As rehearsals continue, Martine has periods of disorientation that quickly deteriorate into vivid hallucinations as she becomes convinced someone is trying to poison her. As Martine’s mental state devolves she begins to rewrite her play… and art and life become inseparable.”

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If you’ve ever seen a Tim Burton movie, you know the guy is probably pretty awkward. At the very least, he’s gotta be soft-spoken, right? Which begs the question, “How interesting can a Tim Burton-only commentary be?” Well, we’re here to answer that very question with this week’s Commentary Commentary. In honor of Dark Shadows, Burton’s latest collaboration with Johnny Depp, we’ve decided to go back and delve into their first pairing, Edward Scissorhands. Burton took the commentary duties by his lonesome here, and I’m sure amid all the fumbling of words and general gracelessness there’s enough to pack in here to hold our interest. At the very least it’ll be an entertaining car wreck. So here, without further ado, is everything we learned about Edward Scissorhands from listening to its director, Tim Burton, speak on it. We didn’t learn Tim Burton is a strange guy. We knew that one already.

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Waterstone Entertainment is a brand spanking new production company that has been put together by producer Jeff Kalligheri (Lake Placid) and a Texas real estate developer named Steve Bowen. I know the questions you’re asking, and I’ve got the answers. Firstly, no, the new company’s logo doesn’t include Texas longhorns anywhere in its design. And secondly, yes, they are launching their brand by making a movie starring James Franco. The Stare is set to be directed by Jay Anania (who previously worked with Franco in Shadows & Lies) and to star Franco and Winona Ryder. Perhaps piggybacking on the momentum of Ryder’s role in Black Swan, The Stare will be about a playwright whose mind begins to slip off into crazyland while she’s working on her next project. Over the course of the film things get so bad that she loses track of whether she is just having paranoid delusions, or if she really is at the center of a manipulative conspiracy. Franco will play one of the performers in her upcoming play. The film itself is set to begin shooting in New York on May 6. No word yet on whether or not producers will have Ryder get knocked up by one of the grips during the lead in to next year’s Oscar race. Source: Deadline Lubbock

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When I look back at the films of my youth one thing remains constant—I love a 90s slacker. Tall, long-haired, ripped up jeans and cardigans falling disheveled off their shoulders. These are the men I always kept in the back of my mind as I entered the dating world. However, it wasn’t until a friend pointed it out that I realized I had such a 90s slacker fixation. To me, the characters Ethan Hawke, Christian Bale, and Rory Cochrane played in early to mid 90s films embodied everything sensual and perfect about being an adult. Especially their rejection of the adult world as it was. As I aged, I started to notice other benefits to these men. They were creative, romantic, adventurous, smoked (which always makes you sexy, no?), and most of all magnetic to everyone around them. Reality Bites’ main bad-boy Troy Dyer (Hawke) was the ultimate artist. He painted, wrote music, and left every woman swooning after him. His detachment from his best friend Lelaina (Winona Ryder) only intensified her need for him, and encouraged their eventual coitus. It wasn’t that he tried hard to get the girl, he just couldn’t keep them from coming at him. Who cared if he couldn’t hold down a job, or pay his share of the rent? Troy was always a charmer capable of surviving, and with him went my heart.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in a trench coat and hat, wears a mask and runs around the streets of his fair city with his strong and agile Asian manservant. The plan: When arrested, tell the police he is trying to emulate the crime-fighting career of the Green Hornet. If he can get away with that, he plans on tracking down two doughy but funny guys who are having sexual relations with super-hot Hollywood type ladies and try to steal their girlfriends away. Or, he just might sit on the couch and watch movies after telling you what he thinks of The Green Hornet and The Dilemma.

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Once upon a time Vince Vaughn and his motormouth soliloquies could steal the show in any bromance, romantic comedy or 70s TV remake. The man could talk about nothing but being a motor boating son of gun and it would provide a much need laugh to a half-baked comedic plot. In The Dilemma, he officially ran out of gas and is running on empty with not even vapors to help him out. Vaughn stars here as Ronny Valentine, who is the dynamic in the duo with automobile partner Nick Brannen played by fellow jelly bellied comic, Kevin James. As Ronny and Nick are about to make a lifetime deal with Dodge-Chrysler Motors, Ronny sees Nick’s wife Geneva (Wynona Ryder) knocking boots with young hipster Zip (Channing Tatum). This not only puts Ronny in a bind to either tell Nick  or lose the lifetime deal, but alienates him from his heart-of-gold girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly). What follows is a series of dead-end soliloquies and stalker antics by Vaughn with intermittent and awkward sermons about gambling addiction followed by a return to the bromantic “dilemma” at hand.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr thumbs his nose at the major studio releases like The Warrior’s Way and The Nutcracker in 3D. Not only do they look like direct-to-DVD releases at best and stinkers of the year at worst, the studios didn’t let him see any of them. So he turns his sights on some award-bait films in limited release: Black Swan and I Love You, Phillip Morris.

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Before he falls down comically for the MMA film he’s making, Kevin James is going to have to fall down the good old fashioned way. In The Dilemma, the film adaptation of the song “Silence is Golden,” James stars alongside Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Connelly, and Winona Rider for the story of a man who sees his best friend’s wife cheating and has to figure out what to do. Do you say something or stay silent?

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FSR

Kevin Carr reviews this week’s new movies: Star Trek and Next Day Air.

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