Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around


Review: Snowden

Sep 16 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]220888:43108:0[/embed] SnowdenDirector: Oliver StoneRelease Date: September 16, 2016Rating: R  Snowden is a film steeped in dramatic irony. It opens with the first meeting of Snowden, Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo), and Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto). We don't see (then or ever) how he got in touch with them or how he convinced them to go to Hong Kong to meet him. But we know why he's there and why they're there. Everyone knows his name, and I imagine the people who have forgotten what he did will remember pretty quickly once it's all underway. Much of the film takes place in the past, as we watch Snowden go from a young man kicked out of the army after he's injured during boot camp to a CIA employee to a CIA contractor to an NSA contractor to the most famous whistleblower of the modern era. But at each step, we know who and what he will become, and that colors each and every interaction. I imagine it must have been agonizing, during the scripting process, to not get too hammy. The lines exist here and there — perhaps most blatantly: "You won't regret this" after being hired by the CIA — but I imagine that some of those lines were actually said at the time. I would entirely believe that a man would tell his new boss that they wouldn't regret hiring him, for example. Sometime people say things like that. It's only because we know what ultimately happens that that line is seen as anything other than genuine gratitude. To the audience, it's a joke, though no one actually laughed. I don't know how much of Snowden is true and how much is dramatized. I know for a fact that certain things didn't go down the way they were depicted because I remember reading news reports that explained the actual (far less sexy) events three years ago, but those wouldn't have made for compelling drama. Like Snowden, you know something is going to happen, and it's probably bad. He knows it, because he knows what the people he's up against are capable of; you know it, because this isn't the first time you've seen a movie. Movies are all about information. This movie in particular is about information, but I mean in the broader sense of the word, because drama is about the conveying of information. When, where, and how information is presented to the audience can radically change their perception of, well, everything. Information is the most crucial thing in storytelling, and sometimes that information is simple and something it isn't.  What makes Snowden's story so complicated is that the programs he revealed to the world are so complicated. It's hard enough to condense Xkeyscore and Prism and everything else into an easy-to-understand package without needing to also tell a human story about the guy who unveiled it all. Sure, the movie could just not try, but as much as this is Snowden's story, it also is one that tries to explain Why This Matters. Just presenting Snowden is all well and good, but it's crucial that we understand the gravity of the things that Snowden revealed. We need to know why he would throw away his objectively-pretty-good life because something was gnawing at him and he couldn't get away from it. And I think that the film does a decent job of explaining how it all works. Is it oversimplified? Of course... but it's also basically accurate, and that's what matters. People who didn't really pay attention in 2013 or didn't understand what they were being told can learn at least a little bit about what Snowden leaked. That's a big deal. Because information is also power. It's power in the film, but it's also power beyond. In a Q&A session after the film, Oliver Stone was asked what the message of the film was. He rejected the question out of hand and let the others answer it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt said that he thought The Point was to rekindle the conversation, an interest in the things that are talked about. To get people to dig deeper and draw their own conclusions. (The Edward Snowden depicted in the film says something like that, and the real Edward Snowden, beamed in from Moscow during the Q&A, did as well.) They all understand the importance of information. And I think that anyone who sees Snowden will feel it as well. It's an undeniably political film, and Snowden's shift away from hyper-patriotic, semi-authoritarian conservatism is kind of interesting to watch in the context of our current climate. Having seen the general even-handedness of W., I know that Stone isn't out to just make conversatives look bad, but that doesn't mean the reaction to this film won't fall down party lines. Let's be clear: Oliver Stone thinks that what Snowden did is a very important thing, and he stands firmly on his side (though not in all matters, necessarily). As a result of that, I think reactions to it will be heavily partisan. And if not, then what lines does it fall down? Some people will just think it's a bad movie (it's not) because they don't like it. That's fair enough. But others will have a visceral reaction and reject it out of hand. And I want to know why those people do, because I think it matters. To answer the question I posed at the beginning, yes: I think it should start that conversation and bring the issue back to the forefront. But it's important that we start that conversation based on information rather than opinion. It doesn't matter what you think of what Edward Snowden did, whether you think he deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail or as a free man. What matters is that the conversation about privacy, about security, about all these extremely important topics can happen now in a way that they couldn't before. Snowden can be a jumping-off point. As the Q&A was getting set up, an older woman a few seats from me stood up. "You're a hero, Mr. Stone," she shouted. People clapped, but it was honestly a little awkward. I wondered how many people in the theater agreed with her. I don't, not really. I don't think that Snowden is a heroic film made by a heroic man. But it doesn't have to be. It just has to be good. To start that conversation, it needs to function as a cohesive narrative, tell a story that is compelling and do so in a compelling way. Snowden does all that. It does more than that. It makes you think. It makes you want to talk. It'll likely make you question your own beliefs about the power that a government should have, regardless of how you feel about it going in. Or maybe it won't, and that's interesting too. The point is that there's something to say, something substantive to discuss. And who know, maybe it can make a difference. How cool would that be?
Snowden Review photo
The power of information
I never saw Citizenfour, the documentary Laura Poitras made about Edward Snowden. I thought about it a lot and certainly meant to, but it was never really a priority for me. This was, in large part, because I followed along w...

Morgan Spurlock's Rats photo
Morgan Spurlock's Rats

Trailer: Morgan Spurlock's new documentary Rats looks like an intense horror thriller


Vermin, vermin everywhere *vomits*
Sep 16
// Hubert Vigilla
Rats are the worst. Like, seriously guys, the worst. There's this vacant building next to my apartment that's rife with them and the city seems helpless about controlling the problem. We may disagree about a lot of things, bu...
Brooklyn Horror Film Fest photo
Brooklyn Horror Film Fest

NYC: Tickets available for first ever Brooklyn Horror Film Festival (October 14-16)


A showcase of independent horror
Sep 16
// Hubert Vigilla
Tickets are now on sale for the inaugural Brooklyn Horror Film Festival (BHFF), a showcase of independent horror movies taking place in North Brooklyn from October 14th through the 16th. The BHFF features world and regional p...
Fifty Shades Darker photo
Fifty Shades Darker

Here's the darker trailer for Fifty Shades Darker


Fifty Shades Danker
Sep 15
// Nick Valdez
I read the trilogy, I reviewed the original film, and now I'm here to tell you about Fifty Shades Darker. There's honestly not much to say about it. It has the same look as the first one, has the same lack of chemistry its tw...
Annabelle 2 photo
Annabelle 2

First Annabelle 2 trailer confirms prequelness


Who really wants this creepy doll?
Sep 15
// Matthew Razak
The first trailer for the sequel to the spinoff of The Conjuring is here, and much like with all other things involving a creepy doll it looks really creepy. Annabelle 2 brings us once again into the world of people who ...

Review: ClownTown

Sep 15 // Sean Walsh
[embed]220877:43101:0[/embed] ClownTownDirector: Tom NagelRated: Not RatedRelease Date: September 30, 2016  The plot to ClownTown is a tail as old as time: four friends on their way to a country music concert in the area of southern Ohio with especially bad cell phone reception find themselves stranded in Clinton, a ghost town with a tragic history. As if their taste in music and dead vehicle weren't bad enough, a gang of psychopathic clowns are out to make their stay in Clinton a memorable one. Like most slasher films, there's not much to say about the cast of ClownTown beyond the slashers themselves. Our protagonists are bland simulacrums with paper-thin development and the few denizens of Clinton that aren't clowns are there to deliver exposition. The clowns themselves, for the most part, are actually pretty frightening, "Crowbar" and "Baseball Bat" in particular. ClownTown doesn't do anything we haven't seen before. All the tropes are there: no cell service, dead car, desolate town, random thunderstorm that has no bearing on the story, and generally poor decision-making by the protagonists. There are a few genuinely tense scenes, particularly the one on top of the warehouse, but it is generally a paint-by-numbers slasher film. That's not to say its wholly unenjoyable, however. If you like slasher films and can settle for the generic victims and borderline-tedious dialogue, there are some decent kills in this film. Nothing as creative as what Freddy or Jason bring to the table (which is a shame, considering we're dealing with clowns), but for what it is, it's not bad.  While less is typically more with slasher films, ClownTown left me wanting for more explanation. While we don't need to see Jason's base of operations to understand that he's an unstoppable force of nature, maybe we need just a few more details on why and how an entire town has not been able to put a stop to a small handful of clowns and their reign of terror. With that said, based on the ending and my wanting for more backstory, sign me up for a sequel. ClownTowns, maybe?
Review: ClownTown photo
Killer Clowns from Southern Ohio
In the fifty-six years since Psycho was released to an unsuspecting public, theater-goers have borne witness to slashers of every type. From psycho killers dressed like their mothers to psycho killers dressed up like Ron...

Star Trek photo
Star Trek

Star Trek: Discovery delayed until May 2017


This is a good thing
Sep 15
// Matthew Razak
If you're anything like me then you've been waiting very impatiently for CBS to release Star Trek: Discovery so you can not watch it until its all out and that way only have to pay for one month of CBS's stupid streaming...
Moana Trailer photo
Oh my gosh.
With as good of a roll Disney has been on lately, I've seen many people joke along the lines of "I will push children out of the way to see this" and for the first time, I completely agree. While this newest trailer gives awa...

OJ marathon screening photo
OJ marathon screening

NYC: Metrograph has marathon OJ: Made in America screenings, director Ezra Edelman Q&A


The best documentary of 2016
Sep 15
// Hubert Vigilla
O.J.: Made in America is the crowning achievement of ESPN's 30 for 30 documentaries. Director Ezra Edelman's five-part, seven-and-a-half hour film is an imposing masterpiece, one which delves into the details of the O.J. Simp...
Mad Max goodies photo
Mad Max goodies

Mad Max High Octane Collection and B&W Fury Road coming December 2016


Shiny, chrome, and just in time for Xmas
Sep 15
// Hubert Vigilla
We've waited a long time for a black and white version of Mad Max: Fury Road, and this December we'll finally get it. On December 6th, Mad Max: Fury Road - Black and Chrome Edition will hit Blu-ray. All will be right with the...
New Batman suit photo
New Batman suit

Zack Snyder reveals new Ben Affleck Batman suit as Justice League nears completion


DO YOU COPY WATCHMEN? YOU WILL!
Sep 14
// Hubert Vigilla
Zack Snyder is in the homestretch of principle photography on Justice League, which comes out next year. Ben Affleck recently wrapped filming and will likely move on to his solo Batman movie, which will pit the Dark Knight against hunky Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke. As a tease of what's to come, Zack Snyder took to Twitter and released an image of a new Batman suit. Here's Zack Snyder's tweet:
Lee, Stan Lee photo
Lee, Stan Lee

Fox making James Bond-style action movie about comics legend Stan Lee


Excelsior, not stirred
Sep 14
// Hubert Vigilla
Fox has acquired the life rights of Marvel Comics writer Stan Lee. The studio is planning to make a fictionalized period action-adventure film about Lee's life in the style of a Roger Moore James Bond film and Kingsman: The S...
Pokemon Generations photo
Pokemon Generations

Watch the trailer for Pokemon Generations, a new animated web series coming to YouTube


Make it so, Pikachu
Sep 13
// Hubert Vigilla
Not too long ago we reported on the live-action Detective Pikachu Pokemon movie being put together by Legendary. Since that project is just getting underway, here's another Pokemon project to whet your appetite: Pokemon Gener...
Nitehawk Cinema #2 photo
Nitehawk Cinema #2

NYC: Nitehawk buys The Pavilion by Prospect Park, will open dine-in cinema fall 2017


I'll sort of miss that crummy old place
Sep 13
// Hubert Vigilla
The Nitehawk Cinema is an excellent dine-in movie theater, and one of the few reasons I still head to Williamsburg these days. With the Brooklyn Alamo Drafthouse currently in limbo, The Nitehawk is still my go-to destination ...
Assassin's Creed images photo
Assassin's Creed images

Michael Fassbender is like "Come at me, bro!" in these new Assassin's Creed images


Do you even leap of faith, brah?
Sep 13
// Hubert Vigilla
The end of the year is fast approaching, which means that the Assassin's Creed movie is almost upon us. While the people over at Ubisoft seemed to downplay box office expectations, this film may turn a pretty decent profit li...
South Park season 20 photo
South Park season 20

First clip from South Park season 20 takes on Colin Kapernick's national anthem protest


This should end well
Sep 13
// Hubert Vigilla
It's hard to believe that South Park is about to start its 20th season. I still remember when it first debuted. I was in high school, and I had hair, and I wore an onion on my belt. The late Isaac Hayes had a #1 UK single tha...
Tampopo rerelease photo
Tampopo rerelease

Quirky cult Japanese food comedy Tampopo getting 4k restoration and theatrical rerelease


Egg-cellent and egg-quisite
Sep 13
// Hubert Vigilla
To paraphrase Roger Ebert, Juzo Itami's 1985 Japanese comedy Tampopo seems to exist outside of traditional categories. It's a movie I remember enjoying a lot when I rented it in high school, with its oddball exploration of fo...
Chris Benoit biopic photo
Chris Benoit biopic

Lexi Alexander will direct Crossface, a biopic on infamous WWE wrestler Chris Benoit


Wrestling with a painful tragedy
Sep 13
// Hubert Vigilla
Back in late 2011 we mentioned that a Chris Benoit biopic was in the works called Crossface. Benoit, as you may recall, was the professional wrestler for WCW and WWE who murdered his wife and son and took his own life in 2007...
Thief and the Cobbler photo
Thief and the Cobbler

NYC: MoMA to screen Thief and the Cobbler work print with director Richard Williams this month


See the unfinished masterpiece in person
Sep 13
// Hubert Vigilla
Nearly 30 years in the making, The Thief and the Cobbler is a work of genius hampered by the ambition of its maker, Richard Williams. After wide recognition for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Thief and the Cobbler ...
Film score video essay photo
Film score video essay

Every Frame a Painting explains why MCU and modern movie music is similar and forgettable


The Marvel Carbon Copy Universe
Sep 12
// Hubert Vigilla
Tony Zhou's video series Every Frame a Painting is an excellent resource for people interested in the craft and aesthetics of filmmaking. Zhou is a professional editor, and his video essays cover everything for omnivorous cin...
Black Lightning photo
Black Lightning

DC's Black Lightning coming to TV, but not on The CW


Sep 09
// Nick Valdez
As we've reiterated many times in the past, what WB/DC can't seem to do in their films they've been excelling at on TV. One major player has been producer Greg Berlanti, who pretty much reinvented DC on TV with Arrow, The Fla...
Live By Trailer photo
Live By Trailer

Trailer for Ben Affleck's Live By Night tears through the prohibition era


Sep 09
// Nick Valdez
Ben Affleck's currently in a sort of revival. He may have take some hits in the 2000s, but it all changed in the 2010s with The Town. With a trio of successful directorial outings (Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo), he's we...
Ben-Hur photo
Ben-Hur

Ben-Hur is Summer's biggest flop with $120 million loss


Truly not the king of kings.
Sep 09
// Nick Valdez
Although we had some major tentpole releases last Summer, even making it the third best box office Summer ever, that didn't mean every release succeeded. Among the Civil Wars and Batmans, was the poor Judah Ben-Hur. According...
 photo

Johns: 'Justice League' will address 'BvS' criticisms


Hopey changey stuff
Sep 09
// Matt Liparota
By all accounts, Warner Bros.' DC Extended Universe, now three movies in, has struggled to find the same kind of critical footing as Marvel Studios' Cinematic Universe. Since its debut in 2012's Man of Steel, DC flicks have b...
Animated Indiana Jones photo
Animated Indiana Jones

An animated Indiana Jones fan film is coming out September 29th


No ticket
Sep 09
// Hubert Vigilla
Well, this is totally out of the blue. Artist Patrick Schoenmaker has been working on an Indiana Jones animated film for the last five years, and it will be coming out online at the end of the month. According to /Film, Schoe...
Heathers TV pilot photo
Heathers TV pilot

A Heathers TV pilot has been ordered by TV Land--yes, that Heathers


This is so very
Sep 09
// Hubert Vigilla
Heathers starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater is one of the great cult movies of the 1980s. It's a pitch black dive into the worst aspects of high school and its clique mentality. Heathers was adapted into a s...
Free Fire trailer photo
Free Fire trailer

Brie Larson gets gun crazy in red band trailer for Ben Wheatley's Free Fire


Bang bang bang bang bang bang click
Sep 09
// Hubert Vigilla
Prolific British filmmaker Ben Wheatley does a little bit of everything. 2011's psychological horror film Kill List had great nods to Wicker Man, 2012's Sightseers was a sadly deranged and bleakly comic misfit romance, 2...
Deathjoe Manganiellstroke photo
Deathjoe Manganiellstroke

Joe Manganiello cast as Deathstroke in Ben Affleck's Batman movie


Everyone in this movie works out
Sep 09
// Hubert Vigilla
You may recall news last week that Deathstroke will be the villain in Ben Affleck's solo Batman movie. This lead many people to wonder who would be cast as Slade Wilson. It was confirmed yesterday that hunky Joe Manganiello h...
 photo

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back has new poster with less back


Sep 09
// Rick Lash
When last we heard from Tom Cruise, aka Jack Reacher, he had just released an itty bitty trailer to further whet our already dripping appetites for the impending release of the next adaptation of the Lee Child's series. Along...
 photo

Kate Beckinsale, Underworld vampire, can't die, new Blood Wars trailer


Sep 09
// Rick Lash
"Impossible," to quote the trailer's final spoken word. Yes. I too thought they were referring to the reality of this trailer or the implication that there was indeed another Underworld movie coming soon to theaters, or comin...

Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...