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Interview: Paul Rudd (Prince Avalanche) photo
Interview: Paul Rudd (Prince Avalanche)
by Matthew Razak

Prince Avalanche was one of my favorite films of SXSW and it was in large part thanks to the fantastic performances given by Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd. It was only after the screening that I remembered it was directed by David Gordon Green and understood how it so deftly combined comedy and drama in a film that couldn't be classified as either. Getting to sit down with them to discuss it was a great opportunity.

After collecting ourselves in the hotel's Coat Room (that's what the room was called) and realizing that it was going to remain frigid thanks to an overactive air conditioner we got to chatting about making the film and shooting in a part of Texas that had been totally devastated by recent forest fires and drought. 

[This interview was originally posted as part of our coverage of SXSW 2013. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release Prince Avalanche.]

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3:00 PM on 08.01.2013

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty gets first tease

This looks rather brilliantly bonkers. Ben Stiller's directorial debut is a remake of the 1947 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which in turn is based upon the short story by James Thurber. The story blends the real wor...

Nathan Hardisty

11:00 AM on 08.01.2013

Trailer: The Pervert's Guide to Ideology w/ Slavoj Zizek

I really enjoyed the free-wheeling philosophical monologue that was The Pervert's Guide to Ideology with Slavoj Žižek. Directed by Sophie Fiennes's, the film was the sequel to her previous collaboration with Žižek, The Perve...

Hubert Vigilla

Fantasia Review: Ritual: A Psychomagic Story photo
Fantasia Review: Ritual: A Psychomagic Story
by Hubert Vigilla

Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of my favorite filmmakers. A sure cult figure, there's an undeniable pull to El Topo, Santa Sangre, or even the excessively indulgent secret masterpiece The Holy Mountain. What really pulls me into those films are the images that are wholly unique and Jodorowsky's dedication to the transformative power of art and symbols.

As a Jodorowsky fanboy, I was really interested in Ritual: A Psychomagic Story. (He has a very brief cameo in the film.) Psychomagic is a form of psychotherapy that Jodorowsky developed in order to treat neuroses. Think Freud and Jung, but now imagine if they became surrealists and performance artists. This is part of what Ritual is about, and it's actually more compelling than the rest of what Ritual is about.

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 Fantasia International Film Festival. Started in 1996 and based primarily in Montreal, Fantasia is widely regarded as one of the best genre film festivals in North America. To read all of our coverage, click here.]

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Japan Cuts Review: I'M FLASH! photo
Japan Cuts Review: I'M FLASH!
by Hubert Vigilla

At last year's New York Asian Film Festival and Japan Cuts, I saw two films by Japanese director Toshiaki Toyoda: Monsters Club and 9 Souls. I enjoyed both, and I actually wound up liking Monsters Club more after seeing 9 Souls. Thanks to the latter, I got a sense of how Toyoda played with themes of alienation, isolation, and how people fit into larger groups, whether they be surrogate families or society as a whole.

With I'M FLASH!, Toyoda revisits these themes. While 9 Souls was a prison break movie and Monsters Club was a riff on The Unabomber, I'M FLASH explores modern isolation/alienation through religious cults. Yet the lost soul of the movie isn't a cult follower. Instead, it's the head of the cult itself.

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival and the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF 2013 coverage, click here. For Japan Cuts 2013 coverage, click here.]

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8:00 AM on 07.23.2013

Spike Lee turns to Kickstarter to fund vague film thing

Spike Lee's remake of Oldboy will be out later in the year, and he's already got his sights set on his next project. Rather than looking for traditional backing, Lee is the latest established filmmaker (and highest-profile fi...

Hubert Vigilla

Review: Coffee Town photo
Review: Coffee Town
by Geoff Henao

CollegeHumor has been one of the premiere comedy websites since practically the internet got super popular. Before YouTube, before Twitter, before Facebook, before MySpace, there was CollegeHumor providing some of the best comedic content during the initial internet boom. Almost 15 years after CollegeHumor launched, they've thrown their hat into the film industry with Coffee Town. However, with standards and practices dictating what can and can't be shown in a feature film, will CollegeHumor's brand of comedy translate well into this new frontier?

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Review: Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me photo
Review: Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
by Hubert Vigilla

During junior high and high school, I was a big fan of Matthew Sweet, whose music I still dig today. When I hear songs from Girlfriend, Altered Beast, and 100% Fun, they bring me back to that age and those awkward adolescent feelings. Like a lot of power pop, the music is bright despite the pain in the lyrics; it's as if the adult musician is patting his teenage self on the back, letting him know that things will be okay even if it's a right bummer now.

Matthew Sweet was my gateway into two influential '70s bands that I'd love when I got to college. First there was Television, the quintessential NYC protopunk band. (Television guitarist Richard Lloyd played lead on many Matthew Sweet songs.) Second was Big Star, the cult Memphis band who helped shape power pop.

Sweet appears briefly in the documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me. He praises the beauty of Big Star's music along with Mike Mills of R.E.M., Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, and Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. Nothing Can Hurt Me is a great tribute to the band, and it sort of answers the question that fans of Big Star usually ask: Why weren't these guys huge?

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9:00 AM on 06.26.2013

Trailer: Willow Creek

I've enjoyed the three films directed by Bobcat Goldthwait that I've seen -- World's Greatest Dad, God Bless America, and Shakes the Clown. One day I'll get to his movie about bestiality, Sleeping Dogs Lie, which will n...

Hubert Vigilla

Review: Bert and Arnie's Guide to Friendship photo
Review: Bert and Arnie's Guide to Friendship
by Hubert Vigilla

Sometimes when watching a movie I inexplicably zero in on one aspect of production and it paints my perception of the entire film. With Bert and Arnie's Guide to Friendship, it was the score/incidental music. The music sounds like something picked out of a music library -- not great and yet not innocuous enough, the sort of music that's calls too much attention to itself by (ironically) trying to sound incidental.

The film is a mix of bromance and rom-com, but it feels more like two sitcom pilots grafted together. One sitcom is an office comedy, and the other sitcom is about a deluded writer. There are women between these two stories that join them together, and a kind of "boys will be boys" mentality as well, but mostly what merges these threads is that chintzy music.

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BFF Review: Furever photo
BFF Review: Furever
by Hubert Vigilla

The dog on the left is dead.

The owner had the dog professionally stuffed in order to cope with the loss. The dog on the right (alive) shares in my initial reaction to this scene from the documentary Furever: detached yet ruminative, struck with sympathy but mostly just perplexed.

The fact I'm reading my own feelings into the living dog may suggest how we relate to our pets or other people's pet. We anthropomorphize them, we treat them like humans, we assume we're like them and vice versa. That may explain why some would go to such extremes when dealing with the death of a pet. That's the central focus in Amy Finkel's film: our grief and how we deal with it.

[For the next two weeks, we will be covering the 2013 Brooklyn Film Festival, which runs from May 31st to June 9th. Check back with us for reviews of features, documentaries, and shorts playing at the fest. For more information and a full schedule, visit brooklynfilmfestival.org.]

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Review: Violet & Daisy photo
Review: Violet & Daisy
by Hubert Vigilla

There was a point in the mid-to-late 1990s when a bunch of lesser filmmakers tried to make movies like Quentin Tarantino. It was the style of Tarantino -- the pop-culture savvy, the soul music, the violence, the coolness, the ironic detachment -- without any of the understanding of what Tarantino was actually doing. I liken it to kids putting on glasses and thinking they're clever just because of the stupid glasses.

Violet & Daisy fits right into that Tarantino-wannabe milieu, though it also borrows a lot from The Professional and those early, energetic films of Robert Rodriguez. It's 14 years late to the 90s, however, which makes the entire movie especially inept. Violet & Daisy is one of those special films that annoyed me to no end because it thinks it's so clever and seems to pat itself on the back the entire time. An unlikable smugness just plain pervades the entire film.

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Interview: Steve Schneider & Carpentieri (Hey Bartender) photo
Interview: Steve Schneider & Carpentieri (Hey Bartender)
by Hubert Vigilla

Douglas Tirola's documentary Hey Bartender looks at the rise of the craft cocktail and the role of the bartender in society. Two of the bartenders at the center of the film are Steve Schneider and Stephen Carpentieri. Even though they share the same vocation, in some ways the two Steves are from different worlds. Schneider is a young former Marine who now works for Employees Only in NYC, one of the premier cocktail bars in the world. Carpentieri is a middle-aged guy who runs Dunville's, a casual restaurant and bar up in Westport, CT. And yet there's a kind of brotherhood of bartenders -- via the mentors and teachers in the profession -- that brings these two together.

A few journalists and I sat down at the Andaz 5th Ave. with both Carpentieri and Schneider to talk bartending and cocktails. Schneider, who's something of a rock star bartender, was wrapping something up inside, so we started talking with Carpentieri about fresh ingredients and his trade. Look for our review of Hey Bartender tomorrow.

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12:00 PM on 05.31.2013

Steven Soderbergh to rework/recut his film Kafka

I haven't seen Steven Soderbergh's Kafka (1991) in at least 15 years. I was in high school at the time and had just started reading Franz Kafka (like any lit geek of that age), and was intrigued by that Kafka movie on VH...

Hubert Vigilla

BFF Review: Hank and Asha photo
BFF Review: Hank and Asha
by Hubert Vigilla

The perfect love affair is one which is conducted entirely by post.

-- George Bernard Shaw

Epistolary stories are fascinating to me given what's in the collected correspondence and what's left out. As letters go back and forth, as thoughts and passions are exchanged, we know there's life outside the writing of the letters. I usually wonder how much of that life is disclosed inadvertently by the letter writers in their choice of words.

Hank and Asha provides a novel approach to the epistolary story. Rather than letters or emails, the film is told through videos sent between two would-be lovers -- Asha (Mahira Kakkar) in Prague and Hank (Andrew Pastides) in New York. There's so much about reality and idealization bubbling in this film that hits the right spots in my head, but what really captivated me was the film's honesty. There's a genuine heart beating in this film, and also a genuine loneliness.

[For the next two weeks, we will be covering the 2013 Brooklyn Film Festival, which runs from May 31st to June 9th. Check back with us for reviews of features, documentaries, and shorts playing at the fest. For more information and a full schedule, visit brooklynfilmfestival.org.]

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Review: Missed Connections photo
Review: Missed Connections
by Geoff Henao

Missed connections serve as the chosen medium for lovelorn, hopeless romantics who believe in fleeting chance encounters in public. I can say this with confidence, because I used to regularly check missed connections on a daily basis despite never doing anything out of my old routines. I don't know how successful they are, but considering their place on Craigslist, the go-to online depository for job and cheap furniture searches for 20-somethings, they're ripe for quirky, indie films featuring aforementioned 20-somethings in search of more than just a cheap futon.

The aptly titled Missed Connections explores the world of online love searches with a hint of catfishing. But does it do so in an entertaining way?

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Review: The History of Future Folk photo
Review: The History of Future Folk
by Liz Rugg

The History of Future Folk is about the origins of the universe's only alien bluegrass folk duo, and how they discovered and fell in love with Earth's music. It's charming, adventurous, and a ton of fun. I mean when's the last time you saw an Alien Folk Duo Sci-Fi Action Romance Comedy Musical?

As we've seen from the movie's trailer and poster, The History of Future Folk may be one of the most endearing Indie movies we've seen so far this year, but is that enough to make it truly great? Read on to find out!

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6:00 PM on 05.23.2013

See Kings of Summer early and free

Tired of big action blockbusters already? Have we got the cure for you. Free passes for two to The Kings of Summer on July 6, a coming of age story about three boys who decide to build a house and live off the land for a summ...

Matthew Razak

10:00 AM on 05.21.2013

Jim Jarmusch on his vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive

I'm a fan of Jim Jarmusch's movies. He has a weird way of turning moments of boredom into something complicated and interesting, as seen in Stranger Than Paradise, Down by Law, Night on Earth, and Mystery Train. He's also cap...

Hubert Vigilla

2:00 PM on 05.17.2013

Trailer: LICKS

Directed by newcomer Jonathan Singer-Vine, LICKS debuted at this year's SXSW. While Hubert, Matt, and I didn't get a chance to catch it, the film received some good acclaim. LICKS is about a young Oakland resi...

Geoff Henao

Tribeca Capsule Review: The Moment photo
Tribeca Capsule Review: The Moment
by Hubert Vigilla

If there was a marketing blurb for The Moment that could sell its strengths, it would probably say something like "Christopher Nolan's Memento meets Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up."

That's really the best possible scenario for the film and this material. There's memory loss, memory reconstruction, photography, psychology, possible murder, and some complicated relationships to sort through.

But the actual movie The Moment is not the best execution of this material by a long shot.

[For the next few weeks, Flixist will be covering the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, which runs April 17-28 in New York City. Check with us daily for reviews, interviews, features, and news from the festival. For all of our coverage, go here.]

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Tribeca Capsule Review: Stand Clear of the Closing Doors photo
Tribeca Capsule Review: Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
by Hubert Vigilla

Sometimes I watch a film and wind up thinking about two things: length and medium. In terms of length, I wonder if a feature film should be a short instead (and vice versa). In terms of medium, I wonder if the film's content works as a film or if would be better served as a written work, a miniseries, a comic book, or a play.

These concerns weighed heavy on me about midway through Stand Clear of the Closing Doors. It's not because it's a bad movie by any means, but despite the excellent performances and the sense that its heart was in the right place, the length and medium for this story were like suit jackets that didn't fit right.

[For the next few weeks, Flixist will be covering the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, which runs April 17-28 in New York City. Check with us daily for reviews, interviews, features, and news from the festival. For all of our coverage, go here.]

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