This is it guys ... the final episode of Flixistentialism as we know it. The gang plus some old (white) faces of Flixist past get together and reminisce on this long journey of a podcast we've all embarked on. There's fantasy...
I like physics. I probably have as good a grasp of the field as any film critic, and I frequently read articles about things like the Large Hadron Collider and the revelation of the mass of the Higgs Boson and how that revelation has impacted supersymmetry theory.
You've probably heard of the Large Hadron Collider (possibly as that thing that didn't actually destroy the world) and the Higgs Boson (sometimes called the God particle), but it's less likely that you know what supersymmetry (affectionately called SUSY) is. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, much of the science in Particle Fever is going to fly right over your head.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't see it. Because Particle Fever succeeds not because of its discussion of this particular science, but that of what science means and why it matters.
Han Gong-Ju is incredible. It's easily the best film I've seen at the New York Asian Film Festival thus far and among the best I've seen in a long time.
It's also extremely depressing, to the point where I'm not sure I can really write about it. But I can't in good conscience not give it my sincerest recommendation. If you're in New York, it's playing at MoMA for the next week. Tickets can be bought here.
Whether we end up with a full review or not, go see Han Gong-Ju.
[For the next month, we will be covering the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan-centric Japan Cuts. Click here for more information, and check back here and here for all of the Asian film coverage you can shake a stick at.]
Director/Writer John Carney is establishing a little nitch for himself in the film industry. A modern take on the backstage musical except now the stage is the studio and the music is far less grandiose. With Once, his academy award winning film, he nailed the sort of real world drama musical and he returns to that new genre again with Begin Again except this time he has big name stars and an American budget.
Carney is clearly a talented and emotional musician and returning to this form allows him to flex those muscles once again. Can he have the same impact as he did on his debut feature film or does upping the ante in almost every department mean a bit of soul is lost? In a film about finding the soul of art and yourself it's a bit ironic what the answer to that question is.
I'm going to tear this movie apart. It's coming right below the jump. Just be ready for it. Because of that I want to open with this: Optimus Prime riding Grimlock into battle in Hong Kong is frickin' awesome. There's just no denying how cool Transformers can be and that Michael Bay can pull off some awesome stuff. There are parts of this film that will blow you away.
It's just that the rest of it is so bad it isn't worth it.
Snowpiercer has been among my most anticipated films for the past several years. Every time we did a preview of what's upcoming, Snowpiercer has been on there in some capacity. When it got its Korean release last year, I was convinced a US release was imminent. I mean, it stars Captain America! How could it possibly be delayed?
But, of course, it was. The Weinstein Company took on distribution rights, but they wanted to cut it and Bong Joon-Ho refused to let them do so. So now the release is finally upon us, the full film as it was intended, but only a limited release.
I'm still annoyed at The Weinstein Company for trying to mess with the film in the first place... but I have to admit that I kind of understand why.
The German title of Nothing Bad Can Happen is "Tore Dances," something I knew from the beginning thanks to the multiple attempts I have made at learning German in my life. It's one of the few things I remember, but I'm glad it's something I knew from the outset, because while a name like "Nothing Bad Can Happen" is immediately off-putting, "Tore Dances" is not. No movie called Nothing Bad Is Going to Happen is going to end well. I mean, seriously. Right off the bat, you see that and you call bullshit. "Tore Dances," on the other hand, leaves a bit more to the imagination. It's also a bit less marketable (people are definitely more interested in seeing something bad happen than watching Tore dance), so I can understand why the change was made.
Coherence is part of a genre that will be heretofore referred to as "subtle sci-fi." Mention sci-fi to anyone and they'll think of Star Wars or Star Trek first. And they'll think of those films because that's what we've been bred to believe sci-fi is. These are worlds unlike our own, whether they're far in the future or a way in the past. They may feature people who look like us, but their characters don't really live like us. They're surrounded by robots and aliens and guns that shoot lasers. They're the things we imagine our technology will be capable of.
What people won't think of is Coherence, even though it's firmly entrenched in that genre. They won't think about it because the world of Coherence is the same one I am writing in and the same one you are reading in. There's no special technology, nothing that distinguishes their world from ours. Everything feels real not just on a dramatic level but on a visceral level. You believe that these people are in this position, and you wonder if maybe—just maybe—it could happen to you.
Despite being proven horribly wrong when 21 Jump Street film came out and it turned out to be hilarious instead of horrible I was once again a doubter when news hit that 22 Jump Street was coming along. The first one worked and here comes the obligatory sequel that will just recap all the old jokes and ruin it was my line of thinking.
Sometimes it's good to be wrong... twice. I suppose I shouldn't have been so suspect with basically the entire creative team returning for the film, but how was I supposed to know they'd actually make a comedy sequel that was both different from the original and smart in its own way. It's not something movie studios usually do, but both Jump Street films have proven that the series (please let there be more) is all about pointing out or expectations and then destroying them.
With Jupiter Ascending getting pushed back to February Edge of the Tomorrow might be the last of the original summer action movies left standing. Yes, it's an adaptation of a short Japanese novel, but that is still more original than the majority of sequels and and remakes taking up the rest of the summer. As such it had me very interested for it despite the lack of buzz.
It's also an insanely interesting concept. Basically you're getting Groundhog Day, but with mechs, aliens, Tom Cruise and Emily blunt. Throw in the underrated Doug Liman as director and you've got a movie that ten years ago would have been a tent pole, but instead is struggling for relevance. It shouldn't be because other than one tragic flaw it's an absolute blast.
A feel good sports movie from Disney? I don't think anyone was expecting anything to earth shattering from Million Dollar Arm. Life lessons will be learned. Sports will be played. People will change. It's the kind of thing that Disney has become a pro at, and your enjoyment on Million Dollar Arm will rest entirely on whether or not you're tired of sports movie cliches.
Also, John Hamm is just a damn charming man. Damn charming.
When that first roar hits you know they did this thing right. There's a chill that will go down your spine if you're a Godzilla fan. As he moves you'll wonder at how they found that perfect balance between rubber suit and actual monster. This is Godzilla.
Godzilla's previous American outing was a sin against all things good in the world, but this one, this one knows what's up. Well, at least when it comes to giant monsters knocking the sh*t out of each other in the middle of cities. That's what really matters, right?
There's plenty to be said about the new film, and it isn't all positive, but in the crucial aspects -- the ones that have always made Godzilla fun -- it succeeds.
I like film festivals for a lot of reasons, but one of the best is the way films are forced into context with a number of other, entirely unrelated films. The act of watching multiple films in a day alone creates all sorts of weird unintentional connections and relationships, and doing that day after day after day makes it sometimes difficult to distinguish one film from another when it comes time to buckle down and think about what each film did well, didn't do well, and what it all meant. When two films play within 24 hours of each other that highlight the successes and failings of the other, looking at them individually seems silly.
Such was the case with Whitewash and Big Bad Wolves. In execution, the films could hardly be more different, but they are both black comedies that made me seriously consider the role of humor in gravely serious situations. Like any good student of George Carlin, I believe people can joke about anything. But those jokes, while I support their right to exist, may be tasteless or insensitive or flat-out horrifying.
Whitewash understands this. Big Bad Wolves does not.
[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. It is being reposted to coincide with Whitewash's VOD release.]
The Other Woman is a raunchy comedy that wants to be taken emotionally seriously while promoting the fact that woman are awesome and can easily take the lead in any kind of film. It basically wants to be Bridesmaids, but unlike that modern comedy classic it instead comes off as crass and completely insulting to the very female characters it wants to glorify. Falling quickly into tropes, stereotypes and comic cliches it veers dangerously into trouble as its attempt at female empowerment turns into the worst case of justice porn this side of a serial killer getting killed at the end of a horror film.
It's a despicable film that clearly has no idea what it's doing as it contradicts its own themes constantly throughout its entire run, eventually landing in a big puddle of false feminism that would set the movement back years if anyone actually cared about the movie. Oh, and there's a pooping scene. Because when you're not actually funny you always run to poop.
Every once in a while, I see a movie that feels truly unique, and when that happens I tend to obsess over the process instead of the result. For better or worse, some films are just different, and while I definitely appreciate that difference, sometimes I really just have to wonder why.
Soft in the Head is different, and I spent much of the film wondering. I never found an answer.
Looks like we've finally left the Oscar season as this week's home video releases range from interesting to, well, Ride Along. First off, there's Philomena, Wrong Cops, and The Secret Life of Papa John's KFC's Cinnabon's...
This week's new releases have every audience covered. The big releases include The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (which I'll never see), August: Osage County (which my mom wants to see), Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones...
I've been hyping Sabotage since I first heard about it. I'm a huge Arnold Schwarzenegger fan and a huge David Ayers (End of Watch) fan so the two together sounds like sweet, sweet cop action bliss. Ayers is great and melding action and drama while developing actual characters and Schwarzenegger is great at... well... being in action movies. Things looked pretty good.
It was easy to get excited to because the supporting cast was really solid and the trailers actually advertised the film in the right way. Heading in I was certain I was going to have a good time at this movie. You know what? I did.
To preface this review I'd like to point you towards this article, which explains how I, as a DC film critic, finally got to see Noah ahead of time. Basically, Paramount for some reason thought it would be grand to screen the film for only religious critics, and when they got called on their crap threw the company that does the screenings under the bus. On the plus side they did arrange a screening so I got to see Noah ahead of time for this review (which was embargoed until today despite opening last night).
But that really has nothing to do with Darren Aronofky's biggest movie yet. At $130 million dollars this isn't the small budget fare we're use to seeing from him. Instead it is an epic in the most biblical sense of the word. It's a daunting task to retell a story about faith in a increasingly secular industry, and the way Aronofsky goes about that is very interesting.
The Wolf of Wall Street releases on home video this week. I'm especially curious about it since I labeled it my "Top Film of 2013," and I can't wait to see if it holds up. Other big titles: Chinese Zodiac, starring Jackie Cha...
The mob, a subject that has been covered almost every way you can think of. Glorified, glamorized, famous and infamous. We forget sometimes that the mob is a real thing, with real people, and real reasons for their perspective involvements. We forget the repercussions of said organization, not only to others in the community, but the people inside the mob as well. Rob the Mob does something special, something unique, and something that many other films are afraid to do: Tell its story, til the very bittersweet end.
I greatly enjoyed Himizu, another 2011 Sion Sono film released last week in NYC theaters, but there was something it lacked that I expected from that sort of film: sex. It had the violence (although it was definitely subdued in comparison to some of his other films), but there was none of the weird, creepy nudity found in some of his other films. I wasn't unhappy about it (it would have added nothing to that film), but I was surprised. When I checked out Guilty of Romance and randomly clicked on a part of the timeline, I found myself staring at a woman on all fours in a colorful room, presumably a love hotel, in the middle of that most intimate of acts.
And there was the Sion Sono I had expected. For better or worse, what Himizu lacked, Guilty of Romance has in spades.
I can see why Sion Sono was drawn to Himizu. The manga, which ran from 2001 to 2002, seems like exactly the sort of thing that would appeal to the man who made Cold Fish and Suicide Club. But that's not really a compliment.
Immediately after finishing the film, I went to read the manga. Usually I'm not particularly interested in checking source material after seeing an adaptation, but the film deals rather explicitly with things that hadn't taken place when the manga was written. And now, 43 chapters later, I can say that the film is indeed very different from the manga.