When 12 Years a Slave played at the Toronto International Film Festival last month, there were reports of walkouts during screenings, even among the press. It wasn't because the movie was bad. Far from it. People walked out b...
Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim hits stores today, meaning the movie may turn a decent profit yet on top of the Chinese box office returns. By far, this is the biggest new release this week, with The Heat starring Sandra Bul...
There are nerds, and then there are nerds. Nerds may like to flash a retro gaming shirt or spout Star Wars trivia, whereas nerds tend to obsess over their interests and fascinations. It's cool to be proud and comfortable about the things we love, but when our obsessive fascinations begin to stop being fun and shape us into wholly negative people, where should the line be drawn?
[This review was originally written as part of Flixist's coverage of South by Southwest 2013. It is being reposted (along with a rather substantial second opinion) to coincide with the film's VOD release and New York premiere.]
Pokemon X and Y are releasing this week, so that's all I've been thinking about for awhile. I remember movies are a thing, but now that Pokemon is going to be like a portable version of Pokemon Stadium, I'm all bout this. Pok...
Usually for our subtitles we come up with something clever, but I think the most important thing to be said about Gravity is that it needs, demands and begs to be seen in 3D on the biggest, digital IMAX branded screen you can find. This is a movie for movie theaters. This is a film that cannot be appreciated to its full extent off of the big screen. Gravity is why movie theaters exist.
Gravity is also why you love film. Every aspect of film. Not just art house. Not just action. Not just character stories. It shows you exactly why you love the movies in a sweaty-palm inducing 90 minutes. There is hype and then there's truth. Everything you've heard about Gravity is true.
It's remarkable what a little context can do. My initial impressions about A Touch of Sin were generally positive but also ambivalent. I wasn't sure of what to make of the four loosely connected vignettes, each a mix of righteous anger and violence. If I were from Mainland China, it would be readily apparent, but all I could discern initially was the film's larger commentary on the plight of the lower class and how desperation moves people to violence.
The film clicked when I heard about two of its driving principles. First, each of the four vignettes in A Touch of Sin is based on a true story that made headlines across Mainland China. Second, though this is not a kung fu film, director Jia Zhangke was loosely inspired by the wuxia genre when approaching this material. (Look for our interview with Zhangke and actress Zhao Tao next week).
Suddenly the film's larger vision and tragic ironies became apparent, as did its ballsiness as a work of social criticism.
[For the next few weeks, we'll be covering the 2013 New York Film Festival, now in its 51st year. Flixist will provide you with reviews, video, news, and features on some of the best films on the festival circuit. To check out all of our coverage of NYFF51, click here.]
There was a time when "directed by Dario Argento" meant something wonderful. There'd be wild visual play, inventive deaths, remarkable set pieces, and a memorable score by Goblin (or at least Goblin frontman Claudio Simonetti). Classic Argento operates with the logic and the energy of a fever dream, and even today I enjoy the reckless bravura in movies like Suspiria, Inferno, Tenebre, Opera, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, and, still my favorite, Deep Red.
But the maestro is no more. Dracula 3D is worse than his 1998 version of Phantom of the Opera. It's just more confirmation that Argento's best years (or even watchable years) are far behind him. Not even Rutger Hauer can save this movie; it appears Argento was bitten by the dreaded Count Hack-ula.
You ever feel like the stars align just for you? That's what I'm feeling with the home video releases this week since almost everything pertains to my interests. First of all, The Little Mermaid (otherwise known as the best D...
In 1985 there was a tragic stand-off between the extremist Africa-American group MOVE and the city of Philadelphia. At the end, 11 members of MOVE were killed, including five children, and 65 other houses in the area were burned down. It's an ugly injustice right up there with Ruby Ridge and the siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.
Let the Fire Burn chronicles these events, and director Jason Osder approaches them with an interesting formal conceit. He avoids talking heads and new interviews by only using footage from the past -- news reports, older documentaries, a political hearing on the conflict. Apart from a little bit of text, there's no other overt kind of contextualization. It's a bit like an act of archival bricolage, or maybe we can use the term documentary assemblage/assemblage documentary.
Though it's an interesting formal idea, it has its limits, and I think it works against Let the Fire Burn in a fundamental way even though it works well in others.
[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. It has been reposted to coincide with the New York theatrical release of the film.]
Our rabid consumption of media informs our lives and habits as much as our upbringing. For Jon, that media obsession is porn. When he isn't debating what number to rate a girl at the club, he is masturbating three times a day. Or five. Or eleven, a brand new record.
Sex is boring to Jon, who craves the fantasy and control of porn. It`s an inherently controversial, funny, and poignant concept for a film, and Don Jon succeeds at all three. Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes the rare crossover from actor to actor-writer-director that many try but few succeed at.
[This review was originally posted as part of our Sundance 2013 coverage. Since its initial publication, the film was renamed Don Jon and screened at SXSW 2013. Edits have been made to reflect the title change, as well as Geoff's blurb for the film.]
When the original Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs came out I really wasn't expecting that much out of it. So little, in fact, that I skipped my screening and never saw it. Much to my surprise it generated a lot of good reviews and was quite popular. Just goes to show that you should never judge a movie ahead of time.
Now we have a sequel, and while I still haven't seen the first one I think Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is exactly what I thought the first one was going to be but wasn't. Cloudy 2 feels more like a cash in on a name than a needed entity. That's the wrap the first one could beat, but this one can't.
There were so many varying opinions at the screening of Dark Touch I went to. Flixist's pal Steve over at Unseen Films is going to compile some of the reviews from critics who talked to him about Dark Touch because they were so all over the map, and this fascinated him.
For me, Marina de Van's Dark Touch felt like a throwback to the semi-obscure 70s and 80s horror movies I enjoyed watching on VHS in high school. Many of them were Italian and released by Anchor Bay in plastic clamshell cases; a lot of the plots were loose on logic, high on expressive style, pieced together through set pieces; movies less like stories and more like fever dreams.
This vibe sort of makes sense for Dark Touch. The catalyst for all the mayhem is the lifelong physical and sexual abuse of an 11-year-old girl named Neve (Marie Missy Keating). Most of the abuse thankfully takes place off camera, but we understand its severity from Keating's withdrawn performance and some choice reveals during the film, all of it hurtling the story toward nihilistic madness.
[This review originally ran as part of our 2013 Tribeca Film Festival coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical and VOD release of the film.]
The biggest home video release this week is most definitely Iron Man 3. I didn't like the film as much as most folks did, but it has its charms I guess. Whatever. If Iron Man 3 isn't your bag, then luckily there's a good amou...
The big new release of the week is the in-name-only adaptation of World War Z. Once maligned and expected to tank, the movie wound up being profitable and there's talk of a sequel. Other big new things this week include Sofia...
For most of America, Brandon Darby is not a household name. There are probably pockets of the South which recognize him, but in the grand scheme of things, he's really a nobody. But so are most documentary subjects, and that's often what makes them interesting. Telling the story of these nobodies, showing everyone why they are names worth knowing.
My life may not be enriched by knowing Brandon Darby's name, but his story is an interesting one. His life brought him from a role as a radical anarchist to an FBI informant to a columnist for Andrew Breitbart. It's a bizarre turn of events, and it certainly seems like a story worth telling.
That's where Informant steps in.
[This review originally ran as part of our DOC NYC coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of the film.]
The big new release this week is Star Trek Into Darkness, though you may feel a little ripped off if you buy it. And no, I'm not referring to the derivative storytelling or the fan-fiction vibe of the script. You see, the bon...
I found myself in a weird quandary when I got excited for another Riddick film. I couldn't really remember why I was excited. Yes, he's a total badass in Pitch Black, but The Chronicles of Riddick was kind of sucky. Then I remembered that despite it sucking the character of Riddick was still completely awesome and this was confirmed 100 percent by both his animated outing, Dark Fury, and the Riddick games, Escape from Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena. Basically, the character of Riddick can make even suck not suck.
And now he's back! So I was clearly excited because there aren't too many great badasses left in film. Just straight up anti-heroes who belch one-liners and kill with almost no compunction. That's the Riddick I got excited for and it's the one I hoped to see again on the big screen.
When the Sabrina the Teenage Witch show aired as part of ABC's TGIF lineup, I thought it was the neatest show (but Boy Meets World had it beat, hands down) since the animatronic cat on the program was named Salem and was voic...
I know there was some crazy stuff that happened in the music industry over the weekend that everyone's been talking about on the internet, so I figured we should address the matter here on Flixist. I'm speaking, of course, ab...
I've been playing music for years off and on, but I've never been particularly great at it. Mostly I play the drums, but even before my multiple wrist surgeries I was no Neil Peart. Now I'm just kind of useless. I look at my drum set, pick up my sticks, and just get sad. I haven't really played much in years. It's not even properly set up anymore.
But as I watched The Happy Life, especially in its second half, I felt that old itch to play again. I drummed along on my knee and my seat and whatever else was around me. By the end, I wanted to be in a band.
When I was a kid, I used to watch the same three or four episodes of Spaceketeers (aka Starzinger) on a VHS tape over and over again. I never knew how the series ended or where the story was going to go, but I just kept watch...
Lee Daniels is known to be an envelope pusher, for better (Precious) or for worse (The Paperboy). When it was announced that he'd be the director for a "based on a true story" film about White House butler Eugene Allen it was easy to raise your eyebrows. Historical dramas are hard to nail and historical dramas about race are even tougher.
Daniels' style is rife with melodrama and big emotions that can work either perfectly or take things way too far. He's a director that has little restraint and takes big risks. Sometimes he succeeds and other times he doesn't. Lee Daniels' The Butler (his name is there for copyright reasons) is a perfect example of his strengths and faults in a single movie.