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...
The worst criticism a film can get is "harmless." When a film is just "harmless," it's stale, voiceless, and generally fails to make a lasting impression. A harmless film exists, takes 90-100 minutes of your life, and then yo...
It's impossible to talk about The Gunman without discussing Taken. Everything director Pierre Morel ever does is going to be compared to it. And by starring Sean Penn, The Gunman invites those comparisons. Taken made Liam Neeson into an action star. Can The Gunman do the same for Penn?
It's unfortunate, because whether or not he ever does another action movie, The Gunman is not really Sean Penn's Taken. It may have the same director, but it's definitely not the same film. Other than putting an aging actor in a badass role, Morel has clearly tried to do something different here and prove that he's not a one-hit wonder. (Did you remember that he directed From Paris With Love, starring John Travolta, back in 2010? Yeah, I didn't either.)
I don't know that he's succeeded here, but just because The Gunman won't be revered in the same way Taken is, that doesn't mean it's not worth seeing.
It's been a tough time for Latino representation in pop culture. While television has made great strides in casting Latino actors in non-traditional roles to show off a greater range of characterization beyond "gang banger" and "migrant worker," Hollywood is still stuck in the dark ages. But with television shows like Jane the Virgin and the sadly canceled Killer Women making way for telenovelas (basically Spanish soap operas) in the mainstream, it's time for film to follow that path.
That's where Ana Maria in Novela Land comes in. An well crafted parody of those popular novelas that both celebrates and critiques the genre while never feeling like it's making fun of those who love it. Shame it could've been more.
I never saw the original Divergent. I'm not a preteen girl or Flixist News Editor Nick Valdez, which means I have to ration my YA intake. I can only handle so many dystopian fantasies about chosen-ones that spend all their time refusing to accept their chosen-oneness. I made my stake, and I stand firmly on the side of Team Katniss.
Even so, I ended up at a screening of Divergent's sequel, Insurgent. Don't ask why or how, because I couldn't tell you. But everything you need to know about my mindset going in comes down to this: Rather than seeking out a copy of the first film as preparation, I just watched its Cinema Sins teardown. Needless to say, I was expecting something pretty terrible.
I saw It Follows sort of on a whim. I went to two press screenings that day, because it was mostly a day off for me, and I'd heard good things. I figured, why the heck not? Worst case scenario: I have nightmares forever and rue the day. Best case scenario: I get to go home and write a glowing review of a film that transcends genre to become a modern classic.
Two days later, I saw it again. Another email blast went around from the film's PR, and I couldn't say no. I had to see it again. I had to. I've seen dozens (hundreds) of films for review, but I've never gone to multiple screenings of a film before, not just because I wanted to experience it again. Until this one.
It Follows is the first truly great film of 2015. This is the best case scenario.
I really do adore Neill Blomkamp, and his first film, District 9, in particular. Although it doesn’t have as many fans as it did back in 2009, I still hold it up as one of the most spectacular debuts in recent years. His sophomore project, Elysium, may have been a huge disappointment, but it speaks volumes about the love for District 9 that most people will still agree that Blomkamp is a true visionary – albeit one blinded at times by his own ambition.
Chappie is his third attempt, and although it never gets close to the brilliance of District 9, it's far more memorable than Elysium.
I love a good con movie. From The Sting to Ocean’s Eleven to Catch Me If You Can, the genre is as formulaic as it is entertaining. The secret to its success is a combination of familiar warmth and detached unpredictability: everyone knows the general beats of a con movie pretty much up to the minute, and it is within that space of comfort that the filmmakers get to play with their twists. Con movies work because the audience knows every trick, and yet they still fall for them.
There also hasn't been a good one in a while. As somebody who hated American Hustle, I'd been feeling the burn waiting for another quality fix of one of my favourite genres since arguably Fast Five, so there was a lot riding on the shoulders of this latest Will Smith vehicle. Luckily, Focus is just good enough to put me back at ease for another year.
I should start this review by being as frank as possible. I'm not really sure who this review is for. With Fifty Shades of Grey, you'll fall into either one of two camps. You're either planning to see it (or have already seen it) regardless of what I'm going to say for the next couple of paragraphs, or you're going to avoid the film altogether thanks to the esoteric nature of its erotic subject matter.
But for those of you who have fallen to the wayside and are a bit curious thanks to the shape this pop culture juggernaut has taken, don't follow up on that feeling. Because if you're willing to sit through this two hour slog without heeding my warning, you're also "fifty shades of f**ked up."
Many moons ago, at San Diego Comic Con 2013, my friend and I were sitting through all the panels in the infamous Hall H waiting to get to the Marvel movie panel. One of the panels we sat through showed some footage and brought out the cast for a silly looking fantasy movie called Seventh Son. By the end of that day, I was so tired that all I remembered about it was that Kit Harington seemed really embarrassed to be on the panel talking about it.
Fast forward to two years later, the same friend and I saw Seventh Son over this past weekend.
I am a Wachowski defender. I have enjoyed if not down right liked every film they've made. Yes, even the second two Matrix films. If you insult Speed Racer I'll flip some tables. That movie was a kinetic and frantic masterpiece that got trashed for no good reason. Cloud Atlas was a challenging work to tackle and they did a commendable job putting it all together. Read the book and watch the film and you'll be blown away. They are very skilled directors.
All right, calm down, Matt.
So despite Jupiter Ascending getting bumped from a major summer blockbuster to a lowly February release, and despite the terrible word-of-mouth it was receiving I was wildly hopeful for the film. It looks visually stunning and other than Channing Tatum's eyeliner I was all in for some more Wachowski greatness.
This may come as a surprise to you, but Spongebob Squarepants is still the juggernaut of a cartoon it was when it first debuted back in 1999. Never ceasing to keep kids' attention thanks to its unique characters and ever evolving comedy. Most importantly, it just has a lot of fun.
I've been excited for Sponge Out of Water for some time. A sequel to a ten year old film, Water looked ambitious, full of crazy art styles, and once again had all of the fun that the series is known for. Good thing the film mostly lives up to that even if the humor has changed from what I remember.
I had no idea what A Most Violent Year was before my screening. This was even before the smaller, limited release managed to gain traction and before I realized how good the cast assembled was. With little to no advertising, it was swallowed up by the big films vying for awards during this more difficult season.
But now that the season is over, and A Most Violent Year is finally opening for a wider release, I can finally admit how wrong I was for ignoring it for so long. A Most Violent Year is precise, intelligent, and full of powerful moments.
I'm not actually sure who I'm writing this review for. Anyone whose seen the trailers for The Boy Next Door has undoubtedly made their made up about it. It's a trashy stalker film with Jennifer Lopez seducing a teenager that looks like he's in his late 20s. The kind of film you'd expect to see a cast of CW stars trying to break out into film in.
There was a chance that because of that it landed in the awesomely camp area of bad film. A kind of Swimfan or Cruel Intentions. These films aren't good, but man are they just fun to watch because of how committed they are. Sadly, despite some very valiant efforts, The Boy Next Door doesn't reach that true level of all out commitment to bad that it really needs.
Thanks to R100, we know the proper recipe for a shirt: 24 hours in a slow-cooker, with red wine sauce, celery and carrots. Not because the film involves shirt eating (not directly at least), but because it forced Twitch founder/editor Todd Brown to eat his own shirt.
Before it screened at Fantastic Fest late last year, he made a bold claim, if any film was half as crazy as Sion Sono's Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, he’d eat his shirt.
R100 called Brown's bluff, and he made good on his promise. It's fitting, really, because that's exactly the kind of thing someone in R100 might be forced to do.
[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival. It is being reposted to coincide with the theatrical/VOD release.]
I am a big Michael Mann fan. Collateral might be one of my favorite films. The guy just knows how to direct. You can be guaranteed at least one breath taking, though provoking shot in one of his films. This is especially true when he's shooting in a city. The guy just knows how to create an atmosphere that defines whatever city he's in.
Unfortunately for Blackhat a few good camera angles doesn't save it from being anything more than an over written, generic thriller where exposition is the name of the game. Mann can only make a bunch of people looking at computer screens stay interesting for so long.
Sometimes you watch a movie and you immediately know how you're going to feel about it. There's something about the atmosphere that it creates that just strikes you. You know exactly what the film is trying to do, and you know how you'll react to that. I felt that way about Two Days, One Night. Right off the bat, I could tell that it was going to be far too long, painfully slow, and focused on its least interesting character.
I also knew that, for some reason, I was still going to like it.
I’m not educated enough to have an intelligent conversation about Inherent Vice. I’m smart enough, but to seriously wrestle with what Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s book is trying to do and say would require me to have A) Seen more of P. T. Anderson’s films, or B) Read more (read: any) of Pynchon’s books (perhaps even the source material itself), or C) Know more about the era in which the film takes place.
And so it’s taken me well over a week to write this review, because I simply didn’t know what to say. I wanted to deconstruct the film in some meaningful way, but I don’t feel qualified to do so.
What I can do, however, is consider just what it means to see (and generally enjoy) a film that I don’t understand.
[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of the 52nd New York Film Festival. It is being reposted to coincide with the film's wide theatrical release.]
Foxcatcher quickly grabbed a lot of attention for its stark representation of some big named actors. While Steve Carell has tackled heavier material before, he had never looked as sinister as he did in the first couple of images released, and while Channing Tatum was breaking out, his career had yet to take him in this kind of direction. Gaining traction through the festival circuit and a limited release before it hit wide, Foxcatcher seemed primed for the big awards season.
It's got all of the pieces for a bonafide award contender. It's based on a depressing true story, features notable actors doing something unconventional, and there's plenty of drugs and make up. But too bad it doesn't have the most important aspect of a good film: a direction.
For a Disney adaptation of a popular musical, Into the Woods has flown surprisingly under the radar. Coming out of practically nowhere, and with all of the early advertising hiding the fact that it is a musical, you'd think Disney was somehow afraid of Into the Woods' oddball nature. But maybe flying under the radar was a good thing as it gets away with way more than you'd expect.
Into the Woods gets away with being a full blown musical, and it awesomely does not care what you think of it.
Everyone, I'm about to shock you to your core. Big Eyes is a Tim Burton film and it is quite possible that the color black doesn't appear once. Shades of greys and shadows, yes, but the Gothic trendings of the director are almost completely lost in this film. Except for the doe-eyed "Big Eyes" that the subject of the film, Margaret Keane, paints there's almost no hint of Burton.
Yet it is a Burton film, through and through. Full of the weird and twisted story lines, trippy asthetics and slightly zonked out performance. It's Burton turned real life, and it surprisingly works.
After a crazy couple of weeks of Sony hacks, full on terrorist attack threats, cancellations, and a last minute reneging, I sort of forgot that at the center of all this mess was a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. Under normal circumstances, The Interview would've gone on to be a moderate success like the rest of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's recent string of films and we would've moved on to something else. But, these aren't normal circumstances.
What's now a historical piece of cinema thanks to sparking freedom of art debates and a simultaneous theatrical and video on demand release, there have been arguments as to whether or not The Interview was "worthy" of all this attention. Disregarding all of that and looking at this film as a singularity (basically reviewing the film as if all this never happened) yields the same result as if I would've tried to shoehorn in all of that "worthy" talk myself:
Clint Eastwood is easily one of the best directors in Hollywood so him tackling the incredible story of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle is something to get pretty excited about. We already know he has the war movie chops thanks to Letters from Iwo Jima.
American war heroes are a tricky business in this day and age. We know too much of the truth of war thanks to it being beamed into our houses and on the news nightly. It isn't all heroes and perfect endings where the good guys win. American Sniper tries to tackle this modern day contradiction of what a war hero is, but can it find out when all it wants to do is shoot things?