It's a big week for home video releases. First of all there's the elephant in the room. Fast & Furious 6 hits home video after the tragic death of Paul Walker. The silver lining in all of this is when you buy it (and...
When I sat down to watch Out of the Furnace, I had nothing but high hopes for the film. The trailers looked amazing and suspenseful and the premise seemed engaging. Plus, how could I possibly get burned on a film that stars some of my favorite actors?
Before I knew it I was already covered in gasoline, and writer-director Scott Cooper was lighting a match.
This week's home video releases involve two big sequels: one revered, one reviled. The Wolverine (and subsequently a re-release of the entire X-Men series so far) hits DVD and Blu-ray while the less said about The Smurfs 2, t...
This week's biggest home video release isn't a movie, it's a TV show. Breaking Bad finished its final run of episodes a few months back and now it's finally available on home video. I haven't seen the final episode yet, so I ...
I've been salty toward Disney's Planes since it was first announced. Its very existence angered the hell out of me. A Pixar dropped spin-off of an ailing franchise originally meant for home video but was released to theaters ...
It's a dead week for the movies. The biggest thing coming out is Best Man Holiday, and we didn't see that. Instead, since it's opening wide today, we've got a review for The Book Thief, which has the dubious title of "Movie With the Worst Trailer of the Year." That trailer is easily the most desperate Oscar plea ever. "From the studio that brought Life of Pi"? Really?
So clearly The Book Thief, which is based on the book of the same name, is going for some sort of Oscar grab, but you may have noticed it's not really getting much buzz. The reason for that is pretty obvious: it's callous, predictable and not very good.
This week's home video releases just remind me that I need to see Jingle All the Way again, and the upcoming holiday season is just making that worse (check back with Flixist in December for a big holiday thing). First off th...
This week's home video releases are especially important if you're interested in sequels or TV show box sets for the upcoming holiday. First off, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition hits home video ju...
You probably haven't heard too much about About Time, and if you have you may have passed it off as another romantic comedy and simply forgotten about it. Hell, we've done a grand total of one post on the film and I'm not about to admit I didn't think of it again after writing it. It looked forgettable.
Having now seen the film I can tell you it is anything but that. It's not what your expecting and it's all the better for it. About Time is the answer to a cynical Hollywood. A relentlessly hopeful film about love, family and, oddly, time travel from the great Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Knotting Hill). In a holiday season shoved full of disingenuous award grabs About Time is the perfect sort of film to remind you to have fun at the theater.
Ender's Game has had a long, hard road getting to the big screen. Since Orson Scott Card's science fiction classic released in 1985 a movie has been in the works, but it just couldn't get out of development. Now, nearly 20 years after the book's publication and with a host of sequel and spin-off books to feed off of in the future, the story comes to the theaters.
For fans of the books, which should include almost everyone since it is often assigned as high school reading, it's a little worrisome. The trailers look more like a big action movie than the thought provoking young adults book it actually is. Where does Ender's Game land? Squarely on Ender.
Many people who hop into documentaries casually expect a certain amount of overt filmmaker guidance -- voiceover narration, talking head interviews, infographics, archival footage; anything to help impart information. Yet the vérité doc resists those impulses in order to record reality as it happens. Filmmaker guidance occurs through the editing rather than with voice or outside imagery, and I think that's why these kinds of documentaries can be the trickiest to pull off.
I'm starting out by saying this because These Birds Walk is a documentary that really pushes the vérité elements as far as they can go. There is minimal hand holding in the film, and I think that'll put off people who don't watch many documentaries or have an aversion to the vérité style.
And yet even with that caveat, I think These Birds Walk is an extraordinarily beautiful film about runaways and abandoned children in Pakistan. The documentary has a subtle narrative structure (as much as real life can have a narrative structure, at least) that helps accentuate both the heartbreak of their existence and the brief moments of exhilaration when they seem the most alive.
[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of South by Southwest 2013. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of the film.]
This week's new home video releases include a few we didn't get to review here on Flixist, but they're still notable nonetheless. First off there's Monsters University, Pixar's first (and hopefully only) prequel. The film was...
Cormac McCarthy books have been made into some of the best movies you will ever watch. The likes of No Country for Old Men and The Road are the epitome of how adaptations should work and McCarthy's blend of philosophical dialog and actually interesting plots just makes some damn fine movie watching. It stands to reason that McCarthy himself should be able to spit out a damn fine screenplay then. After all, you're just cutting out the middle man here.
The Counselor proves that sometimes a middle man is a good thing.
It’s easy to ignore what’s going on half a world away. By the time the Egyptian people were fighting to take down Mohammed Morsi earlier this summer, I had forgotten all about the 2011 revolution. Of course, hearing about it brought back memories, but even those were pretty fuzzy. The whole thing sounded important, but I was too busy dealing with less important things to understand what was going on.
I paid a lot more attention to this summer’s events, and I went into The Square hoping that it would fill the gaps in my knowledge about what had been happening over the past few years. It doesn’t really do that, because it’s mainly focused on the events of 2011 and 2013, but it does give context for what kept bringing these men and women back to Tahrir S quare. And now I feel like I have a grasp of what has happened.
That may actually be a dangerous thing, empowering the ignorant to believe they aren’t ignorant, but it doesn’t change the fact that if there is going to be a definitive document of the Egyptian revolutions, Jehane Noujaim’s The Square may well be it.
There are many examples of desire in Blue Is the Warmest Color that are nuanced and downright erotic. These moments are communicated in coy shifts in facial expression, through the brinkmanship of flirtation, the intimate risks of proximity; the way two faces can occupy a frame and cause tension through the simple and invisible intermingling of breath. These characters are so obviously attracted to each other -- magnets -- that the forces keeping them apart will have to succumb simply given the laws of science and of lust.
Moments like the above are some of the best romance I've seen on screen all year because it feels so raw and honest.
The oddest thing? The explicit lesbian sex scenes everyone's talking about feel so false and devoid of passion. In a film that gets so much so right about falling head over heels for someone, somehow it also gets so much so wrong (though not always) about sex with someone you love.
[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of the 51st New York Film Festival. It is being reposted to coincide with the film's limited theatrical release.]
Believe it or not -- and you probably will -- the Chucky films aren't really all that great. Having just rewatched Childs Play 1 to 3, Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky I can tell you that the movies really just went from fun to bad. The original is OK, with 2 and 3 being the films you remember because they're better executed. Bride and Seed are idiotic beyond belief and the entire series as a whole just doesn't stand up to its legend.
The main problem, especially with the last two films, is that they tried to add camp to a movie about a psychotic, murdering doll. It's already camp! You don't have to push it beyond what it already is and thus ditch the actual creepiness of a killing doll. Curse of Chucky finally realizes this and returns the series to its heyday, and possibly better. By grounding the film in a haunted house-style horror movie and making Chucky a creepy doll again while still maintaining the warped humor that the first three films had it may deliver the best film in the franchise.
There are lots of big home video releases this week. On the new side we have Before Midnight (the third part of the Before trilogy), Only God Forgives (a film that Hubes (RIP) didn't like but seems to resonate with others), T...
Much of the ad campaign for The Fifth Estate, the movie about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, has touted the question of whether or not Assange is a free speech hero or a terrorist who put lives at risk. It's a really interesting debate and one that has been churning since WikiLeaks published the insane amount of cables it obtained from Bradley Manning. It's a great question for a movie to address.
Unfortunately, The Fifth Estate doesn't really address it. For a film about such a controversial topic it sure does steer away from controversy, instead content to attempt to be a thriller that barely scratches the surface of the issues it could have tackled. All that being said, Benedict Cumberbatch is still awesome.
Best case scenario, I felt CZ12 would serve as a kind of crescendo, a mix of "Jackie Chan's greatest hits" and "Jackie Chan's still go it." Like the little phrases of offense in one of his fights, I hoped the film would be a flourish of creativity followed by a brief moment of heroic posing/reflection.
For some reason I was expecting Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity to be almost as spare as All Is Lost, though not quite. I actually don't know if Gravity would work if it dialed back its dialogue that much. The vast majority of All Is Lost is carried forward without dialogue, without names, without anything that would serve as an orienting principle for a character arc or obvious emotional trajectories. We're simply stranded in the middle of the Indian Ocean with an unnamed person simply credited as "Our Man," and he's played by Robert Redford. The driving story: survive.
Given all that, I find something a little more daring about All Is Lost when compared to Gravity, but then again, a small production like this can risk this sort of austerity for art's sake. There are maybe twenty-five sentences uttered in the film, if even that. What's surprising is how much of All Is Lost works for its minimalist gambit, at least in terms of its execution of the idea.
[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.]
Another year month, another horror remake. This time it's Carrie, a film with so much iconography from the Brain De Palma original that you have to at least applaud the audacity of attempting a remake. There is hope, however, because the cast includes Julianne Moore and Chloë Grace Moretz, with Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry) helming the film. There's definitely talent here.
Is the talent enough to give the film its own take on the story, though? That's really the question. After all, a remake can only truly succeed if it becomes it's own thing. This is especially true for a film that spends most of its time building to one scene like Carrie does. It must make its story its own or else you're just sitting around waiting for the inevitable blood bath to happen.
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 because 12 Years a Slave was so extreme in a few scenes that it overwhelmed certain audience members.
Watching 12 Years a Slave myself, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of repulsion and shame that pervades the film. The melancholic spell was broken every now and then by small yet dashed hopes and relentless moments of violence and degradation. One scene in question -- the one that probably caused the walkouts -- was one of the most powerful and brutal things I've seen in a long while. This wasn't the absurd masochism of The Passion of the Christ. Director Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) and his actors transcend mere violence and find in it a miserable, fragile truth.
Had I been watching 12 Years a Slave at home, I would have paused the film after that scene so I could sob uncontrollably for five or six minutes. That would have helped me regain my composure. Instead, I just clamped a hand to my mouth and silently wept there in my seat.
[This review originally ran as part of our 2013 New York Film Festival coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of the film.]