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Notable

The new Lara Croft photo
Another Oscar winner as Lara Croft
Alicia Vikander has been cast as the new Lara Croft for the Tomb Raider reboot, which starts a fine tradition of casting Academy Award winners in the role. Angelina Jolie won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Girl, Interrup...

BioShock Twilight Zone photo
A dimension of sound, sight, and of mind
BioShock director Ken Levine is teaming with Interlude to explore the intersection of gaming and film: his next stop is The Twilight Zone. According to Wired, Levine and Interlude are finalizing their deal to use the tropes a...

NYC: 6th Old School Kung Fu Fest showcases the badassery of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Golden Harvest

Apr 06 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220479:42891:0[/embed] Enter the Dragon (1973)Starring Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Bolo Yeung Even though Fist of Fury (aka The Chinese Connection) is my favorite Bruce Lee movie, I can't deny the importance of Enter the Dragon. The landmark movie brought Lee international stardom, and it helped kick off my personal martial arts movie obsession. (Ditto Infra-Man.) The film would also help propel the film careers of perennial bad guy Bolo Yeung (Bloodsport) and blaxploitation star Jim Kelly (Black Belt Jones). The set-up is simple: infiltrate an island, punch and kick people really hard, repeat. In addition to one of the most brutal kicks to the head in cinema history and a funky ass Lalo Schifrin score, Enter the Dragon manages to impart some martial arts philosophy amid the mayhem. Sammo Hung makes a cameo appearance, as does Jackie Chan in two blink-or-you'll-miss-him moments while Bruce Lee dispenses of faceless goons. [embed]220479:42892:0[/embed] The Man from Hong Kong aka The Dragon Flies (1975)Starring Jimmy Wang Yu, George Lazenby, Roger Ward, Hugh Keays-Byrne Australian exploitation movies are bonkers in the best possible way. Take The Man from Hong Kong for example. The film stars Shanghai-born Jimmy Wang Yu (Master of the Flying Guillotine, One-Armed Swordsman) as a violent Chinese supercop sent to fight an Australian crime boss played by George Lazenby (James freakin' Bond). The film is recklessly enjoyable. Yu blows up cars, demolishes a Chinese restaurant, blows up buildings, and effortlessly seduces comely Aussie women (whom he apparently detested behind the scenes). Sammo Hung also appears in this movie, as does Roger Ward (Mad Max) and Hugh Keays-Byrne (Mad Max, Mad Max: Fury Road). For more on The Man from Hong Kong and other great Australian exploitation movies, I urge you to watch Mark Hartley's excellent documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! [embed]220479:42889:0[/embed] Pedicab Driver (1989)Starring Sammo Hung, Nina Li, Lau Kar-Leung, Billy Chow Both Enter the Dragon and The Man from Hong Kong are American and Australian co-productions, respectively. Pedicab Driver, on the other hand, is a Hong Kong movie through and through, featuring hard-hitting action, broad Cantonese comedy, machismo, and extreme melodrama. It may be a matter of taste, but I love that histrionic hodgepodge. (Though its gender and sexual politics are definitely of a different era.) The film follows the travails of some pedicab drivers as they look for love and seek justice against an irredeemable crime boss. Pedicab Driver features an exceptional fight between director/star Sammo Hung and Lau Kar-Leung. Lau was one of Shaw Brothers' premiere action filmmakers, which makes his on-screen battle with Hung feel like a generational passing of the torch. Sammo Hung also dukes it out with Billy Chow (Fist of Legend). Both fights typify the fast, fierce choreography that Hung perfected in the 80s. [embed]220479:42890:0[/embed] Rumble in the Bronx (1995)Starring Jackie Chan, Anita Mui, Francoise Yip, Bill Tung Jackie Chan didn't break big into the US market until Rumble in the Bronx, which received a major push when Quentin Tarantino championed Chan's work at the 1995 MTV Movie Awards. For most Americans, Rumble in the Bronx was Jackie Chan 101: Introduction to Jackie Chan. While not his best Golden Harvest movie, Chan shows off his prowess as a choreographer, stuntman, and cornball comedian, including a memorable clash with a gang in a hideout full of props. Based on the info listed by Subway Cinema and Metrograph, Old School Kung Fu Fest is apparently screening the longer Hong Kong version of Rumble in the Bronx rather than the American cut released by New Line Cinema. This means you get a better-paced film with the original score and sound effects, and you'll be seeing a version of the movie not readily available stateside.
Old School Kung Fu Fest photo
Celebrating Hong Kong action cinema
This weekend (April 8-10) is the 6th Old School Kung Fu Fest, put on by Subway Cinema and held at Metrograph in the Lower East Side. This year's unifying theme is Golden Harvest. Co-founded by Raymond Chow and Leonard Ho, Gol...

NYC: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema opening in Downtown Brooklyn this summer

Apr 05 // Hubert Vigilla
Part of me wonders what the new Drafthouse means for comparable cinema experiences currently in New York, like The Nitehawk in Williamsburg or the newly opened Syndicated in Bushwick. Similarly, the lounge and restaurant at Metrograph in the Lower East Side should finally be opening this month. The more movie-going options, the merrier, at least that's what I hope. All you New York readers out there, how do you feel about finally getting the Alamo Drafthouse in town? Let us know in the comments. For updates on the opening of the Brooklyn Alamo Drafthouse, visit drafthouse.com/nyc.
Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn photo
CAN YOU DIG IT?!
It's official: New York City will finally get an Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn this summer. If you live in New York and love your movies, it is now time to do a happy dance of some sort. Go on, do it. Yeah. Nice. Hey!...


RIP Erik Bauersfeld (1922-2016)

Apr 05 // Hubert Vigilla
RIP Erik Bauersfeld photo
The voice of Admiral Ackbar has passed
While you may not know Erik Bauersfeld by name, he's the man behind one of the most memorable moments in Return of the Jedi. As the Rebel Alliance fleet closes in on the second Death Star, Lando realizes the shields are still...

Batman v Superman: Wonder Woman could have been more heroic if the guys weren't such meatheads (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Mar 28 // Hubert Vigilla
In the climactic final battle of Batman v Superman, the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight set aside their differences because their mothers have the same first name. (Yes, it's silly, I know.) These BFFs now have to do battle with Doomsday, who was created by Lex Luthor because of some flimsy third-act motivation. Wonder Woman shows up to help out, having spent most of the movie as a side character who appears at high society gatherings. Why does she do this? The screenwriters really don't care and instead distract you with wanton violence and revealing evening wear. Wonder Woman is a highly capable warrior. She dukes it out with Doomsday like a Greek hero of old. All grace and aplomb, she barely breaks a sweat. When Doomsday hits her halfway across an uninhabited island, Wonder Woman gets up, grins, and then goes back to fighting. She's unfazed, and she even relishes the challenge before her. Finally, after two hours of watching brooding dudes brood, we see a superhero who likes being heroic and acts like a superhero. Doomsday is only weak against kryptonite, and Batman has used most of his kryptonite gas bombs in his fight with Superman. The last bit of kryptonite is a kryptonite spear that Batman made. Lois Lane nearly drowns trying to retrieve the spear from the bottom of a pool, though how she knows Doomsday is weak against kryptonite is anyone's guess since she's not in the thick of battle. (She also threw the spear in the pool earlier. Whoops. Yeah, it's silly.) Superman saves Lois Lane and gets the spear. While Wonder Woman has Doomsday restrained with her lasso, Superman charges at Doomsday, stabs him with the spear, but gets stabbed back in the process. Superman dies. If you're like me, your're probably asking this: Why didn't Superman ask Wonder Woman to use the kryptonite spear? (You're also probably asking why they'd kill off Superman in just his second movie. Yeah, it's silly.) Given, Superman in these Snyder DC movies is a big, dumb meathead, but surely he saw how Wonder Woman was able to go toe-to-toe with Doomsday and not get hurt much. Surely he noticed she has melee weapon training using a sword and a shield; she even chopped off one of Doomsday's arms. Most importantly, she looks like she's not weak against kryptonite. Superman, by contrast, holds that kryptonite spear with a look on his face that says, "I think I have food poisoning." It just makes sense for Superman to take 10 seconds and say, "Hey, this spear tip is that monster's only weakness. I'll hold this lasso while you go kill him. Thanks. I'm Clark, by the way." But no, instead he decides to sacrifice his life for the planet because Jesus complex. What a perfect movie for Easter weekend. Or, alternatively, Superman could have also thrown the spear. But again, Superman is a dummy in these movies, which makes sense since it seems like Snyder and his screenwriters kind of hate Superman. They love Batman the homicidal maniac, though. The way Wonder Woman is semi-sidelined in this fight seems totally shortsighted on the part of her brothers in arms (and the screenwriters), but it's par for the course if you're a female character in Batman v Superman. For the most part they're props that help move the plot along. Lois Lane is a constant damsel in distress. She's pretty much helpless any time she gets into trouble, and always relies on Superman for help rather than being able to do anything herself. Part of the reason that Batman and Superman fight each other is because Lex Luthor has kidnapped Clark's mom. Superman saves Lois Lane every time he hears her in trouble, but for some reason he doesn't hear his own mom getting kidnapped by goons in SUVs. Keep in mind that this is the same Superman who went into a murderous rage in Man of Steel when Zod threatened his mom and he heard her scream from halfway across the country. (Yeah, it's silly.) Here's another damsel in distress. In Batman v Superman, women typically have to be saved rather than do any saving themselves. So Wonder Woman shows up and her first act in full costume is to save Batman from being burnt to a crisp. She then proceeds to outclass the boys in the combat department. She's so good at what she does that Max Landis will probably put out a video calling her a Mary Sue this week. If Superman gave Wonder Woman that spear, it seems like she would deal the deathblow to Doomsday in 15 seconds and do it like she's Legolas in Lord of the Rings. But no. She's maybe the most heroic person in the movie, but she can't be the person who saves the day. To be fair, Wonder Woman doesn't have her name in the title, but still, you know what I'm getting at. Batman v Superman is a movie about men so obsessed with the glory of their blunt violence that they can't even think straight for a second. Superman wants to hold his spear until the bitter end rather than let a girl hold it. Come to think of it, a man dumbly holding his spear is probably the best image I can think of to represent this movie.
Wonder Woman v Meatheads photo
Wonder Woman v Meatheads
If you read our review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, you know I didn't like the movie. There were many problems with structure and pacing, and while the performances were generally good for what they were, I didn't l...

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice makes $424 million worldwide [UPDATED]

Mar 28 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220446:42876:0[/embed] The supposed worry on the part of Warner Bros execs may extend to the creative end of things. Without getting into spoilers, Batman v Superman sets up a lot of story threads for the 2017 and 2019 Justice League films. The movie teases a major threat that puts the heroes of the DC universe in great peril, and also a major problem that potentially puts the DC heroes at a disadvantage. Justice League starts shooting on April 11th with Snyder on to direct parts 1 and 2. It'll be interesting to see in what direction they take this story. If Dawn of Justice tries to do two or three movies worth of stuff in 2.5 hours, the Justice League films may similarly be trying to put four or five movies worth of material into just two films.  Batman v Superman also makes me wonder about Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman, two of the nine slated DC movies coming out through 2020. I wonder how the stories in those films will touch on the various elements that Dawn of Justice introduces. Ben Affleck may also be working on a solo Batman movie with writer Geoff Johns, and it makes me wonder what that will be like given the characterization of Batman in this film. It might be a couple years away given how crowded the DC movie schedule looks at the moment. Did you see Batman v Superman over the weekend? What did you think? Let us know in the comments. [via Coming Soon]
Batman v $uperman photo
Biggest superhero opening of all time
[UPDATE: According to The Hollywood Reporter, the total worldwide gross is actually $420.1 million. The final domestic gross for opening weekend was $166.1 million, slightly lower than the original gross estimate.] Batman v S...

Old School Kung Fu photo
Eight classic kung fu flicks
There's nothing like a good kung fu movie to make me smile. When done right, they're almost like musicals, just with more kicking in the face. If you live in New York and love kung fu films, you're in luck. The 6th Old School...

Japan Sings! April 8-23 photo
Check out the Japan Sings! series
Japan Society is a great place to catch Japanese cinema here in New York. If you're around in April, you'll definitely want to check out Japan Sings! This film series (curated by Michael Raine) runs from April 8th to April 23...

JGL leaves Sandman photo
Sandman is back in development hell
Neil Gaiman's Sandman is one of the most celebrated comics of the 90s. It's also one of the most difficult to adapt. It seemed like there was some hope for the project (that's long been in development hell) when Joseph Gordon...

Pacific Rim 2 photo
That was unexpected
Last year we reported that Pacific Rim 2 was delayed indefinitely, part of some industry drama between Legendary Pictures and Universal. Well, looks like kaijus are back on the menu, guys. Pacific Rim 2 is moving forward with...

Justice League movie photo
With a behind-the-scenes photo
Last week we mentioned the rumors that Warner Bros is worried about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Early reactions to the film have been divisive, and given the hefty price tag of the movie, studio suits are wondering ho...

Depp as Trump photo
This is a yuge, luxurious parody
This is a pleasant surprise. Funny or Die just dropped The Art of the Deal: The Movie, a 50-minute mockumentary that lampoons Donald Trump's general douchebaggery. Starring Johnny Depp as The Donald, the parody also features ...

RIP Alan Rickman (1946-2016)

Jan 14 // Hubert Vigilla
RIP Alan Rickman photo
One of the greats
UK stage and screen actor Alan Rickman has passed away after a fight against cancer. He was 69 years old. Rickman was one of the most admired actors working today, and not just for playing Professor Snape in the Harry Potter ...

RIP David Bowie (1947-2016)

Jan 11 // Hubert Vigilla
RIP David Bowie photo
There's a starman waiting in the sky
David Bowie passed away yesterday after an 18-month battle with cancer. He was 69 years old. It's unreal to write those sentences, and it's enough to bring tears to my eyes, but David Bowie is dead. This is just days after th...

RIP Angus Scrimm (1926-2016)

Jan 10 // Hubert Vigilla
Phantasm's Tall Man has p photo
Phantasm's Tall Man has passed away
Angus Scrimm, the actor best know for portraying The Tall Man in the Phantasm films, died yesterday in Los Angeles. He was 89 years old. Phantasm director Don Coscarelli emailed the following statement to Entertainment Weekly...

Review: Very Semi-Serious

Dec 14 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220186:42734:0[/embed] Very Semi-SeriousDirector: Leah WolchokRelease Date: November 20, 2015 (limited); December 14, 2015 (HBO premiere)Rating: NR While Very Semi-Serious isn't wholly obsessed with the process of creation and failure (it's just semi-serious, after all), that process is just one of many small hooks that make the movie a light, funny, and enjoyable watch. Maybe it's lighter, funnier, and more enjoyable if you're already a reader of The New Yorker, or if a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the magazine and its editorial process is of interest to you. Wolchok spends a good amount of time focusing on Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff. A celebrated cartoonist himself, Mankoff is writing a memoir while sorting through new work by past contributors and up-and-coming artists. Humor is a matter of taste, and most of the cartoons are the kinds of things that appeal to Mankoff and ultimately to New Yorker EIC David Remnick. Sometimes he laughs at a gag and then dismisses it. "This is beneath him," he says as he rejects a cartoonist he likes. There's a gentle mentorship to Mankoff, who's picking and choosing magazine content but also finding ways of encouraging an artists' sensibilities. Their work may not be right at the moment, but there's talent worth cultivating and he encourages them to try again, fail again, and to fail better. Two of those young artists that Mankoff takes a liking to are Liana Finck and Ed Steed. Their quirky styles are closer to contemporary web comics rather than the droll New Yorker style, and it fits with their personalities. Steed speaks in a perpetual whisper that masks his comedic talent, and Finck is like a weird but lovable heroine in an indie film. Mankoff probably sees a bit of himself in each of them, and gives them the gentle push they need to keep doing their work. Before getting their work looked at in the New Yorker offices, the artists mull around with other cartoonists, almost all of them socially awkward and none of them speaking to one another. It's a nice visual gag. Very Semi-Serious covers a lot of ground, and does pretty well for its scope. There's the history of the cartoons, little nods to famous New Yorker cartoonists of the past like James Thurber, 9/11, Mankoff's life at home, and The New Yorker's recent move from Times Square to One World Trade Center. Nothing can be lingered on too long, so Wolchock juggles the elements that are important, presenting them and then passing them off with a certain light deftness. There's also the question of diversity. The New Yorker's cartoonists tend to be white and male. Even the handful of women cartoonists (Finck, Roz Chast, and Emily Flake) are white. During the scene of cartoonists waiting to be evaluated, I don't recall a single person of color, and I wonder if that will change, and if so when. Though maybe it says something about The New Yorker. Part of me wants a longer chronicle of a few New Yorker cartoonists given how long they've been in the industry and how it's changed. Cartooning can't be done full-time anymore, for instance, so the craft winds up a passion pursued on the side. I'm not necessarily expecting something like Terry Zwigoff's Crumb, but nearly all of the cartoonists are such characters themselves with stories to tell. (A documentary on New Yorker covers and cover artists could be interesting as well given the wide array of artists and subject matter.) Chast, for instance, has such a great on-screen presence. She's one of the few (if not only) women who contributed cartoons to The New Yorker decades ago and still contributes today. In archival footage, Chast slips through the background of the tuxedo-clad boys' club. It's funny and telling and smart the way Wolchok contextualizes the clip. It could have been a New Yorker cartoon--all three captions kind of work too.
Very Semi-Serious photo
More to it than "Christ, what an a-hole"
There's a joke about the cartoons seen in The New Yorker: pretty much all of them can be re-captioned "Christ, what an a**hole." It works surprisingly well about 90% of the time. (The other two evergreen captions for New York...

National Board of Review names Mad Max: Fury Road best film of 2015

Dec 01 // Hubert Vigilla
Best Film: Mad Max: Fury Road Best Director: Ridley Scott – The Martian Best Actor: Matt Damon – The Martian Best Actress: Brie Larson – Room Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone – Creed Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight Best Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight Best Adapted Screenplay: Drew Goddard – The Martian Best Animated Feature: Inside Out Breakthrough Performance: Abraham Attah – Beasts of No Nation & Jacob Tremblay – Room Best Directorial Debut: Jonas Carpignano – Mediterranea Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul Best Documentary: Amy William K. Everson Film History Award: Cecilia De Mille Presley Best Ensemble: The Big Short Spotlight Award: Sicario for Outstanding Collaborative Vision NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Beasts of No Nation & Mustang     Top Films Bridge of Spies Creed The Hateful Eight Inside Out The Martian Room Sicario Spotlight Straight Outta Compton   Top 5 Foreign Language Films Goodnight Mommy Mediterranea Phoenix The Second Mother The Tribe   Top 5 Documentaries Best of Enemies The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution The Diplomat Listen to Me Marlon The Look of Silence   Top 10 Independent Films ‘71 45 Years Cop Car Ex Machina Grandma It Follows James White Mississippi Grind Welcome to Me While We’re Young
Mad Max is the best! photo
Shiny, chrome, and the best of 2015!
The National Board of Review has named Mad Max: Fury Road the best movie of 2015. Oh hells yes! The post-apocalyptic feminist action movie was previously named the best movie of the year by the International Federation of Fil...

Force Awakens clip photo
16 seconds of Star Wars 7
Here is 16 whole seconds of Star Wars: The Force Awakens for your viewing pleasure. It features Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and BB-8 (himself) running away, and there's also explosions and some repartee. Eat thes...

Hausu director in NYC photo
Largest US retrospective of the director
Nobuhiko Obayashi's Hausu (House) is a favorite here at Flixist. (Alec did a great Cult Club piece on it a few years back.) It's a bit like the fever dream of an imaginative child who's really into Scooby-Doo and Mario Bava. ...

MST3K Kickstarter photo
"It stinks!"
If you're a dork of a certain age, you probably watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Comedy Central and later the Sci-Fi Channel. You probably have fond memories of the show and quote it around other MST3K fans. ("Shell! T...

The Modern Ocean photo
The biggest Shane Carruth movie
Writer/director/actor Shane Carruth has made two (cult) classic films: the micro-budget time-travel mind-bender Primer and the haunting low-budget masterpiece Upstream Color. (I was so obsessed with Upstream Color I...

Ash vs Evil Dead preview photo
Ash puts his hand to good use (NSFW)
Listen up, you primitive screwheads! Ash vs Evil Dead premieres this week, and you can now watch the first four minutes of the first episode online. This first episode was directed by Sam Raimi, and it catches the audien...

#BoycottStarWarsVII: Dumb nerds claim The Force Awakens promotes white genocide

Oct 19 // Hubert Vigilla
While the hashtag derp could be written off as an isolated incident involving fedoras and neckbeards, it's part of nerd culture's dark side. We saw it in Gamergate, where any grievances over ethics in games journalism were overshadowed by the movement's pervasive misogyny, threats of violence against women, and a total lack of self-awareness or sense of humor in those who identified with the hashtag. It was there in the Mad Max: Fury Road boycott, in which a badass feminist action movie left MRA's feeling emasculated and threatened simply at the idea of the story. And here it is again, with a strange lashing out by racist, insular Star Wars nerds at the mere appearance of a black person. Maybe this all ties into a larger sense of global xenophobia and sexism. I'm thinking of the uptick in Islamophobia throughout the United States and Europe, or the Christian right's fight against gay rights, or the insensitivity some have towards the transgendered. It's as if the ethnic, cultural, religious, or gendered "other" is a threat to white male hegemony and homogeneity. Wesley Morris wrote in The New York Times that this was the year we obsessed over identity, and here in these various incidents are a series of pushes against the tide of change in order for a culturally dominant group to maintain control rather than cede some. But you know what? The future is going to be more diverse, and that's good for everyone. Leaving aside a larger cultural conversation about the changing demographic makeup of the world and how women, people of color, queer individuals, and transgendered individuals are finding new roles in society and greater acceptance, let's just come back to Star Wars. All films wind up being a reflection of their time, and what is the 21st century (or at least the possibility of the 21st century, especially in this decade) if not a more open and inclusive world, a continuation of the better parts of a tumultuous and violent 20th century. It's harder to overcome a regressive mindset in the real world, but at least we can do it in our art and entertainment--you've got to start somewhere. Kathleen Kennedy is at the creative helm of the series rather than George Lucas. We're looking forward in the story rather than backwards, with new perspectives on the mythos and new talent taking the reins. There's a more diverse cast for the new Star Wars trilogy as well as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and we'll likely see the same casting approach to the other two Star Wars anthology films in development. Kennedy has apparently lobbied for a woman to direct a Star Wars film. While this hasn't come to pass for a variety of reasons (at least not yet), six of the eight people who are instrumental in the development of these new Star Wars films are women. We'll have to see the films first to figure out if they're any good, of course, but there's something hopeful about this approach that makes this #BoycottStarWarsVII nonsense seem smaller and pettier than it already is. This is the 21st century, and there's only one thing to say to the angry, racist nerds using this dumb hashtag. To quote Star Wars star John Boyega: "Get used to it." [via The Mary Sue]
#BoycottStarWarsVII derp photo
The derp is strong with this one
Oh nerdom, not again. Earlier this year, some silly men's rights activists called for a boycott of Mad Max: Fury Road for being "feminist propaganda." Now some angry, racist nerds are calling for a boycott of Star Wars: ...

Angry Birds trailer photo
Ugh... seriously... UGH
I bet everyone was just clamoring for an Angry Birds movie, right? Can't even get crickets to chirp over this. Well, there is now a trailer for The Angry Birds Movie, and it's like every bad animated movie cliche in one wretc...

Pacific Rim 2 delayed photo
Too bad, Mako!
If you were holding out hope for Pacific Rim 2, we've got some bad news for you today. The Hollywood Reporter ran a piece about the current testy relationship between Legendary Pictures and Universal, and one of the casualtie...

Review: Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh, Ich seh)

Sep 10 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]219860:42583:0[/embed] Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh, ich seh)Directors: Veronika Franz and Severin FialaRated: RRelease Date: September 11, 2015Country: Austria Your opinion of Goodnight Mommy may be contingent on your stomach for plot twists. I don't like them about 99% of the time since they usually feel like hollow gimmicks rather than essential parts of the storytelling machinery. Twists feel cheap, and while I won't spoil the twist of Goodnight Mommy, it certainly feels cheap when you know what it is. As a character uttered the line that reveals the twist, I thought, "Oh come on, Goodnight Mommy--I thought you were above this." In retrospect, the twist is there early in the film if I were to look for it, but I wasn't looking for it because I thought Goodnight Mommy would be a much more original and interesting film rather than one that relies on a bad cliche. The excellent craft displayed by co-directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala is what makes Goodnight Mommy's reliance on a twist so disappointing and its unraveling sense of purpose in the last third (maybe, really, the last fifth) baffling. Consider the movie's visual style for the first two-thirds of its run time. Many of the shots divide the frame into vertical halves, thirds, and quarters to emphasize elements in the foreground and background, all the while playing with light, shadow, and negative space. Large photos of the mother (Susanne Wuest) adorn the walls, but her face is blurry in all of them. On the one hand, this is the kind of artsy, pretentious portraiture you'd expect in an upscale home, and on the other, we have two boys (Lukas and Elias Schwarz) who question the identity of their mother. It's the sort of detail organic to the world of the film and a visual representation of its central concern (i.e., Who are you really?). And then there are details that seem like the cinematic attempt to recreate aspects of a dream. The boys keep Madagascar hissing cockroaches as pets. These are the massive sorts of roaches that are common in movies that feature cockroaches, and they look a lot more exotic than your foul, run-of-the-mill New York City waterbugs. The roaches hiss like they're shushing the boys, like there are secrets in the house that are being kept, or as if the children remind themselves they need to be quiet in order to spy on this person who may or may not be their mother. The wallpaper in the boys' room is covered in a googie-style wallpaper covered in ants. It reminded me of the popular design elements of the 1950s and the sort of playful decor you'd find in a day care or nursery, but also the crawly feeling one gets when something isn't quite right. That sense of contradiction--googie wallpaper that's both cute and off-putting, the comforts and terrors of a home--is carried through in the performances. Lukas and Elias Schwarz seem both playfully insular together and yet they also have a touch of something sinister, which may simply be a symptom of seeing twins together in a movie (thanks a lot, Stanley Kubrick). Wuest plays the mother with emotional highs and lows. She's tender, and she's also terrifying. She nurtures, she scolds, and hugs, and she slaps. The performances may be mannered, but like the visuals and the production design, the actors propel the film forward and help evoke the uncertainties of dark rooms and nightmares. So much ambiguity and promise to play with, and yet it comes back to the twist. The twist reduces all of the possibilities of this eerie, dreamlike world into a single possibility, and one that isn't that interesting. This may explain why that trailer for Goodnight Mommy so good and the film doesn't reach that level. I might have loved the movie if it wasn't for that pesky story.
Review: Goodnight Mommy photo
Are you my mommy?
The trailer for Goodnight Mommy is one of the best horror trailers in a while--evocative, menacing, unreal. The mother of twin boys returns home, her face bandaged after a major surgical procedure. The boys think there's some...

Black Mirror Netflix photo
Confession: I loved the pig episode
Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror was given new life when Netflix added it to its streaming library in late 2014. Many a thinkpiece ensued, and pretty much everyone you knew probably asked if you'd seen it at some point or ...

Stephen Colbert's Late Show debut mixed the Report with Letterman and Conan

Sep 09 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]219887:42592:0[/embed] Colbert isn't playing a character anymore, and yet Late Show Colbert and Report Colbert have a goofy charm in common. When he wasn't a caricature of sociopathic right-wing ideologues, Report Colbert would suddenly become a lovable, nerdy oddball. That's the vibe Colbert strikes as a host on The Late Show. While interviewing George Clooney, he was affable and warm without being too obsequious (or if he was, that was part of the joke). The interview got awkward in a semi-enjoyable way, though never quite reaching the cavalier dada bliss that Craig Ferguson brought to his interviews on The Late Late Show. Celebrity interviews can be the weakest part of any talk show, and while Report Colbert resorted to brash pundit gravitas to fill dead spots in interviews, Late Show Colbert seems like he may default to his innate niceness. By contrast, Colbert's affability seemed like a stealth move while interviewing Jeb Bush. Nine years ago, Colbert used his character to deliver a glorious George W. Bush diss track at the White House Correspondents dinner; last night, Colbert used his charm to try to get a presidential candidate to admit his own brother was an epic fuck-up as POTUS. Jeb Bush vaguely admitted that his brother was an overspender. (I wonder what the Bush administration spent all that money on. Jeb couldn't say the "I" word.) The writing on The Late Show feels like an extension of The Colbert Report by way of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, which makes sense given some behind-the-scenes stuff. Colbert brought much of the Report staff with him to CBS, and he also hired Brian Stack, a Conan writer for many years. The Oreo gag involving Donald Trump felt like it could have been something off The Colbert Report, but the monkey paw gag and The Mentalist joke (an homage to Conan's Walker Texas Ranger lever?) seemed like something from the mind of Stack. This is obviously all conjecture, but I look forward to seeing how these styles of comedy blend as the show evolves and continues to define itself. You know, to a certain extent judging a late night talk show on just its debut episode is unfair. Debuts are special occasions that deviate from the format whereas late night talk shows are all about the recurring format: monologue, first comedy segment, guest one, second comedy segment, guest two, and the musical act. Even The Colbert Report and The Daily Show had their recurring segments and bits as well; the format is a solid framework that makes the writing teams' jobs a little easier. It's also something to come back to, a pattern that's fun in itself and that yields new pleasures when the pattern is varied or broken. Will The Late Show with Stephen Colbert be worth watching every night? Probably not every night, but it'll be worth streaming for the best bits the next day. (As a teen, I used to stay up late watching Letterman and Conan. The internet of today would have made things, like waking up for high school, much easier.) Colbert's slate of guests lined up for the next few shows include Kendrick Lamar, Emily Blunt, Stephen King, Amy Schumer, Willie Nelson, Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, and what looks to be a dual performance by TV on the Radio and Run the Jewels. Colbert closed his debut episode with a rendition of Sly & the Family Stone's "Everyday People," featuring Mavis Staples, Ben Folds, Buddy Guy, Brittany Howard, and members of Beirut. It was a festive jam, with members of the show's house band (led by Jonathan Batiste) heading into the audience, and Colbert himself taking to the mic. What became clear, if it wasn't clear enough already: Stephen Colbert is one of the most likable people on TV. That's probably why I'm still watching him after 20 years.
Stephen Colbert photo
Cursed monkey paw? I'm in.
I've watched Stephen Colbert do comedy on television for two decades. Well before The Colbert Report and a little before The Daily Show, he was on Exit 57 and The Dana Carvey Show, two short-lived sketch programs from the mid...

Regal Cinemas' bag search policy provides only the illusion of safety

Aug 26 // Hubert Vigilla
Sure, there's mental health services to consider to prevent many of these murders, but the real problem is guns. According to this crowd-sourced mass shooting tracker, there have been at least 225 mass shootings this year alone. The United States has a gun problem, it has for many years. And calm down. I'm not saying they should take everyone's guns away because I'm fine with responsible people owning guns for personal protection, hunting, collecting, and recreation. But Christ, would it really hurt that much to have some better wait periods, background checks, and licensing in place if it meant fewer tragedies every month? (Also, if you believe that more guns are the solution--that armed civilians without any kind of crisis-situation training will suddenly become John McClane during a shootout, yippy-ki-yaying motherfuckers left and right without potentially harming others--you are an incredible imbecile.) The worst part about this gun problem is that nothing changes. Following every tragedy, the pattern of behavior from political leaders is the same: rhetoric, platitudes, and grandstanding (aka political optics), but no legislation given the fear and the influence of the gun lobby. And then another shooting. Repeat. Have a flag pin. I may just be cynical or feeling a bit defeated these days, but I'm starting to think that no one will do anything substantive about America's gun problem and this is just one of the sad realities about this country we have to accept. Well, actually, if you're at a Regal theater, they will at least search your purse or backpack before you watch Inside Out. I bet you feel safer already.
Regal's Safety Illusion photo
The empty optics after shootings
Last week, Regal Cinemas announced that they would start inspecting moviegoers' bags, purses, and backpacks as a safety measure for staff and customers. This move comes as a response to the July movie theater shooting in Lafa...


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