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Review: Hail, Caesar!

Feb 05 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]220336:42811:0[/embed] Hail, Caesar!Directors: Joel and Ethan CoenRelease Date: February 5th, 2016Rating: PG-13  I feel for whoever it was who had to cut together the trailer for Hail, Caesar! I imagine it was a nightmare scenario, trying to take what is really just a series of occasionally linked comedic sequences and turn it into something that appears to be dramatic and compelling. And so whoever it was built a narrative, one where George Clooney, a big-name actor who sometimes forgets his lines at key moments, is kidnapped by a mysterious organization, and stars like Channing Tatum and Scarlett Johansson are enlisted to help get him back. Cameo appearances by Tilda Swinton and Jonah Hill and the like just serve to make it all one big star-studded Hollywood mystery. But… no. That’s not what Hail, Caesar! is at all. A couple of those things happen, but the context presented in the trailer is, to put it bluntly, bullshit. In fact, that opening, with George Clooney’s big speech? That takes place less than ten minutes from the end of the film. Yeah. That’s not the introduction to that character. It’s the resolution. In fact, much of the trailer comes from the second half of the film, and it almost feels like it went in reverse chronological order. The “reveal” of the secret society that ends the trailer feels like a big end-of-act reveal. Maybe the end of the first act? And sure enough, that does happen around then. Problem is, all of the imagery the trailer subjected us to up until that point takes place after we already know who they are. Because it’s not even really a secret. I’m not going to tell you, but that’s pretty much entirely because you’ve already had the ending spoiled, so why not give you something?  You don’t watch Hail, Caesar! for the narrative, because there is no narrative. As I said, it’s a series of occasionally linked comedic sequences. That’s honestly the best way to describe it. Characters come in, do their funny thing, and then are never seen from again. Or they come in briefly a handful of times, all teasing some far more interesting existence than the one we’re seeing. It’s all potential. This is a film of unending potential. Each character has a backstory that seems rich enough to justify not necessarily a movie, but certainly an episode of a series. I would watch Hail, Caesar! the series. None of the myriad characters really gets their due, and it’s such a shame. I wanted more of damn near everyone. And arguments could be made that being left wanting is better than the alternative, but I have to wonder: What’s the point of it all? It’s like a cupcake with a nice foil wrapper. You look at it, and it looks good. You take a first bite, and it is good. But then you pull back the foil wrapper, and you realize that there’s nothing more to the cupcake. It’s just air. You liked those couple of bites you got, but you’re so disappointed that that’s all there was. No cream filling? Heck, you would have even accepted just more cake! But you don’t get that. Instead, you just have a well-crafted cupcake top in the guise of something more. Of course, what is there is good. Let’s not pretend otherwise. The Coen Brothers are beloved for a reason: They know how to make good movies. Hail, Caesar! is pretty, funny, fun, and any number of other adjectives, but that’s just baseline. There’s nothing more here to remind you of why the Coen Brothers are a household name. You get some really fun sequences – and I sincerely hope that the musical numbers are practice for a full-blown musical film that they’ve got up their sleeves – but there’s nothing to really bite into. You go from fun thing to fun thing, always expecting more. Always hoping for more. Always feeling that there is more, but the Coen Brothers don’t think you’re cool enough to see it. When I think about the movie, I don’t really have any “complaints,” per se. I have my big fundamental issue, but from moment to moment, there’s not really much negative to say. But there’s also nothing wildly positive to say. This is a movie that is Good and nothing more. It doesn’t even really aspire to be more. It seems content in its Goodness. I don’t have a problem with Good movies – I appreciate any movie that has the audacity to be simply enjoyable – but I wanted this to be great. And it just isn’t. I never thought that word, or felt it, but I wanted to oh so badly. I felt like there were times where I should have thought, “Wow! That was great!” but I just… didn’t. And from the Coen Brothers, that stings. They’ve made so many classics, comedic and otherwise, that something merely Good from them feels lazy. This is a Coen Brothers puff piece, some something they did to fulfill a contract. And a Coen Brothers puff piece is still worth seeing, but it’s certainly not something worth celebrating.
Hail, Caesar! Review photo
Act One?
Joseph Kahn, director of Detention, the best film ever made, is an exceedingly well respected music video director. Most recently, he’s known as the guy who makes all those amazing Taylor Swift music videos. Together, t...

Kubo Trailer photo
This looks so, so pretty
Laika is a studio we at Flixist gladly pay attention to. Thanks to ParaNorman and Coraline, they've earned our respect with their stop motion craft coupled with fine storytelling. Even their weaker entry, The Boxtrolls, ended...

RIP Abe Vigoda (1921-2016)

Jan 27 // Hubert Vigilla
The false reports of Vigoda's death turned him into a sort of irreverent comic figure (getting more irreverent and more comic as the actor got older), and it eventually spawned a few internet memes at various websites. Someone even started the website isabevigodadead.com, which up until yesterday simply said "No." Vigoda was beloved, to be sure, so much so that he would pop up in unexpected places and provide joy simply from his unexpected presence. Case in point, here he is at a Phish show on Halloween in 2013. [embed]220314:42798:0[/embed] According to his daughter Carol Vigoda Fuchs, Abe passed away peacefully in his sleep due to old age. "This man was never sick," Fuchs said. Here's a clip of Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter paying tribute to Abe Vigoda yesterday for his countless appearances on their NBC Late Night show. [embed]220314:42796:0[/embed] Classic Abe Vigoda. [via Variety, ABC]
RIP Abe Vigoda photo
Goodnight, Abe
Abe Vigoda, best known for his work in Barney Miller and The Godfather, passed away yesterday. He was 94 years old. While he was recognizable character actor throughout his long career, at a certain point in his life, Abe Vig...

Review: Ip Man 3

Jan 22 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220266:42751:0[/embed] Ip Man 3 (葉問3)Director: Wilson YipRelease Date: January 22, 2016Rating: NRCountry: China In the three Donnie Yen Ip Man films, the constant concern has been how a person can remain righteous while dividing energies between country, family, and the martial arts. This boils down to the obligations a person has to the future of a culture, to immediate loved ones, and to the self. It's also about punching people in the face repeatedly very fast, sure, but if we're looking at the martial arts as a way of being (i.e., a way), Ip Man's always been about how a person takes a core belief, universalizes these dictums, and then puts this into action. It's explored visually in The Grandmaster with the way every strike disturbs the environment, but watching so many kung-fu movies over the years has made this whole notion of the extension of thought into action into the world more apparent. Maybe what makes Ip Man such a compelling hero is that taking thought into action into the world is what makes all sorts of heroes memorable. There's philosophy behind every punch. Ip Man 3 continues this tradition of duties to country/family/self, and the plot is mostly  hinged to all three. The film opens irreverently with Ip Man meeting a young Bruce Lee, who proceeds to demonstrate his fighting prowess in what can only be described as a martial arts anti-smoking ad. The rest of the plot involves a foreign crime boss trying to shut down a school to claim the land for his own (Mike Tyson), a would-be Wing Chun master in search of fame (Max Zhang aka Jin Zhang), and the health of Ip Man's wife (Lynn Hung). Ip Man, a righteous dude, volunteers to defend the school--Ip Man tropes ensue. The fights in Ip Man 3 may some of the finest in the series in terms of variety and staging. Sammo Hung handled the choreography in the previous two films, but Ip Man 3 instead turns to Yuen Woo-Ping. The fights seem more grounded though just as brutal, and generally a little more old school than bombastic. Yen's talked about how his diet and training changes with each role to better embody the character. Playing Ip Man means cutting carbs and staying as slim as possible, and Yen looks especially thin here. As much as I love Ip Man and kind of liked Ip Man 2, the biggest hurdle to each fight was Ip Man's sense of invincibility. He spends all of the first movie in God Mode, dominating almost every fight he's in, even the final battle. In Ip Man 2, he's still in God Mode for much of the film, which makes that movie's final battle feel out of place; what's more, Ip Man's solution of how to best his overpowered opponent would have been the first thing a skilled martial artist would consider, not the last. There was rarely a sense of danger. Ip Man 3, by contrast, seems to acknowledge that Ip Man is nigh invulnerable despite his age. The danger comes from having to defend other people nearby rather than just defending himself. It's a simple but great idea, and it leads to a harrowing rescue attempt as well as an excellent sequence involving an elevator later in the film. Much has been made of Donnie Yen and Mike Tyson's bout in the film, and it's one of the film's highlights, and it was more exciting than the Wing Chun vs. boxing bout that finished Ip Man 2. And yet the fight reveals Tyson's presence in Ip Man 3 as some hollow stunt casting. There's something great about Tyson cursing people out in snatches of Cantonese, but the entire storyline involving his character is dropped at a certain point. The whole impetus for the action fades away, which makes me wonder if Tyson was only available for a week or so, or if a finger fracture Tyson sustained while filming the fight scene required changes to the script. Even though Tyson's plotline feels unfinished, it's fascinating where the other threads go, and how they reveal the foundation for Ip Man as a character, as if Yen and Yip are tying to make their final definitive statements about who Ip Man was and what he'll represent as a cinematic icon moving forward. Ip Man's a loving husband, for instance, but not always attentive (think about how Peter Parker's love life is ruined by having to be Spider-Man). Here, he tries to focus more on home and what matters to him most, and there are some tender moments between Yen and Hung, as if Yen's trying to channel the acting chops that Anthony Wong and Tony Leung brought to the role, and Hung is trying to find the right note of melancholy glamour that Zhang Ziyi brings to her roles. Some of these scenes between Ip Man and his wife are lensed with a level of attention that might have been inspired by The Grandmaster; more beautiful to look at than anything in the previous Ip Man films, though a few scenes are marred by a semi-chintzy nylon-string Spanish guitar love theme. I began to notice this steady evolution of Ip Man's presence as a political/cultural icon as well in Ip Man 3. The first film was decidedly against the Imperial Japanese forces, which places Ip Man in the home of a character like Chen Zhen from Fist of Fury. The second film skirted this line between anti-colonialism and Chinese nationalism, with the British aristocrats rendered as grotesques of the nobility. Ip Man 3 also has a scoffing, snooty British caricature (he sounds like he should be tying women to railroad tracks while twirling his mustache), but the political stance is decidedly anti-colonial in a universal way. Ip Man even has a monologue in which he rails against oligarchs and plutocrats. If Mike Tyson was cast as a way of garnering attention for Ip Man from western audiences, this populist shift in Ip Man may signal an attempt to position him as a cinematic hero with a strong cultural identity but no borders in terms of an audience's ability to identify with him. If this is Yen's last full-on kung-fu film (there's still that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel to consider), he's ending his career with the movie series that catapulted him into leading man status. I got a sense he was passing the torch to Max Zhang. Zhang's 41 years old, but he makes a strong impression here as a performer and fighter, just as he did in The Grandmaster. (In another strange coincidence, Zhang also starred in SPL 2, the sequel to the 2005 movie (aka Kill Zone) that boosted Donnie Yen's star and signaled a kind of comeback for Hong Kong action films.) Zhang's character is a Wing Chun up-and-comer eyeing Ip Man, sizing him up, wondering if he's better as new blood. This had to be intentional, they had know what they were doing. Ip Man 3 might be my favorite film of the trilogy because of how knowing and assured it is, and because it understands the core of its main character so well. It's also a film that knows where it stands in terms of martial arts film history, and the same goes for Donnie Yen's filmography. Really, there's something rather Ip Man-like about Ip Man 3.
Review: Ip Man 3 photo
An Ip Man movie about Ip Man movies
It's weird to think that the first Ip Man came out in 2008. It seems so much longer than that. Since then, the series has spawned two sequels as well as plenty of other media about the eponymous real-life practitioner of...


Suicide Squad photo
So punk, so edgy
The first full trailer for David Ayer's Suicide Squad plays like WB/DC's answer to Guardians of the Galaxy. Still don't like the songs these trailers keep using but it's pretty well edited. The film looks fun, but also kinda ...

Could we get a great videogame film in 2016?

Jan 19 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220299:42779:0[/embed] Before I get into the brunt of this, it's better to explain where I'm coming from. Any film critic worth their mettle doesn't form a complete opinion until they've seen a film in its entirety. We might have some early impressions going in, but we usually like to have an open mind each time we sit down to watch something. Not a single one of us wants to dislike a film, and that mentality is hard to wrap my head around. If a critic wanted to dislike every film they watched, they why even have the job? I'm lucky enough that folks want to read my opinions from time to time, and I figure no one would come to me if I immediately dismissed everything outright. I bring all of this up because last year I reviewed two big videogame films: Hitman Agent 47 and Pixels.  My time with the films ended up on the lesser side of decent, but the films were apparently terrible according to the rest of the Internet. There was an incredibly pervasive idea through the general comments that these films were automatically terrible because videogame movies as a whole have been less than stable. I understand. It's a fandom that's been burned too many times before. It's the same fandom that went and saw Super Mario Bros, rented The House of the Dead one weekend, caught Tekken on TV for some reason, and remembers how great Mortal Kombat was before being annihilated by Annihilation. But that side of the web needs to remember that comic book fans were in that exact same boat not too long ago. Before comic book films were treated as a serious way to make money, we got two bad Superman films, a bad Hulk, and about a million Batman films. Now they're all over the place and studios are hugely banking on their success. We've gotten so many that even a property like Deadpool, featuring a super killer with fourth wall breaking jokes, is getting a film version. Videogames are on this path too.  [embed]220299:42780:0[/embed] But what's the key to a great videogame film? It's essentially the same thing that helped comic book films take off. Videogames lack the sorely needed legitimacy needed to grab the general public's attention. Hollywood films really only care about money, so they'll do everything they can to get someone interested in their film. That means they'll attach big name actors and even bigger directors, so that means you'll see people like Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Amy Adams and even directors like the Russo brothers working in superhero stuff. Cinema is obsessed with credible legacies through work, and videogame films are finally headed that route. What's essentially the biggest videogame film of 2016, Assassin's Creed, stars Michael Fassbender alongside the likes of Marion Cotillard, Michael K. Williams, and Jeremy Irons and is directed by the same man who did Macbeth, a well received film last year. Then you've got the Warcraft film, which looks to be a massive undertaking (even if first impressions weren't great), directed by Duncan Jones, who once directed Moon, the best science fiction film in years. So the short of what I'm trying to say here is that things are finally looking up.  Videogame films aren't doomed to fail or anything like that. In fact, there have been some legitimately good or entertaining ones. It's just they've never crossed that threshold into "great" territory. But they'll never truly be appreciated at the same level other genre films are unless we work to remove the stigma around them. It took decades to remove the nerdy stigma from comic book properties, and it's going to take even longer to do the same for videogames. If you respect that medium, then don't outright dismiss films spawned from its properties. We're going to get a lot of them, like it or not, so it's better not to fight each one. The more you dismiss, the more you add to the general stigma of videogame films belonging to a certain niche that no one really wants to be a part of. No one wants to identify as a "gamer" thanks to the now toxic culture surrounding it, and that's carried over to the film side of things.  [embed]220299:42781:0[/embed] I'm just saying there's hope for videogame cinema as long as you want it. There's so much potential for greatness even the throwaway films have some pedigree (Ratchet and Clank, while generic looking film wise, is handled by its parent company and The Angry Birds Movie, while maybe a cheap cash in, is stacked with great comedic actors). And there's definitely room in theaters for a great videogame film. As comics continue to overflow in theaters, folks will be looking for something slightly different. Oh, so there's a movie based on a game they once played? Hey that might be a great idea! Could 2016 be the year we finally get a great videogame film? Maybe. The odds are certainly better for sure. Talk to me again at the end of the year and we'll see how wrong or right I am. Until then, I'll just keep watching Mortal Kombat and Prince of Persia. 
Videogamesssss photo
Short answer...maybe?
There are tons of films based on videogames. Straight adaptations, wild derailings, films about people playing videogames, films made to advertise videogames, documentaries, films where videogames cross into the real world, f...

Review: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Jan 15 // Matthew Razak
13 Hours: The Secret Solidiers of BenghaziDirector: Michael BayRated: RRelease Date: January 15, 2016 [embed]220292:42774:0[/embed] For anyone running into 13 Hours hoping for some sort of political charged hit piece (on either side of the aisle) you'll be heavily disappointed. This movie is all Michael Bay and no Michael Moore. While there are a few snide remarks here and there, the movie is surprisingly apolitical, choosing to instead focus on the action-packed adventures of six CIA military contractors who protect a secret CIA base after the attack on the US "embassy" in Benghazi. Of course, if you go into the film believing in a certain narrative of what took place that night this movie is going to do nothing, but reaffirm your beliefs. It is stuffed full of Bay's die hard patriotism and love of people shooting things to solve problems.  The movie focuses on Jack Silva (John Krasinski) as he arrives in Benghazi just before the attacks on the embassy. He's introduced to the job by the team's lead Tyrone 'Rone' Woods (James Badge Dale) and then everything starts to catch on fire. The rest of the movie is a beefed up version on what may or may not have happened that night in Benghazi. While the film opens station that this is a true story it is very clearly Michael Bay's version of a true story. What does that mean? Prolific gun fights and plenty of explosions that may or may not have actually occurred. Block long drives, that were most likely very tense at the time, are turned into all out car chases. Bodies are mowed down left and right as bullets rip through them. A bus explodes in grandiose fashion. Men all have six packs and women -- sorry, make that woman -- are all gorgeous. It's pure Bay or it would be if it wasn't about an actual attack and incredibly politically charged. What's horribly annoying is this is probably Michael Bay's most competently made action film in quite some time. Despite it running longer than it needs to, Bay actually pieces together his action sequences with some understanding of the basic of film editing and pulls off an impressively decent pace for the film. The characters, while trite at times, are all given surprising emotional depth and handled with even more surprising care. As Pain & Gain showed us, when Bay wants to actually focus on something other than women's legs and explosions the results can actually be interesting.  However, it is nearly impossible to separate this film from the "true story" it is telling. The producers definitely didn't want to as they kept the horrendous subtitle attached to 13 Hours for all the promotion. In the case of saying something the movie fails again and again. It's blind belief in the heroism of the American soldier and inability to get out of its own cookie cutter cliches lead it from something that could offer some actual commentary into a simple, though emotional, action flick. Ignoring the politics of the subject matter might be both the worst and best thing the movie does, simultaneously making it work and fail at the exact same time. It can probably be best summed up by a point near the movies end after a truly tense 30 minutes of film one of the characters turns to the encampments translator and deadpans, "Your country's gotta figure this shit out." It's deep thoughts like that that rip away at the good parts of the film. Krasinki is probably the highlight and a brilliant bit of casting. His affable nature imbues Jack Silva with a humanity that defies the stereotypical tough-guy stuff. His performance adding layers to the normal bravado we get from patriotic cinema, and in turn pulling out more from the actors around him. It can't truly elevate the film above what it is, but damned if he doesn't try. Despite all the pretense and marketing and "true storying" 13 Hours turns out to be just a decent Michael Bay film made worse by its connection to a political scandal it seems to want nothing to do with. It turns out you can't have it both ways. Either you're making a movie about Benghazi or you're not. Bay tried so hard not to it ironically overwhelms everything else. 
Benghazi Review photo
Not so secret
(Editor's Note: This review was written before the knowledge that there was a 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer before the movie. Press did not get to see that trailer. If I had the film would have gotten a 10/10 off of the wa...

Cloverfield Lane photo
Well, this came out of nowhere
While we were all focused on Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year, Bad Robot was quietly putting together the next film in the Cloverfield series. Somewhat related to 2008's Cloverfield, this project (which was most likely ...

del Toro photo
Yea, that's pretty much perfect
If you were ever a child at some point the illustrations from the book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark haunted your dreams. If you're an adult now they probably still do. The series of books collected some pretty solid...

Complete List of Nominees for the 2016 Academy Awards

Jan 14 // Hubert Vigilla
Best PictureThe Big ShortBridge of SpiesBrooklynMad Max: Fury RoadThe MartianThe RevenantRoomSpotlight Best DirectorAdam McKay, The Big ShortGeorge Miller, Mad Max: Fury RoadAlejandro Inarritu, The RevenantLenny Abrahamson, RoomTom McCarthy, Spotlight Best ActorBryan Cranston, TrumboMatt Damon, The MartianLeonardo DiCaprio, The RevenantMichael Fassbender, Steve JobsEddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl Best ActressCate Blanchett, CarolBrie Larson, RoomJennifer Lawrence, JoyCharlotte Rampling, 45 YearsSaoirse Ronan, Brooklyn Best Supporting ActorChristian Bale, The Big ShortTom Hardy, The RevenantMark Ruffalo, SpotlightMark Rylance, The Bridge of SpiesSylvester Stallone, Creed Best Supporting ActressJennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful EightRooney Mara, CarolRachel McAdams, SpotlightAlicia Vikander, The Danish GirlKate Winslet, Steve Jobs Best Adapted ScreenplayThe Big Short, Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKayBrooklyn, Screenplay by Nick HornbyCarol, Screenplay by Phyllis NagyThe Martian, Screenplay by Drew GoddardRoom, Screenplay by Emma DonoghueBest Original ScreenplayBridge of Spies, Written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel CoenEx Machina, Written by Alex GarlandInside Out, Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del CarmenSpotlight, Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthyStraight Outta Compton, Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff Best Documentary FeatureAmy, Asif Kapadia and James Gay-ReesCartel Land, Matthew Heineman and Tom YellinThe Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge SørensenWhat Happened, Miss Simone?, Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin WilkesWinter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom, Evgeny Afineevsky and Den TolmorBest Documentary Short SubjectBody Team 12, David Darg and Bryn MooserChau, beyond the Lines, Courtney Marsh and Jerry FranckClaude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah, Adam BenzineA Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Sharmeen Obaid-ChinoyLast Day of Freedom, Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi TalismanAchievement in Film EditingThe Big Short, Hank CorwinMad Max: Fury Road, Margaret SixelThe Revenant, Stephen MirrioneSpotlight, Tom McArdleStar Wars: The Force Awakens, Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey Best CinematographyCarol, Ed LachmanThe Hateful Eight, Robert RichardsonMad Max: Fury Road, John SealeThe Revenant, Emmanuel LubezkiSicarioi, Roger Deakins Best Foreign Language Film of the YearEmbrace of the Serpent, ColombiaMustang, FranceSon of Saul, HungaryTheeb, JordanA War, DenmarkAchievement in Makeup and HairstylingMad Max: Fury Road, Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian MartinThe 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared, Love Larson and Eva von BahrThe Revenant, Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert PandiniBest Original ScoreBridge of Spies, Thomas NewmanCarol, Carter BurwellThe Hateful Eight, Ennio MorriconeSicario, Jóhann JóhannssonStar Wars: The Force Awakens, John WilliamsBest Original Song“Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey, Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio“Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction, Music by J. Ralph and Lyric by Antony Hegarty“Simple Song #3” from Youth, Music and Lyric by David Lang“Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga“Writing’s On The Wall” from Spectre, Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam SmithAchievement in Production DesignBridge of Spies, Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard HenrichThe Danish Girl, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Michael StandishMad Max: Fury Road, Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa ThompsonThe Martian, Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia BobakThe Revenant, Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy Achievement in Costume DesignCarol, Sandy PowellCinderella, Sandy PowellThe Danish Girl, Paco DelgadoMad Max: Fury Road, Jenny BeavanThe Revenant, Jacqueline West Best Animated Short Film“Bear Story” Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala“Prologue” Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton“Sanjay’s Super Team” Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle“We Can’t Live without Cosmos” Konstantin Bronzit“World of Tomorrow” Don HertzfeldtBest Live Action Short Film“Ave Maria” Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont“Day One” Henry Hughes“Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)” Patrick Vollrath“Shok” Jamie Donoughue“Stutterer” Benjamin Cleary and Serena ArmitageAchievement in Sound EditingMad Max: Fury Road, Mark Mangini and David WhiteThe Martian, Oliver TarneyThe Revenant, Martin Hernandez and Lon BenderSicario, Alan Robert MurrayStar Wars: The Force Awakens, Matthew Wood and David AcordAchievement in Sound MixingBridge of Spies, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew KuninMad Max: Fury Road, Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben OsmoThe Martian, Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac RuthThe Revenant, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris DuesterdiekStar Wars: The Force Awakens, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart WilsonAchievement in Visual EffectsEx Machina, Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara BennettMad Max: Fury Road, Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy WilliamsThe Martian, Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven WarnerThe Revenant, Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron WaldbauerStar Wars: The Force Awakens, Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould
2016 Academy Awards photo
Mad Max: Fury Road goes big
The nominees for the 88th Academy Awards were just announced. Here is a full list based on the tweets sent out by The Academy and from The Hollywood Reporter. The Revenant leads the field with 12 nominations, including Best P...

The Golden Globes have their winners

Jan 11 // Matthew Razak
Best Motion Picture – Drama“The Revenant” (WINNER)“Carol”“Mad Max: Fury Road”“Room”“Spotlight” Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical“The Martian” (WINNER)“The Big Short”“Joy”“Spy”“Trainwreck” Best TV Series – Drama “Mr. Robot” (WINNER)“Empire”“Game of Thrones”“Narcos”“Outlander” Best TV Series – Comedy“Mozart in the Jungle” (WINNER)“Casual”“Orange Is the New Black”“Silicon Valley”“Transparent”“Veep” Best Animated Feature Film“Inside Out” (WINNER)“Anomalisa”“The Good Dinosaur”“The Peanuts Movie”“Shaun the Sheep Movie” Best TV Movie or Limited-Series“Wolf Hall” (WINNER)“American Crime”“American Horror Story: Hotel”“Fargo”“Flesh and Bone” Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language “Son of Saul” (WINNER)“The Brand New Testament”“The Club”“The Fencer”“Mustang” Best Director – Motion PictureAlejandro G. Iñárritu (“The Revenant”) (WINNER)Todd Haynes (“Carol”)Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”)George Miller (“Mad Max: Fury Road”)Ridley Scott (“The Martian”) Best Screenplay – Motion PictureAaron Sorkin (“Steve Jobs”) (WINNER)Emma Donoghue (“Room”)Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer (“Spotlight”)Charles Randolph, Adam McKay (“The Big Short”)Quentin Tarantino (“The Hateful Eight”) Best Actress in a Motion Picture – DramaBrie Larson (“Room”) (WINNER)Cate Blanchett (“Carol”)Rooney Mara (“Carol”)Saoirse Ronan (“Brooklyn”)Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”) Best Actor in a Motion Picture – DramaLeonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”) (WINNER)Bryan Cranston (“Trumbo”)Michael Fassbender (“Steve Jobs”)Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl”)Will Smith (“Concussion”) Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy Jennifer Lawrence (“Joy”) (WINNER)Melissa McCarthy (“Spy”)Amy Schumer (“Trainwreck”)Maggie Smith (“The Lady in the Van”)Lily Tomlin (“Grandma”) Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or MusicalMatt Damon (“The Martian”) (WINNER)Christian Bale (“The Big Short”)Steve Carell (“The Big Short”)Al Pacino (“Danny Collins”)Mark Ruffalo (“Infinitely Polar Bear”) Best Supporting Actor in a Motion PictureSylvester Stallone (“Creed”) (WINNER)Paul Dano (“Love & Mercy”)Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”)Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”)Michael Shannon (“99 Homes”) Best Actress in a TV Series – Drama Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”) (WINNER)Caitriona Balfe (“Outlander”)Viola Davis (“How to Get Away With Murder”)Eva Green (“Penny Dreadful”)Robin Wright (“House of Cards”) Best Actor in a TV Series – DramaJon Hamm (“Mad Men”) (WINNER)Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”)Wagner Moura (“Narcos”)Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”) Best Actor in a TV Series – Comedy Gael Garcia Bernal (“Mozart in the Jungle”) (WINNER)Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”)Rob Lowe (“The Grinder”)Patrick Stewart (“Blunt Talk”)Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”) Best Actress in a TV Series – ComedyRachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex Girlfriend”) (WINNER)Jamie Lee Curtis (“Scream Queens”)Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”)Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”)Lily Tomlin (“Grace & Frankie”) Best Supporting Actress in a Motion PictureKate Winslet (“Steve Jobs”) (WINNER)Jane Fonda (“Youth”)Jennifer Jason Leigh (“The Hateful Eight”)Helen Mirren (“Trumbo”)Alicia Vikander (“Ex Machina”) Best Actress in a Limited-Series or TV MovieLady Gaga (“American Horror Story: Hotel”) (WINNER)Kirsten Dunst (“Fargo”)Sarah Hay (“Flesh & Bone”)Felicity Huffman (“American Crime”)Queen Latifah (“Bessie”) Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Limited-Series, or TV MovieMaura Tierney (“The Affair”) (WINNER)Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”)Joanne Froggatt (“Downton Abbey”)Regina King (“American Crime”)Judith Light (“Transparent”) Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Limited-Series or TV MovieChristian Slater (“Mr. Robot”) (WINNER)Alan Cumming (“The Good Wife”)Damian Lewis (“Wolf Hall”)Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline”)Tobias Menzies (“Outlander”) Best Actor in a Limited-Series or TV MovieOscar Isaac (“Show Me a Hero”) (WINNER)Idris Elba (“Luther”)David Oyelowo (“Nightingale”)Mark Rylance (“Wolf Hall”)Patrick Wilson (“Fargo”) Best Original ScoreEnnio Morricone (“The Hateful Eight”) (WINNER)Carter Burwell (“Carol”)Alexandre Desplat (“The Danish Girl”)Daniel Pemberton (“Steve Jobs”)Ryuichi Sakamoto Alva Noto (“The Revenant”) Best Original Song“Writing’s on the Wall” from “Spectre” (WINNER)“Love Me Like You Do” from “Fifty Shades of Grey”“One Kind of Love” from “Love & Mercy”“See You Again” from “Furious 7”“Simple Song No. 3” from “Youth”  
Golden Globes photo
Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!
The Hollywood Foreign Press is a strange group that really shouldn't have the second biggest award show around, but through marketing and a willingness to get famous people drunk they do. And so we once again bring you the wi...

Review: The Revenant

Jan 08 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219682:42494:0[/embed] The RevenantDirector: Alejandro González IñárrituRelease Date: January 9th, 2016Rating: R  At least 30 times during The Revenant's 156 minute runtime, I thought the word "weird." It was the only word to describe what I was watching. "This is really weird... This is weird, right? ... It's weird AF that a studio funded this... This is the weirdest prestige drama in more than a decade, right? ... What kind of weird Oscar bait is this? ... Dude, this is so weird." When the credits rolled, I turned to our own Hubert Vigilla (his thoughts below), who sat beside me, and said, "That was really fucking weird, right?" He nodded. I belabor this point because I want to make it exceedingly clear that The Revenant is a constant surprise. I only saw that first, spoiler-free trailer, so I knew exactly three things going in: - Production was hell- It was shot in natural light on the Alexa 65- Leonardo DiCaprio sleeps in a dead animal carcass Had I waited another day or two, I would have known that some people believe the film features an extended scene where DiCaprio is raped by a bear. That would have made for a weirder film than this one... but perhaps less than you'd think. Instead, we're left with what is inarguably the most horrific animal attack ever put on screen. Five to eight minutes, a single take.  Earlier this year, I saw a film called Backcountry. I never wrote about it, but I was interested in something that the press notes said, paraphrased to "We want Backcountry to do for hiking what Jaws did for swimming." They wanted the bear attack to be so intense, visceral, and real that anyone who saw it would have nightmares about grizzly bears and be simply incapable of hiking again. The film failed in its quest; the scene was a mess of quick cuts and not-amazing effects. At the end of it, the mutilated corpse was rather unsettling, but the journey wasn't so impressive. The Revenant does what Backcountry wanted to do. The scene is horrific, mostly because of how freaking long it is. In one of many long takes in the film, we follow Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) as he goes out into the woods. We see young bears. We see a big bear. The big bear runs towards Glass. At this point, I thought, "No way. This guy's the protagonist, and we're like 40 minutes into this movie. He's not going to get—Oh shit." It's hardly a flawless sequence. The bear doesn't actually look "real" most of the time, and the bites and scratches felt a little off. I don't know what actually happened on set (and director Alejandro Iñárritu refused to explain it in the following Q&A), so I don't know entirely whose fault it is that the seams are there, but you know what? I'm nitpicking. That scene is incredible. It's shocking, possibly even revolting, and absolutely brilliant. It took guts to make that scene look like that. But they committed. It paid off. That's the film in a nutshell. It took guts. They committed. It paid off. It takes guts to make a movie that essentially begins with the biggest battle of the entire film. In fact, it's the only real battle in the film. In the first twenty or so minutes, you see more "action" (bear attack aside) than you'll see in the rest of the movie. To set up expectations like that and then completely ignore them in favor of a film that is actually rather slow is gutsy. Actually, no, it's crazy. This is a film that periodically cuts to beautiful shots of the wilderness or the skies or bugs or whatever, because art. It does it to evoke thoughts and emotions. This is a studio-funded film that actually requires you to think about what it's doing and why. There's only one moment in the entire film that could arguably be considered "hitting you over the head with The Point," and I take some issue with that moment for a few reasons, but ultimately it doesn't detract from the overall feeling that the film wanted me to think about what it was trying to say and not just say it. And again, this is a Hollywood movie that cost $135 million to make. This is the antithesis to the Superhero tentpole movie. You cannot sell this to the ADD generation, because as soon as they realize that this is a slow, gorgeous exploration of a man's suffering and not much more, they'll pull out their phones and start tweeting about how bullshit everything is. That scares me. It scares me that people will go into this movie expecting something totally different, something traditional, and not get it. But rather than appreciating the art, they'll be furious that they weren't given entertainment. They'll say it's the worst movie ever, because movies are supposed to be fast & furious. And then people will be scared off. Though the film is technically inspired by a book inspired by a true story, the only thing that was really taken from the real Hugh Glass's life was the fact that he was attacked by a bear and survived. The journey that follows, and probably the journey that got him there, was the brainchild of Iñárritu and Mark Smith, who co-wrote the film. This is, for all intents and purposes, and original work. I still can't believe it exists. Some years ago, I remember hearing someone talk about how we're no longer in the age of Torture Porn; rather, we're in the age of Suffering Porn. It probably had a different name, and that's why I can't find an actual source, but the point was this: It's not about seeing people get tortured anymore, enjoying the blood and viscera and all of that. It's about the suffering now. The Revenant is suffering porn. Glass is mauled by a bear in an excruciating, extended sequence, and perhaps that's torture porn. But, then he can't move. He can't speak. All he can do is suffer. And then when he finally builds up strength to move, it's belabored. It's pained. Every single movement and every single breath hurts this man, and you can feel it and hear it and see it. DiCaprio gives one hell of a performance, though it won't win him the Oscar. As spectacular as he is, this simply isn't an "Academy" performance.  And the same part of me that says that also thinks this isn't an Academy movie. It will be nominated, I think, because Birdman won Best Picture and Iñárritu won Best Director. These are also, I suspect, the reasons that The Revenant was made. Iñárritu built clout with that last film, and so he was able to go and do something crazy and keep people by his side as it got crazier and crazier. I believe it will be nominated, but I also believe that it has absolutely no chance at winning. It's too different, too weird, too brilliant. Birman won, but as much as I loved Birdman, it also hit the Academy notes. It was a movie about an actor who wants to do something Important. It lashes out at critics and audiences. It says the right things and bashes everyone over the head with its message over and over again. That message resonated with people in the Academy. There's no other way that script won Best Screenplay. There's no other way that film won Best Picture. What's the message of The Revenant? Well... that's a complicated question. And the fact that it's complicated means that this film will not win. But maybe it should. It's not my favorite film of the year, but I want this film to receive prestige because I want films like this to exist again. The Revenant is a ray of light in the black void of superhero movies. If it succeeds, it's evidence that not only can expensive and original ideas gain traction (something Christopher Nolan has proved) but so can expensive movies that make you think (something Christopher Nolan has not proved). If The Revenant fails, that's it. I don't think we'll see another film like it for a decade or more. And I hope beyond hope that that doesn't happen. I hope it becomes a massive success, in America and elsewhere. I hope it proves every single assumption that people (myself included) have about what sells nowadays wrong. I hope it proves that weird movies can succeed again. Please see The Revenant. If not because you want to (though you should, because it's excellent), then because you want it to set a precedent. You want to change things and show the studios that this was not a mistake. After the chaos of the production, I imagine there are at least a couple of people waiting for this film to fail. They'll write it off as a failure and use it as evidence that audiences just can't handle truly interesting big-budget movies. That can't happen.  I have the utmost respect for the people who allowed  The Revenant to be made. And I hope that it makes them all filthy stinking rich.   Hubert Vigilla: The Revenant feels like a strange, singular, director-driven project that could have only been made in the 1970s. After the screening, Alec and I kept asking each other, "How the hell did this thing get made?" The question was half bafflement, half admiration. There is so much to admire about The Revenant given its difficult production history. That it even exists is a kind of accomplishment. It's a visceral art movie, one that might in time be named alongside films such as Apocalypse Now or Aguirre, the Wrath of God for audacity and craft. Seriously, who is the studio person that gave a madman the keys to the car? I need to thank them. The cliché is that they don't make movies like this anymore, and they really don't make them like The Revenant, especially not end-of-the-year prestige pictures distributed by a major studio. The Revenant is full of hardship and grunting; heavy on slobber and scalps and hypermasculinity, light on dialogue and monologues and audience hand-holding. The film is uncompromising when it comes to its depictions of violence and its deeper spiritual concerns. Both are treated with equal measures of importance. Sure, it's self-indulgent, and the film takes itself extremely seriously, but it's this level of risk that makes Alejandro González Iñárritu's latest such a memorable, engrossing picture. Emmanuel Lubezki's imagery and meticulously choreographed long-takes are a wonder to behold. The look and feel is a mash-up of Terrence Malick, Werner Herzog, and even Alejandro Jodorowsky. (I spotted two potential Jodorowsky homages, possibly three.) Both Tom Hardy and Leonardo Di Caprio act their asses off, with Di Caprio turning in his least glamorous performance and maybe most unconventionally award-worthy. When not a raspy Sisyphisean hero driven to avenge a murder, he's Wile E. Coyote waving to the audience before gravity sends him crashing to the canyon floor. It's absurd, it's glorious, and there's no other movie like it this year. 86 - Great
The Revenant Review photo
Hope for the future
I follow twelve people on Instagram. I don't really use it much, but it's something I check every so often. Of those twelve, only one is a person I don't know personally: Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki. And honestly, how could I no...

MRA anger over Mad Max and Star Wars reveals the dark side of male geek identity

Jan 06 // Hubert Vigilla
When I wrote about the #BoycottStarWarsVII campaign last year, I mentioned that "the ethnic, cultural, religious, or gendered 'other' is a threat to white male hegemony and homogeneity." I didn't get into it much deeper in that piece, but I've always noticed this ugly sense of gatekeeping in geekdom. By that I mean people acting geekier than thou or passing judgement on who's a real geek and who's a poseur/fake geek, as if there's only a few set ways to be authentic when it comes to geek culture. I've been guilty of that behavior multiple times in the past, but you know what I eventually realized? It's a sign of immaturity and selfishness, and it's just plain stupid. Why not share the stuff you love, or at least appreciate another person's enthusiasm for it? Because here's the thing: that movie, that book, that comic, that game you love isn't yours alone. For insecure male geeks, these outside groups (i.e., women, people of color, newcomers to a medium or genre, etc.) are invaders storming the walls looking to pollute the wells of familiar geekdom with their alien influence. Oooh, scary! They'll bring new perspectives, new ideas, new conversations, and new modes of engagement with them. And if these scary noobs enjoy these works so much that they're driven to create their own work, that means they'll add new characters and new stories and new contexts for the discussion of geekdom. What this means is that geekdom gets to evolve and reflect the actual multitude of experiences of the 21st century. Yet you have these calls for boycotts, you have online harassment, you have violent threats, you have efforts to silence or marginalize different voices, you have these immediate calls to discount a point of view without hearing it out and considering its potential merits. There's no self-reflection, there's just self-preservation. There can be no conversation beyond the prevailing conversation. The echo chamber must be maintained. The "No Girls Allowed" sign must stay by the ladder to the treehouse. Boys will be boys. My friend Michael Carlisle had a great metacultural read on Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens following the film's release, one shared by Damien Walter at The Independent. As a villain, Kylo Ren embodies all the worst male geek tendencies. Heck, Kylo Ren's main adversaries are a woman and a person of color--it's a little too perfect, so much so that it had to be just a little bit intentional. Since The Force Awakens is, as AA Dowd said, essentially like watching Star Wars nerds in a Star Wars movie, Kylo Ren is the worst kind of Star Wars nerd. This is the sort of guy who'd overreact and make claims about white genocide, or spend an evening harassing SJWs on Twitter. All Kylo Ren's missing is an ill-fitting fedora. (Was discussing this with fellow Flixist writer Matt Liparota, and truly MRAs ruin everything, even stylish headwear.) Walter writes, "Kylo Ren impotently thrashing a computer with his big red sword is the perfect portrait of Gamergate." He adds, "If Kylo Ren's buddies in the First Order have a manifesto, don't be surprised if point one is 'actually it's about ethics in galactic domination'." The villains in both The Force Awakens and Fury Road embody aspects of toxic masculinity, and it's telling that MRAs would be against both films. If Kylo Ren is a frustrated neckbeard, Immortan Joe is this patriarchal force of control and subjugation. He controls access to water and doles it out only when he sees fits, playing a kind of gatekeeper. Women are either for pleasure/breeding (his sexual slaves) or used as a tool to maintain power (the milk mothers, Furiosa), but they're never equals. And all he wants is to breed a healthy, pure boy to inherit the ugly world he maintains. Hegemony and homogeneity, all shiny and chrome. But remember, it's feminist/SJW propaganda to say that a petulant Space Nazi and a ruthless post-apocalyptic dictator are villains and that the ideological motivations for their actions are poisonous. The thing is, there are models for better male geekdom in each of these films. Walter's piece in The Independent is all about trying to find a better kind of geek masculinity in 2016, one that's less like Kylo Ren (or Emo Kylo Ren) or his PUA and MRA ilk. Poe and Finn seem like good guys, so maybe that's a potential place to start the conversation of a healthier male geekdom. Angie Han at /Film had a great piece about heroic masculinity in Mad Max: Fury Road, and how Max and Nux embody better ways for men to be. Again, another place to start that conversation. This isn't to say that you can't disagree with a feminist read or SJW interpretation of something you enjoy. I don't agree with Anita Sarkeesian's read of Mad Max: Fury Road, for instance, in which she says the movie glorifies violence and engages in the type of objectification it's trying to critique. Violence is the only viable mode of discourse in Fury Road, and as in many great action movies, there winds up being a disjunction between the violence being aesthetically and viscerally awesome and the violence also having emotional stakes and tragic consequences. (The "heroic bloodshed" genre is called that for a reason.) Similarly, I think a disjunction necessarily has to exist with regard to Immortan Joe's sexual slaves. Since they are on the one hand objectified while also asserting they are not things, the film plays with this tension of images and how they're interpreted, and how competing and even paradoxical interpretations can exist simultaneously in the same image. Ceci n'est pas une pipe (This is not a pipe) = We are not things. While I disagree with Sarkeesian in this regard, that doesn't mean I want her to stop engaging with culture. It's the opposite, in fact. She's got insight, she's got opinions, and she should keep engaging with culture and the way culture manifests ideologies the way she does. Everyone should, and we should have this ongoing cultural conversation with as many voices as possible. And just because I don't agree doesn't mean an opinion has no merit or value. Sarkeesian made me rethink some of my assessments of Fury Road and realize what else might be going on visually, and also made me think about how violence functions as rhetoric and discourse in different kinds of action movies. The point is that rather than trying to shutdown discussion or threatening someone because of matter of taste or opinion, we should get into discussions. Male geeks shouldn't be so frightened of new ideas, and we shouldn't be so insecure about our opinions changing or being malleable either. The other person is not a thing. It's part of being an adult. I've been re-reading Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's Preacher for a project I'm working on, and it's got some good models for all kinds of geekdom. It's such a 90s comic but also forward-thinking in so many ways. One of the most striking aspects of Preacher is how it deals with the changing gender roles of the decade. You've got Tulip O'Hare, who's one of the best badass women in comics breaking down old paradigms about how a lady ought to act. "So you're a girl," Tulip's dad says to her as a newborn. "That needn't be so bad." In other words, she's not getting hemmed in as a damsel in distress--Tulip is her own woman, and she'll bury a bullet in your face if you question that, and she'd probably be into Neko Case's song "Man." Jesse Custer also learns more about what it means to be a man, and that you (male or female) can make your own way and define yourself. Maybe the biggest takeaway of Preacher is that the pre-existing roles the world has assigned to you don't have to be the way they are. Ideological orthodoxy is a kind of inbreeding, and if you keep that sort of insularity going long enough, you wind up like the Habsburgs. There's a better way to be. So c'mon, fellas. I know a lot of you male geeks are better than this insecure MRA bullshit. Remember what Jesse's daddy told him about being a man: "You judge a person by what's in 'em, not how they look. An' you do the right thing. You gotta be one of the good guys, son, 'cause there's way too many of the bad." Man up.
MRAs, Mad Max, Star Wars photo
It's actually about male insecurity
The other day we reported about Return of Kings' limp boycott of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, an attempt to combat the movie's supposed feminist and SJW propaganda. (This is unrelated to #BoycottStarWarsVII, another call to ...

Review: The Hateful Eight

Dec 24 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219767:42546:0[/embed] The Hateful EightDirector: Quentin TarantinoRelease Date: December 25, 2015 (Limited); January 6, 2015 (Wide)Rating: R  I’m certainly not the first (and will absolutely not be the last) to point out how fascinating it is that The Hateful Eight was shot on Ultra Panavision 70. As I said before, this format is meant for showing vistas. It’s wide, brilliant, epic. The movie, when seen in the road show format, runs more than 3 hours including its 12 minute intermission. There’s an overture, where you listen to Ennio Morricone’s score, which may not be his best but is certainly epic enough to get you pumped up for adventure. You assume that you’re gonna see sights, particularly landscapes, that will boggle your mind. The opening shot has something of an epic feel to it. It’s Jesus (oh hi there, Christmas!) on a cross in the middle of nowhere. The shot is obscenely long, showing you very little as the credits play. You get a vista at the end of it, a pretty cool one too, and it hopes you like that vista, because you ain’t getting many more like it.  It’s a slight exaggeration to say that this is a one-location film. It’s not an exaggeration at all to say it’s a two-location movie. The majority of the film, yes, takes place in a cabin. But the first couple of chapters take place in a carriage. There are run-ins with folk outside the carriage, but everything is based on what’s within, and there are some conversations where you sit and watch two people talk, knowing that those vistas you were expecting are off to the side, but wow can’t you just see every little detail in this carriage? You’re aware of the epic look and sound – movies just aren’t like this anymore – but you’re hyper-aware of it because it just doesn’t seem to fit the material. Here’s an intimate story about a bunch of dudes and one lady in a cabin. The lady, Jennifer Leigh, is the Important character. She’s the head of some gang, and she’s been bounty hunted by Kurt Russell. (They say “Dead or Alive,” but he likes them “Alive.”) He’s convinced people want to take her from him, since she’s worth a whole lot of money and is also the leader of a gang with plenty of people waiting to set her free. Some of the people in the cabin are on Kurt Russell’s side. Some are neutral. Some are not. At least one is indifferent to Kurt Russell but not particularly happy with Samuel L. Jackson. There's plenty of hate to go around, and much of it is played out in Tarantino's signature talk-y style.  Here's the thing: If you don't like Tarantino's writing, you're not going to like The Hateful Eight. You probably could have assumed that much, but it bears repeating, because this movie is absolute, unadulterated Tarantino. And how you feel about Tarantino will radically change how you perceive the effectiveness of the drama. One friend thought it was great and only periodically masturbatory, and another thought it was meh and little more than a one-man circlejerk. (How's that possible? I dunno, but Tarantino could definitely pull it off.) I fell closer to the former than the latter, but it honestly didn't bother me either way. I was swept up in the whole thing. With just two locations, the emphasis shifts to the actors, and Tarantino pulled in an all-star cast. Each person gets their time to shine, and all of them do. Alliances form and break, hidden motivations are revealed in spectacular fashion, and it's just generally full of wonderful intrigue. I can see why there was a reading of this script, because it would be cool as hell even without all of the extra stuff going on. Well, that's true for the first half. After the intermission, the film changes. It begins with voiceover, something you don't see in the first half, and it's bloodsoaked, the way Tarantino's movies often are. But it's also when the Big Reveals all take place, and boy are there some interesting ones. This is a film that begs for repeat viewings, because a whole lot of things happen that you realize in retrospect were telegraphed in fantastic ways. It makes you want to go back and see those things as they happen and then catch all the ones you missed. It's all this big, interconnected jumble of actions, and it's pretty freaking awesome. It's also imperfect, but in ways that ultimately don't matter. If you're a fan of Tarantino, you should see the movie. If you aren't but live in one of the selected cities, consider the Road Show version anyway, because the whole experience is Worth It. If you're not a fan and don't live in one of those cities, though, you shouldn't bother. This will not be the movie to change your mind about him and his work. This is typical Tarantino. I like that. I enjoyed it. And I'm going to see it again. I don't think that anything else needs to be said.
The Hateful Eight photo
Apt description
From the outset, The Hateful Eight has been a Big Deal. Tarantino was gonna do it, but the screenplay leaked, so he wasn’t gonna do it, until there was a reading, so he was doing it again. I paid pretty much zero attent...

Review: Where to Invade Next

Dec 22 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]219845:42640:0[/embed] Where to Invade NextDirector: Michael MooreRating: RRelease Date: December 23, 2015 (NY/LA); February 12, 2016 (wide) We start the invasion in Italy. Moore sits down with a couple in their living room to discuss what their paid vacation situation is like in the country. They get more than a month off, not including national and local holidays, and any unused vacation time rolls over into the next year. Moore's mouth is agog most of the time--he was genuinely learning all of this for the first time. But there's more. The wages tend to be better, the lunches are longer, and employees tend to be more productive on the job because they are so relaxed. Moore's invasion continues through Europe, with stops in France, Germany, Finland, Slovenia, Norway, and Portugal, continuing over the Mediterranean to Tunisia, then across the Atlantic to Iceland. Each time, there's a novel innovation, and each time Moore seems surprised and inspired. He focuses on one thing each country seems to be doing right. In Slovenia, for instance, all college is free, even for students who've come from abroad. In Finland, they've abolished homework. Moore admits that these countries have their own problems and he's mostly accentuating the positive. My job is picking the flowers and not the weeds, he says. He's also picking cherries, but that's not the biggest problem with Where to Invade Next, which, when it works, offers a fine rebuke of the "Fuck you, I got mine" mentality that pervades much of American culture. Moore's generally at his best when he's a deadpan observer rather than a fiery polemicist. Roger and Me is still his finest film (even though he did fudge the timeline of events) since it's mostly Moore as a citizen journalist documenting others. While framed around Moore trying to get an audience with General Motors CEO Roger Smith, the movie is driven by people who get to tell their own stories about the painful decline of Flint, Michigan. As Moore's clout grew, he became a more prominent figure in his films, and in turn his movies were more about Michael Moore's opinions on a subject rather than the subject itself. Moore develops a feel-good thesis in Where to Invade Next. These innovations in other countries could make America a better place, and they all have a shared origin. But Moore oversteps his skills as a documentary essayist through sloppy thinking and oversimplification. He walks past part of an old section of the Berlin Wall with a friend, and they reminisce about being there as it came down. Hammering and chiseling--the solution was so simple, they say. Well, no. History doesn't work that way. The Berlin Wall didn't come down just because some people in West Germany began chipping away at it for a few nights. There were decades of global history that culminated in that moment, and none of it was easy. While Moore smartly identifies the systemic racism underlying the US drug war, he dumbs down cause and effect in other parts of the film to suggest that the catalyst for change is something really simple. By that logic, the Arab Spring was easy as pie: all it took was for someone to self-immolate. No problemo. The systems themselves are simple and elegant, and yet the implementation of these solutions--free college, prison reform, education reform, greater gender representation in government--would have to be accomplished through legislative action and, even more difficult, a fundamental ideological shift in American attitudes regarding the bullshit of global capitalism and antiquated gender roles. These aren't so simple, they'll take time. But they're worth fighting for, which is why there's an oddly ennobling aspect to Where to Invade Next even for its flaws. In my head during each slip up, all I could think was, "Your argument is facile, but yeah, I agree, Michael." Moore's rhetorical missteps in Where to Invade Next come from a genuine place of concern. It's like a bad college essay. The larger point is good, but it's articulated and argued inartfully, whether through selective anecdotes rather than facts, or through emotional appeals rather than reason. The pat close of the movie is mushy and inspirational at the same time. Moore references a well-known fairy tale that takes place in the Midwest, and in the process made me think of another work (a book by Thomas Frank) about the contradictory relationship between political ideology and voting against your best interests in the Midwest. When film critic Stephen Whitty reviewed Fahrenheit 9/11 back in 2004, he wrote that Moore tends to worry liberals about as much as he infuriates conservatives. "They're people who agree with what Michael Moore says--but refuse to defend to the death the way he insists on saying it," he wrote. Some things don't change.
Review: Where to Invade photo
A feel good movie (but oversimplified)
Michael Moore and Donald Trump have something in common. No, seriously. They want to make America great again. In Where to Invade Next, Moore pretends he's been sent by the Pentagon to invade other countries. His mission: to ...

Is Star Wars: The Force Awakens Too Much Like A New Hope? (SPOILERS)

Dec 21 // Hubert Vigilla
We've seen a few soft reboots and sequels this year that take familiar elements from earlier entries in a series to move in their own directions. The better models of this are Creed, which builds off the Rocky movies to tell its own story, and Mad Max: Fury Road, which uses recurring elements like the other sequels in the franchise. Jurassic World was a middling model of this, albeit a highly lucrative one. The nadir might be 2006's Superman Returns, a sequel that was basically a joyless rehash of Richard Donner's 1978 film. The similarities between A New Hope and The Force Awakens are plentiful. Important information is stashed inside of a beep-booping droid (a distress message to Obi-Wan Kenobi in R2-D2, a map to find Luke Skywalker in BB-8). The droid wanders a desert planet (Tatooine, Jakku) and is eventually found by an unassuming person (Uncle Owen and Luke, Rey). They leave the desert planet in The Millennium Falcon. Both movies have their own cantina scene (Mos Eisley Spaceport, Moz Kanata's bar). Both movies have a weaponized planet (The Death Star, The Starkiller Base) that blows stuff up real good before getting blowed up real good. Both movies feature the lightsaber death of a fatherly figure (Obi-Wan, Han Solo) at the hands of a bad guy in black (Darth Vader, Kylo Ren). There are fan service-y moments throughout as well, from the hologram chess board to the remote training ball to mentions of a trash compactor. And yes, there is a Wilhelm scream, and someone has a bad feeling about something. I missed some, and there are loads of allusions to Empire and Jedi as well, but you get the picture. The Force Awakens follows a lot of A New Hope, which in some ways confirms many of the biggest fears fans had about Abrams being on board. His two Star Trek films were full of fan service and repeats of familiar ideas, and Super 8 was a riff on Steven Spielberg's early output and the misfit kid movies of the 80s. All creators are swayed by their influences, but the work usually suffers when slavish devotion to influences becomes more important than using those influences to create something new. It's why The Wrath of Khan (inspired in part by A Tale of Two Cities and Moby-Dick, among other works) will always be better than Star Trek Into Darkness (a joyless rehash of The Wrath of Khan)--Wrath of Khan gives itself room to play with its pastiche, which yields something new. There's always an underlying question of "How much is too much?" when it comes to homages, and with The Force Awakens it seems like the "too much" threshold is crossed in the second half once we see The Starkiller Base. As The Resistance plots how to blow it up (a rehash of the Death Star plan of attack in A New Hope and Return of the Jedi), one of the fighter pilots shouts out almost mockingly, "It's another Death Star!" Either Han or Leia then quips, "Where's the weak point?" Even the characters in the film seem to be saying, "Christ, a third time? Wasn't this freakin' silly enough when we re-used this plot device in Jedi?" Death Star 3.0 is lazy, sure, and it makes all the other original trilogy references seem glaring (it's a fish head in your soup--suddenly all the other ingredients taste like fish head), but maybe there's some meta-commentary on Star Wars here. The film seems to be aware of its role as a reintroduction to Star Wars for a new generation of viewers and a show of good faith to an older generation of viewers who suffered through the prequels. The Star Wars Trilogy became one of the primary models for rollicking cinematic adventure. It's an international cultural phenomenon, it's a point of comparison for other major films, it's an inescapable force in its own right. And here are some characters of a new generation who get to experience that moment for themselves. Lucas invented a model from previous models, while Abrams inherits and riffs on the ubiquitous influential model that Lucas invented and failed to improve upon in the prequels. (They seem to blow up Coruscant or an analog for Coruscant in The Force Awakens, as if to say, "Yeah, we're getting rid of that prequel stuff, guys.") Over at the AV Club, A.A. Dowd and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky had a brief discussion about The Force Awakens. Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, and Poe are new Star Wars characters who are aware of the legacy of Star Wars characters of the past. They know the stories, the players in the fictional history of the world they inhabit. These are Star Wars movie characters in a post-Star Wars cinematic world. Rey speeds by the husk of a Super Star Destroyer, and she eats lunch in the shadow of a collapsed AT-AT. It's like kids playing Star Wars in a Star Wars movie, or as Dowd put it: "We're essentially watching a bunch of Star Wars nerds in a Star Wars movie." Even when the fan service and repetition gets overbearing, there's at least something good to be found, and most of it involves the new characters. That may be a testament to how compelling and likable they are. Even though Poe Dameron is a supporting character who's only around for a couple of minutes, he makes such a great impression as the cocksure flying ace of The Resistance. His appearance in the mid-film cavalry scene is a fresh bit of derring-do--Finn looks on from the ground like an audience surrogate as Poe loops and dives and swoops to bring down TIE fighter after TIE fighter. It's a shame that the Starkiller Base sequence at the end doesn't offer any unique challenges for Poe and his fellow X-wing pilots. All they do is pew-pew-pew the hell out of a target and that's it. Finn offers loads of story potential as a First Order turncoat. He's raised from birth to be a fascist soldier (This. Is. Nazi-Sparta!), and not even given a name. He's a pawn and cannon fodder and an extension of another party's will. But despite that, he has a moment of conscience in which he breaks his programming to make a moral choice. He gets to be his own man and define his own identity rather than accept the one that's been forced upon him since birth. Maybe it's the sign of a mass defection of Stormtroopers in the next two films, but Finn's story is about being able to define who you want to be. It's free will as a part of asserting personhood. Rey might be the best of the batch, and she's a compelling anchor for this new trilogy. She's a hero with limitless potential--she's compassionate and strong, a force-savvy gearhead, a capable pilot and problem solver--but she's never had role models to show her the way or any reason to believe in herself. Think about it. Luke Skywalker wanted to leave home and be a great pilot like his father. Rey's never believed that she could be great at anything. She led a life of limited possibility, one without aspirations. She believes she's a nobody that no one wanted or cared about, and at various points of her adventure, even though she's in awe of what she's seeing, she keeps talking about going home. Yet there's nothing for her back on Jakku--no future, no hope. She so used to solitude and banality. Rey's story is about what happens when you're finally given an opportunity to dream and show your true worth as a person, and more importantly, she finds out what happens when someone says that they believe in you. Kylo Ren is a counterpoint to Rey and Finn. His parents are Han and Leia, the heroic couple of The Rebel Alliance; his uncle and trainer is Luke Skywalker, a Jedi trained by Ben Kenobi (Kylo's real name is Ben Solo) and Yoda; his grandfather is Anakin Skywalker, the Space Jesus. Kylo's got the genes and he's got the advantages of the family lineage, but he just can't live up to the legacy he's part of. I picture him as the child of two great musicians who gets weighed down by the pressure of being as good as, if not better than, mom and dad. He's a spoiled brat obsessed with outward shows of power, which seems like a mulligan for the botched characterization of Anakin Skywalker in the prequels. Like his grandfather, there's an expectation of greatness. I sense a kind of Salieri/Mozart rivalry emerging between Kylo Ren and Rey (i.e., the fictional trope of Salieri's resentful jealousy of Mozart's talent). In their force mind battle, Rey bests Kylo even though she hasn't had the same kind of training; she even identifies his fears of inadequacy. She beats him in a lightsaber duel, scarring his face in a manner not unlike Supreme Leader Snoke's. It's Space Daniel crane kicking Space Johnny, but she didn't even have a Miyagi-figure to show her how to wax-on and wax-off. (There's already been a backlash against Rey in some corners of the internet calling her a Mary Sue, but like Tasha Robinson wrote at The Verge: "She's a fantasy wish-fulfillment character with outsized skills, an inhuman reaction time, and a clever answer to every question--but so are the other major Star Wars heroes. Are they all getting the same level of suspicion and dismissal?") These three primary characters--Rey, Finn, and Kylo--are legacy-conscious individuals who are trying to assert their own identities and make their own futures. It's ironic (or maybe fitting?) that they're all held back to varying degrees by a plot with too many callbacks to the past. J.J. Abrams might have been given the least interesting Star Wars sequel to direct and co-write. (Actually, the young Han Solo spin-off movie is probably the least interesting.) It's a set-up movie for a new story that has to revisit an old set of stories and characters. At least the 2009 Star Trek film wasn't necessarily tied to a pre-existing film and could use existing characters to go on its own semi-original fan-service adventure. It was a reboot rather than a sequel, and the latter can be much tougher, especially when you're dealing with something as big as Star Wars. Rian Johnson's Star Wars Episode VIII will probably be a much more interesting and original movie. He's got a new set of characters established, a whole lot of relationships and dangling threads to play with, and lots of ability to tell the kind of story he wants to tell. I assume he'll do his damndest to avoid rehashing The Empire Strikes Back and instead bring something new to Star Wars. Johnson's got a great knack for mimicking, paying homage to, and reinterpreting different films and film genres to do his own thing, which will be great to see after a very insular Star Wars entry. Even Gareth Edwards' Star Wars: Rogue One seems like it'll be more interesting than Episode VII. It's a prequel about the mission to get the plans for the original Death Star, and yet this could be a different kind of story that doesn't have to rely on the pre-existing beats of another Star Wars movie. This might be a full-on WWII mission flick, i.e., The Space Guns of Navarone, Where Space Eagles Dare, The Dirty Space Dozen, Inglorious Space Basterds. So yes, The Force Awakens is too much like A New Hope, but it's also got enough fresh stuff in there to make it watchable and even enjoyable. It's nerdy comfort food with a twist, and it's also nerdy comfort food about the comforts of nerdy comfort foods. (But it tastes like fish heads.) The big takeaway is that the movie gets back to basics, namely that it's always been the characters that make Star Wars worth watching, not the spectacle. A fresh plot wouldn't hurt, though. I can't wait to see what happens when these characters mold their own stories and destinies in plots befitting their potential.
Force Awakens/New Hope photo
A Star Wars movie about Star Wars movies
Like Flixist EIC Matthew Razak said in his review, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the Star Wars sequel you're looking for. It's not flawless, obviously, but it does what it has to do. (It's a little unfair that every movie i...

Review: Sisters

Dec 18 // Matthew Razak
[embed]220235:42741:0[/embed] SistersDirector: Jason MooreRated: RRelease Date: December 18, 2015  Sisters is about Tina Fey and Amy Poehler playing sisters Maura and Kate Ellis. Maura is the goody-two-shoes and Kate is the partying train wreck and despite the fact that they clearly didn't do anything together as children they grew up the best of friends. But now their parents are going to sell their childhood home and so the two decide to throw one last "Ellis Island" party recapture their youth and get Maura a new man.  The comedy revolves around the somewhat tired trope of old people doing young people things. Because of this the movie really only survives on the strength of its two leading stars. As is par for the course Poehler and Fey turn it performances and chemistry that elevate the quality of the entire film. A lot of the jokes would just be flat out bad if you they weren't the ones delivering them, and the fact that they clearly act like sisters in real life makes it all the more fun to watch them joke around on screen. There's nothing special about the comedy here, but they make it work. The rest of the film is kind of perfunctory at best. The usual cast of SNL alum march out to deliver whatever comedy they've been assigned and most of the movie is taken up by the big party, during which a ludicrous amount of things go on. This includes the destruction and complete drywalling of an attic ceiling as if it was a ten minute project. I can suspend disbelief for most things, but as someone who has put up drywall this is just completely unbelievable. Thankfully it was followed up by a pretty hilarious scene where Ike Barinhotz gets a ballerina music box stuck where the sun don't shine. It's this really weird balance of Fey and Poehler's honest comedy and the far out slapstick that makes Sisters feel entirely unbalanced. At one point you're enjoying it thanks to the cast and at the next you're wondering how you accidentally started watching Grown Ups 2. That's not entirely fair. One shouldn't just throw around an insult like that. I went to far and I apologize. The point being that Sisters is a movie with some jokes that work and some jokes that don't. It features funny comedians who can take tepid content and turn it into something decent to good. You will laugh and you might even at some point feel something, despite the movie's insipid ending.  To conclude: this is a movie that is not Star Wars and there really isn't much more to say. 
Sisters Review photo
Movies that aren't Star Wars
For some reason someone out there thought that releasing a film the same week as Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a good idea. You can kind of see the logic in releasing Sisters this week, I suppose. The studio is h...

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Dec 16 // Matthew Razak
[embed]220217:42739:0[/embed] Star Wars: The Force AwakensDirector: J.J. AbramsRated: PG-13Release Date: December 16, 2015 After the conclusion of Return of the Jedi Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has disappeared and no one knows where to find him (Sidenote: In the meta world of J.J. Abrams this plays right into Hamill's absence from all advertising). In his absence the dark side has begun to establish itself once again in the form of The First Order, which is basically the Empire reconstituted. They are led by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), a Sith lord in training and pupil of the Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). Meanwhile the Resistance, commanded by General Leia (Carrie Fisher), is fighting back with the support of the Republic behind it. More importantly, though, on a small desert planet a map to Luke Skywalker ends up inside a droid called BB-8, who is subsequently found by a scavenger named Rey (Daisey Ridely). She is joined by a fleeing storm trooper named Finn (John Boyega) and a few other familiar faces as they try to get the map to the Resistance.  An adorable droid with a secret message found on a desert planet. A group of rag-tag rebels fighting against a militaristic empire. A dark lord in a black helmet. A young hero drawn into the fight through chance. Sound familiar? It should. You can simply pop in A New Hope and you'll have most of the plot for this one.  Much like J.J. Abrams did with Star Trek: Into Darkness he has taken a beloved movie and remade it for the fans. Almost everything is a throwback to the original movies, and only the original movies. It's very obvious that Abrams does not want anyone even remotely thinking about Episodes I-III. As such this is a giant film of fan service from throw away lines to cameos to plot to visuals. If it's a memorable moment from Episodes IV-VI it's probably somewhere in this movie. Whether you consider that a good thing or not is up to you, for this fan it was awesome, despite some concern that we're just seeing a bit of misguided fan placation like Into Darkness. Last week Lucas let slip his opinion of the film and he said that the fans would love it. It's easy to see why that's his opinion. The movie doesn't really break new ground, which is probably its most disappointing aspect. It definitely has plenty of twists and surprises for fans, but this isn't really a universe expanding premise. It feels more like a reset. The Force Awakens is the palette cleanser that's wrapping up everything with its nods to the old guard and its introduction to the new. Hopefully, it's the new that's going to stick around. The best part of the film are our two new heroes and villain, Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren, respectively. While old faces showing up is fun and all, it's these three newcomers who breath life into the movie. It's these characters that change the movie from a bunch of fan service into something genuine and good -- something that feels like Star Wars. They are us on screen: awed by the legends they're walking with, cowed by the power they have, and establishing a new struggle between dark and light. If these are the characters we'll be joining on this new journey then we're in good hands. With Abrams sticking around we'll be in good directing hands as well. To start, someone talked with him about lens flares and despite all the opportunities that lightsabers offer for such an effect he is impressively restrained with their use. This applies to his entire style for the film, which feels closer to the gritty-ness of the original trilogy than the high gloss of the second set. You'll also be happy to hear that Lucas' stilted dialog and wooden characters are gone. The screenplay is charming and witty and without any Jar Jar Binks type antics. While the plot relies on what can only be described as a Death-Star-sized McGuffin in a space opera such as this that's exactly how it should be. Abrams also isn't going to pull any punches. He's got this franchise in his hands and it's very clear from this movie that he's going to do whatever he wants with it. Thankfully what he wants to do is make you love it again.  That is probably most evident in the fact that actual star wars occur in this Star Wars. The action is superb and creates that sense of wonder you felt watching the original trilogy's outerspace dog fights. It makes you think back to the awe you felt watching the final attack on the Death Star in A New Hope. Part of that might be the fact that much of the direction steals directly from that film, but if you're going to "pay homage" might as well go all out. It's also ironic that it's the old school special effects (actual droids, no CGI when not needed) that make the film look even better. This franchise got its legs thanks to its advanced real-world special effects, and it's finding them again by going back to them. All this said, The Force Awakens is definitely only the beginning of something, and it can feel like that. There is a lot of necessary exposition that takes place to catch folks up. Abrams does his best to make you miss it, but it starts to stand out by the end. The film is also carrying the duty of establishing a new universe after Disney wiped the entire expanded universe from canon. They're doing a lot in this one film and it can make the movie feel a little heavy handed. Then again subtlety was never the franchise's strong point. This is the beginning of something, however. It's a farewell to the old guard and a welcome to the new. As such it's hard to begrudge the film its plethora of callbacks, repeated plot line and heavy exposition. These things are necessary to pull off what is needed in order to make new Star Wars movies that can stand on their own and don't alienate the fans, who already got burned once. This is a movie that honors what came, but leads into what is to come. Hopefully, when Episode VIII rolls around it can truly be its own thing.
Star Wars photo
This is the Star Wars you're looking for
Sixteen years ago Star Wars returned, but it wasn't the return we were all hoping for. It was the return George Lucas wanted, which turned out to be not so good. Fans had constructed decades worth of universe and build up in ...

Fantastic Beasts photo
Accio better teaser
Now that the Young Adult dystopia phase is winding down, it's time for the Harry Potter universe to take back its crown. Based on a super thin book (which is more of a tiny encyclopedia of magical animals) with a film script ...

Star Trek Beyond photo
Guess what got leaked early
The Star Trek Beyond trailer was supposed to debut with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Well, it leaked early, which means that Paramount pushed the release of the trailer to today. Here is your first look of Justin Lin's Star ...

Independence Day 2 photo
Weaponized nostalgia has arrived
It's here, guys. The trailer for Roland Emmerich's Independence Day: Resurgence is now on the interwebs, shown below with little comment for your viewing pleasure. Here's the official synopsis for the film: We always knew t...

We get it, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, you exist

Dec 11 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220201:42731:0[/embed] I was talking to my mom a few days ago, and she couldn't stop talking about how much she wanted to see The Force Awakens. She's a fan of the series, sure, but I never really heard her talk about it much. We didn't own the films growing up, and there wasn't a big hooplah when the prequels launched (or enough to make young me take notice, at least) so it seemed odd that she suddenly started bringing up the latest film in the series. On top of that, she was telling me that my dad wanted to see it ever since he caught one of the many, many TV spots. But what's going on? This latest sequel has done everything right so far. It's shown as little as it can to pique our interests enough, it's bringing back old stars in order to draw in an older demographic (like my mother and father, and full of marginalized sexes and races in order to better represent the rest of the world. So why is there still a need to get people to see it? It might be that Star Wars is still trapped within the stigma it always was.  When the Golden Globes were announced the other day, I noticed a weird subset of fans complaining that Star Wars was getting ignored. Unfortunately for that mass, the complaint had no legs since the film wasn't screened for critics and award consideration anyway. But even if it had, there's a good chance it would've been ignored in favor of other films that are more in line with the award selections anyway. Regardless of the film's actual quality, there's no real chance it would've gotten any of the major awards. Maybe some stuff for visuals, sound design, or score, but the bigger stuff definitely would've gone to other things. Besides, there's good chance it'll still get recognized next year. This year's big nerd film is Mad Max: Fury Road and that's going to need all the support we can give. My point beyond the tangent being, is that Star Wars is a big science fiction film and those never get recognized. Despite what the producers are saying about not caring for recognition (as they chose to withhold the film for fear of spoilers), it's like they needed to be noticed everywhere else. Like a child refusing to get the attention of their parent, Star Wars is yelling constantly and just won't sit back and just ride the already titanic wave of anticipation.  The "Hey, look at me!" mentality is rubbing me the wrong way. I get that every company wants a small part of the Star Wars money, but it's just so so much. I hate that the advertising campaign is turning me into the kind of ranting old nerd that I despise, but it rings desperate at one point. It's this unneeded desperation (it's already broken presale ticket records) that's pushing me away. For a time I entertained the thought of going to see the film opening weekend just to be part of the conversation, but now I don't really care. Remember the second full trailer? I wrote the post on it claiming I'd avoid it for fear of spoilers, but literally two second after the trailer premiered, the internet was littered with images. While I still am worried about having the film spoiled, I feel like I've been so entrenched in this film I honestly don't give a damn anymore.  [embed]220201:42732:0[/embed] But who cares what I have to say. I'm a single, nerdy voice in a mass of loud yelling. They're not going to need my ticket money. No one will care what I have to say or what I do as they drink from their Star Wars cups and eat their Star Wars shaped macaroni and cheese. And hell, even as I write this, I'm ironically bringing attention to the film yet again. There's just no way to stop the behemoth. It's a beast that's bringing about the end.  It's, well, awakened. 
The Force Awakens photo
"For behold, the Lord will come in fire"
It's everywhere. Trailers before each YouTube video, spots during each TV commercial, phone screens, videogames, books, toys, our food, our cars, our appliances, our public transit, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, our c...

Apocalypse trailer photo
Da ba dee ba
X-Men: Days of Future Past was one of the best surprises of last year. First Class was a bit rough, but Days took that foundation and built some good stuff on top of it. But while it managed a fine balance, it was a bit overs...

The Golden Globe Awards have their nominees

Dec 10 // Matthew Razak
Motion picture, drama "Carol""Mad Max: Fury Road" "The Revenant" "Room" "Spotlight"  Motion picture, comedy "The Big Short""Joy""The Martian" "Spy" "Trainwreck"  Actress in a motion picture, drama Cate Blanchett, "Carol" Brie Larson, "Room" Rooney Mara, "Carol" Saoirse Ronan, "Brooklyn" Alicia Vikander, "The Danish Girl" Actress in a motion picture, comedy Jennifer Lawrence, "Joy" Melissa McCarthy, "Spy"Amy Schumer, "Trainwreck"Maggie Smith, "The Lady in the Van"Lily Tomlin, "Grandma" Actor in a motion picture, drama Bryan Cranston, "Trumbo" Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Revenant"Michael Fassbender, "Steve Jobs"Eddie Redmayne, "The Danish Girl" Will Smith, "Concussion" Actor in a motion picture, comedy Christian Bale, "The Big Short"Steve Carell, "The Big Short"Matt Damon, "The Martian"Al Pacino, "Danny Collins"Mark Ruffalo, "Infinitely Polar Bear" TV series, drama "Empire""Game of Thrones""Mr. Robot""Narcos""Outlander" TV series, comedy "Casual""Mozart in the Jungle""Orange Is the New Black""Silicon Valley""Transparent""Veep" Actress in a TV series, comedy Rachel Bloom, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"Jamie Lee Curtis, "Scream Queens"Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"Gina Rodriguez, "Jane the Virgin"Lily Tomlin, "Grace and Frankie" Actress in a TV series, drama Caitriona Balfe, "Outlander"Viola Davis, "How to Get Away with Murder"Eva Green, "Penny DreadfulTaraji P. Henson, "Empire"Robin Wright, "House of Cards" Actor in a TV series, drama Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"Rami Malek, "Mr. Robot"Wagner Moura, "Narcos"Bob Odenkirk, "Better Call Saul"Liev Schreiber, "Ray Donovan" Actor in a TV series, comedy Aziz Ansari, "Master of None"Gael García Bernal, "Mozart in the Jungle"Rob Lowe, "The Grinder"Patrick Stewart, "Blunt Talk"Jeffrey Tambor, "Transparent"  Actress in a supporting role in a motion picture  Jane Fonda, "Youth"Jennifer Jason Leigh, "The Hateful Eight"Helen Mirren, "Trumbo"Alicia Vikander, "Ex Machina"Kate Winslet, "Steve Jobs" Actor in a supporting role in a motion picture  Paul Dano, "Love & Mercy"Idris Elba, "Beasts of No Nation"Mark Rylance, "Bridge of Spies" | Review | Q&AMichael Shannon, "99 Homes"Sylvester Stallone, "Creed" TV movie or miniseries "American Crime""American Horror Story: Hotel""Fargo""Flesh and Bone""Wolf Hall" Actress in a TV movie or limited series Kirsten Dunst, "Fargo"Queen Latifah, "Bessie"Felicity Huffman, "American Crime"Sarah Hay, "Flesh and Bone"Lady Gaga, "American Horror Story: Hotel" Actor in a TV movie or limited series Oscar Isaac, "Show Me a Hero"Patrick Wilson, "Fargo"Idris Elba, "Luther"David Oyelowo, "Nightingale"Mark Rylance, "Wolf Hall" Supporting actor in a TV series, limited series or TV movie Alan Cumming, "The Good Wife"Damian Lewis, "Wolf Hall"Ben Mendelsohn, "Bloodline"Tobias Menzies, "Outlander"Christian Slater, "Mr. Robot" Supporting actress in a TV series, limited series or TV movie Uzo Aduba, "Orange Is the New Black"Joanne Froggatt, "Downton Abbey"Regina King, "American Crime"Judith Light, "Transparent"Maura Tierney, "The Affair" Animated feature film "Anomalisa""The Good Dinosaur""Inside Out""The Peanuts Movie""Shaun the Sheep Movie" Director Todd Haynes, "Carol"Alejandro G. Iñárritu, "The Revenant"Tom Mccarthy, "Spotlight"George Miller, "Mad Max: Fury Road"Ridley Scott, "The Martian" Screenplay Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, "Spotlight"Aaron Sorkin, "Steve Jobs"Quentin Tarantino, "The Hateful Eight"Emma Donoghue, "Room"Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, "The Big Short" Original song "Love Me Like You Do" ("50 Shades of Grey")“One Kind of Love” ("Love and Mercy")"See You Again" ("Furious 7")"Simple Song #3" ("Youth")"Writing's on the Wall" ("Spectre") Foreign language film "The Brand New Testament" (Belgium/France/Luxembourg)"The Club" (Chile)"The Fencer" (Finland/Germany/Estonia)"Mustang" (France)"Son Of Saul" (Hungary) Score Carter Burwell, "Carol"Alexandre Desplat, "The Danish Girl"Ennio Morricone, "The Hateful EightDaniel Pemberton, "Steve Jobs"Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto, "The Revenant"   Motion picture, drama "Carol" | Review"Mad Max: Fury Road" | Review"The Revenant" "Room" | Review"Spotlight" | Review Motion picture, comedy "The Big Short""Joy""The Martian" | Review"Spy" | Review"Trainwreck" | Review Actress in a motion picture, drama Cate Blanchett, "Carol" | InterviewBrie Larson, "Room" | Video Q&ARooney Mara, "Carol" | InterviewSaoirse Ronan, "Brooklyn" | Video Q&AAlicia Vikander, "The Danish Girl"| Video Q&A | Interview Actress in a motion picture, comedy Jennifer Lawrence, "Joy" Melissa McCarthy, "Spy"Amy Schumer, "Trainwreck"Maggie Smith, "The Lady in the Van"Lily Tomlin, "Grandma" Actor in a motion picture, drama Bryan Cranston, "Trumbo" | ReviewLeonardo DiCaprio, "The Revenant"Michael Fassbender, "Steve Jobs" | Review | InterviewEddie Redmayne, "The Danish Girl" | Review | InterviewWill Smith, "Concussion" Actor in a motion picture, comedy Christian Bale, "The Big Short"Steve Carell, "The Big Short"Matt Damon, "The Martian"Al Pacino, "Danny Collins"Mark Ruffalo, "Infinitely Polar Bear" TV series, drama "Empire""Game of Thrones""Mr. Robot""Narcos""Outlander" TV series, comedy "Casual""Mozart in the Jungle""Orange Is the New Black""Silicon Valley""Transparent""Veep" Actress in a TV series, comedy Rachel Bloom, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"Jamie Lee Curtis, "Scream Queens"Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"Gina Rodriguez, "Jane the Virgin"Lily Tomlin, "Grace and Frankie" Actress in a TV series, drama Caitriona Balfe, "Outlander"Viola Davis, "How to Get Away with Murder"Eva Green, "Penny DreadfulTaraji P. Henson, "Empire"Robin Wright, "House of Cards" Actor in a TV series, drama Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"Rami Malek, "Mr. Robot"Wagner Moura, "Narcos"Bob Odenkirk, "Better Call Saul"Liev Schreiber, "Ray Donovan" Actor in a TV series, comedy Aziz Ansari, "Master of None"Gael García Bernal, "Mozart in the Jungle"Rob Lowe, "The Grinder"Patrick Stewart, "Blunt Talk"Jeffrey Tambor, "Transparent"  Actress in a supporting role in a motion picture  Jane Fonda, "Youth"Jennifer Jason Leigh, "The Hateful Eight"Helen Mirren, "Trumbo"Alicia Vikander, "Ex Machina"Kate Winslet, "Steve Jobs" Actor in a supporting role in a motion picture  Paul Dano, "Love & Mercy"Idris Elba, "Beasts of No Nation"Mark Rylance, "Bridge of Spies" | Review | Q&AMichael Shannon, "99 Homes"Sylvester Stallone, "Creed" TV movie or miniseries "American Crime""American Horror Story: Hotel""Fargo""Flesh and Bone""Wolf Hall" Actress in a TV movie or limited series Kirsten Dunst, "Fargo"Queen Latifah, "Bessie"Felicity Huffman, "American Crime"Sarah Hay, "Flesh and Bone"Lady Gaga, "American Horror Story: Hotel" Actor in a TV movie or limited series Oscar Isaac, "Show Me a Hero"Patrick Wilson, "Fargo"Idris Elba, "Luther"David Oyelowo, "Nightingale"Mark Rylance, "Wolf Hall" Supporting actor in a TV series, limited series or TV movie Alan Cumming, "The Good Wife"Damian Lewis, "Wolf Hall"Ben Mendelsohn, "Bloodline"Tobias Menzies, "Outlander"Christian Slater, "Mr. Robot" Supporting actress in a TV series, limited series or TV movie Uzo Aduba, "Orange Is the New Black"Joanne Froggatt, "Downton Abbey"Regina King, "American Crime"Judith Light, "Transparent"Maura Tierney, "The Affair" Animated feature film "Anomalisa""The Good Dinosaur""Inside Out""The Peanuts Movie""Shaun the Sheep Movie" Director Todd Haynes, "Carol"Alejandro G. Iñárritu, "The Revenant"Tom Mccarthy, "Spotlight"George Miller, "Mad Max: Fury Road"Ridley Scott, "The Martian" Screenplay Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, "Spotlight"Aaron Sorkin, "Steve Jobs"Quentin Tarantino, "The Hateful Eight"Emma Donoghue, "Room"Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, "The Big Short" Original song "Love Me Like You Do" ("50 Shades of Grey")“One Kind of Love” ("Love and Mercy")"See You Again" ("Furious 7")"Simple Song #3" ("Youth")"Writing's on the Wall" ("Spectre") Foreign language film "The Brand New Testament" (Belgium/France/Luxembourg)"The Club" (Chile)"The Fencer" (Finland/Germany/Estonia)"Mustang" (France)"Son Of Saul" (Hungary) Score Carter Burwell, "Carol"Alexandre Desplat, "The Danish Girl"Ennio Morricone, "The Hateful EightDaniel Pemberton, "Steve Jobs"Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto, "The Revenant"
Awards photo
Mad Max, FTW!
All year I've been wondering if the stuck-up world of award givers would actually recognize Mad Max: Fury Road as one of the best movies of the year or ignore it because "action." As the early critics awards have shown i...

TMNT 2 Trailer photo
Heroes in a half sequel
Everyone has their own opinion of 2014's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Production was troubling from the get go, but the final product wasn't as rough as I figured. Sure it wasn't the best film, and it's still nowhere near as...

Awards photo
Mad Max walks away with other top awards
Today the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association, of which I am a member, revealed its award winners for the past year. Spotlight was named the best picture, but George Miller pulled in the award for best director for Ma...

Hidden Sequel photo
Quite a title
When Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon first hit the scene it changed the world. All manner of wire fu technology took Hollywood by storm and eventually led to a second boom of big budget kung fu flicks. After that trend died do...

Review: Seven Weeks (Nononanananoka)

Dec 04 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220169:42720:0[/embed] Seven Weeks (野のなななのか, Nononanananoka)Director: Nobuhiko ObayashiRelease Date: March 2, 2014 (Japan)Rating: n/aCountry: Japan There's a line in Neil Gaiman's Sandman that goes, "If you keep [stories] going long enough, they always end in death." Ironically, death is also a great place to start a story. When a friend or relative passes away, loved ones gather to mourn and remember, and in the process they find something useful for the future. Seven Weeks opens on a similar note, commemorating the real-life passing of a director before saying that each time someone dies, someone else is born to take his or her place. So stories keep going, and there's death, but it's not necessarily the end; it's more like a continuing historical process. That's the broad shape of Seven Weeks. A family's 92-year-old patriarch, Dr. Suzuki Mitsuo (Shinagawa Toru), passes away, and the film proceeds to explore the town he lives in, his secret past during WWII, and the lives of his surviving family and friends. The film is set in Ashibetsu, a mining town whose population has dwindled as reliance on coal has declined. The characters in the film often have rapid, funny exchanges with one another, especially in the first hour, which plays out with the speed of a screwball comedy. It's not just Mitsuo's surviving family members doing the talking. The ghost of Mitsuo also has a chance to comment on his own life and death, which he does at length. Even though I'm only mildly familiar with the history and politics of post-war Japan, the setting is essential for Obayashi's concerns, which are at once distinctly Japanese and yet also universal. So many of the anxieties of every generation are rooted in the inability to account for a world that's constantly changing. Moving from coal power, Japan settled on nuclear energy, and yet with nuclear power comes a reminder of the atomic bomb and, more recently, the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima. What next, where to go, what to do? When Mitsuo's family brings these concerns up, Seven Weeks feels like a message movie about green energy, albeit a sincere one. The local economy in Ashibetsu isn't what it used to be and may continue to decline, and yet Obayashi lovingly photographs the rural landscape, always finding beauty and grace in the hillsides. It's as if somewhere in the past, in the very soil of this place, there's an answer, or at least a chance for beautiful reflection that can inspire worthwhile solutions. I sensed a few nods to Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries, which is apt. Similar concerns of place and tradition come from a few of Mitsuo's drunk contemporaries, who talk about the loss of a traditional Japanese culture, the west exerting more cultural influence on the country and its youth in the post-war period. Mitsuo's own struggles with the past suggest an unwillingness to let go, haunted by a poem and the memory of a woman. His clinic even has an adjoining local history museum, which suggests different ways and reasons why we hold on to events from our past. Seven Weeks clocks in at nearly three hours. Some long films feel much shorter, but Seven Weeks feels like it's three hours. That's not really a bad thing, but anyone expecting the movie to be brisk will be disappointed. Anyone expecting an experience like Hausu will be especially disappointed. Seven Weeks contains a few flashes of anarchic experimentation like Hausu, but it's mostly a grounded affair given the subject matter. The characters are quirky, but mostly only just. There's a monk who plucks and admires his comically large ear hair, which has a nice payoff in a scene in which one of Mitsuo's grandsons starting picking his own nose hair. A few uses of blue screen and green screen to convey the passing of time and the change in the seasons are jarring since they look spotty, but for the most part there's a slow, deliberate confidence in much of Seven Weeks that reveals an old director in complete control of his material. There's an overture played throughout Seven Weeks by a group of marching ghosts. The spectral musicians are motif I've seen in a few other Japanese movies, though I'm still never quite sure what to make of them. The melody they play is rather charming, and the slow yet beautiful dazzle of the tune seems mirrored in the pace of the film. The ghosts walk the landscape and play their song, and they're a calming presence in Seven Weeks. The whole film has a calming and contemplative presence, in fact, like a grandfather telling a story. Sometimes we drift in and out when listening to the tale, but there are details and textures we recall vividly, and it's just nice to hear that voice.
Review: Seven Weeks photo
Past, present, future
Even though most people in the US know Nobuhiko Obayashi for his 1977 cult classic House (Hausu), he's remained a prolific filmmaker in Japan. His body of work is varied, including the body swap comedy Exchange Students ...

BvS photo
You can basically skip the movie
The first Batman v. Superman trailer was fantastic. It raised a lot of tension, but kept the film's plot a mystery. It drove curiosity and interest. This new trailer for the film is the exact opposite. Revealing almost e...

Review: Creed

Nov 29 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220168:42717:0[/embed] CreedDirector: Ryan CooglerRated: PG-13Release Date: November 25th, 2015 Rocky started out as a humble film where the titular character was in search of his prime. Themes of resurrection, Jesus imagery, and bouts between mythical legends blew the series into the huge proportions its known by today. But just like how the sixth film, Rocky Balboa, saw to end the series, Creed chooses to bring it back down to Earth. Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) is Apollo's illegitimate son and after years of self-taught boxing and fighting underground in Mexico, he's ready to take on the sport full time in order to break out of the shadow of his famous father. After heading to Philadelphia, he convinces his father's old rival and friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), to train him through some of the biggest fights of his life.  Creed manages to accomplish something I've never seen before. It's only something a series seven films in can do, really. Although it can technically be the start of a whole new set of films, it feels like an appropriate epilogue to Balboa's saga. Stallone may not have written this film, but lots of the film's lines and themes fit right in with the other six films. Everything from the little story touches (Balboa knows every person in town, and people still call him "Champ"), to Balboa's dialogue sounding exactly like how he should (he's a big dumb lug, but he's got heart), and to little homages folks can miss completely. It's a film informed by history so fans of the series will absolutely love all the shout outs, but newer viewers won't feel lost without that knowledge. The homage is all in the background (other than two scenes, and only one of those is a major setpiece); stuff you'd pick up if you're paying attention. Like its major theme of trying to break out and create its own legacy, Creed isn't weighed down by the past but is made that much better for acknowledging it a little.  Creed is also a technical marvel. It's running time (two hours and 14 minutes) gave me pause at first because while the Rocky saga was always great, it tended to run long. And while Creed does indeed have some scenes that could be skimmed down, it's edited kind of perfectly. The story has the time it needs to breathe, and it allows the audience to get used to this new perspective of this old world. We have enough story bits to move the film forward, but there's still plenty time to develop the characters. The story isn't perfect as there are a few threads that get lost with an entire secondary group of characters that get shoved aside for an odd feeling title match we're not really invested in (so Wood Harris is ultimately wasted as a result but I don't want to talk about it too much because it'll spoil the film), Phylicia Rashad isn't really needed, the love interest seems tacked on (but Tessa Thompson is great), and unfortunately we don't get to the root of why Adonis wants to be a boxer other than the fact that his father once was. But it's hard to mind because everything works so well. Especially watching the fights unfold. The film strives for a realistic take on boxing. Unlike the grandiose nature the sport takes in the later films of the Rocky saga, director Ryan Coogler brings the sport back down to its gritty appeal. Fights are visceral, we're reminded on a few occasions of the damage boxing can do as Apollo's death in the ring comes up a few times (and feels real each time), and watching Stallone as a older, weaker Balboa who's been ravaged by the sport is very compelling. And the matches themselves are some of the most engrossing fights I've ever seen in boxing films. One of the weaker aspects of the Rocky saga has always been the boxing matches themselves. That's why there was always care to develop the personalities of the fighters themselves because we're more likely to get invested in an admittedly goofy fight regardless. But in Creed it's the other way around. While there's some attention to fighter detail, it's more about what happens in the ring. And it's definitely something I'd like to see more of should there be more films (of which I'd gladly see). It's a cool way to modernize the typically old fashioned saga for sure. Adonis' first official match is a huge stand out, and I want to talk about how marvelous it is here but I want you to experience it for yourself. It's quite a sight.  Now for the part I've wanted to talk about the most. As mentioned before, Sylvester Stallone may not have written the film this time around, but it definitely feels like it. As the new school props up the legends of old, every scene with Stallone is absolutely enthralling. Stallone wears Balboa's iconic image like a glove, and it's like the saga never ended. It's kind of amazing how he nails each bit of dialogue, humor, and physicality. His arc in the film is fantastic, and it's quite emotional given our history with the character. If you've watched any of the films in the past, expect to cry a little. It's a staunch reminder of the kind of actor Stallone can be in case you've forgotten after watching him in films like The Expendables. Creed subdues his image a bit, but as much as the film tries, it doesn't dim Balboa completely. Michael B. Jordan turns in quite a performance here, adding the necessary believable edge and charisma, but he's pretty much outclassed by Stallone in their scenes together. It's to be expected since Stallone has many years of the role under his belt, but it doesn't even matter too much since this is a bridge film that serves to pass the torch along. So even this slight negative feels like another positive.  My only major concern is whether or not someone unfamiliar with the Rocky series will be able to enjoy Creed to its full potential. Since I'm far removed from that position, I can only offer a few key points: Creed is an entertaining boxing film in its own right, so you're likely to get invested without knowing the history, there are a few iconic Rocky images that float around in the pop culture space and they're paid homage to here so you'll at least recognize those, and it's just a fantastic film all around. Creed isn't a perfect film, but it's as close to perfect as you can get.  Folks, let me let you in on some behind the scenes stuff for a bit. The first thing I've ever written for this site was, in fact, a post about Rocky's training montage.  I started writing community posts here and there before being brought on to the staff full time, eventually working my way up to the guy who gets to review stuff every now and then. So three years later, it's surreal to take on Creed for my 100th review. Creed hit me hard, folks. I've been writing, re-writing, and completely erased a draft to write it all over again just to get it right. It's a film I liked so much that it was hard to put in words. It's the best film I've seen all year, and there's a good chance nothing will top it for some time. Whether there are more or whether this is the last Rocky universe thing I'll ever see, I'm perfectly happy.  Hollywood, if you want to reboot everything, give every old property sequels, spin-off into cinematic universes, take note of Ryan Googler's Creed. This is how you do it. 
Creed Review photo
Gonna fly now, gonna fly forever
Twenty years ago, my father had a bout with lymphoma. In the following years of recovery, I searched for any means to get closer to him. One of the first things we did together was watch a bunch of his favorite films. Godzill...


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