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comedy

Baywatch photo
Those ABS
I'm not sure anyone was actually looking forward to the Baywatch movie. We heard Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron signed on to star, but it wasn't on anyone's radar until now. This first trailer for the upcoming reboot actually g...

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Will Ferrell will star in a new comedy about esports


This isn't going to end well
Dec 07
// Matthew Razak
Look, I'll stand up for Will Ferrell any day. The man has delivered some of the best comedies of the past two decades, but he's been in a bit of a slump at the moment, and that's just one of the reasons why that the news of h...
Final Space photo
Final Space

Conan O'Brien brings Olan Rogers' Final Space to TBS: Watch the animated show's teaser/pilot


More Conan-related stuff on TBS
Dec 05
// Hubert Vigilla
Conan O'Brien is staking more territory over at TBS. In addition to his own talk show, Conanco (O'Brien's production company) is set to produce an all new animated television show called Final Space. Created by Olan Rogers an...
Lost MST3K episodes found photo
Lost MST3K episodes found

The first MST3K episodes have been found, are available to stream for Kickstarter backers


Like finding long-lost geek demos
Nov 30
// Hubert Vigilla
The new Mystery Science Theater 3000 should show up on Netflix some time next year. We still don't know what movies Jonah Ray and the bots will be watching, or how the new cast will interact with some of the familiar faces, b...

Yoda Bad Lip Reading photo
Yoda Bad Lip Reading

Yoda sings a song about seagulls in this Bad Lip Reading of The Empire Strikes Back


Laughing off my ass, I did
Nov 27
// Hubert Vigilla
A break from posting during Thanksgiving, Flixist has taken. But fear not. Return we will with news and reviews in the final weeks of 2016. A very crummy year, 2016 was. The dark side of the Force is powerful, but balance res...

Review: Manchester by the Sea

Nov 17 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220919:43136:0[/embed] Manchester by the SeaDirector: Kenneth LonerganRating: RRelease Date:  November 18, 2016 (limited) Casey Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a handyman who lives in a small room in Boston. He's prickly and withdrawn, a brooding guy who spends a lot of time alone. When his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) passes away, Lee reluctantly returns to his hometown to help settle affairs with Joe's teenage son Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Whenever Lee's name is mentioned, people around town perk up. They're surprised, shocked, that Lee Chandler, the Lee Chandler, is back. He's got a reputation for something. There's a reason he's avoided home. Affleck's troubled quiet is remarkable to watch. It's a nuanced performance built around restraint. I found myself wondering throughout the film what moments would cause his stoic facade to collapse. There's such an immense heartbreak and guilt in him, which is clear even before his past is revealed, yet he doesn't want to share his emotional and psychological burden with anyone else. As penitent as he is, an intimate human connection would hurt even more. He'd rather get drunk and get beat up. Lonergan drops several telling flashbacks, and he finds elegant ways to loop the past into the present and then out again. It adds dimension to Lee, and Affleck is superb at playing the same man in different keys. Michelle Williams plays Lee's ex-wife Randi, whose character is similarly constrained by her emotions. She wants to speak about their history together, but doing that may be more painful than staying bottled up. A phone call early in the film captures the tense awkwardness of two people who want to say more, say everything, but can't bring themselves to say much of anything. Williams has always been an excellent and underrated actress, and part of me wanted more of her in the film. It would be a different sort of movie. Manchester by the Sea is more about Lee and to a certain extent his nephew Patrick and the shortcomings of masculine tropes when it comes to raw emotional life. On the one hand the male-dominated story feels like a missed opportunity, but maybe it also emphasizes Lee and Patrick's solitude. With regard to family, this man and this boy are all that's left in each other's lives. The restraint in the lives of the characters may explain why I responded so much to the emotional highs and lows of Manchester by the Sea. It's the catharsis for the audience that the characters can't give themselves. All of the funny and sad material gives an alternately absurd and humane texture to these lives. Even the material that doesn't seem like it fits in a streamlined narrative--such as an unexpected but perfect cameo appearance, or Patrick's teenage horndog shtick--enrich the sad, beautiful whole. Admittedly this seismographic portrait of people's lives doesn't work for everyone. I had a pretty spirited back-and-forth with my friend and fellow film critic Nathanael Hood, and he was lukewarm on the film's jagged contours. Lonergan finds quiet and stillness amid mood swings, and also offers the actors ample room to emote or withhold. Frozen chicken falls from the freezer and a person finally breaks down; someone offers a small tip for service and the other person doesn't know how to interpret that sort of kindness. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed. All of the funny moments are punctuated by an unremitting sadness. Lee is comically bad at small talk and social gatherings, but the reasons for it, like so much about Manchester by the Sea, are so personal and painful.
Manchester by the Sea photo
Life is heartbreaking, and funny, too
Watching Manchester by the Sea, I was reminded of two lines from the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch: "I cry, because I will laugh if I don't" and "I laugh, because I will cry if I don't". Kenneth Lonergan's latest film is ...

Clueless Gamer: FF XV photo
Clueless Gamer: FF XV

Watch Conan O'Brien and Elijah Wood get bored and angry at Final Fantasy XV


"WHY WOULD SOMEONE PLAY THIS?!"
Nov 16
// Hubert Vigilla
The Clueless Gamer bits on Conan are a lot of fun to watch. Sure, Conan O'Brien isn't a gamer and is more of a snarky smart aleck, but his overall assessment of what he's seeing is brutally, acerbically honest. In case you mi...
T2 Trainspotting photo
Choose the same
Any movie from Danny Boyle is a cause for celebration, but a sequel to the cult hit and the movie that put Boyle on the map, Trainspotting, is cause for a bit extra. The first trailer has finally landed and its basically...

Big Lebowski spin-off photo
Big Lebowski spin-off

The Jesus Returns: First look at John Turturro's Big Lebowski spin-off Going Places


Until it goes click
Oct 28
// Hubert Vigilla
The Big Lebowski overflowed with memorable characters, from The Dude, Walter, and Donny to known-pornographer Jackie Treehorn and The Dude's awkward landlord. The best of the side characters, though, was John Turturro's Jesus...

Review: Tampopo

Oct 21 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220968:43157:0[/embed] TampopoDirector: Juzo ItamiRating: NRRelease Date: October 21, 2016 (limited)Country: Japan  There's a familiar old west tale in Tampopo, with variations on cowboys and saloons and pretty schoolmarms. Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki) and Gun (Ken Watanabe) are a pair of truck-driving gourmands that mosey into town. They stop by a noddle shop in a sorry state run by a widow named Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto). She's quaint, mousy, often dressed in gingham, demure to a fault. Also, her ramen just plain sucks. Since they're good cowboys, Goro and Gun help Tampopo improve her shop, sort of like working the farm or rebuilding this here schoolhouse. Tampopo spends the the film perfecting her ramen and in the process attempts to perfect herself. It's not just a western but, philosophically, a martial arts movie. This is a story about the discipline of mastery. Think Jiro Dreams of Sushi, except ramen: self-improvement through a process of trial and error and practice. It's a familiar narrative, but when filtered through an unexpected intermediary, it achieves remarkable existential heft. Even in a decidedly lighthearted comedy like Tampopo, it's moving to witness someone try and try again until they achieve some ennobling dignity, no matter how small. All that effort for a good bowl of soup. But that's just part of the oddball/heartfelt appeal of Tampopo. Soba isn't the only noodle. The movie starts with a gangster in white (Koji Yakusho) and his moll (Fukumi Kuroda) entering a movie theater, ostensibly to watch the main story of Tampopo described above. The gangster waxes philosophical about life, death, and the movies, and then roughs up a guy crinkling a bag of chips in the row behind him. Later in the film, the gangster and his moll reappear periodically, using food as foreplay. By comparison, these scenes make 9 1/2 Weeks seem like the missionary position in Mormon underwear. Swirling around these two recurring narratives are a series of one-off skits on the role of food in people's lives. So many rituals, roles, and social codes are built around food and propriety, and we take a break from our gal at the noodle shop to get a survey of food culture in 1980s Japan. What Tampopo seems to emphasize in most of these one-offs is the sensual pleasure of food, and how our desire for sweets and richness and even just sloppy eating can't be restrained. Yet even when defying restraint, our taste for the sensual can be refined and in the process our appreciation for pleasure deepened. Tampopo isn't a movie for foodies. What a wretched, bourgie word that is. Tampopo is a movie for uplifting gormandizers who want to suck marrow rather than spoon it from the bone. Tampopo was just the second film from Itami, though it seems so assured and confident. Who else but a confident filmmaker decides to include a goofy rice omelet scene with a hobo? At numerous times the actors address some off-camera interlocutor by looking directly at the audience. This recurring quirk is sort of like Ozu, but not like Ozu at all. Tonally I was reminded a little of A Christmas Story, but then in comes a sexy or dark or sensitive moment redolent of some separate influence. Every couple minutes, unexpected surprises, and just more and more delight.
Review: Tampopo photo
Zen and the sexiness of ramen making
Prior to this week, the last time I saw Juzo Itami's 1985 food comedy Tampopo was in the mid-90s. I remembered so little of the movie save for the fact that I enjoyed it. Some isolated scenes are easy to recall, though. There...

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Every clip of Tom Cruise running in a movie, EVER


Oct 18
// Rick Lash
Maybe it’s a coincidence that Burger Fiction published this Tom Cruise running compilation a week befoe Jack Reacher: Never Go Back drops in theaters, maybe not. But I definitely got a targeted Reacher ad when I played ...

BHFF Review: The Master Cleanse

Oct 18 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220967:43149:0[/embed] The Master CleanseDirector: Bobby MillerRating: TBDRelease Date: TBD  During the 1980s there was a glut of creature movies, spurred mostly by the popularity of Gremlins. After that came movies like Ghoulies and Critters and Hobgoblins. The Master Cleanse is like a cousin to these films, a few times removed. In some ways this link to the creature features of the not-so-distant past is a detriment to the film, but we'll come back to that point later. Writer/director Bobby Miller embeds the creature feature elements within a movie about self-help and fad diets as a solution for existential problems. Paul (Johnny Galecki) is a classic schlub who's heartbroken and aimless and in search of direction. He decides to check out a mystery retreat in the woods to deal with his woes. He's attracted to a fellow retreatee, an actress named Maggie (Anna Friel). The two meet in an chintzy orientation meeting that reeks of bad multi-level marketing scams. In the woods, the participants agree to an all-liquid diet of specially formulated sludge that will help rid them of their problems. Miller and his cast relish the awkward humor of these moments, which also tap into an underlying first-world sadness. Who else but the lost and desperate would even try these sorts of things? How many bad weeks are we from being where these people are? It's such a clever set up to watch unfold, even with such a small cast. A lot of the credit goes to how invested the ensemble is in their characters and the premise. Galecki channels a mix of sympathy and patheticness perfect for his downtrodden everyschlub. As the creatures make their way into the narrative, I was charmed by the movie's use of practical effects. There's something pretty wondrous about the conceit Miller presents. The creatures and the characters are linked in an unexpected way, which adds some life to the puppets and the people we're watching. There's so much to work with and so much to like about The Master Cleanse, but it wraps up way too soon. That may be the narrative expectations I have from those creature features I mentioned before. As The Master Cleanse quickly winds down, it feels like it would have been the beginning of third act in another film--a point where the world expands. I wonder if the budget was an issue, or the desire to keep the film at a very brief 80 minutes, or maybe this was a conscious choice to keep the story very small. I could have spent another 15 to 20 minutes in the world of the film no problem; it almost feels like the emotional payoff would have been bigger with a little more time. There's so much potential, such a fine tone, so many other things I would have liked to see, and characters I would have liked to spend more time with. The Master Cleanse is a movie where vomiting and diarrhea are fetid versions of Chekhov's gun. I mean this as a high compliment--what other movie does this? So many questions about excretions. While The Master Cleanse falls short at the end--a good example of  a logical conclusion that isn't necessarily a satisfying one--there's enough in there to enjoy. It's almost like I went on the retreat and did the cleanse diet myself. I drank it all in and it's all out of my system. Gosh am I hungry.
The Master Cleanse Review photo
The small-scale creature feature
I'm curious how they're going to market The Master Cleanse. I went into the film knowing very little about it, and many of my favorite parts involve its little surprises. I hope those surprises aren't spoiled in the trailer. ...

NYFF Review: Toni Erdmann

Oct 12 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220911:43142:0[/embed] Toni ErdmannDirector: Maren AdeRating: RRelease Date: July 16, 2016 (Germany); December 25, 2016 (USA)Country: Germany/Austria I love Groucho Marx as a character, but I would never want someone like that as a father. In some ways, Toni Erdmann is what it would be like if Groucho Marx was Margaret Dumont's dad. Ines (Sandra Huller) is our girl Dumont. She's a high-level consultant working in Romania to negotiate an outsourcing deal. Like so many women in the business world, she needs to work twice as hard as her male counterparts, fighting the entrenched sexism of the workplace while out-politicking others in the office. She's always working and seems to get off on forceful shows of control. While trying to unwind at a day spa, she complains that her masseuse was too gentle. "I want to be roughed up," she smiles. Winfried (Peter Simonischek) is her dad Groucho. Rather than a painted mustache, Winfried's got a pair of ugly false teeth and a wig. It's not hard to see why Ines' mother divorced Winfried, or why Ines tries to avoid her dad. He imposes, he mocks, he's a bit of a chaos agent. The man can't take anything seriously. After his dog dies, Winfried spontaneously vacations in Romania to connect with his daughter, eventually adopting the persona of Toni Erdmann. The name sounds so serious and German (redundant?), but in English the name apparently translates into "Toni Meerkat". Ines is too ruthless and needs to lighten up, and her father is a potential catalyst for that change. Questions of value are pretty common in works about corporate life (i.e., human value vs. the bottom line), and these are often the weakest parts of Toni Erdmann because they're familiar in an obvious way. Perhaps Ade sensed this when sculpting the final edit; a character and a plot thread totally vanishes from the movie at a certain point. For a film that strays into unconventional territory, Ines' reconnection with the world of the common folk is expected. Toni isn't just her Groucho but her Drop Dead Fred. Ade even uses the common grammar of these contrasts between wealth and poverty in the globalized world: from Ines' office window, she can look over a Romanian hovel. When Toni Erdmann lets go, it's at its best. Huller plays so many of her scenes like she's at the verge of a breakdown. She's a great straightwoman, but there are moments of absurd release that hint at the person Ines was before she bought into the quest for status. There are different Ines facades for the different roles she has to play or the tasks thrust upon her, but rarely does she get to be herself. Winfried is a little more one-note on the surface since his solution for everything is a joke, but there are moments of vulnerability between father and daughter that suggest that jokes are all he has left. Connecting with someone emotionally can be painful and awkward, and humor is one way of circumventing those difficulties. If the only tool you have is a hammer, you wind up hammering everything. That goes for both father and daughter. A lot of what works in Toni Erdmann depends on what the audience brings to it, which might be the case of any movie about parents and children. The way we measure other families inevitably winds up being our own family experiences, which is what makes Toni Erdmann familiar in a surprising way. What is it about Ines that I see in myself, or Winfied in my own dad, or vice versa? Sometimes I look at these on-screen family relationships and see myself or people I know. Other times I see versions of characters. Families are weird like that, and when Toni Erdmann is at its weirdest, it's also its most heartfelt.
NYFF Review: Toni Erdmann photo
Estranged daughter, strange father
There's no way Toni Erdmann could ever live up to its hype. Reviews from Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival touted the German film as a 162-minute screwball comedy masterpiece, packed with high emotional stake...

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Jumanji 2 first look with The Rock, Jack Black, Kevin Hart & Tombraider


Sep 21
// Rick Lash
Kevin Hart posted an exclusive first look image from the set of Jumanji 2 and the internet quickly ate it up. Not because diminutive Kevin is bite-sized (he is), but because amongst the characters wearing practical jungle att...
South Park season 20 photo
South Park season 20

First clip from South Park season 20 takes on Colin Kapernick's national anthem protest


This should end well
Sep 13
// Hubert Vigilla
It's hard to believe that South Park is about to start its 20th season. I still remember when it first debuted. I was in high school, and I had hair, and I wore an onion on my belt. The late Isaac Hayes had a #1 UK single tha...
Tampopo rerelease photo
Tampopo rerelease

Quirky cult Japanese food comedy Tampopo getting 4k restoration and theatrical rerelease


Egg-cellent and egg-quisite
Sep 13
// Hubert Vigilla
To paraphrase Roger Ebert, Juzo Itami's 1985 Japanese comedy Tampopo seems to exist outside of traditional categories. It's a movie I remember enjoying a lot when I rented it in high school, with its oddball exploration of fo...
Heathers TV pilot photo
Heathers TV pilot

A Heathers TV pilot has been ordered by TV Land--yes, that Heathers


This is so very
Sep 09
// Hubert Vigilla
Heathers starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater is one of the great cult movies of the 1980s. It's a pitch black dive into the worst aspects of high school and its clique mentality. Heathers was adapted into a s...
Shanghai Noon 3 photo
Shanghai Noon 3

Jackie Chan & Owen Wilson reteam for Shanghai Noon sequel by Napoleon Dynamite director


GOSH!
Sep 06
// Hubert Vigilla
In unexpected news, Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson are in talks to star in a second sequel to their 2000 western buddy comedy Shanghai Noon. The film will be directed by Jared Hess, best known for Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Lib...
AMC honors Gene Wilder photo
AMC honors Gene Wilder

AMC theaters showing Willy Wonka and Blazing Saddles Labor Day weekend to honor Gene Wilder


It's twue, it's twue!
Sep 02
// Hubert Vigilla
When Gene Wilder died earlier this week, there was a massive outpouring of love for the man, which is a testament to the work he did and the impact he had on so many lives. To honor the late Wilder, AMC theaters is bringing t...
Mascots trailer photo
Mascots trailer

Watch the trailer for Mascots, Christopher Guest's new mockumentary film on Netflix


Hope they don't play "Cotton Eye Joe"
Sep 01
// Hubert Vigilla
Christopher Guest knows his way around mockumentaries. One of the co-stars of the influential mock-doc This Is Spinal Tap, Guest would eventually direct, co-star, and co-write three modern mockumentary classics with Euge...
#Ash4President photo
#Ash4President

Vote for Bruce Campbell in these Ash vs Evil Dead campaign ads #Ash4President


Make America Groovy Again
Aug 29
// Hubert Vigilla
Billy West's #MakeAmericaBrannigan shenanigans have been a fine way to explore the absurdity of this year's presidential race. Yet we have another candidate who promises to Make America Groovy Again. That man is Ash Williams ...
Documentary Now! 2 photo
Documentary Now! 2

Watch the season 2 trailer for IFC's Documentary Now! starring Fred Armisen and Bill Hader


Jiro, Talking Heads, Maysles, and more
Aug 28
// Hubert Vigilla
Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Seth Meyers' Documentary Now! is a loving in-joke of a show for fans of non-fiction film. The first season of the IFC show spoofed seminal documentaries like Errol Morris' The Thin Blue Line, the...
Holmes & Watson photo
Holmes & Watson

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly join forces again for Holmes & Watson


Funny people getting together is good
Aug 17
// Matthew Razak
When Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly make a movie together it usually turns out pretty damn hilarious. Step Brothers wasn't a big hit, but it's garnered a solid cult following, and now the pair are looking to follow it u...
Screenings photo
Screenings

See War Dogs early and free


Washington DC and Baltimore screenings
Aug 13
// Matthew Razak
War Dogs might look ridiculous, but with Miles Teller and Jonah Hill leading you know there's probably something a bit more too it. Gun running movies are always interesting anyway (see Lord of War). So you should grab some free passes to a DC or Baltimore screening. Just click the links below. Remember to get there early so you know you've got a seat and come back and tell us what you thought!

Review: Sausage Party

Aug 13 // Rick Lash
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Do I want to start eating dirt? Perhaps, as an individual who already entertains questions on whether or not I’m morally comfortable (in spite of a true appreciation for) eating meat, I should have more deeply considere...

Ghostbusters photo
Ghostbusters

Ghosbusters less likely to get a sequel after loss at box office


Are you happy now, Internet?
Aug 10
// Matthew Razak
After much gnashing of teeth and unwarranted anger Ghostbusters came out and was actually quite enjoyable. It didn't really blow the box office away, however, as THR is reporting that the movie is heading for a $70 milli...
Bad Santa 2 photo
Bad Santa 2

This Red Band trailer for Bad Santa 2 is pretty bad


Aug 09
// Nick Valdez
I wasn't a fan of Bad Santa all those years ago, and to this day I still don't understand the appeal. It grew such a cult following that a sequel has been in the works for years, but despite efforts to stop it, Bad Santa...
TV Comedy photo
TV Comedy

New Girl and Brooklyn 99 are doing a crossover


I may not live through this
Aug 08
// Matthew Razak
New Girl and Brooklyn 99 might be the funniest shows on television right now. After a brilliant resurgence in New Girl's fourth season and continued awesomeness throughout Brooklyn 99 it is pretty much impossib...
Bad Santa 2 photo
Bad Santa 2

Bad Santa 2 gets first images featuring Billy Bob Thorton


Still seems useless
Aug 02
// Matthew Razak
 There's a long list of movie sequels coming out that I just don't think we need, but somewhere at the top of it is Bad Santa 2. The original was such a unique, dark and interesting comedy that came out of nowhere that I...
Beetlejuice 2 photo
Beetlejuice 2

Michael Keaton pretty sure Beetlejuice 2 isn't happening


Another rumored sequel bites the dust
Jul 28
// Matthew Razak
No matter how many times you repeat the word Beetlejuice it appears the ghost with the most is most likely not going to appear. Though rumors (bordering on confirmations) have been constantly swirling about a sequel Michael K...

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