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White Rabbit Project photo
White Rabbit Project

MythBusters Kari, Tory, and Grant return in the trailer for Netflix's White Rabbit Project


Looks like MythBusters 2.0
Nov 30
// Hubert Vigilla
I was such a massive fan of MythBusters in its glory years. While Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman were the undeniable captains of the ship, the build team of Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Grant Imahara had such a great group dy...

DOC NYC Review: 13TH

Nov 10 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220907:43127:0[/embed] 13THDirector: Ava DuVernayRelease Date: October 7, 2016 (Netflix)Rating: TBD DuVernay's central thesis is that while the 13th Amendment ostensibly abolished slavery, the systems of oppression in the 1800s evolved into different forms of oppression that are currently in practice today. It's a compelling argument that begins with the Reconstruction Era following The Civil War, in which imprisoned black men were used as labor to rebuild the south. It continues into segregation and Jim Crow, the war on drugs, the Republican's Southern strategy, and so forth. DuVernay is expert at cycling various ideas, phrases, and images throughout 13TH, which helps make her overraching argument cohesive.  13TH generally follows a linear and chronological crawl through 150 years of American history, intercutting archival footage and talking heads. Our guides through history include activists (e.g., Angela Davis), academics (e.g., Henry Louis Gates Jr.), commentators (e.g., Van Jones), and politicians (e.g., Senator Cory Booker). While the primary draw of 13TH is the outrage at a corrupt criminal justice system, formal touches contribute to the riveting watch. The settings for each of the interviews, for instance, are often industrial spaces that evoke the feel of jails and prisons. DuVernay withholds identifying many interviewees until their third or fourth appearance on screen. I don't know why that seemed so novel, but I was hanging on people's words a little more that I might have been. There are a few contrarians among the interviewees who don't think systemic racism is a problem. Of course they're white dudes. Surprisingly, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich isn't one of these clueless white guys. Gingrich appears in 13TH and says that many white people don't understand what life is like for black people in America. I may not agree with his politics, but credit goes to Gingrich. He's relatively more woke than some people I know. 13TH is predominantly concerned with mass incarceration and how the prison population increased dramatically through the '70s, '80s, and '90s. It's neat and brisk through most of its 100-minute run time, though it becomes loose once we focus on the mid-2000s to today. From prison privatization we then cover issues of police militarization, the rise of Black Lives Matter, and even (perhaps unavoidably) Donald Trump's ugly rhetoric in the Presidential race. (Trump makes an earlier appearance when he calls for the execution of The Central Park Five.) If she wanted, DuVernay could have made a mini-series out of this, or a long-form doc in multiple parts a la Ezra Edelman's O.J.: Made in America. DuVernay's such a skilled cinematic essayist that she's able to rein in 13TH even as it seems to stray. I mentioned her cycle of ideas and images earlier. Just when I felt like the movie was moving off track, she would reintroduce an idea or an image to show why one particular point is a reticulation of a previous one. The death of Emmett Till haunts the deaths that gave rise to Black Lives Matter. Phrases like "law and order" take on a sinister quality. The idea of the black man as a rapacious criminal similarly casts its unending shadow. The most memorable recurring image in 13TH involves a black man in a suit and hat. It must be from the 1950s. He's walking through a suburb. There's a mob of angry white men around him. They shove him. They yell at him. He gets punched in the back of the head. But the black man keeps walking. He's being insulted and assaulted, but he's carrying on unphased. During a press conference, DuVernay referred to this anonymous person as "the dignified man". I don't know where he was walking or if he got there, but I hope he made it okay. I hope everyone does somehow.
Review: The 13th photo
Slavery didn't end, it adapted
13TH feels like a culmination of Ava DuVernay's career to this point. The documentary brings together the racial and social history of Selma, her years of work as a documentarian, her stint as a journalist, and even her under...

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First teaser for Netflix's Series of Unfortunate Events shows off NPH's Count Olaf


Sorry, Jim Carrey
Nov 04
// Matt Liparota
With its upcoming adaptation of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Netflix hopes to wash the taste of that mediocre Jim Carrey movie out of the mouths of fans once and for all. Now, we've gotten our first offici...
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Lots of familiar faces will appear in Marvel's Defenders miniseries


Supporting cast, assemble
Nov 02
// Matt Liparota
It seems like just yesterday that Netflix's Daredevil flip-kicked its way onto the scene and into our hearts, ushering in the promise of an Avengers-level mega-crossover that seemed like it would take forever to get here. Now...
Iron Fist photo
Fisting all over the place
When Marvel announced their series of shows that would eventually lead up to a Defenders show the biggest question mark was definitely Iron Fist. Since then Netflix and Marvel have been pretty open with the other series,...

The Defenders photo
The Defenders

Sigourney Weaver to play villain in The Defenders


Yea, that got the crowd excited
Oct 08
// Matthew Razak
As a final surprise at NYCC it was announced that Sigourney Weaver would be joining the cast of The Defenders as the villain. She came out on stage and everyone went pretty damn crazy. No word on who she will be playing, but it's a pretty massive pull.  We'll bring you more as it unravels. 
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Marvel's Iron Fist series drops in March


Luke Cage who?
Oct 05
// Matt Liparota
Netflix's Luke Cage series has been out for six whole days already. That means the bulletproof man is old news – we've seen his trick already, and we're ready for the new stuff. Marvel knows we've got all the attention ...
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Not even Stranger Things is safe from the 8-bit treatment


What if it was - get this - an RPG
Oct 03
// Matt Liparota
Stranger Things was one of the biggest hits of the summer; Netflix's 80s-inspired creepypasta series took the internet by storm, producing memes galore and making everyone on your Facebook feed write their name in the logo's ...
The Bad Batch on Netflix photo
The Bad Batch on Netflix

Ana Lily Amirpour's The Bad Batch with Jason Momoa picked up by Netflix for SVOD


Aquaman drinks a Jizzy Fizz
Sep 07
// Hubert Vigilla
Writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour had a memorable debut with A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a Jim Jarmusch-style Iranian vampire movie heavy with languid mood and style. (Not to be confused with a Jim Jarmusch vampire movi...
Werner Herzog Netflix photo
Werner Herzog Netflix

Werner Herzog's volcano documentary Into the Inferno will hit Netflix October 28th


Piping hot from the festival circuit
Sep 06
// Hubert Vigilla
Netflix is putting out everything these days, from Bill Nye talks shows to Mythbusters build team shows to Christopher Guest mockumentaries about sports mascots. Now they've acquired the brand new, critically acclaimed Werner...
White Rabbit Project photo
White Rabbit Project

The Mythbusters build team reunites for White Rabbit Project on Netflix


Kari, Grant, and Tory make 'splosions
Sep 06
// Hubert Vigilla
Mythbusters had a good run for a while, particularly during the early-to-middle-stretch of the show when Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman co-anchored the program with their build team of Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Grant Imaha...
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...
Bill Nye on Netflix photo
Bill Nye on Netflix

Bill Nye Saves the World is coming to Netflix in spring 2017


Science Things
Aug 31
// Hubert Vigilla
Everyone's favorite science guy is coming back to the small screen thanks to Netflix. Bill Nye Saves the World will debut in spring 2017. According to the official Netflix synopsis, "Each episode will tackle a topic from a sc...
Stranger Things S2 photo
Stranger Things S2

Netflix renews Stranger Things for a second season in 2017, watch the teaser


2 Stranger 2 Things
Aug 31
// Hubert Vigilla
I may be the last Gen-X-cusp-Millenial geek in America who hasn't seen Stranger Things yet. Now I have an excuse. Netflix's surprise hit of the summer has been renewed for a second season. The new season will debut in 2017. A...
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Charlie Cox: Luke Cage will overlap with Daredevil's second season


Much ado about a face cut
Aug 24
// Matt Liparota
The Marvel Cinematic Universe was built around the premise that, just like in the comics they're based on, all of the characters we're seeing onscreen are living in the same universe and that characters in one movie could pop...
Luke Cage photo
Luke Cage

First full trailer for Luke Cage lands some punches


I heard it was four guys
Aug 09
// Matthew Razak
Man, Netflix is killing it with their Marvel shows and Luke Cage looks no different. Like with their films the Netflix TV shows take a codified look and tone and warp each show into its own genre. Luke Cage looks to...

Review: The Little Prince

Aug 06 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220747:43032:0[/embed] The Little PrinceDirector: Mark OsborneRated: PGRelease Date: August 5, 2016  Mark Osborne's (Kung Fu Panda 3) The Little Prince isn't a direct adaptation of its source material. Much like other children's book adaptations such as Where the Wild Things Are and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Prince creates its own original tale. But it takes an interesting angle as the original story serves as more of a delivery system for the original text. As Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy) deals with an overbearing, but well meaning. mother (Rachel McAdams), she meets The Aviator (Jeff Bridges, who also serves as weathered narrator from the book) who tells her about the time he met a Little Prince (Riley Osborne) who traveled across the stars. Essentially, it's a story within a story. Seeing as how difficult it might've been to translate the obtuse themes from Saint-Exupery's writing, this is probably the best possible solution.  But the main problem with taking this approach is when Prince isn't telling the book's story directly, it falls short. The film has a conventional style with character design resembling most animated films. The thin, angular bodies of Dreamworks, the larger heads of Pixar, all mash together into something resembling Hoodwinked! with a more flexible budget. That's not to say it's not done well, it's just utterly generic when juxtaposed with the incredible stop motion paper sequences directly adapting the book. These sequences are so endearing and artful, it begs the question of why we couldn't get an entire film that way. The score during these sequences is fantastic with a light jazz/French ensemble paying tribute to the book's origin and tone, the packed cast delivers humble, weighted dialogue, giving more weight to themes overall, and no matter how much you see paper style, it remains surprising. But the other 2/3 of the film feels like filler. Rather than emphasize the stop motion sequences, making each one a reward, it's like they're being held at bay.  While adapting the text as a "story within a story" seems like a good solution, Prince unfortunately waters down the thematic resonance Saint-Exupery's text is remembered for. I won't go into too much detail about what exactly it does, but suffice to say when a now adult Prince has to remember his youth, Prince loses all of the beautiful subtlety. The original novella was a fable about holding on to youth and the hope that comes from imagination, but it never explicitly said any of these things. There were slight hints about the troubles of adulthood, but it was left up to the reader to find it. The film crosses over into "preaching" territory as metatext gives way to explicit statements. It's a little too direct for comfort and becomes yet another animated film trying to teach a lesson.  The problem is wondering what could've worked better. Would the film have worked if director Osborne had gone with one style over the other? Would it have succeeded with the original book's vignette narrative? But how would that film work among current animation film needs? It's the best case scenario in a tremulous situation. Rather than encapsulate the spirit of the original text, making it viable for children and adults alike, it's more of a tribute to those who enjoyed the book as a child. In some cases, it's better to please as many people as you can.  The Little Prince distances itself from its source material more than it desired. Treating the original novella with an almost untouchable reverence, it never gives the audience time to enjoy the story and dive into it themselves. Instead Prince tells us how we should feel about it, thereby ignoring what made the original book so memorable. Essentially mirroring the actions of adults we're told to avoid.  In trying to pay tribute to Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince, the film mistakes an elephant in a boa constrictor for a simple hat. At least it's a nice hat. 
The Little Prince Review photo
Lost in translation
Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince is one of the most famous children's books of all time. Translated into over 200 languages, it's become a treasure worldwide. But as with all adaptations, things were bound to chan...

MST3K Netflix photo
MST3K Netflix

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival will be on Netflix


And some familiar faces are back
Jul 25
// Hubert Vigilla
After breaking Kickstarter records, the new cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000 has found a home. And no, I'm not talking about the Satellite of Love. They announced during San Diego Comic-Con that the MST3K revival will be ...
Marvel photo
First looks galore
Netflix came out swinging at this year's Comic Con. Not only did they drop a trailer for the upcoming Luke Cage movie, but also teasers for Iron Fist and The Defenders. As you may or may not know the latter of those...

Netflix Flixtape photo
Netflix Flixtape

Netflix launches Flixtape, which is part-playlist and part-mixtape


The first track is most the important
Jul 21
// Hubert Vigilla
Making a good mixtape can be a complex artform. The mix reflects your personal taste and expresses unspoken feelings while ultimately trying to appeal to the recipient. Then there are the unspoken rules of the mixtape, right?...
MoviePass pricing photo
MoviePass pricing

MoviePass unveils new pricing tiers, older members can sign up for them in September


Should have done this in the first place
Jul 13
// Hubert Vigilla
MoviePass changed their pricing and business model recently, and in a way that made people upset. I wrote the other day that they deserved to lose customers and goodwill over this. Yesterday, MoviePass unveiled a new tiered-p...

Unlimited Facepalms: MoviePass deserves to lose customers and goodwill

Jul 11 // Hubert Vigilla
If you go on the MoviePass website right now, they still tout $30 as the starting price for service. Anecdotally, it seems as if the service changes weren't done across the board for all users but only affected some MoviePass users. This included early adopters who may have been with the company since it started in 2011. Meanwhile, other customers who may be newer to the service may not be subject to these restrictive or expensive rate hikes and service changes. New users, for instance, may get the one movie every 24 hours version of MoviePass service rather than having to choose between the $40/$50 package and the $99 package. (Also, $99? Guys, that's a passive-aggressive $100.) Then again, I'm relatively new to the program. I've only been using MoviePass since March. Fellow Flixist writer Alec Kubas-Meyer has had MoviePass longer than I have, though as of the weekend, he had not received an email about service changes. This makes me wonder if the number of movies seen during each billing cycle played a part in who got the email of doom, but that's purely speculation at this point. Based on what I've seen online, it seems like long-term MoviePass users were given no option to grandfather their previous plan despite their loyalty to the company over the years. It was the same limited menu of options: pay more for basically less, pay more than double for additional formats, or leave. Lolo Loves Films has been especially critical about these MoviePass changes, with many of their tweets devoted to this issue. MoviePass contacted Lolo Loves Films and discussed the matter with them by phone. Sadly the representative they spoke to offered no answers about reverting to the old service, no option of older users keeping their previous service, or any other matters regarding these pricing and services changes. They simply listened, offered gentle apologies, and that was it. That's all the customer service reps can do, really, since this wasn't their decision and they're probably just as bummed out as the customers that the higher-ups have messed up the company. Even though they listened, it doesn't seem like MoviePass cares. This isn't the first time the company has implemented changes that upset customers. Ryan Scafuro, producer of the documentary Bending Steel, mentioned that he'd been a MoviePass member at the beginning, when the company allowed customers to see one movie per day without the 24-hour restriction. The 24-hour restriction started in October 2013, at which point Scafuro dropped MoviePass. "That may be a petty reason but it really annoyed me and seemed like a shady move," Scafuro explained. "Now [with the new changes] it doesn't seem worth it at all." "I was a pretty early adopter to the program (I think I signed up in 2012)," Scafuro said. "When I called customer service I expected the rep to offer me some sort of grandfather clause. He was basically like 'I can refund your subscription,' which seemed like a tactless 'f**k you' seeing that they were still in the early stages of operation." Even though MoviePass in its current (and fallen) form could potentially offer savings, there's the principle of it all. The changes have been forced on customers without their input or a dialogue, and the changes have been applied unevenly, targeting certain people rather than all of the customer base. It seems unfair because, well, it's unfair. (I think Yogi Berra said that.) Had MoviePass issued a customer survey of some kind across the board prior to implementing any changes, there'd be more goodwill from customers. There'd be a sense of choice and involvement in the service moving forward, a service that many of these customers liked. Even just a little bit of input would go a long way to easing the change. Instead, MoviePass has basically said, "Here are your choices. Now s**t or get off the pot, kiddo." There's also an issue of the limitations in the new services and the immediate psychological response to having your choices taken away from you very suddenly. I don't care about 3D movies, so paying $5 more to see only six movies a month seems like a limitation on my ability to choose. That's not a good way of maintaining customer loyalty, which is why I can't recommend the service to anyone anymore. As of this writing, MoviePass has yet to publicly respond to the criticism it's received online and from individual members about these price and service changes. On July 5th, they posted a letter to customers on their blog, which was received with overwhelming negativity. Just read them comments. I sent an email to customer service over the weekend when I canceled, though I don't expect to get a response. If there's one thing that seems clear in all this, it's that MoviePass doesn't care what you think anyway.
MoviePass facepalm photo
Roll out of service changes poorly done
As we noted yesterday, MoviePass is raising prices and changing its service plan for select customers. Prior to these changes, MoviePass allowed members to see one 2D movie at participating theaters every 24 hours for as low ...

MoviePass changes photo
MoviePass changes

MoviePass upsets customers with price increase and plan changes


Select members get screwed
Jul 10
// Hubert Vigilla
MoviePass was bound to change when Netflix co-founder Mitch Lowe became CEO in June. Founded in 2011, MoviePass allowed customers to pay as little as $30 a month to see a 2D movie every 24 hours at participating theaters. (Mo...
Stranger Things photo
Stranger Things

First trailer for Netflix's Stranger Things


Like old school Spielberg made a TV show
Jun 09
// Matthew Razak
When J.J. Abrams delivered Super 8 to us I reveled in its unabashed homage of classic Spielberg adventure films. I kind of wondered why it hadn't kicked off a bit of a renaissance of the 1980s supernatural film, but alas...
Voltron Trailer photo
Voltron Trailer

Here's a trailer for Netflix's Voltron: Legendary Defender


May 13
// Nick Valdez
Adding to the mass of nostalgia, and to Netflix's ever growing original programming, is Voltron: Legendary Defender. Studios have been trying to figure out what to do with Voltron for years with a movie in mind and a failed N...
Punisher photo
One batch, two batch
If you watched this last season of Daredevil you know that someone finally nailed Punisher. Jon Bernthal absolutely stole the show with his slightly psychotic and entirely compelling portrayal of Frank Castle. People lov...

Netflix photo
Netflix

Netflix announces Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later


Do we all have our act together?
Apr 27
// Matthew Razak
Netflix brought back Wet Hot American Summer last year and it was pretty glorious. Evidently it was pretty glorious for them too as they've just announced a sequel... or is it a second season? I'm not sure. It's either t...

Tribeca Review: Rebirth

Apr 26 // Nick Valdez
RebirthDirector: Karl MuellerRating: NRRelease Date: April 17, 2016 (limited) Rebirth stars Fran Kranz as Kyle, a husband and father who's lives a well off life. But he's been a bit unfulfilled lately as his college dreams have been pushed aside in favor of his family and a boring desk job. When his old college buddy Zack (Adam Goldberg) invites him to a retreat for a weekend, and won't stop talking about how great this "Rebirth" seminar is, Kyle decides to go for it. But Kyle soon realizes that "Rebirth" might be a more twisted program then they initially let on. Despite their mantra of "You're free to leave whenever you want" escaping the seminar proves tough.  Rebirth is a Netflix Original production and the choices within reflect that. It's full of these quirky little details that releasing on streaming services would help it get away with. The film is open to to risks and, more often than not, those risks pay off. Unfortunately, the entertainment is too reliant on those little quirks to succeed. The film is fairly predictable and you can pretty much guess how it's going to get from point A to B, and because of this, the little detours every now and again are that much more interesting. They're often non-sequiturs, so as to not derail the main plot, so these little jokes feel more refreshing. For example, Kyle ends going through several different types of seminar rooms during his escape attempt. Each room has its own theme with the ultimate goal of keeping Kyle around, so the film spends time with each room and plays around with how they'd try and brainwash Kyle. Each of these moments are inconsequential, but fun.  These little touches may not be needed, but they help elevate the rest of the film. It's dark blend of humor and chills turns out to be the perfect take on its premise. And its loose structure of stumbling on room after room, along with Kranz's key performance, amplifies the plot's inherent frustration. You'll start feeling frustration as Kyle continues to fail and seeing how goofy some of the rooms and Rebirth's denizens are will only make you angrier. So while they're inconsequential to the plot, it helps the film's overall vibe and tension. What also helps is just how game everyone is with the film. Each actor turns in a kooky performance as the know exactly what kind of film Rebirth wants to be.  I love Adam Goldberg, and it's always a pleasure to see him pop up in a project. He's slightly underutilized here, but seeing as he steals every scene he's in that's probably best. Fran Kranz does a great job leading the film along, however. His neurotic, terrified performance gives the premise the credibility and weight it needs even when the seminar doesn't seem as dangerous as he's perceiving it to be. Rebirth is also shot in an interesting way with long periods of stillness coupled with short bursts of following Kyle through the dingy house the seminar is in. We're effectively put into Kyle's shoes and when the film truly goes off the rails, we're along for the ride.  Rebirth isn't a bad film at all, but it's not necessarily great either. But it's got such a well crafted personality and it doesn't take itself too seriously. It's a fun little romp that doesn't overstay its welcome. You won't exactly feel a rebirth afterwards, but you won't die either. 
Rebirth Tribeca Review photo
Cult of personality
Festivals are a great time to try out films you would never consider in your personal time. Like a Netflix queue, the options are endless and each film only has a short premise and cast listing to get our attention. Since m...

Bright photo
Bright

Netflix drops $90M on David Ayer, Max Landis, and Will Smith film Bright


Mar 22
// Nick Valdez
Whoa, this is getting serious. With Netflix slowly taking over all home media as we know it with its original programming, Adam Sandler deals, and decades in the making sequels, it seems its heading for the big time. While it...
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Paramount drops The Little Prince, Netflix picks it back up


-insert inherent ska joke here-
Mar 18
// Geoff Henao
I've never actually read The Little Prince, but I know fans keep their memories of the 1943 French novella in the warm places of their hearts. Despite a stellar cast comprised of Jeff Bridges (The Giver), Paul Rudd (Captain A...

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