notable

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

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

Colin Trevorrow Directing Star Wars Episode IX: Continuing the Indie-to-Blockbuster Director Trend

Aug 17 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]219786:42556:0[/embed] I feel sort of bad bringing up Josh Trank, but it's necessary. Trank was attached to direct a standalone Star Wars film until a few months ago. Trank says he voluntarily left Star Wars so he could pursue a small, original project away from public scrutiny. Speculation among film journos (notably The Hollywood Reporter) is that Trank was fired from the gig, partly due to clashes with Fantastic Four screenwriter Simon Kinberg, though largely due to unprofessional behavior. Kinberg is an executive producer on Star Wars: Rebels and wrote the Star Wars spin-off film that Trank was supposed to direct. (Oddly, Kinberg hasn't caught that much grief for writing Fantastic Four.) There have been multiple reports on Trank's troubled Fantastic Four production. New stories of on-set chaos cropped up in the recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, one of which alleges that Trank and actor Miles Teller almost came to blows. Fox bears a lot of the blame for the fiasco behind the scenes of Fantastic Four, but Trank's got to wear the movie as an albatross for the rest of his career (or what's left of it). While Trank's first journey into blockbuster filmmaking feels like a cautionary tale, Trevorrow's been extremely fortunate by contrast. Jurassic World has earned $1.6 billion worldwide, making it the third highest-grossing movie of all time. Now he's doing Star Wars. If Trank really was ousted because of his difficulties mounting a big film, this might be considered a vote of confidence in Trevorrow's skills with large-scale storytelling and an agreeable temperament for tent-pole filmmaking. While I've been noticing more and more indie directors being promoted to major films, this leap from indie-to-tent-pole isn't unprecedented. The Wachowskis went from the low-budget noir of Bound to The Matrix, Christopher Nolan went from moody character-driven dramas to Batman Begins. Rian Johnson, who's directing Star Wars Episode VIII, also fits in this tradition, and ditto Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. As much as some people clamor for big names on big movies, sometimes the big movies are a type of proving ground for new names or filmmakers who've distinguished themselves working on a smaller scale. (Think of Sam Raimi when he came to Spider-Man.) Then again, there's a cynical take on signing indie directors to blockbusters. Studios hire young, hungry filmmakers to become journeymen or journeywomen rather than directors with a distinct sensibility. Their job, in short, is to do the studio's bidding. I wonder how much Marc Webb fits that description, having gone from (500) Days of Summer to the two ill-fated Amazing Spider-Man films for Sony. Jon Watts, the director of the recent indie thriller Cop Car, has been tapped to helm the reboot of Spider-Man for the Marvel Cinematic Universe--it's only his third film. And of course, directors with more clout or a particular style often clash with studios over vision. In the MCU alone (which seems to be run more by Kevin Feige than any individual directors), Joss Whedon felt broken by compromises he made while doing Avengers: Age of Ultron, Edgar Wright left Ant-Man over creative difference, and Selma director Ava DuVernay declined Black Panther since she wouldn't have enough control over the character or the project. (Think of Sam Raimi when he made Spider-Man 3.) Trevorrow's hire may be a sign of the MCU model being used for these Star Wars films, with Lucasfilm president and producer Kathleen Kennedy serving as the new trilogy's unifying voice. Kennedy may be the key creative force behind the scenes, guiding a shared vision, molding the new Star Wars universe through her hiring choices and years of experience in the industry. (Kennedy, in an interesting coincidence, was attached as a producer to the fourth Jurassic Park film until 2013, which is when she took the reins of Star Wars for Disney.) This is just speculation for now, but we should have a better understanding of how the new Star Wars series is being crafted in the next few months. As for Trevorrow, we'll find out how he does on Star Wars Episode IX in December 2019.
Star Wars Trevorrow photo
The Tale of Trevorrow and Trank
In addition to news about Star Wars: Rogue One and an exclusive Drew Struzan poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it was announced at D23 that Colin Trevorrow would be directing Star Wars Episode IX. Trevorrow's two other...

Deep Analysis: The End of the Tour - Is it capital-T Truth or capital-B Bulls**t?

Aug 14 // Hubert Vigilla
Although of Course You End Up Being Different Things to Different People"Simple thing: everyone sees him differently." -- David Lipsky, Although of Course...   David Foster Wallace is a person and an idea. That split is impossible to avoid, and more complicated than the Platonic notion that I've seemed to present. There's the person who existed, and then there's this other level, a kind of public version or public perception of the person who existed, or an idea of Wallace through his writing and interviews--a text. While the real Wallace was available to his friends and family, for everyone else there's just a public version or a text. There's something about the intimacy of writing, and I think this is discussed in Lipsky's book, that makes readers think they know an author. That seems to hold true for lots of creatives since so much ineffable stuff about your inner life is communicated through creative acts. Any connection that's made through art might seem more profound because of this ability to articulate a common yet personal feeling of joy, sadness, or affection between people who've never met. Art can make you feel less alone, and it can help you understand someone else. But often only so far or just a facet. There's another layer to this person/persona split, of course. I'm not judging the propriety of it (at least for now), but people can do whatever they want with that public idea of a person. They can find meaning in the persona, impose their own meanings on the persona, reconsider the persona without considering the actual multi-faceted person behind that public idea. It's one reason why David Foster Wallace winds up meaning different things to different people, or being a different person to different people--a literary wunderkind, a rockstar of the book world, the next _______, the voice of _______, a friend, a confidant, a relative, etc. Recently, a piece by Molly Fischer ran in New York Magazine's The Cut considered David Foster Wallace a hypermasculine hub for chauvinistic literary bros. (Sometimes a big, hard novel is just a cigar. A really big, hard cigar.) Kenny in his piece for The Guardian touches on this when he writes, "Something I've noticed since Wallace's suicide in 2008 is that a lot of self-professed David Foster Wallace fans don't have much use for people who actually knew the guy. For instance, whenever Jonathan Franzen utters or publishes some pained but unsparing observations about his late friend, Wallace's fanbase recoils, posting comments on the internet about how self-serving he is, or how he really didn't 'get' Wallace." Kenny and Wallace were friends who met and corresponded regularly or at least semi-regularly. Lipsky, by contrast, was an outsider sent to observe Wallace for a few days and then left. Kenny takes issue with the way Lipsky presented Wallace in the book, writing: In the opening of Yourself, Lipsky describes Wallace speaking in "the universal sportsman's accent: the disappearing G's, 'wudn't,' 'dudn't' and 'idn’t' and 'sumpin.'" Segel takes Lipsky's cue. But in my recollection, Dave spoke precisely, almost formally, the "Gs" at the ends of gerunds landing softly, not dropped. I can't help but feel both of these perceptions and ideas of Wallace were accurate simply given the nature of these respective relationships. People act differently around friends and colleagues than they do around strangers, particularly journalists. There's a constant self-consciousness that Wallace has when talking to Lipsky, mentioning how Lipsky can craft an image of Wallace that may not be the real Wallace. To that I wonder how much of the sportsman's accent was Wallace's own way of maintaining control of his persona, presenting a certain type of David Foster Wallace for this interview. Ditto the various asides to high culture (e.g., John Barth) and low culture (e.g., "movies where stuff blows up"). Wallace suggest he and Lipsky play chess against each other in the book during an early interview. Make of that what you will. (Sometimes a game of chess is just a metaphor for a sword fight with cigars.) These differences in proximity to Wallace, intimacy with Wallace, and personal perception of Wallace don't delegitimize Kenny or Lipsky. It's just pointing out that they each saw facets of a man and each came away with their own assessment. Wallace was Kenny's friend, and Kenny saw more facets of the man over a longer period of time. For Lipsky, he got a glimpse of Wallace at age 34 at the end of a book tour during "one of those moments when the world opens up to you." Although of Course You End Up Becoming a Fictional Version of Yourself"So we've ended up doing Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory in My Dinner with Andre." -- David Lipsky, Although of Course...   So there's a persona, and then there's a movie, and that's where these issues of proximity, intimacy, perception, and propriety become even more difficult. The End of the Tour, even though I enjoyed it, is a recreation and fictionaliziation of real events and real people, all of which is depicted at various divides from the real thing. Since so much of the basis for The End of the Tour is Lipsky's book, the film presents a version of David Foster Wallace as filtered through Lipsky's perceptions. Though Lipsky tried to be unobtrusive in the transcript, there are numerous observations in book, ones that wonder what Wallace is thinking in the moment, that assume certain answers are calculated deflections, that editorialize the nature of Wallace's smile in just the choice of adjectives. On top of that, The End of the Tour is the book as restructured by screenwriter Donald Margulies, tweaked further by director James Ponsoldt, with an additional layer of interpretation by the two lead actors who are reciting the real-life dialogue. While the lines may be straight from Lipsky's book, there is a gulf between the real people and the page and the screen. Lipsky, even in just the book, points out an artifice of a subject and journalist in forced-interaction that occasionally feels like something genuine. He likens an exchange they have to something out of Louis Malle's My Dinner with Andre. (When not engaged in a kind of big brother/little brother semi-envious duel, Lipsky in the film generally plays Wallace Shawn to Wallace's sage-like Andre Gregory.) This series of divides from the real events to the film are less like photo copies of photo copies that become blurrier and blurrier with each subsequent version, but more like interpretations of interpretations that are distorted but perhaps share an amorphous-something in common from iteration to iteration. (This simile might be just be my charity for the film since I liked it.) Short version: real life and the film are a long way apart, and one is left to wonder if there's mostly capital-T Truth between the two or mostly capital-B Bullshit. There may be another layer to all of this that gets a bit more difficult. Anytime a writer writes about writers or writing, there's inevitably a little bit of the writer's own ideas about writing that wind up in there. So while the film is a recreation of conversations between two real writers, the way it's framed seems to allow Donald Margulies to write about his own ideas about writers to some degree. Lipsky gets to represent a type of male writer, Wallace another kind of male writer, and a dynamic of masculine opposition, jealousy, and respect emerges as these personas interact. Margulies introduces a fabricated moment of sexual competition between Wallace and Lipsky, and also a mute hostility or resentment leading into the last act. Both of these fictions play into a larger theme of control and writerly chess that was real in the text at a subtextual level, but mostly they're also just inventions to facilitate a dramatic arc. The moments of The End of the Tour I liked least were the parts that seemed too bent or overshaped, particularly in the framing narrative, which was dominated by certain kinds of writerly cliches (e.g, watching a writer type in a fit of inspiration). It may have been Ponsoldt and Margulies' ways of incorporating an idea from Lipsky's book regarding Wallace's death to lend this wandering conversation a path: "Suicide is such a powerful end, it reaches back and scrambles the beginning. It has an event gravity: Eventually, every memory and impression gets tugged in its direction." To that, while reading Although of Course..., I couldn't help but pause anytime Wallace brought up killing himself in passing, as if it were just some self-deprecating remark. I'm not sure The End of the Tour necessarily needed any explicit or neat emotional arc since these things rarely exist in real life. As a movie, The End of the Tour could have just done the My Dinner with Andre thing (or the Richard Linklater thing, if you prefer) and existed as this peripatetic meeting of minds on the road. And yet I liked some of the invented moments since they reminded me of other exchanges I've had with friends, or experiences with people I know, or trips I've been on, or that secret insecurity when talking with writers I admire who are way further in their careers than I am. Sometimes bullshit feels true even if it's not factual. (This might be a messy but succinct definition of Werner Herzog's "ecstatic truth.") Then again, like Kenny brought up earlier, this justification of invention might ultimately be self-serving. Although of Course You End Up Becoming Impossible to Encapsulate"They already feel as if they know you--which of course they don't." -- David Foster Wallace in Although of Course... by David Lipsky   Eisenberg's portrayal of David Lipsky hasn't gotten much flak, but that's because Lipsky's alive and not a major/mythologized persona in the literary world. (You don't read any essays that reduce his work to dick-wagging.) Lipsky's role, in the book and the film, is predominantly a vessel into the thoughts of David Foster Wallace. Segel's been widely praised for his performance as DFW, though I think Kenny's criticisms of his performance are worth noting since they highlight differences in perception, person, and persona between people: Physically, Segel's got Wallace all wrong too: bulky, lurching, elbowy, perpetually in clothes a half size too small. This, too, contradicts my own memory of Dave as a physically imposing but also very nearly lithe and graceful person. But as Segel's exuberantly horrible dancing at the end of the film practically blares in neon, this awkwardness represents Segel's conception of a Genius Who Was Just Too Pure And Holy For This World. Kenny also wrote that the David Foster Wallace of The End of the Tour is "for those people who cherish This Is Water as the new Wear Sunscreen: A Primer For Life." It's like Kenny's Lloyd Bentsen burn: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." This comes back to the idea of facets of people and the way The End of the Tour winds up being these layers of interpretation by different parties about a real person. As much as I like Segel in the film and think his performance is strong, it's not David Foster Wallace in the way that all portrayals of real people are not the real thing. Christopher Walken impersonations are generally caricatures of his start-stop vocal rhythm; all Michael Caine impressions are just people just saying, "My name's my cocaine." Segel can't possibly recreate all of the small facial expressions, body sways, or winces of David Foster Wallace, or even the same physiology, but he offers an impersonation suited to the film. (Good vs. good enough. Another writerly concern?) If Lipsky's a vessel into Wallace's thoughts, Segel's Wallace is an interpretation of a persona. People and their personas, while linked, aren't the same. So what to make of the propriety of The End of the Tour? Wallace died less than 10 years ago, and here's a movie that the estate was not involved with in which Wallace's death is a framing device. It's painful, and it may always be too soon for anyone who knew Wallace personally. The End of the Tour aims to be a tribute to a writer, as if that makes the pain more bearable, and yet the movie veers dangerously close to hagiography. David Foster Wallace, the film persona, embodies an idea of a good writer with a troubled soul, maybe too troubled to live in a fallen world. That might not be overstating it either given the way the movie concludes. My friend Leah Schnelbach of Tor.com also liked the movie, but she rightly used the term "St. Dave" to describe some of the uncomfortable fawning over DFW when it's not offset by his depression and underlying sadness. Maybe tributes unintentionally and inartfully stumble into hagiography or near-hagiography as they try to make a final sincere statement about the subject. There's no neat wrap-up to these rambling thoughts on The End of the Tour, because even though I'd meant to write this a while ago, these ideas remain unresolved and half-formed. I still think it's generally a very good film about writers despite some of those weaker bits, but that might be because it's so rooted in the actual conversation of two writers. Even when they're not talking about writing, it sounds like writers talking. As for David Foster Wallace, the persona on film as portrayed by Jason Segel, he's just an interpretation of one part of the real David Foster Wallace during a particular point in his life.While many times removed from the real thing, this persona makes the actual man's absence more apparent.
The End of the Tour photo
The blend of truth, fiction, and reality
I really enjoyed James Ponsoldt's The End of the Tour, which primarily covers the last days of David Foster Wallace's 1996 book tour for Infinite Jest. Wallace committed suicide in 2008 after his antidepressants proved no lon...

New photos from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and plot/character details emerge

Aug 12 // Hubert Vigilla
Abrams also revealed/confirmed a few things about villain Kylo Ren, the fella with the lightsaber that has the crossbar on it (causing many geeks consternation regarding its dangerously impractical design). Not only is his lightsaber homemade, but he's also part of a mysterious group known as the Knights of Ren, a new addition to the Jedi/Sith mythos. From the article: Abrams can confirm what many suspected: it’s a tool he crafted all by his lonesome. “The lightsaber is something that he built himself, and is as dangerous and as fierce and as ragged as the character,” Abrams says. ... But there’s another wrinkle to Kylo Ren. In typical Abrams fashion, the more the filmmaker reveals… the more questions arise. It turns out — Kylo Ren isn’t the character’s real name. Or, at least, not the name he was born with. Remember how we eventually learned that “Darth” is not a first name, but a kind of title? It appears the surname “Ren” is something similar. “He is a character who came to the name Kylo Ren when he joined a group called the Knights of Ren,” Abrams says. But that’s as far as the writer-director will go. Check out the image gallery, comment on Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren, and just hold onto your butts until December. [via EW, EW, and EW]
Star Wars 7 Photos photo
Begun the hype machine has
As its December 18th release date inches closer, we're starting to get more and more stuff to whet people's appetites for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There was the Korean TV spot for The Force Awakens the other day (with ma...


We'll finally see Jerry Lewis' infamous Holocaust film The Day the Clown Cried (in 10 years)

Aug 07 // Hubert Vigilla
Yes, it was supposed to be a comedy, albeit a bleak one. In a 1992 article in Spy Magazine, Shearer said of The Day the Clown Cried: With most of these kinds of things, you find that the anticipation, or the concept, is better than the thing itself. But seeing this film was really awe-inspiring, in that you are rarely in the presence of a perfect object. This was a perfect object. This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is. "Oh My God!"--that's all you can say. So, we'll eventually get to watch a legendary, unseen oddity, and I am fascinated by the prospect of seeing it. The Day the Clown Cried is one of those movies I've been aware of since the early 2000s, so the fact it's going to eventually see the light of day took me aback, ditto the fact that the print is from Lewis. Share your thoughts on The Day the Clown Cried in the comments [The LA Times via The Playlist]   YOUR OFFICIAL COUNTDOWN CLOCK TO THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED [embed]219740:42533:0[/embed]
The Day the Clown Cried photo
A notorious unseen oddity of a film
The Day the Clown Cried is one of the most infamous movies ever made. Jerry Lewis shot the controversial Holocaust film in 1972 and never released it. The plot concerns a Jewish circus clown in Nazi Germany who is sent to Aus...

RIP The Dissolve (2013-2015)

Jul 08 // Hubert Vigilla
RIP The Dissolve photo
A great place for film writing is gone
The Dissolve was one of the best places on the internet for intelligent, funny, in-depth, and insightful film criticism and features. This morning, editor-in-chief Keith Phipps announced that The Dissolve would be shutting do...

Donnie Yen in Star Wars photo
Star Wars just got a little more badass
Prepare to sing the Ewok celebration song, folks: Donnie Yen will appear in Star Wars: Episode VIII and possibly Star Wars: Rogue One. Reports suggest Yen, who completed Ip Man 3 with Mike Tyson not too long ago (though ...

Rob Zombie/Groucho Marx photo
Groucho Sex Head
While Rob Zombie won't be involved in the Halloween franchise "recalibration" Halloween Returns, he does have another project lined up: a movie about Groucho Marx. And I'm not against it. Zombie is a huge Marx Brothers fan; H...

John Wick sequel photo
People keep asking...
People keep asking if I'm back. Yeah, I'm thinking I'm back. We didn't review John Wick here on Flixist (which was a major oversight on my part because I saw it during my vacation that weekend and totally didn't write on it...

If other cinematic comic book characters had forehead tattoos like The Joker

Apr 27 // Hubert Vigilla
Batman Superman Captain America Iron Man Black Widow The Incredible Hulk Spider-Man Wonder Woman Groot Daredevil Aquaman Doctor Doom Deadpool Bane Lex Luthor Scarlet Witch Quicksilver Green Lantern Loki Nick Fury
Comic Book Forehead Tats photo
Wanna know how I got these facial tattoos?
We all know what Jared Leto's version of The Joker will look like in Suicide Squad. It's a little overdone (by "a little" I mean "completely"), but it's all about the execution in the actual film and Leto's performance in the...

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Henry Hobson, and Joely Richardson Discuss Maggie

Apr 24 // Hubert Vigilla
Arnold Schwarzenegger on playing his character in Maggie:“We focus so much on the people, and the dilemma that this man is in—this strong farmer that normally can handle anything. And also the baggage I bring to the movie of being the action hero; all of a sudden, I cannot handle this challenge, and I become very vulnerable as a character. So that's what appealed to me in the first place.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on physical action roles vs. dramatic roles:“The brain takes much more energy than the body does. Just look at it. When people do something mentally draining, and when you have to do a lot of thinking and negotiating— I remember when I was in the Governor's office, I was totally wiped out in the evening with the kinds of responsibilities I had and all this. The same thing here [making Maggie]. It's tough but at the same time it's not tough because you're having such a great time doing it.” Henry Hobson on keeping Maggie human and grounded:“The art direction, the costumes, the makeup; everything was very real and raw, and that allowed for the setting and space to feel as real as possible, [to make it easier as a kind of transition point] to really live and breathe in that grounded world.” Joely Richardson on the challenges of performing on Maggie:“Okay, weird comparison, but say [you're acting] in 101 Dalmatians, and you're playing with little puppies, and it's a life or death situation; and then you're doing a zombie film and your stepdaughter comes in covered with blood. They're not everyday emotions, you know what I mean? It's just going with the premise, but I my most difficult scene winds up being my easiest, and vice versa.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on working on a small, independent production:“I think there's something to be said about working on small movies, because the camaraderie and the way we worked together and the way we really got into it was different than on a big action movie. It was quite unique. Whatever performance that I delivered I have to credit to everyone around me, because they acted so well that it brought out the best in me.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on shooting quick, fast, and spontaneous: “We were shooting a scene in front of the house and all of a sudden [Henry] saw the lighting going a certain way and he felt, 'Oh, this would be a great shot out in the field; let's burn the field!' It was like from one minute to the next. What I thought was so fascinating was not how quickly we responded and ran with him out into the field, but how quickly the camera crew did. There was no one screaming 'I have to change batteries!' or 'I have to get a cable!' or 'This is impossible!' da-da-da-da. 'I need someone to carry the camera so I can roll again.' There was none of that that you normally hear on sets because of union rules and all this stuff. Everyone got their stuff together within seconds, and we all ran out in the field and shot that scene, and it was really the perfect lighting and it was very quick the way [it was done] because he's such a visual person. That's what you need to do in these kinds of movies, but it's that kind of spirit that you don't see in big movies.” Henry Hobson on the challenges of shooting in Louisiana:“The difficulty with Louisiana for Maggie is that we wanted a farmhouse, and Louisiana, when you're smack dab in the middle of New Orleans, is that there's just water all the way around, and then there's plantation houses. We ended up using four different houses to make the one house. It's a combination of the backroom, the bathroom, the other bedroom—all in different places—the porch in another place. It was a way of creating this kind of Everytown house. What we wanted was a relatability, so people couldn't quite place where it is in the country but felt there's some kind of connection to it.” Joely Richardson on working with Henry Hobson:“He gave us all very specific notes, exactly what he wanted. And he had the balls— If he didn't like what Arnold was doing or I was doing or Abigail, he would say how he wanted it. That takes courage and vision.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on working with director Henry Hobson:“People ask me, 'How do you trust [Henry]? He's never done a movie. He's done a lot of commercials and graphic design and stuff.' But to me it's not so much 'How many movies have you done?' but 'Do you have a vision?' [Henry] had a really clear vision. He had this album with all these photographs of different looks he wanted in the movie, and the way he interpreted the characters. It was very clear that I would be in good hands. There was never even a question there.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on how he helped Henry Hobson as a first-time director:“I just wanted to make sure that he's protected as a director, and that I can be a producer and let that be my responsibility, to make sure someone doesn't come in and say 'I want you to shoot this differently' or 'We want to have a different ending' and stuff like that. First-time directors need to be protected so that they can do their work. James Cameron doesn't need to be protected, you know? [laughs] I want to make sure that Henry can really put on the screen his exact vision. That's why he was hired, that's why he was put together with this project, so now let's have him do that.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on co-star Abigail Breslin:“Abigail was so good and made it feel so real. I never felt that she was acting; I always felt that she was dying. That's how skilled she is in her profession.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on if he sees a future in smaller films and dramatic roles:“25 ago, 30 years ago, I would not have been able to do that. First of all, I wouldn't have had the time, because there were so many big projects then. I was chasing the big money, and working my way up to being the highest paid actor. Today that doesn't mean anything to me because I've made a lot of money and I'm in a different place in my life. So when I get an offer to do Terminator 5, I'm very excited about that. When Universal calls me and says 'We're almost finished with writing the script for a new Conan movie,' I'm excited about that. But I'm also very excited when I read a script like Maggie, and I believe that I can be that character and then work with the director and work with the actors together like that. So yes, I will be looking for dramatic roles.” Arnold Schwarzenegger if working on Maggie reminded him of being Governor of California:“I think movies are movies and politics is politics, even though they have a lot of similarities.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on if we could take photos at the end of the press conference:“If you're nice.”
Maggie Press Conference photo
Highlights from the New York City press conference for Maggie
Maggie, the post-apocalyptic zombie drama starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. As we noted in our review of Maggie, the film features a surprisingly emotive and vulnerable perfo...

Amazon is getting into the moviemaking business

Jan 19 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Amazon to Produce Original Movies for Theaters, Prime Instant Video Production to begin in 2015 with the goal of bringing customers a dozen original, prestige movies each year Movies will launch in theaters and come to Prime Instant Video 30-60 days after theatrical premiere Ted Hope to lead creative as Head of Production, Amazon Original Movies SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 19, 2015-- (NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon Studios, known for television series such as multi-Golden Globe winner Transparent, Annie-nominated Tumble Leaf, and  Mozart in the Jungle, today announced that it will begin to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release and early window distribution on Amazon Prime Instant Video. Whereas it typically takes 39 to 52 weeks for theatrical movies to premiere on subscription video services, Amazon Original Movies will premiere on Prime Instant Video in the U.S. just 4 to 8 weeks after their theatrical debut. Amazon Original Movies will focus on unique stories, voices, and characters from top and up-and-coming creators. “We look forward to expanding our production efforts into feature films. Our goal is to create close to twelve movies a year with production starting later this year,” said  Roy Price, Vice President, Amazon Studios. “Not only will we bring Prime Instant Video customers exciting, unique, and exclusive films soon after a movie’s theatrical run, but we hope this program will also benefit filmmakers, who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.” Amazon Original Movies creative development will be led by independent film visionary  Ted Hope. Hope co-founded and ran production company Good Machine, which produced notable and Academy Award-nominated films such as Eat Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Hope's films have received some of the industry's most prestigious honors including numerous Academy Award and BAFTA nominations. Hope has also won The Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival more often than any other producer at the festival with his films American Splendor, The Brothers McMullen, and What Happened Was…. “Audiences already recognize that Amazon has raised the bar with productions in the episodic realm, tackling bold material in unique ways and collaborating with top talent, both established and emerging. To help carry the torch into the feature film world for such an innovative company is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility,” said  Ted Hope, the new Head of Production for Amazon Original Movies. “Amazon Original Movies will be synonymous with films that amaze, excite, and move our fans, wherever customers watch. I am incredibly thrilled to be part of this.” About Prime Instant Video Amazon Prime members can enjoy tens of thousands of TV episodes and movies with Prime Instant Video, Amazon’s video subscription service, via the Amazon Instant Video app on Fire TV, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, and certain smart TVs. They can also use the Amazon Instant Video app to watch on mobile devices, including Fire tablets, Fire phone, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, as well as hundreds of other connected devices—or customers can visit Amazon.com/PIV to watch online. About Amazon Studios Amazon Studios most recently debuted its dramatic comedy  Mozart in the Jungle from  Roman Coppola,  Jason Schwartzman,  Paul Weitz,  John Strauss and  Alex Timbers as well as Jill Soloway’s multi-Golden Globe Award-winning dark comedy Transparent; its first live-action series for kids 6-11, Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street; and a second season of the Garry Trudeau political comedy  Alpha House. The studio has also launched three additional children’s series, the Annecy International Animated Film Festival Award-winning and Annie Award-nominatedTumble Leaf from Bix Pix Entertainment; Creative Galaxy from  Angela Santomero and Out of the Blue Enterprises, the creators of Blue’s Clues; and Annedroids, from Emmy nominated Sinking Ship Entertainment. Amazon Studios has also announced four additional, original series to debut in 2015, including Michael Connelly’s Bosch; Hand of God from Marc Forster and  Ben Watkins;  Red Oaks from  Steven Soderbergh,  David Gordon Green,  Greg Jacobs and  Joe Gangemi; and kids seriesWishenpoof! from  Angela Santomero and Out of the Blue Enterprises; as well as a second season of Transparent. Amazon Studios launched in 2010 as a new way to develop feature films and episodic series—one that’s open to great ideas from creators and audiences around the world. Anyone can upload a script online and Amazon Studios will read and review all submissions. Those who choose to make their projects public can also receive feedback from the Amazon Studios community. Comprehensive cast and crew information, including bios and filmographies, is available on Amazon's IMDb (www.imdb.com), the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content. About Amazon Amazon.com opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995. The company is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire phone, Fire tablets, and Fire TV are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon.
Amazon Movies photo
Twelve theatrical releases a year, with VOD releases to follow
When Netflix announced that it was developing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2, there was a lot of surprise. Netflix has been hitting original television programming pretty hardcore (and striking gold on several occasions, I ...

Here are your 2015 Razzie nominations

Jan 15 // Nick Valdez
Worst PictureKirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasLeft BehindThe Legend of HerculesTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesTransformers: Age of Extinction Worst ActorKirk Cameron, Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasNicholas Cage, Left BehindKellan Lutz, The Legend of HerculesSeth MacFarlane, A Million Ways to Die in the WestAdam Sandler, Blended Worst Supporting ActorMel Gibson, Expendables 3Kelsey Grammer, Expendables 3, Legends of Oz, Think Like a Man Too, Transformers: Age of ExtinctionShaquille O’Neal, BlendedArnold Schwarzenegger, Expendables 3Kiefer Sutherland, Pompeii Worst Actress Drew Barrymore, BlendedCameron Diaz, The Other Woman and Sex TapeMelissa McCarthy, TammyCharlize Theron, A Million Ways to Die in the WestGaia Weiss, The Legend of Hercules Worst Supporting ActressCameron Diaz, AnnieMegan Fox, Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesNicola Peltz, Transformers: Age of ExtinctionSusan Sarandon, TammyBrigitte Ridenour (née Cameron), Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas Worst DirectorMichael Bay, Transformers: Age of ExtinctionDarren Doane, Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasRenny Harlin, The Legend of HerculesJonathan Liebesman, Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesSeth MacFarlane, A Million Ways to Die in the West Worst Remake, Rip-Off, or SequelAnnieAtlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?The Legend of HerculesTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesTransformers: Age of Extinction Worst Screen ComboAny Two Robots, Actors (Robotic Actors), Transformers: Age of ExtinctionKirk Cameron & His Ego, Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasCameron Diaz & Jason Segel, Sex TapeKellan Lutz & Either His Abs, His Pecs or His Glutes, The Legend of HerculesSeth MacFarlane & Charlize Theron, A Million Ways to Die in the West Worst ScreenplayKirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasLeft BehindSex TapeTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesTransformers: Age of Extinction Redeemer AwardBen Affleck, from Gigli to Argo and Gone GirlJennifer Aniston, from four-time Razzie nominee to CakeMike Myers, from The Love Guru to directing SupermenschKeanu Reeves, from six-time Razzie nominee to John WickKristen Stewart, from six-time Razzie winner for Twilight to Camp X-Ray
2015 Razzie Noms photo
Eh, yup
To completely offset the Academy Awards nominations from earlier this morning, here we have the opposite end of the spectrum. As usual, the 2015 Razzie noms (narrowed down from the shortlist a bit ago) are really just based o...

Strangers on a Plane photo
Except it's on a plane, because this is the 21st Century
Here's something pretty cool: David Fincher is directing a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. It is being written by Gone Girl novelist/screenwriter Gillian Flynn. Ben Affleck is involved too. Here's something...

Here's a 2015 Razzie nominations shortlist

Jan 07 // Nick Valdez
WORST PICTURE Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasTranscendenceA Million Ways to Die in the WestAtlas Shrugged: Part IIIThe Legend of HerculesSex TapeA Haunted House 2Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesLeft BehindThe InterviewTransformers: Age of ExtinctionI, Frankenstein WORST REMAKE, RIP-OFF or SEQUEL NoahThe Legend of HerculesLegends of Oz: Dorothy’s ReturnA Haunted House 2The Expendables 3Atlas Shrugged: Part IIIAnnie (RAZZable Remake of a 1981 Worst Picture Nominee)Exodus: Gods and KingsEndless Love (Yet Another RAZZable Remake of a 1981 Worst Picture Nominee)PompeiiTransformers: Age of ExtinctionI, FrankensteinTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles WORST SCREENPLAY Transformers: Age of ExtinctionA Haunted House 2PompeiiThe Legend of HerculesSex TapeEndless LoveLeft BehindThe Expendables 3Winter’s TaleKirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasAtlas Shrugged: Part IIIA Million Ways to Die in the WestNoahTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesTranscendenceI, Frankenstein  WORST ON SCREEN COMBO Any Two Robots, Actors (or Robotic Actors) Transformers: Age of ExtinctionJames Franco & EITHER Seth Rogen or Randall Park (Kim Jong Un) / The InterviewKellan Lutz and EITHER His Abs, His Pecs or His Glutes / LEGEND of HERCULESThe Entire Cast of The Expendables 3The Entire Cast of Atlas Shrugged: Part IIISeth MacFarlane and Charlize Theron / A Million Ways to Die in the WestThe “Rock Monsters” / NoahJohnny Depp and His “Virtual Doppelganger” / TranscendenceAlex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde / Endless LoveKirk Cameron and His Ego / Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasCameron Diaz & Jason Segel / Sex Tape WORST DIRECTOR James Manera / Atlas Shrugged: Part IIIJake Kasdan / Sex TapeDarren Aronofsky / NoahSeth MacFarlane / A Million Ways to Die in the WestJonathan Liebesman / Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesRenny Harlin / The Legend of HerculesMichael Tiddes / A Haunted House 2Michael Bay / Transformers: Age of ExtinctionWally Pfister / TranscendenceDarren Doane / Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasVic Armstrong / Left Behind WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR Shaquille O’Neal / BlendedJohnathon Schaech / The Legend of HerculesKelsey Grammer / The Expendables 3 and Transformers: Age of ExtinctionArnold Schwarzenegger / The Expendables 3Morgan Freeman / TranscendenceJack Black / Sex TapeLiam Neeson / A Million Ways to Die in the WestRussell Crowe / Winter’s TaleMel Gibson / The Expendables 3Kiefer Sutherland / PompeiiT.J. Miller / Transformers: Age of Extinction WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Sophia Myles / Transformers: Age of ExtinctionJaime Pressly / A Haunted House 2Susan Sarandon / TammyBridgette Cameron / Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasCarrie-Anne Moss / PompeiiAmanda Seyfried / A Million Ways to Die in the WestCameron Diaz / AnnieMegan Fox / Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesJane Fonda / This Is Where I Leave YouEmily Browning / PompeiiNicola Peltz (The Newest Michael Bay “Discovery”) Transformers: Age of Extinction WORST ACTRESS Charlize Theron / A Million Ways to Die in the WestElizabeth Banks / Walk of ShameJennifer Aniston / Horrible Bosses 2Cameron Diaz / The Other Woman and Sex TapeGabriella Wilde / Endless LoveNicole Kidman / Before I Go to SleepMelissa McCarthy / TammyDrew Barrymore / BlendedGaia Weiss / The Legend of HerculesLea Michele (Voice Only) Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return WORST ACTOR Seth MacFarlane / A Million Ways to Die in the WestJohnny Depp / TranscendenceAdam Sandler / BlendedSeth Rogen / The InterviewKellan Lutz / The Legend of HerculesMarlon Wayans / A Haunted House 2Arnold Schwarzenegger / SabotageAaron Eckhart / I, FrankensteinAlex Pettyfer / Endless LoveKirk Cameron /Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasJames Franco / The InterviewNicolas Cage / Left Behind  
Razzies photo

As awards shows increasingly become more irrelevant, the Razzies are fading away even more so. As negativity is spread so much through social media, most people don't feel like listening to that stuff anymore. Take this short...

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HYPEHYPEHYPEHYPEHYPE
Since its unveiling, I've thought that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has looked cool, but J. J. Abrams movies always look cool, so I wasn't sold on the whole thing. I knew I'd see it eventually, and it will undoubted...

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This is only the beginning
There are certain times in your life that you just sit down, hunch over, and bury your face in your hands. This is one of those times. Fresh in the wake of the Sony/North Korea debacle over The Interview, New Regency has...

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Unsettling at best.
UPDATE: We've passed the point of beating around the bush. This has gone from hacking some emails to threatening full out violence against people who would consider seeing some damn movie. Sony has taken the next step and is ...

SAIFF Review: Dukhtar

Nov 21 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]218626:41996:0[/embed] Dukhtar (Daughter)Director: Afia NathanielRating: NRCountry: Pakistan I'm going to my best to not sound like an ignorant white guy here. I know that's a distinct possibility, and I apologize in advance if I sound that way. But at the same time, it's that otherness that makes the film so compelling for me. These people live lives that are so different from mine, to the point where it really doesn't feel like a film from 2014. I don't mean that with disrespect, nor am I implying that one way is even better than the other, but the inherent difference between my world and the one this film depicts is fascinating. From a narrative perspective, it means I was always playing catchup. The film doesn't stop to explain things to people who don't understand the culture, and while there aren't a lot of true cultural barriers, each new location just got me thinking about things, about life and the world we live in. Because Earth is so, so interesting. Last year, I gushed over The Secret Life of Walter Mitty for showing a unique (and beautiful) location, but that film was more concerned with the places than the people. Dukhtar is more concerned with the people, but I was oftentimes just looking at the backdrops. And certainly the film makes a point of showing some particularly gorgeous vistas, but just seeing a different part of the world excites me. And so I was excited to go from scene to scene regardless of what was taking place onscreen, just because I wanted to see more and know more. But when I wasn't playing tourist, I was still invested in what I was seeing. Zainab (Saleha Aref) is the daughter of a tribe chief whose sons have been murdered at the hands of another tribe. In order to bring peace to their tribes, he promises to give Zainab's hand to the other chief. It's worth noting here that Zainab is young, only 15 years old (and she looks young). And so right off the bat, I was terrified that this film was going to turn into something about child abuse. Fortunately, Zainab's mother, Allah Rakhi, is also terrifed by that thought and decides to run away with Zainab on the night of the "wedding." And from there, the film becomes a chase. And as such there's quite a bit of running through interesting places and then driving through more interesting places. But at the same time, the film does get bogged down a little bit by all of the waiting that's inherent in a chase over a long journey. Once the baddies are tricked into looking elsewhere, there's some room to breathe, but what happens then? And those moments, where the film sticks with them in between significant events, sometimes drag. Not by much, but just a little bit. And it's a shame, because much of the film is brilliantly paced. Even the slower second half, although even though the pacing is fine there it does bring with it some different problems. Because every once in a while, it seems like one of the many plot threads has just entirely disappeared. Allah Rakhi and Zainab find some solace, and suddenly everything else becomes irrelevant. There is some tension still, but no one seems particularly worried about safety. In fact, the only way they bring danger back in is by going to look for it. And as this happens, characters who seemed vital literally disappear without a trace. The word "MacGuffin" springs to mind, as many things that at first appeared important actually have very little impact on the story, but it doesn't feel like an intentional MacGuffin. Plot lines are brought up and closed, but it doesn't benefit the grander narrative so much as convolute it. I was wondering why certain things happened at the time and in retrospect I'm still not really sure. Whenever the film leaves Zainab, it gets caught up in unnecessary moments. But at 93 minutes, those flaws are forgivable. A lot of ground is covered in a short time, and it means that the weird moments are over quickly and you don't have time to dwell on where it fits into the narrative or why. You just go on and on, following the chase or the calm, and just take in the sights and the sounds. The camerawork is excellent and accentuates just how beautiful the world around them is. And the world around us. Because this is a world unlike my own (and probably unlike yours), but it's still a real part of the world we all share. Dukhtar is a chance to embrace a truly different culture and see it through its own eyes. Add in just how well-crafted and interesting the film is and you get something truly special.
Dukhtar Review photo
Fascinatingly foreign
Most of the modern foreign films that I watch are from countries that are reasonably similar to the United States. People live in apartments and drive sleek cars. They use smartphones and credit cards. They have the internet....

NYFF 52 photo
It starts tonight!
Hello everyone. It's festival time again! The 52nd New York Film Festival kicks off tonight with the world premiere of David Fincher's Gone Girl, and continues through October 12th, closing with Alejandro González I&nt...

Dear V/s Bear photo

More please.  [via Lotus Movies] 

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No jokes for the DC folks?
Folks, superhero movies are dumb. I don't care how many famous actors fill the roles, how many Oscars you think a performance should get, how many famous directors take on the stories, or how gritty each series is, superhero ...

Power Rangers Reboot photo
"Alpha, Rita's escaped! Recruit a team of teenagers with attitude!"
I've written about this movie as much as I can because I'm just so excited about the possibilities. A big budget Power Rangers movie that might not be terribly written or full of bad CG? Take all of my money now...or in 2016,...

Production has begun on the Herschell Gordon Lewis co-directed Herschell Gordon Lewis' Bloodmania

Aug 05 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Production Begins Today On A New Major Horror Movie Entitled “Herschell Gordon Lewis’ BloodMania”  Monday, August 4th, 2014 - Production begins today on a new major horror movie, entitled “Herschell Gordon Lewis’s BloodMania.” Acclaimed horror genre director Herschell Gordon Lewis will co-direct the project, which is being produced by HGB Entertainment Ltd. for Diabolique Films, the film division of the premiere horror publication, Diabolique Magazine. Mr. Lewis is internationally recognized as the originator of the contemporary splatter film, and he chuckles at being dubbed “The Godfather of Gore." The Producer of the film is Diabolique Films executive James Saito, and the film is being shot in its entirety in Calgary, Alberta Canada. Lewis explained his “co-director” role, an unusual relationship with the production company: “BloodMania is a series of four episodes, each one unique. I’ll personally direct two, and Benjamin Ross Hayden (Agophobia, 2013) and Kevin Littlelight the others. So I can promise a variety of ‘flavors to satisfy even the most ardent horror fans!’” Asked whether “BloodMania” will be a step beyond any film either he or anyone has directed before, the answer was as expected from this maverick director: “What do you think?” A major factor contributing to his reputation in the film industry is Herschell Gordon Lewis’s insistence on never repeating a theme. “BloodMania” he promises, will set a new standard for, as he so eloquently puts it, “off-the-wall outrage, doused in a wild sense of humor!” Producer James Saito has assembled a cast of well-known Canadian actors and actresses, as well as crew highly skilled in special effects. “Enthusiasm is extraordinarily high,” he reports, “and much of that enthusiasm is the happy anticipation that our effects team will have the opportunity to participate in a motion picture whose potential is truly world-class. BloodMania is our gift to Mr. Lewis’ many fans and all fans of the horror genre.” The release of “Herschell Gordon Lewis’s BloodMania” is set for Spring of 2015. Important links: Website: www.bloodmania.ca Twitter: @BloodMania Facebook: www.facebook.com/BloodManiaMovie
H. G. Lewis' new movie photo
By Herschell Gordon Lewis
If you don't know the name Herschell Gordon Lewis, then you have missed an extremely important part of film history. H. G. Lewis' effects are seen in cinemas all over the world even today; his 1963 film Blood Feast was t...

Godzilla 2 photo
No Godzooky...yet.
Although a Godzilla sequel was announced shortly after the first film made Legendary Pictures a king-sized amount at the box office, they've finally confirmed it during their panel at San Diego Comic-Con last weekend. Didn't ...

Review: Kill Team

Jul 23 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]215318:39994:0[/embed] Kill TeamDirector: Dan KraussRelease Date: July 25, 2014 (New York, National rollout to follow)Rating: NR  The primary focus of Kill Team is Private Adam Winfield and his family. Private Winfield was the whistleblower who attempted to bring attention to these criminal acts for months. Despite his efforts and his family's efforts, military brass never acted in an urgent way. Private Winfield's own father, who also served and was the reason that Private Winfield enlisted in the Army, reached out to as many professional contacts as he could that might be able to do something. None of these people could help, and many deferred responsibility to other parties. The reason these kills took place was the squad leader, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs. Gibbs is an imposing figure, an all-American freedom machine with the features of a GI Joe. He served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and in addition to his hardcore machismo, there's a major psychopathic and sociopathic streak to him. He looks at the Afghan population as sub-human, and even makes a necklace of index finger bones for his own amusement. As trophies of his kills, Gibbs also gets tattoos, and he encourages those under him to do as he does. Gibbs is never interviewed for the documentary, and it's no surprise that he'd avoid participating in this film since he wouldn't come out of it in any sort of positive light. A few of Private Winfield's fellow soldiers are interviewed, however, and they are so blunt about what happened it adds additional chill to what they say. It's like they're describing trips to the store rather than the murder of innocent people; as if they're talking about others planting grenades and pulling the triggers rather than themselves. It seems like they viewed the peacekeeping side of the mission as tedious rather than essential, while the firefights were where the fun was at. Private Winfield was coerced to murder an innocent civilian himself under threat of death. The rest of his company knew he wanted to reveal what they've done, and they made it known that if he blew the whistle, they'd kill him and make it look like an accident. If  they could make innocent civilians seem like enemy combatants, it wouldn't be so hard to make another murder seem like part of routine combat. Under that kind of duress, Private Winfield had no choice but to comply. His parents were helpless to help, and Army higher ups weren't too concerned. On top of that, Private Winfield's small in stature and even though he has a lot of heart, his rucksack weighs as much as he does. Private Winfield seems like the only person interviewed that shows any remorse about the killings. He recalls the moment and calls it the worst thing in his life. The other troops who are so matter-of-fact describe a kind of compartmentalization of military action and civilian life. Back home, a troop may be filled with angst and anxiety that they try to tamp down as best as they can. They express no desire to kill when on leave, but things are different when back in Afghanistan. Obviously this isn't the case with all troops and the documentary isn't painting everyone who serves in the same light, but Kill Team does a good job of profiling just how dark these impulses can become. Much of the film's focus is on Private Winfield's fate and how his family copes with the legal defense. In some ways this points out part of the film limitations in its exploration of this issue. No doubt a lot of this had to do with access, and director Dan Krauss makes the most out of his time with the Winfields. While some of Private Winfield's fellow troops participate in the documentary, none of their families appear. Part of me wonders how their experiences were and what their personal stories involved, especially in the case of Gibbs's loved ones. Did they notice something wrong? Did they know what was happening? How do they feel now that they know what's happened? One minor issue I had with Kill Team had to do with its presentation, of all things. When Krauss is in documentary journalism mode, the film is brimming with power. The more cinematic flourishes in the film seem less effective, though. The cinematography is nice, but it seems like a bit of a distraction -- a kind of garnish rather than something that complements the content. There's also the slow crawl of text from Facebook chats between Private Winfield and his father, which are more affected than effective. It's a testament to the power of this story, maybe, that I'm critical of a choice of presentation that gets in the way of the facts. Quibbles aside, Kill Team is an important film that may be the first of many to come. Once again, as we're told in the film, this is something that happens more that we think. Other units have engaged in similar actions, and the civilians who witness it are going to harbor deep and legitimate resentments that will be passed through villages, conveyed to the next generation. When more of these stories are revealed and more time has passed when the last troops have left, we may get a larger and more complicated picture of the country and the conflict. The silence can't last for long.
Kill Team Review photo
Examining US troops that murdered innocent Afghan civilians for sport
The war in Afghanistan is the longest military conflict in which the United States has been involved. The operation is nowhere near as successful as hoped, which is part of the reality of fighting a war in Afghanistan, a less...

Fast & Furious 7 has finished filming, here's a super sad note about it

Jul 14 // Nick Valdez
Today we completed the last shot in the production of FAST & FURIOUS 7.We wanted to take this moment to express how thankful we are for your support. We felt the love and strength from our fans throughout this journey, and it’s because of you that we got here. There was a time when we didn’t know how we could go on, or even if we should. But we listened to you, and you inspired us not only to keep going but to try and make the best FAST & FURIOUS movie yet.Our FAST family has been together for almost fifteen years now and has grown a lot in that time. From the start, Vin has been our leader who feels what’s right for FAST in his gut and in his heart. When we had to stop production last year, Vin gathered us back together and moved us forward when we needed it most. He led us to this day. Some of us have been here from the very beginning. Vin, Michelle, Jordana and our producer Neal all go back to that first little movie we shot on the streets of LA. We came back to LA in FAST 7, and it was an especially emotional homecoming for those who’ve grown up with each other since that first shoot. There are those we count as brothers who we gathered along the way and are with us again: Dwayne, Tyrese, Luda, Lucas and our writer, Chris. We’ve got some new additions this time in Jason, Kurt, Djimon, Nathalie and our director, James. Caleb and Cody joined us to honor their brother and help complete his work. Our family is big and strong but it won’t ever quite be whole again without Paul.All of us -- those who’ve been here from the start and those whose first FAST film is 7 -- wanted to create a special film for him and for you. We believe we have.Thank you for being there for us. You are the biggest part of our family, and we couldn’t have gotten here without you.The countdown to April 3 begins.
Fast and Furious 7 photo
Sniff :(
The Fast & Furious franchise is never going to be the same without Paul Walker. The filming process of the seventh film has been paved with heartache and drama, but at least it's finally over. Knowing that Fast & Furi...

Review: Particle Fever

Jul 01 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]217974:41645:0[/embed] Particle FeverDirector: Mark LevinsonRelease Date: iTunes (July 1, 2014); VOD (July 15, 2014)Rating: NR And now for a digression: In college, I took a course called "Crazy Ideas in Physics." A fundamental part of that class was essentially a live action role play, where the class was broken up into multiple factions. These factions were pitching ideas to a commission (made up of students) that would then dole out (fake) money based on the legitimacy of the pitch, which by powerpoint presentations and a poster session where the pitches were elaborated, as well as appearances on a television program hosted by Hildy Johnson, the journalist, as portrayed by yours truly. (Yes, I did have a better college experience than you.) The commission was set to look for Revolutionary Ideas in science, physics or otherwise. One of the proposed theories involved a proposal to build a large, extremely expensive machine that would allow us to learn the mass of a neutrino. It had important scientific implications, but the question came up again and again from the members of the commission: what good does it do us as a society? Will the mass of a neutrino cure cancer? Will it incite world peace? No? Then why should we care? Watching Particle Fever reminded me a lot of those "meetings." Thousands of people from over 100 countries spent $6 billion on a giant circular tube that smashes together particles in order to find new particles. The big one that everyone was looking for was the Higgs Boson, which is the particle that gives mass to other particles. Modern physics requires the Higgs Boson to exist, and physicists knew it would be found one way or another, but they didn't know how heavy it was. That question matters, but it doesn't matter to the public. Knowing the mass of the Higgs Boson won't cure cancer. In fact, it doesn't really do anything except disprove a number of theories about the universe. It doesn't prove a single one, or even really clearly hint at a true answer. It just confirms the existence of someone everyone knew already existed. To most people, that wouldn't be worth $6 billion. But to those who really want to understand the world around us down to its most fundamental elements, the announcement that the Higgs Boson has a mass of approximately 125MeV matters a whole lot, and the investment was completely worth it. (And now more money is being invested to find out what's next.) Particle Fever follows several physicists through the current life of the Large Hadron Collider. Some of whom were directly involved in its experimentation, and others stayed on the sidelines. It's a film that's been years in the making, and it's one that may deserve a sequel in a few years when the LHC is booted up again for Round 2. But the LHC itself is the least interesting part of Particle Fever, as is the science in general The film tends to gloss over the technical stuff, going so far as to put a musical interlude on top of an important talk because it would have just gone over everyone's heads anyway. Some things are explained, but if you don't have some grasp on the fundamentals of the universe, you're going to be really confused really quickly. Big points, like the fact that the Standard Model of physics upon which basically all modern knowledge is based is fundamentally flawed, are mentioned but not addressed, and that strikes me as an unfortunate oversight. That point is especially important, since it's the entire reason for the LHC's existence, but it's just sort of shrugged off with a "Gravity's really weak," something that won't make any sense to most people. Yeah, a proper explanation would have added to the runtime, but it also would have made everything a little bit clearer. (As an aside, I found it interesting that so much time was spent on SUSY, by the way, considering that the revelations from the LHC has thus far only served to discredit SUSY theories, something the films admits but doesn't really go into... But that's neither here nor there.) Instead, the thing that really got to me was the philosophy of the whole thing. Each of these physicists comes to the Large Hadron Collider, physically or emotionally, for a different reason, but all of them have made physics their livelihoods. The mass of the Higgs Boson affects all of their careers (and thus their lives) in a meaningful way. And especially in the time leading up to the unveiling of the data, the way they viewed the possibilities of the information was fascinating. I may not have learned any new science, but I learned a whole lot about the outlook of these people who obsess day in and day out over these abstract concepts. None of us will be able to ever really "see" the Higgs Boson or whatever it is the LHC (and its potential successors) reveal next, but there are people who devote themselves to it. Seeing and hearing these incredibly intelligent people talk about this thing that may one day help us quite literally understand life, the universe, and everything. That is what makes Particle Fever worth watching.
Particle Fever Review photo
More philosophy than science
I like physics. I probably have as good a grasp of the field as any film critic, and I frequently read articles about things like the Large Hadron Collider and the revelation of the mass of the Higgs Boson and how that revela...

NYAFF Recommendation: Han Gong-Ju

Jun 30 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Go See Han Gong-Ju photo
This is not a review
Han Gong-Ju is incredible. It's easily the best film I've seen at the New York Asian Film Festival thus far and among the best I've seen in a long time. It's also extremely depressing, to the point where I'm not sure I can re...

A Whole Lot of DC photo
To be announced at San Diego Comic Con
Marvel has been having amazing success with its cinematic universe, and they show no signs of slowing down. But their two-films-per-year schedule is pretty solid, and any more superhero movies would really have the poten...


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