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12:00 PM on 01.19.2015

Amazon is getting into the moviemaking business

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 ...

Alec Kubas-Meyer



Here are your 2015 Razzie nominations photo
Here are your 2015 Razzie nominations
by Nick Valdez

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 on popular opinion. I've seen my fair share of bad films this year, and they're definitely way worse then say Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

But in an unexpected twist, there's a category I particularly enjoy. For the first time, the Razzies are actually acknowledging good performances in the "Redeemer" category. Keanu Reeves, Kristen Stewart, and Ben Affleck are finally past their mistakes. Hit the jump for the nominations. 

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David Fincher and Gillian Flynn teaming up to remake Strangers on a Train photo
David Fincher and Gillian Flynn teaming up to remake Strangers on a Train
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

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 kind of weird: It's not being called Strangers on a Train. In fact, it doesn't take place on a train at all. It takes place on a plane. Well, two planes, actually. So, it's Strangers on a Plane, which sounds dumb as hell. Fortunately, it's not actually called that (they're just going with Strangers), but it still sounds like an idea that could easily become dumb as hell. 

That said, I'm also totally fascinated by the idea. I don't actually understand how it's going to work, and the little tidbits given in the Deadline story pose more questions than they answer, but I'm already sold. I like remakes that adapt source material to the modern age, and while people still do use trains in 2015, I'm not going to question this particular creative team without a whole lot more information. They proved themselves with Gone Girl, and Fincher's proved himself numerous times before. If anyone is going to do justice to Hitchcock's work, I think it'll be them.

[Via Deadline]

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Here's a 2015 Razzie nominations shortlist photo
Here's a 2015 Razzie nominations shortlist
by Nick Valdez

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 shortlist of nominations for example. It's a list of films they're considering more terrible than others, yet I see films like The Interview, Noah, and This is Where I Leave You. 

So, yeah. Let's talk again when we've got the final list all set. 

[via Razzies]

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Iko Uwais and other Raid 2 actors will be in Star Wars: The Force Awakens photo
Iko Uwais and other Raid 2 actors will be in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

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 undoubtedly put the prequels to shame, but how much does that really say? (Not much.)

But now I'm sold. Why? Because Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruyhian, and Cecep Arif Rahman of The Raid 2 fame have been cast in the film. There's no further information, but there doesn't need to be. If you'll remember, The Raid 2 is literally the best action film ever, and much of that comes down to the talent of these three men. Back when the spinoffs were first being announced, we put together a list of six filmmakers who should be given a chance to leave their mark on the Star Wars universe. At the top of that list was Gareth Evans, The Raid 2's director. While this isn't quite that, Uwais and Ruyhian are his main choreographers, and Rahman proved his worth as an onscreen martial artist with that incredible final fight, so it's basically the next best thing.

I would love it if halfway through the film, John Boyega happened to walk in on a fight club and then the entire narrative just stopped for 10 minutes while people just beat each other up. That definitely won't happen, but I'm sure whatever does will be freaking awesome (or J. J. Abrams will be dead to me forever).

I am so freaking excited about this, you guys. You don't even know.

[Via Collider]

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Gore Verbinski's Pyongyang canceled after Sony hack photo
Gore Verbinski's Pyongyang canceled after Sony hack
by Jonathan Wray

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 went ahead and pulled the plug on Pyongyang, an upcoming film that was set to star Agent Michael Scarn Steve Carrell. The film was set to be based on the graphic novel by Guy Delisle. In the novel, Delisle spends two months living in Pyongyang, equipped with only cigarettes, alcohol, George Orwell's "1984", and an Aphex Twin CD.

As correctly predicted by some, the cancellation of The Interview sets an extremely dangerous precedent, and we're already seeing the fallout. We may see an entire genre of international/political films ignored in the future, and there has to be some screenwriters in Hollywood furiously editing scripts right now. So much for 2014 ending quietly.

[via BusinessInsider]

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UPDATE: Sony hackers threaten attack, Sony allowing theaters to pull The Interview photo
UPDATE: Sony hackers threaten attack, Sony allowing theaters to pull The Interview
by Matthew Razak

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 allowing theaters to pull The Interview, if they so choose. I won't blame theaters that do, nor will I fault Sony for making this decision. It just kind of sucks that we're in an age where Hollywood can't even churn out a damn parody. But, barring any tragedy, we'll still be here to watch the film for ourselves and present our opinions for you all. Original story below. - Nick]

While we took a hard line on not covering any movie news leaking from the Sony hack it's still a major story in the film industry and the hack has gone too far to ignore. This is especially true when they're threatening actual violence on theaters that play the film. In the latest release, which reportedly also included more hacked files, the hackers stated:

Warning

We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
The world will be full of fear.
Remember the 11th of September 2001.
We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
All the world will denounce the SONY.

First, Sony should start calling themselves The SONY from here on out. Second, it hasn't been confirmed that this email came from the same people, but it is probable. Third, fuck them. This just went from an embarrassing and financially troublesome issue for a single company to a disturbing and disgusting over reaction. Even if they're simply trying to rile things up this has gone beyond acceptable. God, I hope this movie is actually funny.

[via Variety]

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SAIFF Review: Dukhtar photo
SAIFF Review: Dukhtar
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

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. And so even if I'm confused by a particular custom or some broader cultural experience, I can always fall back on the knowledge that their environments are not too different from mine.

Which makes it all the more shocking to see a film like Dukhtar, Pakistan's official Oscar entry for the year. Though it takes place in modern times, the environment is unlike anything I've ever experienced. It's something truly foreign.

It's also quite good.

[This film is screening as part of the 2014 South Asian International Film Festival. More information can be found here or at the official SAIFF website.]

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The 52nd New York Film Festival is upon us photo
The 52nd New York Film Festival is upon us
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

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 Iñárritu's Birdman. More information, including the full slate of films, talks, events, and etc., are all available on the the Film Society of Lincoln Center's website.

Coverage will be a bit more limited than it has in the past couple of years, but we'll still be seeing and reviewing some big and cool things that you'll definitely want to check out.

And if you're going to be around at screenings and things, let me know. Maybe we'll be in the same place, and we can high five or something.

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Hindi trailer for Dear V/s Bear is the greatest thing I've ever seen photo
Hindi trailer for Dear V/s Bear is the greatest thing I've ever seen
by Nick Valdez

More please. 

[via Lotus Movies] 

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Rumor: Warner Bros has a
Rumor: Warner Bros has a "no jokes" policy for its DC comics movies
by Nick Valdez

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 movies will always involve folks in speedo jumpsuits punching each other into explosions or something along those lines. It's when you forget how inherently dumb each property is that you'll run into trouble.

According to Drew McWeeny at HitFix: 

Last week was about the fifth time I've heard that there is a mandate at Warner Bros. regarding any of the DC superhero films in development, and it's very simple and direct and to the point.

"No jokes."

What? While it explains the stupidly serious photos of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in the rain, it seems like a terrible direction for WB's nine (NINE) DC comics films going forward. Sure the reasoning is admittedly business sound (apparently it's because Green Lantern, full of jokes, bombed), but having all of these movies be all same-y and serious is a bad, bad idea. Remember Man of Steel? Oy. 

What do you all think? Ready for the gloomy guses?

[via HitFix]

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Power Rangers movie gets release date photo
Power Rangers movie gets release date
by Nick Valdez

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, when the film will finally hit theaters. 

It'll officially be morphin' time July 22, 2016. Produced by Kurtzman and Orci (who produce everything now, which doesn't look good for the film overall) and written by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz (who are an okay duo). Here's the synopsis for the film...which doesn't give us any new details. All we know right now is it's a reboot that'll keep the continuity of the 20 season strong TV series, which is a HUGE deal for some fans. You ready? 

From a story by Executive Producer Roberto Orci (TRANSFORMERS, STAR TREK, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2) and screenwriters Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller (X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, THOR) comes a modern reinvention of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a group of ordinary high school kids who find themselves infused with extraterrestrial powers and must harness those powers as a team to save the world.

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Production has begun on the Herschell Gordon Lewis co-directed Herschell Gordon Lewis' Bloodmania photo
Production has begun on the Herschell Gordon Lewis co-directed Herschell Gordon Lewis' Bloodmania
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

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 the first film to feature serious gore, and it started a revolution. It was followed up by two more films, collectively known as The Blood Trilogy (discussed at length in an article I wrote back in 2011).

After a string of other ultra-violent films, he quit directing in 1972 following the fascinating The Gore-Gore Girls. And suddenly he returned to the scene thirty years later with 2002's Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat (discussed at length in an article I wrote in 2012). Blood Feast 2 is easily one of my favorite films made in the history of forever, and though I didn't see his next film, 2009's The Uh! Oh! Show, I'm now officially excited for his next project, Herschell Gordon Lewis' Bloodmania, which began production yesterday.

Bloodmania is a film in four parts, two of which will be directed by Lewis and the other two will be directed by names I don't recognize (Benjamin Ross Hayden and Kevin Littlelight), but it's really about the man whose name is three quarters of the title. As with his other recent films, Bloodmania is going to be a comedy, and it will almost definitely be amazing. While it's exciting that production is underway, I'm unhappy about the release period: Spring, 2015. I would have much preferred an Apple approach, "Oh hey! Movie! It's out today!" But I'll take what I can get (at least when what I can get is another movie made by H. G. Lewis).

Guess I'll just have to watch Blood Feast 2 a couple hundred times in anticipation. Sigh.

Full press below.

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Godzilla 2 bringing the big dogs Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah photo
Godzilla 2 bringing the big dogs Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah
by Nick Valdez

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 like the MUTO from the first film? Don't worry, we won't have to deal with their generic thoraxes anymore! Joining everyone's favorite giant lizard are Mothra, the giant moth queen (who sometimes fights as a pupae/larvae), Rodan, the giant pterodactyl that's sometimes a good guy, and King Ghidorah, the three headed dragon (sometimes a robot) whose power rivals Godzilla's.

Keen observers might remember the little Mothra shout out from the first film, and while I don't expect that to mean anything in the long run, it proves bringing all of these big dogs back was the plan all along. Couple that with news of the King Kong reboot and Pacific Rim sequel, and I'd like to think we're going to get a film starring all three franchises in the (hopefully not too) distant future. Oh, and Gareth Edwards is returning to direct once he's done with Star Wars. Cool! 

[via io9]

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Review: Kill Team photo
Review: Kill Team
by Hubert Vigilla

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 lesson that the Soviet Union learned in the 1980s. Much of the logistic difficulty comes from the terrain and the size of the country. For the US, this difficult was compounded by its attempts to rebuild infrastructure and develop trust with the civilian population. Part of the issue here may be some of the troops themselves.

The documentary Kill Team chronicles one instance of egregious war crimes that US troops perpetrated against the people of Afghanistan. One army unit played a game in which they'd murder innocent civilians and pretend that they were enemy combatants.

One of the most chilling things about Kill Team is the matter-of-fact way that one of the troops characterizes these kinds of war crimes: it happens way more than we think, they were just the ones who got caught.

[This review was original posted as part of our coverage of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. It is being posted to coincide with its theatrical release.]

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

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 & Furious 7 will sadly have the best box office performance in the franchise, it's good to see these folks take it stride. Here's a note commemorating the completed shooting. 

I'm just going to get this dust out of my eyes. Fast & Furious 7 opens April 3, 2015

[via Facebook]

 

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Review: Particle Fever photo
Review: Particle Fever
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

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 revelation has impacted supersymmetry theory.

You've probably heard of the Large Hadron Collider (possibly as that thing that didn't actually destroy the world) and the Higgs Boson (sometimes called the God particle), but it's less likely that you know what supersymmetry (affectionately called SUSY) is. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, much of the science in Particle Fever is going to fly right over your head. 

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't see it. Because Particle Fever succeeds not because of its discussion of this particular science, but that of what science means and why it matters.

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NYAFF Recommendation: Han Gong-Ju photo
NYAFF Recommendation: Han Gong-Ju
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

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 really write about it. But I can't in good conscience not give it my sincerest recommendation. If you're in New York, it's playing at MoMA for the next week. Tickets can be bought here.

Whether we end up with a full review or not, go see Han Gong-Ju.

[For the next month, we will be covering the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan-centric Japan Cuts. Click here for more information, and check back here and here for all of the Asian film coverage you can shake a stick at.]

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Rumor: Warner Bros. to release 7 DC movies from 2016-2018 photo
Rumor: Warner Bros. to release 7 DC movies from 2016-2018
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

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 potential to cause the general public to lose interest (there is absolutely too much of a good thing). But if a new report from journalist Nikke Finke is correct, my hypothesis will be tested in 2016, because Warner Bros. will be releasing at least seven movies in just about two years. The current lineup is as follows:

  • May 2016: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • July 2016: Shazam (Captain Marvel)
  • Christmas 2016: The Sandman
  • May 2017: Justice League
  • July 2017: Wonder Woman
  • Christmas 2017: Flash and Green Lantern
  • May 2018: Man of Steel 2

Three movies per year for 2016 and 2017 and at least one in 2018? Wow... And that's on top of the two we'll be getting from Marvel each year, and doesn't count the inevitable adaptations from other publishers that seem to come out every year or two. But despite my apprehension, I'm fascinated by that last entry: Thus far, everyone has assumed that Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (ugh) was replacing Man of Steel 2, but this doesn't seem to be the case. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Either way, are you excited about the incoming glut of DC movies, or do you think they would be better served by spacing their lineup out?

[Nikki Finke, via The Verge]

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Teaser trailer for restoration of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is impressive photo
Teaser trailer for restoration of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is impressive
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

If you haven't seen the 1920 classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, you need to fix that immediately. Conveniently, it's out of copyright, so I've embedded it below. But like most films from back then, it doesn't look so good. The scratches and dirt take away from the beautifully bizarre visual style that has influenced oh-so-many filmmakers. Fortunately, Eureka Entertainment has taken it upon themselves to restore the film to its original glory, and the snippets shown in the teaser above are a sight to see. Yeah, there are still some spots and stains here and there, but there's only so much one can reasonably do without having to straight up remake the image (which actually sort of happened back in 2005). 

The restoration will be hitting UK theaters at the end of August and Blu-ray soon after. I would love to see it projected on the big screen, so I'm hoping that it gets a theatrical run stateside as well. Regardless, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the full cut. It's always exciting to these old classic films returned to their former glory. 

Are there any other damaged classics you'd like to see restored?

[Via /Film]

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Flixist Community Discusses: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 photo
Flixist Community Discusses: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
by Nick Valdez

Thanks to the Spider-Man property's massive popularity, talking about its movies are the most fun. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 already started out in a hole since it seemed like a cynical sequel to Sony's original cynical property hogging (Sony can keep the Spider-Man license as long as it continues to make Spider-Man movies), but most folks were still holding out hope that this time it'd be different. 

After the film's release, more so than the first film, criticism seemed particularly divided amongst our community. Some absolutely loved it, and some absolutely loathed it. Because I wanted to get to the bottom of why the opinions varied so much, we now have Flixist Community Discusses, a series in which we'll discover why a film may or may not be successful in what it set out to do. 

Gathered from the comments (from both the opinions post and the review) and Twitter, here's what the Flixist Community thinks of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Some spoilers ahead!

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Sony planning live action Barbie movie  photo
Sony planning live action Barbie movie
by Nick Valdez

Looking for the next Transformers or The LEGO Movie, Sony's search for the next big toy movie has brought it to Mattel's Barbie. Closing a partnership with Mattel, Sony hopes to start a franchise based on the children's popular toy starting with a live action comedy that'll reflect Barbie's more empowering qualities. With a script in the works from Jenny Bicks (The Big C), the film will take a young cast and "use [Barbie]'s personal and professional skills to step into the lives of others and improve them, almost like a modern day Mary Poppins."

Although Mattel has released thousands of Barbie animated films to home video, this is the first time something like this has gone down. I'm curious as to what will come of this. Sure the Barbie name has a few stigmas, but done the right way, we could get more of a Lisa Lionheart than a Malibu Stacy. 

[Deadline, via Collider]

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