Sometimes a movie in an established genre takes an idea from another genre and implements it, completely subverting any expectations. It's not that the genre changes, necessarily, so much as the context. A story that initiall...
Open Grave stars Sharlto Copley as a man who wakes up in a mass grave, only be to rescued by others who have done the same. As they all suffer from some amnesia and are trying to find out who put them in that grave, they dis...
Burn It Up Djassa tells the story of an Abidjan ghetto and one young man whose embrace of the ghetto ultimately led to his demise. Tony is a young cigarette seller who finds luck gambling in the ghetto. Despite his policeman older brother's attempts to keep him employed and off the streets, Tony finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed in the life, resulting in a series of events that has ramifications on their entire family.
The film was shot on a really low budget, but director Lonesome Solo and his crew do their best to hide this. Sometimes, it's thematically obvious, such as a film break device where a member of the ghetto summarizes what happens in the next scenes as a psuedo-narrator/transitioning device. Other times, it's painfully displayed in the lack of special effects, such as guns not firing or a body being hit by a bullet having no outward appearance of such.
Burn It Up Djassa is a valiant effort and shows what can be done on a miniscule budget. It shows a piece of life from a country (West Africa's Ivory Coast) that, to my knowledge, hasn't been used in film much, if at all. Yet, the universal understanding of living in the ghetto seen in the film makes it not feel so alien... it also doesn't hurt that Tony wears a Michael Jordan jersey through the bulk of the film.
[Flixist will be attending the 49th Chicago International Film Festival over the next two weeks. Be sure to follow along as we bring you coverage from the longest-running competitive international film festival in the country. You can easily keep track of the coverage here.]
Captain Phillips wasn't really on my radar for the year. I like Paul Grenngrass and I love Tom Hanks, but I really wasn't excited for the film in the same way I am for others. I expected something competent and modest: a serviceable dramatization of the 2009 Somali pirate hijacking of an American ship and the subsequent kidnapping of its captain, Richard Phillips (Hanks).
Early on in Captain Phillips, I thought my expectations were going to be proven right. It begins a bit clunky, a bit too expository. So many pieces are being put in place rather than moved, and there's a not-too-successful attempt at thematic parallelism when it comes to the lives of Captain Phillips and Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, the leader of the pirates played by first-time actor Barkhad Abdi.
But then Captain Phillips gets going, and when it gets going, it's relentless.
[This review originally ran as part of our coverage of the 2013 New York Film Festival. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of the film.]
A trailer has finally surfaced for Open Windows, the new film from Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) starring Elijah Wood and former porn starlet Sasha Grey. It brings together celebrity voyeurism, webcams and p...
In four decades of filmmaking, Brian De Palma has made some good movies (e.g., Carrie, Carlito's Way, Blow Out) and some stinkers (e.g., The Bonfire of the Vanities, Mission to Mars). Passion looked like a potential return to form. It's brimming with sex and style, with Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace as the two sultry leads. The plot about business double crosses and barely restrained lesbianism sounded intriguing. (They had me at lesbianism.)
But Passion falls into the stinker category. Deep into that category. It leapt off the diving board, missed the pool, and wound up in the middle of the bleachers. But even while it hurtled wildly off mark, Passion still did its routine with absolute seriousness, twirling, turning, twisting the entire time.
Passion is heroically bad, to the point of farce -- a successful work of unintentional stone-faced self-parody. It's so bad that it almost becomes good again as a kitsch masterpiece. Almost.
[This review was originally posted as part of our 2012 New York Film Festival coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of the film.]
In The Counselor, Michael Fassbender stars as a lawyer who finds himself in way over his head when he gets involved with the dangerous world of drug trafficking. Judging from this trailer, things go awry pretty badly, and Fa...
For some reason, I thought that Missionary would try to paint Mormons (and Mormon missionaries in particular) in a pleasant light. I knew that it was a thriller, so it was unlikely... but the missionary characters are introduced so well and they seem like genuinely good people. I thought that maybe they would be the victims, that the iron-pumping man of God wouldn't be the psychotic guy everyone would expect him to be. I mean, pretty much everyone thinks Mormons are crazy anyway. I hoped that Missionary would be different.
[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 Fantasia International Film Festival. Started in 1996 and based primarily in Montreal, Fantasia is widely regarded as one of the best genre film festivals in North America. To read all of our coverage, click here.]
Although every Paranormal Activity flick does gangbusters in the box office, maybe even Paramount realizes it's time to slow them down some. Paranormal Activity 5 is currently set for an October release, but sources close to ...
It's interesting to see the way other cultures portray their media. I'm not talking about the television pundits that get across important plot points in so many films; I mean real portrayals of the way the media reacts in extreme situations. If there's a crime, do the cameras run towards the victim or away? I know how an American crew would work, but I don't know much about the South Korean media.
I'm not going to claim that Confession of Murder is an accurate portrayal of media in South Korea, because it gives me no reason to believe it's an accurate portrayal of anything, but films like this don't come out of nowhere. In somebody's mind, it is an over-the-top-but-still-fundamentally-sound vision of how that country would react to something appalling and bizarre, and it's fascinating to watch.
If only there weren't so many fights on top of moving cars.
[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival and the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF 2013 coverage, click here. For Japan Cuts 2013 coverage, click here.]
This newest trailer for Passion features two gorgeous women (Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace) making out several times while they each want to murder each other or something. It looks fantastically schlocky like some Lifetim...
[Reminder! You have until Monday July 1st to get your entries in! Good luck! --Liz]
Hey everyone! To celebrate the movie's Blu-ray and DVD release, we at Flixist have two -- yes, two! -- Blu-ray copies of Park Chan-wook's 2013 psychological thriller Stoker to give away! To enter, all you have to do is comment below on this story! Did you see Stoker in theaters? What did you think? Isn't Nicole Kidman awesome?
The contest will be open until July 1st and is open to continental U.S. residents only. Only one winner per household. Good luck!
Before I ever saw Dario Argento's Suspiria, I knew the film for its sound. It was back in 1996 in high school and I had yet to find a video store in my area that carried a copy of the film. I'd read up a lot on Argento and Goblin on the internet, and eventually found a site that had audio samples from Suspiria. It took forever to download the WAV file, but finally at night, lit only by the monitor, I listened to the scene in which the blind man is stalked by some unseen force.
To just hear the noise in the dark was absolutely terrifying at that age, and I think that experience was scarier than seeing the actual scene in the film. (I love Suspiria, don't get me wrong.)
I mentioned all that because Berberian Sound Studio pays homage to the creepy sounds in Italian horror films. So much of it is lush and well put together, and there's great atmosphere about it. For a while it seemed like the movie was going in an intriguing direction: something part giallo, part supernatural, part Barton Fink. But then...
[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of the 50th New York Film Festival. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of the film.]
It all started with the first trailer for The Purge. It seemed like a bad film with a hilariously stupid premise (but works well within the film according to Sean's review) and that naturally led to jokes one night on Flixistentialism. We recorded, re-titled The Purge as Crime Day (because you get a day to commit crimes) and started #CrimeDay on Twitter. It worked well that first evening with multiple folks explaining what crimes they would commit such as crossing the street or eating a burrito without completely microwaving it.
Then it blew up on Twitter when I re-instated the hashtag for Crime Day's wide release last Friday. It gained a certain fervor which, of course, singlehandedly earned Crime Day 36 million dollars its opening weekend. And because money, a sequel to The Purge is now in development. Cue all the sighs. And for that everyone, I'm so sorry. Then again, at least we can make #CrimeDeux a thing.
Nic Cage is a detective tracking a serial killer played by John Cusack. In order to find him he enlists the help of one of Cusack's almost victims, the stripper Vanessa Hudgens. Apparently this is based off some sort of true...
This new poster for upcoming action thriller Escape Plan is actually kinda cool! Escape Plan stars Sylvester Stallone as a masterful architectural engineer who specializes in structural security systems; i.e. he builds maximu...
The great thing about the ‘human horror’ genre, the type of horror where the bad guy isn’t a machete-wielding zombie death machine or spectral dream-killer but a plain old, flesh-and-blood maniac, is that it could actually happen. Living on top of an Indian burial ground isn’t going to unleash a poltergeist on you and your family, but maybe that guy whose car broke down isn’t quite being honest when he asks if he can use your phone to call a tow truck.
I have been anxiously awaiting this film ever since the first trailer, and my illuminating chat with Jason Blum, the film’s producer, got me even more hyped up. I love the human horror genre, I love home invasion movies like The Strangers and Funny Games, and I love Ethan Hawke, so how could this movie go wrong?
That said, let’s take a look at how things went during this year’s Purge.
As someone who didn't like Insidious, I'm probably the last one who should write on the first trailer for Insidiou2 (or Insidious: Chapter 2 if you want to refer to it by its real name). So does this trailer do anything to m...
In Luc Besson's The Family, Robert DeNiro returns to one of his best forms - a mobster trying to stay out of trouble, and failing. The movie centers around DeNiro's character and his tough-as-nails family; his wife played by...
Whoa, does this movie look intense! In Prisoners, Hugh Jackman plays a father whose young daughter and her friend go missing. Jake Gyllenhaal is a detective hellbent on finding the girls, and Paul Dano plays the creepy-looki...
The History of Future Folk is about the origins of the universe's only alien bluegrass folk duo, and how they discovered and fell in love with Earth's music. It's charming, adventurous, and a ton of fun. I mean when's the last time you saw an Alien Folk Duo Sci-Fi Action Romance Comedy Musical?
As we've seen from the movie's trailer and poster, The History of Future Folk may be one of the most endearing Indie movies we've seen so far this year, but is that enough to make it truly great? Read on to find out!
Following in the footsteps of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Shadow Dancer is an absorbing period thriller about divided loyalties, instability in the British intelligence services, and the personal cost of political turmoil. Director James Marsh is best known for his acclaimed documentaries Man On Wire and Project Nim, but also directed an episode of the astounding television drama Red Riding. His first foray into cinematic fiction shows a confident command of his craft, steadily escalating the tension and never using words when visuals will do.
Where Tinker was coldly methodical in its approach to the genre, Marsh centres his story around a single Irish mother, Colette McVeigh (Andrea Riseborough), born into a family firmly rooted in the Irish nationalist movement, but forced to work with a British agent (Clive Owen) to protect her son.
[This review was originally published to coincide with the UK release of Shadow Dancer. It has been reposted with an additional opinion to coincide with the US release of the film.]