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12:00 PM on 11.21.2014

Flixgiving: Five Movies Sean Is Thankful For

Who doesn't love Turkey Day? A day of food, family, and gratitude for all you have. It's great. Unless, of course, your family is going away and you don't have any personal days from work to go with them! That being said, I'm...

Sean Walsh


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Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 photo
Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
by Nick Valdez

The Hunger Games has come a long way. From humble meh-ish beginnings, to a sequel that, well, caught fire in theaters, the films have gotten increasingly better the more comfortable everyone gets with the material. Going into the latest, Mockingjay- Part 1 (which is based off half of the final text in the book trilogy), that upward trend certainly continues. 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1 is the pinnacle of the Hunger Games series. A payoff of two years of buildup that finally cements this series as the main example of how to do these Young Adult book adaptations. It may have taken a while to get to the peak, but the view is totally worth it.  

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Flixgiving: Matt is thankful for The Babadook photo
Flixgiving: Matt is thankful for The Babadook
by Matthew Razak

I can count the number of truly scary horror films I've seen this year on one finger. That's not to say there haven't been other good horror movies, but for a horror buff like myself it takes something special to actually make me scared. Like worried to walk upstairs in a dark house scared. Most people wouldn't be thankful to have nightmares, but the last time a horror movie gave me one was when I was a kid. That is until I watched The Babadook (review coming).

But there are great horror movies coming out every year and while I'm thankful for them I'm not writing entire blogs dedicated to my thanks for them. There's an extra layer of thanks for The Badadook that I'd have towards it even if I hadn't seen it and that's because it's a horror film directed by a woman (Jennifer Kent), which, in case you hadn't noticed, isn't something that comes along very often.

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Flixgiving: Five Movies Alec Is Thankful For photo
Flixgiving: Five Movies Alec Is Thankful For
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Seeing so many movies means that sometimes it's hard to really appreciate any individual film. Just because I loved Movie X doesn't mean I'll be thinking about it three months later when I've seen Movies Y, Z, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, all of which I also loved. There are some that stick with me long after the credits roll, films I still think about years later despite everything that's come between, but they aren't even necessarily the films I want to remember. There are also the films I'm glad I remember, because they made me think or feel in some new or interesting way. Or maybe they were just ludicrously entertaining.

But there's another category: Films I'm actually thankful for having seen. It's not just that I liked or loved them (most of these wouldn't show up on a list of my favorite films), but they stick out as life milestones or, in several cases, movies that have helped me in some measurable way.

All but one of these were seen as part of my duties at Flixist. And in that sense, I have my position here to thank.  So: Thank you Flixist, for everything you've done for me.

And thanks to these five movies, listed in order of when I saw them.

[Happy Flixgiving, everyone! We'll be posting these leading up to the actual Thanksgiving. Click here to see all of the films that our writers are thankful for. What are you thankful for?]

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Flixgiving: Five Movies Nick is Thankful For photo
Flixgiving: Five Movies Nick is Thankful For
by Nick Valdez

This time of year always has me thinking about how great life is. Sure it's not the best, but to breathe, eat, love, and squat every day is truly an invisible blessing. I also start thinking about how great movies are, and I'm thankful for just having them around. Even if a film comes out worse than you'd hope, it's still a marvel that it came to fruition. 

To celebrate the coming holiday, we here at Flixist decided to let you in on what we're thankful for. Each of the films we'll discuss over the next week have touched us in some way and we're glad they exist. 

Now in my case these aren't the best films (and will definitely call my overall taste into question), but they're some of my favorites. These are films I've watched over, and over again because I couldn't imagine a life without them. 

[Happy Flixgiving, everyone! We'll be posting these leading up to the actual Thanksgiving. Click here to see all of the films that our writers are thankful for.]

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First full trailer for The Peanuts Movie is full of Christmas cheer photo
First full trailer for The Peanuts Movie is full of Christmas cheer
by Matthew Razak

After our first tease of the new look for the Peanuts in The Peanuts Movie it was hard not to get pretty excited and now that we have a full blown trailer landing (reportedly leaked by Snoopy) it is even harder. This could be a silent film and I'd watch it simply to see such a creative animation style on the screen. 

Basically this trailer is silent since it focuses on Snoopy and Woodstock as they both celebrate Christmas with the iconic Peanuts music playing. Then it's off to a Red Baron chase and more stunning animation. Of course this all means no plot is given, but considering it will be released on November 6, 2015 it may have some holiday stuff going on. My only concern is that it still feels like a Peanuts holiday special and not like an updated take on them. 

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Review: The Homesman photo
Review: The Homesman
by Megan Porch

Life in the early days of pioneer life was harsh and unforgiving. The loneliness and desperation to make things work was enough to drive people to either do anything they could, or go mad trying. The glimpses of frontier life in Tommy Lee Jones' new film, The Homesman, are honestly terrifying to imagine.

The story focuses on Mary Bee Cuddy (played by Hilary Swank), a woman who lives alone in a small pioneer town, who volunteers to take three women who've lost their minds back to a city where they can be taken care of. Each of the women's husbands are supposedly incapable of caring for them, though as the story goes on, the truth about these men becomes more and more awful.

Cuddy finds help in the form of a man named George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones), and the two of them set off across the frontier with nothing but the three women, a wagon, some horses, and two guns.

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Review: Dumb and Dumber To photo
Review: Dumb and Dumber To
by Nick Valdez

Twenty years is a long, long time. I was five years old when Dumb and Dumber first hit theaters in 1994, so the madcap antics of Harry and Lloyd appealed to me. Fart jokes, sex jokes I was not yet old enough to comprehend completely, murder, slapstick, and two actors in their prime at the center of it all. 

But as I've gotten older, so has the nature of comedy. Comedic films have gotten far more sophisticated with their dick jokes and has evolved beyond what it once was. But Dumb and Dumber To hopes we have just a bit more nostalgic room in our hearts for one more romp with these two goofs. 

It's just when you see what they've become, it's hard not to feel ashamed for everyone involved. 

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Review: Rosewater photo
Review: Rosewater
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I remember distinctly when Jon Stewart left The Daily Show for three months to head to Jordan to shoot his directorial debut. It was an interesting time both because John Oliver took his spot (and did an excellent job there) but also because I was just so curious what he was making. Jon Stewart making a movie in Jordan? What?

And I immediately knew that I had to see it whenever it was finally available. Initial reception was a bit tepid, but it didn't matter. I had to see it for myself and give it a fair shake. The Daily Show plays a significant enough role in my life that I felt I owed its host that much.

Fortunately, Rosewater is something worth watching.

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Review: Interstellar photo
Review: Interstellar
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

In SCREENWRITING 101, Film Crit Hulk devotes an entire chapter to plot holes. A subsection of that chapter specifically discusses the works of Christopher Nolan, using The Dark Knight as the primary example. Christopher Nolan has a reputation as a brilliant filmmaker but a subpar storyteller. At first glance, the films seem perfect, but in retrospect (and after multiple viewings), they're full of plot holes and many of his ideas simply don't make sense.

Hulk argues that people who focus on the negatives are missing the point and that the broken logic is irrelevant if it doesn't affect your enjoyment of the film as it progresses. What you feel in retrospect is less important than what you feel in the moment. If the moment works at the time, there's no real "plot hole" there, because clearly having a consistent plot wasn't the point. Christopher Nolan movies have always been about entertainment, and if the broken logic underlying one of his films doesn't stop it from entertaining you, then so what?

But unlike his Nolan's films, Interstellar has plot holes. You'll get caught up in the moment trying to piece together the puzzle at the time because certain moments seem to contradict each other within the narrative as presented, and then you might miss the next nonsensical moment that you have to then parse.

It's a testament to Nolan's talent as a filmmaker that it doesn't matter.

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Review: Open Windows photo
Review: Open Windows
by Nick Valdez

Open Windows was the first film I saw during SXSW 2014. I've never covered the festival before, so I had no idea what kind of features I'd end up exposing myself to. Going in I was awkward, tense, but mostly curious. As the film went on to elaborate and explore on the very nature of exposure itself, I found myself more entranced with the premise of Open Windows more so than its execution. 

But how much credit should a film get for my introspection? Tons actually. While Open Windows fumbles in a few areas, it's finely creepy, strangely arousing, but most importantly, it's compelling. 

[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of South by Southwest 2014. It is being reposted to coincide with the film's wide release.]

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Review: Laggies photo
Review: Laggies
by Nick Valdez

I'm at a point in my life where I have absolutely no idea what to do next. I graduated from college two years ago and, even with all I think I've accomplished over that time, I sometimes feel like I'm walking in circles. Like I'm a turtle stuck in a mound of sand desperately trying to get back to the ocean. 

That's why Laggies appealed to me. It's a type of film that's been done many times in the past, but the cast of well placed actors helps anchor the film in a loose, humorous reality. Although it's not a complete reveal, it's a nice window into the millennial pause. 

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Review: Big Hero 6 photo
Review: Big Hero 6
by Matthew Razak

When Disney scooped up Marvel they picked up a ton of comic book history and properties. You had to guess they wouldn't use them all in the same way (i.e. massive blockbusters), and Big Hero 6 is the first Marvel film to break out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact Big Hero 6, a Disney Animation production, doesn't even have the Marvel logo before it. This is not a Marvel film, it is a Disney one.

For that we can be quite thankful. Disney has finally gotten its footing in the animated world once again and following Frozen expectations couldn't be higher for the studio's next animated film. While I seriously doubt that Big Hero 6 will inspire the crazed fervor that Frozen did, Disney's recaptured magic his still here, elevating a kid's superhero movie to something more. 

Also, Baymax.

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Toy Story 4 is confirmed, gets 2017 release date photo
Toy Story 4 is confirmed, gets 2017 release date
by Nick Valdez

With the Toy Story series remaining a big marketing juggernaut long after the trilogy officially ended in 2010, it was almost inevitable that we'd get another film (especially seeing as how we're getting more and more TV specials featuring Bonnie's toy gang). And before you cry out that it's some sort of cash in, I think they're finally doing this because they've got a good idea. 

Disney CEO Bob Iger announced Toy Story 4 will release June 16. 2017 with John Lasseter returning to direct, and Rashida Jones and Will McCormack co-writing the script. Also, most are expecting Tom Hanks and Tim Allen to return, but that has yet to be confirmed. Here's what Lasseter (with big wigs Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Lee Unkrich all contributing to the story) had to say about the sequel: 

We love these characters so much; they are like family to us...We don’t want to do anything with them unless it lives up to or surpasses what’s gone before. Toy Story 3 ended Woody and Buzz’s story with Andy so perfectly that for a long time, we never even talked about doing another Toy Story movie. But when Andrew, Pete, Lee, and I came up with this new idea, I just could not stop thinking about it. It was so exciting to me, I knew we had to make this movie—and I wanted to direct it myself.

Matt and I talked about this in length when news of Toy Story 4 first leaked, and I still believe there are more good Toy Stories as long as someone is willing to make them. Sure Toy Story 3 had a definitive end, but I'd rather think of that as an end to that particular arc. There's always room for more playtime. 

[via D23

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Some Like It Hot: Anne Hathaway photo
Some Like It Hot: Anne Hathaway
by Sean Walsh

[Some Like It Hot shines a light on the men and women of film who have captured our hearts, and oftentimes, our libidos. It celebrates the cinematic sirens and strongmen of the silver screen that give us the vapors, tug on our heartstrings, and leave us hungry for more. Also, they're really effing hot. Note: This is a repost of an article originally posted on July 18th, 2012.]

The Dark Knight Rises is out this week. You may have heard of it. It's got Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy...talk about your beefcake bonanza, right? Well, there are a few ladies present to break up the sausage party, least of which being Anne Hathaway.

She'll be playing Selina Kyle (jury's out on whether or not she'll be referred to as Catwoman), the sexy, sultry cat-thief that worms her way into Bruce Wayne's heart. But we're not here to talk about Catwoman. We're here to talk about Ms. Hathaway and how fine she is. Because if we can all agree on one thing, it's that she is fine.

Please, do join me as I bring you up to speed on what makes Anne Hathaway the hottest actress to done the black leather suit to date.  

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Full length The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies trailer lands photo
Full length The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies trailer lands
by Matthew Razak

While the previous two Hobbit films have been great I don't think they really lived up to the grandeur of the Lord of the Rings films. However, with this new full length trailer landing for The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies I think we may have a winner. At least we know that the rumors of a 45 minute battle to end the film are probably true considering the entire trailer is a battle.

Giving us our best look at what appears to be a movie that will be nothing but a bunch of armies fighting each other the trailer definitely ratchets up the tension. More importantly, and missing from the previous films in some ways, is the shifts in character. This looks like the film where we actually get to see some darkness in Thorin creep out. 

Think the conclusion to the trilogy will stand once it arrives on December 17th?

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Star Wars: Episode VII gets official title photo
Star Wars: Episode VII gets official title
by Megan Porch

This morning, the official twitter for Star Wars revealed that Episode VII's principal photography finished shooting... and they also threw in a graphic that contains the film's subtitle.

The Force Awakens leaves me with a lot of questions. Was the Force taking a nap? Did it just not want to be bothered after all the drama surrounding the Skywalker family? Are midichlorians still a thing?

I guess we'll just have to see the movie to find out.

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Review: Why Don't You Play in Hell? photo
Review: Why Don't You Play in Hell?
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Last year, Japan Cuts played Sion Sono's Bad Film, a project filmed back in 1995 but not finished until 2012. In my non-review of the film, I unequivocally called it a masterpiece, and I stand by every word. It is a labor of love that throws caution to the wind in order to just make a freaking movie, everyone and everything else be damned. This is Sion Sono's world and you just have to deal with it.

Why Don't You Play in Hell? is a celebration of that worldview. And it's every bit as brilliant as you could hope.

[This review was original posted as part of our coverage of the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival. It is being reposted to coincide with the film's theatrical release.]

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First official trailer for Furious 7 photo
First official trailer for Furious 7
by Nick Valdez

This is pretty much everything I wanted ever. Furious 7 releases April 3rd next year. 

 

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Review: Nightcrawler photo
Review: Nightcrawler
by Nick Valdez

Nightcrawler has come out of nowhere to become one of my favorite films of 2014. As of right now, I'd even go as far to say that it is my favorite overall. I didn't even know it existed until a few months ago where a brief teaser, revealing a skinnier, slightly menacing Jake Gyllenhaal, completely gripped me. It's all I've been thinking about for a while. As with most things I hype up for myself, I was worried that the final product would ultimately let me down in some way. 

Thankfully, Nightcrawler is everything I hoped it'd be. If this is the only part of the reviews you read, go see Nightcrawler. For everyone else, I just have to talk about it. 

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Snaxist: Krispy Kreme's Ghostbusters Donuts photo
Snaxist: Krispy Kreme's Ghostbusters Donuts
by Nick Valdez

To celebrate Ghostbusters' 30th Anniversary, Krispy Kreme teamed up with the film and produced two specialty donuts: The Ghostbusters Donut and Stay Puft Marshmallow. Reading the press release for the two made them sound like they were made out of marshmallows and dreams. Instead, they were made out of something closer to whatever Slimer is.  

I should probably explain a few things first. As a man who love donuts (not "doughnuts" you monsters) so much he wants to get a chain of them tattooed around his arm, I do not like Krispy Kreme's brand of battered sugar. It's almost as if they forget donuts are supposed to be made out of something other than glazed air. But as with all Snaixists, I went into this with an open mind and open stomach. Read on for my impressions of these "fine delicacies." 

[Snaxist is all about the movie endorsed food. We'll stuff our faces, destroy our bodies, point out why or why not eating endorsed foods is a good idea, and write about it all for your entertainment!] 

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Final trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 photo
Final trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
by Nick Valdez

With the final trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, the awesome marketing this film has had comes to a close. From great propaganda style teasers and posters, to how few trailers for the film we actually got (usually we're told of like twenty of these videos a day, I'm going to miss Mockingjay. I'm sure the film'll be great too. 

As the final book in The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay finally explored themes outside of its original (but not very unique) premise. The first half is definitely the best part, so I can't wait to see the results. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 has got that fire, fire, fire and it's gonna let it burn November 21st. 

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