Upgrade your membership

Subscribe via RSS

11:04 AM on 01.12.2015

See American Sniper early and free

I thought American Sniper missed its target (sorry) a bit, but there is no doubt that the film is both powerful and well made. If you're into that kind of thing then you probably want some passes to see it... tonight. Ye...

Matthew Razak

Review: American Sniper photo
Review: American Sniper
by Matthew Razak

Clint Eastwood is easily one of the best directors in Hollywood so him tackling the incredible story of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle is something to get pretty excited about. We already know he has the war movie chops thanks to Letters from Iwo Jima. 

American war heroes are a tricky business in this day and age. We know too much of the truth of war thanks to it being beamed into our houses and on the news nightly. It isn't all heroes and perfect endings where the good guys win. American Sniper tries to tackle this modern day contradiction of what a war hero is, but can it find out when all it wants to do is shoot things?

view full story + comments

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.]

view full story + comments

Tribeca Capsule Review: The Project photo
Tribeca Capsule Review: The Project
by Hubert Vigilla

At the end of The Project we're shown events that happened in March 2013 involving the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF). There's  a harrowing stand-off with Somali pirates just off the coast. Since the events and developments were relatively fresh, it made the documentary feel like the glue on it was still wet. What I was watching was a kind of work-in-progress, or at least it seemed like it. Even the title card that preceded the new footage wasn't uniform with the others.

The PMPF is an anti-piracy paramilitary police force in Somalia. Formed in 2011, it was funded by money from the United Arab Emirates and managed by a number of military contractors (including advising or supervision from Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater), a former CIA agent, and South African mercenaries. The solution isn't perfect, but it seems like the only feasible option to consider to defeat pirates and secure waterways, especially since Somalian government doesn't have the resources to create its own anti-piracy force.

The Project chronicles the controversial creation and development of the PMPF, and the inevitable problems a group like this faces.

[For the next few weeks, Flixist will be covering the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, which runs April 17-28 in New York City. Check with us daily for reviews, interviews, features, and news from the festival. For all of our coverage, go here.]

view full story + comments

2:00 PM on 04.23.2013

Trailer: Dirty Wars

Dirty Wars is a Sundance selected documentary by director Richard Rowley which seeks to shed light on the extremely covert operations of the United States government's Joint Special Operations Command. Dirty Wars follows inv...

Liz Rugg

1:00 PM on 02.11.2013

Trailer: Library Wars (Toshokan Sensou)

Library Wars (Toshokan Sensō) has a concept so strange yet fresh that I'm immediately intrigued. Adapted from a series of Japanese light novels (young adult novels) by Hiro Arikawa, Library Wars also spawned a manga and...

Hubert Vigilla

Book: All the Emperor's Men: Kurosawa's Pearl Harbor photo
Book: All the Emperor's Men: Kurosawa's Pearl Harbor
by Hubert Vigilla

There's a song on Cursive's The Ugly Organ called "Art is Hard." The title is so facile and yet you know it's true. In Les Blank's documentary The Burden of Dreams, you watch Werner Herzog suffer potential ruin in order to complete Fitzcarraldo. In Chris Smith's American Movie, the dream is much smaller and yet still cumbersome: Mark Borchardt just wants to finish a short film.

For all these making-of profiles, there are also unmaking-of's. Earlier in the year I looked at multiple cases of unmaking in Tales from Development Hell by David Hughes, and I still keep coming back to Lost in La Mancha to ponder if there really was a curse on Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote film. More recently, there's Kevin Schreck's Persistence of Vision, which shows Richard Williams's 30-year labor of love turn into muck -- a work completed but through demoralizing compromise.

In All the Emperor's Men by Hiroshi Tasogawa, we learn about Akira Kurosawa's dismissal from Tora! Tora! Tora! Part of it was due to his uncompromising vision, and part of it was due to cultural differences. Whether it's vision or competing values, there are always things that get lost in translation. Maybe the Tora! Tora! Tora! that Kurosawa wanted to make was impossible because it could only be expressed as a kind of burdensome idea rather than a film -- an abstract solo effort rather than an actual collaborative one.

view full story + comments

Flixclusive Interview: Author Hiroshi Tasogawa photo
Flixclusive Interview: Author Hiroshi Tasogawa
by Hubert Vigilla

With Tora! Tora! Tora!, producer Darryl F. Zanuck hoped to do for the Pearl Harbor attack what The Longest Day did for the D-Day invasion. To helm the Japanese sequences of the film, he enlisted Akira Kurosawa. The director felt he was tasked with making an epic human tragedy with shades of classic literature. After countless headaches with scripting and casting, shooting on Tora! Tora! Tora! started on December 2nd, 1968. By Christmas Eve, Kurosawa was fired from the film.

The fiasco of Tora! Tora! Tora! is chronicled by writer Hiroshi Tasogawa in All the Emperor's Men: Kurosawa's Pearl Harbor, published last month by Applause Books. A reporter for NHK and a former writer for the Associated Press, Tasogawa was involved in translating the American and Japanese screenplays for Tora! Tora! Tora!, working alongside Kurosawa. Tasogawa's book is a compelling and evenhanded account of the film's troubled production, exploring cultural differences, clashes in filmmaking philosophy, language barriers, and Kurosawa's creative frustration. We'll have a closer look at All the Emperor's Men tomorrow.

Despite being under the weather, Tasogawa was kind enough to answer a few questions about All the Emperor's Men by email. He commented on his (often drunk) interactions with Akira Kurosawa, his thoughts on translation, and how he felt about Tora! Tora! Tora! itself.

view full story + comments

4:00 PM on 11.26.2012

TV spot for Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty

The early buzz has been extremely positive for Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, her docudrama about the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden. Many of the early reviews have praised the film for its overall leanness and in...

Hubert Vigilla

8:00 PM on 08.24.2012

Trailer: I Declare War

When I was younger and played outside with my friends, we would always imagine up stories that we should follow. There were so many intricacies to our plot lines that, to this day, I still have no real idea what the hell we ...

Nick Valdez

NYAFF Review: Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale photo
NYAFF Review: Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

[For the month of July, we will be covering the New York Asian Film Festival and the (also New York-based) Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF coverage, head over here. For Japan Cuts, here.]

To see the entirety of Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, you will need to spend 274 minutes in front of a screen (a bit less if you don't care about credits). For those of you not interested in math, that is more than four and a half hours. It's no Satantango, but it's still a real time commitment. There's also a 150 minute version, if you don't have any interest in seeing films as they were meant to be seen, but let's ignore that. For our purposes, there is only one version of Seediq Bale, and it will require quite a bit of patience. Though that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Is it worth four and a half hours of your life? Well... that depends on how much you like decapitations.

view full story + comments

Review: My Way photo
Review: My Way
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

It's hard to shock me. My time on the internet has done a lot to desensitize me. But if there's one type of movie that should continue to make me feel truly uncomfortable, it's a war film. War is hell, the saying goes, and any movie with any kind of message about war has an obligation to show that.

My Way succeeds in showing that better than any other war film I've seen, and it didn't need to try very hard. Apparently, all you need to do to horrify me is show someone split in half by a tank tread.

view full story + comments

Losing My Virginity: The Great Escape photo
Losing My Virginity: The Great Escape
by Hubert Vigilla

[Losing My Virginity articles are reviews written by someone who still hasn't seen an incredibly popular movie after all these years. LMV reviews are interesting in that they can offer the perspective of a person who's untainted by the cloud of commonness that surrounded a famous film of the past, and also show how well it has stood the test of time.]

For years I'd been meaning to see The Great Escape. I'd caught references to it through other things: Chicken Run, Top Secret!, The Simpsons (Season Four: "A Streetcar Named Marge"), a couple TV commercials. Since middle school I've occasionally whistled that theme song from Elmer Bernstein. I even remember the movie getting namechecked in the mostly forgotten slacker rom-com The Tao of Steve, in which Steve McQueen's brand of all-American cool helps inform the main character's approach to picking up women.

Yet the main thing that sticks in my mind about wanting to see the movie comes from working at a video store in high school. While shelving tapes in the Action/War section, I'd always look at the cover of The Great Escape. It was a double-tape, a sure epic, and on the box was McQueen's face before a blue sky. His expression was so defiant that I hardly noticed him tangled in barbed wire at the bottom. His look said, "Whatever's going on down there doesn't matter. Look up here, Mac. This is how I really feel."

Just like the cover of Bullit or even Le Mans, McQueen exudes total badassery in a simple gaze. In the film, even when caged up, even when the odds are stacked against him, there is this particular facial expression, or at least a lighthearted variation of it. Every single one of the prisoners in The Great Escape channels this same determined mug, whether they wear this expression explicitly or not.

view full story + comments

Review: The Front Line photo
Review: The Front Line
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

There are only two films about war that have brought me to the verge of tears. The first is more the implication of war, and that would be Stephen Spielberg's incredible Schindler's List. The second is a war film more in the vein of Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, and that would be The Front Line. In foreign war films, the smaller budgets generally mean the action is a bit underwhelming. The soldiers themselves are what make those films worth watching. Watching battle scenes is all well and good, but it quickly becomes monotonous, even if the individual situations change.

Fortunately, The Front Line succeeds as both a realistic portrayal of war (I assume) and as a character drama. It was so good, in fact, that I had to retroactively change my vote for Best Foreign Film in our upcoming awards. I can see why South Korea chose The Front Line to be their entry for the Oscars.

view full story + comments

6:00 PM on 12.29.2011

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Black Sands becomes Black Sunday

Arnold is looking to revive his acting career in any way he can, it seems, as he's taking on the most random roles ever. I mean, if Arnold is desperate for roles, you know the economy's in trouble. Last we heard he was starri...

Jamie R Stone

12:00 PM on 12.02.2011

Trailer: Into the White

Into the White is a World War II film about two groups of soldiers from England and Germany, respectively. After they shoot each other down, they find themselves sharing a Norwegian cabin. In order to survive the harsh ...

Geoff Henao

Flixclusive: First details about Corman's Virtual Heroes photo
Flixclusive: First details about Corman's Virtual Heroes
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Remember way back to last month when we brought you news of Roger Corman's interest in working on Sharktopus 2? Well, there was more to that interview (which will finally be posted some time next week), and he told me about a film with a really strange premise:

Well, we're doing a picture called Virtual Heroes, which is a Vietnam war picture in which the characters begin to realize late in the picture that they're not characters at all, they're characters in a video game, and I think it's a very original idea. G.J. Echternkamp is doing it. He's a young filmmaker just out of film school.

I think the most interesting aspect of this idea is the choice of the Vietnam war. There are dozens of games featuring World War II, but Vietnam is pretty much untouched (outside of expansion for the Battlefield franchise). Say what you want about it, the idea is certainly original. I have absolutely no idea how it will work, but I'm definitely curious.

On a side note: G.J. Echternkamp's IMDb page mentions the film Virtually Heroes (although it has no information), but Corman definitely said "Virtual Heroes" in our interview. Take that for what you will.

view full story + comments

2:00 PM on 11.10.2011

Trailer: Red Tails

I'm starting to come around on Red Tails. I haven't been impressed by what we've seen so far, but this trailer makes it look like a fairly thrilling tale. There's not nearly enough World War 2 fighter pilot movies, especiall...

Alex Katz

8:00 AM on 10.27.2011

Trailer: In The Land of Blood & Honey

In this trailer for Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, In The Land of Blood & Honey, there is plenty of romance and gunfire. The story of the movie is based around a "Serbian rape camp administrator and one of his Bosni...

Liz Rugg

7:00 PM on 10.19.2011

Trailer: Red Tails

  A new trailer for Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox's historical World War II drama has been released online. Red Tails follows the story of the "intrepid young airmen" of the then-experimental Tuskegee piloting program,...

Liz Rugg

6:00 PM on 10.07.2011

Trailer: Homecoming

In Homecoming, Brea Grant stars as a young female soldier who has returned home from her tour of duty to her old life, old friends and old family. She seems to be having a bit of trouble adjusting to the changes of lifestyle...

Liz Rugg

3:00 PM on 08.17.2011

Trailer: Red Tails

Man, dog fight movies are awesome. The last trailer for Red Tails definitely piqued my interest, but its focus on the film's dramatic side left me wondering how well they were going to tackle one of film's greatest tradition...

Matthew Razak