Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around


Nick Valdez

Tribeca Review: Rebirth

Apr 26 // Nick Valdez
RebirthDirector: Karl MuellerRating: NRRelease Date: April 17, 2016 (limited) Rebirth stars Fran Kranz as Kyle, a husband and father who's lives a well off life. But he's been a bit unfulfilled lately as his college dreams have been pushed aside in favor of his family and a boring desk job. When his old college buddy Zack (Adam Goldberg) invites him to a retreat for a weekend, and won't stop talking about how great this "Rebirth" seminar is, Kyle decides to go for it. But Kyle soon realizes that "Rebirth" might be a more twisted program then they initially let on. Despite their mantra of "You're free to leave whenever you want" escaping the seminar proves tough.  Rebirth is a Netflix Original production and the choices within reflect that. It's full of these quirky little details that releasing on streaming services would help it get away with. The film is open to to risks and, more often than not, those risks pay off. Unfortunately, the entertainment is too reliant on those little quirks to succeed. The film is fairly predictable and you can pretty much guess how it's going to get from point A to B, and because of this, the little detours every now and again are that much more interesting. They're often non-sequiturs, so as to not derail the main plot, so these little jokes feel more refreshing. For example, Kyle ends going through several different types of seminar rooms during his escape attempt. Each room has its own theme with the ultimate goal of keeping Kyle around, so the film spends time with each room and plays around with how they'd try and brainwash Kyle. Each of these moments are inconsequential, but fun.  These little touches may not be needed, but they help elevate the rest of the film. It's dark blend of humor and chills turns out to be the perfect take on its premise. And its loose structure of stumbling on room after room, along with Kranz's key performance, amplifies the plot's inherent frustration. You'll start feeling frustration as Kyle continues to fail and seeing how goofy some of the rooms and Rebirth's denizens are will only make you angrier. So while they're inconsequential to the plot, it helps the film's overall vibe and tension. What also helps is just how game everyone is with the film. Each actor turns in a kooky performance as the know exactly what kind of film Rebirth wants to be.  I love Adam Goldberg, and it's always a pleasure to see him pop up in a project. He's slightly underutilized here, but seeing as he steals every scene he's in that's probably best. Fran Kranz does a great job leading the film along, however. His neurotic, terrified performance gives the premise the credibility and weight it needs even when the seminar doesn't seem as dangerous as he's perceiving it to be. Rebirth is also shot in an interesting way with long periods of stillness coupled with short bursts of following Kyle through the dingy house the seminar is in. We're effectively put into Kyle's shoes and when the film truly goes off the rails, we're along for the ride.  Rebirth isn't a bad film at all, but it's not necessarily great either. But it's got such a well crafted personality and it doesn't take itself too seriously. It's a fun little romp that doesn't overstay its welcome. You won't exactly feel a rebirth afterwards, but you won't die either. 
Rebirth Tribeca Review photo
Cult of personality
Festivals are a great time to try out films you would never consider in your personal time. Like a Netflix queue, the options are endless and each film only has a short premise and cast listing to get our attention. Since m...

Tribeca Review: Nerdland

Apr 25 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220434:42928:0[/embed] NerdlandDirector: Chris PrynoskiRating: NRRelease Date: April 14, 2016 (limited) At the heart of Nerdland is veritable slacker stereotypes, Elliot (Patton Oswalt), an aspiring screenwriter who'd rather spend his days masturbating than write, and John (Paul Rudd), a film blogger who dreams of pursuing an acting career. When the two of them lose their jobs, they decide they've had enough with failure and venture on a last ditch effort to get their work recognized. The two slackers are willing to literally throw their lives away blindly hunting for fame and they'll do whatever to whoever to get what they want.  Nerdland has a strong core concept. Initially setting out to be a parodic take on the new wave of entitlement that's come from the digital age and increased publicity for the 'nerd' archetype, the film shines an ugly light on an ugly subset. This take works for a while as every aspect of the film contributes to this ugliness. The grungy art style and gross out humor establish an icky setting, Oswalt and Rudd adopt darker tones for their voice acting (but Rudd borders on being completely absent), and every character is a vapid shell of some kind. The style is a grand pastiche of the Hollywood/Tinseltown thought era, but all of that goes out the window the second a character speaks. Clearly the film's style and writing weren't developed jointly. There's definitely a better, or even good film lying underneath all of the garbage but it's being crushed.  Nerdland is trying its best to be a quirky dark comedy, but it reaches so far it becomes unintelligible. For one, there's no cemented plot. It's just a set of disjointed scenes with plot points capable of carrying several movies. The main story arc is intended to highlight how far Elliot and John fall, but even that arc is sullied by how nonsensical the plot seems. The character decisions are no longer informed by desperation but by how twisted the plot needs them to be at any given moment. Rather than a sign of devolution, their growth lacks fluidity and always breaks the flow of whatever plot Nerdland wants to cook up at the time. In a weird way, it's like the film realizes its own faults and resorts to just throwing whatever idea they have at a dartboard and hope one of those ideas leaves a lasting impact.  Treating your film with reckless abandon may be worth some credit, but it's absolutely worthless to the viewer. When the film literally becomes a veritable orgy of bad ideas, it's debilitating. There's a scene in Nerdland, about an hour in, so devoid of thought or even dark humor it sapped all good will I had. Since there's no natural progression of character or plot, the scene sticks out so much it's almost as if they created an entire film just to show two minutes of pure inanity. Don't get me wrong, it's not the concept I have a problem with it's the execution. There's an difference between mining a dark subject for humor (and the original thought behind it seems to be exaggerating violence in animation would merit a laugh) in a mature way and focusing on the most juvenile, low hanging fruit of a subject.  I'm not sure where Nerdland went so wrong. It's such a complicated mess of a film, so juvenile, so low reaching that it sets back adult animation for several years. You know, it's not even egregious enough to be offensive. It just kind of happens to you whether you like or not. It's so boring, so paper thin, that Nerdland is offensive to the very people who made it. It'd be a blight on everyone's career if it weren't guaranteed forgotten a few days after its release.  At least Hannibal Buress is good in it. Love that guy. 
Nerdland Tribeca Review photo
Nerds don't rule after all
Nerdland was the first film to stand out to me when I first signed on to cover the Tribeca Film Festival this year. Everything about it appealed to me. It's the first full length feature from Titmouse, an animated company mos...

Review: Green Room

Apr 25 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220533:42929:0[/embed] Green RoomDirector: Jeremy SaulnierRating: RRelease Date: April 22 and 29, 2016  At the center of Green Room is small town punk band The Ain't Rights, four kids Sam, Pat, Reece, and Tiger (Alia Shawkat, Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole and Callum Turner respectively). Everything goes awry during a performance at a Neo-Nazi den when they suddenly witness a murder and now they've got a veritable army of Nazis and their leader Darcy (Patrick Stewart) hunting them. Deciding to hole themselves up in the venue's green room, The Ain't Rights and their new ally, the mysterious Amber (Imogen Poots), try to survive the terrifying night to come.  To put it bluntly, at its core, Green Room is a film you've seen before. With its premise, it's easy to make comparisons to home invasions films or anything where it's one against many (Assault on Precinct 13 or even Die Hard come to mind), but that's where all of the similarities and predictability ends. Green Room takes the time to build an entire world around its tiny setting and it's all the more effective because of it. The film feels lived in, and it's almost as if we're jumping into a point of these kids' lives. The Ain't Rights themselves have a wonderful chemistry. An almost effortless gelling informs their life long friendship and I bought into it immediately. The four are given enough time as their characters to get comfortable and let each actor imbue themselves with little quirks and touches. In fact, some of the film's finest moments are early on when we're just getting to know the band. Because of the attention to the build up, it's all the more devastating when things come down around them.  I don't feel like I can stress this enough. Green Room is entirely unpredictable. The initial transition from humor to horror is seamless. Because of the care put into the characters, the audience essentially ends up in the confined space with them. The emotional stakes rise almost instantly and there's nary a bump in the production. It's like an emotional punch to gut, and that's before any violence takes place. Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart own these scenes in particular when the two of them speak on opposite ends of a door. Yelchin is constantly on the verge of tears (thus making us closer to him on a whole) while Stewart's eerily calm demeanor hides sinister motives. And just when you think you've got the film figured out, it changes tone completely. With controlled spontaneity through violence, Green Room continuously raises its stakes and never once feels overbearing in its tension.  The entire film's production is lined with a chilling vibe. From its metal and punk heavy soundtrack, its lighting (making sure everything is just dark enough to be unnerving while still making sure everything is visible and digestible), there's a special sense of dread permeating throughout and it's naturalistic. The crafted tone grounds its characters and setting begetting fear from a human place. Darcy's frightening introduction and speeches juxtapose Stewart's unassuming demeanor. It's kind of like how Breaking Bad slowly transformed Bryan Cranston's Walter White into Heisenberg over six seasons instead crammed into less than 90 minutes. Sometimes it doesn't work completely, but it's still utterly effective and damning. Thanks to the cast playing off of each other in such a tight space (and a stellar performance from everyone involved), it's an emotional thriller rather than a physical one. There are certainly visceral payoffs (and they're increasingly shocking in their brutality), but if you don't enjoy the film's emotional stakes then you won't connect as much overall.  Before seeing Green Room you need to know what you're getting yourself into. It's a nail biting thriller for sure, but if you're expecting some sort of all out knuckle brawl you'll be severely disappointed. This film is a thriller horror film in the traditional sense, so there's very little "action." When it does finally resort to such measures, Green Room excels. It's satisfying in such a weird, weird way.  And that's Green Room in a nutshell. It's disarming, gruesome, macabre, hilarious, cartoonish, will make you squirm, but it's a fun experience through and through. I'm going to remember this one for a while.
Green Room Review photo
Spontaneously brutal
Over the last few years, A24 has quickly become my favorite production studio. They've overseen everything from huge award winners like Room, Amy, and Ex Machina, critical darlings such as Spring Breakers and The End of the T...

Apocalypse Trailer photo
This is the best trailer yet
If you were somehow not convinced to see X-Men: Apocalypse, you sure will be after the final trailer for it. We get a little more footage than we have in the past, some cool looking fight scenes, a little bit of information f...


Tribeca Capsule Review: Abortion: Stories Women Tell

Apr 24 // Nick Valdez
Abortion: Stories Women TellDirector: Tracy Droz TragosRating: NRRelease Date: April 18, 2016 (limited) Abortion: Stories Women Tell is eye opening. I'm not going to sit here and pretend I knew everything about the subject, so some of the film's perspectives are heartbreaking. Stories follows two women for the most part: one who's about to undergo the procedure because she doesn't want another child (and has way too many responsibilities already) and one who's protesting the procedure because of religious beliefs. The doc takes care to normalizing the subject just in case you were squeamish to any part of the process. It's treated as just another part of life, another facet of heatlhcare, and regardless of your personal feelings the subject is standing on neutral ground. Sure there are some digs into either side in the way it's being filmed, but those are viewpoints the audience has to infer for themselves. It's great the final product is basically the open start to a conversation, presenting as many arguments as possible.  While this make the documentary sound weaker overall, it's true purpose is to inform rather than to judge. It's astounding to see how many viewpoints are represented here. Reflecting how wide open the subject is, and how many opposing views of it there are, Stories cast a wide net and talks to women of various ages, races, and creeds. And while Stories may follow one or two particular women for the majority, the audience is just witness to a particular moment of their lives. We're given a brief look into who these women are, but never enough to form attachment. Stories never loses sight of its subject for an instant, and that makes it all the more powerful. It's handled so well, in fact, I'm left wondering why it's regulated as much as it is now. But given the opposition opposes it so strongly, it's easy to see why. But as I mentioned before, the judgment is entirely ours to make as a viewer. This doc just wants to make sure you know what's going on.  Abortion: Stories Women Tell was the strongest documentary I'd seen at Tribeca. A strong, fair, and ultimately open ended film that captures a pocket of the frustration surrounding the issue. For letting me in on a fraction of what the women presented are feeling, this documentary has done a lot more for the issue than anything has done in the past.  To anyone unknowledgeable about abortion or the debate surrounding, you owe it yourselves to watch and listen to Abortion: Stories Women Tell. 
Stories Capsule Review photo

Although it's been technically legal ever since the famous Roe v. Wade legal battle in the 60s and 70s, states across America still do as much as they can to limit healthcare, and by extension abortion, to the nation's women....

Tribeca Review: Holidays

Apr 23 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220526:42927:0[/embed] HolidaysDirectors: Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kolsch, Sarah Adina Smith, Kevin Smith, Nicholas McCarthy, Adam Egypt Mortimer, Gary Shore, Scott Stewart, Dennis WidmyerRating: RRelease Date: April 15, 2016 (limited) As its title suggests, Holidays is an anthology all based around holiday horrors. Each short is around 12-15 minutes long, with the director and holiday revealed after. There are eight shorts in total, all set in chronological horror: Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day. Easter, Father's Day, Mother's Day, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Each short pretty much ends in the way you'd expect a short horror story to, so it's all in the journey rather than the destination. Despite what I'm about to say in the next few paragraphs, I can't ever say Holidays is bland. The film overall is a slick production with each short looking completely different from what came before or after. Each director has their own style, and while some may have better camerawork than others (St. Patrick's Day is the standout in this case), there's a care into getting the horror tone just right.  Out of the eight films, I especially enjoyed Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Father's Day. Valentine's Day is the most straightforward story, but revels in 80s synth storytelling (likening it to other big recent throwbacks like The Guest) coupled with dream-like lighting and a kickass electropop soundtrack. Father's Day is strong and silent with very little dialogue from its main character (ably played by Jocelin Donahue) and is the creepiest film in the entire package. It's also the one I'd argue is closest to actually being "horror" rather than the twisted joke the rest of the shorts play with. On a smaller note, Mother's Day is much stronger given it's paired with this testosterone laced (and somber) short. But the best overall is most definitely St. Patrick's Day. It's got the best camera work, quick edits do a lot with the little time it has, Ruth Bradley steals the show, and its twist ending is the most effective given how absurd and cartoonish it gets. It's just a shame Holidays never quite reaches this peak again.  Since it's all in chronological order, there's no narrative cohesiveness. Other than lucking out with Father's/Mother's Day, the shorts never feel like they're in the same package. With very little narrative buffer in between each short (explaining why we're seeing these eight shorts for example), it's disjointed. Some shorts have a humorous ending, some end on a jump scare, but regardless it's all less effective since nothing really lingers. Since there's no narrative flow between each short, they become all about the formula. Nothing but build-up until a pop at the end of the short. And when you've come to expect the same kind of ending halfway in, the last four segments lose all their pizazz. This is not at all helped by the final four's weaknesses, either.  For example, Kevin Smith's Halloween segment is the most, uh, "divisive." It's the most obscene of the shorts and its tone is unlike any other. But it's entirely reliant on your personal tastes to succeed. It's a revenge short that has to instantly reach for the most extreme circumstances due to its length, and since it's not entirely earned, your enjoyment of it varies on whether or not you like seeing the guy from Epic Meal Time have a sex toy forced up his rear. And because of the film's chronological order, Holidays just comes to an unsatisfying end. It can't end with its best film (and furthered hindered by having the best shorts come first), and it gives New Year's Day too much responsibility. It isn't as bad of a short as Easter or Halloween, but it's clearly not a short designed to bring a fulfilling resolution.  Like other horror anthologies before, Holidays stumbles more often than not. That's just the nature of setups like these, and while the overall film is visually captivating it just doesn't keep the same level of tension or entertainment throughout. Maybe if it were organized into a more cohesive package, the less successful films wouldn't have seemed as bad.  But as it stands, you don't have to go home for the holidays. 
Holidays Tribeca Review photo
"Like a squeaky violin"
Horror anthologies are all the rage now. Get a couple of creatives together, pick a theme, and they're allowed to explore one of the smaller ideas they have in their heads. At best, you're in for a good time overall, at worst...

Tribeca Review: A Kind of Murder

Apr 22 // Nick Valdez
A Kind of MurderDirector: Andy GoddardRating: RRelease Date: April 17, 2016 (limited) Based on The Blunderer by Patricia Highsmith, A Kind of Murder follows Walter Stackhouse (Patrick Wilson), an architect who has everything you'd expect from someone living the high life in the 60s: his short mystery writing hobby has landed him in magazines, a beautiful wife Clara (Jessica Biel), a fancy home, money, and as many cigarettes as he could smoke. But almost instantly, the veneer of his life starts to unravel. His wife has mental health issues, their marriage is falling apart, he begins sleeping with the mysterious singer Ellie (Haley Bennett), and his tendency to follow murder stories in the paper catches up with him. When his wife suddenly dies, and the scene of her murder looks eerily close to the murder of the local bookshop owner Kimill (Eddie Marsan)'s wife, Stackhouse has to clear his name and move on with his life.  Murder does everything in its power to define its 60s setting and tone. Paying respect to its pulp-mystery origins, there is a heavy use of shadow and angular shots. Bouts of silence coupled with deep reds help sink you into the film's deep tone. Sets are well lit enough to see what's going on, while still being blacked out enough to leave you a little bit confused. Unfortunately, the score doesn't help or detract from the film so Murder is left with only its visuals to accomplish its goals. It's just a shame that once everyone starts talking, everything else falls apart. It's almost impossible to keep a consistent tone when some actor's performances are anachronistic and some are pulpy to a fault.  As examples of both extremes, Jessica Biel's Clara and Lucas Bentley's Detective Jackson are overwritten and overacted. Each time they're on screen. the energy from the scene is completely drained. Biel seems to be trying her best, but she can't get a grip on Clara's character. It doesn't help that the script doesn't seem to know what's wrong with Clara either. There's some sort of hint at a mental health issue, and while that's a strong characterization for a pulp mystery story (but out of place and time, for sure), we're stuck seeing it through Stackhouse's misogynystic POV. He's a terrible person, and it's reflected in how the story's told. We never quite get the full mystery or figure out why characters make certain decisions because we're stuck watching Stackhouse make his own baffling choices. For one, he's constantly lying to everyone. Namely, Bentley's terrible Detective whos' characterization is so rooted in the setting, he's sticks out like a cartoon.  The most important thing for a mystery is not its setting or tone, it's the integrity of the mystery itself. Whether you're focusing on a crime or the mystery of a character's personality, there needs to be a solid foundation for everything else to succeed. Unfortunately, Murder never quite figures out what kind of story it wants to tell. There's a secondary plot revolving Kimill and the murder of his wife, but Eddie Marsan doesn't add necessary layers to his performance to keep his story interesting. He's consistently sinister throughout and when a plot point is revealed later on, it didn't come as much of a surprise. He's effectively taking the air of mystery out of the mystery. And when the performances don't help, the holes in the story stick out that much more. We're left without so much crucial information seemingly happening off screen so there's no real way to connect and stick with the Murder.  At first it seemed like A Kind of Murder had all the pieces for success, but it gets so caught up in capturing the essence of its source material that it forgets to make everything else as engaging. A floundering mystery spawning waves upon waves of disconnect, it's few good elements are completely snuffed by its poor organization. 
Tribeca Murder Review photo
A kind of mess
Patrick Wilson just can't catch a break. No matter how hard he tries, he has yet to break through into credible leading man territory. He's been wading in the shallow ends of roles landing somewhere between genre film and B m...

Review: The Huntsman: Winter's War

Apr 22 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220532:42925:0[/embed] The Huntsman: Winter's WarDirector: Cedric Nicolas-TroyanRating: PG-13Release Date: April 22, 2016 As its title suggests, The Huntsman: Winter's War shifts its main focus to its titular huntsman, Eric (Chris Hemsworth). Before the events of the first film, the Evil Queen Raveena (Charlize Theron) had a younger sister named Freya (Emily Blunt). After the death of her daughter, Freya gains ice powers and goes off to form her own kingdom (complete with a ban on love), kidnapping children and training them as huntsman along the way. Eric ends up falling in love with another huntsman, Sara (Jessica Chastain), but Freya puts a stop to that. Then seven years later (and after the events of the first film), Freya vows to get Raveena's magic mirror and take over Snow White's kingdom.  Just as with the first film, Winter's War oozes with style. While some of its visuals borrow heavily from other fantasy worlds (such as the design of the huntsman themselves), costume design is still top notch. Capitalizing on one of the better aspects of the first film, Raveena and Freya's outfits are outlandish and gaudy in the best way. And although it results in less gaudy but fabulous dresses, the set design has also received an upgrade. Scene settings are more varied and feel more inspired, such as the jungle look of the goblin's den (and the gold chained gorilla goblins), but there's a definite lack of budget that knocks the film's overall presentation down a peg. The film's CG isn't always seamless, but the film tries its best to make sure at least the central women look good. At least Winter's War succeeds in that regard. Because their looks are perfected, Theron and Blunt are free to chew the scenery as they see fit.  And boy does Charlize Theron run the show. It's just a shame that the film keeps her separated from Blunt for the majority of it. The scenes where she's allowed to cheesily tear into Blunt's Freya turns Winter's War into a fantasy version of Dynasty as the two actresses try to out soap opera each other. It's the only time Blunt seems bothered enough to try, and her scenes with Theron clearly make Blunt's performance ring hollow the rest of the time. At least Chris Hemsworth get more to do this time around. The first film was before his breakout in The Avengers, and now he's got this affable personality which helps ease some of Winter's War's more troublesome attempts at humor and personality. But while mostly everyone involved is having a good time, no one really seems to care about what they're saying. It's halfhearted throughout.  Winter's War is further crippled by its poor storytelling. When it succeeds it can be funny, or even compelling, but thanks to its need to clutch to the first film rather than reset everything, the film makes no damn sense for the first thirty minutes or so. Thanks to a weird flashback story then a time jump seven years into the future, everything is rushed. We're never given the time to invest in Eric and Sara's relationship because all we get between the two is a few make out sessions (that linger on for a bit too long) before they're separated. It doesn't help that Hemsworth and Chastain are clearly phoning it in. Their scenes together seem to take the longest, and their faux scottish accents are so heavy, they're almost parodic. These scenes make you wonder when Theron's going to show up again. Given that she's really only in the film for about 20 minutes, the wait seems even longer. Give up the ghost already and give us a full Charlize Theron ham sandwich, Universal.  The Huntsman: Winter's War is a piecemeal fantasy that's just other fairy tales duct taped together into a two hour project. There's clearly an underlying effort being drowned by everyone's apathy (there's not even an effort to keep background skeletons from looking like they were bought in one of those pop up Halloween shops), and Winter's War barely cares it exists. It just does.  Going in I was hoping Universal re-examined the Huntsman series and kept what worked and threw out what didn't. But it did the complete opposite. The Huntsman: Winter's War is less of what we want, and more nonsense we don't need. 
Winter's War Review photo
What is it good for? Absolutely nothing
Despite Kristen Stewart and director Rupert Saunders being pulled from the series after allegations of an affair, bumping up visual effects supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyan to debut as director, and the first film gettin...

Tribeca Capsule Review: Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four

Apr 21 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220511:42918:0[/embed] Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio FourDirector: Deborah EsquenaziRating: NRRelease Date: April 20, 2016 (limited) In 1994, four women, Anna Vasquez, Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, and Kristie Mayhugh, were charged with the sexual assault of two underage girls, Elizabeth's nieces. And thus began a weird trial where the four defendants had to deal with a litany of accusations all stemming from their sexuality. With accusations ranging from the deplorable to the highly nonsensical (such as suggesting the crime committed was some sort of satanistic ritual), the four women just want to clear their names and be freed from the system that condemned their lifestyles. Thanks to the seemingly never ending nature of the trial, the four women are still contesting their convictions to this day and with the latest development happening only two months prior to the film's release. Unfortunately, with that big of a period to cover, Southwest of Salem fails to catch everything. As the case is constantly developing, we never quite get the full picture of it. Instead the film feels like an attempt at advocacy rather than a full fledged documentary. We're only told one side of the case, and it's clear what the filmmaker believes. But we're not given enough information to make a decision ourselves, and are instead told to believe what director Esquenazi believes. In the same breath, Southwest excels at telling that single side.  Since we're not given enough information on the case (Neither members of the prosecution nor expert testimony on the "bogus science" scrutinzed later on in the case were interviewed), director Esquenazi chooses to anchor the documentary with emotion. Following the four women on different stages of their incarceration and later release, Southwest benefits from having credible and highly personal footage for each of the women. Opting to capture a slice of each woman (namely Anna Vasquez, who's become the "face" of the four)'s life, the film creates a connection between the audience and subjects. Some of the footage is incredibly heartbreaking as the film manages to capture integral moments like their initial release from prison or home movies depicting the women's final moments of freedom. Southwest of Salem makes sure you care about the San Antonio Four. As the film's main goal is awareness, most of the film is dedicated to moments like these. And because of that laser focus, the film's emotion and heartache feels earned rather than manipulative.  Regardless of how you feel about the technical flaws of this documentary, Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four is a heartbreaking look into a little discussed case. Some of the developments are baffling. You'll feel rage, sadness, and hopelessness, and you'll still only feel a fraction of what these four women are going through. But for even capturing even a fraction of that feeling, Southwest of Salem is powerful, flaws and all. 
Salem Tribeca Review photo
Devastating
Growing up in San Antonio you witness a lot of things like gang violence, racial and class divides, and the occasional public drunkeness, but twenty two years ago something happened in my small town that changed it forever. I...

Power Rangers photo
Power Rangers

Here's the first image of Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa


Green with evil
Apr 19
// Nick Valdez
I've gone back and forth over Lionsgate's upcoming Power Rangers movie too many times to count now. Everyone has specific fandoms they know too much about and one of mine happens to be the Power Rangers. So for the first time...
Shin Godzilla photo
Shin Godzilla

Japanese trailer for Toho's Shin Godzilla is pretty much a dream come true


"EEEERRRRRRRRRRRNGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"
Apr 14
// Nick Valdez
When Gareth Edwards and Legendary released a so-so Godzilla, the giant lizard's original creators Toho decided that it wasn't good enough and announced they were working on a Godzilla of their own. A more proper one, per se. ...
Spider-Man photo
Spider-Man

Sony's Spider-Man reboot gets an official title


Also that MiB/21 Jump Street crossover
Apr 13
// Nick Valdez
Ever since Sony and Marvel announced their unprecedented deal to have joint custody of Spider-Man films, and after we all got a first taste of him with the latest Captain America: Civil War trailer, we've all turned our atten...
Doctor Strange Trailer photo
"Teach me."
Since we're finally past all of Marvel's big moves like The Avengers and Captain America: Civil War, we're finally entering Marvel's weirder titles. It's also coincidentally the material I know the least about. All I know abo...

TMNT Trailer photo
TMNT Trailer

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows gets a cartoony trailer


Apr 11
// Nick Valdez
I'm much more interested in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows than I thought I'd be. After the first film's poor reception, everyone on board went back to the drawing board and added some stuff fans might like....
Fantastic Beasts Trailer photo
Colin Farrell is a wizard
We're currently in the midst of a new wave of Harry Potter mania. With its Universal Studios park finally opening, J.K Rowling releasing a written version of the newest stage play (which is book eight for all intents and purp...

Suicide Squad Trailer photo
Suicide Squad Trailer

Newest Suicide Squad Trailer is trying its best to be different


Apr 11
// Nick Valdez
Remember the MTV Movie Awards? WB/DC sure hopes you did! Capitalizing on that all so precious 18-24 demographic (and most likely younger given MTV) is the newest trailer for Suicide Squad. It's got a better handle on itself a...

Review: Hardcore Henry

Apr 10 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220494:42906:0[/embed] Hardcore HenryDirector: Ilya NaishullerRating: RRelease Date: April 8th, 2016 Cheesy as it is, Hardcore Henry is about you. When "Henry" (the audience) wakes up in a mysterious facility with no memory of how he got there, his wife Estelle (Haley Bennett) explains that he's suffered major disfigurement from an accident and this facility has put him back together using machinery (basically a more violent version of the Six Million Dollar Man). Then some shadow organization chases Henry down for 90 minutes. And all while during this, a mysterious man named Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) and his many faces seems to be the only one who knows what's going on.  While I'd hate to classify the film in such basic terms, comparisons to a videogame narrative are unfortunately apt. Hardcore Henry gleefully revels in juvenile wish fulfillment. You'll sit back and watch Henry mow down waves of spawning enemies (with little to nothing to distinguish between any of them), you'll see him utilize a variety of weapons he apparently loots from dead bodies, and you'll watch as he peers around corridors and fights in hallways. Every trope from first person shooter videogames is represented and, for a while, it's fun to see unfold. Characters make quips, the first person perspective leads to some enlightening action angles, and there's definitely a joy and humor to how grotesque its violence gets as it goes on. But after about fifteen minutes of these action scenes, the premise wears thin and the film turns into a collection of hollow gore shots trying to outdo one another in order to garner some kind of reaction. And that's only including the ones you can manage to follow.  Hardcore Henry is so focused on how cool things might look it forgets to tell any kind of story. The film essentially puts all of its eggs in one basket as it hopes the flow of the action will keep you invested. Unlike most action films, Henry's voiceless and faceless protagonist can't add anything to the overarching story. He's got no personality, no defining traits other than a relentless need to kill (for some reason that's never quite elaborated on), and it's not like Henry is an all inclusive point of view either as there as some unfortunate homophobic jokes thrown in the mix and it's heavily male friendly as it vies for that sweet 13 year old Mountain Dew demographic. So you can't even fully immerse yourself as a viewer as multiple moments in the narrative remind you Henry isn't you. At least when videogame narratives do things like this, it eventually hands back control to the individual and gives you other options for immersion. There's just nothing here to latch onto.  The film's one saving grace is by and far Sharlto Copley. He's an absolute joy every time he's on screen. It's just a shame he has to singlehandedly carry the film's weight. He's stuck providing so much exposition, jokes, and personality it's kind of running him thin. It's also not helped by the unintelligible scene settings. Henry ends up in several locations with no way other than Copley's Jimmy to help discern where the action is taking place. The film could take place anywhere between an entire city length and the walking distance between my kitchen and bathroom. The film's main device seems to be holding it back in that visual respect. In reference to an old Simpsons gag, every time Jimmy wasn't on screen I felt myself wondering when he was going to show up again. But I wonder if that's because I wanted more of Copley or I was just starved for something to get me through the rest of the film like a lone floating log in the middle of Hardcore Henry's bleak and monotonous ocean of gore.  Hardcore Henry touts itself as a cinematic experience. The first action film of its kind, it's certainly going to get a lot of attention and praise based on existence alone. But it's lacking the level of immersion or direction its premise promises. If I really had to compare it to videogames, watching Hardcore Henry is like going over to a buddy's house and watching him play a game for an hour. It looks neat, and there are bound to be some things that grab your attention, but before long you'll be so bored you'd rather be at home. 
Hardcore Review photo
Normcore
From its inception as music videos for director Ilya Naishuller's band Biting Elbows, Hardcore Henry boasted an unique central idea: crafting a well told action film entirely through the first person perspective on Go Pro cam...

Huntsman Trailer photo
Huntsman Trailer

Latest Huntsman: Winter's War trailer is absolutely nuts


Mar 23
// Nick Valdez
To be honest, Flixist has been sleeping on Huntsman: Winter's War. It's not hard to doubt the film given its shaky past and mediocre first outing. When a sequel was announced with everyone but Kristen Stewart attached, I had ...

Who's the best on screen Superman?

Mar 23 // Nick Valdez
Bud Collyer (New Adventures of Superman and several radio specials) Though the only experience I have with Paramount's 1940s serials are the few I found on a budget DVD a few years back, Bud Collyer will most likely go down as the actor with the longest Superman tenure. Starring in those serials as well as over 2000 radio specials from 1940 to 1951, Collyer was the de facto Superman to an entire generation. He also set a lot of guidelines for future Supermen too such as adopting a lower octave when speaking as Superman.  Kirk Alyn (Superman 1948) Collyer might've been the first Superman in media, but Kirk Alyn was the first live action one. His brief stint (only starring in two serials, Superman and Atom Man vs. Superman) isn't well remembered thanks to how badly it's aged, but there's something charming about Alyn's positively charged performance. He took those budgetary and technological limits with a smile.  George Reeves (Superman and the Mole Men) George Reeves began the ever important focus shift to Clark Kent, thus granting Superman more longevity in media. His Superman take wasn't bad, but his Clark Kent made his stint memorable. Bringing a charm and intelligence to the role that wasn't captured yet, writers began focusing more and more on Supes' secret identity life. In fact, Reeves' stint as the hero was more Kent focused than anything.  Danny Dark (Super Friends) Despite all of its cheese, and all of the jokes fans make now, Super Friends was my first introduction to superheroes. Caught it at five in the morning along with Hanna Barbara reruns of Scooby Doo and Johnny Quest. The only unfortunate thing about Superman's role in Super Friends was that it was pretty unremarkable. I remember the Legion of Doom making more of an impact on this show. Super Friends' version of Superman had almost no defining characteristics.  Christopher Reeve (Superman-Superman IV: The Quest for Peace) Then, in 1978, everything changed. Suddenly, superhero fiction seemed like it could work on film. Arguably the most well known and favored actor to take on the role, Christopher Reeve defined Superman for a generation of moviegoers. Combining George Reeves' Clark Kent mannerisms and Kirk Alyn's positivity, Reeve was the first Superman (and only one for a while) that felt absolutely sincere. Also, the man was 6'4 and 225 pounds. Doesn't get more "super" than that.  Tim Daly/George Newbern (Superman: The Animated Series/Justice League) While Super Friends was the first superhero show I've ever watched, Superman: The Animated Series quickly became a new favorite. Before Bruce Timm's unprecedented animation domination (crafting a huge DC comics animated universe), Superman served as the lighter tone alternative to Batman: The Animated Series. Tim Daly and George Newbern essentially deserve the same amount of credit (as Newbern took over once Superman ceased to have a solo series) as both their takes saw Superman through his most faithful comic stories to date. Adaptations of "For the Man Who Haves Everything," "What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?," and introducing long time comic book villains like Brainiac and Darkseid to the mix.  Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) Ah, poor Dean Cain. He really never bounced back after this (while his co-star Teri Hatcher did just fine with Desperate Housewives) because while he tried his best to do both Clark Kent and Superman justice, fans didn't quite gel with the show's focus on relationship struggles. There is some surprising nuance to be found with Cain's performance during the first season as Kal-El wants Lois to love him for him and not his powers, but the show later squandered all of that promise. And then equally squandered Dean Cain and doomed him to obscurity. Tom Welling (Smallville) Smallville was a weird, weird series. Its formula serving as the prototype shows like Arrow and The Flash would adopt later, Tom Welling portrayed a young Clark slowly discovering his powers and becoming the Superman we all know and love...except he didn't actually become Superman until the final episode. Full of weird things like the not-Justice League and not-Lex Luthor (who was actually the best Luthor and The Flash WB and DC have ever had), but Welling held it all together. It wasn't a perfect series by any means, but Welling managed to keep our attention for ten seasons. That's pretty super.  Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) I loved, loved Superman Returns. Brandon Routh was absolutely charming (and that charm keeps his TV career alive to this day), but his downfall ultimately was cinema's changing tone overall. Although it paid tribute to Richard Donner's earlier Superman films and Routh captured what made Christopher Reeve's performance so special, fans were over it. The "lack" of superhero action in a post-Batman Begins world was the final nail in the coffin. It was too bright of a film to succeed.  Roger Rose (Batman: The Brave and the Bold) Okay, so my favorite Superman comics were always the ones where Superman acted like a total jerk. Like when red kryptonite turned Superman into a tyrant ruling the Earth, or when Mr. Mxyzptlk makes him act wrongo, or that time he tries to un-adopt Jimmy Olsen by acting like such an asshole that Jimmy quits out of being his son. One episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold (possibly the best Batman animated incarnation) combines all of that Superman weirdness into an episode where Superman (played by Roger Rose) ends up fighting Batman. So not only does it pay tribute to both heroes' Silver Age stories, but also combines a bit from The Dark Knight Returns. It's seamless, silly, and probably my personal favorite incarnation of Superman to date.  Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) It may be still too early to tell on which end of the super spectrum Henry Cavill is going to end up, but I'm hoping it'll be positive. Cavill nails the look, but doesn't have the presence. I'm a bit worried for WB's future universe since Cavill can't seem to act even opposite of huge talents like Amy Adams and Michael Shannon. But his darker, and more mature, take on Superman may bring the hero to places we've never seen. But who knows what the future holds. Who's the best Superman? Oh, let's just say...Moe. Who do you think makes the best on screen Superman? 
Superman bein' Superman photo
The most super of the supermen
With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice just a few days away and fulfills a dream I've had since I was a kid, I figured it was a good time to celebrate Superman's long history on film. But just simply recounting actors that h...

Supergirl Trailer photo
Supergirl Trailer

Check out this fun trailer for CBS' Supergirl/The Flash crossover


Mar 23
// Nick Valdez
If you're excited about the prospect of two of your favorite heroes teaming up onscreen but hate the dour tone Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has taken, then the upcoming Supergirl and The Flash crossover episode is what ...
Bright photo
Bright

Netflix drops $90M on David Ayer, Max Landis, and Will Smith film Bright


Mar 22
// Nick Valdez
Whoa, this is getting serious. With Netflix slowly taking over all home media as we know it with its original programming, Adam Sandler deals, and decades in the making sequels, it seems its heading for the big time. While it...
 photo

Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy return for next animated Batman film, The Killing Joke


Mar 15
// Nick Valdez
DC and Warner Bros may be struggling with their big budget movies, but they've been dominating the home video and TV space for a long time. After the Bruce and Dini animation era, and after rebooting their animated properties...
Ass Creed photo
Ass Creed

You can preorder your Assassin's Creed movie ticket for $1200


Mar 15
// Nick Valdez
If you're familiar with the Assassin's Creed videogames, then the notion of preorder bonuses or super expensive special editions is nothing new to you. While theater chains have folks preorder tickets all the time, what 20th ...
Peculiar Trailer photo
Peculiar Trailer

First trailer for Tim Burton's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children


Mar 15
// Nick Valdez
While Tim Burton has fallen off a bit lately, his films are still worth watching for interesting stuff alone. And it looks like thanks to the strange world of Ransome Riggs' novel, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children ...
Sausage Party Trailer photo
Sausage Party Trailer

First trailer for Seth Rogen's R rated animated comedy Sausage Party


Rotten food belongs in the trash
Mar 15
// Nick Valdez
We got through so many movie announcements here at Flixist that it's hard to take some seriously. When Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg mentioned they were working on an R rated food comedy, I kind of brushed it off thinking it's...
Power Rangers Reboot photo
Power Rangers Reboot

Here's the Power Rangers movie cast without their suits


Mar 04
// Nick Valdez
It may seem silly now (and feel free to refer back to this post when this all blows up in my face), but it seems like the Power Rangers movie is my most anticipated film of 2017. It's a property I have a huge connection with ...

Review: The Boy and the Beast

Mar 04 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220368:42844:0[/embed] The Boy and the BeastDirector: Mamoru HosodaRelease Date: March 4th, 2016 (limited English dub release) Rating: PG-13 After the death of his mother leaves him in the care of his extended family, Ren (Eric Vale) runs away from home and ends up stranded on the streets of Shibuya. After following a hooded figure he ends up in a secret world of beasts and gods, and after witnessing a fight between two animals squabbling over lordship, he decides to stick around in the world and become a disciple of one of them, Kumatetsu (John Swasey), a red bear man. With both characters in it for their own selfish purposes (Ren, now named Kyuta, doesn't want to go home and Kumatetsu wants to prove he's capable of being a leader), the two must find someway to get along and make each other stronger. The Boy and the Beast is ostensibly a film about growing up, yet it's awesomely a film about coping with one's own selfishness. Rather than the typical monomyth, or hero's journey, the stakes always remain personal despite its grandiose setting. In telling its personal tale, the art of the film is much more subdued than in Hosoda's previous work. It's definitely not the first thing you'd expect upon hearing the premise, but its certainly surprising when the fantastical world the film takes place in feels so grounded. Colors are a bit muted (but not washed out), the film doesn't involve as much action as you'd probably expect from the premise. and despite the mystical nature of the beast world the character designs are more rooted in reality. The beastmen themselves are usually bipedal in nature and have lots of "human like" features with beast accents. Grounding the film like this goes a long way toward making the entire thing more digestible even when it goes off the rails a bit near the end of the film. Above all, the film is absolutely gorgeous. Other than some weird CG use toward the end, it's full of great stylistic choices.  I've spent the past few days just trying to pin down exactly what kind of film The Boy and the Beast is. It's like Digimon, Spirited Away, Kingdom Hearts, and a couple of My Chemical Romance songs had a baby and read it really obscure poetry every night. Suffice to say, this film isn't like anything you've seen before. I'm not even sure how this package holds together so well given all of its zanier ideas, but it just works. Going back to what I said earlier about its atypical monomyth story, Boy and the Beast is a fairy tale about adolescence. Mainly how adolescence often breeds copious bouts of anxiety (and loneliness as a result) when trying to find one's identity. "Lordship" basically equates to some kind of adult responsibility which one would use to truly ascend into well adjusted adulthood. I'd discuss a bit more about it here, but it'd spoil a bit of the movie. But I can say that when Kyuta faces that all important adult question of whether to pursue a different way of life or keep chugging along his current path because that's all he knows, it'll resonate a bit.  But the film doesn't exactly explore these themes perfectly. Subtlety isn't Beast's strong suit. While its two leads are well characterized (they're basically bickering brothers), they do skew the film's effectiveness. The characters don't really move the story forward well enough to follow through on a lot of its ideas, so we're left with a truly confusing and rapidly paced final quarter of the film. The climax just sort of happens without a well established lead in so there's not as much of a connection to it as intended. Speaking to that, pacing is all over the place. Some plots move too quickly to be developed, and other scenes are dragged out further than they need to be. Rather than feel like we're soaking in every aspect of the film and its world, sometimes it feel like I was crawling along in the goo snails leave as they move.  Even if The Boy and the Beast has some story and editing issues, it's definitely one of the more interesting animated films I've seen in some time. It's full of charm and it packs a genuinely emotional wallop. It's full of such crazy ideas that's it's hard not to completely fall in love with this film. It's one of Hosoda's best, if not his most peculiar.  The Boy and the Beast is not, uh, the least. 
Boy and Beast Review photo
Boy, this is a good movie
Mamoru Hosoda is behind some of my favorite animated films: Summer Wars, Wolf Children, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and even The Digimon Movie. His direction always brings what's best about the animation medium to the fo...

Ghostbusters photo
Ghostbusters

First Ghostbusters trailer doesn't know who to call


Something strange in this trailer
Mar 03
// Nick Valdez
I've been going back and forth with Paul Feig's Ghostbusters reboot each time we get a new look at the film. On the one hand, it's a new Ghostbusters so it'll at least be entertaining (and coupled with the fact they're a grou...
Finding Dory photo
Finding Dory

Newest Finding Dory trailer just keeps swimming


Mar 03
// Nick Valdez
I know I'm supposed to look at sequel announcements with some kind of critical eye, but I just can't do that with Pixar. I've been waiting for a Finding Nemo sequel right after the first one ended, so every bit of Finding Dor...

Here are your 2016 Razzie winners and losers

Feb 29 // Nick Valdez
Worst PictureFantastic FourFifty Shades of GreyJupiter AscendingPaul Blart: Mall Cop 2Pixels Worst ActorJohnny Depp, MortdecaiJamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of GreyKevin James, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2Adam Sandler, The Cobbler and PixelsChanning Tatum, Jupiter Ascending Worst ActressKatherine Heigl, Home Sweet HellDakota Johnson, Fifty Shades of GreyMila Kunis, Jupiter AscendingJennifer Lopez, The Boy Next DoorGwyneth Paltrow, Mortdecai Worst Supporting ActorChevy Chase, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and VacationJosh Gad, Pixels and The Wedding RingerKevin James, PixelsJason Lee, Alvin & The Chipmunks: Road ChipEddie Redmayne, Jupiter Ascending Worst Supporting ActressKaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Alvin & The Chipmunks: Road Chip and The Wedding RingerRooney Mara, PanMichelle Monaghan, PixelsJulianne Moore, Seventh SonAmanda Seyfried, Love the Coopers and Pan Worst Remake/Rip-off/SequelAlvin & The Chipmunks: Road ChipFantastic FourHot Tub Time Machine 2Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 Worst Screen ComboAll Four “Fantastics,” Fantastic FourJohnny Depp and His Glued-On Moustache, MortdecaiJamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades of GreyKevin James and EITHER His Segue OR His Glued-On Moustache, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2Adam Sandler and Any Pair of Shoes, The Cobbler Worst DirectorAndy Fickman, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2Tom Six, Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)Sam Taylor-Johnson, Fifty Shades of GreyJosh Trank, Fantastic FourAndy and Lana Wachowski, Jupiter Ascending Worst ScreenplayFantastic Four (screenplay by Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater and Josh Trank, Based on the Marvel comic book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)Fifty Shades of Grey (screenplay by Kelly Marcel, Based on the Novel by E.L. James)Jupiter Ascending (written by Andy and Lana Wachowski)Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 (screenplay by Kevin James & Nick Bakay)Pixels (screenplay by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling, Story by Herlihy, Based on a Work by Patrick Jean) Razzie "Redeemer" AwardSylvester Stallone                                                                                                                    
Razzies photo
I guess, in a sense, they're all losers
Just in case you thought cinema had a good year, the annual Razzie awards reminds you of several films you wish you'd forgotten about. Like years before the nominations and wins take pot shots at easy targets. Rather than tac...

Here are your 2016 Oscar winners

Feb 29 // Nick Valdez
Best PictureThe Big ShortBridge of SpiesBrooklynMad Max: Fury RoadThe MartianThe RevenantRoomSpotlight Best DirectorAdam McKay, The Big ShortGeorge Miller, Mad Max: Fury RoadAlejandro Inarritu, The RevenantLenny Abrahamson, RoomTom McCarthy, Spotlight Best ActorBryan Cranston, TrumboMatt Damon, The MartianLeonardo DiCaprio, The RevenantMichael Fassbender, Steve JobsEddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl Best ActressCate Blanchett, CarolBrie Larson, RoomJennifer Lawrence, JoyCharlotte Rampling, 45 YearsSaoirse Ronan, Brooklyn Best Supporting ActorChristian Bale, The Big ShortTom Hardy, The RevenantMark Ruffalo, SpotlightMark Rylance, The Bridge of SpiesSylvester Stallone, Creed Best Supporting ActressJennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful EightRooney Mara, CarolRachel McAdams, SpotlightAlicia Vikander, The Danish GirlKate Winslet, Steve Jobs Best Adapted ScreenplayThe Big Short, Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKayBrooklyn, Screenplay by Nick HornbyCarol, Screenplay by Phyllis NagyThe Martian, Screenplay by Drew GoddardRoom, Screenplay by Emma DonoghueBest Original ScreenplayBridge of Spies, Written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel CoenEx Machina, Written by Alex GarlandInside Out, Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del CarmenSpotlight, Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthyStraight Outta Compton, Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff Best Documentary FeatureAmy, Asif Kapadia and James Gay-ReesCartel Land, Matthew Heineman and Tom YellinThe Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge SørensenWhat Happened, Miss Simone?, Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin WilkesWinter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom, Evgeny Afineevsky and Den TolmorBest Documentary Short SubjectBody Team 12, David Darg and Bryn MooserChau, beyond the Lines, Courtney Marsh and Jerry FranckClaude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah, Adam BenzineA Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Sharmeen Obaid-ChinoyLast Day of Freedom, Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi TalismanAchievement in Film EditingThe Big Short, Hank CorwinMad Max: Fury Road, Margaret SixelThe Revenant, Stephen MirrioneSpotlight, Tom McArdleStar Wars: The Force Awakens, Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey Best CinematographyCarol, Ed LachmanThe Hateful Eight, Robert RichardsonMad Max: Fury Road, John SealeThe Revenant, Emmanuel LubezkiSicarioi, Roger Deakins Best Foreign Language Film of the YearEmbrace of the Serpent, ColombiaMustang, FranceSon of Saul, HungaryTheeb, JordanA War, DenmarkAchievement in Makeup and HairstylingMad Max: Fury Road, Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian MartinThe 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared, Love Larson and Eva von BahrThe Revenant, Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert PandiniBest Original ScoreBridge of Spies, Thomas NewmanCarol, Carter BurwellThe Hateful Eight, Ennio MorriconeSicario, Jóhann JóhannssonStar Wars: The Force Awakens, John WilliamsBest Original Song“Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey, Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio“Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction, Music by J. Ralph and Lyric by Antony Hegarty“Simple Song #3” from Youth, Music and Lyric by David Lang“Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga“Writing’s On The Wall” from Spectre, Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam SmithAchievement in Production DesignBridge of Spies, Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard HenrichThe Danish Girl, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Michael StandishMad Max: Fury Road, Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa ThompsonThe Martian, Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia BobakThe Revenant, Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy Achievement in Costume DesignCarol, Sandy PowellCinderella, Sandy PowellThe Danish Girl, Paco DelgadoMad Max: Fury Road, Jenny BeavanThe Revenant, Jacqueline West Best Animated Short Film“Bear Story” Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala“Prologue” Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton“Sanjay’s Super Team” Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle“We Can’t Live without Cosmos” Konstantin Bronzit“World of Tomorrow” Don HertzfeldtBest Live Action Short Film“Ave Maria” Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont“Day One” Henry Hughes“Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)” Patrick Vollrath“Shok” Jamie Donoughue“Stutterer” Benjamin Cleary and Serena ArmitageAchievement in Sound EditingMad Max: Fury Road, Mark Mangini and David WhiteThe Martian, Oliver TarneyThe Revenant, Martin Hernandez and Lon BenderSicario, Alan Robert MurrayStar Wars: The Force Awakens, Matthew Wood and David AcordAchievement in Sound MixingBridge of Spies, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew KuninMad Max: Fury Road, Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben OsmoThe Martian, Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac RuthThe Revenant, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris DuesterdiekStar Wars: The Force Awakens, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart WilsonAchievement in Visual EffectsEx Machina, Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara BennettMad Max: Fury Road, Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy WilliamsThe Martian, Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven WarnerThe Revenant, Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron WaldbauerStar Wars: The Force Awakens, Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould  
Oscars 2015 photo
Witness Fury Road's badass women
There we have it. Another awards season has come to a close and, despite a bevy of rightful protests leading up to the show, it was the best show in years. While diversity is still a huge issue in the industry as a whole, las...

The Purge 3 photo
The Purge 3

Watching this trailer for The Purge: Election Day is not a crime


#CrimeDay, #CrimeDeux, and #CrimeTrois
Feb 11
// Nick Valdez
What started out as an ironic love of The Purge's premise (#CrimeDay, the holiest of holidays) quickly grew into an honest joy when The Purge: Anarchy completely reinvented itself. Taking full advantage of all the chaos 12 ho...
Sornic photo
Sornic

Sonic the Hedgehog getting a live action/CG movie


Gotta go faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast
Feb 11
// Nick Valdez
With Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog series reaching its 25th anniversary, Sega is looking for all sorts of ways to celebrate everyone's favorite to hate hedgehog. Along with a potential new game, Sega's CEO, Hajime Satomi, announc...

Nick's Top 15 Movies of 2015

Feb 08 // Nick Valdez
30-16: Tangerine, The Voices, Everly, Welcome to Me, Predestination, Turbo Kid, It Follows, The Good Dinosaur, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, True Story, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Inside Out, Trainwreck, Sicario, Sleeping With Other People 15. The Intern You can argue that Robert DeNiro's name doesn't have the same amount of drawing power that it used to. What was once a name synonymous with fantastic work is now a name for someone who seemingly accepts whatever project gets put on his desk. The Intern at first glance seemed like yet another cash in for DeNiro, but instead holds a surprising amount of depth within. It has one of the best screenplays of the year with a nuanced platonic relationship between its two leads, layers of depth to DeNiro's character that's only really hinted at (he cries at one point, and it's wonderfully mysterious and never talked about), and it's just unique. It's a story that's been kind of done before, but not in this fashion. A breath of fresh air from everyone involved.  14. The Martian The Martian checks all the boxes of a standard crowd pleaser. It's based off a best selling book, Ridley Scott is director, it's got a great cast, and it allows Matt Damon to charm us for two hours straight. I would've preferred a greater sense of his isolation (that's why it's not higher on this list), but I do like what we've gotten instead. Charming performances made all that science easily digestible, and it was just a good time. There were very few films last year with honest to goodness "happy endings," so this stood out all the more.  13. Ex Machina In this ever advancing technological age, philosophers and scientists alike question the nature of artificial intelligence. If technology ever advances to the point where we can create and shape sentient beings, how much of that artificial nature is truly man-made? Films like Blade Runner and even Terminator have explored this theme before, but the question has never been posited better than it was in Ex Machina. With enthralling performances (and the one Alicia Vikander should've really been nominated for), Ex Machina is an intimate exploration of inanimate things. Also, Oscar Isaac's disturbing yet erotic dance number is one for the record books.  12. Spotlight I'm usually skeptic of films based on true events. Something always gets lost in translation and muddies up the final product. Spotlight has zero of these issues. As its title suggests, Spotlight is laser focused in its premise and what it wants to get across. Driven entirely through dialogue and excellent camera work as its docu-drama presentation invokes a sense of urgency as the deadline to story break gets closer and closer. Intense, gorgeous, and full of sleights that can definitely be ignored if you don't pay attention. It's gripping from beginning to end.  11. The Final Girls There's been a rise in meta-narrative films over the last few years. Thanks to the "ironic" nature of millenial pop culture, it's become popular to break film genres down into their cynical core components and ridicule them. I expected the same with The Final Girls. When I found out the film was about a few kids getting trapped in a horror film, I figured I was in for the same kind of "let's avoid stupid horror mistakes" that films like Cabin in the Woods and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil perfected years before. Instead, the film delivered a sincere and heartbreaking story of dealing with the loss of a loved one. And of course, it's also pretty funny.  10. The Hateful Eight You know what you're getting with Quentin Tarantino. Both an auteur and a gore junkie, Tarantino's films all have a distinct style and flair. You also know the film's probably going to be great. It's not higher on this list thanks to his usual trappings (I wish he didn't resort to violence for every finale now), but it earns its place by being a technical marvel. I didn't get to see it in 70MM, but what I did see was absolutely gorgeous. And it's a film entirely focused on the dialogue that's made him famous. The Hateful Eight has some masterful tonal work and I had no idea whether I should laugh or cringe. It spends its run time messing with your expectations, and by the time the end rolled around, I had no idea I sat there for three hours.  9. Straight Outta Compton Biopics are rarely done well. Either they get the facts wrong, or they focus on the wrong period of time, or they just aren't interesting enough of a subject to work. While Straight Outta Compton definitely has some of those pitfalls, it's the most entertaining biopic I've ever seen. Encapsulating a time period, a rap group, and a cultural movement all into one nearly seamless package is a filmmaking marvel. It's also got a litany of fantastic performances from actors who I hope go on to do great things. I can't wait to see what the main trio of O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, and Jason Mitchell do next.  8. Cartel Land Honestly, I was torn between Cartel Land and Sicario. Both tackle the seedy underbelly of the cartel world, but only one gets into its real gritty nature. As Cartel Land shines a light on a shadow world that's so often ignored, it also teaches people cultures they probably don't understand. Sure worshiping gang leaders through narcocorridos and legends seems weird at first, but when you understand how intense of a fear a society can be put through, you'll realize how people can try to find the positive within the negative. It's frightening how Cartel Land numbs you to the pain within its short time span and even more so when it restates how very real it all is.  7. Felt As the general glut of popular cinema fights to become more diverse, no film challenged the state of the industry more head on than Felt. With popular TV and film culture becoming more enamored with sexual aggression and violence in order to get attention, Felt reminds us of our follies. Cranking up the film's intimacy to an almost intimidating degree, the viewer and subject are caught in a constant battle of agency. Diverting your gaze will only succumb you to aggression while falling into the film's visuals is further stealing its main character's power within. Featuring a magnetic performance from Amy Everson, who only worked on the film as an art project, Felt was one of the most enlightening experiences I had last year.  6. Anomalisa I always look forward to animated films every year. Animation can do things we could never hope to do with normal cinematography, so I always wonder what surprises are in store. I had no idea that 2015 would bring me an animated film that changed how I looked at myself. Anomalisa at surface level is about a man bored with life who meets someone who changes his life for a moment. But there's so much going on underneath. An exploration of a self-centered ego, the use of stagnancy to enhance the awkwardness of the entire situation, and having only three cast members fill an entire world full of people is just sublime. That's really the only word I can use to describe Anomalisa.  5. Mad Max: Fury Road Who would've guessed that a Mad Max sequel decades in the making only to be stuck in development hell for four years would go on to be one of the best films of the year? Mad Max: Fury Road is so good, you can really only use buzzwords to capture its magic. Every cheesy and overplayed adjective absolutely means something here. "Gorgeous"? I've never seen a desert look better? "Action packed"? The film is a two hour chase scene. "Gripping"? Absolutely. All while putting the focus on the badass Furiosa and her army of equally as badass women. I hope it's not another hundred years before we get the next Mad Max.  4. Room Isolation films always do a number on me. One of my greatest fears is to be stuck into some kind of solitude, so films of that kind always hit me harder than usual. But Room isn't like every other isolation film. Rather than wallow in the peril of the moment itself, the characters are always looking outward. This comes through especially in its two leads as Brie Larson portrays a woman with a damaged underbelly and its young lead, Jacob Trembley, keeping up with her every step of the way. He turns in the best child performance I've seen in some time. Room is dark, highly emotional, and incredibly uncomfortable. Yet, I couldn't look away.  3. What We Do in the Shadows A lot of my favorite films last year were smaller releases. None smaller perhaps than What We Do in the Shadows, a quiet "blink and you'll miss it" release that I ended up watching four times. It's been a long time since I watched a film and instantly re-watched it right after, and I'm happy this was in my life. Packed to the brim with jokes (so packed you'll need a re-watch to catch them all), fine tuned comedic performances, and a well realized world (I can't wait for that werewolves movie), What We Do in the Shadows is a brilliant time. I want to quote it endlessly here, but I'll limit myself to my favorite: "If you are going to eat a sandwich, you would just enjoy it more if you knew no one had fucked it." 2. Dope As 2015 saw an increase in diverse storytelling (though I hope 2016 improves even more), Dope was a story as diverse as they come. Following a unique protagonist caught in a story we've only seen a few times but told in a fresh way, the film was entertaining from beginning to end. Plenty of films try so hard to catch the "youth" culture, but watching Dope seamlessly blend new visuals with nostalgic music and themes was astounding. It was just great to see a real underdog win for once. All in all, Dope was well...dope.  1. Creed No matter how many films I watched before and after this, I still can't get Creed out of my head. In fact, even as I jot this down I'm reminded of how fantastically it nails everything. It's a reboot, yet an epilogue to another story. It's a sequel, yet can stand all on its own. It's reminiscent of the past, yet never feels like a retread. Creed managed to capture the same vibe as the original Rocky saga, reminded you how great of a big dumb lug Rocky Balboa was (and how emotionally present Stallone could be given something he really cares about), was culturally relevant as it really should be used as the spearhead of a new cinematic movement, and is ultimately a technical marvel as it changed the way boxing films should be shot forever. Creed was my favorite film of 2015 and could very well go on to be my favorite of the decade. 
Top 15 of 15 photo
2015 certainly was something
2015 was a crazy year for a lot of us here at Flixist. There were some major changes inside and out. On my end, I moved across the country and have been getting into new digs for the past ten months. I'm loving my new life ri...

Independeuce SB Spot photo
Independeuce SB Spot

Independence Day: Resurgence's Super Bowl spot fights for independence again


Feb 08
// Nick Valdez
All the Earthlings, independent, throw your hands up at me.  Independence Day: Resurgence opens June 24th. 
Marvel Money photo
Marvel Money

Hulk and Ant-Man fight over coke for our money


Feb 08
// Nick Valdez
Sad over the lack of Hulk in the latest non-Avengers yet still Avengers movie, Captain America: Civil War? Well here he is fighting chasing down Ant-Man and a can of Coca-Cola. Wait, why am I even writing on this? It's not like Coke paid me off or someth- drinkcokedrinkcokedrinkcokedrinkcoke
TMNT 2 SB Spot photo
TMNT 2 SB Spot

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows gets a Krang-zy trailer


Krang!
Feb 08
// Nick Valdez
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of Shadows is coming off very apologist. After the first film was knocked about by fans (I liked it enough and it got the turtles' personalities right), the sequel wants to do everything it c...
X-Men: Apocalypse SB Spot photo
X-Men: Apocalypse SB Spot

X-Men: Apocalypse's Super Bowl spot locks it down


Finally, some Psylocke action
Feb 08
// Nick Valdez
I was a bit worried after X-Men: Apocalypse's first trailer seemed like a mess, but the tighter editing on this 30 second Super Bowl spot cleaned it up. Rather than seem over packed, the little tidbits we're shown are cool lo...
Civil War SB Spot photo
United and divided through Twitter
It's really hard looking at Captain America: Civil War and reminding myself that it's not just another Avengers movie. Dropping all of the friend stuff from the first trailer, this Super Bowl spot definitely wants you to choo...

Justice League photo
Justice League

DC reveals new animated series, Justice League Action


With Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy in tow
Jan 30
// Nick Valdez
While DC Comics and Warner Bros struggle to figure out what they should do with their movies, they've always dominated TV. Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow are huge on the CW, Supergirl is doing well on CBS, Teen Tit...

Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...