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12:00 PM on 03.26.2015

Review: Dead Rising: Watchtower

Videogames have had a rough time in cinema. Since videogames are such an interactive medium, a film adaptation always misses out on the intimacy of player involvement or the videogame's story struggles to find an identity in ...

Nick Valdez



Review: Ana Maria in Novela Land photo
Review: Ana Maria in Novela Land
by Nick Valdez

It's been a tough time for Latino representation in pop culture. While television has made great strides in casting Latino actors in non-traditional roles to show off a greater range of characterization beyond "gang banger" and "migrant worker," Hollywood is still stuck in the dark ages. But with television shows like Jane the Virgin and the sadly canceled Killer Women making way for telenovelas (basically Spanish soap operas) in the mainstream, it's time for film to follow that path. 

That's where Ana Maria in Novela Land comes in. An well crafted parody of those popular novelas that both celebrates and critiques the genre while never feeling like it's making fun of those who love it. Shame it could've been more. 

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4:00 PM on 03.10.2015

Newest Dead Rising: Watchtower trailer is pretty fun, actually

Starring the John Tucker Must Die kid, the AllState guy, and Rob Riggle as the best f**king Frank West possible, Dead Rising: Watchtower looks surprisingly good. With this trailer elaborating on the bits we got from the firs...

Nick Valdez

10:00 AM on 01.23.2015

First teaser trailer for Dead Rising: Watchtower

For a film based off the cheesy Dead Rising videogames going straight to Sony's Crackle streaming service, this doesn't look that bad. Doesn't have enough Frank West covering wars though. Dead Rising: Watchtower is available March 27th. 

Nick Valdez


1:00 PM on 01.20.2015

First trailer for DC's direct to video Batman vs. Robin

Ever since the animated Justice League specials committed to the New 52 continuity (after The Flashpoint Paradox), they haven't been very good. I don't know what's to blame for that either. Is it the comics themselves? Is it...

Nick Valdez

12:00 PM on 01.09.2015

The Interview grossed $31 million on VOD despite piracy

When Sony released The Interview on most video demand services but its own, it was promptly pirated nearly 100 million times. At first it seemed like this news would only deter studios from simultaneous theatrical and VOD rel...

Nick Valdez

2:00 PM on 12.30.2014

Lost River, Ryan Gosling's directorial debut, not coming to a theater near you

Critics didn't particularly like Lost River, Ryan Gosling's directorial debut. It received a critical thrashing when it premiered at Cannes, and that likely played into the newly announced decision to bring the film stra...

Alec Kubas-Meyer



Review: The Babadook photo
Review: The Babadook
by Nick Valdez

I've been interested in The Babadook ever since our editor supreme, Matthew Razak, wrote a feature detailing how progressive it was. If you've read any of my reviews in the past (or any of my other work here on Flixist), you know that I'm not a particular fan of horror films. Besides being a giant baby man who scares easily, the horror genre isn't exactly the most unique genre out there. You see one film, you've seen them all. 

But within the last few years, horror films have been trying their best to remind us why they're special in the first place. Horror can explore and exploit what other films can't: darkness, depression, anxiety, fear, regret, and loneliness. 

The Babadook wraps all of that up into one fantastic package as it becomes one of the most original horror films of the decade. 

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4:00 PM on 11.10.2014

We're getting another Joe Dirt for some reason

You know when you come across some news and suddenly feel like you've stumbled across the worst idea ever? I'm sure I'm supposed to be feeling that right now, but I'm can't shake how stupidly happy I am this exists. Sony's Cr...

Nick Valdez

12:00 PM on 11.03.2014

First teaser for Jingle All the Way 2

You know how Larry the Cable Guy rolls his eyes at the end of the teaser? That's pretty much how I'm feeling right now. Thank Jebus it's only thirty seconds long...and direct to DVD. At least it's easier to avoid that way. P...

Nick Valdez

10:00 AM on 10.22.2014

First trailer for Madea's Tough Love

Tyler Perry Presents Tyler Perry in Tyler Perry's Madea's Tough Love: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.  (Madea's Tough Love releases on VOD January 20th next year.)

Nick Valdez







Review: Drive Hard photo
Review: Drive Hard
by Nick Valdez

There's an entire genre of films built around older men in action films. Whether it was bred from a need for some sort of budding power fantasy or a legitimate strive toward capturing the feel of their halcyon days, this genre has done especially well in the current era of nostalgia the movie going public has found themselves in. 

With the bevy of options in this particular genre available (I can think of five or six films about old men driving fast cars off the top of my head right now), what makes Drive Hard (a film coming out of absolutely nowhere) so special? Drive Hard knows what kind of power fantasy (and in turn, the audience) it wants to be and never once shies from it. 

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Review: The Scribbler photo
Review: The Scribbler
by Nick Valdez

When I choose to review a film it's because something about it speaks to me. Whether it's the premise, the setting, the look, or the cast involved, I'm willing to take a chance on pretty much anything if some of those things are there. I chose to review The Scribbler because it happened to have everything on that list: great cast, interesting idea, and it's based on a graphic novel. I'd figure that maybe I'd stumble into something great. 

The Scribbler taught me not to blindly choose films anymore. 

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Review: Cam2Cam photo
Review: Cam2Cam
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

In past reviews, I've written about the problems with poor subtitles on foreign films. Improper use of language serves as a distraction from the comedy or drama and makes the experience worse. I love the English language. It's my lifeblood and my livelihood. So when I see it mangled, I get angry. When it comes to foreign films, I can at least forgive the fundamental language barrier. It's the reality of a love of foreign films, and I am willing to cut some slack.

But though Cam2Cam takes place in Bangkok, the film is in English and was ostensibly written by someone whose first language was English. I say ostensibly because I have trouble believing that's true.

Then again, what was I supposed to expect from a movie called "Cam2Cam"?

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Review: Behaving Badly photo
Review: Behaving Badly
by Nick Valdez

If you've followed my reviews here on Flixist, you'll realize that I'm particularly drawn to smaller VOD projects in between the big releases for any bevy of reasons. Whether it's because it features pretty ladies, pretty gentleman, or pretty rocks, I like taking gambles and possibly stumbling on something great that I would've missed otherwise. 

Unfortunately, sometimes I gamble and lose. I wanted to review Behaving Badly because it stars a few people I'm interested in, and figured they'd never intentionally choose something awful for themselves. Boy, was I wrong. 

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

I like physics. I probably have as good a grasp of the field as any film critic, and I frequently read articles about things like the Large Hadron Collider and the revelation of the mass of the Higgs Boson and how that revelation has impacted supersymmetry theory.

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

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

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Review: Beneath photo
Review: Beneath
by Nick Valdez

Coal mining is a scarily dangerous profession. Our need for crude energies leads thousands of people to risk their lives every day mining for energy. It's a wonder that with such harsh conditions, it's taken this long for a film to capitalize on that setting's natural creepiness. Now we finally have one in Beneath, a film inspired by a true story of several miners getting trapped in a mine. 

Eschewing traditional horror and instead developing a surprising psychological thriller, Beneath is a unique take on paranoia, isolation, and suffocation. It's just too bad you don't really care what happens to any of these people. 

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Review: All Cheerleaders Die photo
Review: All Cheerleaders Die
by Nick Valdez

With a title like All Cheerleaders Die, I honestly wasn't very excited to see this film. I'm not a huge horror fan, and I don't usually enjoy films full of gratuitous nudity and violence. But because this is what I get paid the big bucks for I dove in expecting yet another Grade B horrorfest. Thankfully, I was horrifically wrong here. 

All Cheerleaders Die is intelligent, snarky, sexy, and completely reinvents the "Scream Queen." I'm so glad I watched All Cheerleaders Die. It's truly a book you shouldn't judge by its cover. 

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Review: Lullaby photo
Review: Lullaby
by Nick Valdez

Disease dramas are in a subgenre that certainly has more misses than hits. If not done in a certain way, you can turn an emotionally stirring story into a schmaltzy mess. Often films find it incredibly difficult to find a balance, but as such with real life, there's no rule book or true direction as to how to deal with death. Filming this very unnatural, awkward run through the five stages of grief could lead to a good film. 

But when you condense that into two hours, there's not a lot of room explore. Sadly, that seems to be Lullaby in a nutshell. A film that really wants to walk through the five stages of grief when it really should jog at a brisk pace. 

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Review: Frequencies photo
Review: Frequencies
by Nick Valdez

I'll be honest here. When Frequencies was first pitched to me, I didn't know if it could work. It's being billed as a romance with a slight tinge of science fiction, and to be completely honest, those films usually don't turn out well. They tend to skew toward one genre more than the other and soon end up in an unwatchable grey area. Thankfully, Frequencies doesn't have those problems. It's neither a sci-fi film with romance nor a romance film with sci-fi elements. It carves its own wonderful path. 

Frequencies has come out of nowhere to become one of my favorite films of 2014. It's intelligent, subtle, quiet, intimate, and just a bit weird. Good weird. 

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Review: Don Peyote photo
Review: Don Peyote
by Nick Valdez

Whenever someone mentions Dan Fogler, I'm suddenly interested. He's a comedic dynamo who always seems to choose interesting or niche projects. Directing his second film since 2009, Fogler displays acting ability that he really hasn't be able to show off yet. With Don Peyote's strange, but cool tale, Fogler has a grand spectrum of insanity.

It's just a shame that the rest of the film falls apart. 

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Reviews: Whitewash and Big Bad Wolves photo
Reviews: Whitewash and Big Bad Wolves
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I like film festivals for a lot of reasons, but one of the best is the way films are forced into context with a number of other, entirely unrelated films. The act of watching multiple films in a day alone creates all sorts of weird unintentional connections and relationships, and doing that day after day after day makes it sometimes difficult to distinguish one film from another when it comes time to buckle down and think about what each film did well, didn't do well, and what it all meant. When two films play within 24 hours of each other that highlight the successes and failings of the other, looking at them individually seems silly.

Such was the case with Whitewash and Big Bad Wolves. In execution, the films could hardly be more different, but they are both black comedies that made me seriously consider the role of humor in gravely serious situations. Like any good student of George Carlin, I believe people can joke about anything. But those jokes, while I support their right to exist, may be tasteless or insensitive or flat-out horrifying.

Whitewash understands this. Big Bad Wolves does not.

[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. It is being reposted to coincide with Whitewash's VOD release.]

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