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8:00 PM on 07.01.2014

Review: Particle Fever

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 revela...

Alec Kubas-Meyer




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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Review: Cheap Thrills photo
Review: Cheap Thrills
by Sean Walsh

Any movie synopsis that includes "black comedy" and "David Koechner" is an instant sell for me. Toss in Empire Records' Ethan Embry and the two leads from Ti West's The Innkeepers and my expectations will be through the roof.

Cheap Thrills is in turns comedic, uncomfortable, and downright disturbing. Most of the times you'll find yourself laughing, you'll also be cringing. Ultimately, it begs the question "What would you do in this circumstance?"

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Review: Almost Human photo
Review: Almost Human
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I've realized something important in the past year or two: I don't really like period pieces. I like watching films from other eras and seeing them as they represent their own culture and time, but I don't really like seeing them try to reminisce about a better (or worse) point in history. The further back it goes, the less interested I am. There are exceptions to be made, of course, but they're few and far in between. 

Almost Human is set in the late 1980s, which would be a strike against it, if it wasn't for the fact that its time period is all but irrelevant. It would be basically the same movie if it was set in 2013 as it is set in 1989.

Somehow, that's even worse.

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Review: Wrong Cops photo
Review: Wrong Cops
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

It hurts me that people think that Quentin Dupieux makes surrealists films. It really does. And it's not just a bunch of hipsters trying to sound smarter than they are. Film critics who really ought to know better have lauded him for his modern day surrealism. It hurts.

Let's be clear: Quentin Dupieux does not make surrealist films. Got that? He does not make surrealist films. And if anyone tells you otherwise, you should hit them. Up until now, Dupieux's filmography has consisted entirely of absurdist films, films that bring to mind Beckett rather than Dalí. But that has changed with his newest release. Wrong Cops is not an absurdist film; it's just absurd.

I don't mean that in a good way.

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Review: What's in a Name? photo
Review: What's in a Name?
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

It's a stereotype that the French are more cultured than Americans, but obviously that's a hard claim to either prove or disprove. There are any number of examples that could be used to show it either way, but here's evidence that, as far as I can tell, is incontrovertible:

What's in a Name?, a drama-comedy completely devoid of action that centers around a really uncomfortable dinner party, is one of the biggest blockbusters in France's history. It outsold The Avengers on opening weekend.

Your move, America.

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Review: Hours photo
Review: Hours
by Nick Valdez

I'm a bit at a loss of what to write here. I've always been weird toward deaths of well known individuals as to when how soon is "too soon." After spending the last few days thinking of all the positives of Paul Walker's career, when is it safe to talk about the negatives again? Sure Walker is the most attractive everyman I've ever seen, but he just never quite got the right material to emphasize it. He's always been stuck in middling solo films or in big name franchises playing second fiddle to someone else. 

But Paul Walker was always trying to be more than a pretty face. Those middling solo films like Eight Below? It was his attempt at branching out past the action star he was portrayed as. With Hours, Walker once again tried to break out of that "Everyman" mold...with stymied success. 

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11:00 AM on 11.01.2013

First trailer for Open Grave starring Sharlto Copley

Open Grave stars Sharlto Copley as a man who wakes up in a mass grave, only be to rescued by others who have done the same. As they all suffer from some amnesia and are trying to find out who put them in that grave, they dis...

Nick Valdez

10:00 AM on 10.22.2013

New Releases, week of 10/26/13: Only Barbie Forgives

There are lots of big home video releases this week. On the new side we have Before Midnight (the third part of the Before trilogy), Only God Forgives (a film that Hubes (RIP) didn't like but seems to resonate with others), T...

Nick Valdez

9:00 AM on 10.22.2013

A clip from Romain Gavras's Our Day Will Come

Our Day Will Come (Notre jour viendra) is the debut feature film of Romain Gavras, best known as the music video director behind "No Church in the Wild" by Kanye West and Jay-Z and "Born Free" by M.I.A. Released in France in...

Flixist Staff



Review: Big Ass Spider! photo
Review: Big Ass Spider!
by Nick Valdez

When you approach a film titled Big Ass Spider, you know what you're in for. At worst you're getting cynical Syfy Channel type low grade schlock, at best, you're getting a film that reached too high but it's failures are completely astounding to watch. With the confidence to name itself Big Ass Spider!, I hoped going in it would deliver on all the Big Ass Potential a title like that could provide. It certainly supplies all the dopiness, comedic schlock, and cheese I could ever hope for. 

So where does Big Ass Spider! fit into this spectrum? Is Big Ass Spider! a Big Ass Failure or a Big Ass Spectacular? 

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Review: Paradise photo
Review: Paradise
by Nick Valdez

Diablo Cody is quite the opinion splitting screenwriter. Her fast paced, biting, and pop culture infused dialogues have been used as a deterrent in the past to keep most folks away from her work. However what those folks don't realize is underneath that layer of heavy dialogue, there is a creamy nougat center of fine character work. With Cody's directorial debut, Paradise, a major concern of the film is whether or not that strong character work is discernible beneath Cody's sometimes cumbersome dialogue exchanges. 

Should you book two tickets to Paradise? Or is Diablo Cody's slice of heaven too sweet?  

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10:00 AM on 08.01.2013

Paramount looking to expand on "day-and-date" VOD indies

While going out to see a movie is getting more and more expensive, it makes smaller independent movies more of a risk to the consumer. Would you rather spend you ten dollars on a smaller film like Only God Forgives, or go wit...

Nick Valdez

6:00 PM on 06.24.2013

Sony and Disney stream movies still in theaters

Disney and Sony have begun testing what is basically an anti-pirating measure regarding their films in South Korea. What they are doing is testing an on-demand service which offers the ability to rent movies while they are st...

Logan Otremba

8:00 AM on 05.15.2013

Trailer: Rapture-palooza (Red Band)

Rapture-palooza (with a newly minted hyphen) should be taken as is and nothing more. It's a straight to VOD (with a limited theater run) comedy about the Rapture that happens to star lots of recognizable faces releasing arou...

Nick Valdez



Review: Aroused photo
Review: Aroused
by Nick Valdez

Aroused is an odd documentary. It's essentially an advertisement for director Deborah Anderson's art book (which she makes sure to plug in the film), and although at times the entire film seems disingenuous, it's hard to deny the emotional impact of its cast. 

Aroused rounds up 16 famous names (ranging from veterans like Lisa Ann to relative newcomers like Allie Haze) in the adult film industry and intends to shed light on the women themselves, rather than their personas. It's surely a lofty goal as the personas of these women are manufactured in order to avoid this very thing. 

Does Aroused dig into these women and discover their feminine power as it aspires to? The answer is a very strong maybe. 

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Review: All American Zombie Drugs photo
Review: All American Zombie Drugs
by Nick Valdez

What should you expect with a film titled All American Zombie Drugs? It can go one of two ways. Either the film is going for B-movie style horror or the title is a reference to the pulpy nature of its art house take on drugs. So which direction does All American Zombie Drugs take? Well, both and neither. 

All American Zombie Drugs is certainly an interesting experiment that attempts to bond together two types of films but unfortunately falls short causing it to meander a bit in mediocrity. 

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