RIP The Dissolve (2013-2015)

Jul 08 // Hubert Vigilla
RIP The Dissolve photo
A great place for film writing is gone
The Dissolve was one of the best places on the internet for intelligent, funny, in-depth, and insightful film criticism and features. This morning, editor-in-chief Keith Phipps announced that The Dissolve would be shutting do...

Donnie Yen in Star Wars photo
Star Wars just got a little more badass
Prepare to sing the Ewok celebration song, folks: Donnie Yen will appear in Star Wars: Episode VIII and possibly Star Wars: Rogue One. Reports suggest Yen, who completed Ip Man 3 with Mike Tyson not too long ago (though ...

Rob Zombie/Groucho Marx photo
Groucho Sex Head
While Rob Zombie won't be involved in the Halloween franchise "recalibration" Halloween Returns, he does have another project lined up: a movie about Groucho Marx. And I'm not against it. Zombie is a huge Marx Brothers fan; H...

John Wick sequel photo
People keep asking...
People keep asking if I'm back. Yeah, I'm thinking I'm back. We didn't review John Wick here on Flixist (which was a major oversight on my part because I saw it during my vacation that weekend and totally didn't write on it...

If other cinematic comic book characters had forehead tattoos like The Joker

Apr 27 // Hubert Vigilla
Batman Superman Captain America Iron Man Black Widow The Incredible Hulk Spider-Man Wonder Woman Groot Daredevil Aquaman Doctor Doom Deadpool Bane Lex Luthor Scarlet Witch Quicksilver Green Lantern Loki Nick Fury
Comic Book Forehead Tats photo
Wanna know how I got these facial tattoos?
We all know what Jared Leto's version of The Joker will look like in Suicide Squad. It's a little overdone (by "a little" I mean "completely"), but it's all about the execution in the actual film and Leto's performance in the...

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Henry Hobson, and Joely Richardson Discuss Maggie

Apr 24 // Hubert Vigilla
Arnold Schwarzenegger on playing his character in Maggie:“We focus so much on the people, and the dilemma that this man is in—this strong farmer that normally can handle anything. And also the baggage I bring to the movie of being the action hero; all of a sudden, I cannot handle this challenge, and I become very vulnerable as a character. So that's what appealed to me in the first place.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on physical action roles vs. dramatic roles:“The brain takes much more energy than the body does. Just look at it. When people do something mentally draining, and when you have to do a lot of thinking and negotiating— I remember when I was in the Governor's office, I was totally wiped out in the evening with the kinds of responsibilities I had and all this. The same thing here [making Maggie]. It's tough but at the same time it's not tough because you're having such a great time doing it.” Henry Hobson on keeping Maggie human and grounded:“The art direction, the costumes, the makeup; everything was very real and raw, and that allowed for the setting and space to feel as real as possible, [to make it easier as a kind of transition point] to really live and breathe in that grounded world.” Joely Richardson on the challenges of performing on Maggie:“Okay, weird comparison, but say [you're acting] in 101 Dalmatians, and you're playing with little puppies, and it's a life or death situation; and then you're doing a zombie film and your stepdaughter comes in covered with blood. They're not everyday emotions, you know what I mean? It's just going with the premise, but I my most difficult scene winds up being my easiest, and vice versa.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on working on a small, independent production:“I think there's something to be said about working on small movies, because the camaraderie and the way we worked together and the way we really got into it was different than on a big action movie. It was quite unique. Whatever performance that I delivered I have to credit to everyone around me, because they acted so well that it brought out the best in me.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on shooting quick, fast, and spontaneous: “We were shooting a scene in front of the house and all of a sudden [Henry] saw the lighting going a certain way and he felt, 'Oh, this would be a great shot out in the field; let's burn the field!' It was like from one minute to the next. What I thought was so fascinating was not how quickly we responded and ran with him out into the field, but how quickly the camera crew did. There was no one screaming 'I have to change batteries!' or 'I have to get a cable!' or 'This is impossible!' da-da-da-da. 'I need someone to carry the camera so I can roll again.' There was none of that that you normally hear on sets because of union rules and all this stuff. Everyone got their stuff together within seconds, and we all ran out in the field and shot that scene, and it was really the perfect lighting and it was very quick the way [it was done] because he's such a visual person. That's what you need to do in these kinds of movies, but it's that kind of spirit that you don't see in big movies.” Henry Hobson on the challenges of shooting in Louisiana:“The difficulty with Louisiana for Maggie is that we wanted a farmhouse, and Louisiana, when you're smack dab in the middle of New Orleans, is that there's just water all the way around, and then there's plantation houses. We ended up using four different houses to make the one house. It's a combination of the backroom, the bathroom, the other bedroom—all in different places—the porch in another place. It was a way of creating this kind of Everytown house. What we wanted was a relatability, so people couldn't quite place where it is in the country but felt there's some kind of connection to it.” Joely Richardson on working with Henry Hobson:“He gave us all very specific notes, exactly what he wanted. And he had the balls— If he didn't like what Arnold was doing or I was doing or Abigail, he would say how he wanted it. That takes courage and vision.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on working with director Henry Hobson:“People ask me, 'How do you trust [Henry]? He's never done a movie. He's done a lot of commercials and graphic design and stuff.' But to me it's not so much 'How many movies have you done?' but 'Do you have a vision?' [Henry] had a really clear vision. He had this album with all these photographs of different looks he wanted in the movie, and the way he interpreted the characters. It was very clear that I would be in good hands. There was never even a question there.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on how he helped Henry Hobson as a first-time director:“I just wanted to make sure that he's protected as a director, and that I can be a producer and let that be my responsibility, to make sure someone doesn't come in and say 'I want you to shoot this differently' or 'We want to have a different ending' and stuff like that. First-time directors need to be protected so that they can do their work. James Cameron doesn't need to be protected, you know? [laughs] I want to make sure that Henry can really put on the screen his exact vision. That's why he was hired, that's why he was put together with this project, so now let's have him do that.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on co-star Abigail Breslin:“Abigail was so good and made it feel so real. I never felt that she was acting; I always felt that she was dying. That's how skilled she is in her profession.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on if he sees a future in smaller films and dramatic roles:“25 ago, 30 years ago, I would not have been able to do that. First of all, I wouldn't have had the time, because there were so many big projects then. I was chasing the big money, and working my way up to being the highest paid actor. Today that doesn't mean anything to me because I've made a lot of money and I'm in a different place in my life. So when I get an offer to do Terminator 5, I'm very excited about that. When Universal calls me and says 'We're almost finished with writing the script for a new Conan movie,' I'm excited about that. But I'm also very excited when I read a script like Maggie, and I believe that I can be that character and then work with the director and work with the actors together like that. So yes, I will be looking for dramatic roles.” Arnold Schwarzenegger if working on Maggie reminded him of being Governor of California:“I think movies are movies and politics is politics, even though they have a lot of similarities.” Arnold Schwarzenegger on if we could take photos at the end of the press conference:“If you're nice.”
Maggie Press Conference photo
Highlights from the New York City press conference for Maggie
Maggie, the post-apocalyptic zombie drama starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. As we noted in our review of Maggie, the film features a surprisingly emotive and vulnerable perfo...

Amazon is getting into the moviemaking business

Jan 19 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Amazon to Produce Original Movies for Theaters, Prime Instant Video Production to begin in 2015 with the goal of bringing customers a dozen original, prestige movies each year Movies will launch in theaters and come to Prime Instant Video 30-60 days after theatrical premiere Ted Hope to lead creative as Head of Production, Amazon Original Movies SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 19, 2015-- (NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon Studios, known for television series such as multi-Golden Globe winner Transparent, Annie-nominated Tumble Leaf, and  Mozart in the Jungle, today announced that it will begin to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release and early window distribution on Amazon Prime Instant Video. Whereas it typically takes 39 to 52 weeks for theatrical movies to premiere on subscription video services, Amazon Original Movies will premiere on Prime Instant Video in the U.S. just 4 to 8 weeks after their theatrical debut. Amazon Original Movies will focus on unique stories, voices, and characters from top and up-and-coming creators. “We look forward to expanding our production efforts into feature films. Our goal is to create close to twelve movies a year with production starting later this year,” said  Roy Price, Vice President, Amazon Studios. “Not only will we bring Prime Instant Video customers exciting, unique, and exclusive films soon after a movie’s theatrical run, but we hope this program will also benefit filmmakers, who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.” Amazon Original Movies creative development will be led by independent film visionary  Ted Hope. Hope co-founded and ran production company Good Machine, which produced notable and Academy Award-nominated films such as Eat Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Hope's films have received some of the industry's most prestigious honors including numerous Academy Award and BAFTA nominations. Hope has also won The Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival more often than any other producer at the festival with his films American Splendor, The Brothers McMullen, and What Happened Was…. “Audiences already recognize that Amazon has raised the bar with productions in the episodic realm, tackling bold material in unique ways and collaborating with top talent, both established and emerging. To help carry the torch into the feature film world for such an innovative company is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility,” said  Ted Hope, the new Head of Production for Amazon Original Movies. “Amazon Original Movies will be synonymous with films that amaze, excite, and move our fans, wherever customers watch. I am incredibly thrilled to be part of this.” About Prime Instant Video Amazon Prime members can enjoy tens of thousands of TV episodes and movies with Prime Instant Video, Amazon’s video subscription service, via the Amazon Instant Video app on Fire TV, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, and certain smart TVs. They can also use the Amazon Instant Video app to watch on mobile devices, including Fire tablets, Fire phone, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, as well as hundreds of other connected devices—or customers can visit to watch online. About Amazon Studios Amazon Studios most recently debuted its dramatic comedy  Mozart in the Jungle from  Roman Coppola,  Jason Schwartzman,  Paul Weitz,  John Strauss and  Alex Timbers as well as Jill Soloway’s multi-Golden Globe Award-winning dark comedy Transparent; its first live-action series for kids 6-11, Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street; and a second season of the Garry Trudeau political comedy  Alpha House. The studio has also launched three additional children’s series, the Annecy International Animated Film Festival Award-winning and Annie Award-nominatedTumble Leaf from Bix Pix Entertainment; Creative Galaxy from  Angela Santomero and Out of the Blue Enterprises, the creators of Blue’s Clues; and Annedroids, from Emmy nominated Sinking Ship Entertainment. Amazon Studios has also announced four additional, original series to debut in 2015, including Michael Connelly’s Bosch; Hand of God from Marc Forster and  Ben Watkins;  Red Oaks from  Steven Soderbergh,  David Gordon Green,  Greg Jacobs and  Joe Gangemi; and kids seriesWishenpoof! from  Angela Santomero and Out of the Blue Enterprises; as well as a second season of Transparent. Amazon Studios launched in 2010 as a new way to develop feature films and episodic series—one that’s open to great ideas from creators and audiences around the world. Anyone can upload a script online and Amazon Studios will read and review all submissions. Those who choose to make their projects public can also receive feedback from the Amazon Studios community. Comprehensive cast and crew information, including bios and filmographies, is available on Amazon's IMDb (, the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content. About Amazon opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995. The company is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire phone, Fire tablets, and Fire TV are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon.
Amazon Movies photo
Twelve theatrical releases a year, with VOD releases to follow
When Netflix announced that it was developing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2, there was a lot of surprise. Netflix has been hitting original television programming pretty hardcore (and striking gold on several occasions, I ...

Here are your 2015 Razzie nominations

Jan 15 // Nick Valdez
Worst PictureKirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasLeft BehindThe Legend of HerculesTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesTransformers: Age of Extinction Worst ActorKirk Cameron, Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasNicholas Cage, Left BehindKellan Lutz, The Legend of HerculesSeth MacFarlane, A Million Ways to Die in the WestAdam Sandler, Blended Worst Supporting ActorMel Gibson, Expendables 3Kelsey Grammer, Expendables 3, Legends of Oz, Think Like a Man Too, Transformers: Age of ExtinctionShaquille O’Neal, BlendedArnold Schwarzenegger, Expendables 3Kiefer Sutherland, Pompeii Worst Actress Drew Barrymore, BlendedCameron Diaz, The Other Woman and Sex TapeMelissa McCarthy, TammyCharlize Theron, A Million Ways to Die in the WestGaia Weiss, The Legend of Hercules Worst Supporting ActressCameron Diaz, AnnieMegan Fox, Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesNicola Peltz, Transformers: Age of ExtinctionSusan Sarandon, TammyBrigitte Ridenour (née Cameron), Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas Worst DirectorMichael Bay, Transformers: Age of ExtinctionDarren Doane, Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasRenny Harlin, The Legend of HerculesJonathan Liebesman, Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesSeth MacFarlane, A Million Ways to Die in the West Worst Remake, Rip-Off, or SequelAnnieAtlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?The Legend of HerculesTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesTransformers: Age of Extinction Worst Screen ComboAny Two Robots, Actors (Robotic Actors), Transformers: Age of ExtinctionKirk Cameron & His Ego, Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasCameron Diaz & Jason Segel, Sex TapeKellan Lutz & Either His Abs, His Pecs or His Glutes, The Legend of HerculesSeth MacFarlane & Charlize Theron, A Million Ways to Die in the West Worst ScreenplayKirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasLeft BehindSex TapeTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesTransformers: Age of Extinction Redeemer AwardBen Affleck, from Gigli to Argo and Gone GirlJennifer Aniston, from four-time Razzie nominee to CakeMike Myers, from The Love Guru to directing SupermenschKeanu Reeves, from six-time Razzie nominee to John WickKristen Stewart, from six-time Razzie winner for Twilight to Camp X-Ray
2015 Razzie Noms photo
Eh, yup
To completely offset the Academy Awards nominations from earlier this morning, here we have the opposite end of the spectrum. As usual, the 2015 Razzie noms (narrowed down from the shortlist a bit ago) are really just based o...

Strangers on a Plane photo
Except it's on a plane, because this is the 21st Century
Here's something pretty cool: David Fincher is directing a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. It is being written by Gone Girl novelist/screenwriter Gillian Flynn. Ben Affleck is involved too. Here's something...

Here's a 2015 Razzie nominations shortlist

Jan 07 // Nick Valdez
WORST PICTURE Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasTranscendenceA Million Ways to Die in the WestAtlas Shrugged: Part IIIThe Legend of HerculesSex TapeA Haunted House 2Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesLeft BehindThe InterviewTransformers: Age of ExtinctionI, Frankenstein WORST REMAKE, RIP-OFF or SEQUEL NoahThe Legend of HerculesLegends of Oz: Dorothy’s ReturnA Haunted House 2The Expendables 3Atlas Shrugged: Part IIIAnnie (RAZZable Remake of a 1981 Worst Picture Nominee)Exodus: Gods and KingsEndless Love (Yet Another RAZZable Remake of a 1981 Worst Picture Nominee)PompeiiTransformers: Age of ExtinctionI, FrankensteinTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles WORST SCREENPLAY Transformers: Age of ExtinctionA Haunted House 2PompeiiThe Legend of HerculesSex TapeEndless LoveLeft BehindThe Expendables 3Winter’s TaleKirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasAtlas Shrugged: Part IIIA Million Ways to Die in the WestNoahTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesTranscendenceI, Frankenstein  WORST ON SCREEN COMBO Any Two Robots, Actors (or Robotic Actors) Transformers: Age of ExtinctionJames Franco & EITHER Seth Rogen or Randall Park (Kim Jong Un) / The InterviewKellan Lutz and EITHER His Abs, His Pecs or His Glutes / LEGEND of HERCULESThe Entire Cast of The Expendables 3The Entire Cast of Atlas Shrugged: Part IIISeth MacFarlane and Charlize Theron / A Million Ways to Die in the WestThe “Rock Monsters” / NoahJohnny Depp and His “Virtual Doppelganger” / TranscendenceAlex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde / Endless LoveKirk Cameron and His Ego / Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasCameron Diaz & Jason Segel / Sex Tape WORST DIRECTOR James Manera / Atlas Shrugged: Part IIIJake Kasdan / Sex TapeDarren Aronofsky / NoahSeth MacFarlane / A Million Ways to Die in the WestJonathan Liebesman / Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesRenny Harlin / The Legend of HerculesMichael Tiddes / A Haunted House 2Michael Bay / Transformers: Age of ExtinctionWally Pfister / TranscendenceDarren Doane / Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasVic Armstrong / Left Behind WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR Shaquille O’Neal / BlendedJohnathon Schaech / The Legend of HerculesKelsey Grammer / The Expendables 3 and Transformers: Age of ExtinctionArnold Schwarzenegger / The Expendables 3Morgan Freeman / TranscendenceJack Black / Sex TapeLiam Neeson / A Million Ways to Die in the WestRussell Crowe / Winter’s TaleMel Gibson / The Expendables 3Kiefer Sutherland / PompeiiT.J. Miller / Transformers: Age of Extinction WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Sophia Myles / Transformers: Age of ExtinctionJaime Pressly / A Haunted House 2Susan Sarandon / TammyBridgette Cameron / Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasCarrie-Anne Moss / PompeiiAmanda Seyfried / A Million Ways to Die in the WestCameron Diaz / AnnieMegan Fox / Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesJane Fonda / This Is Where I Leave YouEmily Browning / PompeiiNicola Peltz (The Newest Michael Bay “Discovery”) Transformers: Age of Extinction WORST ACTRESS Charlize Theron / A Million Ways to Die in the WestElizabeth Banks / Walk of ShameJennifer Aniston / Horrible Bosses 2Cameron Diaz / The Other Woman and Sex TapeGabriella Wilde / Endless LoveNicole Kidman / Before I Go to SleepMelissa McCarthy / TammyDrew Barrymore / BlendedGaia Weiss / The Legend of HerculesLea Michele (Voice Only) Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return WORST ACTOR Seth MacFarlane / A Million Ways to Die in the WestJohnny Depp / TranscendenceAdam Sandler / BlendedSeth Rogen / The InterviewKellan Lutz / The Legend of HerculesMarlon Wayans / A Haunted House 2Arnold Schwarzenegger / SabotageAaron Eckhart / I, FrankensteinAlex Pettyfer / Endless LoveKirk Cameron /Kirk Cameron’s Saving ChristmasJames Franco / The InterviewNicolas Cage / Left Behind  
Razzies photo

As awards shows increasingly become more irrelevant, the Razzies are fading away even more so. As negativity is spread so much through social media, most people don't feel like listening to that stuff anymore. Take this short...

OH MY GOD photo
Since its unveiling, I've thought that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has looked cool, but J. J. Abrams movies always look cool, so I wasn't sold on the whole thing. I knew I'd see it eventually, and it will undoubted...

This is only the beginning
There are certain times in your life that you just sit down, hunch over, and bury your face in your hands. This is one of those times. Fresh in the wake of the Sony/North Korea debacle over The Interview, New Regency has...

Unsettling at best.
UPDATE: We've passed the point of beating around the bush. This has gone from hacking some emails to threatening full out violence against people who would consider seeing some damn movie. Sony has taken the next step and is ...

SAIFF Review: Dukhtar

Nov 21 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]218626:41996:0[/embed] Dukhtar (Daughter)Director: Afia NathanielRating: NRCountry: Pakistan I'm going to my best to not sound like an ignorant white guy here. I know that's a distinct possibility, and I apologize in advance if I sound that way. But at the same time, it's that otherness that makes the film so compelling for me. These people live lives that are so different from mine, to the point where it really doesn't feel like a film from 2014. I don't mean that with disrespect, nor am I implying that one way is even better than the other, but the inherent difference between my world and the one this film depicts is fascinating. From a narrative perspective, it means I was always playing catchup. The film doesn't stop to explain things to people who don't understand the culture, and while there aren't a lot of true cultural barriers, each new location just got me thinking about things, about life and the world we live in. Because Earth is so, so interesting. Last year, I gushed over The Secret Life of Walter Mitty for showing a unique (and beautiful) location, but that film was more concerned with the places than the people. Dukhtar is more concerned with the people, but I was oftentimes just looking at the backdrops. And certainly the film makes a point of showing some particularly gorgeous vistas, but just seeing a different part of the world excites me. And so I was excited to go from scene to scene regardless of what was taking place onscreen, just because I wanted to see more and know more. But when I wasn't playing tourist, I was still invested in what I was seeing. Zainab (Saleha Aref) is the daughter of a tribe chief whose sons have been murdered at the hands of another tribe. In order to bring peace to their tribes, he promises to give Zainab's hand to the other chief. It's worth noting here that Zainab is young, only 15 years old (and she looks young). And so right off the bat, I was terrified that this film was going to turn into something about child abuse. Fortunately, Zainab's mother, Allah Rakhi, is also terrifed by that thought and decides to run away with Zainab on the night of the "wedding." And from there, the film becomes a chase. And as such there's quite a bit of running through interesting places and then driving through more interesting places. But at the same time, the film does get bogged down a little bit by all of the waiting that's inherent in a chase over a long journey. Once the baddies are tricked into looking elsewhere, there's some room to breathe, but what happens then? And those moments, where the film sticks with them in between significant events, sometimes drag. Not by much, but just a little bit. And it's a shame, because much of the film is brilliantly paced. Even the slower second half, although even though the pacing is fine there it does bring with it some different problems. Because every once in a while, it seems like one of the many plot threads has just entirely disappeared. Allah Rakhi and Zainab find some solace, and suddenly everything else becomes irrelevant. There is some tension still, but no one seems particularly worried about safety. In fact, the only way they bring danger back in is by going to look for it. And as this happens, characters who seemed vital literally disappear without a trace. The word "MacGuffin" springs to mind, as many things that at first appeared important actually have very little impact on the story, but it doesn't feel like an intentional MacGuffin. Plot lines are brought up and closed, but it doesn't benefit the grander narrative so much as convolute it. I was wondering why certain things happened at the time and in retrospect I'm still not really sure. Whenever the film leaves Zainab, it gets caught up in unnecessary moments. But at 93 minutes, those flaws are forgivable. A lot of ground is covered in a short time, and it means that the weird moments are over quickly and you don't have time to dwell on where it fits into the narrative or why. You just go on and on, following the chase or the calm, and just take in the sights and the sounds. The camerawork is excellent and accentuates just how beautiful the world around them is. And the world around us. Because this is a world unlike my own (and probably unlike yours), but it's still a real part of the world we all share. Dukhtar is a chance to embrace a truly different culture and see it through its own eyes. Add in just how well-crafted and interesting the film is and you get something truly special.
Dukhtar Review photo
Fascinatingly foreign
Most of the modern foreign films that I watch are from countries that are reasonably similar to the United States. People live in apartments and drive sleek cars. They use smartphones and credit cards. They have the internet....

NYFF 52 photo
It starts tonight!
Hello everyone. It's festival time again! The 52nd New York Film Festival kicks off tonight with the world premiere of David Fincher's Gone Girl, and continues through October 12th, closing with Alejandro González I&nt...

Dear V/s Bear photo

More please.  [via Lotus Movies] 

WB/DC photo
No jokes for the DC folks?
Folks, superhero movies are dumb. I don't care how many famous actors fill the roles, how many Oscars you think a performance should get, how many famous directors take on the stories, or how gritty each series is, superhero ...

Power Rangers Reboot photo
"Alpha, Rita's escaped! Recruit a team of teenagers with attitude!"
I've written about this movie as much as I can because I'm just so excited about the possibilities. A big budget Power Rangers movie that might not be terribly written or full of bad CG? Take all of my money now...or in 2016,...

Production has begun on the Herschell Gordon Lewis co-directed Herschell Gordon Lewis' Bloodmania

Aug 05 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Production Begins Today On A New Major Horror Movie Entitled “Herschell Gordon Lewis’ BloodMania”  Monday, August 4th, 2014 - Production begins today on a new major horror movie, entitled “Herschell Gordon Lewis’s BloodMania.” Acclaimed horror genre director Herschell Gordon Lewis will co-direct the project, which is being produced by HGB Entertainment Ltd. for Diabolique Films, the film division of the premiere horror publication, Diabolique Magazine. Mr. Lewis is internationally recognized as the originator of the contemporary splatter film, and he chuckles at being dubbed “The Godfather of Gore." The Producer of the film is Diabolique Films executive James Saito, and the film is being shot in its entirety in Calgary, Alberta Canada. Lewis explained his “co-director” role, an unusual relationship with the production company: “BloodMania is a series of four episodes, each one unique. I’ll personally direct two, and Benjamin Ross Hayden (Agophobia, 2013) and Kevin Littlelight the others. So I can promise a variety of ‘flavors to satisfy even the most ardent horror fans!’” Asked whether “BloodMania” will be a step beyond any film either he or anyone has directed before, the answer was as expected from this maverick director: “What do you think?” A major factor contributing to his reputation in the film industry is Herschell Gordon Lewis’s insistence on never repeating a theme. “BloodMania” he promises, will set a new standard for, as he so eloquently puts it, “off-the-wall outrage, doused in a wild sense of humor!” Producer James Saito has assembled a cast of well-known Canadian actors and actresses, as well as crew highly skilled in special effects. “Enthusiasm is extraordinarily high,” he reports, “and much of that enthusiasm is the happy anticipation that our effects team will have the opportunity to participate in a motion picture whose potential is truly world-class. BloodMania is our gift to Mr. Lewis’ many fans and all fans of the horror genre.” The release of “Herschell Gordon Lewis’s BloodMania” is set for Spring of 2015. Important links: Website: Twitter: @BloodMania Facebook:
H. G. Lewis' new movie photo
By Herschell Gordon Lewis
If you don't know the name Herschell Gordon Lewis, then you have missed an extremely important part of film history. H. G. Lewis' effects are seen in cinemas all over the world even today; his 1963 film Blood Feast was t...

Godzilla 2 photo
No Godzooky...yet.
Although a Godzilla sequel was announced shortly after the first film made Legendary Pictures a king-sized amount at the box office, they've finally confirmed it during their panel at San Diego Comic-Con last weekend. Didn't ...

Review: Kill Team

Jul 23 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]215318:39994:0[/embed] Kill TeamDirector: Dan KraussRelease Date: July 25, 2014 (New York, National rollout to follow)Rating: NR  The primary focus of Kill Team is Private Adam Winfield and his family. Private Winfield was the whistleblower who attempted to bring attention to these criminal acts for months. Despite his efforts and his family's efforts, military brass never acted in an urgent way. Private Winfield's own father, who also served and was the reason that Private Winfield enlisted in the Army, reached out to as many professional contacts as he could that might be able to do something. None of these people could help, and many deferred responsibility to other parties. The reason these kills took place was the squad leader, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs. Gibbs is an imposing figure, an all-American freedom machine with the features of a GI Joe. He served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and in addition to his hardcore machismo, there's a major psychopathic and sociopathic streak to him. He looks at the Afghan population as sub-human, and even makes a necklace of index finger bones for his own amusement. As trophies of his kills, Gibbs also gets tattoos, and he encourages those under him to do as he does. Gibbs is never interviewed for the documentary, and it's no surprise that he'd avoid participating in this film since he wouldn't come out of it in any sort of positive light. A few of Private Winfield's fellow soldiers are interviewed, however, and they are so blunt about what happened it adds additional chill to what they say. It's like they're describing trips to the store rather than the murder of innocent people; as if they're talking about others planting grenades and pulling the triggers rather than themselves. It seems like they viewed the peacekeeping side of the mission as tedious rather than essential, while the firefights were where the fun was at. Private Winfield was coerced to murder an innocent civilian himself under threat of death. The rest of his company knew he wanted to reveal what they've done, and they made it known that if he blew the whistle, they'd kill him and make it look like an accident. If  they could make innocent civilians seem like enemy combatants, it wouldn't be so hard to make another murder seem like part of routine combat. Under that kind of duress, Private Winfield had no choice but to comply. His parents were helpless to help, and Army higher ups weren't too concerned. On top of that, Private Winfield's small in stature and even though he has a lot of heart, his rucksack weighs as much as he does. Private Winfield seems like the only person interviewed that shows any remorse about the killings. He recalls the moment and calls it the worst thing in his life. The other troops who are so matter-of-fact describe a kind of compartmentalization of military action and civilian life. Back home, a troop may be filled with angst and anxiety that they try to tamp down as best as they can. They express no desire to kill when on leave, but things are different when back in Afghanistan. Obviously this isn't the case with all troops and the documentary isn't painting everyone who serves in the same light, but Kill Team does a good job of profiling just how dark these impulses can become. Much of the film's focus is on Private Winfield's fate and how his family copes with the legal defense. In some ways this points out part of the film limitations in its exploration of this issue. No doubt a lot of this had to do with access, and director Dan Krauss makes the most out of his time with the Winfields. While some of Private Winfield's fellow troops participate in the documentary, none of their families appear. Part of me wonders how their experiences were and what their personal stories involved, especially in the case of Gibbs's loved ones. Did they notice something wrong? Did they know what was happening? How do they feel now that they know what's happened? One minor issue I had with Kill Team had to do with its presentation, of all things. When Krauss is in documentary journalism mode, the film is brimming with power. The more cinematic flourishes in the film seem less effective, though. The cinematography is nice, but it seems like a bit of a distraction -- a kind of garnish rather than something that complements the content. There's also the slow crawl of text from Facebook chats between Private Winfield and his father, which are more affected than effective. It's a testament to the power of this story, maybe, that I'm critical of a choice of presentation that gets in the way of the facts. Quibbles aside, Kill Team is an important film that may be the first of many to come. Once again, as we're told in the film, this is something that happens more that we think. Other units have engaged in similar actions, and the civilians who witness it are going to harbor deep and legitimate resentments that will be passed through villages, conveyed to the next generation. When more of these stories are revealed and more time has passed when the last troops have left, we may get a larger and more complicated picture of the country and the conflict. The silence can't last for long.
Kill Team Review photo
Examining US troops that murdered innocent Afghan civilians for sport
The war in Afghanistan is the longest military conflict in which the United States has been involved. The operation is nowhere near as successful as hoped, which is part of the reality of fighting a war in Afghanistan, a less...

Fast & Furious 7 has finished filming, here's a super sad note about it

Jul 14 // Nick Valdez
Today we completed the last shot in the production of FAST & FURIOUS 7.We wanted to take this moment to express how thankful we are for your support. We felt the love and strength from our fans throughout this journey, and it’s because of you that we got here. There was a time when we didn’t know how we could go on, or even if we should. But we listened to you, and you inspired us not only to keep going but to try and make the best FAST & FURIOUS movie yet.Our FAST family has been together for almost fifteen years now and has grown a lot in that time. From the start, Vin has been our leader who feels what’s right for FAST in his gut and in his heart. When we had to stop production last year, Vin gathered us back together and moved us forward when we needed it most. He led us to this day. Some of us have been here from the very beginning. Vin, Michelle, Jordana and our producer Neal all go back to that first little movie we shot on the streets of LA. We came back to LA in FAST 7, and it was an especially emotional homecoming for those who’ve grown up with each other since that first shoot. There are those we count as brothers who we gathered along the way and are with us again: Dwayne, Tyrese, Luda, Lucas and our writer, Chris. We’ve got some new additions this time in Jason, Kurt, Djimon, Nathalie and our director, James. Caleb and Cody joined us to honor their brother and help complete his work. Our family is big and strong but it won’t ever quite be whole again without Paul.All of us -- those who’ve been here from the start and those whose first FAST film is 7 -- wanted to create a special film for him and for you. We believe we have.Thank you for being there for us. You are the biggest part of our family, and we couldn’t have gotten here without you.The countdown to April 3 begins.
Fast and Furious 7 photo
Sniff :(
The Fast & Furious franchise is never going to be the same without Paul Walker. The filming process of the seventh film has been paved with heartache and drama, but at least it's finally over. Knowing that Fast & Furi...

Review: Particle Fever

Jul 01 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]217974:41645:0[/embed] Particle FeverDirector: Mark LevinsonRelease Date: iTunes (July 1, 2014); VOD (July 15, 2014)Rating: NR And now for a digression: In college, I took a course called "Crazy Ideas in Physics." A fundamental part of that class was essentially a live action role play, where the class was broken up into multiple factions. These factions were pitching ideas to a commission (made up of students) that would then dole out (fake) money based on the legitimacy of the pitch, which by powerpoint presentations and a poster session where the pitches were elaborated, as well as appearances on a television program hosted by Hildy Johnson, the journalist, as portrayed by yours truly. (Yes, I did have a better college experience than you.) The commission was set to look for Revolutionary Ideas in science, physics or otherwise. One of the proposed theories involved a proposal to build a large, extremely expensive machine that would allow us to learn the mass of a neutrino. It had important scientific implications, but the question came up again and again from the members of the commission: what good does it do us as a society? Will the mass of a neutrino cure cancer? Will it incite world peace? No? Then why should we care? Watching Particle Fever reminded me a lot of those "meetings." Thousands of people from over 100 countries spent $6 billion on a giant circular tube that smashes together particles in order to find new particles. The big one that everyone was looking for was the Higgs Boson, which is the particle that gives mass to other particles. Modern physics requires the Higgs Boson to exist, and physicists knew it would be found one way or another, but they didn't know how heavy it was. That question matters, but it doesn't matter to the public. Knowing the mass of the Higgs Boson won't cure cancer. In fact, it doesn't really do anything except disprove a number of theories about the universe. It doesn't prove a single one, or even really clearly hint at a true answer. It just confirms the existence of someone everyone knew already existed. To most people, that wouldn't be worth $6 billion. But to those who really want to understand the world around us down to its most fundamental elements, the announcement that the Higgs Boson has a mass of approximately 125MeV matters a whole lot, and the investment was completely worth it. (And now more money is being invested to find out what's next.) Particle Fever follows several physicists through the current life of the Large Hadron Collider. Some of whom were directly involved in its experimentation, and others stayed on the sidelines. It's a film that's been years in the making, and it's one that may deserve a sequel in a few years when the LHC is booted up again for Round 2. But the LHC itself is the least interesting part of Particle Fever, as is the science in general The film tends to gloss over the technical stuff, going so far as to put a musical interlude on top of an important talk because it would have just gone over everyone's heads anyway. Some things are explained, but if you don't have some grasp on the fundamentals of the universe, you're going to be really confused really quickly. Big points, like the fact that the Standard Model of physics upon which basically all modern knowledge is based is fundamentally flawed, are mentioned but not addressed, and that strikes me as an unfortunate oversight. That point is especially important, since it's the entire reason for the LHC's existence, but it's just sort of shrugged off with a "Gravity's really weak," something that won't make any sense to most people. Yeah, a proper explanation would have added to the runtime, but it also would have made everything a little bit clearer. (As an aside, I found it interesting that so much time was spent on SUSY, by the way, considering that the revelations from the LHC has thus far only served to discredit SUSY theories, something the films admits but doesn't really go into... But that's neither here nor there.) Instead, the thing that really got to me was the philosophy of the whole thing. Each of these physicists comes to the Large Hadron Collider, physically or emotionally, for a different reason, but all of them have made physics their livelihoods. The mass of the Higgs Boson affects all of their careers (and thus their lives) in a meaningful way. And especially in the time leading up to the unveiling of the data, the way they viewed the possibilities of the information was fascinating. I may not have learned any new science, but I learned a whole lot about the outlook of these people who obsess day in and day out over these abstract concepts. None of us will be able to ever really "see" the Higgs Boson or whatever it is the LHC (and its potential successors) reveal next, but there are people who devote themselves to it. Seeing and hearing these incredibly intelligent people talk about this thing that may one day help us quite literally understand life, the universe, and everything. That is what makes Particle Fever worth watching.
Particle Fever Review photo
More philosophy than science
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...

NYAFF Recommendation: Han Gong-Ju

Jun 30 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Go See Han Gong-Ju photo
This is not a review
Han Gong-Ju is incredible. It's easily the best film I've seen at the New York Asian Film Festival thus far and among the best I've seen in a long time. It's also extremely depressing, to the point where I'm not sure I can re...

A Whole Lot of DC photo
To be announced at San Diego Comic Con
Marvel has been having amazing success with its cinematic universe, and they show no signs of slowing down. But their two-films-per-year schedule is pretty solid, and any more superhero movies would really have the poten...

Teaser trailer for restoration of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is impressive

Jun 09 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Caligari Restoration photo
The somnambulist never looked so good.
If you haven't seen the 1920 classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, you need to fix that immediately. Conveniently, it's out of copyright, so I've embedded it below. But like most films from back then, it doesn't look so good....

Flixist Community Discusses: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

May 08 // Nick Valdez
Here are a few comments from community members who really liked the film!  carg0: Easily the best superhero movie to date, hands down. Chad Almasy: Surprisingly enjoyable. I'm glad I watched it. Scissors (who wrote a much more compelling case than I could do justice, which you can read here):  I loved it. It's my favorite superhero movie of all time, and I've seen pretty much all the ones made in the last 10 years. This movie has heart, yes it's imperfect and I could dissect what's wrong with it, but I don't care. When it delivered, it delivered. I was unsatisfied with the previous trilogy, but the 2 ASM films are telling the Spider-Man story I want told. I always liked the Spidey stories that focused more on the kid behind the mask, and that's why I'm loving these films. Haters be damned, I loved it and I don't care if so many others hated it. And now community members who believe Amazing Spider-Man 2 has too many underdeveloped villains and ideas, but is okay in some areas! Fengor (who also linked to this video review):  Call me when Spider-Man inadvertently breaks Gwen Stacy's neck and kills her. I mean let's face it, the girl is all but marked for death. On a less grim note. The problem I think stems from everyone now wanting to emulate the Avengers movie-universe, and from [the review's] description it sounds like Sony is just checking off boxes as they copy the formula. Jordan Mann:  In this movie's defense, it handled multiple villains considerably better than Spider-Man 3 did [and on the scenes with Peter's parents] Those scenes might have been ok if they went somewhere. But in the end they just added a small amount of exposition as to why Harry was going to turn crazy. Which didn't really warrant all the time spent on them. @VladZhao:  Electro was a different character after the accident and had no real reason to hate Spider-Man. DeHaan was really good. @DaddyBoJangles: Should have been Spider-Man vs. a more fleshed out Harry. Electro was unneeded, only provided some decent action scenes. Nick Valdez (from our review): The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ultimately suffers from franchise syndrome. As it seems intent to focus on the future, we don't get quite a fulfilling present. There's kooky fun to be had, but we're never given enough time to enjoy it before we're given more information about future movies. In fact if you took all of those extra scenes out (and believe me, they are extra), we'd have the best Spider-Man film, hands down. I really loved everything else, so I wish someone would have reigned it in a bit.  Matthew Razak (Flixist Editor-in-Chief/Cool Guy):  I felt it really suffered with the too many villains aspect once again, despite Rhino being a complete one off. They lost a lot of traction by shoving Goblin into the background for the whole Electro thing and really were far too desperate to cram in the set up for the Sinister Six. That being said I liked Garfield way more as Spider-Man this time around. His Peter Parker is still a bit too cool for me, and kind of a dick, but Spidey was way better. I wish they had delayed the Gwen Stacey conclusion a bit more as well. I think I enjoyed this one as a piece of action better than the first, but it definitely had its holes and the screenplay was a serious clunker. Webb's action direction came a long way, though. Some really cool stuff. Finally, here are community members who outright HATED it, but they all have compelling reasons as to why! @wlatham92:  Garbage...A step above the emo Peter Parker dance scene from Spider-Man 3 but not much higher. protoknuckles:  I didn't like it because the plot jumped all over the place, the pacing was off, and the focus on Peter's parents was boring Anime Dad:  Amazing Spidermess 2 is an absolute mess of a film. It's not cohesive, it's poorly scripted and the soundtrack is one of the most weirdly inappropriate things I've ever heard. I thought Electro was called that because he controlled electricity not because he controlled Electronic music. Also, we have Paul Giamatti with a performance so phoned in he had to get a contract from AT&T. Don't get me started on Ghost Dad. Also, what the hell was with Stan Lee's cameo, it was dreadful! So, where does that leave us? By reading all of your opinions, it seems that the more polarizing aspects of the Amazing Spider-Man 2 (the multiple villains, scenes of Peter's parents, most of the extra stuff) seem to turn people off so much, they don't enjoy anything at all. And that's completely understandable.  You all point out some very poignant flaws. While I didn't have a problem with Electro himself (since Jamie Foxx seemed to be the one person in the film who truly cared about what he was doing, let's be real), it's true that he completely stands out from the rest of the film. With the different focuses on Electro and Green Goblin, it's like two movies were hastily put together. And that's on top of all of the alluding to future films! That seems to be the root of everyone's complaints. Amazing Spider-Man 2's mismanagement of certain ideas completely ruined people's view toward the film altogether.  It all just comes down to how much we're willing to forgive for the sake of some goofball fun. I mean, it looks like we wouldn't even have that fun if we're thrown off by so much mess.  What did you think of The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Did you like our first Flixist Community Discusses? Comments or suggestions? Keep an eye out for future discussion opportunities (*cough* Godzilla or X-Men: Days of Future Past *cough*)! 
Flixist Discusses photo
Did it truly do whatever a spider could?
Thanks to the Spider-Man property's massive popularity, talking about its movies are the most fun. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 already started out in a hole since it seemed like a cynical sequel to Sony's original cyni...

Barbie photo
Life in plastic. It's fantastic.
Looking for the next Transformers or The LEGO Movie, Sony's search for the next big toy movie has brought it to Mattel's Barbie. Closing a partnership with Mattel, Sony hopes to start a franchise based on the children's popul...

Netflix Now: Blue is the Warmest Color Edition

Feb 26 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
An Afghan Love Story Blue Is the Warmest Color Dead Before Dawn The Fish Child The Guild The Guild: Season 1 The Guild: Season 2 The Guild: Season 3 The Guild: Season 4 The Guild: Season 5 The Guild: Season 6 The Gymnast Petunia Sword of the Assassin The Wait Christmas Bounty The Last White Knight The Returned The Returned: Season 1 Tyler Perry's Temptation Bigger, Stronger, Faster Casino Jack and the United States of Money Crazy Love DreamWorks Presents: Mr. Peabody... Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room Jesus Camp A League of Ordinary Gentlemen Marriage Boot Camp: Bridezillas Marriage Boot Camp: Bridezillas: Season 1 Medium: Season 7 Mr. Untouchable Surfwise The Twilight Zone: Season 3 The Twilight Zone: Season 5   Bad Milo! Best Man Down Dance Academy: Series 3 Paris Countdown Wishmaster Wishmaster 2 Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled A Young Doctor's Notebook The City Dark Crossing Lines Crossing Lines: Season 1 Cult Cult: Season 1 The Four-Faced Liar Nick Thune: Folk Hero Random Acts of Violence Violet & Daisy Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year The Dynamiter Marvel's Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United The Pitch: Season 2 Somewhere Ambushed Burn Notice: Season 7 Chris Porter: Ugly and Angry Evil Force of Execution The Mystery of Spoon River Rock and Roll Fantasy  Weekly Netflix Now Awards Most Likely to be Watched First Blue is the Warmest Color Most Likely to be Rewatched First Blue is the Warmest Color Wide Release Made to be Seen via Netflix Instant Somewhere Most Likely to Never Leave My Queue Somewhere Best Horror Film Jesus Camp Movies I've Had the Most Fun Marathoning via the Internet Wishmaster 1-4 Most Excessive Use of Colons Marriage Boot Camp: Bridezillas: Season 1 Most Intriguing Title The Fish Child Best Reminder that Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is on Netflix The Guild Best Title Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year
Netflix Now photo
Blue is the Warmest Color, Jesus Camp, Somewhere, and more on Netflix Instant
So here's something I didn't expect: Blue is the Warmest Color is now available on Netflix Instant. Abdellatif Kechiche's spectacular three-hour romance is being released on Blu ray and DVD by the Criterion Collection, b...

Lego to officially release Ghostbusters set

Jan 31 // Nick Valdez
Ghostbusters LEGO photo
I ain't afraid of no bricks.
Joining the recently (and awesomely) announced The Simpsons licensed set, Brent Waller's Ghostbusters CUUSOO project (a site where artists can pitch ideas to be made into real sets much like the Back to the Future set release...

In a move that has blown my mind, cult classic anime, Kite, is on its way to the big screen via live action. The cast includes Samuel L. Jackson, subbing for Akai's character, and India Eisley as Saw...

Lots of good movies leaving Netflix Instant January 1st

Dec 27 // Nick Valdez
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Do the Right Thing Can't Hardly Wait Miller's Crossing Being John Malkovich Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo Half-Baked Titanic Braveheart Requiem for a Dream Dark Shadows (TV series-all seasons) The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes The Long Goodbye The Kids in the Hall (all seasons) War Games The Young Girls of Rochefort We Were Soldiers Top Gun Serpico Capote Born on the Fourth of July The Secret of Nimh Roman Holiday Platoon Brick Session 9 Intolerable Cruelty Foxy Brown Flashdance Dressed to Kill Heaven's Gate Man on the Moon As Good as It Gets What Dreams May Come Desperado Body of Evidence In the Name of the Father Gallipoli The Faculty True Grit (John Wayne version) Biloxi Blues 50 First Dates Elizabethtown Species Species II Saturday Night Live: The 2000s (available until 12/31) Inside Deep Throat Jarhead The Great Train Robbery The Andromeda Strain Far From Heaven The Mask of Zorro The Odd Couple The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Not Without My Daughter Once Upon a Time in Mexico I'm Gonna Git You Sucka For the Love of the Game In Like Flint Romeo and Juliet (1968 version) Jude Seed of Chucky Hard Target Scary Movie The Skulls Tales From The Crypt: Bordello Of Blood Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight Rob Roy Remo Williams Street Fighter Back to School Ned Kelly High Art World Trade Center Windtalkers Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot Troll 2 Pumpkinhead The Woman in Red October Sky The Russia House War and Peace An Inconvenient Truth A Shot in the Dark Of Mice and Men Cold Comfort Farm Killer Klowns From Outer Space Talk Radio F/X 2 1492: Conquest of Paradise
Netflix Emergency photo
It's a New Year's Emergency!
So you like Netflix Instant, right? Prepare to be married to it for the rest of the year. According to Vulture (who spotted a thread on Reddit that keeps track of expiration dates now that Netflix gave that up), lots of notab...

Also makes ill-advised comparison
"James? You've got an interview with the Associated Press in about ten minutes, sir." "Oh, thanks...Jon, was it? You're the new intern?" "Uh, sure. What are they planning to ask you?" "We're probably going to talk about the A...

Review: Hours

Dec 13 // Nick Valdez
[embed]216961:41001:0[/embed] HoursDirectors: Eric HeissererRated: PG-13Release Date: December 13, 2013 (limited and VOD) Hours leaves Nolan (Walker) stranded in a hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina as he struggles to keep his premature daughter alive through a breathing apparatus for 48 hours. It's essentially several plots of movies mashed into one. There's 127 Hours (a man is trapped and isolated for a duration of time), John Q (a man traps himself inside of a hospital trying to get his son the treatment he needs), and thanks to the setting, you have slight post-apocalyptic I Am Legend influences (a lonely man and his dog trying to survive in the darkness). I'd hate to boil down Hours that way, but I really have no choice. Hours struggles with the cliches and pitfalls of the "survival thriller" genre throughout. But that doesn't mean it's a complete write-off, either.  Sure Hours does lots of things you've seen before (talking to hallucinations, fighting with other survivors, running around in the dark), but it truly shines when it explores the heart of each of these situations. Something about constantly tying the events of the film with news clips of Katrina keeps the film grounded when it has the potential to careen into cliche. It makes the film seem realistic even when it asks you to stretch that belief in some scenes. Thankfully, that believably also extends toward Walker's character leading to the best character portrayal of the late Walker's career. He absolutely nails it.  I keep referring to Walker as an "Everyman," so I should probably explain myself. The term "Everyman" is generally used to refer to a character, or an actor, the audience can relate with. He doesn't have any extraordinary abilities, but he's placed within extreme circumstances. But no matter how crazy a story gets, the audience will always view an Everyman as the anchor to attach themselves to. Paul Walker always excelled in this area. It's why he was needed in every Fast & Furious movie, it's why he was in the nonsensical crime film Takers alongside T.I., and it's why the survival thriller subgenre is so successful. Hours finally allows Walker to be the lead man he was always meant to be. It milks his Everyman qualities for all they're worth and yields great results.  You see, Hours lays on the sadness pretty heavily. The amount of negative things happening to Nolan almost reach cartoonish levels of preposterousness. His wife dies in the beginning of the film, he has to keep his baby's respirator running for 48 hours, he's attacked by folks, he starves, and it keeps piling on. But the recent era setting and Walker's lovable nature make you root for him anyway. As the events of the film become more and more "been there, done that" Walker lends the believability the scenes need to succeed. There's one scene in particular (fortunately, I won't spoil it here) that would've fallen completely on its face due to its overwhelming melancholy if Walker weren't at the center of it. Walker elevates the material and adds a layer of introspective hope that just isn't there otherwise.  There are moments in Hours which border on great if only they were explored a little further. Nolan's slightly characterized through his daughter and what he's willing to do for her, but there are some opportunities to show it which are swept under the rug. One moving scene has Nolan showing photos to his daughter, but it's quickly sped through in a songless montage. Then one scene has Nolan talking to a hallucination of his wife that would've been a great dissection of introspection vs. affirmation (as Nolan is only trying to reaffirm faith in himself) if it lasted longer. This magical realism (where mystical things can coexist along with realistic things in one world without much hassle) pervades the rest of the film as each flashback is tinted through a nostalgic filter, but it's a theme that may have just been stumbled upon. Plenty of these potentially great scenes are unfortunately skewered in favor of generic action. Yes Nolan has to meet other survivors, but does he have to interact with them that much? Don't tease an isolation film and back off from it at the last minute.  Despite all of my qualms with Hours, it has one of the best finales in the genre. I won't go into detail here, but because of Walker's believability and the film's emphasis on hope rather than depression, one of the more cliche shots of the film also deserves the most praise and analysis. Given the rest of the film you could easily assume the film ended on a hopeful note, but given the magical realism presented within it, it could potentially be the most depressing thing you'll see all year.  The saddest part of Hours, however, is that Paul Walker truly shines as he shows off a lot of potential that was tragically cut short. He emotes, he contemplates, he shows different sides of himself, and it's what we wanted from him all along. It was a damn fine step in the right direction. Whether or not Hours is Paul Walker's last film, it should be remembered with his best works. Although the film itself isn't exactly the pinnacle of its genre, Walker's performance shows every aspiring Everyman how to do it. This is how you relate to people. 
Hours Review photo
A damn fine send-off for a damn fine everyman
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 care...

Godzilla Trailer photo
The King of the Monsters is back, baby! This first official trailer for Legendary's upcoming Godzilla reboot (not that unofficial one that was quickly pulled down several months back) gives our first real look at the new ver...

DisIndy  photo
Disney jonesin' for more Joneses. Jones.
Disney continues its quest to own everything most people enjoy with Indiana Jones. Reaching a distribution deal with Paramount, Disney now owns future rights to every future Indiana Jones film (with Paramount still making a s...

Frozen  photo
Legally, of course.
At this rate, Frozen is shaping up to be my favorite movie of 2013. If the above clip of Elsa (Idina Menzel) singing the film's stand out single, "Let It Go," doesn't convince you, then I've failed as a person. Although I said in the review that you shouldn't let it be spoiled for you, there's still plenty else to look forward to.  Go see Frozen already. 

Nick's Flixmas: Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey

Dec 06 // Nick Valdez
Nestor follows the young donkey Nestor, whose long ears drag the ground. Other animals in his stable make fun of him and don't let them play their donkey games. I actually don't know what donkey games are, but that's really just a play on Rudolph. In fact, the film fantastically starts off by stating that it's the "lost" Christmas tale of one of the animals in the manger. Any time someone tells me something along the lines of "well, you haven't heard the whole story," my ears instantly perk up. You mean there's more? I'm down for that, man. But that's not all Nestor brings to the table.  Ten minutes in, Nestor becomes the most heart wrenching Christmas film you'll ever see. As Roman soldiers take the other donkeys away, they refuse to buy Nestor because of his "defective" long ears. His owner gets angry that he can't sell Nestor and kicks him out into the wild. Nestor's mother breaks out, and shelters Nestor from the harsh winter with the warming embrace of her own body. And just like Littlefoot in The Land Before Time, a saddened Nestor must find a mythical land called Bethlehem in order to find some purpose after the loss of his mother. But also like that movie, his mother's strength of spirit guides him to that land and his real calling in life.  I love my mother. I have no idea what I'd do without her. When I was seventh grade, my mother was wrongfully diagnosed with breast cancer. She decided to undergo an operation to remove the mass in her breast, but because the surgeon failed to take certain precautions due to her Type II Diabetes, she was infected with a flesh eating virus and eventually lost 85% of the muscle tissue in her legs. Our family has fought cancer before (my dad won his battle with Lymphoma in '96), but we had no idea how to handle something like that. I nearly lost my mother. But she just wouldn't give up, wouldn't let go.  She wanted to see my sister and I graduate and go on to bigger things, and I hope I've made her proud.  Every time she takes a step, she struggles more than anyone I know. But she'll never tell you out loud how much everything hurts. How much it pains her to see me rifle through her many medications. How much it pains her to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars every month to keep her alive. How much she regrets not being able to work anymore. But she'll always know one thing: I love her more than anything in this whole world.  If you're reading this mom, let's watch Nestor again. 
NF: Nestor photo
"Ears, Nestor."
Day six of Nick's Flixmas (thanks for sticking in there!) brings us to the last, and my favorite, Rankin/Bass film, Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey. Why is it my favorite? Because every time I watch, it reminds me of ...

Spider-Man 2 trailer photo
Does whatever a Spider-Man sequel can
After The Amazing Spider-Man provided a serviceable first effort given the fact Sony had only made the film to avoid losing the rights, fans have been waiting anxiously to see what Sony could pull off for the sequel. The hyp...

Frozen Breaks Records photo
Good. Because Frozen is fantastic.
Ever since I walked out of Frozen (while giving it my highest review score ever) I've been on a constant Frozen hype train much to the dismay of my fellow Flixist editors. The film is the best thing Disney has put out in ages...

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