Here's the first trailer for Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, and it looks old-timier than usual. Note the full frame aspect ratio throughout most of the trailer, which was probably a conscious decision to help evoke...
Even though there are some holdout shops in certain parts of the country -- notably cities with major movie scenes -- the video store is now a dusty ruin of history. A downright ancient part of these Parthenons and Acropolises of old: the VHS tape. They barely issue movies on VHS anymore save for the occasional limited pressing: both Miami Connection and V/H/S had limited cassette tape releases, though for some reason it didn't happen with Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind.
And yet, there's something great about the VHS tape. If you've owned any or collected any, you know the odd feeling these objects evoke. They are an artifact with power that goes beyond nostalgia. The tapes changed the way people saw movies, learned about culture, created memories, and made friends.
Rewind This! is a celebration of the home video revolution, and even a rallying call to collectors and film fans to take these artifacts seriously since there's more than just nostalgia at stake: VHS enthusiasts of all nations unite!
[This review originally ran as part of our South by Southwest 2013 coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the exclusive iTunes release of the film.]
With the documentary Rewind This!, director Josh Johnson has created a fine overview of the VHS era, covering the many different facets of the home video revolution. It's not an easy task to tackle the whole format from different angles, but Johnson pulled it off, crafting something that's part history and part call to action.
Last week I had a chance to sit down with Johnson as well as cinematographer/editor Christopher Palmer and producer Carolee Mitchell. Before the recorder got going, we talked a bit about Upstream Color, which at the time I had yet to see, and other things we'd seen or wanted to see at SXSW.
Since VHS is a broad topic, we would up talking a bit about the various aspects of the format, from collecting and archiving efforts, to video store memories and those unique rarities shot on video tape (one of which was put up on YouTube and I've embedded in the interview). And somehow there was even a little talk about professional wrestling.
[This interview originally ran as part of our South by Southwest 2013 coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the exclusive iTunes release of the film on August 27th.]
Even though I had issues with the found-footage aspect of Frankenstein's Army, there's a great anarchic imagination in the film, and it belongs to director Richard Raaphorst. I had a chance to sit down and talk with Raaphorst the other weekend during the Tribeca Film Festival and was immediately struck by just how thoughtful he was about his creative impulses and influences. One surprise early on in our conversation involved the origins of Frankenstein's Army, which have their roots in the Fight Club soundtrack.
At the end of the interview, Raaphost teased the possibility of a second Frankenstein's Army (which I'm not against despite my issues with the first film) as well as two new biological horror projects which sound absolutely bonkers/awesome. Whether his next film involves zombie-robots of the Third Reich or not, I can't wait to see what comes from Raaphost next.
[This interview was originally posted as part of our 2013 Tribeca Film Festival coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical and VOD release of Frankenstein's Army.]
With Man of Steel coming out this week, it just makes sense to highlight something with Superman. And where better than the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons? These are bona fide classics that feature some of the best Superman...
Retro-style futures sometimes look more futuristic than modern approximations of what the future will be like, and there's a definite retro aesthetic at work in The Machine. In some ways, it's similar in style to Beyond the Black Rainbow. Both films have the sound and vibe of VHS sci-fi flicks, or maybe the kinds of movies that would run late at night in those early days of basic cable.
While I didn't care much for Beyond the Black Rainbow, I did sort of dig The Machine to a point. It gets by on style points for a lot of its run time. The most intriguing part of the movie for me came at the beginning, and then everything that followed just went through the motions, although it looks pretty good going through them.
[For the next few weeks, Flixist will be covering the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, which runs April 17-28 in New York City. Check with us daily for reviews, interviews, features, and news from the festival. For all of our coverage, go here.]
You may remember last year that we shared a promotional trailer for Chuck Norris vs. Communism, a documentary on how a woman named Irina Nistor dubbed thousands of illegal foreign blockbusters in 1980s Romania. This act of V...
If you live in New York and are a fan of old school kung fu movies, you need to head to Anthology Film Archives next weekend. From April 19-21, the team behind the New York Asian Film Festival is putting on the Old School Kung Fu Fest.
The films will feature some major old school martial arts stars (e.g., Gordon "Shaolin Master Killer" Liu) in their rarest films. It also includes a whacked-out movie that supposedly makes Boxer's Omen look like a Disney film, and a super-secret screening described like so:
In the early 80s, big studios were trying anything to attract audiences, so this flick mixes three genres and then adds plenty of crack: you've got your wandering swordsman movie, your gore film, and a sexploitation shocker. The result is a whacked-out, hyper-gothic version of The Monkey's Paw, full of occult dungeons, human face frisbees, wild plot twists, swinging swordplay, and naked demon ladies having kung fu freak-outs.
I'm definitely going to do my best to be there for the mayhem on Saturday night.
Rediscovered by Drafthouse Films, Miami Connection is the kitschy action gift that keeps on giving: the best VHS action movie you never rented at the videostore when you were a kid. I mentioned in my review that the ideal way to watch the movie is in a group, and you can do that in mid-April thanks to the good people at Wasted Cinema.
The Miami Connection screening is at 7:00pm on Friday, April 12th at Legends (6 West 33rd Street between 5th Ave. and 6th Ave.). There will be a prize raffle, live tweeting, and much merrymaking.
For more information, visit wastedcinema.com. After the cut, a clip from the film that is now your new jam.
Pablo Berger's Blancanieves will inevitably draw comparisons to Michel Hazanavicius's The Artist since both are silent films. (Blancanieves was Spain's official Oscar entry last year, and I suspect the silent film form was part of what kept it out of the final Best Foreign Language pool.) While I can understand the impulse to compare the two, the films are so different in their approach. The Artist is an homage to traditional silent filmmaking and the conventions of those plots. Blancanieves, on the other hand, is a chimera: a retelling of Snow White as a silent period film made with contemporary camerawork and editing.
As I watched Blancanieves, I was captivated by its formal choices and its deft use of the soundtrack. It's more than just shtick. By mixing the filmmaking form of one era with modern sensibilities and by retelling a Brothers Grimm story in 1920s Spain, the film is unmoored from any fixed point in history. It's how Berger achieves the magical sense of timelessness found in fairy tales -- something like "Once upon a time."
Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom was our pick for the best comedy of 2012. Anderson's latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is another period piece and it may lead to back-to-back Golden Pterodactyls for best comedy. Fox Sear...
Long thought lost, this making-of documentary on The Empire Strikes Back is the bee's knees. It features lots of never-before-seen footage of the Battle of Hoth, stuff with tauntauns and wampas, and Mark Hamill choreographin...
Dan Lebental, editor of the Iron Man series, apparently misses touching real film while he is editing. So he has been developing an application for the iPad called TouchEdit which will bring us a step back closer to the simpl...
[This review was originally posted as part of our 2012 New York Film Festival coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of No.]
Sometimes I'm glad I don't live in a swing state. If I did, I'd have to endure an endless barrage of political ads every four years. They're the same thing most of the time: attack, obfuscate, attack, "My name is _____ and I approve this message." Though in the case of Super PAC ads, it's just attack, attack, attack, money, money, money, hubba, hubba, hubba, who do you trust. The last of the memorable political ads happened well before I became politically conscious: I Like Ike, the JFK song, Daisy (though it only aired once).
In Pablo Larraín's No, the political ads matter, but that's because the stakes are much higher. It's 1988. After 16 years under Augusto Pinochet, the citizens of Chile are given an opportunity to vote for or against his regime. Whoever wins the TV ad war wins the country. Yes for oppression, no for freedom, and one guy has an idea so crazy that it just might topple a dictatorship.
What's more remarkable: this is based on a true story.
Back in December it was announced that one of the best horror films of last year, V/H/S, was going to get a limited edition release on actual VHS tapes. The downside fro anyone living outside of the UK was that it was only coming out there. Now, however, we've received official word that the VHS version of V/H/S is landing in the U.S. as well, and it looks awesome.
Hot on the tails of the teaser for S-VHS, the box are, which you can see above, is a bit different from the UK version, which you can see below because of what boxes look like in the two countries. UK gets the nice plastic one while we'll be getting a totally awesome, pre-worn cardboard version. I have to say I like ours better, but maybe that's because I didn't grow up with fancy plastic VHS boxes. Those Brits are so spoiled. A cardboard slip is all I need to protect my movies!
No word on the release date in the press release and Amazon doesn't have a listing yet, but we'll keep you up to date.
[The Cult Club is where Flixist's writers expound the virtues of their favourite underground classics, spanning all nations and genres. It is a monthly series of articles looking at what made those films stand out from the pack, as well as their enduring legacy.]
Toward the end of high school there were a couple movies that were my litmus test movies. (I think the end of high school and the early part of college are the last times that you can have these sorts of things and take them seriously, at least without seeming unnecessarily stand-offish.) Most of them were horror movies and cult films, and one of the musts was Six-String Samurai, one of the ginchiest movies ever made.
Watching it again is like rediscovering some old LP in a record store or finding forgotten singles on some terrestrial radio oldies station. This is a lean three-minute pop song that wastes no time: within its first minute or so, we are neck deep in its samurai/Soviet/surf rock mayhem. Here's a track played a lot, lauded in its time, then cast aside with all the other artifacts of the past. It's a movie ostensibly about an alternate 1950s America, but it's also a movie so 1990s that there was a Rob Liefeld comic for it, and so wild with its ideas it feels mint more than 10 years later.
That might be the best thing said about the post-apocalyptic nuttiness of Six-String Samurai: it's part time capsule, part time machine, and all cool.
Miami Connection (the Citizen Kane of Florida-based taekwondo movies) continues to open in theaters across the country this month, leaving destruction and joy in its wake. The people over at Drafthouse Films decided to create images of fake Miami Connection action figures (which should be real). These figures come from an alternate 1987 in which the film was a major hit and spawned loads of merchandising. (In reality, Miami Connection nearly ruined star/co-director Grandmaster Y.K. Kim.)
Given the points of articulation, these fellas appear to be shopped version of 1980's G.I. Joe figures. Mark looks like a modified Quick Kick, Jim like Roadblock, the White Ninja is sort of like Storm Shadow, Jeff is kind of like Monkeywrench from The Dreadnoks, John's like Duke with rabies, and... well I don't know what's up with Tom.
Best case scenario: Miami Connection is the G.I. Joe of Earth-2.
In the gallery are each of the action figures in all their glory. After the cut are some clips of Miami Connection to enjoy. After completing its limited theatrical run in November, Miami Connection will hit DVD and Blu-Ray in December, just in time for Christmas. For a list of dates and theaters, go here.
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Honestly the more and more I see of Wreck-It Ralph, the more I want to have its beautiful babies. Then Disney has the nerve to do something as charming as promote its fictional game Fix-It Felix Jr. as a "state-of-the-ar...
I have fond feelings toward VHS box art, which may be why I'm bananas about this new poster for the 1987 cult film Miami Connection. It was created by Quebec-based artist, François Simard, a member of the RKSS Collecti...
This is Ray Parker, Jr.'s theme song to Ghostbusters played on eight old school floppy drives. In other words, this is now your new jam. It's like a proto-Sega Genesis sound card octet.
This bit of ingenuity comes courtesy o...
For a while it seemed like a Joe Carnahan Daredevil reboot was on like Donkey Kong, but yesterday we found out that Carnahan's Daredevil reboot is dead like... Donkey Kong. As the director of The Grey put it on Twitter, "Thi...