Standing Still, by Scott Nye

19 Dec

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By this time, we’ve all pretty much come to terms with The Hobbit. Those who have seen the last two films are unlikely to abandon ship at this point, regardless of their feelings to this point. Those who have successfully ignored them may well wander across them on HBO in a year or so. Few seem truly inspired after seeing them. They have long stopped being compared to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and a simple “it was actually pretty good” is damn near high praise. Yet as obligatory as audiences’ attitudes are towards the franchise, they are nowhere near as complacent and routine as The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

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The Human Landscape, by Tyler Smith

19 Dec

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Of all the different film genres, the biopic is among the most troublesome.  As directors attempt to tell the story of a great historical figure- a politician or an artist- they often opt for a “warts and all” approach, depicting the figure as a deeply flawed individual whose greatness overshadowed his inherent selfishness.  To humanize an historical figure isn’t the worst instinct, but too often the filmmaker forgets to include those things that make us interested in the person in the first place.

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Home Video Hovel: Slaughter Hotel, by Craig Schroeder

18 Dec

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I never know how to feel about the exploitation films of the 60s and 70s. By their very nature they are meant to appeal only to my most animalistic instincts; instincts that don’t require a cinematically sophisticated mind to comprehend. They’re movies that recognize the human mind as little more than a reptilian, call-and-response organ, stimulated only by its most primal urges. And these films often work precisely because they’re so earnestly primal. There’s no pretense. Human like sex. Human like blood. Give to human.

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I Do Movies Badly: The ‘Burbs

18 Dec

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In this episode, Jim kicks off his series on Joe Dante with The ‘Burbs.

Cotton Blankets and Empty Bellies, by Rudie Obias

17 Dec

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The recent Sony hack sheds a light on Will Gluck’s Annie, a remake of John Huston’s 1982 film and the 1977 Broadway musical of the same name. It’s hard to separate recent news and the actual film, so I’m not going to pretend that we live in a vacuum and ignore the significance of the Sony hack on the film. After all, it’s readily available online, if you’re a savvy Internet user. While it’s strange that Annie was the target of malicious hackers, the film itself is something to consider, as it feels a bit uneven at its 118-minute running time.

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WTF Are You Watching? Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

17 Dec

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

In this episode, Kyle is joined by Josh Long to discuss the Christmas classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

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Don’t Think Twice, by David Bax

16 Dec

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Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) borrows a lot of money from one dangerous man (Michael Kenneth Williams as Neville) in order to pay a portion of the huge debt he owes to another dangerous man (Alvin Ing as Mister Lee). Neville gives him one week to pay it back or be killed. That’s not the only storyline in Rupert Wyatt’s The Gambler but that ticking clock gives the film its tension and parameters. It also invites comparisons to this year’s Calvary, directed by John Michael McDonagh, which also concerns a man who spends a week getting his affairs in order before facing the possibility of death. The Gambler never gets quite as philosophically or psychologically murky as Calvary (though both films are too fond of self-consciously clever dialogue). Still, despite not stacking up in that essentially arbitrary comparison, the film is largely successful by its own tidier and more digestible standards.

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New to Home Video 12/16/14

16 Dec

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Review

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Review

Monday Movie: Cry-Baby

15 Dec

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Every Monday, we’ll recommend a movie. It could be a classic, an overlooked recent treasure, an unfairly maligned personal favorite or whatever the hell we feel like.

With Johnny Depp set to appear in Rob Marshall’s big screen adaptation of Into the Woods in a little over a week, I thought it would be a good time to revisit his first movie musical role, as the titular greaser in John Water’s Cry-Baby from 1990. Waters and Depp’s career arcs passed each other at the perfect time. Depp emerged from four years on 21 Jump Street ready to put his looks to use in new and weird ways. 1990 was a busy year for him, as he also appeared in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands. Meanwhile, Waters had lain dormant for seven years after making several of cinema’s most outrageous films, such as Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble, before scoring a major critical success with 1988’s PG-rated Hairspray. Having proved his talents ran deeper than generating shocks, he got to work Trojan-horsing his anarchic, outsider, fuck-you ethos into a new musical rom-com that would have teenage girls all over the country swooning to Depp’s sensitive delinquent and his band of rowdy proto-punks. It’s no coincidence that Iggy Pop appears as the father figure to the rockabilly redneck crew. Cry-Baby’s suggestive hip swivels are the forebears to Pop’s bleeding, vomiting on-stage antics. Waters’ message is not a particularly complex one. He wants to let you know that living by the rules is lame even if it makes you popular and that finding your place among the oddballs and keeping your middle finger always at the ready is the only way to go, even if it’s dangerous. But Waters and Depp both commit with abandon and sincerity. Unlike Depp’s more recent performances, where you can always detect the actor behind the character, the only thing you can see in Cry-Baby Walker is the fierce passion burning in his eyes, even when they’re producing a solitary tear.

EPISODE 404: with special guest SAM GREENSPAN

15 Dec

SamGreenspan

In this episode, Tyler and David are joined by writer Sam Greenspan.

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