Gareth Edwards is not what you probably picture when you think of a special effects artist turned science fiction director: he’s personable and energetic, as charming to look at as he is to listen to, and utterly enthusiastic about his new movie, Monsters. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a near-future in which a NASA probe brought back life from one of Jupiter’s moons, and the creatures have taken over half of Mexico.
All the end-of-year/decade lists going up right now inspired me to hit one up of my own. And all the hype about James Cameron’s Avatar, which is being trumpeted as some sort of monumental science fiction success, gave me just the topic: the actual best science fiction movies of the aughts.
I’m the re-reader. She’s the newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together She’s g-mashin’ George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting here POV on. Today she moves on to Chapter 19, a Jon Snow POV chapter.
I’m the re-reader. She’s the newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together She’s g-mashin’ George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting here POV on. Today she moves on to Chapter 18, a Catelyn Stark POV chapter.
When I was asked to write a companion piece to my Best Science Fiction Movies of the Decade list, I thought it would be equally as easy. I was wrong. There were a lot of kind of good fantasy movies over the last 10 years, but not really a lot of great ones. I think a top five or a top 15 list would have been easier–I had a hell of a time deciding on the last two slots on this list, because I think compelling arguments could have been made for other movies for each of those last picks.
So you’ve finally met a girl who seems cool. Outlook: positive…except that you can’t figure out how to suss out her level of nerdery without offending her or seeming even geekier than you are by running through every conceivable point of geekiness she might secretly have. Well, you’re in luck, because the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim has been made into a movie that could literally double as a girlfriend test if your interests and/or lifestyle require a girl who is at the least tolerant of the geek in you.
I walked away from watching The Rum Diary with feelings as dichotomous as the two halves of the film. The first half is what the film appears to be in the trailers, while the second is a fairly serious take on corruption and the censorship of news by those who control what is printed. Neither part is entirely satisfying, for differing reasons, and the two halves hang together rather awkwardly.
I did not go into this newest version of The Three Musketeers with high expectations. In point of fact, I expected the film to be kind of bad. I find myself forced to confess a reluctant admiration for just how bad it turned out to be.
What I expected was a historically inaccurate melodrama, with some good swordfights, cheesy dialogue, a stable pretty men and an abundance of pretty costumes. I got… a historically inaccurate… something. I think it bordered on theater of the absurd, but I can’t come up with a film equivalency. Oh, and (spoiler alert) airships.
The Mortician is almost impossible to classify. I saw it described as “post-apocalyptic,” but it’s not really SF; a fair number of people in line with me for the screening thought it was horror because the main character is a mortician, but it’s not horror; technically I guess it’s a drama, but it’s not what I think of when I hear “drama.” The movie is set in a city that has gone to hell, with gangs running rampant and new bodies coming into the city morgue almost daily. When a young woman’s body is fished out of a canal and brought to the morgue, the mortician (Method Man) finds himself embroiled in the tragic aftermath of her death, especially for her son (Cruz Santiago)—who is now also being targeted by the same man who killed his mother.
96 Minutes is a festival gem. With the films screening in competition, you never really walk in sure of what you’ll get; like Forest Gump’s box of chocolate, sometimes the film’s a truffle and other times it’s a coconut macaroon (and you hate coconut). I went into 96 Minutes almost blind—I read the blurb but did not watch the trailer. The screening was at 9:50 on Saturday, day 2 of NOFF 2011, and the theater was maybe half-full, which is a shame because this movie is powerful.
The Thing (2011) both exceeded my expectations and proved a massive disappointment, and while that statement may seem paradoxical it is nonetheless true.
South by Southwest favorite Bellflower finally made it to New Orleans this week. The movie’s description placed it well inside my sweet zone for films, so I made a point to go to one of its two screenings. Overall I liked the film. It had some beautiful and creative filming, the acting was solid—rare in an independent film—and the premise was both interesting and well executed. I also, however, felt a little bit…oh, what’s the word I want here…underwhelmed by the level of violence which was not as “extreme” as the film’s descriptions implied. Probably this says more about me than it does about the film, because there was violence, and it was devastating.
Get Low is one of those movies that really should have been better than it is. The film has an interesting premise and the cast to pull that premise off, and yet somehow it simply falls flat. I would like to know the intent behind the film, because intention is the difference between a failure of execution and a failure of conception, and perhaps that would matter to some viewers.
Lo was a movie I went into with no expectations. The description said it was about a man who summons a demon to find his girlfriend, who has been dragged to hell. That was enough for me.
Drive just might be my favorite movie of 2011. Certainly it is my favorite movie of the year so far. I loved it. Hands down. It is one of those rare movies that I wouldn’t change a thing about, and I say that after going in with high hopes based on Valhalla Rising(director Refn’s previous effort).
It’s…over? After 10 years, eight films, and 1179 minutes (not to mention the books!), the Harry Potter series has finally come to its end. To be honest, I feel a lingering disbelief, an unwillingness to recognize that after such a span—literally years of anticipation—the last credits have finally rolled.
Enuka Okuma is a young actress and now a director. She will be back on ABC June 16th for season 2 of the summer series Rookie Blue “as the tough talking rookie cop, Traci Nash, that has a secret past and a killer right hook.” She can also be seen on the big screen starting July 1, alongside Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks in the latter-directed Larry Crowne.
I recently had the pleasure of putting some questions to Canadian actress Ali Liebert, who I (and my long-time Boomtron followers) know best as “Nikki the bartender” from Harper’s Island. We talk about what her current projects are–hint: she has a lot!–and what it’s like working with people who have household name recognition. Read on to find out what she had to say!
The Black Death is about what you think it is. Set near the beginning of the era of the bubonic plague, it follows a young monk out of his abbey while he serves as guide for a group of knights on an errand from their bishop: to find a remote village said to be free of the sickness by a pact with the devil, and deliver its witches to the holy authority for condemnation. What the monk sees on the journey will test his faith, and what he finds in the village will threaten his very soul….
Like Nietzsche with God, last fall Disney declared that the fairy tale was dead. In this case, that is, Disney would no longer be making animated features out of the old stories.
As a child of the golden years of Disney fairy tales in the early 90’s, I found this news unutterably depressing. Forget that Disney is notorious for sanitizing the bloodiest aspects of the tales and turning the bitter endings sweet. My love for the true stories, the old stories, the stories in my various anthologies (and it was various…as many as five, perhaps) of the original form fairy tales did not diminish my love for the Disney versions. It still doesn’t, when the modernization is done well; case in point, The Princess and the Frog.
“The count’s frozen face was petrified and ashen and the blood still poured down the parallel cuts. His eyes bulged wide, full of horror and pain. It was glorious. If you like that kind of thing.” –William Goldman, The Princess Bride
If you like that kind of thing, then I Saw the Devil really might be your feel-good movie of 2011. Like the Oldboy trilogy it was clearly influenced by, this is a revenge story as only Asian cinema can do it these days: uncompromisingly brutal, undeniably artistic, and superlatively original. When a serial killer (Choi Min-sik, who I know from Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, and The Quiet Family) murders the fiancée of a special agent (Lee Byung-hun, from Three…Extremes, and GI Joe Rise of the Cobra), the agent hunts him down and tortures him for the express purpose of “making him feel the same pain she did.”
I Sell the Dead is proof that not every IFC production is golden. It’s from a couple years ago now—2008, I think—and showed up on my Netflix recommendations page and sounded interesting enough to try. And that was the movie’s entire problem: it sounded interesting, but somehow wasn’t. It’s about a pair of grave robbers in the 18th century who get into the highly specialized sub-division of robbing graves with potential occult significance…accused vampires and zombies, etc. See what I mean? Hell, they had me at “18th century grave robbers,” because I love me a good historical movie, and that is both an intriguing topic and one that hasn’t been the focus of a movie, just a side point in Jack the Ripper type mysteries.
Mozart originally ended his opera Don Giovanni with Don Giovanni descending into Hell, his soul claimed by the devil, and later added a final ensemble to bring the performance away from the bleakness of that end, which was considered too dark. For me, the opera is stronger with the final ensemble omitted, because it allows the sheer emotional and moral power of Don Giovanni’s fate to linger in your mind instead of being mitigated by the tidy cheerfulness of the dénouement. Source Code suffered from the same problem: there was a clear point of finality to the story, one artistic moment of filming and philosophy that to me was the natural ending…and then there was an epilogue to that. An add-on to the story which changed the impact and the implications of that previous scene, and, for me, was a serious detraction from what would otherwise have been a truly great movie.
Matthew McConaughey is one of those actors that you just love even though they don’t really do that many good movies. He’s done a handful over the years, maybe three or four, and he’s a man who makes a lot of movies. Thus I’ve joked for years that, with the amount of roles he takes, sooner or later he’s going to make another good movie just by accident. I am happy to tell you that I was right. He did finally make a good movie (though whether it was an accident or not I couldn’t begin to say) in The Lincoln Lawyer.
When a movie could have been good, but wasn’t, it becomes an even worse movie experience than if there had been no expectation, no potential, for anything better. So it was with The Adjustment Bureau. This movie was like 30 Days of Night: it had everything going for it—unique premise, great cast, decent if not brilliant filming, and a budget to support any necessary effects—and yet it somehow managed to squander them all and create a bad movie made worse by the simple fact that it shouldn’t have been.
Animal Kingdom is not a movie about the jungle but simply the law of the jungle: it’s kill or be killed, and only the strong survive. As the poster tagline claims, it is a crime story, about a crime family–the Cody’s–and what happens when their anchor, their leader, is killed. The main character is teenager “J” who has to find a way to survive his crazy uncles’ schemes to get revenge and then to cover up the murders they commit, and to figure out where his own conscience is when it comes to the law and his family. This makes it equally as much a coming of age story as a crime drama, and it is effective in both genres.
Blue Valentine screened here at the NO Film Fest the same week Welcome to the Rileys, Black Swan, and 127 Hours did. I did not end up seeing it due to a prior engagement the night it screened, and so I watched the controversy about its rating–should it be NC17 or R, and if the board said NC17 should they re-edit to get it downgraded to R?–with trepidation. After all, I’d blown potentially my only chance to see the “true” film. Thankfully the film’s producers successfully argued for an R rating without any adjustment of the film, and after watching it I really don’t understand what all the fuss was about. There was nothing that I saw which came even close to being NC17, so far from it, in fact, that I had to reconfirm with my companion that it had not, in fact, been edited. The whole situation created a lot of media buzz for the film, but what it should have been doing was highlighting the ridiculous double standards for violence and sexuality in our Puritanical rating system; 100 deaths an hour is no problem, but explicit, clearly non-exploitative sex is still Too Much. At least they got this one right in the end; this is not an NC-17 movie.
The King’s Speech is a problematic movie for me. On the one hand, it’s a really great underdog story, the acting jobs were fabulous, and it’s a movie about hope in a time of darkness…but on the other hand is the history buff I know pointing out that he was hardly the only heroic figure or even inspiring orator of his age, and I can’t really disagree with that. In school we learned about Churchill, not the king.
I almost didn’t go see this movie for three reasons: it was getting panned by Rotten Tomatoes (somewhere in the 20 percent’s when I checked, which is just shy of worst movie of the year numbers); acting opposite my boy Vince Vaughn was not Jon Favreau as I had thought from a half-watched preview but Paul Blart, Mall Cop; and the rating was PG-13. However. It had three arguments in its favor, and those proved to be stronger than the negatives–Ron Howard directed, I have yet to not be entertained by Vince Vaughn no matter how ridiculous the movie around him, and we are in that empty January stretch after all the good movies from December have been seen and before all the Academy nominees get wide-released for those who didn’t get them over the holidays.
True Grit is the latest movie from the Coen brothers, and their best since No Country for Old Men. It convinces me that they should stick to movies that are not comedic in structure but simply in tone; this is a revenge story layered with dark humor, but the characters and the situations are always, usually literally, deadly serious. The story is told from the point of view of 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), who sets out to bring her father’s murderer to justice in frontier Arkansas. She hires the toughest, roughest, most ruthless U.S. Marshall in Fort Smith (Jeff Bridges) and insists on accompanying him into Indian territory on his hunt. They run up against an uptight Texas Ranger (Matt Damon) who wants to bring the man back to Texas for trial. It becomes a battle of wills and endurance to see who has the courage and tenacity to take Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) dead or alive…to see who has the true grit.
Tron Legacy is the sort of movie that, in my opinion, requires a disclosure of a reviewer’s perspective up front. So to that end, I feel compelled to admit that I have only seen Tron once, and that I saw it about three days ago with the specific end of watching the original before I saw the remake.
I mean, sequel.
I could review The Black Swan with one word: amazing. The film is dark and shifting, conflating dreams and obsessions into a terrifying reality where nothing is certain. Natalie Portman stars as Nina, a ballerina dedicated to achieving perfection whose first starring role is threatened by a new member of the troupe, the restless and unrepentant Lily (Mila Kunis). The only question is—is it Nina’s obsession, or Lily’s, that shapes the terrible path Nina finds herself walking?
Danny Boyle’s latest movie is based on a true story (chronicled in the memoir Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston), and it would be a disservice to the story and the film for me not to be open about all of it. So if you are looking to watch this movie as a “What happens?” narrative, this is not the review for you.
Monsters is, as the title suggests, a monster movie. Sort of. It’s also an impressive achievement for a first-time director, much less one who had a tiny budget and created all the effects himself on an Intel-powered computer. The basic premise is set up in about three sentences at the start of the film—that a NASA probe sent for proof of life crashed over Mexico and deposited that alien life there. It’s quarantined as an “infected” zone, but nothing the military has done in six years has really contained it, and now the creatures are simply a fact of life around the zone….
Never Let Me Go is adapted from a book that I have not read. So if you are looking for a book to film comparison, sorry, I can’t give you that—all I can judge is the story as presented in the movie. And while I walked out of this film overwhelmed by emotion and feeling like it had been a good movie, after a day or so to think about it more rationally I came down on the side of disappointing. Yes. This was a disappointing movie; not bad, but not as good as it so obviously could have been. I don’t know, however, whether it was a flaw in the story of the book or merely how it was presented here.
Now this is what a documentary should be! After my disappointment with Restrepo a couple weeks ago, I was thrilled to realize, after popping in this DVD, that The Art of the Steal was reminding me why I love documentary films in the first place. It takes an important but relatively obscure conflict, lays out the history and the current state of affairs interspersed with personal opinions from some of the players involved (and makes those who declined to be interviewed look even worse), and it leaves you in suspense about the outcome to the very end…and possibly beyond, as nothing irreversible has been done yet.
Since I missed the in-production teaser when it aired during the Countdown to True Blood on Sunday, I had to watch it on HBO’s website. Which meant that I also read the introduction by the producers (thank goodness there were no obvious spoilers in there, even if they did reference things that haven’t quite happened yet!). Basically, I agreed wholeheartedly with everything they (and then the actors and writers in the video) were saying about why an adaptation of A Game of Thrones needed to be an HBO production and why it needed to be a series.
Winter’s Bone is about a rural Missouri teenager whose drug-manufacturing father left her between a rock and a hard place when he put their property up to post his bond and then failed to make his court date. Ree, the teenage daughter holding together the family for her “sick” (read: withdrawn and broken) mother and two young siblings has to try and find him—or his body—going to all the places he used to go and all his known associates…all of whom are just as poor and often even more degenerate than he was. It’s a movie about desperation and consequences, and it creates a mood or melancholy or perhaps simply cold pragmatism that you can’t immediately shake upon leaving its confines.
Joss Whedon is a man of many secrets, and one of them is the precise nature of the threats or coercions he clearly uses to keep the cast of his latest project, The Cabin in the Woods, absolutely mum. Is it hit squads? Does he have the real-life model for Serenity’s unnamed Operative on speed-dial? It has to be something about that dire, because no one on the Whedon-written, Drew Goddard-directed movie is talking.
I recently caught up with the young, talented, and fabulously self-possessed Jodelle Ferland on set in New Orleans. I was there to talk about two of her other projects, but while there I couldn’t resist asking about The Cabin in the Woods, in which she plays a character named Patience Buckner, according to the movie’s IMDB page. The most revealing thing I could get out of her was that she thinks “everyone will love it” when they finally see the movie. And, no, Mr. Whedon, you don’t need to hit that #2 on your phone–girl stonewalled me like a divorce attorney.
Inception is probably the first movie of 2010 that movie lovers have been legitimately anticipating—that is, looking forward to since that very first preview back in February. Certainly I was. Sometimes that anticipation is a bad thing, as when your hopes are dashed against a mediocre production; sometimes it makes a movie even better, when it meets or exceeds all of your expectations. Inception isn’t quite the latter but certainly isn’t anything else. Mostly, I think, what few preconceptions I had about the plot or scenario the movie would cover turned out to be wrong, so I can’t call it what I expected, but the movie as it exists blew me away.
I thought Eclipse was the best of the three movies so far, though not by as large a margin over New Moon as New Moon was over Twilight. New director David Slade retained the same look established by the first installment and continued, for better or worse (in my opinion worse) by the second. The only points of non-continuity were Victoria being played by Bryce Dallas Howard instead of Rachel LeFevre, and it showed—not that BDH did a bad job, just that she’s both obviously not the same actress and she just looked too…sweet—and Jasper’s wig service going from delightfully wild fro-let to coarse 19th-century bowl chop. All the wigs and dye jobs were as ridiculous as the Cullen’s make-up, and while the wolves looked better than they did last time, they’re still obviously CG renderings.
Jodelle Ferland is the young actress playing Bree Tanner in Twilight: Eclipse. She’s got a resume a mile long already, even though she’s not even sixteen, and it includes working with heavyweights like Terry Gilliam and Jeff Bridges and on movies like Silent Hill and The Messengers , which pretty much everyone who likes horror movies saw when they came out.
Kick-Ass lives up to its name. Best movie I’ve seen at the theater in months. I had pretty high hopes going in–all the bad reviews I saw were focused on how violent it was, which just made me more excited–and sometimes that kind of anticipation makes the actual movie experience a let-down. Not so in this case. I had a smile on my face throughout the movie, which, while in some ways exactly what I was expecting, also managed to surprise me with its take on the superhero phenomenon.
Actress Cassandra Sawtell, whom we hear at the empire know from Harper’s Island, has been nominated for Best Performance in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama) at the 2010 Young Artist Awards for her work on the show. Cassandra joins fellow nominees Valentina Barron, Ryan Newman, Miley Cyrus, and Miranda Cosgrove in the category. The 31st Annual Young Artist Awards will take place on Sunday, April 11, 2010 at The Beverly Garland in Studio City, CA.
Repo Men is a movie I wish someone could repo from my memory banks. It was the biggest waste of two hours of my life since Avatar (and possibly longer, since it’s not a film that has the cultural valence of James Cameron’s mega-hit), and I damn near walked out on it. Ultimately I’m glad I didn’t, because the ending presented a twist that moved the film a couple steps closer to not quite terrible…but not anywhere near enough. It was still terrible.
So what was so wrong with it?
Um. Wow. I am really not sure how to approach this one. First of all, this movie was not what I expected. It looked from the previews like a love story, possibly happy and possibly bittersweet, but a fairly straightforward story about a boy who starts seeing the daughter of a policeman he had a negative encounter with. Okay, well, I guess that is what the movie’s about. But it’s also full of the boy’s family drama, so much so that the subplot almost overwhelms the main story, and the existential tagline about “live in the moments” is pretty much nonexistent from the text of the film.
Sunday morning I brought the internet gem that is Two Gentlemen of Lebowski to your attention. Now I’ve got the man of the hour himself here to explain what possibly prompted him to combine Shakespeare and the Dude, why he thinks he’s qualified to do it, and how he went about putting together the greatest mash-up of all time. Or, at least, of 2010. So far.
Daybreakers, AKA 2010’s first vampire movie, is a pretty solid movie-going experience. It delivers on its trailers, presenting an eerie future where almost all the humans on earth have been changed into vampires–and in having done so not just not solved but actually worsened all of the problems and injustices in the world. The blood supply is on the verge of exhaustion, blood prices are skyrocketing beyond the reach of most of the populace, the number of vampires feeding on each other or themselves and becoming mutated monsters is exploding, and a non-toxic substitute has yet to be found. Chief hematologist for the largest blood supplier, Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), only thinks he has problems…until he encounters a group of humans who want him to find a cure. Not for the blood supply crisis, but for vampirism itself.
Brad Pitt called The Curious Case of Benjamin Button “a love letter to New Orleans.” Well. If Button was a love letter, then Disney’s The Princess and the Frog was a Homeric poem in the grand lady’s honor, because it caught the culture and flavor of New Orleans and southern Louisiana far better than the 2008 opus did. I honestly don’t know how this movie will view to people across the United States, whether the region-specific presentation of the story and the setting will diminish its appeal or raise it for being a uniquely American fairy tale. But for me, as someone who lives down here in the swamp, it was a fantastic movie.
Going to a midnight movie is an experience that has to be included in the review of the film. First, who was there? Mostly female–about 1 in 10 people were male–and not as many shrieking junior high girls as I expected. The audience was mostly high school/early college kids and adult women. Didn’t see any grandmothers, but there were at least a couple bona fide cougars there. Rrroooow. And who were they picking up? Was it the two dudes running around in actual Twilight T-shirts? Was it the unintentional (or was it?) Emmett with his hat sideways? No! It was Ben, from the local college, who asked himself “how can I make this ridiculous female obsession work for me?” and came up with the idea to mousse up his hair like Edward, slap on the oversize movie-star glasses Edward wears in the first movie, and saunter around with the Cullen copyrighted “I’ve been bringing sexy back since 1917 and I’ve still got it” strut. Girls were asking him for pictures right and left…I overheard some girl say he’d told her she was number 193 to ask for a picture so far that night–and this was in line for my drink and popcorn before the movie! That guy gets the Young Entreprenuer of the Week award. I know he wasn’t selling anything, exactly, but he made himself a hot commodity, and got all the Facebook friend requests he could hope for. Also he won the hearts of at least a few underage girls, because there was a pair sitting near us who kept giggling about him.
The best romantic comedy of the year!
I make that claim with only about 5% facetiousness. Zombieland, despite its name and premise (a pair of unlikely allies making their way through an America overrun with zombies) is much closer to a romantic comedy formula than a zombie movie formula.
Shane Acker’s 9 is a movie that has been much anticipated around BSCReview. We pretty thoroughly covered the media blitz for this movie, all of which I found intriguing and enticing: the date tie-in, “9/9/9: 9.” The taglines—“When our world ended, their world began,” and, “This isn’t your little brother’s animated movie.” The previews that showed crumbling relics of human civilization awash in a post-nuclear-holocaust yellow and creepy machines that have taken the place of natural predators. The teasers that just flashed the numbers and characters 1-9 with epic music scoring the montage.
Virtuality is a new original program that Fox premiered last night. It was unclear to me whether it was a TV movie or the pilot for a new series that may or may not actually advance into further episodes. The brief description I saw that made me tune it was that it is about a group of astronauts in space whose virtual reality program is either hacked or malfunctions or becomes sentient and unstable in its clumsy birth into a confusing world, because one way or another they start getting terrorized by the program.
Sure sounded cool.
I am delighted to bring you a BSC exclusive interview with Chris Dane Owens! Chris has recently created one of the most magical and fabulous fantasy videos of all time to accompany his new single, “Shine on Me,” from his forthcoming album, Blue Stone. He was kind enough to let me pick his brain via email regarding his vision and his process. I hope you will check out his work and support his wonderful artistic endeavor.
So, without further ado, on to the questions!