American Sniper fake baby

The first comments I heard from people about Clint Eastwood‘s American Sniper, after the film’s premiere at AFI Fest in Los Angeles last fall, were about the baby. If you’ve seen the film, you’ve noticed the baby. If you haven’t seen the film you’ve probably still heard people talking about it. During a scene in which Chris Kyle is at home, Bradley Cooper has to hold a very obviously plastic baby for over a minute. Sure, joke about the scene being the one to lock Cooper’s latest Best Actor Oscar nomination, but for real, why the plastic baby?

Turns out there’s no grand concept behind using a prop rather than a real baby for the scene — it was a purely practical decision. Read More »

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Cop Car review

Cop Car has the brutal elegance of old-school crime fiction. Two young kids find a seemingly abandoned sheriff’s cruiser in a stand of trees. One thing leads to another, and soon they’re off on a joyride through the countryside. But the sheriff wants his car back, and there’s another wild card factor, too, which draws a noose around all their necks.

Few deeds go unpunished in this daylight noir. Yet even through the increasingly grim action an innocence is maintained that sets Cop Car apart from recent companion films such as Cold in July, The Guest, and Blue Ruin. Getting reductive for a moment, Cop Car is like an Amblin film filtered through the twisted vision of the Coen Brothers. It’s a midnight movie blast. Read More »

The Overnight review

Sundance 2015 has barely begun but already, sex is everywhere. Straight, gay, exploratory, odd, difficult, and, whenever possible, hilarious. It’s all here at the fest and The Overnight (not to be confused with doc The Overnighters) fits right in.

Beginning with a couple played by Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling frantically rushing through morning sex before their kid bursts into the room, this is the movie where you’ll see Scott and Jason Schwartzman dance together naked. Like, totally naked. OK, actually about 98% naked. That other 2% is a visual gag carries a hefty comic punch and casts a long shadow over the rest of the story. Even better is a free-sprited, swinging performance from Schwartzman, who bats around the comic stereotype of the LA “cool dad” like a kid with a balloon.

The Overnight is a wild, very funny caricature of the supreme awkwardness of allowing yourself to be truly vulnerable in front of the person you love the most. Read More »

How to Change the World review

Being too young when the group was in its initial firebrand incarnation to understand, much less appreciate the early activism of Greenpeace, I’ve ended up simply dismissive of the organization as a whole. That’s despite knowing nothing about the group’s founding. The Sundance doc How to Change the World is a good way find a path back through the group’s history.

At its best, How to Change the World is tremendously inspiring, and by turns thrilling, comic, and shocking. A portrait of the achievements of an unlikely group of allies rather than a sales pitch for the modern organization, How to Change the World is drawn from writings by founder Robert Hunter, the group’s shaggy, media-savvy general, and features jaw-dropping footage culled from the Greenpeace archive of film footage. Though while the film offers a vision of Greenpeace I’d never seen, it is also somewhat overlong, and cursed with organizational problems that add nothing to the audience experience. Read More »

Knock Knock teaser

The premise of Eli Roth‘s new film is very simple: Keanu Reeves plays a supposedly good man whose life is put to a severe stress test when two attractive young women (Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas) knock on his door. The film just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (we’ll have a review soon) but you can see the first Knock Knock teaser below. Read More »

Deep Web teaser

Here’s a lively first teaser for Deep Web, a new documentary from Bill and Ted co-star Alex Winter, who recently directed the doc Downloaded. The new film Deep Web looks into the FBI takedown of Silk Road, the online marketplace most famous for dealing drugs online, and investigates the charges against Ross Ulbricht, who authorities claim was “the Dread Pirate Roberts,” responsible for running Silk Road. The doc will premiere in spring 2015; check out the Deep Web teaser below.  Read More »

Hateful Eight supporting cast

Quentin Tarantino has been rolling cameras in Colorado for his new film The Hateful Eight, and the beginning of production provides an opportunity for the reveal of additional cast members. We now know that a few Tarantino regulars and some new faces are in the cast, joining the lead players Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern and Channing Tatum. Read More »

Dreamwork's Animation layoffs

The animation world was rocked this week as Dreamworks Animation closed its PDI Studio in northern California. The closure comes as part of an expected round of Dreamworks Animation layoffs, but the 500 jobs that were cut this week far exceeded expectations, and the closure of the studio had not been predicted at all. Along with these layoffs comes a significant reduction in production, as the company’s planned three film per year output will now back off to only two films: one original per year, and one sequel.

Along with this closure comes another push for the How to Train Your Dragon 3 release date — the film will now arrive in 2018. Read More »

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