Movies to Watch With Happy Death Day

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: Happy Death Day.)

Happy Death Day is all set to shove tongues into cheeks on Friday with its twee name and bloody riff on Groundhog Day. The film stars Jessica Rothe as Tree Gelbman (yersh), a self-absorbed college girl who gets murdered at her birthday party, wakes up the next morning, and has to relive the day until she can solve the crime.

It looks to hit the sweet spot of self-aware horror that delivers gore with a slice of irony and a wink toward the ancient age of the slasher genre. It’s also far from the first film to mess around with time loops (not even the first horror film), which makes finding companion movies a fun trek through a sci-fi subgenre that’s got a surprising number of wins.

Let’s bargain with Dormammu and relive some movies that try to break the cycle.

Read More »

Battle of the Sexes Trailer

There is no quintessential tennis movie. Baseball has The Natural. Football has Friday Night Lights. Soccer has the Goal! trilogy. But tennis is woefully underrepresented on the big screen. Are there more golf movies than tennis movies? Maybe. Regardless, the landscape — whether clay or grass — isn’t pretty.

But now we’ve got a slew of them cropping up like fuzzy ball-based Armageddons and Deep Impacts. There’s Battle of the Sexes, which in wide release this weekend, Borg/McEnroe, and the documentary Love Means Zero. We’re about to be awash in tennis, and if Battle of the Sexes delivers the kind of Oscar hope it’s hyped to, it might kick off an even bigger trend.

So finding more tennis movies to play doubles with, let alone quality ones, was a challenge, but it’s exactly the kind of high stakes, do-or-die challenge I live for.

Read More »

superman all american

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: how a recent Superman comic is bringing out the worst side of America…and revealing what this country is supposed to stand for.)

In Action Comics #987, Superman faces a simultaneous barrage of small and large-scale calamities that see him harried, flying faster than a speeding bullet from crisis to crisis. One of them is an AR-15-wielding white guy sporting an American flag bandanna who opens fire on a group of Spanish-speaking factory workers. At the very last microsecond, Supes flies in front of the workers, shielding them from the bullets. He then berates the gunman for attempted murder (can you imagine!) and when the would-be killer bleats out that the workers stole his job and ruined him, Superman spits back that he should take responsibility for his own life.

With an ungodly to-do list, Superman then jets off to stop a spiteful activist from burning down a mansion to give the 1% what for, leaving the gunman and the workers in the hands of the local police. Yes, Superman is both against the mass murder of innocent people and against the destruction of private property. Yet his sense of fairness doesn’t work for Fox contributor Todd Starnes, who has twisted the issue to make it seem like Superman protecting innocent people is a new, liberal conspiracy meant to give pro-immigration forces a powerful ally. In Starnes’ take, Superman should have flown all the of the Spanish-speaking workers back across the border to Mexico. Since he didn’t, Starnes’ rhetorically asks, “Remember when Superman stood for truth, justice, and the American way?”

Read More »

movies to watch with mother

I’ll be honest, I have no idea what mother! is about. I watched a trailer, I’ve read reviews, and it all looks like Darren Aronofsky will dose every audience member with ayahuasca before conducting Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem in a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Esperanto.

This response seems to be standard:

So, let’s figure out some movies to watch this wild animal.

Read More »

Movies to Watch With Close Encounters of the Third Kind

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: the re-release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.)

Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, so it’s being re-released into select theaters this weekend. If you’re near one of the theaters, it offers a fantastic opportunity to see a movie worthy of the big screen as it was intended. If you’re not, you can still load it up on your own personal medium screen and fill your living room with blinking lights and familial angst.

That’s the brilliance of it, right? Like many Spielberg movies, Close Encounters delivers spectacle without relying on it. We get the big-think intrigue of the science fiction, and the thrill of making contact with aliens, but the heart of the story is the obsession that drives a wedge between Richard Dreyfuss’s Roy and his family.

Above all else, there’s a human cost to reaching for the stars.

So what should we watch with it?

Read More »

beasts of no nation

The dirty secret of culture writers on movie websites is that most of us don’t write lists to irritate people itching for the comments section. We do it to celebrate a big batch of films. I swear. We want to grab our pom poms for these things, especially the underrated work, and “The Underseen Gem” might as well be Bleecker Street‘s motto.

Cheerleading is exactly what this list is meant to do. Maybe it’s in the right qualitative order. Who knows. I simply want to draw attention to a quality distributor that nonetheless doesn’t get the same religiously whispered street cred as A24 or Annapurna. Led by former Focus Features exec Andrew Karpen, Bleecker Street isn’t as experimental as those outfits, but it still releases compelling, rich features for adult audiences. Whenever someone complains that the mid-budget movie is dead, that the ’90s-style era of solid drama is over, I always want to write “Bleecker Street” on a napkin and slap it on their forehead.

So, no clever introduction (most would skip over it to get to the numbers anyway) hyping their dense output in only 3 years. No hiding my purpose here. Everyone reads lists, so maybe this one will get more people watching their movies.

Read More »

the villainess review

This review originally ran during our coverage of the Fantasia Film Festival. The Villainess is in select North American theaters today.

The opening of The Villainess is dangerous. An exhilarating, first-person POV hallway fight scene that leaves a lot of unnamed henchmen in bloodied heaps is thankfully smart enough to (cleverly) shift away from the first-person angle just when you start wondering if the next two hours of your life are going to be a video game you aren’t in control of. The move expands our view of the stunningly choreographed action and announces a hint of the innovation yet to come. Yes, it’s dangerous, and like a lot of dangerous things – a mile-high tightrope walk, hanging to the outside of a C130 in flight, killing Keanu Reeves’ dog – it’s also thrilling when done right.

Read More »

Movies to Watch With Logan Lucky

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: Logan Lucky.)

Steven Soderbergh is back from an inactive hiatus where he limited his filmmaking involvement to Ocean’s Eight, the TV movie MosaicThe Girlfriend ExperienceGodlessRed OaksMagic Mike XXLCitizenfour, and Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. It’s unclear if he painted anything during that time.

His first feature since Side Effects in 2013, Soderbergh has teamed again with Channing Tatum for the NASCAR heist flick Logan Lucky. Tatum and Adam Driver play drivers attempting to knock over the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600. (Look out for newcomer Daniel Craig as Joe Bang!)

Do you need to have seen the other Wolverine movies to get Logan Lucky? No clue, but here are six films to check out alongside Soderbergh’s latest caper.

Read More »

the stand revisited 1

(Welcome to Nostalgia Bomb, a series where we take a look back on beloved childhood favorites and discern whether or not they’re actually any good. In this edition: does the television miniseries adaptation of The Stand represent the pinnacle of Stephen King adaptations or…not.)

If you grew up between 1950 and 1990, you knew how the world would end.

The United States and the Soviet Union would press a few buttons, and aliens would sift through the radioactive ashes. Rod Serling told us all about it. Dr. Strangelove put clown shoes on it. School children learned pointless ways to defend against it. There was a bone-deep helplessness that came with the fear, not just of the end of your life, but of all life itself, floating in the back of your head at all times.

Right after I was old enough to be made aware of that fear, it disappeared. The Wall came down, the Soviet Union collapsed, and we Americans were forced to open our minds to new ways of destroying the entire population.

Stephen King’s The Stand straddles these immobilizing periods by existing in different forms. The first, a Cold War novel about the collapse of society following a massive government blunder; the second a post-Cold War miniseries about the collapse of society following a massive government blunder.

Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

The Dark Tower Trailer Breakdown 20

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: The Dark Tower.)

The Dark Tower is a mystery. It’s an adaptation/kinda sequel to a series of Stephen King books that act as an expansive corpus of multi-world fantasy that has the epitome of a cult following. There are thirty years between the first and last published books, and it’s been ten years of development to bring this to theaters – enough time to take us from J.J. Abrams with Javier Bardem and Viggo Mortensen to Nikolaj Arcel with Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba.

There’s no telling what this thing is gonna be like. Even the trailers only offer a glimpse that’s shoot-out heavy and suggests that our world is at stake if the tower falls. To be blunt, they make the movie seem generic, and the books are anything but.

So what do you pair with something like that? Let’s stick with the fantastical, the adventurous, and the bullet-riddled, but I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments section.

Read More »