Close Encounters of the Third Kind

In May 2012, I was invited to a private screening of the Star Wars prequels that had been edited down into one 85-minute movie by actor Topher Grace. I was one of a couple bloggers that were invited the the screening. My report on the Star Wars re-edit went EVERYWHERE. The actor never expected that news of the screening would have exploded in the way that it did.

“Wanna know how many people it takes to set the internet on fire?” Grace asked Chris Hardwick on a recent episode of the Nerdist podcast. “It’s two bloggers, which we happened to invite. I was trending #1 on twitter [and didn't even have a twitter account at the time].”

It was one of those headlines that had “viral” built into every word. Star Wars fans who were disappointed by the prequels were interested to read just what changes Grace had made to the trilogy. Others were just happy to socially share an article about how some actor took George Lucas’ 7-hour saga and was able to edit it down to 85 minutes.

Last week I received an invite to Topher Grace’s next “remix” private screening, this time a re-edit of Steven Spielberg‘s Close Encounters of a Third Kind. Topher Grace even cut a trailer for his CE3K remix, which you can watch embedded below:

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Winter's Tale

Winter’s Tale doesn’t lack for sincerity. It’s genuinely invested in the idea of eternal love, and the notion that everything happens for a reason, and the possibility that miracles are happening around us every day, and it tries its very hardest to sell us on these pleasant beliefs. What Winter’s Tale lacks is sense.

Akiva Goldsman‘s directorial debut is thought-provoking in that it raises lots and lots of questions, but they aren’t of the deep, meaningful, existential variety. Rather, they range from the amusingly trivial (why is Satan wearing a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt in 1915 Manhattan?) to the thoroughly confounding. (Seriously, what is the point of this supposedly epic battle between good and evil?) By the time it was all over, the magical flying horse-slash-guardian angel felt like the most comprehensible thing I’d seen in the past two hours.

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The-Zero-Theorem-Image-01

While we wait for Terry Gilliam‘s new film The Zero Theorem to hit theaters in the US (which will happen… sometime) we’ve got a few new tidbits for you to check out. One is a “making-of” featurette on that film, showing some of the means with which Gilliam, his crew, and stars Christoph WaltzMelanie ThierryLucas HedgesBen Whishaw, Tilda SwintonDavid Thewlis, and Matt Damon brought the story’s weird vision to life.

Even as that movie moves towards theaters, Gilliam is really going back to shoot The Man Who Killed Don Quixote once more. He’s scorned the idea of using Kickstarter to finance the film when asked about such an idea in the past, but now seems to be more open to the process. Quotes on that are below, too. Read More »

Robocop Black

If Jose Padilha‘s RoboCop wasn’t called “RoboCop,” it would be much easier to embrace. While this remake evokes and/or borrows many designs and big ideas from Paul Verhoven’s 1987 original, the meat of the story is almost totally unique, giving it the feel of a completely different movie. Obviously, that was the point, but by simultaneously differentiating itself while also staying beholden to the original, the film is burdened with the weight of expectations and analysis of the original film.

That burden aside, Padilha has made a pretty solid movie. It has a lot to say and it delves into facets of the Alex Murphy character we’d never seen before. The story is global; the influence of media and government plays a huge role. There’s some really intense action, which takes a back seat to myriad points of social commentary and morality. Those points give the film a seemingly unique voice, but it doesn’t work as a cohesive piece. Padilha has brought together a strong cast with beautiful music and camerawork to make a movie much better than one would expect, but nowhere near what you’d hoped. Read More »

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It’s not tough to imagine the pitch meeting where The Lego Movie was conceived. The toys have been a familiar fixture of toy chests since the ’40s, and given that every other remotely recognizable playroom property is getting adapted for the big screen these days, it was only a matter of time before someone grabbed a fistful of plastic bricks. Lucky for us, those people turned out to be Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

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Lego Movie (Screengrab)

The Lego Movie is probably the most fun I’ve had at the movies since seeing Pacific Rim last summer. Writer/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have taken a film that could have been a shameless, lifeless tie-in and infused it with so much life that it’s bursting at the seams with jokes, movie references, colorful set pieces, hilarious dialogue, and even characters from other universes.

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Jonny_Greenwood-1

Paul Thomas Anderson and Jonny Greenwood are working together again. I can’t quite think of Greenwood’s music as fun — the Radiohead guitarist and occasional film composer creates sounds that are deeply affecting and even cacophonously emotional, but not “fun,” exactly.

Anderson is also not exactly a poster child for levity. Yet his new film film Inherent Vice is based on a Thomas Pynchon novel that is among the author’s most wacky and energetic books. It is certainly one of Pynchon’s easiest reads, with some madcap criminal activities and a set of weirdo SoCal characters. It’s a fun book, if one stretches the definition of “fun” into realms of the strange.

Anderson’s facility with character and dialogue makes him seem like a great choice to tackle the material, and some of the story’s tone should please fans who have always wanted another Boogie Nights from Anderson. Now the director has recruited Greenwood to provide the score. Read More »

AWOD_DAY_24_0605.NEF

In the end credits of That Awkward Moment, we’re treated to a blooper reel. The footage is typically goofy stuff — stars flubbing lines, knocking over props, cracking dirty jokes, and generally getting silly — but it’s a pleasure to watch because the actors are so damn fun. Zac Efron, Miles Teller, and Michael B. Jordan come across as warm and funny people, and the rapport between them is inviting. I can only imagine that the set must have been a blast.

The film itself, however, is not. Although the premise should, in theory, provide plenty of opportunities for sparks to fly and for the cast’s magnetic personalities to shine through, as they do in the blooper reel, writer/director Tom Gormican seems more interested in shoving the characters along predictable plotlines. The result is a tedious romantic comedy that can’t sell the romance, the comedy, or even the bromance.

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