Steven Soderbergh, so often adventurous over the course of his career, closes out his theatrical run with the relatively conventional thriller Side Effects. Though the ideas within are familiar, a winding narrative path keeps predictability out of sight, and prevents Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns from ever falling back to one simplistic message. Soderbergh’s own skill with the form allows him to pursue that path at length, without losing the plot.
Starting off with pharmacological paranoia, the two take clear inspiration from Rosemary’s Baby, and toy with notions that call back to Hitchcock. But this is no throwback. Soderbergh has crafted a smart but pessimistic film rooted firmly in fears that are becoming more and more common today.
The film is built around a woman (Rooney Mara) who suffers from severe depression and falls into the care of a potentially dodgy psychiatrist. Side Effects traffics in the tone of modern paranoia that defined previous Soderbergh/Burns collaboration Contagion, and revels in the duplicity that was a cornerstone of their first partnership, The Informant!. The three films define something like an informal trilogy in which we are chronically disconnected, dishonest, and perhaps eventually doomed. Read More »
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Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2013 by Angie Han
It’s no coincidence that the official website for author Isaac Marion includes glowing blurbs from both Stephenie Meyer and Simon Pegg. Marion’s novel Warm Bodies, and Jonathan Levine‘s film adaptation of same, owes as much to Twilight as it does Shaun of the Dead. It attempts to infuse some self-aware humor into a tale of star-crossed inter-species romance. Ultimately, however, the combination turns out to be less than the sum of its parts.
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Charlie Victor Romeo is sure to be among the most stark and unnerving films you ever see. By using real conversations between cockpit and control tower from scenarios that ended in airplane crashes, the film walks an atypical line between entertainment and education.
The sheer, visceral terror to be had in this adaptation of the long-running stage play might lead to claims of exploitation, but there are no sick thrills here. Charlie Victor Romeo, shot in 3D, puts us right in the cabin with crews feverishly working to save themselves and their live cargo. It engenders fear, respect, and a fascinated detachment. This is an unusual and unforgettable film. Read More »
First-time feature documentary director Zachary Heinzerling makes a quietly assured debut with the tender and perceptive Cutie and the Boxer. In documenting the 40-year marriage between Japanese “action painter” Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko Shinohara, the film paints a keen vision of the ways in which the halves of a life-long couple learns to life with, and often in spite of one another. Read More »
If a movie can be both gentle and scathing, Fruitvale is it. In this simple but stunningly effective film, first-time feature director Ryan Coogler responds to the shooting death of a 22-year old Oakland man at a BART station on New Year’s Day 2009. The writer/director recreates the horrific action in a straightforward manner that is largely free of hyperbole and excess emotional manipulation. The climax of the film is one of the most powerful sequences you’re likely to see on a movie screen this year. Read More »
While Steve Jobs changed the world with his innovations and forward thinking, the first biopic about him, Jobs, does not. It is a competent retelling of Jobs’ life, beginning with his college years, and running through the period when he regained control of Apple in the 1990s.
Ashton Kutcher plays the title role and does a good job at making you forget there’s a big star under the beard and glasses. It’s the script by Matt Whiteley, however, where the cracks begin to show. Jobs [the new official spelling of the title] is so hell-bent on cramming all these seminal moments into one film, it never builds much context around them. We never feel like they mean anything or understand the “why” about the big moments. The film loves to tell us things, but never quite explains any in a satisfactory way.
The resulting product is an entertaining but flawed take on the man who co-created Apple. Directed by Joshua Michael Stern, Jobs had its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Friday night. Read more after the jump Read More »
There’s a moment about 15 minutes into Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes where writer/director Francesca Gregorini hooks you in. At the start you meet Emanuel (Kaya Scodelario), a beautiful, damaged girl with a super sharp wit. Then Linda (Jessica Biel) moves in next door. She’s beautiful too, of course, and a new mother, and you’re probably thinking this movie is already predictable.
But then Gregorini does something so unexpected, so creepy, so darkly hilarious that you can’t help but be 100% on board for the ride. And where she takes you is a really nice place to be. Read more after the jump. Read More »
Sarah Polley‘s documentary Stories We Tell is absolutely brilliant. I don’t use that word lightly, but I’ll say it again: brilliant. The actress-turned-director trains the camera on herself in a movie exploring not only her own family, but how people tell stories. She focuses on the truths embedded in them and different points of view. To help bolster that approach, Polley films not only her family, but herself filming the documentary, and cuts between the two seemlessly.
So while we’re hear Polley’s family history — how her mother and father met, got married, had kids, went through terrible trials, tribulations — we see the family, we see archival footage, we hear different points of view from all parties involved, and we see Polley behind the camera doing this, manipulating and prodding her subjects. And from there things get even more amazing.
After premiering at Berlin and playing Toronto and Telluride, Stories We Tell hit the slopes of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and just might be the best film at the festival. Read More »
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