Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free northern man who was kidnapped and sold into bondage in the 1840s, 12 Years a Slave doesn’t shy away from the horrific aspects of a slave trade that existed for hundred of years, sweeping up more than 12 million souls. Familial separation, abuse, torture, the idea that the slaves were no better than beasts; it’s all laid bare for the audience to witness.
Though not a “light” film by any measure, this is a well-executed drama dealing with a horrific historical occurrence. Director Steve Mcqueen has proven that he’s a burgeoning young auteur, a vibrant force that should deliver us a slew of great films in the decades to come. Just as with his previous film, Shame, this is a gutting experience, and McQueen, as channeled through the extremely capable cast of Chewitel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano, and Brad Pitt, crafts a two-hour story that can’t help but leave you drained as the credits come up. Read More »
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Director Alfonso Cuarón is finally back, and he’s showing us truly amazing things.
Gravity is a technical marvel, an optical treat of the highest order. However, it can also lay claim to being one hell of a narrative, combining genius-level visuals with a taut script; the end result coming together as something really special. On the face of it, it’s the story of two NASA astronauts on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, and the obstacles they’ll have to overcome to survive in space. Really, Gravity is the age-old set-up in which humankind attempts to operate in an environment designed to kill. Indeed, though a far different film than Children of Men, both thematically and in terms of scope, Cuarón has created another film with weight, resonance, and a strong sense of style.
George Clooney and Sandra Bullock easily carry this briskly paced film, Bullock in particular (as Mission Specialist Ryan Stone). She turns in a remarkable performance, more textured and compelling than anything we’ve seen from her prior, including The Blind Side. Making the hostile setting of space the focal point of a film certainly comes with a huge element of risk, but I’m pleased to say everyone involved pulled it off. They’ve made a 90-minute cinematic gift for us.
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The Fifth Estate is an extremely strange movie. That’s fitting, perhaps, given the central focus of the film: Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Star Benedict Cumberbatch is his normal awesome presence, but the story itself should have been redacted.
As a story attempting to encapsulate massive cultural questions regarding government secrecy, privacy rights, dictators, and the misuse of power, it would seem that The Fifth Estate had everything teed up to be a vitally important film. That it doesn’t end up getting there is likely the fault of a weak script or lesser directing, because Cumberbatch, as Julian Assange, comes off pretty great. Yes, the Cumberbatch was willing, but the muddled mess of The Fifth Estate isn’t able to stitch together anything nearing cohesion, even with these significant built-in advantages. Read More »
Of all the films that got incredible buzz out of last week’s Telluride Film Festival (12 Years A Slave, Labor Day, Gravity, etc.) one stood out just because it sounded so very different. That film was Tim’s Vermeer, a documentary by noted magicians Penn and Teller. Penn produced and Teller directed the film, which follows inventor Tim Jenison on his attempt to duplicate the famous painting The Music Lesson by Johannes Vermeer. Jenison surmises that Vermeer may not have painted all his famous works by hand, instead using technology to aide in the creation. By attempting this, Jenison (as well as Penn and Teller) question the very nature of art itself.
Below, we’ve got a clip from the film that makes that above paragraph a bit more clear, as well as some early buzz from noted film critics. Read More »
The first wave of films for Fantastic Fest 2013 was good. The second wave looked great. And now the third one proves why this little film festival in Austin is truly one of the best in the country.
Escape From Tomorrow (above), The Zero Theorem, Metallica Through The Never, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Gatchaman and Jodorowsky’s Dune are just a few of the new films announced for the festival, which takes place September 19 – 26 at Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline in Austin, Texas.
Below, check out the full list of the third wave as well as some new stills. Read More »
Posted on Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 by Angie Han
It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven long years since Alfonso Cuarón released his last movie, the dystopian sci-fi Children of Men. But at least he’s made his new film worth the wait, if early Venice Film Festival reviews are anything to go by.
Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as two astronauts — she a newbie, he a veteran. While on a mission, a bit of floating debris knocks into their shuttle, sending them floating into outer space and struggling to survive.
Reactions from an early test screening last year were mostly quite positive, and now that the film’s complete the praise is even more glowing. Hit the jump to see what the critics are saying.
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In today’s Hollywood, unless a poster is sold online, odds are it stinks. The marketing for most films has become so generic that any kind of artistic expression of what a film is in its advertising has all but gone away. Every once in a while, however, a poster pops up to challenge that belief. That’s the case with We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, directed Simon and Zeke Hawkins.
The film will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and follows three teens who leave their small town and turn to a life of crime. It’s written by Dutch Southern, who is also writing the female Expendables film, and the poster was designed by Eisner Award winning artist Sean Phillips.
You could know nothing about the film, see this poster, and want to see the movie. And isn’t that what a great poster is supposed to do? Check it out below. Read More »
Note: This review originally ran during the Sundance Film Festival in January. It is based on a cut of the film that is slightly different than what opened limited last weekend and expands this week.
The best way to revitalize a well-worn story concept is often to approach it openly and honestly, but from an unusual angle. That’s what writer/director David Lowery does with the ages-old conflict between an outlaw, a lawman, and the woman between them, in the exceptional modern western Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, and Rooney Mara are the people crossed at a crucial point in time. You’ve heard the story before, or at least seen the setup: one guy pulls a criminal job, and is caught in a fight with sheriff’s deputies as a result. His girlfriend is stalwart and sticks with him, even when the consequences of his criminal actions hit hard. But life is complicated, and plans go right to hell.
Deliberately paced and more interested in aftermath than big action scenes, a shorthand caption for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints could be “Cormac McCarthy by way of The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford.” Each role is acted with calm precision, and directed with a measured hand. Lowery never falls to the temptation of overplaying a scene. It is one of the best films I’ve seen at Sundance 2013, and a must for fans of the slow burn or directors Andrew Dominik and John Hillcoat. Read More »
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