Good comedy is the result of long-simmering pain. A comedian struggles on stage, bombing in front of impatient audiences, for years before learning how to be funny. A hilarious actor waits tables while desperately hoping to get cast in that first defining role. And even after so much suffering and so much hard work, the vast majority of talented people still slip through the cracks, watching as others, sometimes friends, stumble into big breaks.
This is the world of Mike Birbiglia‘s Don’t Think Twice, a thoughtful comedy tinged with both melancholy and hope. Set within the New York City improv comedy scene, Birbiglia’s sophomore effort as a director captures the joy of creation and the agony of creative stagnation – anyone who has ever struggled to make something will laugh and cry and find a great deal of the film hitting very close to home.
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Hardcore Henry is less of a movie and more of a 95-minute assault on good taste, a bloody theme park ride in filmic clothing, and/or the gruesome collision of the video gaming and cinematic languages. It’s a singular experience that’s truly unlike any other movie, and for some viewers, it will still be, understandably, one film of its kind too many. But Hardcore Henry isn’t lazy and it isn’t half-assed and it is in no way derivative – for better and worse, it is an ambitious undertaking that accomplishes exactly what it set out to accomplish and there’s something admirable about it.
It’s impressively made, but entirely juvenile. Admittedly exciting, but casually cruel. Formally astonishing, but kind of skin-crawling on more than a few issues. Yeah, Hardcore Henry is going to elicit strong reactions and if you’ll allow me to break out the dreaded first person, I have no idea what to make of it.
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If Steven Spielberg was born and raised in Texas, he could have made Midnight Special. But he wasn’t and he didn’t, so the task fell to Jeff Nichols.
While this is undeniably the work of the same filmmaker who made Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud, his particular skill set is being utilized in service of a very different kind of story. Midnight Special is a science fiction road movie that proudly wears its influences on its sleeve while boldly treading into new territory. This is Close Encounters of the Third Kind with a southern drawl, Starman with a lived-in sensibility, and, most of all, it is one of the most stunning original and humane genre films to arrive in a long time.
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With some advanced screenings and a premiere out of SXSW behind us, the buzz on Richard Linklater‘s new comedy Everybody Wants Some!! (yes, the title has two exclamation points) has been extremely positive. Our own Jacob Hall just caught the film down in Austin, Texas and he called it “a joyous film, a comedy tinged with an invisible melancholy.”
In anticipation of the film’s release on April 1st, a new red band trailer has arrived to show off the wild party that drives this spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused. Of course, beware of the salty language and college party nudity that lies within this trailer, making it NSFW or any libraries that you crazy college students might be using to procrastinate. Read More »
Don’t Breathe revives one of the horror genre’s most convenient tropes: what happens when a group of genuinely rotten characters find themselves up against someone so much worse? It’s like a get-out-jail-free card for any filmmaker with a nasty streak, as they can proceed to punish the lead characters in unfathomable ways without asking the audience to feel too guilty for relishing in their suffering.
And director Fede Alvarez lays that suffering on with a heavy brush. Once Don’t Breathe finds its rhythm, it becomes one of the most relentless horror movies in recent memory, a non-stop assault that finds that fine line between crowd-pleasing and shit-your-pants terrifying. Alvarez already showed horror fans that he wasn’t kidding around with his vicious 2013 Evil Dead remake, but Don’t Breathe is his and his alone, proof that his brand of intensity can operate when removed from a beloved franchise.
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This is not a review of Keanu. The version that screened at SXSW was described as a work-in-progress cut and changes, both significant and minor, can still occur between now and when the film arrives in theaters. Jokes can be be swapped, sequences can be tightened, and entire scenes can still be excised or added. To say something definitive right now would be unfair.
However, the cut of director Peter Atencio‘s new comedy that played before a packed house at the Paramount Theater in downtown Austin certainly felt like a finished movie…and that’s a bit of a mixed bag. So let’s break out the questions. Is the big screen debut of beloved comedy Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele funny? Yeah, of course it is. These two can’t not be funny. If the trailer made you giggle, there is plenty to enjoy here and you’re in for a good time at the movies. But is the film more than the sum of its best jokes? No. At least not in this particular version.
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Richard Linklater is defined by his empathy. Few filmmakers love their characters quite as much as he does, and his affection fills his low-key dramas and broad comedies alike. Linklater’s affection for the young men at the core of his new film, Everybody Wants Some, is evident in every frame. These guys, young, dumb, and prepared to make all kinds of bad decisions because they’re obviously going to be 18 forever, are as realized as any comedic characters of the past decade. To watch their movie is to get to know them, to hang out with them, to join their party.
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SXSW 2016 kicked off like it always does – with a rainstorm that no one was prepared to deal with. But neither rain nor shine can stop the reach of the evil First Order, whose steely grip has officially reached the planet Earth. Namely, Austin, Texas.
Okay, so the life-size TIE Fighter parked in the empty lot near a bunch of delicious food trucks was just a replica and the two Stormtroopers guarding it were just performers hired to help drill the release date of the Blu-ray and DVD for Star Wars: The Force Awakens into everyone’s heads. But as far as advertising gimmicks go, letting you get up and close with this stuff as pretty top notch. You can check out photos from this event, as well as a teaser for one of the the home release’s most interesting special features, below.
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Just last week, Disney and Lucasfilm officially announced that Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be hitting digital download on April 1st with the Blu-ray and DVD hitting shelves on April 5th. One of the special features included on that home video release was revealed to be Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey, a feature-length documentary looking at the making of arguably the most anticipated movie ever. But if you’re at SXSW next week, you can catch it early. Read More »