Short Term 12

Briefly: By far the best movie I’ve seen in 2013, Destin Daniel Cretton‘s Short Term 12, is making its way to your local theater. (Or, in all likelihood, your favorite VOD platform.) Cinedigm acquired the film, which won both the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival, and is planning a late Summer release.

Short Term 12 stars Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr. as a young couple who have to balance their own personal issues with the issues of the displaced kids they are in charge of at a foster home. Read my full review here. It’s a glorious, special film. [Deadline] Read More »

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Oddly enough, everything you need to know about Spring Breakers is represented by its two credited music composers: Cliff Martinez and Skrillex. Martinez is a veteran, a regular Steven Soderbergh collaborator who recently did the score to Drive. He’s known for pulsing, tense, dramatic scores. Skrillex is the world’s best known dubstep DJ, known for grimy, catchy party anthems infused with a certain soul and savagery. Those two sounds, traditional and modern, are Spring Breakers in a nutshell. It’s a wild, entertaining and vibrant movie with an underbelly of tension and purpose.

At times Spring Breakers pops with energy and excitement. It then dives into much more intense drama. The tones, like those of the score, sometimes clash. But often the oddfellows mesh beautifully, making us question why this film is the way it is: a fever dream of drugs, sex and violence. The answer brings to light some tough questions about society’s core beliefs. Read More »

“What does Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons do when he goes home at night?” At a post-film Q&A for the role playing game dramedy Zero Charisma, co-director Katie Graham suggested that question, which is wrapped in so much potential comedy and tragedy, as a perfect description of the film. She couldn’t be more right.

Written and co-directed by Andrew Matthews, Zero Charisma premiered at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival this week. It stars Sam Eidson as Scott, an overweight nerd who prides himself on being the Game Master of his weekly tabletop role playing game. The game isn’t Dungeons and Dragons, however, it’s a game of his own design. Scott focuses almost all his energy on it. So much so, that the game stands in for any semblance of a social life or career.

That scenario could have been played strictly for laughs or strictly for tears. Yet Matthews’ script and the performances he and Graham get from the actors help the film expertly tiptoe the line between the two. Scott’s story creates moments of hilarity and pathos, resulting in a relatable, complex film that explores what it means to be uncool. Read More »

When you watched Evil Dead II, did you feel pain when Bruce Campbell cut off his own hand, not because of any empathy for the horror, but because Sam Raimi didn’t show the chainsaw actually hitting flesh? If so, then stop reading and order a ticket to Evil Dead, because Fede Alvarez‘s remake is the movie for you. Drenched in gore, the movie doesn’t ever flinch away from violence.

Raimi’s original The Evil Dead was calculated to appeal to drive-in audiences, but his irrepressible personality shone through the exploitation effort. With star Bruce Campbell and producer Robert Tapert, he produced a blend of horror and physical comedy — splatstick, working from an underlying principle that proclaimed “the gore, the merrier!” — that had obvious roots in Three Stooges and Buster Keaton comedies. Raimi, Campbell, and Tapert set out to make the screen run red with blood, but ended up creating something more unique than another horror quickie.

All of which is preamble to set up the fact that Fede Alvarez’s skill with effects shines in his own Evil Dead. But look away from the gore and you’ll see a confused movie that lurches in different directions from one step to the next. It barely establishes a personality of its own beyond the brutal gore.  Appropriately for a film that traffics in bodily dismemberment, Evil Dead ’13 is less than the sum of its parts. Read More »

Think about Facebook, iPods, iTunes — all things you might use every single day. They all have seeds in the “little program that could,” called Napster. Co-created by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker in the late 1990s, the file-sharing service/social network was not only ahead of its time technologically and socially, it completely changed how the public consumes media. If it wasn’t for Fanning and Parker, who knows how long it would have taken for corporations to allow you to download music on your computer or rent one of their movies without leaving your house.

All this is at the center of Downloaded, a brand-new documentary by Alex Winter. Winter (seen above with Fanning and Parker) is best known as an actor (Lost Boys, Bill and Ted) but has been directing for some time. With Downloaded, he tackles a massive topic with authority and energy, telling the story of Napster from its earliest moments through its culture peak and long term fallout. It world premieres this week at South by Southwest in Austin and will be released by VH1 Rock Docs. After that, you’ll be able to see it on demand and online.

We spoke to Winter about Downloaded and found out it was a project he’d been developing for long time before it evolved into its current state. He talked about trying to focus such a huge topic, culling together a huge wealth of media and, of course, The Lost Boys and Bill and Ted 3. Read the interview below. Read More »

Joss Whedon Joins Twitter, At Least Temporarily

Many of us have enjoyed following fake Joss Whedon accounts on Twitter but, the man himself is now on there. At least for a little bit.

Yes, Whedon seems to be in charge of the Twitter account for his upcoming film, Much Ado About Nothing, which just revealed its first trailer. Whether or not he’ll continue tweeting there once the film is released in June is still questionable but maybe we fans can convince him to pull a Marc Webb or Bryan Singer as he moves forward on his next film, The Avengers 2, and use the service to post images of the production.

UPDATE: Whedon commented about the news on one of his fan sites. Read it below. Read More »

We’re still at the point where there’s reason to talk about director Emily Hagins‘ own narrative as we talk about her movies. Hagins started her first feature, Pathogen, when she was not even a teen, and her 2011 film, My Sucky Teen Romance, played SXSW when she was just eighteen. Usually when young people are involved in filmmaking, we see them mature though their work in front of the camera. In this case, we have the unique opportunity to watch a filmmaker’s transition into adulthood through the films she makes.

Her latest film is Grow Up, Tony Phillips, which casts Tony Vespe as a high school kid whose love for Halloween represents the fact that he’s just a bit out of step with everyone else around him. AJ Bowen, Devin Bonee, Katie Folger and Caleb Barwick are also featured in the film.

The film’s trailer has shown up online in advance of a premiere next week at SXSW, and you can have a look below.  Read More »

It had never occurred to me that someone might make a film that effectively served as the midpoint between Twilight and the art-house “vampire” weirdness of Trouble Every Day. But here we have a bloody, vaguely sexual red-band trailer for Kiss of the Damned, and the film from Xan Cassavetes plays almost exactly like that.

Check out the trailer for the SXSW midnight entry below. Read More »

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