The 2014 Sundance Film Festival hasn’t even started yet and the second huge American film festival on the calendar is already announcing its lineup. That would be South by Southwest 2014, which takes place in Austin TX from March 7-15. The two biggest announcements so far are for opening night, which will feature the world premiere of Chef, directed by Jon Favreau, and the highly anticipated Veronica Mars film. (Which became a Kickstarter sensation during last year’s festival.) But that’s not all. A conversation with Alejendro Jodorowsky, a new film co-written by Mark Duplass, and more are in the first announcements. Read about the first batch of films playing at SXSW 2014 below. Read More »
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Editor’s Note: Short Term 12 opened in New York and Los Angeles last weekend and expands this week. Below we’re republishing Germain’s review from South by Southwest 2013 and click here for an interview with the director.
Sometimes you watch a movie and, at the end, can’t think of anything in the film that could have been done better. The whole thing just feels perfect or magical, a shining example of what cinema is all about. Short Term 12 is one of those movies.
Written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton based on his award-winning 2009 short film of the same name, Short Term 12 stars Brie Larson as Grace. She’s young woman who spends her days overseeing a huge group of foster kids in a group home, many of whom are mentally ill. They suffer from depression, have suicidal tendencies and OCDs. It is Grace’s job — and that of her boyfriend Mason (The Newsroom‘s John Gallagher Jr.) and a new guy (Rami Malek) — to try and keep the kids content while they go about their lives. This is easier said than done when Grace is probably more messed up than everyone else in the building.
Funny, moving, surprising and emotional, Short Term 12 is an awards contender from top to bottom. The performances are mindblowing, the writing sharp, and the direction beautiful. It’s a very special movie, and worthy winner of the 2013 South by Southwest Grand Jury and Audience Awards. Read More »
(This review originally ran during SXSW, in March. As Much Ado About Nothing hits theaters today, we present it once more.)
In the world of drama, nothing is quite as distinct or lovely as the prose of William Shakespeare. His vocabulary, his rhythm, rhymes and descriptions, all established a standard against which others are still measured. Modern day dramatist Joss Whedon also has a distinct style, characterized by wit, humor, and cultural authority. Surely it’s not in the same league as the Bard’s. But with the writer/director’s modern adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, Whedon has found an enjoyable and surprising balance between the two.
The film will be released June 7, but had its U.S. Premiere this week at South by Southwest. Read more below. Read More »
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 »
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 »
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“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 »
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 »