Tanya Wexler‘s Hysteria boasts the kind of premise that’s bound to make viewers sit up and take note: In Victorian-era England, the handsome young Dr. Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) invents the vibrator to help him treat his “hysterical” female patients by inducing paroxysms. (Or as we call it today, masturbating them to orgasm.) That it’s based on a true story, or a true-ish one anyway, makes it even more intriguing. So it’s a little disappointing that Hysteria is actually much tamer than that description would suggest, but it’s got so much charm I found myself enjoying the hell out of it anyway.

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If you’d told me that Seth Rogen would be the pleasant surprise of a quiet indie relationship drama starring Michelle Williams, I’m not sure I’d have believed you. This is her territory, after all, if it is anyone’s. (See also: Blue Valentine.) But even as the rest of Sarah Polley‘s Take This Waltz lurches between moments of understated heartbreak and scenes of thudding obviousness, Rogen quietly proves once and for all that despite his comedy roots, he’s got some serious dramatic chops.

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In 2007, Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi made a splash with their acclaimed feature debut Persepolis, an adaptation of Satrapi’s autobiographical comic. For their new follow-up Chicken With Plums, the pair have drawn upon another of Satrapi’s tomes, this one the true-ish tale of Satrapi’s renowned musician uncle.

Superficially, the two projects seem like opposites. Where Persepolis was animated in stark black and white, their sophomore effort is (mostly) live-action and bursting with vivid color. What hasn’t changed, however, is Paronnaud and Satrapi’s proclivity for producing bold visuals and mixing serious emotion with playful humor.

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Having tackled the fast-food industry, the war on terror, and product placement with his last several works, Morgan Spurlock takes on the less overtly political topic of male grooming in Mansome. Featuring interviews with experts, ordinary joes, oddities, and celebrities (Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Paul Rudd, Judd ApatowJohn Waters, etc.), the lighthearted film tackles the full spectrum of masculine appearance maintenance in contemporary society. It’s a very broad topic and Spurlock only manages to skim the surface, but what Mansome lacks in real insight, it makes up for in sheer entertainment.

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Sometime around 2007, Juno BFFs Ellen Page and Olivia Thirlby signed themselves up to reunite as teenage lesbian werewolves on Bradley Rust Gray‘s Jack & Diane. Funding fell through, however, and after years of delays, both actresses quietly dropped out of the project. Page was then replaced by Alison Pill, who in turn was replaced by Juno Temple, while Thirlby’s part was recast with Riley Keough.

This year, Gray’s completed Jack & Diane finally made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival. And while much about the film is tough to understand, what’s clear is that Page and Thirlby have dodged a bullet by leaving the project early on.

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Which film festival will be closed by The Avengers? What previously rumored actor has now been confirmed to appear in The Dark Knight Rises? Want to see a brand new international poster for The Avengers? How did Marc Webb go about reimagining the origin in The Amazing Spider-Man? Has a runtime for The Dark Knight Rises been revealed? What would the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles look like if they weren’t teenage or mutants? Read about all of this and more in today’s Superhero Bits. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Yep, that’s an image of a slacker Val Kilmer on a BMX bike. In a new short from Harmony Korine, Kilmer plays a motivational speaker named Val Kilmer, and we see him do his thing at a roller rink. The short is part of an omnibus feature called The Fourth Dimension that will play soon at the Tribeca Film Festival. As you might guess just based on that image and the short description I just provided, this looks like signature Korine craziness. Check out a trailer below. Read More »

Peter Mullan is a great character actor and a very serious director. His previous two films, The Magdalene Sisters and Orphans, were both pretty intense dramas, but definitely worth a look. He hasn’t made a film since 2002, but now returns with NEDS (short for Non Educated Delinquents), which charts the life of John McGill, a boy on the cusp of manhood trying to make his way through a tough life in ’70s Glasgow. Serious stuff once again, but possibly a companion piece of sorts to Shane Meadows’ great This is England. Check out the trailer after the break. Read More »

If you were famous, should you use that fame to get involved in public causes, and if so, how would you go about it? Nothing can change the public attitude towards a celebrity faster than seeing someone go overboard promoting a cause — I don’t think my dad will ever watch a Sean Penn movie again, for example, just because of the actor’s activism.

Naturally, this is a fitting topic for a comedy. Universal is making a deal to pick up a pitch from King of the Hill and The Tracy Morgan Show writers Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck (who also just wrote and directed A Good Old Fashioned Orgy) about celebs with causes. Judd Apatow is set to produce. Read More »