Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead

Many people today don’t realize it, but much of modern comedy was born at the National Lampoon. John Hughes, Al Jean, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, John Landis, Ivan Reitman and John Belushi are just some of the famous names who got their start through something related to the once-popular humor magazine, created in 1970.

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon, directed by Douglas Tirola, tells the complete history of this incredible brand. Simultaneously, the film documents much of the humor we love today: Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, and more. Below, read the rest of our Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead review. Read More »

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The Nightmare review

The last thing you probably ever want to see is a literal recreation of your deepest, darkest nightmares. In The Nightmare, director Rodney Ascher (Room 237) has done just that. The film explores the condition commonly referred to as “sleep paralysis.” That’s a condition where someone is in bed, but totally physically immobilized. Some who suffer from the condition – including the eight subjects in this documentary – feel they are visited by something evil during these periods. Ascher lets these subjects tell their stories, then we watch them play out on screen. It’s absolutely horrifying, if not wholly rewarding. Read more of our The Nightmare review below. Read More »

Racing Extinction review

The Cove director Louie Psihoyos returns to Sundance in 2015 with a new call to action. Racing Extinction is a more wide-ranging documentary than its predecessor, albeit one that is just as sharply produced, and no less stirring. Psihoyos says his intention was to go a lot bigger, and the film follows through by offering a sort of omnibus catalog of several interrelated problems facing life on Earth. If anything, Racing Extinction is too broad to give ample time to every subject, but the sum total of Psihoyos’ efforts is devastatingly effective. Read More »

Going Clear Movie Review

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief is a good primer for, and a very damning and powerful indictment of the church of Scientology. Unfortunately, the film provides little in terms of new revelations, and viewers who have researched the church will find most of the documentary to be familiar ground. Read my Going Clear movie review after the jump.

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Julia Roberts batkid
Batkid Begins premieres Saturday at the Slamdance Film Festival but, before that even happened, the movie’s story has a happy ending.

Julia Roberts – yes, the world famous actress – has purchased the rights to the documentary to make it into a narrative version. Roberts will produce as well as star in the film. There’s no word on who Roberts would play, but the smart money is on Patricia Wilson, the director of the San Francisco Make-A-Wish chapter that put the whole event together. She has a huge role in the documentary, which you can read our review of here. Below, read more details about Julia Roberts Batkid. Read More »

Finders Keepers review sundance

On Friday I screened the first great film of the 2015 Sundance film festival. Finders Keepers is a hilarious, bizarre and sometimes devastating documentary about the true life story of two men. Shannon Whisnant purchases a storage unit at auction and is surprised to find a severed human leg inside a used bbq grill. The other man, John Wood, wants his leg back, but Whisnant isn’t about to let that happen.

Read the rest of my Finders Keepers review and see a clip from the film, embedded after the jump.

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Drew Struzan Batkid header

On November 13, 2013, an event happened that showed the best of what this tech-crazed, celebrity obsessed world can do. Ironically though, the person the event was about had no idea what he’d inspired. That’s the story of Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World, which tells the incredibly story of Miles Scott, a young California boy diagnosed with Leukemia whose one wish was to be the real Batman. The San Francisco Make-A-Wish Foundation tried to grant that wish and as word began to spread of their plans, it became an event that – as the title says – was heard around the world.

Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World premiered this weekend at the Slamdance Film Festival. Continue our Batkid Begins review below. Read More »

How to Change the World review

Being too young when the group was in its initial firebrand incarnation to understand, much less appreciate the early activism of Greenpeace, I’ve ended up simply dismissive of the organization as a whole. That’s despite knowing nothing about the group’s founding. The Sundance doc How to Change the World is a good way find a path back through the group’s history.

At its best, How to Change the World is tremendously inspiring, and by turns thrilling, comic, and shocking. A portrait of the achievements of an unlikely group of allies rather than a sales pitch for the modern organization, How to Change the World is drawn from writings by founder Robert Hunter, the group’s shaggy, media-savvy general, and features jaw-dropping footage culled from the Greenpeace archive of film footage. Though while the film offers a vision of Greenpeace I’d never seen, it is also somewhat overlong, and cursed with organizational problems that add nothing to the audience experience. Read More »

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