Zach Braff‘s Wish I Was Here is now infamous because of the controversy surrounding Braff’s Kickstarter campaign. But let’s not allow that to cloud the real picture –Braff’s fans coughed up $3.1 million for his second feature film because they loved his first movie. Garden State connected with teens and college-aged twenty somethings in a manner that rarely happens, almost in the way that a song or a poem connects, rather than a movie. Fans have been waiting over a decade for Braff to go back behind the camera for a follow-up. This year at Sundance they got it.
Wish I Was Here is a real crowd pleaser, earning a standing ovation at the Premiere screening at Park City’s The Marc theatre. The film is very funny; when the lights came up I was hurting from laughter and sniffling a bit. (Must have been the cold temperature of Utah, right? Yeah that has to be the reason…) It is my favorite movie of Sundance this year (thus far).
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Mike Cahill‘s I Origins might be the best science vs faith movie I’ve seen since Robert Zemeckis’s Contact. That is a very huge compliment coming from me, as Contact is one of my favorite films.
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Friday morning I spent 85 minutes with Tom Hardy as he drove a car while fielding phone calls over a Bluetooth connection. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds; it’s a movie at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Locke, directed by Steven Knight (Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises), is a an incredible acting exercise with the spotlight shining on Hardy, and Hardy alone.
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The films by director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett always have one thing in common. They are obviously influenced by an intense passion for movies, but are not overtly obvious about referencing those movies. In that sense, The Guest might feel like something you’ve seen before. It’s got the basic feel of a stalker film from the late ’80s or early ’90s, but filtered through the action of Quentin Tarantino, the music of John Carpenter, the ideas of James Cameron and almost too many others to mention. There’s action, sci-fi, horror, comedy… you name it, this movie has it. The result is a fresh, fun film that crescendos from title to credits with suspense, laughs and violence. Read More »
Ask someone what the quintessential Sundance movie is and they might say something with well-known stars, directed by a popular independent filmmaker, in a story about finding one’s place in the world. Which, on the surface, is Lynn Shelton‘s Laggies, starring Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz and Sam Rockwell. But Laggies breaks from that mold by spinning those festival tropes in an original, likable way.
Knightley plays Megan, a 28-year-old struggling with the inevitability of adulthood. To cope she befriends — and moves in with — a high school girl (Moretz) and her single dad (Rockwell). It might sound a bit creepy, but Shelton’s direction and the three lead performances instead lead to a sweet and interesting, if never spectacular film. Read More »
The Babadook is the best possession movie in years, a vigorous and very intense horror film about a family on the edge of sanity. This isn’t a gore showcase, but a wild emotional roller coaster. (If you need a tonal touchstone, go to Polanski films such as Repulsion and The Tenant.) There is a monster of sorts, but the movie would almost be just fine without him — the actors put each other through hell and writer/director Jennifer Kent drops us right in there with them. Read More »
Posted on Friday, January 17th, 2014 by David Chen
I was really looking forward to seeing Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, out in theaters this weekend. I’ve been a fan of the Jack Ryan character in his film incarnations over the years, and I was curious to see what actor/director Kenneth Branagh would do with a spy thriller in the wake of his relatively successful Thor directing job. I’m sad to say that Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is an aggressively average film. Everything about it is generic and bland: the script, the acting, the plot, and the action.
Check out my full video review after the jump.
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Before 1990, only 12 Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons had been found, and they were all less than 40% complete. Then a group of South Dakota paleontologists found Sue, an 80% complete fossil. It was the biggest T-Rex find in history, and that 13th find is how Todd Douglas Miller‘s documentary Dinosaur 13 gets its title.
The film tells the story of Sue’s discovery and, more importantly, the jaw-dropping events that occurred once the bones were out of the ground. The subject makes for a worthy documentary. In digging into the history behind the case, however, Miller finds many lesser stories below it, which are interesting to varying degrees. As a result, the film feel long and unfocused.
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