Movie fans have long known that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a great actor. With Don Jon’s Addiction, the world will now see that he’s a talented writer and director too.
The film, his feature debut, focuses on a New Jersey-based ladies man who is hopelessly addicted to online pornography. A heavy and potentially uncomfortable topic for sure, but Gordon-Levitt handles it with an honesty and energy that makes it fun as well as easily digestible. The supporting cast, including Scarlett Johansson as a New Jersey princess-type, Tony Danza, Julianne Moore and Glenne Headly, only helps a film about objectification and media consumption feel so effortless and entertaining.
Don Jon’s Addiction is a high end Hollywood comedy masquerading as a Sundance film. Read the rest of my review, and watch a video blog featuring Peter Sciretta and Russ Fischer, below. Read More »
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Whether you like to be scared, grossed out or just made to scream at the top of your lungs, you’re going to love S-VHS. The film, a sequel to 2012′s VHS, once again is an horror anthology, loosely linked by the story of a two people watching random VHS tapes, all of which include some of the most horrifying, disgusting and terrifying imagery imaginable, all from different talented genre directors.
Directors Gareth Evans (The Raid) & Timo Tjahjanto (Macabre), Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project, Lovely Molly) & Gregg Hale, Jason Eisener (Hobo With A Shotgun), Adam Wingard (You’re Next, A Horrible Way To Die) and Simon Barrett (You’re Next, A Horrible Way To Die) have taken the formula from the first film, streamlined it and pushed the envelope even further. What remains is not only a horror anthology better than the original, but proof positive this franchise has some serious legs.
After the jump, watch our video blog review which contains no spoilers. Read More »
At the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, I was blown away by a film called (500) Days of Summer. When I interviewed director Marc Webb in Park City that year, he exclusively revealed that he was working with the 500 Days writing team of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber on a adaptation of Tim Tharp‘s The Spectacular Now. Then, hot off the success of Summer, Webb got pulled away to do some little superhero movie reboot.
Cut to the 2010 Sundance Film Festival: Smashed became one of the top buzz films of the festival with a critically acclaimed tour de force performance from Mary Elizabeth Winstead and an incredibly raw filmmaking style that put director James Ponsoldt on our must-watch list. So when it was announced that Ponsoldt would be taking over as director on The Spectacular Now, we were excited. And the movie does not disappoint.
The Spectacular Now is everything I hope a Sundance movie to be. It has heart, many laughs, story twists that will jolt you from your seat, and most importantly, the film speaks to a deep truth. It is an honest coming of age film about growing up and facing the great unknown that comes after high school, something we can all remember and relate to. But it tells that story without the forced nostalgia of other Hollywood films.
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Friday is the first real day of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and I spent the afternoon in the Eccles Theater (aka the Park City High School auditorium) watching two films: Jerusha Hess‘ adaptation of Austenland starring Keri Russell, and Kill Your Darlings starring Daniel Radcliffe as Alan Ginsberg. After the jump you can find my mini reactions and a video blog I recorded with Steve Weintraub from Collider.
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Michael Cera has crafted a recognizable outsider persona since his breakout gig on Arrested Development, and this latest role hones the edge of his gawky, lovelorn screen ego from brightly earnest towards something more viciously awkward. In Crystal Fairy Cera looks like Gene Wilder playing Abbie Hoffman, and he gives his funniest adult performance by dropping all self-conscious comic pretense.
At a house party somewhere in Chile, Jamie (Cera) takes drugs and retreats into the bathroom, where he comes face to face with ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights‘ by Hieronymus Bosch. The wild triptych points to the few days ahead, in which a quest for an elusive psychoactive cactus will lead Jamie to understand what an ass he can be. That might not sound like a lot of fun, but the odd, meandering Crystal Fairy has a loopy honesty paired with the uncomfortable laughter Cera provokes throughout. And Gaby Hoffmann, known to fans of Uncle Buck, Field of Dreams, and Sleepless in Seattle, gives an all-out provocative performance.
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Walking out of Ruben Fleischer‘s Gangster Squad, a friend asked “was that supposed to be serious?” I thought about it, and didn’t have an answer. On one hand, of course it is. It’s a big budget studio film, chock full of huge names inspired by an incredible true story. But you’ve seen the trailers. They intercut period action with modern hip hop as if to say, “This film looks serious, but it’s light and fun too.” Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the movie itself.
Gangster Squad rarely mirrors the fun of those trailers. The film adequately tells its story, complete with the intricacies of a decadent era, giving the illusion of a classic crime drama. But that drama is mixed with slow-motion bullets, sped-up fight sequences and so many one liners you’ll think you’re reading “Tough Guys For Dummies.” All of which would be fine if everything around it wasn’t so polished. Is Gangster Squad supposed to be serious? Probably not, but because it never commits either way, we’re left with nothing an awkward, mildly entertaining tale. Read More »
It’s been three and a half years since the Cannes debut of Inglourious Basterds, and now Quentin Tarantino has returned with Django Unchained. The film might be the unlikeliest Christmas Day release ever, as it stars Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz as a freed slave and his bounty hunting benefactor who are seeking to free Django’s wife (Kerry Washington) from the man (Leonardo DiCaprio) who owns her.
The film is a screed against slavery — with Tarantino’s penchant for violence and exaggerated depictions of history, this vision of America’s most awful historical institution can’t be seen as anything but horror. But as this is a Quentin Tarantino movie, it is a movie first and foremost, with vivid, energetic violence punctuating long verbal encounters between the characters as the director riffs on westerns and revenge movies in his own unique style.
Django Unchained is hitting top ten lists and creating some heated conversation thanks to the nature of the story, but now we want to hear what you thought of the film. Speak up in the comments below, where spoilers are encouraged. Read More »
Today’s the day — over a decade after the premiere of Peter Jackson‘s The Fellowship of the Ring, the director returns to Middle-Earth with the first of three planned films adapting J.R.R. Tolkien‘s first novel The Hobbit. The films won’t adapt only that book, however, as Jackson and co-writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Guillermo del Toro have also incorporated elements from appendecies and supplements to The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien eventually devised a dense amount of parallel story to buttress the episodic adventure of The Hobbit, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey incorporates some of that material.
The film is also Jackson’s first film set in Middle-Earth to be shot on a digital camera and in 3D, and the first studio feature film ever to be shot and projected at a high frame rate of 48 fps, compared to the standard 24fps.
Suffice to say, despite the presence of familiar Lord of the Rings faces such as Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Christopher Lee, and Hugo Weaving, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is very much a different look at Middle-Earth. Germain has weighed in on the film itself, and I’ve put down some thoughts on the high frame rate presentation. Now, tell us what you thought of the film, below. Spoilers follow in the text after the break, and are encouraged in the comments to facilitate full discussion of the film. Read More »
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