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Update from editor Peter Sciretta: The following review was published by Germain Lussier on January 19th 2014 from the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The movie is out in theaters this week:

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 »

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Skeleton Twins

Editor’s note: This is our review of The Skeleton Twins from this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It opens in limited release this weekend so we are rerunning. 

When Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig were building their careers on Saturday Night Live, they played multiple characters every single week. That took incredible acting chops. Though they’ve since left the show and are concentrating mostly on comedy films, Craig Johnson‘s second film The Skeleton Twins proves these skilled comedic performers can be dramatic as well.

The Skeleton Twins is about estranged siblings, Maggie and Milo, who haven’t spoken in a decade. After they are reunited by tragedy their relationship is quickly rekindled, but deep old wounds re-open. That may sound overly solemn and, at its heart, The Skeleton Twins is certainly a drama. But you don’t cast Hader and Wiig just to cry and be depressed. The chemistry they built for years on TV sizzles on the big screen in characters with an exuberant realism. The movie itself is good, but Hader and Wiig make it great. Read More »

Affleck Late Night

UPDATE: Ben Affleck is currently shooting Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We’ve seen photos of him on set, he appeared at Comic-Con to promote it, but not much has changed in regards to his feelings.

In September 2013, the actor praised the script’s unique take on the character, the work of director Zack Snyder, and discussed how he got cast – with Warner Bros. showing him clips of previous superhero casting backlash. Now, in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said all of this again. We’ve got the new Ben Affleck Batman quotes, along with the old ones (and a video), below.

Read More »

Steve James Life Itself

NOTE: Life Itself is now in theaters and on demand. To mark the occasion, we’re republishing our interview with director Steve James that took place following the film’s premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Steve James credits Roger Ebert with launching his career. It was Ebert’s championing of James’ first film Hoop Dreams, at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, which put that film on people’s radars. James scored an Oscar nomination and the film enjoyed a successful box office run. Afterwards, the two remained friends and James was eventually tasked with directing Life Itself, a documentary based on Ebert’s memoir.

Soon after filming began, Ebert tragically passed away. James endured and finished the film in time for the 20th anniversary of the beginning of his relationship with Ebert, the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking look at the career of the man many consider to be the most influential film critic in history.

During Sundance I was lucky enough to talk to James about the film. We discussed his approach to the story, balancing the tragedy with humor, the relationship between critic and filmmaker, and the choice to include Gene Siskel’s story. Check it out below. Read More »

Life Itself

Editor’s Note: The following review was originally published on January 20th 2014 after a screening at the Sundance Film Festival. The review is being republished as the movie is hitting theaters.

A movie about the life of a film critic might sound a tad indulgent, but there’s never been another film critic with the influence and character of Roger Ebert. Almost anyone who’s ever seen a movie in the US (and many other countries) has heard his name or taken one of he and partner Gene Siskel’s patented “Two Thumbs Up” recommendations to the box office. As a young film fan, I remember scouring the TV Guide searching for the Sunday morning broadcasts of Siskel & Ebert, and devouring every episode. In particular, I’ll never forget an episode where Ebert dissected Quentin Tarantino’s camerawork in Pulp Fiction. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of film language. Ebert had that effect on a lot of people.

If Ebert opened up that world to people then Steve James‘ latest documentary Life Itself opens Ebert to the world. Based on Ebert’s autobiography of the same name, the film tells Ebert’s life story, yes, but it does so via the framework of our own love of the movies. Great care is taken to specifically illustrate not only how Ebert changed the face of film criticism, but how he helped us all discover our own passion for the movies.

Make no mistake though, this isn’t some simple love letter. Life Itself is a warts and all dissection as well as a beautiful tribute. Issues such as alcoholism, struggles with weight, ego and sex are all part of his story. This is a vast, entertaining and thought-provoking look at Ebert the man and Ebert the icon.

Read More »

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(Note: We’ve bumped this for the occasion of the anniversary of the film’s original release on June 20, 1975.)

For moviegoers, there might not be a more quintessential summer movie than Jaws. (Pun intended.) But even if you’ve absorbed every documentary about the making of Steven Spielberg‘s template-setting blockbuster, you’ll probably find something new in Inside Jaws.

Jamie Benning creates what may be the ultimate fan documentaries, or “filmumentaries,” as he calls them. He’s done the job on the original Star Wars trilogy and Raiders of the Lost Ark; now he turns to Jaws. Benning’s films are like hyper-extended commentary tracks that collate interviews, production info and photos, deleted scenes, alternate takes, and other materials into a hyper-detailed “making-of” portrait. And so Inside Jaws is a 2 1/2-hour commentary track/documentary that will give you an impressive understanding of how the film was made.

Watch it below. Read More »

Peyton Reed directing Ant-Man

After a couple weeks of conversations with various directors, Marvel Studios has made a decision, and a deal that will see Bring it On and Yes Man helmer Peyton Reed directing Ant-Man. He’ll be working from a script that features input from Adam McKay, who was briefly in talks to direct the movie in the wake of Edgar Wright’s departure. Below, read the official studio info on the movie that is now Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man. Read More »

‘The Strain’ Trailer: “They’re All Dead”

strain trailer

Here’s a full trailer for The Strain, the FX show which adapts the novel series by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The pilot was directed by del Toro, and debuts in July. Corey Stoll (House of Cards and Midnight in Paris) stars as a doctor who begins to investigate a virus which effectively creates vampires. But there seems to be more going on than that, as the combo of the “he is here” tagline and a big hooded monster promises. Check out The Strain trailer below. Read More »

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