by the sea review

By the Sea is very much an art film. Angelina Jolie Pitt‘s romance wears its European influences on its sleeve, but some American titles come to mind while watching the writer/director’s third film: What About Bob? and the work of Mike Nichols (Carnal KnowledgeCloser). The former title may appear odd, but By the Sea is about characters trying “get away from it all” in paradise. Unlike Bob, these characters can’t take a vacation from their problems. Their bags — full of cigarettes, a typewriter, and impeccable clothing — aren’t the only baggage these tired lovers bring with them on their getaway.

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2015 ASC award nominations

We’re in full awards season swing, as gross as that process can be. (Just see the attempts to tear down Selma for a good example of the nasty part of this season.) But the guild nominations and awards are always somewhat interesting, if only because they represent the efforts of a focused group to recognize achievements by their direct fellows and colleagues. We saw the writer’s guild awards this morning, and the American Society of Cinematographers has also chimed in with the 2015 ASC award nominations.

Even when trying to approach this from a positive position, there’s always as much to be said about what got left out as what is nominated. And so while Roger Deakins is (of course) nominated for Unbroken, there’s nothing for Robert Elswit, who shot Inherent Vice and Nightcrawler. Check out the full nomination list below. Read More »

20 Movies to Watch During Christmas Week 2014

Movies to Watch This Christmas

The Christmas vacation week has been a great time for movies for many years now. Knowing that people are on vacation and (possibly) eager to escape the odd family obligation or two, studios plan big releases for Christmas day, which is also conveniently one of the last big release dates of the year, making the time also a prime spot for the release of films with big award season campaigns. That means there are also many choices this week, from new releases to films that have been in theaters for a week or more, and the plethora of VOD offerings. So here’s a list of twenty movies to watch this Christmas.

Here, we’ll run down the big options for Christmas week movies, and give you some clue of which audiences might get the most out of each. Read More »


Fairly or not, each year a handful of pictures are pegged as probable Academy Awards contenders sight-unseen. Angelina Jolie‘s Louis Zamperini biopic Unbroken was one of those for months, but now the picture has come into clearer focus as the first reviews have hit the web.

The general consensus so far is that Unbroken is good but not great. Critics praised the talent involved, including lead actor Jack O’Connell, cinematographer Roger Deakins, and composer Alexandre Desplat, and enjoyed the extraordinary fact-based plotline. However, they were less impressed by Jolie’s dutifully conventional, cripplingly respectful approach.

Whether the good outweighs the bad is something we’ll have to find out for ourselves when the film hits theaters December 25. But in the meantime, get the Unbroken early buzz after the jump.  Read More »

new Unbroken trailer

Angelina Jolie takes her second turn as director with Unbroken, which adapts the book by Laura Hillenbrand to tell the story of Olympic competitor and WWII hero Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell). The film’s first trailer focused quite a bit on Zamperini’s upbringing, but this new Unbroken trailer focuses primarily on the war and its aftermath, during which Zamperini and two other Air Force crewmen survived the crash of their plane, only to be picked up by the Japanese Navy.

Transferred through a set of Japanese POW camps, Zamperini and Russel Allen Phillips were held captive from 1943 until the end of the war in 1945, during which time they experienced horrific treatment, some of which is seen briefly in this trailer. Read More »

Unbroken trailer

Angelina Jolie’s feature directing debut In the Land of Blood and Honey didn’t get a ton of attention. But her follow-up Unbroken is already looking like an early contender for the Oscar race, with an uplifting fact-based plot and a plum Christmas release date.

Based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit), Unbroken follows Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) from his humble roots to his Olympic stardom, World War II service, and stay in a Japanese POW camp. Domhnall Gleeson, Takamasa Ishihara, Garrett Hedlund, and Finn Wittrock also star. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, an American Olympian who competed in 1936, and a World War II veteran who survived a plane crash at sea during the war only to be picked up by the Japanese Navy and interred in a POW camp.

Angelina Jolie directs the film as her follow-up to In the Land of Blood and Honey, but it’s a few of the other names in the crew roster that might get your attention: Roger Deakins (No Country For Old Men, Skyfall, Prisoners) shot the film, and Joel and Ethan Coen did some work on the script. (Just how much we don’t know, but their involvement is a good bullet point in Universal’s sales pitch if nothing else.)

Here is an unusual “trailer,” written and cut specifically for an Olympic audience, with narration by Tom Brokaw and vintage photos and footage of Zamperini cut into the footage from Jolie’s film along with a recent interview with Zamperini. Read More »

Angelina Jolie directing Unbroken

Our first look at Angelina Jolie‘s sophomore directorial effort Unbroken wasn’t really a first look at the film, but a lovely photo of her with its real-life subject Louis Zamperini. But now that production is actually underway, Universal has some more movie-centric pics to offer.

The latest set photos from the survival epic show Jolie on the watery Australian set with her cast and crew, including stars Jack O’Connell, Domnhall Gleeson, and Finn Wittrock. They seem to be hard at work, though of course nothing they’re going through could possibly compare to the tribulations Zamperini and his comrades endured. Hit the jump to get a peek.

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When is a first look at a film not actually a first look at the movie? In this case, it’s when Universal sends out a shot (above) of Angelina Jolie with Louis “Louie” Zamperini, who is the subject of her new directorial effort, Unbroken. But in this case it’s a good call, because Zamperini is a war hero, and deserves his place in the spotlight.

The story is one Universal first thought about making in the late ’50s; this telling is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s much more recent book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and RedemptionJack O’Connell will play Louis Zamperini, an Olympian in 1936 and a pilot in WWII. In 1943, his plane crashed in the Pacific, and “he survived without food and water for 47 days, enduring shark attacks, aerial attacks and hunger before washing ashore on a Japanese island behind enemy lines, where he was held as a prisoner of war for two years and tortured by his captors.” Read More »