Thursday, December 6, 2012

Let's Aggregate!

Haven’t done this in a while. Here we go!

For The Atlantic:

The Central Park Jogger Case Had Six Victims, and Only One Was the Jogger

'I'm Convinced We're All Voyeurs': Filmmakers on Why They Make Films

Sketching Out 'Psycho': Production Storyboards From 15 Beloved Films

Flavorwire “Flicks of the Week”:

‘Killing Them Softly’ Is a Cool, Muscular Crime Pic

‘Life of Pi’ Is Sumptuous, Inspiring

‘Anna Karenina’ Is a High-Spirited, Robust Adaptation

‘Skyfall’ Is Bond at His Best

For Flavorwire:

Awesome Photos of Filmmakers Hanging Out Together

Is This the Year of the Studio “Oscar Movie”?

The Lousiest Christmas Movies Ever Made

Bizarre Movie Theaters from All Over the World

A Beginner’s Guide to Hitchcock

Where Do ‘Community’ and Chevy Chase Go from Here?

Flavorwire’s Guide to Indie Flicks to See in December

Gift Guide: The Best Gifts for Movie Geeks

Awesome Photos of Comedians Hanging Out Together

10 Potential Blockbusters Killed by the Internet

10 Proposed Movie Sequels That We Do. Not. Want.

Why Fox’s Election Night Coverage Was Both Entertaining and Disturbing

The Best and Worst Bond Themes of All Time

The Saddest Comedies Ever Made

Exclusive Supercut: 15 Thanksgiving Dos and Don’ts (From the Movies)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

#TallgrassX Review: "Paul Williams Still Alive"

Reviewed at the 2012 Tallgrass Film Festival

“I always thought he died too young,” notes Stephen Kessler mournfully, at the beginning of Paul Williams Still Alive—but it’s a fake-out, of course, and not one hidden for long (hell, it’s there in the title). Williams, for those not old enough to remember (or who were too high at the time), was one of the most recognizable singer/songwriters of the 1970s. He parlayed his success penning works for Streisand, the Carpenters, David Bowie, and the Muppets into a kind of all-encompassing celebrity, via his appearances in films, on talk shows, and in a seemingly endless series of TV guest shots. And then, in the mid-‘80s, his excesses got the better of him. But he didn’t die; he got sober, even working with addicts and alcoholics like himself. And he continues to perform, which is where this film comes in.

#TallgrassX Review: "Year of the Living Dead"

Reviewed at the 2012 Tallgrass Film Festival

In 1967, a 27-year-old college dropout and industrial filmmaker named George A. Romero assembled a ramshackle cast and crew of friends, associates, and clients, rented a farmhouse in the sticks, and made Night of the Living Dead—“this tiny little movie in Pittsburgh,” notes historian Jason Zinoman, that “changed the world.” That sounds like a tall claim for a low-budget horror picture, but in his new documentary Year of the Living Dead, director Rob Kuhns mounts a convincing case.

#TallgrassX Review: "The Story of Luke"

Reviewed at the 2012 Tallgrass Film Festival

Alonso Mayo’s The Story of Luke deals with the elephant in the room about a third of the way in, and just in time. Its title character is autistic—modestly well adjusted, but not the kind of high-skill type we think of thanks to a certain 1988 Oscar winner. While trying to get a job, Luke is asked, “Can you multiply big numbers, or memorize entire books?” He can’t. But he does tend to remember the exact and often indelicate wording of things people tell him in semi-confidence, and repeat those things at inopportune moments for the tellers. Luke’s social skills may be underdeveloped, but the kid’s got crackerjack comic timing. That, in a nutshell, is the trouble with The Story of Luke, which is a likable and well-acted movie that feels just a little too clean and easy.

#TallgrassX Review: "Fat Kid Rules the World"

Reviewed at the 2012 Tallgrass Film Festival

If Matthew Lillard and his agent didn’t sit down a couple of years back and strategically decide to “do an Affleck,” I’ll eat my hat. First, the one-time Shaggy and eternal Freddie Prinze Jr. second banana started popping up in restrained and effective supporting roles in the likes of The Descendants and Trouble with the Curve; now, here is his charming, low-key feature directorial debut, Fat Kid Rules the World. It’s a fairly sly piece of work, narratively speaking, inasmuch as you think it’s going to be one kind of movie, and it subtly becomes something else. The film’s primary flaw is that both are movies you’ve seen many times before.

#TallgrassX Review: "Beauty is Embarrassing"

Reviewed at the 2012 Tallgrass Film Festival

“My name is Wayne White, and I make pictures.” So announces the subject of Neil Berekely’s documentary Beauty is Embarrassing , but he’s selling himself short; he is also a puppeteer, sculptor, cartoonist, art designer, and a pretty mean banjo player. To the oft-given advice to focus on one thing and do it well, he offers a stern “Fuck that!” And as someone who found success in Hollywood, dropped out, and became an artist, he says, “Fuck you, F. Scott Fitzgerald!”

Friday, October 19, 2012

#TallgrassX Review: "Pablo"

Reviewed at the 2012 Tallgrass Film Festival

Good documentary films can do a lot of things—educate, inform, immerse us in a scene, tell a story. Richard Goldgewicht’s Pablo does those things, and one of my other favorites besides: it wants to tell you all about this amazing guy that you totally should have heard of before now, but probably haven’t. Said guy is Pablo Ferro: self-taught animator, comic book artist, advertising creator, and one of the genuine artists of movie title design. If that all sounds too “inside,” it’s not; this is the story of a creative artist with a unique, idiosyncratic style that changed the game. Who’s not fascinated by that?

#TallgrassX Review: "The Right to Love: An American Family"

Reviewed at the 2012 Tallgrass Film Festival

On the very afternoon that I saw The Right to Love: An American Family, an informative and emotional documentary about marriage equality, yet another key moment in that movement had arrived: the Defense of Marriage Act had been ruled unconstitutional by a New York federal appeals court. That ruling will certainly be appealed; this battle, one that evangelicals insist is for the very soul of America, is one that has been fought in courtrooms as much as in the streets or in voting booths. Gay marriage has been a hot-button topic since George W. Bush used it as a wedge issue back in 2004; in 2008, the elation of the Obama victory was tempered somewhat by California voters’ decision that same day to add an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. On it goes.

#TallgrassX Review: "Citadel"

Reviewed at the 2012 Tallgrass Film Festival

Between The Raid: Redemption, Dredd 3D, Attack the Block, and now Ciaran Foy’s Citadel, I’m not getting a very good feeling about the safety of apartment block buildings overseas. In the jostling opening sequence of Citadel, a young man named Tommy (Anuerin Bernard) and his pregnant wife are moving out of their decidedly sketchy-looking building, but not quite quick enough; the missus is attacked by a mysterious—but scary—gang of hooded figures, and though doctors manage to save the baby, the mother is not so lucky.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In Theaters: "Seven Psychopaths"

“I don’t want it to be one more film about guys with guns in their hands,” explains Martin (Colin Farrell) of his new script Seven Psychopaths, which is also the title of the film he explains that in—a film written and directed by a man named Martin, so you can see what he’s up to here. Martin McDonagh is the fiendishly clever playwright whose last film, 2008’s wonderful In Bruges, was very much marketed as one more film about guys with guns in their hands, though it was far more compelling than that; same goes for this follow-up. It doesn’t quite match that film’s emotional core, but it’s an audacious and jazzy bit of motion picture puzzle-making.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

In Theaters: "Finding Nemo 3D"

The new 3D conversion that’s prompted the re-release of Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo isn’t exactly earth-shaking. It nicely immerses the viewer in its undersea world, yes, and spotlights a couple of already eye-catching foreground/background compositions (Dory reading the scuba mask while Marlin is chased behind her; the pair bickering as a whale approaches behind them), but that’s about it. All told, there’s not much of a reason to see Finding Nemo in 3D. But then again, there’s not much of a reason to see any movie in 3D, a technology that mostly serves to throw a couple of more bucks in the pockets of penny-pinching studios while providing moviegoers a gratuitous level of “engagement” whose primary function (for this viewer, anyway) appears to be the expedition of headaches. With most films, the 3D doesn’t really matter. And that’s the case here as well, since this cash-in rerelease is mostly worthwhile for giving us the welcome opportunity to see and enjoy Finding Nemo again.

In Theaters: "10 Years"

As the opening credits roll for Jamie Linden’s 10 Years, the cast list unfurled is a little mindboggling: Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Chris Pratt, Justin Long, Ari Graynor, Kate Mara, Anthony Mackie, Max Minghella, Aubrey Plaza, Ron Livingston, Oscar Isaac, Brian Geraghty, on and on. It’s a big cast, full of outsized personalities and pre-existing personas, and one that first-time director Linden could lose control of fairly easily. To his credit, he doesn’t; 10 Years isn’t exactly a groundbreaking piece of work, but it moves crisply, garners light laughs, and juggles its likable characters well.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In Theaters: "For Ellen"

All right, Paul Dano, I’m coming around on you. If I may be so pretentious as to quote myself, this is an actor who whom I once wrote, “he's doing another of his sensitive, whiny mopes, a schtick that is growing more tiresome with every passing picture.” And that’s a criticism I stand by, while also acknowledging that he showed himself—in films like Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood—to be an actor not without talent. But he’s been doing interesting work lately, shedding the repetitive persona and going some new and interesting places in films like Meek’s Cutoff, Being Flynn, and Ruby Sparks. Which brings us to So Yong Kim’s For Ellen, in which there is no shortage of Mr. Dano; he’s in every scene, front and center, often alone. It’s a very good performance, in a modest but admirable film.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New on Blu: "A New Leaf"

"You have managed to keep alive," Henry's butler Harold tells him, "in your lifetime, traditions that were dead before you were born," and he's not kidding. Henry (Walter Matthau) is a snooty aristocrat, spoiled and materialistic; a great opening gag finds him at the bedside of what we presume to be a dying relative, only to discover that it is cherry red Ferrari. Henry speaks in a light upper-crust accent and spends his days driving, riding, and drinking with the very dull, very rich of Manhattan. The trouble is, his money is about to run out--the trust he lives off has been running on fumes for years. Faithful Henry (George Rose) has been helping Henry into his smoking jackets long enough to know that going to work isn't an option, so he advises either suicide or a rich bride. After much gnashing of teeth, he chooses the latter, and that's the juicy premise of Elaine May's A New Leaf.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In Theaters: "Lawless"

Musician-turned-screenwriter Nick Cave and director John Hillcoat last teamed for The Proposition, a brutally effective bit of business set in the Australian outback in the 1880s. That picture had the feel of myths being simultaneously made and undercut, and their latest collaboration, Lawless, has much of the same aim: set in Franklin County, Virginia (“the wettest county in the world”) during the Prohibition, it is ripe with gangster-picture iconography. But it melds those images and themes with leftover artifacts of the Western (domestic and Spaghetti) to create a bubbling stew of badassery and violence. It’s one of the more entertaining films of the summer.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

In Theaters: "Samsara"

In the opening sequence of Ron Fricke’s Samsara, we watch a performance by three young dancers. At the end of their dance, Fricke closes in on one of their faces, and holds the shot, and holds it longer, in a tight close-up. It’s a fascinating little moment, a conscious effort to make us, as audience members, hyper-aware of the act of really looking at something. You’ll be doing a lot of that at Samsara, which is Fricke and producer Mark Magidson’s long-awaited follow-up to their gorgeous 1992 film Baraka. Like its predecessor (and Koyaanisqatsi, for which he was cinematographer), Samsara is not a standard documentary: there are no talking heads, no voice-overs, and no explicitly stated themes. Fricke tells his stories in breathtaking images and stirring music, and they encompass nothing less than the entirety of the human experience.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In Theaters: "Hit and Run"

Dax Shepard and David Palmer’s Hit and Run is not a great movie, not by a long shot, but boy is it a hard movie to hate. Tonally, it’s a bit of a mess, an uneasy hybrid of ‘80s action/comedy homage, Tarantino-esque two-handers, and heartfelt relationship stuff—something like a True Romance remake directed by Hal Needham. So it’s too busy and too scattered, but honesty must prevail: I laughed often, sometimes heartily. And the film almost solves the increasingly perplexing dilemma of what to do with Kristen Bell.

Friday, August 17, 2012

In Theaters: "The Awakening"

The Awakening
’s general premise (and opening scene particularly) recall Red Lights, from just a couple of weeks back; the broad strokes are reminiscent of The Others and last spring’s Woman in Black; hell, there’s even a shout-out to Psycho, with a replication of the peephole shot that rivals Gus Van Sant’s. There’s very little that’s original in The Awakening, but that’s not its downfall (if homage were grounds for dismissal, we’d have heard nothing from Tarantino since ’91). The trouble with the movie is that there’s nothing in it that’s particularly fresh or intelligent. It’s a movie that goes through the paces until arriving at its astonishingly goofy twist ending, at which point the whole picture goes into the toilet.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In Theaters: "Cosmopolis"

It’s been a good long while since David Cronenberg has indulged his inner freak—he’s coming off the (comparatively) staid and disciplined trilogy of A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, and A Dangerous Method—which is reason enough to go into his latest picture, Cosmopolis, with a feeling of giddy anticipation. That feeling lasts about twenty minutes, and then you start checking your watch. For a director returning to his home turf, Cronenberg has crafted an oddly airless affair, one strangely lacking in either the enjoyment of execution or the perversity of pleasure so persistent in his earlier efforts. It’s not a bad film, of course—Cronenberg is too competent a craftsman for that, and still quite capable of casting a spell. But it’s the kind of movie you keep waiting to come together, and it doesn’t.

In Theaters: "Robot & Frank"

Frank (Frank Langella) lives in Cold Springs, New York, in “the near future.” He lives alone; there is a wife who left some time ago, and two adult children. Madison (Liv Tyler) is a world traveler, always video-calling from some exotic location (a nice touch: even in “the near future,” the signal is still choppy and lousy), while Hunter (James Marsden) lives several hours away, but close enough to pop in on the weekends, since his father… well, he doesn’t need to be in home or anything, not yet. But he’s maybe a little senile, occasionally forgetting things. However, he has not forgotten how to steal—that’s what landed him in prison years ago. He shoplifts, but that’s more to break up the boredom, which also seems to be the cause of his daily flirtations with the town librarian (Susan Sarandon). He doesn’t really think about pulling jobs again until his son brings him the robot.

In Theaters: "ParaNorman"

Your first hint that Chris Butler and Sam Fell’s ParaNorman might not be your average family film comes early—from the first frame, in fact, since the picture opens with a grindhouse-style “feature presentation” bumper, and proceeds to give us an opening scene not of this story, but of a scratchy print of a zombie movie. It’s being enjoyed by young Norman Babcock (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) and his grandmother (Elaine Stritch), which causes some concern among the rest of the family, since grandma’s dead.

Monday, August 13, 2012

New on Blu: "Jaws"

It's important to resist blaming Jaws for what it has wrought, and there's no question about it: this is a movie with a lot to answer for. Though it hit theaters in 1975, its release marked the beginning of the end of what we cinephiles think of as "the '70s"; in cinema, "the '70s" started in 1967, with the release of Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, ambitious and complicated studio films that challenged audiences, electrified critics, and turned a tidy profit. For the next several years, it seemed like a workable blueprint, and because they were still recovering from the collapse of the studio system and frankly didn't know what the hell they were doing, the suits were willing to take risks on mid-level movies that would bring modest returns. Then Jaws happened, and they realized exactly how much money there was to be made.

Given a large, saturation release (as opposed to the slow, platformed rollout more common to studio pictures) and a heavy television ad buy (a rarity back when they were seen as competing media), Jaws became, for all intents and purposes, the first "summer blockbuster." Star Wars followed two summers later, and the paradigm was set: fewer mid-level movies, and more big-budget monsters. Spend more to make more. And if you want to make as much as possible, then your big movies have to appeal to the widest audience possible--which means dumbing them down. Welcome to the '80s, and '90s, and '00s, and now.

What's interesting about Jaws, though, is that it doesn't hold to that shift at all; revisiting it with even the cynicism of a summer 2012 moviegoer is a fool's errand, as the picture's crackerjack craftsmanship, iconic performances, and (yes) fierce intelligence render it utterly irresistible. This is Hollywood genre filmmaking at its finest, and blaming it for the shift in mainstream moviemaking is a clear-cut case of shooting the messenger.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

In Theaters: "The Bourne Legacy"

The Bourne Legacy has always been one of this summer’s more questionable projects, a picture that asked a question seldom even posed anymore in this post-Smokey and the Bandit 3 age: is a franchise even worth continuing if the title character isn’t involved? It became clear early on that neither star Matt Damon nor Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass had any interest in continuing the franchise, and for good reason; that third film was an entirely satisfactory conclusion, and dragging the character’s adventures out further didn’t really make a helluva lot of sense. But The Bourne Legacy went into production anyway, and while some of us snickered at Universal’s seemingly desperate play for summer cash, the project started to get interesting. Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, and Edward Norton signing on are all good signs—a better one is the involvement of Tony Gilroy.

In Theaters: "Hope Springs"

The last time Meryl Streep starred in a middle-aged sex comedy, the result was It’s Complicated, so you can forgive me for walking in to Hope Springs with something less than fevered anticipation. And let’s not oversell—this is a film with real problems, from its tenuous grasp of tone to the many, many questionable music choices. But it’s not a bad film. It’s sweet and occasionally very funny, with an achingly credible leading turn by Meryl Streep and a Tommy Lee Jones performance which nicely reconfirms that, at this point in his career, Tommy Lee Jones is pretty much great in anything.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

In Theaters: "Total Recall (2012)"

There are few things this world needs less than a remake of Total Recall, and walking in with that skepticism (and its resultant low expectations) actually works in the favor of Les Wiseman’s new remake, which surprises merely by the act of not being terrible. Sure, the set-up is clunky and the climax is a mess, and though it seems inconceivable, they’ve managed to make a movie that diverges from the 1990 original yet still isn’t a proper adaptation of the Philip K. Dick story they’re both ostensibly based on. But if you put all those issues aside, there’s about an hour in the middle of this Total Recall that is, plain and simple, crackerjack action filmmaking, and that’s a rare enough commodity that it’s worth noting.

In Theaters: "Celeste and Jesse Forever"

Still photos, sweet music, snappy byplay, and lots of “I love you”s: the interesting trick in the opening scenes of Lee Toland Krieger’s Celeste and Jesse Forever is that we don’t realize we’re watching a couple at the end of a relationship, and that’s why their friends are freaked out. It’s not right that a couple on their way to a divorce are still hanging out with each other every day, sharing their inside jokes and intimacies. They object: “It’s the perfect break-up!” insists Jesse (Andy Samberg), and for a time, it looks like he’s right. He’s not, of course; he’s hanging on to the relationship for dear life, hoping that Celeste (Rashida Jones) will change her mind. Maybe she will, and maybe she won’t, and either way, it might be too late.

In Theaters: "The Babymakers"

Jay Chandrasekhar’s The Babymakers is a happily low-rent, cheerfully dirty sex comedy, raw and ribald but nowhere near as mean-spirited as what tends to pass for sex comedy these days. Director Chandrasekhar hails from the Broken Lizard troupe, and a few members of that group (including him) pop up, but it’s not a “Broken Lizard movie,”; it’s a fairly conventional love-and-marriage comedy, with some sperm theft thrown in.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

In Theaters: "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry"

There’s a good chance that much of the audience for Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry will know a great deal more about artist/activist Ai Weiwei than this viewer did, and they will certainly find much to latch onto. But there is always something of a question about whether a lack of familiarity with a documentary’s subject is a hindrance, and in this case, the answer couldn’t be clearer: moviegoers unaware of Weiwei will find this up-close portrait of his life and work fascinating, ballsy, and more than a little scary. A big bear of a man with a cool demeanor and a pronounced distaste for authority, he’s a movie star in waiting; I’m amazed it took someone this long to make if official.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In Theaters: "Ruby Sparks"

When Harry (Chris Messina) reads the first section of the new novel by his brother Calvin (Paul Dano), he has one critique. But it’s a big one: he doesn’t believe Ruby, the primary female character. “Quirky, messy women whose problems only make them endearing are not real,” he insists, and the more knowing audience members will smile, because Calvin has written a Manic Pixie Dreamgirl. It’s probably fair to assume that Zoe Kazan, the adorable young actress who plays Ruby (and who wrote this screenplay) has been offered her fair share of MPDs, most of them presumably written by men not unlike Calvin. For a while, Ruby Sparks promises to be less the contribution to the subgenre that its ads suggest, and more a commentary/critique of it. Disappointingly, this angle is teased but mostly dropped, leaving us with a markedly less interesting gimmick rom-com about a writer who creates the girls of his dreams, and must contend with her.

Friday, July 13, 2012

In Theaters: "Grassroots"

Grassroots is a sneakily engaging shaggy-dog of a movie, a wonky political procedural in odd-couple comedy’s clothing with an affection for its characters that’s rather infectious. Director Stephen Gyllenhaal (yes, of those Gyllenhaals—he’s their dad) adapts Phil Campbell’s book—the picture opens with the irresistible disclaimer “Most of this is true”—about how he ran an honest-to-God grassroots campaign, in which a Seattle loose cannon named Grant Cosgswell mounted a basically single-issue challenge to a longtime City Council member. The issue was mass transit, but as Cogswell says, “Mass transit is social justice.”

Thursday, July 12, 2012

In Theaters: "Red Lights"

Two years back, the Spanish director Rodrigo Cortés directed Buried, a taut, tense little potboiler that didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved. (It’s that movie where Ryan Reynolds is trapped in the coffin for 90 minutes. Go rent it.) It’s such a good film that there was every reason to anticipate his latest effort with eagerness, even excitement. That excitement last about ten minutes into his new film Red Lights, peeling away in layers as the film progress: Okay, so maybe this one’s not up to par. No, it’s mediocre at best. No, wait, it’s actually quite bad.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On DVD: "American Reunion"

“C’mon guys, that was funny.” –Stiffler
“Maybe in high school it was funny.” –Jim

And there you have the trouble with American Reunion in a two-line nutshell, with this film that has gone to a tremendous amount of trouble to gather all of the players (no matter how minor) from the hit 1999 comedy, and has gone to no trouble at all to give them anything funny or interesting to do or say. Because such things seem important in matters of both nostalgia and comedic taste, I will stress my affection for the “original trilogy” of American Pie movies (the makers of Reunion are among those who would like to pretend that those endless direct-to-DVD sequels never existed), the first of which appeared when I was 23 years old—a touch older than its characters, sure, but right in the middle of its target audience. American Pie, American Pie 2, and American Wedding all delivered the expected jizz jokes and naked flesh, but they also had affection for the characters, a dash of heart, and the somewhat-revolutionary idea to float the notion that girls like sex too. They weren’t great movies—the storytelling was clunky and the serious romances were a drag—but they were fun. There’s precious little of that in display in American Reunion, which is about as strained and depressing a “comedy” as you’re likely to sit through. It’s not funny, it’s not human, and for a major studio tentpole release, it’s astonishingly lazy.

Monday, July 9, 2012

New on Blu: "The Saphead"

The trouble with The Saphead is that it’s not a Buster Keaton movie. This is no great crime, in and of itself; Citizen Kane isn’t a Buster Keaton movie either, but it’s still worth a spin every now and again. However, The Saphead stars Keaton—in his first feature film role—and doesn’t give him much of anything to do, which is (let’s face it) something of a crime against cinema. Because he is in it, the picture is worth seeing (there’s very little he’s in that isn’t), but let’s face it: if Keaton weren’t the star, it surely wouldn’t get the deluxe Blu-ray treatment.

Friday, July 6, 2012

In Theaters: "The Do-Deca-Pentathalon"

Mark and Jeremy did the do-deca-pentathlon back in the summer of 1990, when they were teenagers. It consisted of 25 events, a fierce competition between two brothers who took it very, very seriously; it ended in a draw, during the very last event, when their father shut the whole thing down. The do-deca left them “embittered and estranged,” according to the opening crawl of the Duplass Brothers’ The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, on such bad terms that Mark hasn’t invited Jeremy to his birthday weekend. Jeremy shows up anyway. “Surprised to see me?” he asks, and Mark replies with a sharp and immediate “No.”

Monday, July 2, 2012

In Theaters: "The Amazing Spider-Man"

Seldom has a major summer blockbuster been as pungent with the odor of being assembled by committee as Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man, a movie that slams between great moments and unwatchable scenes with enough force to give the casual viewer whiplash. Three separate screenwriters are credited, but many more reportedly contributed, and you can tell—there’s no clear voice, no narrative momentum, and most importantly, no real reason for the movie to exist at all. It is the origin story of how Peter Parker became Spider-Man, which is a story that we were all told a mere decade ago in Sam Raimi’s original (and superior) Spider-Man; one of those three screenwriters is Alvin Sargent, who (weirdly enough) wrote Spider-Man 2 and co-wrote Spider-Man 3. And Spider-Man 3’s poor reception is supposedly the reason they did this reboot in the first place, so why was the same guy hired again? What the hell kinda con game are these people running?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

In Theaters: "Magic Mike"

Someday, someone will write a lengthy, scholarly deconstructionist essay on Steven Soderbergh’s use of the late-‘70s/early-‘80s Saul Bass-designed Warner Brothers logo at the beginning and Foreigner’s “Feels Like The First Time” at the end of his new movie Magic Mike, but here’s a thumbnail sketch: he’s earmarking it to the proper era, because he basically made the male Flashdance. It’s not just that he spends the entire film slyly subverting traditional on-screen gender roles (more on that later), it’s that the whole movie has a distinctively go-go ‘80s sensibility. It’s like one of those Tom Cruise movies where he’s the best ____ in the world (bartender, racecar driver, pool player, whatever); here, Channing Tatum is the best male stripper. There’s one true ‘80s Cruise movie in theaters right now, and it ain’t Rock of Ages.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In Theaters: "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a movie that sneaks up on you, and then wrecks you. It’s a wildly unconventional picture, light on plot and heavy on mood; it introduces its characters, dithers around with them a while, observes them, joins them in their flights of fancy. Director Benh Zietlin is less interested in notions of routine narrative than he is in creating a feeling, a tone, one that is carefully crafted and impeccably sustained. It is, for a long time, a film that seems to be amiably going nowhere, until it arrives. Boy, does it ever.

Monday, June 25, 2012

On DVD: "21 Jump Street"

If it offered nothing else to be thankful for, one could applaud Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s 21 Jump Street for giving us the most meta movie moment in recent memory. It comes early, when young cops Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are being reprimanded by their captain (Nick Offerman) for blowing an arrest by not reading the suspect his Miranda rights. (Jenko, not the brightest bulb, can’t remember them: “They always cut away on TV before they finish ‘em”). They’re being reassigned, their boss tells them. “They’re reviving a cancelled undercover police program from the ‘80s and reinventing it for a new generation,” he explains, primarily because they’re “completely out of ideas.”

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In Theaters: "To Rome with Love"

Woody Allen’s world tour continues in his new comedy To Rome With Love, which tells four intermingling stories, all set in the title city. Although they’re told concurrently, rather than one at a time, it is a film reminiscent of omnibus movies like Twilight Zone and Four Rooms—not in terms of subject matter, but of quality. In those films (and many other collaborative efforts), it seems almost inevitable that two of the directors will nail it and two will miss wildly, resulting in two great stories and two poor ones. That’s what happens here—but they’re all from the same director. Over the past decade or so, Allen has made several very good films, and some that were placeholders, marking time on his prolific once-a-year schedule until the next great one. Oddly, in To Rome, both Allens show up.

In Theaters: "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"

Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is being promoted as a human comedy about the apocalypse, which is probably a wise move, and there is plenty of that flavor in it. However, that makes it sound like a one-joke premise, a goof, some kind of light comic riff on Melancholia or 4:44 Last Day on Earth. But this is a movie that takes its premise as seriously as those dour pictures did, and works outward from there. It’s a funny movie, yet it keeps the darkness right under the surface, for easy access.

Friday, June 15, 2012

In Theaters: "Your Sister's Sister"

The friends have gathered because it’s been a year since Tom’s death. Al (Mike Birbiglia) gets up to say a few words about what a great guy Tom was, so kind, so thoughtful, so remarkable. From across the room, Tom’s brother Jack (Mark Duplass) objects. You guys didn’t know him when he was younger, Jack says. He was a bully, an asshole, and if we’re going to talk about him, let’s acknowledge “the full man.” He raises his glass, and leaves.

This scene, which opens Lynn Shelton’s Your Sister’s Sister, is about as keenly-observed a dramatization of genuine social discomfort as you’re likely to see in a film. It’s one of several moments that have an almost documentary-styled naturalism; Shelton writes a specific kind of witty, conversational dialogue—casual, overheard, and funny. (We can presume from the “creative consultant” credit given to the film’s four speaking actors that a fair amount of it is improvised as well.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

In Theaters: "Rock of Ages"

The primary problem with Rock of Ages, the guiding principle that defines not only its failure but its very existence, is that it is an artifact of pure nostalgia—that is, affection for the past, with no regard whatsoever for the actual quality of what’s being invoked. Put another way: just because you remember it, doesn’t mean it’s good. Based on the jukebox Broadway musical, Adam Shankman’s film is set on the Sunset Strip in 1987, using 26 songs from the era. The difficulty is that these were (for the most part) bad songs then, and they are worse songs now; the film’s fatal flaw is that it never decides how it feels about that fact, or how to deal with it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New on Blu: "Harold and Maude"

The shot of Maude’s forearm lasts about two seconds—if that, if you’re counting really fast. This, more than anything else, more than the free love and the anti-authoritarianism and the black humor, is what marks Harold and Maude as a product of its time. Because if this movie were made today (and the idea of Paramount or any other major studio bankrolling a romantic comedy pairing an twenty-something man and a 79-year-old woman is a farfetched one indeed), that shot of her forearm would be a long, lingering close-up, and Harold would react, and then Maude would deliver a long and detailed monologue about what we see there. It is, it could be argued, the key to her entire character, but director Hal Ashby merely glances at it—he cuts to it, mid-zoom, and cuts away immediately, the camera still closing in on it. He sees it, and then looks away, as you would if you were sitting there with her yourself. Ashby doesn’t want to dwell, and he doesn’t want to pry. He acknowledges it, and moves on.

Friday, June 8, 2012

In Theaters: "Prometheus"

Howard Hawks famously said that a great movie is composed of three great scenes and no bad scenes. Prometheus gets the first part right. What we have here is less a bad film than a genuinely maddening one, which has sequences of tremendous skill and moments of keen promise. But it’s such a mess. The characterizations are laughable, the plotting is befuddling, and the pseudo-intellectual posturing is window dressing—and shabby window dressing at that. Above all, director Ridley Scott’s coy “it’s not really a prequel to Alien, but maybe it is” doubletalk hides that it’s the worst kind of rip-off, one which trades in the original (and far superior) 1979 picture’s iconography while holding no responsibility to actually do anything compelling with it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

In Theaters: "Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding"

Jane Fonda’s 1990 retirement from the screen to focus on family and causes was understandable if unfortunate; what’s less clear is why she’s had so much trouble, since coming out of that retirement, finding a vehicle that isn’t terrible. She’s made three domestic features over the past seven years: the screeching, insufferable Monster-in-Law, the unspeakably bad Georgia Rule, and now the trite and underwhelming Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding. In its broad strokes, it is oddly similar to its predecessor: another family comedy/drama, with three generations of a women coming together under one roof, where shenanigans and warming of hearts ensue. It’s a better film than that one, but that’s not saying much.

In Theaters: "Safety Not Guaranteed"

Darius Britt, the heroine of the stripped-down time travel comedy Safety Not Guaranteed, can barely remember a time where she was hopeful or optimistic. Nowadays, she says, “I just expect the worst.” Darius is played by Aubrey Plaza, and it is not exactly casting against type; Plaza co-stars on Parks and Recreation, where her delightfully bone-dry line readings and biting deadpan never fail to beguile. Safety is her first starring role (she played supporting roles in Funny People and Scott Pilgrim), and it may as well be accompanied by fanfares. She’s got a terrific screen presence, and the camera simply loves her. She also picks her project well—this modest effort is utterly enchanting.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On DVD: "Curb Your Enthusiasm- The Complete Eighth Season"

“I’m yelling for society! For everybody! It’s not just me!” --Larry David

A couple of days after my wife and I started working our way through the eighth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, we were standing in line at a Starbuck’s when a woman started chatting with the woman ahead of us, and as they spoke, she casually slipped into the line. “Are you seeing this?” I asked her, and she nodded. “Classic chat and cut.” The infraction—of starting a conversation with someone in a line (perhaps even someone you barely know) in order to cut into said line ahead of those how have been waiting—is dramatized and defined by Larry David on the fifth episode of the season, “Vow of Silence,” and what David does there is what his show does best: find a slightly obscure but present fact or irritation of modern life, identify it, satirize it, and throw it into the blender of his peculiar world.

On DVD: "Safe House"

Denzel Washington has chosen an odd specialty at this point in his career, a juncture at which he can basically do anything. He still steers clear of comedy, he hasn’t done a romance in over a decade, and his dramas are fewer and farther between. What he’s particularly interested in, it seems, is doing very quiet performances in very loud movies. He primarily appears in action films (most of them directed by Tony Scott), and seems to take pleasure in seeing how defiantly he can underplay them. He doesn’t do all that many great movies anymore—but he’s almost always great in them, and that’s a fair assessment of his most recent effort, Safe House.

Monday, June 4, 2012

On DVD: "Breaking Bad- The Complete Fourth Season"

There is a scene, in the final episode of the fourth season of Breaking Bad, that made me do the following four things simultaneously: 1) gasp, 2) sit up from my lounging-on-the-couch position, 3) put my hand over my mouth, and 4) yell (yell) “HOLY SHIT.” As soon as I completed this quartet of overreactions, I felt like an idiot—like a bad actor in a subpar television commercial. This show does that to you—it’s that shocking, that tense, and (when the payoffs arrive) that exciting. My review of their third season posited, simply, “this is the best show on television.” It still is—and somehow, it got better this year.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

In Theaters: "Snow White and the Huntsman"

At risk of sounding silly, the main problem with Snow White and the Huntsman is that it’s about Snow White and the huntsman. The title characters are played by Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth respectively, but the film also has Charlize Theron acting up a storm as Ravenna the wicked queen, as well as a rogue’s gallery of your favorite character actors as the seven dwarves. Both of these secondary elements are infinitely more interesting than the leads; they get a fraction of the screen time, with Theron all but disappearing from the middle hour. There must be nothing more frustrating for a filmmaker than finishing a big summer movie, and realizing when it’s all over that you made the wrong one.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On DVD: "Coriolanus"

Ralph Fiennes first played the role of Coriolanus on the London stage nearly a dozen years ago, and appears to have been unable to shake it—it stayed with him for all of this time, and here we have, as his feature film directorial debut, a film adaptation of the play. It’s not hard to guess why he wanted to immortalize his performance on film; it’s a decathlon for the already intense thespian, full of giant acting arias. Every word spoken to the Roman peasants drips with acidic indifference (“Get you home, you… fragments”), and when he has had enough of their accusations, his speech is powerful, rafter-shaking even—nearly as terrifying as the quiet chilliness of his proposal to ally himself with his enemy. But this isn’t a book-on-tape turn, the way some actors play their Shakespeare; his is a powerfully physicalized characterization, and even in his dialogue scenes, he’s like a coiled snake about to strike.

Monday, May 28, 2012

On DVD: "We Need to Talk About Kevin"

Eva (Tilda Swinton) is a woman who has learned to walk between the raindrops. She keeps her head down; she ignores the people who stare or point. Something terrible happened in her recent past, something involving her son Kevin (Ezra Miller), and she feels responsible. She's trying like hell to get on with her life, but that's clearly not going to happen; she's too haunted, by whispers, memories, ghosts.

Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin tells Eva's story within a fractured narrative that becomes a dreamlike intermingling of her complicated past with her tortured present. It also does so without telling us more than we need to know about either, yet never seeming to withhold information; in spite of our uncertainty (particularly in the opening scenes) about how one thing relates to the other, Ramsay's such a confident and assured filmmaker that we feel adrift but not lost.

Friday, May 25, 2012

New on Blu: "42nd Street Forever: The Blu-ray Edition"

Synapses Films’ 42nd Street Forever DVD releases, which number a half dozen and counting, have become must-owns for film geeks. The collections, which the label began issuing in 2005, are a buffet of trailers from the so-called “grindhouse” era: the notorious, the long forgotten, and everything in between. Other, lesser labels have attempted to follow their lead with trailer compilations of their own, but no one does it quite as well as Synapse; their discs are howlingly entertaining and marvelously compiled, and feature about the best possible A/V quality for scraps of film as presumably neglected as these.

On DVD: "Carol Channing: Larger than Life"

I’m sure it’s possible to dislike Carol Channing, but I’m not sure how. In Dori Berinstein’s documentary Carol Channing: Larger Than Life, she strolls Broadway’s “Shubert Alley” and points out the theaters nearby where she’s played (“There are ghosts,” in the Booth Theater, she tells us. “Wonderful ghosts of great actors!”). She comes upon members of the cast for Next to Normal, who have stepped out during their matinee, and says, of the opportunity to perform on Broadway, “We should pay them!” She mentions that she’s almost 90, and the young men burst into spontaneous applause; “I don’t know why you applaud that, it just happened!” she exclaims. “I had nothing to do with it!”

Thursday, May 24, 2012

In Theaters: "Moonrise Kingdom"

There may not be an active filmmaker whose work is so immediately recognizable as Wes Anderson’s. You can walk into a room or switch over in the middle of one of his films and place it within seconds: the intricate production design, the symmetrical compositions, and the elegant tracking shots, lovingly panning from room and room and tableaux to tableaux. Some complain about the hyper-controlled aesthetic, the contained style, and say that his films are designed rather than directed, or that he’s playing in the same dollhouses over and over again. Some of those people will no doubt surface for his new film Moonrise Kingdom and make that complaint again. You must not listen to them. They are bad people, and they want to keep this movie away from your soul, where it will take residence for ninety minutes and make you flutter.

In Theaters: "Men in Black III"

It’s been a full decade since the last Men in Black sequel, which is why it was so worrisome to hear, during the production of Men in Black III, that they were working without a finished screenplay. I mean, they had ten years to write it, for goodness’ sake. That uncertainty translates to the screen—particularly in the opening scenes, which are all but drenched with flop sweat. It’s particularly dispiriting coming from a franchise whose inaugural chapter worked precisely because it had a good script that made it smarter and sharper than the average summer blockbuster; Men in Black was, yes, a giant hit thanks to Will Smith’s charisma, his chemistry with Tommy Lee Jones, and Barry Sonnenfeld’s jazzy direction, but it was also blessed with a genuinely witty screenplay by Bill & Ted writer Ed Solomon. That component was sorely missing in the inferior Men in Black II, which was not a terrible film but certainly wasn’t a good one either. That summary pretty much holds for chapter three.

Monday, May 21, 2012

On DVD: "Perfect Sense"

David McKenzie’s Perfect Sense tells a cold, frightening story with a sense of logic that is utterly arresting, and a refusal to soft-pedal its trajectory. It is not—contrary to the romantic-embrace print ad campaign, emphasizing sexy stars Ewan McGregor and Eva Green—an upbeat picture. “Without love there is nothing” reads the tagline, and whether or not that’s true, the film itself presents a pretty persuasive dramatization of the inverse: a world where there’s not much left but love, and who knows how much that’s worth.

Friday, May 18, 2012

In Theaters: "Beyond the Black Rainbow"

There was a bit of a stampede for the exits around the 30-minute mark at the press screening of Beyond the Black Rainbow; that’s apparently the universally accepted minimum viewing time for critics (at least here), and some viewers will certainly make for the doors before then. You can’t really blame them; this is one weird, inert little movie, with infinitely more interest in look and mood than story. But the direction is so unwavering and self-confident, we’re drawn in anyway. A good chunk of those who toughed the movie out loathed it anyway. But there’s something wonderfully admirable about how utterly uncompromising it is.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

In Theaters: "Indie Game: The Movie"

I do not play video games. Sure, I logged a bit of time with Galaga in my youth (yes, child of the ‘80s, how ya doin’), and went a round or two with Duck Hunt on the first Nintendo system, but that’s pretty much the extent of my “gaming” background; from the teenage years on, I’ve found them a waste of time and energy, and have been consistently befuddled by their appeal to my peers.

This is not information that I’m sharing to ignite some sort of Ebert-style flame war, but as a roundabout way of complimenting Indie Game: The Movie, an outstanding new documentary by Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky—because it made me care very much about a topic that filled me with indifference. There is plenty here (it could be reasonably assumed) that will interest those who play and make games, and the logistics of the industry will fascinate fans and neophytes alike. But the filmmakers wisely understand that, told right, this is a story that is about more than just pixels and controllers; it’s about creativity and accomplishment.

In Theaters: "Virginia"

Dustin Lance Black’s Virginia made its festival debut over a year and a half ago, at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival, and it’s not surprising that it’s taken this long to reach theaters; one can hardly imagine the suits and marketeers that populate most distribution companies managing to make heads nor tails of it. To be sure, it’s a hard picture to pin down—it has the raw materials for a big, dumb farce (and it’s mostly being promoted that way), but it stakes out a claim in altogether more interesting territory. It is shambling, and uncertain, and more than a little messy. But this is not a film that can be regarded passively; it involves you, piques your curiosity, engages your interest. I was never quite sure where the hell it was going, and that’s something that doesn’t happen nearly often enough anymore.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On DVD: "Norman Mailer: The American"

There is a great documentary to be made on the life of Norman Mailer: legendary writer, famed raconteur, failed politician, occasional filmmaker, notorious womanizer, renowned drinker. That great documentary has yet to be made; Joseph Mantegna's Norman Mailer: The American, put politely, is not it. Shabbily assembled and glancingly shallow, this brief 2010 portrait offers some bracing footage and tantalizing ideas, but either the subject is too immense, or the filmmaker was simply unable to lick him.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On DVD: "Albert Nobbs"

"Such a kind little man," says the hotel guest, of Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close), the headwaiter. Prim and proper, Albert is quiet, introverted, hard-working. He's also a woman, masquerading as this man for decades, stashing away every pence he's earned. He dreams of owning a shop--a tobacconist's, perhaps, with a parlor in the back for tea and a girl working the counter. Ah yes, a girl. A wife. That's where it gets complicated.

On DVD: "Rampart"

The first hour or so of Owen Moverman's Rampart is so strangely compelling, so utterly uncompromising and enigmatic, that you figure out right away that there's no way they can pull it of all the way through, and you're right. Its first half gets our attention; its second tries our patience. This is not to imply that the picture isn't worth seeing--merely that you should know what you're getting into.

Monday, May 14, 2012

On DVD: "The Grey"

There's a stillness at the center of Liam Neeson which goes a long way to explain his unexpected yet delightful cinematic second act as an action hero. He's not the first actor to mine the "reluctant man of action" groove, but he's one of the few that actually makes you believe him; he projects a sense of a life lived before the camera rolled, of experiences and knowledge accumulated that he'd rather not call upon, but fine, if he must, he must. He's present on the screen--"in the moment," as they say in all of those beginning acting classes, and he's not waiting for the opportunity to knock someone out or stage a daring escape. He does it if he has to, and he gets on with it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Night Links

From The Atlantic:

Set to Fail: A History of Movies That Debuted Against Blockbusters
The problem is, a movie like The Avengers defies counter-programming: It's a movie that cuts across demos and marketing quadrants. Everybody wants to see that movie. What you often end up with instead are kamikaze movies—films whose release opposite a major, hype-driven blockbuster indicates a competing studio is just giving up and burning off a movie that they have to release sometime (maybe even for contractual reasons), so this is as good a time as any. There's a long, strange history to be found in tracking the movies that opened against the sure bets. Take a look at a few prime examples below.

From Flavorwire:

Beautiful Photographs of Decaying and Repurposed Movie Palaces

From the 1920s through the 1950s, thousands of ornate movie palaces were built across America, seating hundreds of patrons in lavish settings for films and live shows. But the introduction of television, the rise of the multiplex, and the dissolution of city centers caused the movie palace to go the way of the dinosaur. In the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, many were destroyed (usually for parking lots). Some were converted, into multiplexes, performing arts centers, or adult theaters. Others were repurposed into different (and somewhat incongruent) businesses entirely; others were simply left to fall apart. In 2005, photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre (whose photographs of Detroit in ruins captivated us last year) began documenting theaters that had either fallen into decay or been transformed entirely. The results of the ongoing project can be viewed on their website; we’ve collected the most haunting and fascinating of those pictures after the jump.

Our All-Time Favorite Actor/Director Movie Teams
Dark Shadows opens this week, whether we like it or not, but it does give us cause to pause for numerical consideration. No, we’re not talking about the amount of time since Tim Burton’s last film that was based on an original idea — that would be seven years, since Corpse Bride. Before that, you have to go clear back to 1990′s Edward Scissorhands, which was also (coincidentally enough) his first time working with Dark Shadows star Johnny Depp. Dark Shadows marks their eighth collaboration, which got us thinking about some of our favorite (and most productive, with a minimum of four pairings) actor/director teams. After the jump, we’ve compiled a dozen of the best from movie history; add your own in the comments, won’t you?

Video Essay: “The Semi-Obligatory Lyrical Interlude (A Case Study)”
In his Bigger Little Movie Glossary, Roger Ebert defines the “Semi-Obligatory Lyrical Interlude” (or “Semi-OLI,” for short) thus: “Scene in which soft focus and slow motion are used while a would-be hit song is performed on the soundtrack and the lovers run through a pastoral setting.” He notes that the Semi-OLI first came into prominence in the late 1960s, and though it eventually fell out of favor, it soon mutated into the “Semi-Obligatory Music Video” from the 1980s forward; the Semi-OLI or Semi-OMV remained prominent in romantic movies, though usually to show a particularly successful first date, or to compress the process of a couple falling deeply in love. The Semi-OLI became such a cliché that it seemed had finally disappeared, which is why your correspondent was horrified to see at least three examples of it at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival — and these were in (otherwise good) independent films, mind you, not insipid Katherine Heigl rom-coms or something. Is the Semi-Obligatory Lyrical Interlude making a comeback? We hope not. For this week’s video essay, we’ve smashed together over a dozen egregious examples of this device, along with a couple of parodies for the sake of levity. Check out our latest video essay after the jump.

Writer/Director Bobcat Goldthwait on ‘God Bless America,’ the Year’s Ballsiest Movie
You remember Bobcat Goldthwait. He became a comedy star in the 1980s thanks to what amounted to a gimmick: the persona of a sweaty, wired, Tab-swilling punk dude who screeched like a banshee. That character got him plenty of TV and movie work (he still seems, unfortunately enough, best known for his supporting roles in three Police Academy movies), but as with his contemporary Sam Kinison — with whom he was often compared — there was more to his comedy than volume. Behind the bellowing mad man was a wry and perceptive social commentator, which is why his new film, the bold and brilliant pitch-black comedy God Bless America, is, as he notes, “closest to the style of how I did stand-up.” It’s a scathing satire and plea for harmony, dressed up as a hyper-violent revenge thriller.

Hypotheticals: Kevin Smith and/or Tim Burton’s ‘Superman Lives’
Here at Flavorwire, we love to engage in what Marcellus Wallace called “contemplating the ifs” — imagining a pop culture landscape filled with movies that never happened, adaptations that never came to pass, and performances that were not to be. In “Hypotheticals,” we hone in on a single project that never was (a film, a television show, an album, a book, anything really) and explain why it went away, and what we might’ve missed. Today: the ill-fated Kevin Smith/Tim Burton attempt to reboot the Superman cinematic franchise.

Flavorpill’s Guide to Movies You Need to Stream This Week
Welcome to Flavorpill’s streaming movie guide, in which we help you sift through the scores of movies streaming on Netflix, Hulu, and other services to find the best of the recently available, freshly relevant, or soon to expire. This week, we’ve got Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Walter Matthau, Orson Welles, Dustin Hoffman, a Gus Van Sant classic, a serious turn by Will Ferrell, documentaries on sheepherding and gay politicians, and some much-needed levity from the MST3K crew. Check them all out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now.

This Week in Trailers: ‘This is 40,’ ‘Spider-Man,’ ‘Dark Knight,’ and More!
Every Friday here at Flavorwire, we like to gather up the week’s new movie trailers, give them a look-see, and rank them from worst to best — while taking a guess or two about what they might tell us (or hide from us) about the movies they’re promoting. This week we’ve got the latest from Judd Apatow, the big buzz object at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and the final trailers for Nolan’s new Batman film and Marc Webb’s Spidey reboot. Check ‘em all out after the jump, and share your thoughts in the comments.