Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies: "Clinton"

If Barak Goodman’s Clinton is an uncommonly intelligent and absorbing political bio-doc, it must be noted that he has chosen as his subject a particularly compelling figure who has had an especially dramatic political life. Goodman frames his story as one of infinite second chances, of a man whose career has been a steady series of knockdowns and rebounds, a figure who took a licking and kept on ticking.

#SXSW Review: "God Bless America"

Reviewed at the 2012 South by Southwest Film Festival

“Listen, you fuckers, you screw-heads. Here is a man who would not take if anymore… Here is someone who stood up.” –Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver

“Something is sick in the soul of our country.” –Kirk Cameron, Monumental

Frank (Joel Murray), the hero of Bobcat Goldthwait’s scathing comedy God Bless America, would agree with the former Mike Seaver’s assessment. “No one has any shame anymore,” he tells a co-worker, “and we’re supposed to celebrate it… Why have a civilization anymore if we’re not interested in being civilized?” He does not, however, do what Cameron did (go make a documentary advocating a return to the America of the Pilgrilms and the Founding Fathers—sounds pretty sweet, eh women and minorities?). He chooses the Bickle plan: he buys some guns and starts shooting up the country.

Friday, March 9, 2012

On DVD: "Urbanized"

Gary Hustwit's movies, as a general rule, don't sound as interesting as they are. His latest documentary, Urbanized, is the third film in his "Design Trilogy"; the first (Helvetica) was about typefaces, and the second (Objectified) was about industrial design. Urbanized is about urban planning--understanding "the language of a city." Let's be honest: these pictures, by all rights, should be dull as toast. Yet Hustwit brings them to fascinating life, thanks to his impeccable eye and genuine curiosity. The focus of these films, he has said in interviews, is to make us think about things we take for granted. In Urbanized, as in its predecessors, he gets that job done.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

In Theaters: "Friends with Kids"

It is our loss, as a movie-going collective, that we’re only getting a new Jennifer Westfeldt movie every five or so years. The charming writer/actor, who broke through in 2002’s Kissing Jessica Stein, makes her directorial debut with her new film, Friends with Kids, which has the very good fortune of including no less than four members of the Bridesmaids cast (Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, and the filmmaker’s longtime man-friend Jon Hamm) in major roles. This will certainly result in some confused moviegoers thinking it’s a very quickly produced semi-sequel. They won’t be too disappointed; like that film, Friends with Kids is a consistently funny female-driven picture with a refreshingly bawdy sense of humor, and though some will say it’s a traditional rom-com, I’d counter that Bridesmaids was too—this film is just more transparent about it.

In Theaters: "Silent House"

Something’s just a little off in the opening scenes of Chris Ketnis and Laura Lau’s Silent House—not in the execution, but in the events they’re capturing. A young woman named Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) is at her family’s lake house. They don’t use it much, and it has been taken over by squatters, who’ve smashed out the windows, and rats, who’ve eaten through the electric lines. Thus, though it’s light outside, it’s totally dark within. Ah, the contortions horror movie makers must engage in to create a mood.

In Theaters: "Jiro Dreams of Sushi"

“You have to fall in love with your work,” Jiro Ono says. “You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That is the key to happiness.” Jiro says this early on in David Geib’s charming documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi; he looks straight into the camera, firm in this belief, but with a faint smile hinted on his lips. He looks, in that moment, like a man who has figured it out, and after spending an hour and a half with him, we’re pretty sure he has.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On DVD: "The Skin I Live In"

“Well, this is a peculiar film,” I thought to myself, as Antonio Banderas began taking the dildoes out of their case and arranging them by size on the dresser. And indeed it is. In this, the latest from Pedro Almodovar, there is (as with so much of his work) a vague feeling of displacement from its opening scenes forward; if you’ve not seen all of his films (and I have not), these later pictures can feel like a play that you’ve wandered into at intermission. The style, the world he’s established in his twenty-some films is recognizably his own—there is no doubt, for a frame of The Skin I Live In, that you are watching “un film de Almodovar.”

Monday, March 5, 2012

On DVD: "Footloose"

Of the many questions prompted by Craig Brewer’s remake of Footloose, here’s the most intriguing: at the beginning of the film, in the opening credit sequence, everyone dances and grins and sings along to the Kenny Loggins title song from the original 1984 film. Clearly, in both our world and the world of this film, it is a beloved piece of pop culture arcana. But wait a second—the reason people know that song well enough to sing and dance to it, even though it’s pushing two decades old, is that it’s from the dopey ‘80s movie Footloose. So how do the kids in this remake of Footloose know it? Does this film take place in some alternate reality where the Kenny Loggins song is just a randomly-generated ditty about kicking off your Sunday shoes, and not one that was prompted by a motion picture about a big-city kid who comes to a small town and teaches them to cut loose, footloose?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

This Week's Links, Just For You

From The Atlantic:
10 of the Greatest Movies Never Made

One of the dedicated cinephile’s favorite hobbies is contemplating the movies that might have been, and it’s a pastime we’ve engaged in here at Flavorwire on occasion. Because the Hollywood development process is such a fickle beast, prone to prevailing box office winds, rising and falling trends, and the particular peccadilloes of people in power, the pages of movie history are littered with the corpses of promising films that simply fell apart, for a variety of reasons. David Hughes is one of our most esteemed writers of cinematic obituaries—his books The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made and Tales From Development Hell (out today in a newly revised edition) are entertaining and detailed deconstructions of what went wrong with the movies you’ll never get to see. After the jump, we’ve assembled a few of the most intriguing movies-that-could-have-been from Tales, along with a handful of titles contributed by the author himself.

From Flavorwire:
Finding Rick Santorum’s Cinematic Avatar

Last fall’s remake of Footloose (out on DVD next week) seems particularly well-timed — and not just because it’s the tale of an oppressed underclass rising up to fight the power. (Occupy Bomont!) Consider this: Footloose, in both of its incarnations, is the story of a deeply religious man, and an occasional politician, harboring a single-minded obsession with protecting the innocence of his flock by imposing his personal morality and biblical theology upon them. That’s right — if the 2012 election is Footloose, well, over the last couple of weeks, Rick Santorum is looking more and more like Reverend Shaw Moore. Why should we care? According to the results of a new USA Today/Gallup Poll, if we were all voting today, he’d defeat President Obama by three percentage points.

The Most Painfully Awkward Moments of Last Night’s Oscars

It’s all part of the ritual. First we spend months predicting the nominations, then we complain about the nominations, then we predict the winners to the point where there are no surprises during the ceremony itself, so we then complain about the show. Yes, folks, Oscar season came to a close last night, with trophies going to The Artist, Hugo, Meryl, Octavia, and Plummer over the course of the 193-minute ceremony hosted by Alan Shemper Billy Crystal.

Beautiful Pre-Code Movie Posters Unconvered in a Pennsylvania Attic

As you may have noticed, we love old movie posters. There’s something refreshing about the warmth and artistry of vintage film art, particularly when compared to the focus-grouped, Photoshopped, floating-heads nightmares that pass for movie posters today, and that’s why this item from MUBI about “the Berwick discovery” caught our eye. (Yes, it already has a cool-sounding nickname, and it deserves one.)

Flavorpill Liveblogs the 2012 Oscars

Well, film fans, the big night is here. After a month spent puzzling over the nominations, remembering acting snubs and other illogical choices, and scrambling to see all of the nominees, HOLLYWOOD'S BIGGEST NIGHT has arrived. It's Oscar night, kids. Glam it up!

Flavorpill’s Guide to Movies You Need to Stream This Week

Welcome to the first installment of Flavorpill’s streaming movie guide, a new feature in which we’ll 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 new documentaries, a pair of spy spoofs from the star and director of The Artist, and a couple of titles we told (or showed) you about over the past couple of weeks. Check them all out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now.

This Week in Trailers: ‘The Avengers,’ ‘Frankenweenie,’ ‘Neighborhood Watch,’ and More

Every Friday here at Flavorwire, we like to gather up the week 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. We’ve got nine new trailers for you this week, including a new look at The Avengers and Richard Linklater’s latest (yay!), and new films from Adam Sandler and Tim Burton (boo!). Check ‘em all out after the jump, and share your thoughts in the comments.