The Best Midnight Movie Candidates of the 21st Century

We love a good underdog story. “Small-time theater owners, who could rent inexpensive pictures without having to pay distributors a percentage of the receipts, were able to flourish, which led to the growth of art houses, revival houses, and third-run grind houses. And this, in turn, made the midnight movie phenomenon possible,” explains critic Jonathan Rosenbaum in Midnight Movies. Today, repertory movie houses are keeping the spirit of the midnight movies alive with screenings of cult classics and weird indies. We recently brought you a list of the best midnight movies of all time. Since then, we’ve been wondering which films will be the cult objects of tomorrow. Which movies from this century will endure as midnight classics? And so we present the best midnight movie candidates of the 21st… Read More

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Sudeikis and Brie’s ‘Sleeping With Other People’ is Sundance 2015’s First Disappointment

PARK CITY, UT: During the highly entertaining Q&A that followed last night’s Sundance premiere of Sleeping with Other People, the gleefully crass and very funny writer/director Leslye Headland mentioned that she pitched the movie to star Jason Sudeikis as “When Harry Met Sally for assholes.” It got a big laugh from the crowd, as it should; it’s a funny line. But the more you think about that description, the more it describes why, in spite of many big laughs and an insanely likable cast, Sleeping with Other People doesn’t quite work—because “When Harry Met Sally for assholes” is actually a terrible idea for a movie. Assholes don’t like movies like When Harry Met Sally, and for good reason; they’re sweet and gushy and neat and inclined towards happy endings. Assholes like movies like Headland’s debut, Bachelorette, which was a mean, nasty little dirty bomb in wedding comedy drag. And therein lies the disappointment in this follow-up: somewhere along the line, somebody sanded down Headland’s rough edges. … Read More

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10 Avant-Garde, Psychosexual Stories on Film

Berberian Sound Studio director Peter Strickland returns to cinemas this weekend with another film featuring a tormented protagonist — this time centered on “two classic nesting conflicts of intimacy — between the needs of the self and the needs of partners, and between the potential liberations and constrictions of erotic fantasy.” In The Duke of Burgundy, “Strickland brings to life the appeals of a sexual fantasy as well as its potentially attending traps of detachment,” Slant writes. Two women test the limits of their sexual relationship, set in Strickland’s dreamy world that references the Euro sexploitation films of the 1960s and ‘70s. It has all the makings of a great psychosexual drama. We explore similarly sculpted films, below. … Read More

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Sundance 2015: Rowdy Laughs and Prosthetic Penises in ‘The Overnight’

PARK CITY, UT: There’s a lot about Patrick Brice’s The Overnight that’s unique—its peculiar tone, its anything-goes storytelling, its candor in matters of sexuality—but it’s also one of the few non-pornographic movies I can think of where the male nudity far exceeds the female. There’s an asterisk, though; the male genitalia on display are made of plastic. Jason Schwartzman’s Kurt whips off his pants to reveal a member whose width and girth rivals Dirk Diggler’s; Adam Scott’s Alex is, well, cursed with a very different organ. “Yeah, let’s make this clear right now: they were both prosthetics,” Scott announced in the Q&A following the film’s Sundance premiere Friday, and it’s probably worth noting that the frequency and prominence of their nudity isn’t even the most unpredictable thing about this very unusual comedy/drama. … Read More

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Sundance 2015: Jason Segel on Bringing David Foster Wallace to Life in ‘The End of the Tour’

PARK CITY, UT: We may not see a film at this year’s Sundance Film Festival that gets its key casting as right as James Ponsoldt’s The End of the Tour does. Based on Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, David Lipsky’s chronicle of five days spent with David Foster Wallace as he was becoming a literary superstar, the picture stars Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky and Jason Segel as Wallace. Both are working familiar grooves: Segel is the shambling, likable, aw-shucks guy plagued with uncertainty, Eisenberg the seemingly cocky yet clearly brittle smart guy with the chip on his shoulder. To say that they’re working within familiar types is not to diminish their work here; if anything, they push their screen personas into new territory, while Ponsoldt tries (and mostly succeeds) to capture something of the Wallace mythos. … Read More

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Desiree Akhavan on ‘Appropriate Behavior': “I Wanted to Explore Dating and Fucking as I Knew It”

Desiree Akhavan is having a moment, with her new role as Hannah’s workshop classmate on Girls and her indie film, Appropriate Behavior earning plaudits from film critics and feminist bloggers alike. The film (showing at indie theaters, on iTunes, and on-demand) falls somewhere between an awkwardly hilarious family, sex, and dating comedy and a poignant sex, family, and dating drama. Ahkavan plays Shirin, a bisexual Iranian Brooklyn type not unlike her creator, at least superficially. She’s navigating post-breakup life — which means a lot of awkward sex scenes, and, through flashbacks, falling deeply in love. Meanwhile there’s the matter of coming out to her parents. … Read More

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How Xavier Dolan’s ‘Mommy’ Uses Maudlin ’90s Music to Illuminate Male Adolescent Rage

[Note: There are some spoilers below. But also know that Mommy isn’t the kind of movie that can be “spoiled” with plot details.]

Xavier Dolan seems to love maudlin ’90s music; Heartbeats featured Sting’s “Every Breath You Take,” Laurence Anyways included Celine Dion’s “Pour que tu m’aimes encore” and Craig Armstrong’s “Let’s Go Out Tonight.” But the filmmaker, in interviews, has revealed himself to be entirely self-aware of his unbridled usage of equally unbridled tunes: “Music was the only voice of cinema for a very long time before we had sound; it’s organically linked to cinema itself. So I see no reason to restrain myself, thinking how much music to put in the film.” Yet his musical methodology — or lack thereof — never fully worked until now. None of Dolan’s previous films have relied on the rapture of ’90s sentimentalism more than, or as conceptually aptly as, his newest film, Mommy, which sees US release on January 23. … Read More

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