Film

Brad Bird’s ‘Tomorrowland’ Should Have Been Great — So What Went Wrong?

It seems safe to bet that deep inside every filmmaker, there lurks a burning desire to make a movie in the exact style of his or her favorite director. It’s the best way to explain the scores of filmmakers doing mini-Scorsese movies in the ‘90s; young filmmakers of the late ‘90s and early ’00s gave us plenty of junior Woody Allen pictures. And when a certain kind of filmmaker (most likely one who was a kid in the 1980s) gets access to a big budget and a summer berth, they apparently want to make a Spielberg movie. J.J. Abrams did it a few years back with Super 8; Colin Trevorrow is reportedly making his Jurassic World, due next month, less a sequel than a Spielberg homage. And then we have Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, with enough nostalgic golden glow, characters gazing off in a wonder, and John Williams-esque music cues to seem, in spots, like a Spielberg cosplay. Yet Bird seems to have learned the hard way what Abrams did in Super 8: the aesthetics are easy to ape, but one should never underestimate the value Spielberg places on tight, clear, logical storytelling. … Read More

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“Naptime, Motherf—”: Rainn Wilson and Elijah Wood Fight Zombie Children in ‘Cooties’ Trailer

It’d be unlikely for an insult as poetically repugnant as “You look like you’ve got chicken pox, if chicken… Read More

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Watch: Amy Winehouse Spirals into Fame, Love and Self-Destruction in First Full Trailer for ‘Amy’

Asif Kapaida’s Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy, seems an excavation of the ways fame led one of the “smartest” and “most authentic”… Read More

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TCM Is Presenting a Free Online Summer Course in Film Noir

The phrase “summer school” usually dredges up all sorts of unpleasant connotations—unless you’re a big Mark Harmon fan—but this… Read More

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The 5 Best Movies to Buy or Stream This Week: ‘American Sniper,’ ‘Girlhood’

Temperatures are rising and the multiplexes are filling with big summer blockbusters, which is about all the reason you need to say to hell with it, lock the doors, and watch movies in your living room. It’s a particularly eclectic week on the home video front, with Netflix offering up one of the year’s best films thus far, a monster war movie and a revolutionary Shakespeare adaptation on the new-release shelf, and Criterion presenting two flawed but fascinating almost-classics. … Read More

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In Defense of “Indulgent” Art

Recently, I watched Lost in Translation for the first time. (I know, I know.) Lying in my dark bedroom afterwards, flooded with emotion, I pawed through the Internet for more conversation. A couple years ago, on the tenth anniversary of the film’s release, The Daily Beast interviewed Sofia Coppola. The interviewer asked about Lost in Translation’s cult following, and Coppola — who had based the film on her own visits to Tokyo in her 20s — said, “I was just writing these little notes about stuff that happened to me, or what I thought, and I didn’t think anyone was going to be interested, so it’s really a surprise to me that that many people have seen it and that it did as well as it did. I felt like it was really indulgent, so yeah, it was a surprise. And it’s still surprising to me.”

I started thinking about that word, indulgent, which — along with self-indulgent — has come to represent something very, very bad where art is concerned. Why is it, I started to wonder, that we think indulgence, and indulgent art, are worthy of such… Read More

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In the ‘Pitch Perfect 2′ vs. ‘Mad Max’ Box Office Battle, Everybody Won

Among the many, many problems with pervasive reportage of weekend box office is the false sense of blood-sport competition it creates. It’s what happens when ticket sales are framed as box scores, encouraging moviegoers to cheer the “winner” and flee the “loser,” positioning films less as works of art or even snapshots of a culture than as professional wrestlers, talking shit or eating crow. Such juxtaposition is reductive to begin with, collapsing the entirety of a film’s being — its cultural impact, its critical reception, its potential longevity — into a stark, simple number that holds the entirety of its value. But in the wake of a weekend like this one, in which the astonishing success of Pitch Perfect 2 over second-place finisher Mad Max: Fury Road is being classified by industry rags and film bloggers alike as some kind of girl-power rebuke to testosterone-fueled action, such simplistic equivalency isn’t just ignorant, it’s counterproductive. … Read More

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‘Veep’ Creator Armando Iannucci’s Next Project Is a Russian Period Piece

Just as Veep was getting rave reviews for its 4th season, creator/showrunner Armando Iannucci (In the LoopThe Thick of It) announced… Read More

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