Forgive the perhaps unwarranted level of enthusiasm, but Joy Ride is out on Blu-ray today, and YIPEE. It’s a crackerjack little thriller from eternally underrated director John Dahl, co-written by a young J.J. Abrams, starring Steve Zahn, Leelee Sobieski, and, yes, Paul Walker. Though second-billed behind Zahn, this is indisputably a vehicle for the handsome and unaccountably dull future star of the Fast and Furious franchise — and believe it or not, he’s not distractingly terrible in it. Make whatever stopped-clock, blind-squirrel analogies you’d like, but occasionally even the worst of actors stumbles into a decent performance. Here’s a few… Read More
Because he was too young, because he was so admired, and because he made possibly the first great television show of the 21st century, James Gandolfini’s untimely death is an enormous loss. I, like many others, will never shut up about what Gandolfini brought to The Sopranos. Yes, in the post-Goodfellas era, it wasn’t hard to see a big, dark dude with a North Jersey twang and suspend your disbelief. Gandolfini’s physicality and heft didn’t hurt, nor did the fact that he often appeared on screen surrounded by actors from the Scorsese canon. The man knew how to play a gangster, and there were moments in The Sopranos when he performed on the level of James Cagney. … Read More
Everyone has their own holiday traditions, so there are no rules when it comes to celebrating the spookiest time of year, Halloween. For 37 years, Saturday Night Live has been helping audiences get into the spirit of the season with their comedic twist on iconic creepy characters and other macabre shenanigans. We’ve selected ten of the funniest Halloween skits from the series that are at least as funny as this “sexy” Big Bird costume — which is pretty hard to top. Venture past the break for more hair-raising hilarity, and add to our list by mentioning your favorites in the comments, below. … Read More
There are two kinds of teenagers: those who get all choked up with happiness at the end of movies like Dirty Dancing or Can’t Hardly Wait and those who prefer ice-cold comedies like Heathers. As your Flavorwire editors have always fallen into the latter camp, we were intrigued (and cautiously optimistic) to learn, last week, that Heathers is getting a small-screen reboot. In fact, the news inspired us to compile a list of the dark teen movies we love the most, all of which we’ll probably re-watch in anticipation of the TV series. The selections after the jump range from black humor to true tragedy (but we’ve left out teen horror flicks because that’s a whole other post). What ties them together is the rare acknowledgment that high school isn’t all dances, football games, and makeovers. … Read More
A couple of weeks back, while assembling our post on the shortest-running shows in TV history, we noticed a bit of a pattern: an awful lot of them were vehicles for movie stars, who keep getting TV shows even though their track record for success is surprisingly low. There are exceptions, of course, but more often than not, it seems that TV executives value the built-in recognition factor of a big star over quality writing and the kind of ensemble work that the best television thrives on. As a result, an audience may tune in for the first week or two, but if they don’t see big-screen quality right away, they tune out. We thought of this pattern again when we noticed the single season of ABC’s canceled Missing among today’s DVD releases — a show starring Ashley Judd, who was headlining very big movies just a few short years ago. Ms. Judd can take solace, however, in the fact that many a movie star before her has flopped on the tube; after the jump, we’ve collected ten of the most notable examples. … Read More
We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lynne Ramsay’s critically acclaimed indie drama, expands into a (somewhat) wider release this weekend, and if you live in one of those ever-elusive “select cities,” it’s worth checking out; it’s a tough, frightening picture that gets into your head, and it features not only the by-now-expected brilliant (if overlooked by the Academy) performance by Tilda Swinton, but a bravura turn by Ezra Miller as the title character. He plays Swinton’s son, a teen boy with, um, some problems. We’ll leave at that, in case you haven’t yet had the exact nature of his wickedness spoiled for you yet; suffice it to say, he’s a bad kid, which got us wondering how he’d stack up in the rich history of evil cinematic teenagers (and pre-teens). After the jump, we’ll take a look (with some spoilers of years-old movies, so consider yourself warned). … Read More
January is upon us, and we film fans know what that means: nothing good. The first month of the year is traditionally the dumping ground for Hollywood studios, the month in which they unload the films that aren’t quality enough for the Oscar-courting fall, but not commercial enough for the lucrative holiday, spring, and summer seasons. January is where bad movies go to die, and where studios hope we won’t notice them. They’re usually right; viewers either tend to catch up on the prestige pictures that are going into wider release, or just stay at home and watch football. But our nation’s film critics, fat and happy after the holiday feast of smart, highbrow entertainment, are often subjected to the sugar crash of January dogs, and as a result, their reviews often pack a little bit of extra vitriol. After the jump, we’ve assembled the ten worst movies released in the month of January — according to the reliable aggregators at Rotten Tomatoes — along with a few choice words from the scribes who sat through them. … Read More
Shame, a candid and powerful look at sexual addiction from director Steve McQueen (no, another Steve McQueen) is out in limited release tomorrow, and as we reported last month, it’s going out with the NC-17 rating—no children under 17 admitted, under any circumstances. The rating, many have surmised, is due to the film’s copious male nudity, and that’s how the American ratings system works: all the naked ladies you want, but the erect male member= automatic NC-17.
The rating was initiated by the MPAA back in 1990, and was intended to be an alternative to the porn-stained (if you’ll pardon the pun) X rating; NC-17 movies, like Henry & June (the inaugural film to carry the rating), Bad Lieutenant, The Dreamers, and Lust, Caution would be for adults, by adults. But it quickly became the kiss of death for filmmakers and distributors. Just as with the X rating before it, newspapers and television outlets wouldn’t carry ads for NC-17 films, while larger theatrical chains and home video outlets refused to carry them. Smaller films would take the mark or (as Kids and Happiness did) go out unrated, while the editing process for big releases became something of a con game: if a film was rated NC-17, the distributor would make the trims necessary for an R-rating, enjoy the publicity, and then restore the cut material for the inevitable “unrated” DVD release (frequently carried by the very chains that refused to stock NC-17 films). By the late 1990s, studios wouldn’t even bother with the first step, cranking out unrated versions of raunchy comedies and adult thrillers as a standard step in their home video release plans.
While the politics of who gets an R and who doesn’t are shady at best (check out the terrific documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated), we can’t help but wonder about what would have happened if the NC-17 could have been what its creators wanted it to be. Fox Searchlight’s decision to release Shame with the scarlet letters/numbers has prompted another round of “will the NC-17 finally become respectable?” questions (answer: dubious), but what if that question weren’t necessary, because the NC-17 had never been stigmatized? Had that been the case, we might have seen the uncut movies we’ve assembled after the jump. … Read More
We’d like to follow up on what we already told you was today’s third most important cultural story: Winona Ryder’s confirmation that there will be a sequel to ’80s cult classic Heathers. As a bona fide Heather (check the byline) who has been known to hang out with other Heathers, I feel that I am uniquely suited to provide commentary on Heathers 2: Electric Boogaloo (working… Read More