Elizabeth Banks

How ‘Love & Mercy’ Tells Brian Wilson’s Story and Breaks the Music Biopic Mold

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Tomorrow, director Bill Pohlad’s Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy hits theaters — though it seems a bit reductive to classify it as yet another music legend biopic, as the film takes such great pains to eschew the conventions of those movies and tell Wilson’s story in a unique, unexpected way. I was so taken with the film after seeing it at SXSW that I asked Flavorwire’s music editor/fellow biopic exhaustion victim Jillian Mapes to accompany me for a second viewing, and to share her thoughts on where Love & Mercy falls amid the quietly exciting reinvention of movies about the people who make music.
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Flavorwire’s Guide to Indie Movies You Need to See in June

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There was a time, and not long ago, when the hotter months were a little cold at the art house — when indie distributors seemingly didn’t want to get flattened by the behemoths of the summer movie season. But a few years back, some of them seemed to realize that grown-ups also enjoy a nice air-conditioned theater, as well as a movie where flesh-and-blood people talk to each other. So the summer season has become nearly as crowded for indie cinema as for the mainstream; this month, we’ve got 11 recommendations for you, and this is just a handful of the indies, docs, and foreign films that will hit cinemas and VOD in …Read More

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

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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.
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How ‘Pitch Perfect’ Helped A Cappella Hit a High Note in the Mainstream

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If there is one thing you learn at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), it’s that there are a lot of ways to wear a vest. The vest, you see, is part of the changing uniform of the a cappella group. While perfectly matching (and perfectly dorky) bow ties, khaki pants, and suit jackets were once the preferred aesthetic of a cappella and its innumerable male groups from across the Ivy League, the sound’s “cool” new look involves coordinating trends across a singular color palette and a renewed sense of individuality. There were more pleather skirts on stage at this past April’s ICCA Finals than there are at a Forever 21. And don’t even get me started on the University of Michigan G-Men, who wear numbered soccer jerseys while covering Alt-J and employing mouth percussionists so frighteningly guttural, you’ll swear there’s some sort of woodland mammal among their ranks.
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“I Don’t Know If I Believe in Evil”: Director Amy Berg on ‘Every Secret Thing’ and the Film Hollywood Wouldn’t Touch

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The transition from directing documentary to directing narrative is one of the trickier moves in the movie business, one that has tripped up plenty of fine filmmakers, from Errol Morris (The Dark Wind) to Michael Moore (Canadian Bacon) to Joe Berlinger (Blair Witch 2) to Steve James (Prefontaine). And while Amy Berg is one of our most consistently interesting nonfiction directors — her credits include the Oscar-nominated Deliver Us from Evil, the history-making West of Memphis, and the forthcoming (and controversial) An Open Secret and Prophet’s Prey — she makes the switch to fiction storytelling seamlessly in Every Secret Thing (out this Friday). It’s a very good film, perhaps because it’s so well written (by Nicole Holofcener, adapting Laura Lippman’s novel), perhaps because it’s so sensitively acted (the ace cast includes Elizabeth Banks, Diane Lane, and Dakota Fanning). But Berg is also an adroit storyteller, and if the form is new, she’s still exploring the primary preoccupation of her films thus far: the nature of evil.
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