Gus Van Sant

10 Great Road Movies About Women

Wild, director Jean-Marc Vallée’s film version of Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir, hits DVD and Blu-ray this week, and is well worth your time — both on its own merits and as part of the fascinating and ongoing history of the female road movie. While tales of the open road often focus on male buddies (Easy Rider) or lovers on the run (Badlands, True Romance, Natural Born Killers), some of our favorite road movies track the physical and psychological journeys of women. Here are a few… Read More

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David Fincher, ‘Strangers on a Train,’ and the Tricky Business of Remaking Hitchcock

It’s a classic good news/bad news scenario: the good news is that director David Fincher, screenwriter Gillian Flynn, and star Ben Affleck are looking to reteam after the critical and popular success of last fall’s Gone Girl. The bad news? It’s for a remake (or, as Variety inexplicably dubs it, a reboot) of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train. The news is getting a pretty mixed reception among film buffs, even Fincher diehards, and for good reason: remaking Hitch is not, traditionally, a feat wisely attempted or successfully accomplished. … Read More

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10 TV Episodes Directed by Famous Filmmakers

After two decades away, Lars Von Trier will return to television with The House That Jack Built, a high-end drama. No further details have been released, but based on the director’s controversial career in film — including the two-part Nymphomaniac — there is no doubt that The House That Jack Built will immediately become must-see television. Until that show premieres (it isn’t even filming until 2016), here are some other famous film directors who have directed television. … Read More

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HBO’s Pamela Smart Doc ‘Captivated’ Explores the Insidiousness of the Observer Effect

On May 1, 1990, Pamela Smart came home to her New Hampshire condominium and found her husband Greggory dead, the victim of what seemed, at first, a robbery gone awry. The crime turned out to be much more salacious: Smart, a media coordinator for the local school district, had allegedly seduced a 15-year-old boy and convinced him and three friends to bump off her husband. Maybe you saw the story when it was turned into a TV movie, with Helen Hunt as Smart and Chad Allen as her young lover; more likely, you saw Gus Van Sant’s fictionalized take To Die For, from Joyce Maynard’s novel, with Nicole Kidman and Joaquin Phoenix. Or maybe you remember the media frenzy surrounding Smart’s trial, which was the first such proceeding ever televised in its entirety. That trial — and the many prisms through which it was viewed, at the time and subsequently — is the subject of Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart, a gripping new documentary premiering tonight on HBO. … Read More

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10 Teen Angst Films You Might Have Missed

This week marked the trailer release for Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best!, which chronicles the alienation and joys of outcast tween girls in 1980s Stockholm as they form a punk band. Also this week, Criterion celebrates a misunderstood boy’s quest for freedom in Paris during the 1950s with the Blu-ray release of François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. Since teen angst is in the air, we felt compelled to round up films that tackle the topic — movies that offer a different perspective from the well-worn American Pies of Hollywood. … Read More

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10 of the Strangest Films Starring Non-Actors

Based on Michel Faber’s novel of the same name, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin invites audiences into a parallel alien world where Scarlett Johansson plays an otherworldly seductress luring unsuspecting men into a van. Much has been made that Glazer had the actress perform this erotic stunt in reality, adding a fascinating layer to Glazer’s murky, hypnotic world. Eventually the entranced men were made aware of the truth and consented to be part of the film, which explores constructs of desire and power. It’s one of the stranger ways non-professional actors have been used in cinema. Here are ten other films starring non-actors in strange roles to rival it. … Read More

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10 Criminally Overlooked Movies by Great Filmmakers

Run the title King of the Hill by most people, and you’ll get a big smile for Mike Judge’s long-running animated series. But it’s also the title of a lesser-known entry in the Steven Soderbergh filmography — his excellent 1993 adaptation of A.E. Hotchner’s memoir, a film so widely ignored that it never even saw a DVD release. Until now, that is; Criterion has released King in a fantastic new DVD/Blu-ray edition, with bonus features including a whole other Soderbergh movie that’s even less celebrated. Click through for some thoughts on that film, and a few more unjustly ignored movies by our favorite… Read More

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The 10 Best Movies About Lovers on the Run

Good news for cinephiles: the kind folks at Criterion were kind enough to restore and release (on DVD and Blu-ray, along with the expected goody basket of bonus features) Terrence Malick’s Badlands, which is out this week. It’s mostly notable as Malick’s debut feature, but it was also a cornerstone picture of one of cinema’s most durable subgenres: the “lovers on the run” movie, in which an attractive young couple hits the road, fleeing their unfortunate crimes (and/or committing more), with the law in hot pursuit. If you’re in the mood for a marathon, we’ve got a few suggestions after the jump. … Read More

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‘Promised Land’ and the Pitfalls of Political Cinema

Fracking is bad. This is not a unanimously held view; like so much of environmental policy in this country, the greasy sway of dirty money has turned what should be a health issue into a political one, and as a result, the issue of hydraulic fracturing has become one of predominately liberal interest, taken up by progressive organizations and left-leaning docs like GasLand. And now it is the subject of Promised Land, a message movie from director Gus Van Sant and writer/actors Matt Damon and John Krasinski that plays less like drama and more like a 106-minute forgone conclusion — and as a warning of the potential pitfalls of narrative political cinema. … Read More

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