Welcome to Flavorwire’s streaming movie guide, in which we help you sift through the scores of movies streaming on Netflix, Hulu, and other services to find the best of the recently available, freshly relevant, or soon to expire. This week, we’re recovering from the big Netflix “Streamageddon” — but, to their credit, the service did make a healthy chunk of titles newly available (or re-available) for streaming at the end of last week. Included is good stuff from Robert Downey Jr., Reese Witherspoon, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Woody Allen, John Travolta, Michael Keaton, James Woods, Uma Thurman, Joss Whedon, and Quentin Tarantino; check them out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now. … Read More
Writer/director Jeff Nichols is a bit of a trickster. His previous film, Take Shelter, kept his audience off-balance by weaving an apocalyptic tale with personal and psychological intensity — yet never giving us quite enough information to know exactly how dire the events onscreen truly were. His latest effort, Mud, also pulls a bit of a fast one: it seems, for most of its running time, to be a shambling, episodic Southern slice of life, filled with colorful characters and half-necessary sidebars. But he’s neither that casual nor that sloppy; this is a powerful, emotional story where every thread pulls tight, and counts. … Read More
Spring is upon us, dear readers, so it’s your last chance to enjoy some light entertainment before the summer onslaught of giant explosions and endless sequels. (What’s that? G.I. Joe 2 came out last weekend? Let’s pretend like it didn’t happen.) As is our wont on the first of the month, we’ve rounded up April’s independent films of note: those we’ve seen and recommended, and those we can’t wait to get a look at. Join us after the jump for a sampling of this month’s art house goodies. … Read More
Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful is out this Friday, in case you haven’t looked at a magazine or a television or the side of a bus recently, and while we know it’s a big-budget would-be Mouse blockbuster, attempting to replicate the astonishing (and frankly inexplicable) success of Burton’s Alice in Wonderland three years back, we still had to pick our jaws up off the floor when we got a look at its monster budget: $325 million in production and marketing costs. Yes, you read that right: 325. No extra numbers in there. … Read More
If you haven’t been paying attention to the political pundit class lately (and really, seriously, who on earth couldn’t blame you if you haven’t), you might not have heard about the weird jihad against Nate Silver, the math whiz behind the FiveThirtyEight blog, who has been predicting a better than 60% probability of an Obama win since early summer. (He currently has Obama’s chances of reelection at 85%.) Over the past couple of weeks, many pundits — most of them, unsurprisingly, Republican — have insisted that Mr. Silver is biased, that his model is skewed, that his projection of a big Obama win runs contrary to their impression that the race is a “toss-up.” (Some actually point to the 50-50 national polls as proof, as though the popular vote and the electoral college aren’t different beasts entirely, but I digress.)
The whole thing is mighty silly; as David Roher so eloquently puts it over at Deadspin, “[W]e’ve reached the point in our screwed-up political media culture where the polling companies and forecasters — not the pundits, not the spokespeople, and certainly not the candidates — are the only people being evaluated rigorously on the substance of their arguments.” But here’s what we’ll do for you anti-Silverites: let’s throw out all that complicated averaging and math and science and stuff. That’s for four-eyed eggheads like Nate Silver, amIright? We’re gonna predict the outcome of the election based on something a lot easier to wrap your big meat heads around: movies! Political elections have been a popular film topic for years, so we decided to take a look at what these fictional elections could tell us about how things are going to go tomorrow. The answers may surprise you! (Warning: spoilers after the jump.) … Read More
1. Surprise! Just when you got used to the idea of Community (and Whitney, whatever) moving to Fridays, NBC has decided the shows won’t premiere next Friday, October 19th. The decision was reportedly due to a lack of marketing resources. And while Community fans may fear the worst every time our show hits a snag,… Read More
Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar Hoover biopic J. Edgar is out on DVD today, following a fall theatrical run notable mostly for its lack of awards consideration; the film, and particularly Leonardo DiCaprio’s leading role in it, had been the object of much presumptive Oscar buzz (hitting, as it does, multiple circles in the Oscar Venn diagram: slightly villainous, based on a real person, wide range of aging, secretly gay). But the film underwhelmed, for one very simple reason: we’re just getting tired of biopics.
The biographical film portrait has been a venerable institution since the early days of cinema; Georges Méliès made a Joan of Arc biopic clear back in 1900. And while there have been scores of great ones, the tropes of the form (the birth-to-death chronology, the trials and triumphs, the romantic struggles, etc.) are so firmly established that the only biographical films that really make an impression any more, it seems, are those that buck the trends and experiment, or at least futz with the form a bit. After the jump, we’ll take a look at ten great biopics that made an impression, and float some theories as to why. … Read More
We look forward to seeing how Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan handles the West Memphis Three story that’s being adapted from investigative reporter Mara Leveritt’s book The Devil’s Knot. The thoughtful and daring director who wrapped up Chloe in 2009 has cast Legally Blonde actress Reese Witherspoon in his upcoming drama as… 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
As the poet A. E. Housman elegized, the only way to preserve an unmarred reputation is to die young, if only metaphorically. But it’s hard to quit while you’re at the top of your game, particularly when money is involved. Which is why Molly Ringwald stars in The Secret Life of the American Teenager. And how casinos make money. And how the sequel… and the prequel… and the threequel were born.
Some we can’t complain about; many of our favorite superheroes peaked in their second movies, and the world would be a very different place had J.K. Rowling not stuck around for a round two. But then there are the Molly Ringwalds and the reckless gamblers — and the productions that might have been remembered more fondly had they called it quits instead of persisting with these slapdash, often pitiful, in many cases straight-to-DVD and made-for-TV follow ups, below the jump. … Read More