Indie releases tend to thrive during the months when the multiplexes get dumber — in other words, every month until October, when big studios start putting their muscle behind intelligent Oscar contenders and act like that’s the kind of stuff they’re turning out all year. Point is, our indie preview is a little thinner than usual this month, since quieter movies are basically gunning for the same audiences as your Zero Dark Thirtys and Life of Pis and so on, but there are a few small releases worth tracking down. We’ll run them down for you after the jump. … Read More
Tomorrow is the 65th birthday of Mr. Stephen King — yep, the master of pop horror is now a senior citizen — so break out a party hat, have a slice of cake, and douse yourself in pig’s blood. Mr. King’s gradual progression, over the last couple of decades, from genre populist to critical darling has been a joy to watch. But the conventional wisdom that his books make for lousy movies inexplicably still holds. Make no mistake, they’ve turned his works into some turkeys, as anyone who’s sat through Graveyard Shift, Dreamcatcher, or his first (and so far only) directorial effort Maximum Overdrive can tell you. But his novels and stories have also provided the groundwork for several genuinely great movies — many of them, surprisingly enough, not even set in the world of the supernatural. After the jump, our picks for the best Stephen King movies to date. … 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’re a little bit sensitive about our beloved music icons. So when it comes time to make a biopic and Hollywood studios cast A-list actors to fill their glittery shoes, we’re likely to get defensive about their choices. For instance, a recently announced film about Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia has us hoping for lots of tie-dye, illicit substances, and trippy cinematography — but we won’t allow ourselves to get excited about it until we know who’s playing the hippie hero himself. Our trepidation about the Garcia film got us thinking about notable musician biopic casting decisions of the past. Check out the five best and worst after the jump. … Read More
The storyline for Aaron Schneider’s Get Low — which stars Bill Murray, Robert Duvall, and Sissy Spacek — reminds of us of that episode of The Golden Girls where Sophia decides to stage her own wake because she’s curious to see what people will say about her. It turns out that it’s actually based on the true story of Felix Bush (Duvall), a hermit who lived in the sticks of Tennessee back in the ’30s. As it tends to go in small Southern towns, people take his reclusive nature to imply that he has done unspeakable things, and Bush becomes the subject of much speculation. He believes that having a living funeral will be his chance to both hear what people really think of him and to set the record straight about why his been hiding out in the woods. Murray plays the shady funeral home director determined to make some money off of the whole thing. Sounds promising, no? … Read More