Author: J. Scott Shreve

Edgar Wright and the Craft of Comedy

Edgar Wright is the comedic auteur of the people. His sense of humor and feel for comedy can appeal to the masses, and yet his technical prowess and depth of comedy appeals even greater to the most seasoned cinephile. His films contain an identifiable and unique perspective and his style is unmistakable. Wright is the bridge that spans the gap of the two sides of comedic film. Wright’s films have high appeal to the typical cinema patron. Just take a look at the base construct of his four feature films. Shaun of the Dead is a comedy centered on...

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Criterion Discovery: Like Someone in Love

Background Like Someone in Love is a 2012 film from director Abbas Kiarostami and the fourth film from Kiarostami in The Criterion Collection (Close-up, Taste of Cherry, Certified Copy). It was released by Criterion as spine #708 on May 20, 2014. Like Someone in Love is the first Japanese film from Kiarostami and only the second film he has made outside of his native Iran (Certified Copy, Italy). The Story The film is set in Tokyo and the surrounding area. Akiko is a student and a part-time call girl with an overprotective and short-fused fiancé. She is sent to...

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Criterion Discovery: The Gold Rush

Background The Gold Rush is a 1925 silent film from director Charles Chaplin. The film would later be re-released by Chaplin in 1942 with several changes, including new music and narration. It was released by Criterion as spine #615 on June 12, 2012. At the time of its release, The Gold Rush was the third Chaplin film in the collection, and to date it is one of five Chaplin releases in The Criterion Collection. The Story The film is set in Alaska during the height of the Gold Rush. Chaplin plays the Lone Prospector, a man in search of riches....

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When the Game Stands Tall

Overview: A decorated high school football program faces a period of adversity. 2014; TriStar Pictures; Rated PG; 115 Minutes. The Power of Sports: The natural drama that sports can provide is as good as any fiction. It’s derived from pure heart and determination. It can produce unadulterated, surreal astonishment (Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals), crippling heartbreak (Chris Webber’s errant timeout), and uncontrolled sobbing resulting from inspiration (Jimmy V’s speech). If in the right hands, that natural drama is tailor-made for film, but in the wrong hands, it more closely resembles that cheap suit your grandma bought you...

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Criterion Discovery: Kuroneko

An Introduction Welcome to Criterion Discovery, the newest Feature added to Audiences Everywhere. Here at Audiences Everywhere our motto is “Curious and Teachable.” We love film, and we have a passion to learn and share as much as possible about the medium. The Criterion Collection is a renowned collection of classic, timeless, and influential films that to date has reached an astounding 738 entries. It’s a massive collection filled with endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. It’s a natural fit, and with this new column, we hope to apply the “Curious and Teachable” sentiment to The Criterion Collection. I’ve...

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A Cinematic Playlist: 10 Examples of Great Pop Music Cues

Music is a powerful cinematic tool. It can accentuate directing, acting, and cinematography to make a great scene better than the sum of its parts, it can elevate a normal scene into an iconic scene, and it can manipulate viewer’s emotions in pivotal turning points. Effective and memorable uses of music are one of my cinema guilty pleasures. A great movie doesn’t have to have memorable music cues, but if it does, it will hold a special place in my heart. I’ve gone on a journey through some of my best film memories and compiled a list of some...

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Overview: The misadventures of a concierge and his lobby boy are recounted. Fox Searchlight Pictures; 2014; Rated R; 100 Minutes. Familiar Style: Director Wes Anderson doesn’t offer up any surprises in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Anyone familiar with Anderson’s previous work will notice the trademarks right way: God’s eye POV, whip-pans, eccentric dialogue, miniatures, narration, you get the point, and the list goes on. Anderson is the king of divisive auteurs. I stand on the positive side of that divide. I admire the detail that Anderson applies to his craft, and that level of detail deserves respect. There is...

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The Raid 2: Berandal

Overview: Following the events of The Raid: Redemption, rookie Jakarta cop Rama must go undercover to bring down the corruption in the city and save his family. Sony Pictures Classics/Stage 6 Films; 2014; Rated R; 150 Minutes. The Violence: Holy shit, this movie is violent! From start to finish it’s a flurry of punches, kicks, gruesome injuries, and graphic deaths. This movie is not for the faint of heart. There is barely enough time to recover from one action set-piece before the next one begins. Viewers should watch this with a large audience as the “Oooh’s” and “Oh my’s”...

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Her

Overview: A lonely writer begins to form a unique relationship with a fully sentient operating system. Annapurna Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures. 2013. Rated R. 120 Minutes. Exploration: Her is a deep and honest look at the emotions, boundaries, and nature of human relationships. Beyond the clear commentary on the relationship humans have with technology, writer/director Spike Jonze is exploring loneliness and the building blocks of all human interaction. It queries: If a relationship or interaction feels real to someone, then who is to say that it isn’t real, regardless of any physical existence of the subjects? What is real and...

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Inside Llewyn Davis

Overview: A folk musician faces struggles and hardship as he traverses the folk music scene of Greenwich Village in 1961 New York. CBS Films/StudioCanal. 2013. Rated R. 105 Minutes. Inside the Character Study: With Llewyn Davis, writer/director’s Joel and Ethan Coen have created one of their deepest and most compelling characters in a catalogue of greats (Jeff Lebowski, Marge Gunderson, Barton Fink). The film only gives viewers a look into one week of his life, but in that short narrative stretch, we learn all we need. As Llewyn travels back and forth across the city with his music career...

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Seven Samurai

Overview: Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese epic about a group of seven misfit samurai that come together to defend a farming village from bandits. Toho; 1954; Unrated; 207 Minutes. The Original Epic: At the time of Seven Samurai’s release, very few films had a vision or scope as ambitious as Kurosawa’s, with his large action set pieces, unprecedented battles, and sheer number of actors on screen. The film tops the three hour mark, but very little of that time is filler, as Kurosawa provides ample character development in each of the samurai. By the end of the film, each samurai has...

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Fruitvale Station

Overview: Fruitvale Station depicts Bay Area resident Oscar Grant’s last day of life leading up to an unnecessary and devastating tragedy. The Weinstein Company. 2013. Rated R. 85 Minutes. The Story: Fruitvale Station doesn’t shy away from telling Oscar Grant’s story. The film opens with real eye-witness footage of the tragic event that took Oscar Grant’s life in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009. It’s difficult to watch. For viewers not familiar with the true story, this scene serves as the most honest introduction to the story’s inevitable conclusion. For viewers familiar with the true story,...

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Cloud Atlas

Overview: The lives of several individuals are linked centuries apart, covering the past, present, and future. Warner Bros. Pictures. Rated R. 172 Minutes. Strengths: The score for Cloud Atlas is sweeping, orchestral, and larger-than-life. It’s the best thing the film has going for it. Adapted from the David Mitchell novel of the same name, the film is comprised of six separate, but connected narratives that span six different time periods (1849, 1936, 1973, 2012, 2144, and 2321). Composers Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil, and Johnny Klimek’s score links these sequences together in support of the film’s intended, overarching theme of...

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The Grandmaster

Overview: The Grandmaster is a martial arts biopic about the legendary Ip Man. Sil-Metropole Organisation/Bona Film Group; Rated PG-13; 130 Minutes (Chinese cut); 108 Minutes (US cut). *This review is for the Chinese cut. I watched both versions and find the Chinese cut to be preferable. Each version has unique scenes, and the scenes in each version are not arranged identically. The US cut also features more title cards between some scenes which clearly state some points on which viewers may not be clear. Strengths: The Grandmaster features dazzling slow motion effects and the stunning and romantic cinematography for...

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Like Father, Like Son

Overview: Two families discover that their six year-old sons were switched at birth. 2013. Unrated. 121 Minutes. Like Ozu: Like Father, Like Son focuses on the dynamics of family, and revisits similar themes that director Hirokazu Kore-eda has explored in his previous films (Nobody Knows, Still Walking, I Wish). He is the contemporary equivalent of Yasujirô Ozu, the legendary Japanese director, whose films from the 1930s to the early 1960s focused on the dynamics of Japanese families. Families: Ryota is a successful businessman and enjoys a comfortable life with his wife Midori and quiet son Keita. Ryota doesn’t spend...

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