NYFF Review: Paterson Gets Almost Everything Right Oct11

NYFF Review: Paterso...

Overview:  Jim Jarmusch’s latest film gives us a week in the life of a poet. Amazon Studios; 2016; Rated R; 113 minutes. Disaster Strikes: I nearly missed my first New York Film Festival press screening this morning. I hadn’t yet picked up my badge, so the goal had been to budget...

30 Years Later, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Hasn...

The house anecdote about Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror masterstroke, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is that it was so terrifying, viewers left the theater thinking they’d just seen the goriest film ever made; a full-body submersion into blood, guts, and other assorted human viscera. The punchline, of course, is that Hooper had actually shown next to nothing, instead using quick cuts and frantic camerawork to engage the audience’s collective imagination, whipping them up into a hysterical frenzy. It’s not a stretch to guess that the film these impressionable viewers thought they saw might look a little bit like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. One...

Jesus Suffered, But Ben-Hur is Painless Aug22

Jesus Suffered, But Ben-Hur is Painless

Overview: Another cinematic retelling of the classic Christian allegory. Paramount Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; 2016; Rated PG-13; 123 minutes. A Pointless Pedigree: William Wyler’s Ben-Hur is not a masterpiece. I’m not entirely sure how or when that designation came about, but it’s a false one. Rather, the film is a big, silly epic that stages two all-time action set-pieces, contains a hint of homosexual subtext, and features an amusingly committed Charlton Heston performance, but whose greatest achievement is simply going three-and-a-half-hours without becoming boring. Still, it won eleven Oscars—a useless metric of quality, but one that...

Hell or High Water Is Mysterious & Nerve-Wracking In Equal Measure Aug16

Hell or High Water I...

Overview: Two small town brothers become bank robbers to save the family farm in West Texas only to find the law hot on their tail. CBS Films; 2016; Rated R; 102 minutes.    New Country for Old Genre: You’re a waitress… Okay, so technically you’re that actress from Eastbound and Down,...

Indignation is a Perfect Adaptation of Imperfect Material Aug12

Indignation is a Per...

Overview: A Jewish student leaves New Jersey to attend school in Ohio, where he meets a young lady and confronts the dean of the school. Summit Entertainment/Roadside Attractions; 2016; Rated R; 110 Minutes. Julian and Philip, in a Tree, K-i-s-s-i-n-g: Pop quiz, hotshot: Who’s the greatest...

Don’t Think Twice Has the Notes but Not the Music of Improv Aug09

Don’t Think Tw...

Overview: Five New York improv comics find their problems magnified when one of their own hits it big. The Film Arcade; 2016; Rated R; 92 minutes. Yes…: About ten minutes into my most anticipated film of the summer, Mike Birbiglia’s improv-world comedy, Don’t Think Twice, I had something...

Microbe & Gasoline Knows Exactly What It’s Doing Aug08

Microbe & Gasol...

Overview: Fed up with the frustrations of school, home, and crappy punk rock bands, a pair of friends build a very strange car and, just, drive away. Screen Media Films; 2016; Rated R; 105 minutes. Feels on Wheels: Microbe & Gasoline is a film built around an image almost dangerously...

Netflix Hidden Gem #78: Come Drink With Me

Come Drink With Me Director: King Hu Genre: Thriller Shaw Brothers Studio Synopsis: When the Governor’s son is kidnapped and held for ransom by a fierce, sociopathic gang of criminals, his constable sister endeavors to rescue him. Along the way she encounters a very strange beggar whose quest might just overlap with hers. Overview: David Fincher once famously said that he doesn’t believe “there are a million ways to shoot a scene.” Rather, that “there are two, maybe. And the other one is wrong.” It’s a sentiment that legendary kung-fu director King Hu might very well have agreed with. Every Hu shot is a perfectly discrete object,...

Viral Infects a Teen-Pic With Dollops of Zombie Blood Aug03

Viral Infects a Teen...

Overview: When the world is thrown into chaos by an infectious disease, two California sisters barricade themselves inside their house to wait out the forthcoming apocalypse. Dimension Films; 2016; Rated R; 85 minutes. Prolific Schmohlific: This week, directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost...

Tallulah Is A Sundance Movie Aug01

Tallulah Is A Sundan...

Overview: After being dumped by her boyfriend, a homeless drifter moves in with his mother, kidnapping an abused baby along the way. Netflix; 2016; Not Rated; 111 minutes. Sometimes You Sundance: Pretty early into Tallulah, I smacked my head harder than I had all year. Allison Janney’s...

Netflix Hidden Gem #77: The Mend

The Mend Director: John Magary Genre: Comedy/Drama Moxie Pictures Synopsis: Mat and Alan, estranged brothers, reunite just before Alan leaves for a vacation with his girlfriend. When he returns sooner than expected without his girlfriend, Alan finds Mat and his family have moved into his apartment. Overview: What makes for a great directorial debut? Before successive features can ossify a style into a recognizable brand, how does the up-and-comer distinguish themselves from the horde? Making a solidly good film certainly isn’t enough. While something like The Shawshank Redemption is clearly a decent film, it’s difficult to...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is an Enjoyably Deceptive Fantasy Jul26

Mike and Dave Need W...

Overview: Two hard-partying bros are forced to get their act together for their younger sister’s upcoming wedding and take dates, but the two women who agree to go aren’t as clean-cut as they seem. 20th Century Fox; 2016; Rated R; 98 Minutes.  A Prickly Myth: What kind of studio...

Train To Busan is a Delightfully Pessimistic Ride Jul26

Train To Busan is a ...

Overview: When a zombie virus takes over Korea, a recently divorced father has to learn the meaning of moral propriety if he wants to keep his daughter safe. Next Entertainment World; 2016; Not Rated; 118 minutes. Survival of the Jerkiest: At the core of every zombie text, there lies a...