Author: Richard Newby

10 Good Movies You Never Want to See Again

Today marks Blue Monday, the day devised by mathematicians to be the saddest day of the year. So I figured today would be a good day to tackle a subject I’ve been thinking about for a while. Typically when we evaluate a movie, we factor in enjoyment and rewatchability in relation to quality. But there are some movies that you might consider good, great even, and yet they are so depressing or discomforting that you never want to visit them again, or at least not very often. There’s a good chance you might even own a couple movies like that, ones that sit on your shelf, daring you to watch them until you eventually look away and choose something else. There are some films that you might even know going in that you’re in for an unpleasant ride. But because there’s a bit of a masochistic quality to many cinephiles (including me), it’s nearly impossible not to watch when those films come your way, even if it stirs up something unpleasant. In honor of the films that induce chills and heavy hearts, here’s a list of ten, ranked for your discomfort and disquiet. 10. Lolita The film’s tagline is “How did they ever make a movie of Lolita?” The question I ask isn’t “how,” but “why?” I consider Stanley Kubrick to be the greatest director of all time, but...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gem #27: Night Catches Us

Night Catches Us Director: Tanya Hamilton Genre: Drama/Historical Magnolia Pictures I’ve been thinking a lot about Selma over the past week in terms of what it means and what it doesn’t, what it was nominated for and what it wasn’t. In light of my recent thoughts about the lack of diversity in the 2015 Oscar nominations and racial tension between blacks and police officers, I decided to watch another extremely relevant film by a black female director and screenwriter. Night Catches Us premiered at Sundance in 2010 and went on the win a host of awards at the Black Reel Awards but only received a staggered limited release in 11 theatres. Despite how underseen the film was, its importance has only grown over the years. In terms of historical events and not release dates, Night Catches Us can be viewed as a spiritual successor to Selma — a look at what becomes of the Civil Rights Movement when its most prominent leaders are dead or imprisoned. Night Catches Us takes place in Philadelphia in 1976 and centers on Marcus (Anthony Mackie), an ex-Black Panther member who returns home for his father’s funeral. Despite his labeling as a snitch and warnings from his former friend and local gangster, Marcus stays in Philly and rekindles his relationship with Patricia (Kerry Washington), the widow of a Black Panther member who was executed by...

Read More

Selma

Overview: Martin Luther King Jr. struggles with his personal convictions while organizing a march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights. 2014; Distributed by Paramount Pictures; Rated PG-13; 127 minutes. “What Are You Following Me For?”: While Martin Luther King Jr. has been portrayed in numerous Hollywood films, filmmakers have struggled for decades to tell a story with the civil rights leader at the center. For a man whose life and speeches have been so thoroughly examined, Dr. King’s powerful historical presence makes crafting a bio-film that feels necessary and sufficient no easy task. Ava DuVernay and screenwriter Paul...

Read More

American Sniper

Overview: Based on the true story of Iraq War veteran Chris Kyle, who is known as the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history. 2014; Distributed by Warner Brothers Pictures; Rated R; 132 minutes. Target in Sight: There’s no denying Chris Kyle’s heroism or dedication to his country. I have the utmost respect for him as well as all of America’s armed forces. I say this to make it clear that my views on the film are separate from my views of the men and women who make up the U.S. military. Unfortunately, this separation is one that director Clint...

Read More

Go West, Young Man—The Problem Facing Young Directors Today

As we get into the thick of awards season, I’ve been thinking a lot about the films of our current generation of up-and-coming directors or those who have yet to become household names but have the potential. With filmmakers like Jeff Nichols (Mud), Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin), and Gia Coppola (Palo Alto), I think we could witness a boom of authorial driven studio films that hasn’t been seen since the late ’60s, and ’70s. I’m not talking about the wave of mumblecore directors that cropped up in the early 2000s; I’m talking about those independent directors...

Read More

Unfriended Trailer Will Haunt Your Computer Screen

  The horror genre is about to take over your computer screen and it looks insanely fun! I’ve been waiting years for a movie that can turn social media into the nightmare it has the potential to be. Paranormal Activity 4, Open Windows, and the V/H/S segment, The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger, played around with Skype, but Levan Gabriadze’s Unfriended looks to be a much wilder ride. Produced by horror maestro Jason Blum, and Timur Bekmambetov, Unfriended, centers on a Skype chat of six high school students as they are supposedly haunted by...

Read More

Netflix Hidden Gems #24: The Host

The Host Director: Bong Joon-ho Genre: Sci-fi/Horror Showbox/Magnolia Pictures It’s the time of year when most people start making New Year’s resolutions. What a lot of these resolutions boil down to in some shape of form is “how can I be more responsible in this specific aspect of my life?” So I thought to bring in the New Year we’d start with a movie that’s a wonderful, offbeat tale of responsibility, one that just happens to have a giant monster at the heart of it. The film centers on Park Gang-du (Song Kang-ho), a lazy and incompetent man who runs a snack bar with his father. When a giant monster emerges from the Han River and snatches Gang-du’s daughter, Hyun Seo (Go Ah-sung), he is forced to band together with his dysfunctional family to escape the government-enforced quarantine and rescue his daughter before she’s eaten alive. I was introduced to the work of Bong Joon-ho a few weeks ago with Snowpiercer (which is also on Netflix) and after reading my fellow contributor Sean W. Fallon’s list of “Five Films to Start Your Korean Movie Obsession” I decided to check out The Host. While the film is a kaiju movie, it’s a wildly unconventional one that does a lot of genre-blending. Bong Joon-ho takes tropes from fugitive thrillers, outbreak horror, family dramedy, and political satire to craft a film that uses...

Read More

7 Best Movie Trailers of 2014

As we close out on the year, it’s a good time to not only look back but also look forward. And what better way to do this than to look at some of best movie trailers 2014 offered? There were certainly a few surprises, a few disappointments, and a few absentees. (I’m looking at you WB. Where’s that Batman v. Superman teaser?)   7. Mad Max: Fury Road– Official Theatrical Teaser Trailer (Warner Bros. Pictures) I’ll admit, I’m no fan of George Miller’s Mad Max series (Blasphemy, I know, I know, but I’ll give them a rewatch before Fury...

Read More

7 Greatest Movie Heroes of 2014

2014 offered up a wide selection of great characters, but only a select few had what it took to look outside themselves to be considered truly heroic. Some were tried and true superheroes and revolutionaries, while others’ heroism came in unexpected forms. So crank up that tried and true Enrique Iglesias hit, because we’ve got your list of individuals who proved more than ready to be your heroes this year. 7. Schmidt and Jenko- 22 Jump Street Stats: Right off the bat I’m cheating, but it’s impossible to separate these two. Not only are the two unlikely cops faced...

Read More

7 Best Movie Posters of 2014

I love movie posters. There’s always something exciting attached to that first glimpse of a movie. But the quality of movie posters have declined over the years, hand painted posters fading away to poor photoshop renderings. There are still great, independently released posters that come from the artists at Mondo, but great studio poster releases are few and far between. Thankfully, there are still some marketing departments that put their best foot forward when it comes to offering the best first glimpse possible. So here are the best efforts from the studios this year.   7. Foxcatcher (Sony Pictures...

Read More

Best and Worst Movie Taglines

Of all the marketing aspects that go into making a movie a success, taglines probably rank near the bottom in terms of studios’ concern. But there is an art to the movie tagline, the ability to define the tone or central idea of a film in a few sentences or less. A tagline can make or break a movie poster, and while a good or bad tagline isn’t necessarily an indicator for the film’s final quality, it can be an enlightening (occasionally depressing) peek into the creative powers behind the movie. We’ve had our share of good and bad...

Read More

2014 Critics’ Choice Movie Award Nominations

  Started in 1996, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards are presented by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA). The BFCA is composed of radio, television, and online film critics from across America. In the their 15 years of existence, the BFCA’s choice for Best Picture has won the Oscar for Best Picture, 12 times. Awards will be and broadcast on January 19th.   BEST PICTURE Birdman Boyhood Gone Girl The Grand Budapest Hotel The Imitation Game Nightcrawler Selma The Theory of Everything Unbroken Whiplash   BEST DIRECTOR Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel Ava DuVernay – Selma David Fincher – Gone Girl Alejandro G. Inarritu – Birdman Angelina Jolie – Unbroken Richard Linklater – Boyhood   BEST ACTOR Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler Michael Keaton – Birdman David Oyelowo – Selma Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything   BEST ACTRESS Jennifer Aniston – Cake Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything Julianne Moore – Still Alice Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl Reese Witherspoon – Wild   BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Josh Brolin – Inherent Vice Robert Duvall – The Judge Ethan Hawke – Boyhood Edward Norton – Birdman Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher J.K. Simmons – Whiplash   BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Patricia Arquette – Boyhood Jessica Chastain – A Most...

Read More

High Fantasy Stakes: Exploring a Genre

Next week Peter Jackson concludes his time in Middle-Earth with The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, and thus will conclude audiences’ cinematic journey into the world of high fantasy for some time.  To get nerdily precise for a moment, high fantasy (a term coined by author Lloyd Alexander) bears a distinction from contemporary fantasy or magical realism by taking place in a world with entirely different geographies from our own, populated by mythic creatures such as elves, dragons, dwarves, wizards and the like. These worlds are often characterized by clothing and weapons that are medieval in design, and...

Read More

Criterion Discovery: Gimme Shelter

Background Gimme Shelter was released in 1970 and directed by Albert and David Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin. The film was released by Criterion on December 1st, 2009 as spine #99. The Maysles Brothers and Zwerin also directed spine #122, The Salesman, and The Maysles Brothers directed spine #123, Grey Gardens, and spine #361, The Beales of Grey Gardens. Story The documentary follows The Rolling Stones on their 1969 US tour, and its violent conclusion at the Altamont Free Concert in Northern California. Film Often considered one of the greatest documentaries of all time, Gimme Shelter is known for its...

Read More

The Imitation Game

Overview: Following the UK’s declaration of war against Germany, a group of cryptanalysts led by mathematician Alan Turing create the first digital computer in order to break the German military’s coded messages and put an end to WWII. With the lives of many in his hands, Turing is placed between the logic and emotion that governs his life. Distributed by Studio Canal/The Weinstein Company. 2014; Rated PG-13; 114 minutes Crafting an Enigma: Morten Tyldum takes Andrew Hodges’ biography Alan Turing: The Enigma and condenses it into a carefully plotted and suspenseful historical thriller. Along with screenwriter Graham Moore, Tyldum...

Read More