Battleship Potemkin: A Landmark of Silent Cinema T...

Film is, in a sense, a repetitive medium; it is somewhat reliant upon remixing and rehashing old tropes, established conventions, and techniques that have been tested and perfected over time. This recycling is by no means a bad thing. Directors are inspired by those that came before them and pay homage to their creations. And even in the cinema’s earliest days, traditions were pulled from other art forms such as theater, literature, and photography. Yet, many of the things that make some of today’s movies so great started somewhere else entirely, somewhere deep in the creative recesses of a director’s mind, or formed by cultural...

A Horror-Comedy Classic Comes to TV in Ash vs. Evi...

Halloween this year brought fans of the Evil Dead franchise some beloved old tricks and a lot of new treats in the premiere of Ash VS Evil Dead on Starz. The cult-classic trilogy from Sam Raimi may not have needed a sequel series, but fans might tell you otherwise, claiming there is simply no more deserving series of films to receive the television revival treatment. Expectations for the series were almost impossibly high, with fans clamoring for something bigger and better but that would not abandon or sacrifice the gritty garishness that made the original films so beloved in the first place. To anyone who isn’t a fan, this new series...

Cinema Saints: Guillermo del Toro

  Guillermo del Toro, who celebrated his 51st birthday just last week (on October 9th, to be exact) and who will no doubt have even more reason to celebrate this week with the release of Crimson Peak, seems to be more active and more revered than ever before. Though his career spans more than two decades, it seems that many are just now catching on to del Toro’s fanboy brand of genius. Or, perhaps it is that he is finally getting to apply his impeccable imagination to more and more projects that are actually worthy of his mad, brilliant vision. Either way, fans new and old of the Mexican-born filmmaker can rejoice in del Toro’s...

The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s 40 Year Lega...

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a classic–whether you choose to throw the term “cult” on the front of that accolade is up to you at this point, considering the cultural stronghold the film has established and maintained over the last four decades. All of that being said, how does one really describe the film, doing justice to its inherent strangeness, its odd references, its nearly indescribable tone? It is a rock opera that pays homage to drive-in, sci-fi, B-movie fare and celebrates unbridled, unabashed sexuality in a singularly spectacular, wholly irreverent fashion. Even that sentence feels incomplete in describing a...

The Evolution and Importance of Horror Movie Final Girls Aug26

The Evolution and Importance of Horror Movie Final...

In certain ways and for fairly superficial reasons, horror is often seen as a masculine genre. That notion is not only outdated–it’s downright preposterous. Women can and do not only enjoy horror movies just as much, if not more, than their male counterparts, but they’re also an integral component of horror movie history in more ways than one. In various horror subgenres throughout movie history, women have been objectified and massacred brutally. There’s no way to write off this fact and certainly no easy solution to unraveling sex and violence after years of being dangerously entwined with one another in this...

The 40-Year-Old Virgin 10 Years Later: A Legacy of...

Time flies when you’re having fun, and the last ten years have certainly flown by upon the wings of modern comedy master Judd Apatow, propelled by his now-classic The 40-Year-Old Virgin. It truly is hard to believe that Apatow’s directorial debut premiered a decade ago; even with every great comedy film that’s come along since, it remains one of the most watchable and memorable ones out there. It is unrelentingly funny, and the jokes simply don’t get old. Which is to say, the film has aged very well over the years, or perhaps more accurately it has not aged at all. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes it so timeless, and why we...

Trainwreck Review: Welcome to the Big Leagues, Amy! Jul17

Trainwreck Review: W...

Overview: A boozy, sexually-free magazine writer who lives by her father’s ideal that monogamy isn’t realistic  starts to question her  lifestyle when she falls for  a charming, nice-guy sports doctor. Universal Pictures; 2015; Rated R; 125 minutes. Is It Funny?: The answer is a...

Let’s Stop Gender-Classifying Movie Genres

Sometimes I wonder if I was aware as a child of how pop culture products are artificially gendered by the mysterious powers that be– you know, the marketing agencies and television networks and movie studios and entertainment journalists that all seek to categorize and further dictate what media you should and shouldn’t consume. If I did know this, I didn’t seem to care: I consumed whatever I wanted to consume, with very little gender-coaxing from my parents. I remember making up soap operas with my Barbie dolls one moment, and action scenarios with my Legos the next, with equal enthusiasm and not an ounce of...

The Persistence, Relevance, & Evolution of the Teen Slasher Jul09

The Persistence, Relevance, & Evolution of th...

The Gallows, opening in theaters this week, is pretty obviously a found footage horror film. The found footage aesthetic, which some may say is overused and long past its prime, is instantly recognizable even from teaser trailers of this film, with its use of shaky-cam shots amid eerie red-lighting, and the now-standard shot of audience members watching the film in a theater in full-on panic mode (a device most popularized by Paranormal Activity‘s marketing campaign). The Gallows revolves around a group of students who break into their high school at night to stop a misguided resurrection of the very same play that went horribly awry...

Netflix Hidden Gem #47: Exam

Exam (2009) Director: Stuart Hazeldine Genre: Psychological Thriller IFC Films Synopsis:  Eight individuals enter a windowless exam room. They’re all candidates for what we’re led to assume is a single job opening. We do not know what the job is. We do not the name of the company from which it is being offered. Overview: The rules that the candidates are given are simple: Each candidate has a piece of paper and a pencil. There is “one question before them” and “one answer is required,” but the papers are apparently blank. They cannot spoil the paper, either intentionally or unintentionally, or...

The Importance of Amy Schumer

Comedy can serve multiple purposes — besides and in addition to making us laugh, of course. Sometimes life is too ugly, too stressful, too unpleasant, so we seek out humor to make us forget, even if just for the duration of a sketch, a stand-up special or a dumb, raunchy comedy movie. Comedy also can help explain those negative aspects of life — or at least, to bring them to light, to expose their ugliness, their unpleasantness, their flaws and their hypocrisies. Comedy can present us with political truths, societal double-standards, and horrible facets of human nature. Without comedy, maybe these truths would never reach us, at...

Pitch Perfect: The Little Movie that Became a Musi...

Pitch Perfect was the epitome of a sleeper hit; it was a critical success that went on to do well at the box office and has since garnered a massive cult following. I’d heard of it when it hit theaters in September of 2012, before it became as beloved as it is now, and I knew there was singing involved, of course. But overall, I went about my life at the time with little awareness or opinion of the film, that is, until I first viewed it on a plane a few months later. I’ve since seen the film a number of times, repeatedly watching it whenever I can, much like I were returning to a much-loved album, addicted and eventually being...

Five Episodes of The Twilight Zone That Could Make Great New Movies May11

Five Episodes of The Twilight Zone That Could Make...

The Twilight Zone is, for the most part, timeless– though many of its stories seem rooted in a Cold War era of paranoia, many others convey fears and preoccupations that seem inevitably attached to the human condition and our inherent vulnerability in light of forces we cannot identify or explain. I think that’s what makes us return to the series, or perhaps it is that the series never really leaves us. It is why certain tales of terror and suspense and psychological turmoil that Rod Serling gave us stay with us and why the show remains so classic, so universal, so important to us even generations later. That said, unless...

The Non-Existence of Foreign Superhero Cinema

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: we have very little access or exposure here in America to foreign “mainstream” films, with the exception perhaps of Asian horror or action movies, and the rare few European romantic and slapstick comedies hiding in the nooks and crannies of Netflix. So, it’s hard to know with certainty whether there are many foreign superhero movies to be found, but I think it’s safe to say that there aren’t. Even a simple Google search using those terms yielded few results. I think it all boils down to this: our domestic box office numbers mean relatively little when...

The Water Diviner Apr27

The Water Diviner

Overview: Russell Crowe’s directorial debut finds himself the subdued star of a sweeping World War I epic as Joshua Connor, an Australian farmer whose three sons have not returned home from the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915. After losing his wife four years later to the depression and...

Flights of Fancy

Overview: 23-year-old Simon deals with first love while his father Hans, a brilliant architect, relapses into paranoid, schizophrenic behaviors that make Simon’s home feel like a tenuous, toxic insane asylum. 2014. 90 minutes. Roxy Film / Movienet Film (Germany). Screened at: Kino!...

Who Am I – No ...

Overview: A young, mostly meek computer whiz named Benjamin (Tom Schilling) joins an ambitious group of amateur hackers who struggle to go above and beyond their usual pranks to be taken seriously both within the Darknet as well as in the real world…until things get dangerously out of...

Is It Still Fun?: Gremlins

Just this past August, I participated in Forgotten Films’ 1984-themed blog-a-thon, and I couldn’t resist picking Gremlins as a forgotten favorite of mine to write about. It’s a weird, quirky gem of a film that shouldn’t be as deviously fun as it is. For letting its freak flag fly, it goes down in pop culture history as a weird genre mash-up of creature-horror and crazy-comedy and defies easily definable demographics. In fact, it helped give rise to the PG-13 rating. But is it still as fun as it used to be? Before I answer that, I have to bring up one important bit of news–last week, it was announced that...

Happy Birthday, Ron Perlman: Hellboy and Beyond Apr13

Happy Birthday, Ron Perlman: Hellboy and Beyond

Ron Perlman has over 200 acting credits on his IMDb page, mapping a prolific, productive career that spans three decades. A classically trained actor, he’s lent his talents to stage and screen and his larger than life presence to television and film, and he’s even done voice work for video games and cartoons. From his turn as Vincent the lion-man in the short-lived cult hit television series Beauty and the Beast in the late 80s, to his work as Hellboy, arguably his most recognizable and iconic role, Perlman has garnered a loving fan-base and has cultivated a career out of playing unconventional characters — tortured...

Abandoned Goods Apr07

Abandoned Goods

Overview: This eloquent essay film is about the Adamson collection of 5,500 works of art created by long-term patients of Netherne psychiatric hospital in Surrey after World War II. The collection was more or less neglected and has since been rediscovered, its reputation rejuvenated by the...

Good Bye Lenin!

Overview: In October of 1989 in East Berlin, a matriarch and socialist-party loyalist has a heart attack and falls into a coma. One month later, the Berlin Wall falls, and she sleeps as the nation she knew and loved changes completely. When she unexpectedly wakes up in 1990, her devoted,...

Wild Tales

Overview: Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at last weekend’s Oscars, Damián Szifron’s Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) is comprised of 6 stories of varying length and complexity, dealing with revenge and excess, centering upon humans who act on their dark, violent, absurd...

The Oscar Hates Horror: Genre Filmmaking’s Awards Season Absence Feb25

The Oscar Hates Horror: Genre Filmmaking’s A...

Diversity was a big issue surrounding this year’s Oscars. This year’s awards season was exciting on one hand because it veered further into lower-budget, lower-grossing indie fare than ever before, but on the other hand, it was more white and masculine than it has been in years, proving that the Academy especially is starting to think forward in certain respects but devolve into old, bad habits in many others. I’m not here to talk about race and gender diversity though, as much as I agree that it matters. For the purpose of this post, I instead want to bring up another kind of diversity that is, and always has been, lacking: genre. It comes...

Netflix Hidden Gem #32: Pontypool

Film: Pontypool Released in 2008 Directed by Bruce McDonald Ponty Up Pictures / Shadow Shows , IFC Films (US Distribution) Summary: Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is a talk radio shock-jock looking to create a little on-air edge, until he is given more than he’d bargained for when a sinister and mysterious virus of sorts spreads and wreaks unknowable, inexplicable havoc throughout their previously quaint Ontario town. My horror-loving co-worker recommended this film to me and I was instantly intrigued by the premise, then remembered that it was also one of the items we’d offered in our #HAElloween giveaway back in October! So I knew...

Heritage and Homeland: Turkish-German Relations in...

Heimat— the German word for homeland. It is a word that is fraught with anxiety and double-meaning for the Turkish population of Germany. And, as a result, Heimat as it pertains to Turkish immigrants living in Germany is a theme throughout German cinema. The five exemplary films I’ve thought of for this post raise questions of homeland, identity, destiny, and duty for the Turkish people who were once, and perhaps in certain ways still are, displaced within a nation that is culturally and linguistically far away from their own– and yet who, with every passing generation, have come to consider Germany as somewhat of a home....