Author: Schyler Martin

Finders Keepers Finds Surprising Humanity

Overview: Finders Keepers takes a closer look at the bizarre story of John Wood and Shannon Whisnant, two men from small-town North Carolina who engage in a custody battle over an amputated leg. The Orchard; 2015; Rated R; 83 minutes. A Comic Tragedy: It’s hard to believe, but the legal battle over the leg might be the dullest thing about Finders Keepers. It’s what the leg stands for to these men that’s really fascinating. “It’s a funny story, but it’s borne of tragedy,” Wood’s mother says early on in the film, and as the story progresses, the tragedy of it...

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Bridge of Spies Lacks the Best of Its Collaborators

Overview: James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) a New York insurance lawyer, is tasked with defending Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; 2015; Rated PG-13; 141 minutes. What It Has: Written by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, and Matt Charman, and directed by Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies has everything it needs to work. It has an engaging story, fascinating characters, and the natural tension of the Cold War. And yet it falters, landing somewhere significantly better than a bad film, but far short of greatness. What It’s Missing: The biggest issues in Spielberg’s latest come from what would appear to be its...

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Stumbling Into the Genre: Patrick Brice Talks Creep

With just two actors, one handheld camera, and a deceptively simple story, Creep is a deliciously dark horror film with hints of black comedy and an ending you’ll be talking about for weeks. Creep is streaming on Netflix, and it’s 82 minutes of pure tension and uncomfortable laughs. I urge you to check it out. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Patrick Brice, who directed, co-wrote, and acted in Creep. I hope you’ll enjoy the conversation as much as I did: … Schyler Martin (Audiences Everywhere): What kind of film did you set out to make with...

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10 Terrifying Horror Documentaries and Mockumentaries

As Halloween approaches, I find myself craving that familiar feeling of wrapping myself up in a blanket, cutting all the lights, and jumping at every shadow for the rest of the night after watching a good scary movie. If you share this sentiment, here are five terrifying documentaries that prove real life can be the scariest thing of all and five documentaries/found-footage horror films that prove that fiction can be pretty damn chilling too: … Part I: 5 Terrifying Documentaries 1. Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple Few real life events are as chilling as the Jonestown Massacre. Led by...

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Z for Zachariah is a Capable Character Study

Overview: Ann, the survivor of a nuclear apocalypse, lives a simple, pleasant life of solitude until two men enter her life and her Eden is destroyed. Roadside Attractions; 2015; Rated PG-13; 97 minutes. The Obligatory Part Where I Compare It to the Book: When I read the book by Robert C. O’Brien last year, I was disappointed. I had high hopes for a story that seemed far up my alley, the novel being a character study with a post-apocalyptic backdrop. But I didn’t like it. I couldn’t connect with the characters. Their actions were confusing and frustrating. By the end,...

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A Beginner’s Guide to Dark Comedy

Dark comedy is, without a doubt, my favorite genre of film and television, but it’s also a tough genre to crack. I know from experience (a handful of half-written and horribly unimpressive screenplays) that it feels nearly impossible to write a solid dark comedy. When Norman Steinberg, the co-writer of Blazing Saddles, came to speak to members of the screenwriting minor at UNC-CH last year, he told us, “The protagonist always has to go through some kind of change. Unless you’re writing a dark comedy and those are nearly impossible to get right.” Today I want to talk about some dark comedies that have...

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Netflix Hidden Gems: Female Directors Edition

In our regular Netflix Hidden Gems feature, we focus on one movie and discuss it in great detail. Today, in honor of Women’s Equality Day and in an effort to highlight female directors on Netflix, I’m going to do something a little different. In this list, I won’t go into too much detail about each film, but I’ll do my best to help you find a large selection of great films of every genre directed by women and streaming on Netflix right now. Women have a problem in film. According to a detailed study from 2012, women comprised just...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #54: Creep

Creep Director: Patrick Brice Genre: Found-Footage Horror/Black Comedy The Orchard Synopsis: When Aaron, a freelance videographer, responds to an online ad, he meets Josef, a man who claims to have terminal cancer and wants to make a video diary for his unborn son. Aaron soon learns that Josef isn’t telling him the full truth, and things quickly spiral out of his control. Overview: Creep is not a particularly detailed story. With just two actors — Mark Duplass as Josef and Patrick Brice (who also directs the film) as Aaron — one handheld camera, and a story that moves forward without too...

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Ted 2

Overview: When Ted and his wife (yes, this is a comedy actually built around the idea of a possessed toy having a wife; just go with it) decide to adopt a child, they run into a roadblock, when they discover that Ted is not legally considered a “person.” Cue a big, weird courtroom movie about a plush, teddy bear fighting for equality among any, and all, sentient beings. Universal Pictures; 2015; Rated R; 115 Minutes. Ad Nauseam: If you go into Ted 2 expecting anything more than vulgar, sophomoric, offensive jokes, then honestly, the problem is with you as a viewer. Ted 2 isn’t...

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Inside Out

Overview: When 11-year-old Riley is uprooted from her life in Minnesota with a sudden move to San Francisco, her emotions (Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Sadness) find themselves working overtime to navigate the hardships of growing older. Disney Pixar; PG; 2015, 102 minutes. Inside Childhood: Visually, Inside Out is dazzling and breathtakingly imaginative. To create an interesting world inside of a child’s head is one thing, but to create a world that feels true to life, that feels honest and real, well, that’s another thing entirely. I’m in awe of the things Inside Out does, and out of respect for...

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Misery Loves Comedy

Overview: Director Kevin Pollak sets out to answer the age-old question, “Do you have to be miserable to be funny?” in this star-studded documentary about comedians. 2015; Tribeca Film; Not Rated; 95 minutes. Ugh: For a documentary called Misery Loves Comedy, it takes an awful long time for Pollack to actually get to the topic of misery. This film should have been called Comedians Talk About Pretty Much Everything Except For Whether Or Not They’re Miserable. If I seem frustrated, it’s because I am. I really, really am. So much about this movie overwhelmed me. The editing is rough...

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Six True Crimes That Could Make Great Movies

With the rise in popularity of shows such as The Jinx and podcasts such as Serial, one thing is for sure: true crime, for better or for worse, is an opportunity for entertainment. With that in mind, here are six real crimes that could make great movies. 1. The Missing Man The story: In 2004, Benjaman Kyle was discovered unconscious in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He had little recollection of his life before being found, and even now, Kyle doesn’t know who he is or what happened to him. Kyle is the only American citizen officially listed as missing, despite his whereabouts being known....

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For Floppy Ears Only

Overview: After the death of her mother, an eight-year-old girl clings to a stuffed bunny named Rabbit in search of comfort and normalcy. 2015; 20 Minutes. Many Films in One: Though it has a simple enough premise, For Floppy Ears Only isn’t a simple documentary. In some ways, For Floppy Ears Only is many films at once. It’s a character study of Lulu, a child who is dealing with the loss of her mother and a study of her father, an admirable and loving man who must work to comfort Lulu and deal with his wife’s death. It’s an...

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Chasing the Wind

Overview: Chasing the Wind follows an Italian mortician through the motions of her job and her daily life. Made with Care: Chasing the Wind is meticulously made. Of that, there is no doubt. Each shot is thoughtful and deliberate, careful to squeeze every potential drop of beauty out of the object being filmed, whether it’s a woman’s thoughtful eyes, a picturesque landscape, or a long-dead gas-bloated corpse. Director Filippo Ticozzi does an astounding job of reminding viewers that there is the potential for beauty in everything in life, if only we look at it through the proper lens. Shot...

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These Final Hours

Overview: With just hours left before the end of the world, James, a troubled and indecisive man, must determine how to spend the time he has left. 2013; Roadshow Films; Unrated; 87 minutes. Full Disclosure: I know that people are getting tired of the apocalyptic subgenre, and I get it. Okay, I don’t completely get it. I love apocalyptic films. If a movie’s about the world ending, I’m in. Even bad apocalyptic films are fun for me. But I do understand being tired of seeing recycled premises, even if they’re originally interesting ones. Hell, I’m so tired of superhero...

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