Author: Travis Losh

Wild Horses

Overview: A missing person case is reopened after a detective suspects murder may have been involved. Entertainment One Films; 2015; Rated R; 100 minutes. Lack of Direction: Robert Duvall, James Franco, and Josh Hartnett; okay, good deal, right? That’s what I thought going in (even if the title is plastic, and despite the fact that I don’t care about horses). What I was left with after watching the film was one valuable lesson in filmmaking; Just because you have big names, a good track record, and an understanding of the filmmaking process, that does not mean you can throw...

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6 True Sports Stories as Movies

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who is not emotionally invested in either a single sports franchise or their country’s Olympic team. We live in an age where sports fanaticism is borderline theological, and it’s hard to remember that off the field these athletes are normal, everyday people, and that their actions will have the same implications as anyone else’s. On the 30th birthday of a man who personifies this duality, Michael Phelps, we have chosen to celebrate his image with a list of good and bad stories from the world of sports that should be made into...

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Criterion Discovery: The Vanishing

Background The Vanishing (originally titled Spoorloos) is a French mystery/thriller directed by George Sluizer. The original 1988 film (which was followed by a rather depressing American remake in 1993) came to The Criterion Collection as Spine #133 on Blu-Ray in late 2014. This is the only Sluzier film to make it as part of the Collection. Story A young couple is traveling to their designated vacation spot when Saskia convinces Rex to veer off to a local spot. After a pit stop at a local gas station Saskia goes missing. Years after hearing nothing, Rex begins to receive odd...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #41: Winnebago Man

Winnebago Man Director: Ben Steinbauer Genre: Documentary/Comedy The Bear Media Synopsis: This documentary follows angry, yet lovable salesman, Jack Rebney, whose outtakes from a Winnebaggo sales video circulated for years before becoming a viral sensation without his knowledge. Overview: There is something inherently special about Jack Rebney. Even those who just discovered him by watching Winnebago Man (like I did) are still engulfed by his aura. He has two special talents: he can cuss better than anyone and he can sell some Winnebagos. Through his stinging personality, his ability to be lovable while being the biggest asshole we have...

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Champs

Overview: An examination of Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, and Bernard Hopkins: boxing greats of the ‘90s. Bert Marcus Productions; Not Rated; 2015; 85 Minutes. The Sport: Champs exists to illuminate an entire sport through the mistreatment of its star athletes through the egocentric effort of its proprietors. In a sport that pushes forward millions of dollars a year, boxing has no system in place to protect the athletes physically or financially. Highlighting these problems brings on a different identity to the film, making it far more about the protection of the athletes than what they achieved in their career. The shift...

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Criterion Discovery: Identification of a Woman

Background Identification of a Woman is an Italian film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. It was originally released in 1982, and was released on Criterion Blu-Ray on October 25th, 2011 as spine #585. This marked Antonioni’s sixth film to be selected for the collection, the others being: La Notte (Spine #678), L’elisse (Spine #278), Red Desert (Spine #522), L’Avventura (Spine #98), and for writing, Frederico Fellini’s The White Shiek (Spine #189). Story After his wife leaves him, director Niccolo begins to work on his new film. During this period, he spends time searching for a leading woman for both his film...

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Manny

Overview: A chronicle through the life and career of one of the greatest boxers of all time. Wonderspun; Rated PG-13; 88 minutes. It Needs to Happen: I know I’m beating a dead horse, but Manny Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather Jr. need to fight. Boxing has lost some steam since its heyday, but, as one of the most technical sports out there, it deserves to be in the limelight again. After a recent disagreement with a friend, I was forced to admit that the sport seems to be dying, at least in the mainstream media. Boxing is not covered by ESPN...

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Chappie Trailer Breakdown: A Return to Glory for Neill Blomkamp?

Well, we are a couple weeks in on the newest Chappie trailer and people are already dismissing Neill Blomkamp’s latest Sci-Fi vision. I, for one, believe District 9 is exemplary science fiction, and I believe that Blomkamp should be expected to match that mark after… let’s call it a “sophomore slump.” Let’s take a look at the most recent Chappie trailer and try to convince ourselves that Bloomkamp is returning to the glory he achieved with his first film. First thing before we get started. Yes, that is Hugh Jackman (who plays Vincent Moore). Yes, that is a mullet....

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Criterion Discovery: Walkabout

Background Walkabout (Criterion Spine #10) is an English film shot in Australia and originally released in 1971. Its Criterion Blu-Ray release came on May 18, 2010. Nichols Roeg (<3) has four other films in the collection:  Don’t Look Now (Spine #745), Bad Timing (Spine #303), Insignificance (Spine #566), and one of the oddest films  ever, The Man Who Fell to Earth (Spine #304), which is currently out of print. Story Siblings, played by Jenny Agutter and Luc Roeg, are displaced in the Australian Outback after their father loses his mind. As they wander and adapt to the living conditions, they...

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Is It Still Awesome?: Little Giants

When this new feature (Is it Still..?) launched, I immediately felt compelled to revisit Little Giants. It’s the best idea that I’ve had in a long time. Sibling rivalry, a collection of underdogs, the sweet center part in Dev0n Sawa’s overgrown bowl cut. But here’s the real kicker for me: This is a film about two brothers hashing out a sibling rivalry on the football field and, at the time of its release, I played football with my brother. At the time, I felt this might be a glimpse into my future. I’m so happy I didn’t grow up to be Rick Moranis. For the uninitiated (sorry you missed out): The story follows a young girl, Becky O’Shea (Shawna Waldron), trying to play football for the team coached by her uncle, Kevin O’Shea. When she is cut from the team, her supportive father, Danny O’Shea (Rick Moranis), who has always lived under Kevin’s shadow, takes it personal. He decides to build a team to beat them. Which sounds good in theory, except all of the actual good football players in the area already play for Kevin. But, as there can only be one team per count, they are ultimately pitted against each other for the right to be the team. Now, let’s talk about Becky “Icebox” O’Shea for a minute. How I remembered her: Icebox was the first crush...

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Winners of the 2015 Critics’ Choice Awards

Last night, January 15th, the Broadcast Film Critics Associations (BFCA) held the 20th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards in Hollywood. Highlighting the year’s best. The host for this year was… Michael Strahan (why?).  The ceremony was held a few hours after the announcement of the Academy Award nominees.  While these awards normally serve as an indicator for the Oscars, with all the buzz about snubs and disappointment, they seemed to serve as something as a counterpoint to the frustration directed at the Academy. In addition to this year’s regular awards, a new category was called “MVP” (or most valuable...

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The Search for General Tso

Overview: Director Ian Chaney takes viewers on a trip from around the world to find out where one of the most iconic Chinese* dishes originated. Sundance Selects, 71 min, Not Rated Passive Stance:  The Search for General Tso pits the assumed origin of a certain food against the culture that surrounds it. The initial visual direction  of the film aims to please the imaginative palate of food-lovers, but then the movie veers somewhere that is not expected: into the historical cultural intolerant of American citizens (I refrain from using “Our” because that includes me).  In its display of the...

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Criterion Discovery: L’avventura

Background Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, L’avventura is an Italian film from 1960. Its original Criterion release (DVD) was on June 5th 2001 and it was later released on Blu-Ray on November 25th 2014 as spine #98. It is one of five films that Antonioni has on the Criterion Collection, which include La Notte (Spine #678), L’eclisse (Spine #278), Red Desert (#522), Identification of a Woman (Spine #585), and his writing credit for Federico Fellini’s The White Shiek (Spine #189). Story When a young woman goes missing on a boat trip, the search brings her lover and best friend together,...

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Just Talk to Me: An Interview with the Director and Stars of Displacement Welcomed

Displacement Welcomed, a short film written and directed by Evan Kidd, was an official selection at the Viewster Online Film Festival in Zurich Switzerland. The story follows Skylar, who has returned home from abroad to find that her father is missing and Norma, a homeless woman traveling with a few precious possessions. I was given the opportunity to speak with Evan and the stars of the film, Avery Hobbs and April Vickery, about the tough subject matter of the film, their outlook on female roles in mainstream movies, and the valuable lessons they have learned throughout the making and...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #22: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Director: Geroge Clooney Genre: Biography, Comedy,Crime Miramax Films George Clooney is a persuasively attractive man.  From his deep voice to his hypnotic facial symmetry, he is the driving force behind most of the films in which he takes part. To make things more difficult for the rest of us men, in the early 2000s he also decided he’d excel at directing. What’s shocking is that his charming, engaging powers work even when he’s not visible.  In his first film, Clooney proves that he firmly understands how to play to an audience, putting forth this challenging biopic that explores the depths of one man’s mind and that also  serves an exploration of technique. The onscreen story comes from the “unauthorized autobiography” (of the same name) of Chuck Barris, which was crafted to screen by the enigmatic Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). It follows the erratic life of Barris, who is most known for creating  The Newlywed game and The Dating Game, and hosting The Gong Show. Barris claims to have worked for the CIA, and takes credit for killing 33 people. In the film, Clooney focuses on the erratic, unreliable nature of Barris and his testimony, building the story with comedy to relieve Barris’ outrageous claims and, at other times, toying with the idea that this all actually happened. There are many reports of...

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