Wild Horses Jul03

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...

6 True Sports Stories as Movies Jun30

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 films. Jesse Owens Forget statistics and ESPN’s...

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 letters. The Film This is a truly villainous film. Bernard-Pierre...

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...

Champs Apr02

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...

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 and his own life. The Film...

Manny Feb12

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,...

Chappie Trailer Breakdown: A Return to Glory for Neill Blomkamp? Jan30

Chappie Trailer Breakdown: A Return to Glory for N...

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. Calm down, ladies. And calm down, any guy who plans...

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 meet a boy on his “walkabout,” which...

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...

Winners of the 2015 Critics’ Choice Awards Jan16

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...

The Search for General Tso Jan13

The Search for Gener...

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...

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, illuminating a sexual relationship. A struggle of...

Just Talk to Me: An Interview with the Director an...

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 marketing of Displacement Welcomed. — Travis Losh...

Netflix Hidden Gem #22: Confessions of a Dangerous...

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...

Murder of a Cat Dec12

Murder of a Cat

Overview: A helpless momma’s boy runs into some trouble when his cat is murdered. Seine Pictures; Not Rated; 96 minutes. Insensitive: Murder of a Cat is a hapless mess from the onset. Shortly after we meet the main character, Clinton Moisey (Fran Kranz), the cat is murdered. The whole matter...

Criterion Discovery: Revanche

Background Revanche is an Austrian film directed by Gotz Spielmann. It was originally released in 2008 and nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Academy Awards. It was later released on Blu-Ray, apart of the Criterion Collection, on February 16th, 2010, as spine #502. This is the only Speilmann film on the collection (his short Foreign Land is in the supplements section of this release), and this is the first of his films to be released in the United States. Story Alex (Johannes Krisch) begins working at a brothel after getting out of prison.  He sparks a relationship with a prostitute named Tamara (Irina Potapenko) and...

Netflix Hidden Gem #14: Kill List

Kill List Director: Ben Wheatley Genre: Crime, Thriller, Horror Warp X/Rook Films Premise: Jay (Neil Maskell) is a hitman who hasn’t worked in over a year because of a botched job, and his marriage to Shel (Myanna Burning) is failing. When she confronts him about their financial problems (and his laziness), he takes on a life-altering assignment. Kill List is a smartly objective film that disregards the standard techniques used in most horror films. On the front it plays like a crime thriller, but sneaks into a realm of uncomfortablet. And, in that sense, Ben Wheatley knew exactly how to accomplish his objective by hiding his ambition...

Criterion Discovery: The Sword of Doom

Background The Sword of Doom is directed by Kihachi Okamato and originally released in 1966. It had a early Criterion DVD release (Spine #280), but is slated for a BluRay release on January 6th, 2015. Okamato has two other films in the collection: Kill! as Spine #213 and Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo, which is Vol. 20 in the Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman box set. Story Ryunosuke Tsukue is a talented swordsman with evil intent. Through his violent actions, vendettas are formed that never faze his nature, but lead him to battle for his soulless existence. The Film This is possibly one of the most violent films there has ever been, not only on a...

Fury Oct20

Fury

Overview: At the tail end of WW2, a sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) leads a seasoned tank crew on a push against the Nazi power. Columbia Pictures; Rated R; 134 min Bold: David Ayer (End of Watch) has proven himself to be an interesting director in his limited accomplishments.  Fury is...

Screw It, I’m Talking About Fight Club, a 15...

When I first watched Fight Club my film knowledge was abysmal. But, I was, in that moment, convinced that I had just seen a contemporary masterpiece. It’s worth noting: I had no idea what that meant, nor will I attempt to act like I did. Fight Club was released fifteen years ago today. And I was nine. Yeah, nine. Most of what I think about the film now I have gathered from later viewings. I probably watched it 20 times in my teens because I thought it was so, so cool. That word stuck with me for years when thinking about the film. Cool. I compared everything I watched to Fight Club. As I grew up, in a general and film sense, I started to...

Criterion Discovery: Something Wild

Background Something Wild was released in 1986 and is directed by Jonathan Demme. It was released in The Criterion Collection on May 10th, 2011 as Spine #563. This is one of two films by Demme that are part of the collection. The other and more widely-appreciated  is The Silence of the Lambs, which swept the 5 main categories at The Academy Awards. Story Charles Driggs (Jeff Daniels), a New York City businessman, decides to skip on his bill at the restaurant he frequents. When an off-the-wall woman takes notice, she runs out to confront him, offering him a ride back to work. Driggs soon realizes she is not taking him back, and after a motel...

The Signal Sep30

The Signal

Overview: A group of friends driving across the country decide to track down a hacker. Focus features; Rated PG – 13; 97 min Love: One thing is clear from the beginning: Director William Eubank is a director who loves the Sci-Fi genre.  As is the case in his first film Love...

Shaun of the Dead

In 2004, I was 14 years old and had idea of what my own interests were. My family never took trips to the theater, and I didn’t have the means to go on my own, but shortly after Christmas, somehow, my brother convinced our dad to bring home a DVD. That’s the first time I remember watching Shaun of the Dead and the first time I connected with a film on a substantial level. I distinctly remember after the film had ended, it was as if someone had finally laid the foundation for my personality. I watched the film on repeat for the next few months. Like any teenager, I still wrestled with other facets of my identity, but one...

Criterion Discovery: Tokyo Drifter

Background Tokyo Drifter is a gangster film that originally released in 1966, and is directed Seijun Suzuki. Suzuki has numerous films in The Criterion Collection including a favorite of mine, Branded to Kill. Tokyo Drifter was released on Blu-Ray on December 13th, 2011, as spine #39. Story Tetsuya Hondo, a former member of the yakuza, becomes a “drifter” (an enforcer on the run) when his boss is forced to sign over a piece of property and their partner is killed. The Film This film opens with a black-and-white scene in which the film’s protagonist takes a beating from rival gang members. After the beating, a gun is left...