Inevitable comparisons with J.J. Abrams’ similarly themed Super 8
favors writer/director Joe Cornish’s seemingly effortless ability to
extract laughs and shocks from an alien invasion in urban London. Much
of the movie’s success derives from the crackle of comedy that rolls off
the Cockney-accented teen antihero thugs who dare to take on an army of
pitch-black alien creatures attacking their estate housing tower.
By now we should have learned that a
sitcom needs at least a good half-season to find its legs. It’s easy to
dismiss a new show early on in its run, yet history shows that even the
greatest sitcoms had mundane starts. Raising Hope might be considered such a sitcom, but, in retrospect, its early episodes are pretty solid, and it has continued to get better.
The Louisville Orchestra is in a sad state these days.
While it attempts to reorganize after bankruptcy, its musicians are on
strike and its fall season canceled. So while waiting and hoping for it
all to sort out, it’s a good time to watch this new documentary on the
orchestra’s remarkable history.
Stories about real people dealing with real situations are an endangered species in a contemporary American moviemaking landscape dominated by lowest-common-denominator teen-oriented fare and creativity-deficient sequels. Writer/director Tom McCarthy is doing his best to fight against this development.
Life During Wartime is something of a direct sequel to Solondz's 1998 film, Happiness, with one catch: All the characters are played by different actors. If you haven't watched Happiness in 12 years, it's not such a shock. Otherwise, the effect is disconcerting, like tuning in to your favorite soap only to find everyone has a new face.
Phil Ochs was Bob Dylan’s chief rival as a Folk-based protest singer in the 1960s — Christopher Hitchens, interviewed in this documentary, maintains Ochs was better, more politically pointed and with a more sarcastic and thought-provoking lyrical bite. But while Dylan went electric and became a Rock & Roll star, Ochs struggled with the transition to Pop, although his first ambitious attempt — a heavily orchestrated album called Pleasures of the Harbor — had astonishing variety and great beauty.
Miguel Arteta’s films have a specific sensibility, a whimsical yet grounded tone and feel that sets them apart from most everything else on the current cinematic landscape. The 45-year-old director’s work — from Chuck & Buck (2000) to Youth in Revolt (2010) — is no doubt informed by his status as a Puerto Rico native who moved to the U.S. to finish his education more than 25 years ago.
In 1959, Venezuelan filmmaker Margot Benacerraf’s Araya shared the International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival with Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima, Mon Amour. Resnais’ film was a sensation heralding a new cinema, a New Wave. Today, it’s widely recognized as a classic of world cinema. But what happened to Araya? It disappeared.
Derailroaded, which Josh Rubin and Jeremy Lubin named after a Fischer song and worked on for years as a labor of love, both with and without an often-troubled Fischer’s cooperation, considers whether Zappa insensitively opened a Pandora’s box without understanding the consequences, but it also shows that Fischer’s wild music and good humor — when he was in the right mood — was pretty infectious on those who encountered him.
It’s rare when a film achieves absolute perfection. And such hyperbole shouldn’t be thrown around lightly, but Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench deserves the praise. A low-budget affair shot on grainy, black-and-white 16mm, Guy and Madeline has a simple plot: Boy loves girl. Boy gets bored and leaves girl for another. Girl moves on with her life. Boy realizes the error of his ways and tries to find the love he spurned.
Somewhere’s simple setup centers on Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), a self-involved movie star suffering from an existential malaise. Marco lives at Chateau Marmont (the height of Hollywood decadence) and spends his listless days falling in and out of bed with women when not promoting his latest movie.
The year is 1348. The bubonic plague is ravaging Britain, striking hundreds of thousands dead and leaving even more suffering in its slow, painful grip. What’s causing this pestilence? An official explanation comes from the Church, who decrees that it is God’s punishment. Mankind has sinned. A divergent line of thought grows, though. Evil is behind this destruction. And it must be stopped — in God’s name.
Adapted from a stage play by David Lindsay-Abaire, who also penned the script, Rabbit Hole follows a couple (Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) eight months after the tragic death of their 4-year-old son. The grief threatens to destroy their marriage.
At first glance, Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy seems the oddball amongst the work of a filmmaker best known for the raw explorations of contemporary lower- and middle-class British life in Life Is Sweet, Secrets and Lies, Naked, Happy-Go-Lucky and more. A period piece set in Victorian London, the film looks at the often contentious relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan and the creation of their musical, The Mikado.
From the opening credits of Enter the Void, which pulse like strobes at an all-night rave, through the ambiguous ending, Gaspar Noe pummels his "drugs are bad" thesis with subtlety of a jackhammer. Of course, subtlety is not in the director’s vocabulary.