The antithesis to the bloated, big-budget commercial fare that dominates the summer multiplex, the annual 48 Hour Film Project has done exactly what its creators envisioned when they founded it in 2001: empower filmmakers of every stripe and experience level to get off their asses and create something from nothing.
The worst summer movie season in memory gets a kick in the ass this week with the opening of a pair of small-scale, Sundance-approved art-house gems: the Duplass brothers' Cyrus, an unexpectedly touching, hilariously awkward comedy featuring John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill in an odd love triangle of sorts, and Debra Granik's Winter's Bone, a tension-laced thriller that is likely to stand as young actress Jennifer Lawrence's breakout role.
Knight and Day, the action-comedy extravaganza starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, supposedly tanked at the box office last weekend, pulling in “only” about $20.5 million despite opening on a Wednesday (that's two extra days with which to build up its box-office tally, for those not keeping track of such things).
The James Mangold-directed movie was made for $107 million, we've continually been reminded, it has to do better than that in its opening weekend! Right?
Can we just have Pixar make every movie? The animation studio is at it again with Toy Story 3, yet another creative triumph that offers everything the rest of the summer's big-budget extravaganzas do not: multifaceted characters, adventurous filmmaking and an emotionally involving story that is surprisingly dark and intense.
Are we in the midst of the worst summer movie season on record? The bar's admittedly not very high, but it certainly looks like we're heading in that direction.
What's up with all the 1980s love currently spilling out of multiplexes?
Sure, Hollywood and marketers of all sorts have long mined nostalgia as a powerful enticement tool in the marketplace. But is 20 years enough time to generate sufficient yearning for a period whose mainstream culture is best represented by the rise of stupid action movies and/or creatively bankrupt sequels (see the career of Sylvester Stallone for examples of both), acutely disposable Pop music (see everything from Hair Metal to Milli Vanilli), ludicrous clothes (see Miami Vice) and the presence of a two-term president whose nefarious policies laid the groundwork for our current economic meltdown?
Just in time to rescue us from another week of safe, reheated Hollywood product (yes, I'm referring to you, Sex and the City 2), a locally produced film gets its local debut at 8 p.m. tonight at Cincinnati State's ATLC Auditorium (3520 Central Pwky., Clifton).
Meth, the latest short from Cincinnati filmmaker Michael Maney, centers its fast-paced 20-minute story on a meth addict (played by CCM-trained local actress Stephanie Brait) who, in an effort to score her habit of choice, crosses paths with a tweaked-out drug dealer (Dan Davidson), a pawn-shop operator (Nick Rose), a talking mannequin (voiced by Robert Pavlovich) and a guy who might be the victim of a conspiracy to exterminate wrongdoers via vigilante justice.
Peter Biskind — a former Premiere magazine editor and longtime journalist who wrote the fascinating, endlessly entertaining book about the 1970s American movie scene, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls — recently published a biography called Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America.
I’ve yet to read the book, which, among other things, apparently tells us that Beatty might have slept with more than 12,775 woman — a number that doesn’t include “daytime quickies, drive-by blowjobs, casual gropings, stolen kisses and so on.”
The summer movie season kicks off this week with Iron Man 2, yet another sequel that seems to have succumbed to the Hollywood notion that bigger is better. Director Jon Favreau and lead dude Robert Downey Jr. are joined this time by a lengthy list of intriguing supporting actors (Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke and Garry Shandling) and what seems to be a radically heightened set of expectation.
On the morning of Feb. 28, 1958, a school bus carrying 48 elementary and high school students ran over an embankment and plunged into the Big Sandy River in Prestonsburg, Ky. Twenty-six kids and the bus’ driver lost their lives in the crash, forever altering the small, close-knit Floyd County town’s inhabitants.
Michael Crisp’s appropriately somber documentary, The Very Worst Thing, meticulously re-creates the events surrounding the accident via vintage radio recordings and photos and modern-day interviews with people — from a survivor of the accident to those who want to keep the victims’ legacy alive — connected to that day more than 50 years ago.