by Phil Brown Posted: September 17th, 2012 at 9:33 pm
Writers and neurosis, it’s like peanut butter and jelly. Oh sure, they can be separate, but chances are they are going to come together. That’s the wonderfully cracked world that = writer/director Josh Boone’s covers in his debut feature Writers. It’s about a family of writers, a successful father (Greg Kinnear) with a literary legacy, and his two children: Lily Collins’ a uber-cynical college student who just published her first novel about her sexual misadventures, and Nat Wolf’s struggling high schooler obsessed with Stephen King. Kinnear pays his children to keep diaries, which is ripe for reading and embarrassment and the absent mother (Jennifer Connolly) recently left the family in a painful divorce that scarred them all.
In Boone’s hands the loosely autobiographical material became a comedy of sadness, a tone helped in no small part by star Greg Kinnear. A former talk show host turned actor with a string of interesting work in films like As Good As It Gets, Auto Focus, Little Miss Sunshine, and Ghost Town, Kinnear has carved out a place for himself as a charmingly befuddled leading man equally capable of loosening his audience’s tear ducts and tickling their funny bones. Collider participated in a group interview with both the director and star shortly after the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, delving subjects like awkward autobiography, playing with big screen personas, and the difficulties associated with landing a Stephen King cameo. Hit the jump for all the details.
by Phil Brown Posted: September 15th, 2012 at 8:22 am
Even though his films are most easily classified as comedies, you rarely feel good coming out of project by writer/director Noah Baumbach. That’s not a bad thing as his caustic wit and insightful observations about terrible, self-obsessed people have lead to some great films like The Squid And The Whale. However, his latest feature is a little different. Teaming up with mumblecore darling Greta Gerwig following their collaboration on the underappreciated Greenberg, Baumbach has surprisingly delivered his most warm and sweet movie to date in Frances Ha. After being produced almost in secret, the film premiered at TIFF to a far more positive reception than he has ever received before. Hit the jump for additional appreciation for the appropriately frivolous and insightful ode to late 20s irresponsibility.
by Phil Brown Posted: September 15th, 2012 at 8:19 am
The Act Of Killing is one of those movies that you might only see at a film festival and don’t want to miss out on the chance of catching. It’s a documentary like no other I’ve seen and undoubtedly one of the most disturbing movies screened at TIFF this year. The title says it all. The film is about the weight of murder on the perpetrator’s conscious. That might take years to finally surface as it does for the subject of director Joshua Oppenheimer’s searing new doc. The fact that the unimaginable delay occurred is unthinkable, but the fact that Oppenheimer was somehow there with a camera to capture it is remarkable. The film will never be described as an easy watch, but it is something that will leave a deep impression on anyone able to see it and should definitely be sampled by those with the stomach to endure. Hit the jump for the details.
by Phil Brown Posted: September 13th, 2012 at 12:29 pm
One of the original 70s movie brats and a populist with a sneaky subversive streak responsible for a string of classics like Carrie, Scarface, and The Untouchables, Brian De Palma is one of those directors who never seems to get his due. Particularly when working in his personal brand of self-conscious thrillers, the filmmaker is almost destined to be equally revered and criticized for making tongue-in-cheek odes to stylized entertainment. Movies like Body Double, Raising Cain, or Femme Fatale are practically dark comedies when viewed in a certain way, while also being designed to operate as straightforward thrillers for audiences not interested in film-literate in-jokes.
His latest thriller Passion stars Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace as a pair of manipulative advertising executives whose competitive work relationship escalates into a war of public humiliation. This being a De Palma movie, sexual mind games and violence are of course not far off. Almost inevitably, the film has premiered at The Toronto International Film Festival to an equal mix of praise from followers and condemnation from critics who just can’t seem to get past the sensationalism to see the knowing laughs. Collider recently got a chance to chat with the director about his latest film, the split reactions it caused, his controversial legacy, that long delayed Untouchables prequel Capone Rising (including who he was going to cast), and his upcoming feature with Jason Statham. Hit the jump for more.
by Phil Brown Posted: September 12th, 2012 at 8:35 pm
Iceberg Slim is either a name you adore or haven’t heard of. He was a pimp in the early half of the 20th century, then went to prison, got out, raised a family, and in middle-age reinvented himself as an author. His autobiographical first novel “Pimp: The Story of My Life” became an instant underground classic and he followed it up with equally excellent and candid stories of the streets, the mafia, and conmen. He released an album (Reflections) and had his book “Trick Baby” turned into a movie. Yet, thanks to crooked publishers and literary prejudice, Slim died practically penniless.
Slim’s story has been vividly brought to life in the new film Iceberg Slim: Portrait Of A Pimp, featuring interviews with surviving family members, colleges and celebrity fans like Snoop Dog (or Lion), Chris Rock, and Ice T. The man holds special importance to Ice T who took his name from the author and produced the movie that was directed by his longtime manager Jorge Hinojosa. The director and producer made a visit to the Toronto International Film Festival to promote their new documentary and Collider got a chance to speak with them about the legacy of Iceberg Slim and the challenges of making the film. Hit the jump for all the details along with some predictably saucy language.
by Phil Brown Posted: September 12th, 2012 at 2:28 pm
Film buffs will forever give director Thomas Vinterberg a special place in movie history for co-creating the minimalist 90s film movement Dogme 95 along with professional provocateur Lars Von Trier. Vinterberg made the first and best Dogme movie The Celebration. That incendiary tale of secret child abuse in a wealthy family earned him a Palm D’or in 1998 and launched his career. Since then he’s produced some interesting films like It’s All About Love and Dear Wendy, but never one that made quite the same impact. Well, until now anyways.
This year Vinterberg returns to TIFF with another film hinging child abuse in The Hunt. Madds Mikkelsen stars (in a role that already earned him a Best Actor statue in Cannes) as Lucas, a kindly kindergarten teacher who is accused of abusing one of his student Klara. The town instantly turns on Lucas en mass, doling out psychological and physical abuse. The only thing is that Mikkelsen is completely innocent of the accusations and can’t seem to prove it, making the unfortunate witch hunt painful to watch. It’s one of the most powerful and unforgettable films of not just the festival, but inevitably the year as a whole. We got a chance to chat with the director about his latest film at this during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Hit the jump for more.
by Phil Brown Posted: September 11th, 2012 at 5:38 pm
It’s not everyday that The Toronto International Film Festival features a documentary that honors a pimp, but then not every pimp is Iceberg Slim. Author of the 1969 pulp best seller Pimp: The Story Of My Life, Slim defined the rules of the game and also managed to pull himself out of it through a successful writing career. In his own way, Slim was a pioneer for African American authors with a unique voice that still resonates to this day. Though he never achieved mainstream success or acceptance in his lifetime, the legacy remains unquestioned. Director Jorge Hinojosa’s exhaustive, inventive, and entertaining new documentary Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp honors the legend and tells his remarkable lifestory to introduce new audiences and fill in the gaps for longtime fans with questions.
by Phil Brown Posted: September 11th, 2012 at 12:44 pm
It wouldn’t be right to attend a major film festival without sampling at least one soul-crushingly depressing feature and this year the drama making the fest rounds to bum out viewers (in the best possible sense of course) in Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt. The latest Danish film out of Lars Von Trier’s delightfully twisted Zentropa Entertainment already scored a Best Actor trophy at Cannes and now premieres in at The Toronto International Film Festival with considerable expectations. The good news is that it lives up to the hype, providing unconventional gut-ripping drama that takes on the subject of child molestation without a hint of sentimentality or emotional manipulation. The movie will put your through the ringer, but in such a thoughtful and cleverly constructed way that you might not mind.
by Phil Brown Posted: September 10th, 2012 at 4:05 pm
Since her breakout Oscar-nominated role as the desperately happy mother-to-be in Junebug, it’s almost seemed as though Amy Adams has put together two separate acting careers. Sometimes she’s an impossibly perky comedienne perpetually waiting to burst into song in films like Enchanted or The Muppets. And then almost as if suffering from acting bi-polar disorder, she’ll turn up in quiet and pained dramatic performances as a character actress in films like The Fighter or Doubt. Her latest turn in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master slots firmly into the latter category. As the coldly manipulative wife Peggy to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s twisted religious leader Lancaster Dodd, Adams delivers another one of her wonderfully dark turns and should inevitably receive plenty of attention along with the awards-bound film.
Collider got a chance to speak with Adams at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (as part of a group interview) and she talked about delving into her interpretation of the complex role, the challenges of shooting in 70mm, and working with talents like Anderson, Hoffman, and Joaquin Phoenix. Plus, we also got around to asking her about that little movie she made this summer called Man Of Steel and what it was like to put her own stamp on Lois Lane. Hit the jump for all those details and even more tasty info nuggets.
by Phil Brown Posted: September 10th, 2012 at 6:53 am
Film festivals and comic book movies typically don’t mix. Movies based on popular paneled heroes generally get their start at conventions or through marketing departments. Yet, thanks to TIFF’s Midnight Madness program a certain gruff helmet sporting antihero from the long running British comic book series 2000 A.D. is getting the red carpet film festival treatment. That’s right Judge Dredd has returned to the big screen in the hopes of erasing all the painful memories of Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider ruining the image of the darkly satirical and viciously violent character with one of the worst examples of overblown 90s blockbuster tripe. Finally put into the hands of filmmakers who are fans of the blood-soaked pulpy roots, Dredd 3D manages to get the tone and style of John Wagner’s uniquely twisted world right. It’s not perfect, but it is an appropriately nasty blast of B-movie thrills that effectively reintroduces Judge Dredd on the big screen and would be a welcome starting point for a franchise. Hit the jump to find out why.
by Phil Brown Posted: September 7th, 2012 at 6:03 pm
Stylistically recalling the likes of David Lynch and dependent on at least passing knowledge of 70s Italian horror films like Suspiria or The Beyond, it’s safe to say that Berberian Sound Studio isn’t a movie for everyone. Thankfully, that’s also exactly what makes it special. This is certainly one of the strangest damn movies that will screen at TIFF this year and also one of the most fascinating. A surreal horror thriller just as insane as its main character and an act of sensory deprivation that will ensure you’ll never be able to look at watermelons the same way again. This headtrip is not an easy film to shake off or forget, which is a good thing since it will probably take a few viewings to sort the whole thing out. Hit the jump for the rest of my review.
by Phil Brown Posted: September 7th, 2012 at 8:38 am
This time last year TIFF held the world premiere of Paradise Lost 3, the latest chapter of the ongoing documentary series about the West Memphis Three, a group of teenagers (Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley) who in 1993 were wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to either life in prison or death sentences. That was an odd film to watch at the time as the three men were finally set free mere weeks before the film festival following bizarre guilty pleas (while maintaining innocence), but the movie was completed too late to mention it.
It’s not a huge surprise that another documentary about the case would find its way to TIFF this year given the unexpectedly abrupt ending to the last Paradise Lost film. What is a bit odd is that this movie doesn’t come from Paradise Lost directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, but an entirely new team in producer Peter Jackson (nuff said) and director Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil). Viewed entirely on its own merits, West of Memphis is an intriguing overview of the case. It’s just not quite as resonant as the Paradise Lost series and it’s a real shame that those filmmakers weren’t allowed to properly conclude their series. Hit the jump for my review.
by Phil Brown Posted: August 31st, 2012 at 6:55 am
The Judd Apatow comedy community may have given us a few uninspired movies like The Sitter, but every crappy project is worth it for the R-rated comedy revival lord Apatow provided. He serves as producer on Wanderlust and the film stars one of his many muses Paul Rudd, yet the movie isn’t really part of his collective. Nope it comes from David Wain, the strange and hilarious little man who was responsible for a variety weirdo cult successes like The State, Stella, Wet Hot American Summer, and The Ten. The filmmaker with a taste for winking anti-comedy probably could have spent his career on the fringes if the R-rated comedy trend hadn’t given him a shot at mainstream viewers with the surprisingly successful and cripplingly funny Role Models.
Now, Wain’s back with Wanderlust. Co-written with longtime collaborator Ken Marino, the film returns Wain to mainstream mode for a comedy that’s conventional enough on the surface to please moll-trolling cinemagoers, but with enough eccentric asides and supporting performances to please his more demanding and deeply strange fanbase. Hit the jump for our review of Wanderlust on Blu-ray.
by Phil Brown Posted: January 9th, 2012 at 8:00 am
Rather quietly, Steve Dildarian’s The Life And Times Of Tim has become one of the subtlest, funniest, and crudest (in terms of the animation, but the writing team isn’t afraid of getting saucy) animated series on television. The show has built up a cult audience on HBO that should be much larger and might be were it part of the Adult Swim lineup. Dildarian’s talent lies in the comedy of the cringe, creating situations of excruciating embarrassment that provokes nervous giggles building to crippling bursts of laughter. Chances are it’s the funniest show on television that you’re not watching or if you’re one of the converted, it’s that show you keep trying to get your friends into. Regardless, the newly released second season DVD deserves to be watched by everyone who enjoys laughing and awkward conversation. Hit the jump for my review of the second season of The Life and Times of Tim on DVD.
by Phil Brown Posted: December 3rd, 2011 at 9:00 am
It’s been a long journey for Three Amigos to be considered a classic worthy of a 25th anniversary Blu-ray release. The film hit screens to a resounding response of critical and audience indifference in 1986, but has gradually come to be regarded as something of a cult classic. It’s difficult to know why it failed. Maybe it was because it was a Western made past the genre’s expiry date, maybe the release date was ill timed, or maybe it’s just a strange comedy that was always destined to appeal to a small, but loyal fanbase. Regardless, the film now seems to have the reputation it deserves as one of John Landis and Steve Martin’s more beloved comedies and while the new Blu-ray isn’t exactly overflowing with nostalgic special features, it’s still a nice treat for fans. Hit the jump for my review of Three Amigos on Blu-ray.