X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST Digital HD Edition Is a Worthy Addition to Your Digital Catalog

by     Posted 15 days ago

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In the near future, our world will undergo two drastic changes: firstly, mutants will be hunted to near extinction, and secondly, everyone will download movies to watch in Digital HD.  The heroes of Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past do their best to prevent that first change from happening, but the excellent audio/visual quality of the film’s digital edition will help to ensure that second change still takes place.  Let’s be honest, it’s for the best.  Boasting a clear, crisp picture that is indistinguishable from watching a Blu-ray, along with instant access to special features and behind-the-scenes bonuses, it’s quite apparent that Digital HD downloads are the way of the future.  Hit the jump for my X-Men: Days of Future Past review in this particularly convenient format.

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT REVIEW | NYFF 2014

by     Posted 16 days ago

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Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne pose a number of very intriguing questions in their New York Film Festival entry, Two Days, One Night.  If you had to choose between getting a raise and laying off a colleague, which would you go for?  And what if you were that colleague?  Would you fight for your job even after being betrayed by your co-workers?  Those are the predicaments that the characters in the film face and while they are engaging to a point, the execution feels frustratingly lifeless, depressing and repetitive – although that’s likely the point.

INHERENT VICE Review | NYFF 2014

by     Posted 17 days ago

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After the New York Film Festival screening of Inherent Vice, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson and a good deal of his cast took the stage for a brief Q&A.  At one point, Anderson discussed Howard HawksThe Big Sleep and noted, “I saw The Big Sleep and it made me realize, I could not follow any of it and it didn’t matter because I just wanted to see what was gonna happen next.”  Anderson does manage to achieve that to a degree in Inherent Vice, but it winds up making the film even more of a disappointment because what happens next is rarely satisfying.

GONE GIRL Review

by     Posted 19 days ago

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There’s nothing that makes us as emotionally blind as love.  Because we crave is so badly, we’re willing to distort reality and distort others so that they meet our needs.  And when the veil lifts and the truth is exposed, everything breaks apart.  Our emotions can surpass hate.  At least hate is outright rejection.  David Fincher‘s Gone Girl is a vicious, nasty, and bitingly funny look at anti-love.  It’s a dark, twisted, borderline celebration of how deluded people can be in what they demand of others be it morally, emotionally, or truthfully.  Perhaps Fincher’s most cold, pitiless, and acerbic movie to date, Gone Girl is not without its flaws, but even those flaws serve this bitter, captivating, knives-out picture of marriage as a violent crime.

LEFT BEHIND Review

by     Posted 19 days ago

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I am not a Christian, and I never thought Left Behind would ever convert me or appeal to my faith, but I hoped I could at least admire the courage of its convictions.  Instead, Vic Armstrong‘s adaptation of the best selling novel uses Christianity as nothing more than a ham-fisted plot point in a laughably cheap-looking movie that isn’t reaching movie theaters because of the source material or the premise.  The movie doesn’t exist by God’s will.  Left Behind exists because, God willing, people might go see Nicolas Cage in a religious picture that’s not all that interested in religion.

MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN Review

by     Posted 20 days ago

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[This is a re-post of my review from the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.  Men, Women & Children opens today in limited release.]

It’s comforting to view the Internet as a force. Things existed one way, the Internet came along, completely changed everything, and now—for better or worse—those things are barely recognizable. We’re all looking down, clacking into our smart phones, so the Internet must have transformed us, right? It’s just so powerful, and we were caught in its wake. Current communication technology has changed us, but Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children wryly, wisely, and astutely observes our fears and insecurities long preceded our smartphones. The film is a sharp commentary on the decay of intimacy as we, isolated in the cosmos, have now become isolated from each other. Woven together with well-crafted storylines, sharp performances, and convincing drama, Reitman’s latest film mostly avoids being a cautionary tale and instead provides an insightful look on how online communication changes our relationships but doesn’t define our lives.

The Films of David Fincher: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

by     Posted 21 days ago

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[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

Up to this point in this series, I’ve mostly sided with Fincher, his decisions, and his thoughts on his movies.  But even by his own metric and intentions, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is almost a complete and utter failure.  I understand why Fincher would feel a kinship with Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), but his reasons for making the movie—the prospect of an R-rated franchise and the relationship between Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and Salander—are, respectively, superficial and underdeveloped.  Looking over the making-of documentary and his commentary track, I’m astonished at the gulf between Fincher’s intentions and what the movie presents.

The Films of David Fincher: THE SOCIAL NETWORK

by     Posted 22 days ago

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[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

If The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a director and a screenwriter working at cross-purposes, then The Social Network are the two sides working in perfect harmony.  Fincher’s cold, austere tone was energized by Aaron Sorkin‘s fast-paced, witty dialogue, and Sorkin’s grandiloquent verbiage was grounded by Fincher’s realism.  In some ways, the movie is highly stylized and yet it’s indisputably honest when it comes to the characters, stakes, environment, and tension of the story.  The facts may be in dispute, but this much is true: The Social Network is one of the defining works of the 21st century.

The Films of David Fincher: THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON

by     Posted 23 days ago

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[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

Across his filmography, David Fincher’s work has been noted as dark, foreboding, chilly, cynical, cutting, and irreverent.  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a striking anomaly in his filmography as the allure of the project makes some sense, but the execution is a lush, unabashed romance bubbling with mawkish sentiment.  The movie is graceful, beautiful, poetic, and yet oddly distant.  The whole production feels gilded as Fincher made a deeply moving film out of a fairly terrible script.  The most curious thing about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is how it manages to be a tearjerker despite its craven desire to elicit emotion from a director who rejects sentimentality.

GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE Review | NYFF 2014

by     Posted 23 days ago

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I’d like to consider myself someone who’s open to all styles of art, unique forms of expression and storytelling techniques, but perhaps I have to draw the line at Jean-Luc Godard’s latest, Goodbye to Language. The thing only clocks in at 70-minutes long, but the screening felt like an eternity and even after it finally ended, I was stuck with the frustration of having wasted a morning and was left with a nasty headache to go along with it.  This movie is playing in some of the most prestigious film festivals around the world yet has claimed a top spot on my worst of the year list and is pretty high up amongst my worst of all time selections as well.

MAPS TO THE STARS Review | NYFF 2014

by     Posted 24 days ago

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I don’t like to admit it, but every now and then, I do enjoy picking up a tabloid.  Simply put, it’s fun to read about nonsense like what everyone’s wearing and see that celebrities are really “just like us.”  And the same goes for covering industry news as well.  I truly enjoy finding out what everyone’s up to, whether I’m a fan or not, and that’s a big part of the reason David Cronenberg’s latest works so well.  Maps to the Stars is a Hollywood satire that takes you behind the scenes and dishes out joke after joke at the industry’s expense, but screenwriter Bruce Wagner also slips in an offbeat and riveting mystery that makes the experience more than a fleeting laugh, but rather a dark, absurd and disturbing experience that’ll stick with you well after it ends.

The Films of David Fincher: ZODIAC

by     Posted 24 days ago

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[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

Listening to the commentary tracks for Se7en, The Game, Fight Club, and Panic Room, you can hear in Fincher’s voice a slight bit of annoyance and frustration.  It’s not quite bitterness, but there’s an acerbic quality from a man who’s exhausted and can’t help but lay out wry observations.  The Panic Room track in particular conveys the sense that no one should ever make a movie because it’s a hellish experience meant only for masochists.  But his commentaries pick up afterwards, and I believe that’s partly because Fincher found his true love: digital.

Digital completely changed the way Fincher made movies, and it allowed him to provide the precision to performances that he’d applied to all other aspects of his pictures.  From here on, he sounds much happier, and when talking about Zodiac, it’s like a trip down memory lane as he recalls childhood memories of a serial killer who terrorized and tormented a city, and would never be caught.  Zodiac is by no means a happy movie, but it’s one that feels like part of a revitalized director who found a picture that fits perfectly with his admiration for process, attention to detail, and the cynicism of how a search for “truth” can rip lives apart.

The Films of David Fincher: PANIC ROOM

by     Posted 25 days ago

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[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

Although my evidence is purely anecdotal, I’ve found Panic Room to be the red-headed stepchild of Fincher’s filmography.  Its biggest sin seems to be its lack of thematic or narrative ambition, which is unfair because A) it’s a faulty appraisal of what the film is trying to achieve; and B) it dismisses the film’s technical mastery, and how the picture overcame a slew of unexpected problems.  If Alien 3 was an onslaught of insurmountable odds caused by studio meddling, Panic Room met unforeseen challenges and rose to the occasion every time to create what was, as intended, “a Friday night date movie.”

MISUNDERSTOOD (INCOMPRESA) Review | NYFF 2014

by     Posted 25 days ago

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[Incompresa has been titled Misunderstood in the U.S.  For the purposes of this review I will be referring to it by its original title.]

In 1993 Hole’s Courtney Love was asked about the differences between their then-impending masterpiece Live Through This and their prior album, the cathartic but formally messy Pretty on the Inside.  She replied, “it’s leaps and bounds different.  It’s so different there should have been an album in between.”  The same sentiment could be used to describe the vast gulf between writer/director Asia Argento’s last feature film, the undeniably visceral The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, and her new work Incompresa, which carries a sustained and palpable ache that could only be achieved by someone working at the top of their craft.  

The Films of David Fincher: FIGHT CLUB

by     Posted 26 days ago

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[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

The first rule of Fight Club is to talk about Fight Club.  The movie underperformed at the box office, and found life on DVD where it became a cult classic.  Within the context of the film, Tyler Durden’s famous rule is a brilliant and ironic bit of marketing for a group of men trying to reject advertising and find human connection.  “Jack” (for clarity purposes, I’ll use this name to refer to the Narrator) may be our storyteller, but Tyler is our lens, and through that lens, the story of Fight Club has been greatly misinterpreted by any audience member who saw the movie and thought, “I should start a fight club!”  The movie isn’t preaching.  It isn’t an angry screed by David Fincher or worshiping at the Church of Tyler Durden.  It’s not even wholly about male bonding.  Fight Club is a romantic comedy as only David Fincher could tell it.

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