At the Movies

Movie Worse Than Expected

Scott Tobias on Men, Women & Children: Despite a few last-ditch pleas of moderation, Reitman offers a comprehensive portrait of The Way We Live Now, and the overall effect is a mass freakout, like a roomful of grandparents booting up their first AOL CD-ROM. And while there’s no doubt that the Internet age has profoundly transformed the culture, adding new dangers and stresses and altering the nature of how we communicate, blind panic is not a sophisticated adult response. Hiring Emma Thompson to bring her British gravitas to the voiceover narration isn’t sophisticated, either. Nor is opening the movie in outer freaking space. Politicians can get away with such [...]


Film Demonstrably Superior

"There was more data pushed through on this film than on anything we've ever done." Data always wins. How else to explain Transformers $300 million opening weekend? The people demand data in all forms. So give them more data! Feed it through every available input.


"Lone Survivor" is Making People Crazy

This week just keeps getting better. #fml

— Keith Uhlich (@keithuhlich) January 10, 2014

"If I were the surviving soldier, I'd come for you!" -Letter to Time Out New York critic Keith Uhlich

First, the crazy people threatened critics.

Then the crazy people took to the comment threads:

"What an asshole review. The body count on the afghan side? It sounds like if you had to pick between shooting the guy that wants to harm you or hugging him, you would choose to harm him. These men choose to let the unarmed goat herders, regardless of how hostile they appeared, to go free. [...]


East Coast Death Storm: What Does It Mean For The Box Office?

"The effect on the movie theaters is tougher to estimate, since most box office experts took into account a reduced turnout on Sunday as people hunkered down for the storm. Hurricane Sandy is expected to hit most of the East Coast on Monday or early Tuesday. Ironically, unseasonably warm weather on the West Coast could offset some of the losses in East Coast movie grosses as people head for the cool theaters."


Directors are Ruining Movies, Not Visual Effects People

I make my living as a CG artist and work on big-budget, big-studio special effects movies. I was going to work on Green Lantern, but ended up working on Thor instead…. Profit margins for visual effects houses are so razor thin that they WILL NOT say no to a client, just to get the work. In this sense, the work is actually often underbid and its true cost is eaten by the vfx house. There is a famous producer who once said "I'm not doing my job if I don't shutter a vfx house on my film."

What you end up with is a scenario where the [...]


Harry Potter and the Incredibly Conservative Aristocratic Children's Club

The richly imaginative details of J.K. Rowling’s fictive world, it must be admitted, are pleasurable. The hot-rod brooms, the flowing robes and flying cars, the goth Heaven of the sullen Slytherins, the snake language and the magic wands enclosing phoenix feathers or unicorn hairs, the metamorphic potions, the leaping or fizzing sweets! All these have been fully and lovingly realized in the Warner Brothers movie adaptations of the Harry Potter books, including the most recent, which is a fine-looking but completely incoherent mess with a morally bankrupt and politically repugnant story at its core.


All the Lines from the "Interstellar" Trailer, Except with Exclamation Marks

McConaughey: We used to look up in the sky and wonder at our place in the stars! Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt!

[Unidentified]: Go for main engines start! T-minus ten!

Caine: We must confront the reality that nothing in our solar system can help us!

[Unidentified]: Nine!

McConaughey: I've got kids, professor! How long would I be gone!

[Unidentified]: Eight!

Caine: I'm asking you to trust me!

[Unidentified]: Seven!

McConaughey: Murph! You have to talk to me Murph!

[Unidentified]: Six!!

McConaughey: We need to fix this before I go!

Foy: You have no idea when [...]


Let Us Welcome the Season of Cosmic Terror

There are not that many coming attractions that people actually seem to want to see; there are fewer that feel like they are defining some kind of moment in cinema. But there does seem to be one small weird thing going in trailers: The adults are thinking about the stars, and the teens are too. Everyone is suddenly terrified of infinity and it's making them all fall in love.

Here is the new trailer for Christopher Nolan's Interstellar:


Behind the Scenes with Culture Hero Andre Gregory

The director Andre Gregory is turning 79 next month and still at work. Two plays will appear later this year; Jonathan Demme’s film of Gregory’s production of Ibsen’s The Master Builder is in the offing. Gregory is the subject of a new film, Before and After Dinner. The director of this documentary, Cindy Kleine, was granted what feels like unfettered access to the subject, who, in addition to being a fellow director, is also her husband. We spoke with her by phone the day after the film opened in New York.

"I didn’t want to make some kind of traditional biopic or television-style documentary about a great artist," Kleine [...]


Batman-ish: What Comic-Book Movies Are Missing

Let’s start with my bias: I write comic book scripts for a living. As a kid, reading Batman for the first time, I was immediately drawn to the idea of a man dressing up as a Bat to prey on the superstitions of the wrong guy on the street. As bad as the bad guy got, Batman was worse. Like a living shadow, he scared his victims—and maybe me, too, a little bit.

It seemed a natural for the camera to try to bring him to the screen. And like a Frankenstein in tights, Batman was zapped to life in various states. First Adam West, with a game-show-host voice, fighting [...]


Is 'Hanna' the First Movie All Year to Ace the Bechdel Test?

How many movies passed the Bechdel Test this year so far? Yes, sure, it's a black/white, pass/fail set of criteria, which means that plenty of unconcerned products pass. So this year: From Prada to Nada and Bridesmaids both pass, which… might be sort of besides the point, or might be a related but more capitalist point? Jane Eyre squeaks under the wire. Briefly, Red Riding Hood too, which, uh. On a technicality, Paul. And Sucker Punch—though it's also castigated as the most misogynist film in ages. Also The Last Lions, I think, if you count lady lions talking to other lady lions, I think, but maybe they are [...]


'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows': Two Nerds Geek Out

Natasha Vargas-Cooper: We need to talk about Harry Potter.


Natasha: Clearly, we as Americans agree that HP7 is a FINE FILM. But as wizard nerds, like as a lady who, um, would really like to have been cast as Tonks, I have to say I was a little bummed out.

Dan: Pull out your shimmering strands of memory, drop them into your Pensieve, and explain to me why.


Dan: Right, so this scene in the book is nothing but the purest malarkey.


Inherent Vice, Awkward Mood

If the options for an Inherent Vice movie were Joaquin Phoenix reciting Pynchon's best lines in a grave tone OR Joaquin Phoenix slipping in and out of mania while falling down a lot, physically, this seems to have been the right choice. It's just barely apparent in the trailer, but here is something that I'm curious to see in practice: Robert Elswit, longtime Paul Thomas Anderson collaborator, is listed as the movie's cinematographer. Elswit's all BIG SKIES and SYMMETRY and LINGERING SHOTS and MUSCULAR ACTION. There's not a whole lot of comedy in his credits! And certainly nothing quite like this: "It’s a stoner detective film so overstuffed with [...]


It Took 12 Years to Make This 164 Minute Movie

So there's a movie that's like having a child and watching it grow up, but without actually having to have the child, and the watching it grow up part takes less than three hours? Sounds pretty perfect to me.


Are We Ever Going To See 'Spring Breakers' This Weekend

HE: Good eventide, Pausanias!

SHE: Stop calling me that. So we can go if you really want to. What time does it start?

HE: Yes! We can be in Evanston just in time for the 7:15 showing.

SHE: (offering him a large book) Wouldn’t you rather read the second volume of this Verdi biography, instead of seeing this stupid movie?

HE: No.


SHE: So what is this movie about?

HE: It's about the culture.

SHE: Whose culture?

HE: Our culture.

SHE: Really.

HE: I really think so. I’ve read so many amazing articles about it I'm telling you everyone I follow has said amazing things. In pyramid [...]


Wait, Did People Really Think 'The Artist' Was a Good Movie?

So… basically The Artist is about this chick who meets a much older guy like three times for all of 30 seconds each and then she devotes her life to stalking/saving him, despite him being a married, entitled, pitiful, self-serving alcoholic, and despite her being a smart, savvy, talented, sexy professional, and then also the only black people in the film are literally carrying spears and wearing loincloths? And really hot French guys are actually made kind of ugly when they have gross tiny mustaches?

Right, that's what I thought, just checking.


Ed Koch Reviews "Black Swan"

As you may know, Ed Koch, New York's straightest living ex-mayor, has an email list and he regularly reviews movies. "You may enjoy the movie, but I was disappointed. It intended to unite the ballet with a Freudian or Havelock Ellis spin that would satisfy the audiences’ expectation of great art and its carnal desires. Neither worked, at least not for me…. I hope I will not be thought of as a coarse Philistine for not praising this film. I confess that I am not a devotee of the ballet; indeed, I have attended only a few performances. I once appeared on stage reading the narration of 'Peter and [...]