(Photo by Paramount Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / © Marvel Studios / courtesy Everett Collection; New Line Cinema / courtesy Everett Collection.)
Suddenly finding yourself with lots of free time? In possession of a murder of minutes, a bounty of hours, a gaggle of extra days, wondering how to fill them all up? Sounds like you could go for a movie – a really loooong movie. Well, we’ve sifted through the backend of cinema history, from the silent era all the way up to the present, and collected and ranked the 95 best-reviewed movies that run three hours or longer (and have a Tomatometer score) to vanquish those pesky waking moments.
The director who takes the most advantage of your attention span? No surprise: It’s Martin Scorsese, with six films on this list, including 2019’s The Irishman. Other directors with multiple entries are legends known for their predilection for epic storytelling: Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai, Red Beard); David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago); Oliver Stone (JFK, Malcom X); and Stanley Kubrick (Spartacus, Barry Lyndon). Of course, Francis Ford Coppola gets a couple in there: There’s The Godfather, Part II (though not The Godfather, which is three minutes shy of three hours), and Apocalypse Now Redux over regular ol’ vanilla Apocalypse Now, which runs a swift 2.5 hours.
Now Redux underscores an interesting point. It’s included because the film had a national theatrical release, and got its own separate Tomatometer score from the original movie. Other director’s cuts that clear the 3-hour mark, like Watchmen or Kingdom of Heaven, or extended editions like Lord of the Rings, are excluded because they don’t have their own Tomatometers, and never saw major release.
Meanwhile, Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 were cut from the list: You had to buy two tickets, meaning two separate movies. (But Grindhouse is in because one ticket at the box office got you the whole sleazy shebang.) This Kill Bill rule applies in excluding other potential candidates like the Nymphomaniac volumes, or Steven Soderbergh’s Che: Though it screened at Cannes as a single release, in America it was split in two, requiring two purchases, making them two movies.
Then we arrive at European films like Scenes From a Marriage or The Best of Youth, which were originally presented as TV miniseries before being edited into singular entities. Those count. Again, it’s all about how the movie was packaged and exhibited for consumption in North America. And finally, we put in a minimum requirement of 10 Tomatometer-approved critic reviews and ratings for each movie to keep this guide from trending too obscure.
Are longer movies better? We wrote an article exploring the notion. Something must be keeping these filmmakers in the edit bay, piling on the celluloid. With a movie like Avengers: Endgame, the appeal of a long runtime is apparent: It’s got dozens and dozens of colorful characters eager to pummel each other, and had to wrap up a 22-movie story arc. Titanic‘s got a sinking boat. King Kong has a big ape.
But some of the other movies’ hooks aren’t as obvious. Films like Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev or Bela Tarr’s Satantango use their generous runtimes to explore new dimensions in cinema, to build something mystical and mysterious within viewers, culminating close to a rapturous experience. And a few of the documentaries, such as Shoah or O.J.: Made in America (which had an awards-qualifying theatrical run), need the space to do right by their topics.
With all that said, it’s time to get real comfy on that couch: Check out the 95 best movies 3 hours or longer! – Alex Vo
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a wonder for many reasons, not least of which is the way it wove together an intricate continuity across all of its movies. Throughout 23 films (and counting), there are crossover characters, intersecting storylines, and resonant names, locations, and even brands. Of course, when you step back, you realize that the MCU was only doing what comic books have been doing in print for decades. Take another step back, and you’ll notice that what they’ve done isn’t all that unique to movies, either. Because Quentin Tarantino, for one, has been doing it for decades, too.
From his earliest days as a struggling screenwriter to his iconic and era-defining films, Tarantino has built his own world of interconnected characters and original brands. In honor of the 25th anniversary of his legendary opus Pulp Fiction (released October 14, 1994), let’s take a look at the QTCU — the Quentin Tarantino Cinematic Universe.
A short film co-written, directed, and starring Tarantino while he was famously working at Video Archives in Manhattan Beach, California (it’s no longer there, so don’t plan a visit), My Best Friend’s Birthday only exists in a truncated 36-minute cut because large parts of it were destroyed in a fire. Still, the seeds of the QTCU are there. For one, Quentin plays a character named Clarence who, early on, discusses his love of Rockabilly music and Elvis’ acting ability. This would, of course, foreshadow Christian Slater’s character in True Romance, a script written by Tarantino but directed by the late Tony Scott. In Birthday, Tarantino’s Clarence hires a call girl to show his friend a good time on his special day — a sequence of events that would be flipped in True Romance, when Slater’s Clarence finds himself on the receiving end of a birthday call girl surprise.
Tarantino’s signature work, the movie that launched him as a filmmaker. In this tale of a jewel heist gone wrong, the audience is treated to flashbacks that fill in the stories of each of the movie’s black clad, code-named criminals. We find out that Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) used to run with a partner named Alabama. Of course, a woman named Alabama Whitman (later, Worley) is seen getting a taste for a life of crime in True Romance, the Tony Scott film that Tarantino wrote (see below). We also learn that Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) is named Vic Vega, as in the brother of John Travolta’s Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction.
(Photo by Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)
Apart from the obvious connections to earlier films — the Rockabilly-loving Clarence and call girl-turned-crook Alabama — there is a more subtle cinematic link in Tony Scott’s Tarantino-penned action adventure. The movie climaxes with a drug deal in the hotel suite of big time movie producer Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek, channeling real life producer Joel Silver). Donowitz is a producer of war movies — fitting because his father, Donny Donowitz, fought in WWII as part of the Inglourious Basterds. You might remember him as the baseball bat-wielding avenger known as “The Bear Jew” (played by Eli Roth).
(Photo by Miramax Films)
Pulp Fiction, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is arguably the Iron Man of the QTCU, because it’s really the one that takes the threads and begins to weave them together. The film introduces us to several brand names that would become central players in Tarantino’s world, starting with “that Hawaiian burger joint” Big Kahuna Burger — Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules takes the world’s most intimidating bite of one of these burgers and washes it down with “a tasty beverage” from the place early in the movie. Later, Bruce Willis’ Butch Coolidge orders a pack of Red Apple cigarettes, a brand that shows up in just about every subsequent QT movie. Finally, Christopher Walken’s Captain Koons — he of the legendary “gold watch” speech — is also a descendant of “Crazy” Craig Koons, one of Django’s bounties in Django Unchained.
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)
Although Natural Born Killers was directed by Oliver Stone, the script was pure Tarantino. We mentioned earlier the brother connection between Vic and Vincent Vega, but there is another set of brothers that was first introduced in Reservoir Dogs, too. In Dogs, Vic complains about a pain-in-the-ass parole officer named Seymour Scagnetti (we never actually see him), whose own brother, Jack, would show up in Natural Born Killers (played by Tom Sizemore).
In the Tarantino-written and -directed segment of this anthology film, the characters are seen smoking Red Apple cigarettes. Tarantino’s character also refers to his drink as a “tasty beverage,” which echoes the same colorful turn of phrase Jules used in Pulp Fiction.
Tarantino wrote the script for this Robert Rodriguez-directed horror film and peppered in some of his signature touches. There are Red Apple cigarettes present and accounted for, and George Clooney’s Seth Gecko at one point makes a run for Big Kahuna Burgers. The movie also introduces gravelly-voiced, no-nonsense Texas Ranger Earl McGraw (played by Michael Parks), who would become a key player in the QTCU. It’s also worth noting that the movie features yet another pair of brothers (Seth and his brother, Richie, played by Tarantino) who have a thing for black suits.
(Photo by Miramax Films)
Beware of people who claim that, because it was based on an Elmore Leonard novel and not an original Tarantino idea, there are no overt connections to the QTCU in Jackie Brown. They’re just not paying attention. Midway through the film, we see Jackie in the Del Amo Mall food court, enjoying a meal from Teriyaki Donut — the same fictional fast food franchise whose food Ving Rhames’ Marcellus Wallace is carrying when Butch Coolidge runs him down in Pulp Fiction. In a second food court scene not long after, we not only see Jackie indulging in Teriyaki Donut again, but her accomplice Sheronda (LisaGay Hamilton) sits down at her table with a tray full of food from Acuña Boys, which would later be referenced in Kill Bill Vol. 2 and appear a couple of times in Grindhouse.
(Photo by Miramax Films)
We’ll treat this kung fu-inspired magnum opus as one film, with plenty of easter eggs to link it to the larger QTCU. For one, if you look at The Bride’s (Uma Thurman) old gang, the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, you’ll notice that they all fit a little too easily into Mia Wallace’s description of her failed TV pilot, Fox Force Five – the blonde leader, the Japanese kung fu master, the black demolition expert, the French seductress, and Mia’s. character, the deadliest woman in the world with a knife (or sword?). The first cop on the scene after the Bride’s wedding day massacre is, of course, Earl McGraw, and Red Apple and Big Kahuna also make appearances. And remember Acuña Boys from Jackie Brown? In Vol. 2, they happen to be the name of the gang that Michael Parks’ Esteban Vihaio runs.
(Photo by The Weinstein Co./Dimension)
In both the Tarantino portion of this double feature homage, Death Proof, and the Rodriguez portion, Planet Terror, there are connections to the QTCU. Big Kahuna burgers are mentioned, and Red Apple cigarettes are smoked. On top of that, an ad for Acuña Boys “Authentic Tex-Mex Food” — first glimpsed in Jackie Brown — pops up during intermission, and one of Stuntman Mike’s early victims, Vanessa Ferlito’s Arlene, can be seen sipping from an Acuña Boys cup. Texas lawman Earl McGraw also reappears, along with his son, Ed, and we learn there is a sister named Dakota, too, who features in Planet Terror. As kind of a bonus, Rosario Dawson’s Abernathy has a familiar ringtone on her phone — it’s the same melody whistled by Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah) in Kill Bill Vol. 1.
(Photo by Francois Duhamel/©Weinstein Company)
In addition to Donny Donowitz, Michael Fassbender’s English soldier-turned-spy Archie Hicox has deep ties to the QTCU, it turns out. Late in the old west-set Hateful Eight, it is revealed that Tim Roth’s Oswaldo Mobray is actually a wanted man named “English Pete” Hicox, Archie’s great-great-grandfather.
(Photo by The Weinstein Co.)
We’ve already mentioned “Crazy” Craig Koons, but there is another deep cut reference to Django hidden in an earlier Tarantino movie. In Kill Bill Vol. 2, Bill’s brother Budd (played by Michael Madsen – also another pair of QT brothers!) buries the Bride alive in the grave of Paula Schultz. This is the lonely final resting place for the wife of bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) in Django.
(Photo by The Weinstein Company)
In addition to the Hicox family tree, Red Apple tobacco — the early version of the soon-to-be ubiquitous (in the QTCU, anyway) cigarette brand — makes a couple of appearances here. Demián Bichir’s Bob smokes a “Manzana Roja” right after the intermission, and Channing Tatum gets a custom-rolled Red Apple cigarette — his “favorite” — from Dana Gourrier’s Miss Minnie.
(Photo by Columbia Pictures)
At one point in Kill Bill Vol. 2, The Bride drives a blue Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. That same car shows up (driven by Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth) in Hollywood. And not only do Booth and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton smoke Red Apples (of course), but there’s an end-credits scene in the movie that shows Dalton doing a TV commercial for the cigarette brand.
Pulp Fiction was released in theaters on October 14, 1994.
The 2010s have not been an easy time for Nicolas Cage, preeminent cultural icon and reigning king of esoteric movie choices. The Academy Award-winning former box office champ has spent much of the decade churning out an endless series of action movies both regrettable and forgettable, most of which go direct to video or receive token theatrical releases. Things seem to be looking up for him as of late, however. He can currently be heard as the voice of Superman in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies , (Certified Fresh at 90%), and this week he appears in the horror thriller Mandy (Certified Fresh at 98%), which has earned near universal praise on the film festival circuit.
In other words, it’s the perfect time to single out a whole slew of Cage cult oddities that may not be as well known as The Wicker Man, Adaptation, Wild at Heart, or Face/Off, but are definitely worth checking out, particularly if you don’t mind films of varying quality.
(Photo by Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)
Nicolas Cage was perhaps the only hungry, talented young actor of the day who did not appear in 1983’s The Outsiders, despite being the nephew of the film’s director, Francis Ford Coppola. He scored a nifty consolation prize, however, in the role of Smokey, a distractingly shaggy member of Matt Dillon’s crew, in the film’s companion piece, Rumble Fish, which was shot back-to-back with The Outsiders with the same crew and source material from the same author, young-adult lit goddess S.E. Hinton.
It seems fitting that Cage would end up in the artier and more agreeably demented of the two projects, a film noir-leaning black-and-white movie for teenagers that finds Cage holding his own against a cast that includes heavyweights like Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Mickey Rourke at the height of his androgynous beauty and magnetism, and Tom Waits. Rumble Fish proved that even at the very beginning of his career, there was a whole lot more to Cage than just being related to a legendary filmmaker.
(Photo by Hemdale Film Corp. courtesy Everett Collection)
When it comes to fusing the belligerent aggression of the archetypal 1980s businessman with pure, monstrous old-school evil of the Dracula/Wolfman variety, Patrick Bateman of American Psycho could learn a thing or two from the lunatic Cage played in 1989’s Vampire’s Kiss.
In this pitch-black horror comedy, a belligerent, narcissistic literary agent played by Cage gets bitten by a mysterious stranger during a one-night stand and becomes convinced he’s a vampire. Vampire’s Kiss soars as a demented ’80s riff on George Romero’s Martin, with the squirmy vulnerability and aching sadness of Martin‘s fake vampire replaced by the deranged narcissism of a dude who was a monster and a threat to everyone around him even before he got bit. It also brought us a couple of the finest Nic Cage freakouts ever and inspired a well-known meme.
(Photo by Astro Distribution courtesy Everett Collection)
As Wild at Heart indelibly illustrated, the young Nicolas Cage could be a scorchingly sexy actor. But he’s the hilarious antithesis of that as a sexual adventurer whose goatee, soul patch, and mustache combo makes him look like he’s perpetually wearing a Guy Fawkes mask in the wonderfully warped, direct-to-video 1991 “erotic” thriller Zandalee.
Cage’s sex maniac shamelessly pursues the titular unsatisfied wife of his impotent best friend Judge Reinhold with rowdy come-ons like, “I wanna shake you naked and eat you alive, Zandalee.” Who could resist a line like that? Yes, Zandalee is perversely unsexy, but it is, scandalously and unintentionally, a laugh riot.
(Photo by Roxie Releasing courtesy Everett Collection)
Cage ably plays a film noir archetype — the drifter lured into a world of sin and seduction, murder and greed — opposite J.T Walsh, Dennis Hopper, and femme fatale Lara Flynn Boyle in John Dahl’s terrific, darkly funny 1993 neo-noir Red Rock West. This overachieving little thriller was slated for a direct-to-video/cable burial before a California theater owner helped finagle a richly merited, albeit modest, theatrical release. But Red Rock West wasn’t just worthy of a theatrical release: it was one of the best films of the year it was released, and today it occupies a place of pride in the pantheon of great latter-day film noirs alongside other Dahl triumphs like Kill Me Again and The Last Seduction.
After Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Last Temptation of Christ, director Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader continued their exploration of driven, intense protagonists facing down bleak personal personal reckonings with Bringing Out the Dead, their electric adaptation of Joe Connelly’s novel about a depressed paramedic and the death-haunted, surrealistic world he inhabits. Cage’s big, soulful eyes powerfully express his character’s bottomless sadness and aching longing for tenderness and connection in a world gone mad.
(Photo by Paramount Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)
Director Gore Verbinski took a break from directing mega-budgeted spectacles like the Pirates of the Caribbean with 2005’s The Weather Man, a deftly handled character study about a vain, narcissistic Chicago weatherman (Cage) with complicated relationships with his father (Michael Caine) and his family. It’s an unexpectedly small-scale, life-sized movie from a director and a star used to splashier, more flamboyant fare. Cage doesn’t play relatively normal men for understandable reasons (he’s insane and over the top, in the best possible sense), but he’s quite good at it, and The Weather Man is a low-key charmer.
(Photo by The Weinstein Co.)
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s 2007 project Grindhouse represented an audacious attempt to recreate the mood, vibe, and stoned, surreal experience of catching a double feature in an impressively disgusting drive-in theater with a gallon of moonshine and a few jazz cigarettes sometime in the 1970s.
To make the evening a full-on experience/freak out, Tarantino’s Death Proof and Rodriguez’s Planet Terror were augmented by fake trailers from simpatico, sleaze-loving souls like like Eli Roth, Edgar Wright, and Rob Zombie, the latter of whom contributed Werewolf Woman of the SS, a hairy, cheeky, supernatural spin on the sex- and violence-saturated Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS. The faux trailer concludes by promising a boffo cast of B-movie favorites like Shari Moon Zombie (no points for guessing who her husband is), Udo Kier, Sybil Danning, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer‘s Tom Towles, Bill Moseley, and, of course, Nicolas Cage as a deranged Dr. Fu Manchu.
Granted, Werewolf Woman of the SS isn’t an actual movie, but Cage is so beloved among trash culture aficionados that his mere appearance in Grindhouse prompted cheers and howls of laughter. It’s tempting to imagine how a feature-length version of the film promised in Zombie’s trailer might look and feel, but it’s doubtful it could have lived up to audience expectations.
(Photo by First Look Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)
Some projects become huge cult movies before a single frame is even shot. That’s true of 2009’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, whose status as a cult classic was clinched the moment beloved filmmaker Werner Herzog signed on to direct Nicolas Cage in a New Orleans-set reboot/reimagining/riff on Abel Ferrara’s iconic 1992 independent cult classic Bad Lieutenant.
Cage and Herzog amplify each other’s madness in this mind-bending dark comedy about a cackling, coke-snorting, lucky crack pipe-toting madman who is a crime-fighter in dirty, lawless New Orleans, an astonishingly prolific criminal, and an all-around degenerate. Only a lunatic would be audacious enough to follow in the footsteps of Harvey Keitel at his most punishingly intense and fearless. Thankfully, Cage is just such a lunatic, and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans not only matches the stoned brilliance of Ferrara’s rightly revered original, at times it surpasses it.
(Photo by Summit Entertainment courtesy Everett Collection)
Cage scored a surprise hit with Alex Proyas’ demented 2009 science-fiction mind-blower Knowing. The movie begins as a relatively straightforward conspiracy theory about a widowed professor (Cage) who discovers that a time capsule from 1959 contains numbers relating to a series of future calamities, including September 11th. Knowing gets bolder and more audacious as it goes along, leading to an unforgettable ending that takes the movie’s brazenly loopy premise to its surrealistic extreme in a manner at once biblical and apocalyptic.
(Photo by Daniel Smith/Lionsgate)
Chloë Grace Moretz got most of the acclaim and the attention, creepy and otherwise, for her star-making turn as gleefully profane 11-year-old killing machine Hit Girl in Matthew Vaughn’s action comedy, a nasty, misanthropic adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr’s comic book Kick Ass, about everyday weirdos who decide to become real-world superheroes.
But Cage played just as big a role in the film’s creative success as the appropriately named Big Daddy, a good cop who turns his daughter into a fearsome weapon of vengeance against a mob boss who has framed him. In Kick Ass, Cage’s justice-seeking patriarch is, paradoxically, the moral center and the trembling, beating heart and soul of a fundamentally amoral movie that fatally lacks any heart or soul otherwise.
(Photo by Richard Foreman Jr./Summit Entertainment)
All that needs to be said about Drive Angry (other than, you know, it’s a 3D Nicolas Cage movie called Drive Angry), is that at one point, Cage’s character has sex, swigs whiskey straight from the bottle, and engages in a gunfight – all at the same time! That, friends, is multitasking.
Cage plays a tough guy too badass even for Hell, so he steals the Devil’s own gun and sets out to prevent his granddaughter from from being sacrificed by a Satanic cult. With a premise and a star that nuts you don’t need 3D, but then again, Cage’s aesthetic has always been about crazy excess, so why not bring the lurid B-movie thrills in all three dimensions?
(Photo by Linda Kallerua/Roadside Attractions)
Thanks in no small part to the films on this list, Nicolas Cage reigns as the king of movies that are so bad they’re good. But every once in a while the stars align perfectly, and the eccentric trash movie icon will find himself in a movie that’s just plain good.
That’s 2014’s Joe, a riveting coming-of-age drama from David Gordon Green that casts Cage in the challenging and juicy title role of a grizzled, troubled, and extremely hairy alcoholic who becomes the unlikely father figure to a young boy played by Tye Sheridan. The film serves as a much needed reminder that, in the right role and the right film, Cage can be a great actor, not just an irresistibly big personality.
(Photo by Freestyle Releasing)
Cage’s career hit yet another nadir when he was cast as a pilot who learns a little something about the perils of eschewing a Godly path in 2014’s Left Behind, the feature film adaptation of the Rapture-themed series of best-selling conspiracy novels that were previously adapted into a trilogy of motion picture vehicles for Kirk Cameron.
Despite an Oscar winner in a lead role, 2014’s Left Behind is surprisingly much more modest than the Kirk Cameron movie. Instead of a globe-trotting adventure, it’s essentially the film equivalent of what is known in television as a “bottle episode,” which takes place primarily in a self-contained single location. The main action in Left Behind is limited to a wonderfully stagy airplane set where the crew and passengers of a flight slowly but surely piece together the nature of their loved ones’ not-so-mysterious disappearances (spoiler: it’s God), with unintentionally hilarious results.
Left Behind had two core audiences: Christians psyched to see an actor of Cage’s caliber in Godly entertainment, and secular smart-asses excited about an opportunity to laugh at Cage’s expense. Left Behind‘s wonderfully hokey storytelling and over-the-top proselytizing should have satisfed both groups, but, like so many of Cage’s films these days, it flopped, and a planned trilogy was nixed. That means, at least in this instance, Kirk Cameron actually succeeded where Nicolas Cage failed.
(Photo by Momentum Pictures)
The pairing of Cage and beloved cult weirdos Mark Neveldine/Brian Taylor (Crank, Crank: High Volume) on Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, a sequel about a flaming motorcyclist from Hell, promised a crazy abundance of kitschy thrills and delivered almost nothing.
Cage fared much better when he re-teamed with Taylor alone on the demented 2017 horror comedy Mom and Dad. The film cast Cage and Selma Blair as quintessentially corny parents whose long-buried resentment over sacrificing their own needs and happiness for the sake of their children comes to a raging, psychotic, murderous boil when a meteor inspires otherwise sane mothers and fathers to murder their own children for a 24-hour span. It’s a role perfectly suited for Cage’s late-period combination of cornball dad dorkiness and unrelenting, violent intensity.
Cage was singularly compelling as an angry, crazy young man. He’s similarly magnetic in the bonkers dad roles he’s been playing as of late, and he’s sure to make for a fascinatingly warped granddad, as long as he can find roles deserving of his singular genius and mad-dog charisma. Considering Cage’s inscrutable taste in material, though, there’s no telling what we’ll actually get, and that also feels perfectly appropriate.
Nathan Rabin is a freelance writer, columnist, the first head writer of The A.V. Club and the author of four books, most recently Weird Al: The Book (with “Weird Al” Yankovic) and You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me.
Follow Nathan on Twitter: @NathanRabin
The Edinburgh Film Festival has come to a close and Rotten Tomatoes thought we’d make a traditional look back over all of the films playing at this year’s fest and present to you – in strictly alphabetical order – our 10 must-sees. As a public-facing festival, Edinburgh’s selection attempts to combine the accessible with the artistic, and delivers a collection of movies both diverse and outstanding. From spoof comedies to harsh drama, from in-depth documentaries to cutting-edge animation, Edinburgh dares to be different and programmes a festival that’s at turns youthful and experienced, offering movies for just about any cinemagoer imaginable. And for us, it’s two weeks of life in dark rooms — just how we like it.
Black Dynamite – Michael Jai White is silencing the jive talkers in this hilarious spoof of Blaxsploitation capers of the 70s. It really is the grindhouse that Grindhouse should have been, as White — the titular Black Dynamite — attempts to foil a plot to deal drugs to orphans that goes all the way to the White House. The jokes wear a little thin towards the end, but for the large part it’ll have you in stitches, and Jai White revels in the period humour as booms enter shots, actors miss cues and them poor orphans are all drugged up. – Joe Utichi
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Le Donk – Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine are best known for their thoughtful, considered drama collaborations like Dead Man’s Shoes and A Room for Romeo Brass, so news of a mockumentary shot in five days with Considine taking on the character of a Northern roadie called Le Donk was ever so slightly worrying. We needn’t have taken the time to fret, though, because the result is riotously hysterical, and Considine revels in creating a character so desperate for attention that you can’t help but fall in love with him. Le Donk is shifting gear for the Arctic Monkeys and brings along a documentary crew for the week while he tries to introduce the world to a rapping prodigy he’s discovered. Meadows’ forte is in finding real heart at the centre of any story, and that continues here, for while the journey is brilliantly funny, you also get a sense of the character as a human being. We want more. – JU
Exam – From Stuart Hazeldine, who’s already making Hollywood waves working with Alex Proyas and scripting Paradise Lost, Exam is a modest British sci-fi thriller set in one room as a group of candidates from all sorts of racial and social backgrounds compete for a mysterious job. A blank sheet of paper sits in front of them and they’re told to answer the question on it. Over 80 minutes of real time, we enjoy their interaction as they try to figure out their situation and work with and against one another. It’s the kind of small-scale/big-impact sci-fi flick we don’t see enough of these days and it’s simply gripping from start to finish. It transcends its modest budget to deliver a slickly shot and incredibly entertaining experience. Expect big things from Hazeldine, and cross fingers and toes that Exam finds a distributor willing to give it a big release – you won’t want to miss it. – JU
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Fish Tank –
Red Road director Andrea Arnold proves she’s no one-trick pony with this stunning follow-up set on an Essex estate. Newcomer Katie Jarvis plays 15-year-old Mia, a would-be street dancer with a neglectful mother and a hilariously cheeky little sister. When charismatic Connor (Hunger’s Michael Fassbender) starts dating her mother, Mia’s world changes — but is it for the better? The ambiguity of their relationship drives both plot and characterisation forward in this beautifully observed, bitterly funny and utterly involving drama that marks Arnold as a true British talent. Watch out for a winning turn from up-and-comer Harry Treadaway, too. – Anna Smith
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For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism – It wouldn’t be right if a site about film critics didn’t include a documentary about film critics in its top 10. A critic himself, Gerald Peary goes on a journey of the American film writer, starting right at the beginning and presenting a detailed history of the art. Along the way, he gives faces to the faceless critics of newspapers, TV shows and websites and profiles them on what made them critics. Incredibly eye opening, and featuring contributions from the likes of Roger Ebert and Harry Knowles, it’s a documentary well worth watching. – JU
Humpday – Lynn Shelton‘s hilarious comedy is also the winner of our second Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus Award, and joins the powerful company of Let the Right One In. Mark Duplass and The Blair Witch Project‘s Joshua Leonard star as a pair of straight friends for whom a drunken night turns into a harsh reality as they realise they’ve talked each other into having sex with one another for a local amateur art-porn festival. Deftly exploring masculinity and homosexuality as well as relationships both intimate and not, Shelton’s indie is a real treat. – JU
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Mary and Max – This delightfully offbeat Australian stop-motion animation deserves to be a huge hit. Beautifully narrated by Barry Humphries, it tells the story of Mary Daisy Dinkle, a lonely Australian girl with a mother who spends all day “testing sherry” and a father who lives in his shed. After pulling a random address out of a New York phone box, Mary writes to Max Jerry Horovitz, an equally lonely middle-aged American. An unlikely pair of penpals is born as Mary and Max begin to share the intimate details of their lives. The animation is terrific, and the visual gags work just as hard as the verbal ones. Themes become darker as the film progresses, but Mary and Max never loses its sense of hope or Amelie-style charm. A must-see. – AS
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Moon – Sam Rockwell stars in a futuristic sci-fi made by David Bowie’s son: what’s not to like? Turns out Duncan Jones (famously born Zowie Bowie) has inherited his father’s talent: this debut is an assured, inventive film that makes good use of its tiny cast. Rockwell is Sam Bell, an astronaut working solo on a space station on the Moon. It’s a lonely life, but his sentient computer Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey) keeps him company and tends to his needs. Their odd couple friendship sets the film off to an amusing start, but events turn sinister when Sam discovers his doppleganger on the moon. All sorts of possibilities spring to mind — time travel, cloning, twins, the lot — in this intriguing thriller that pays tribute to cult sci-fis such as 2001: A Space Odyssey. – AS
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Rudo and Cursi – Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna are reunited on the big screen eight years after Y tu mama tambien introduced them to international audiences and made a hot name out of director Alfonso Cuaron. This time it’s his brother Carlos behind the camera (he scripted the previous film) but the chemistry is still there as the pair play brothers who are plucked out of the Mexican slums to become overnight soccer superstars. But the fun comes when the duo start enjoying their manic lives a little too readily and tensions start to form between them. – JU
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The September Issue – No-one in the fashion world commands more fascination and influence than Anna Wintour. The feared editor of US Vogue was the inspiration for Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada, yet the real woman has remained shrouded in mystery — until now. Filmmaker RJ Cutler follows Wintour from the office to fashion shows, shoots and meetings as she plans the September issue of Vogue. The result is a fascinating portrait of a blunt, decisive and ambitious woman. And when Wintour ruthlessly kills pages commissioned by creative director Grace Coddington, the dynamic between the two strong-willed women becomes the centrepiece of an increasingly revealing documentary. – AS
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George Clooney, the Mayor McCheese of Hollywood, leaves behind Oscar season and returns to the big screen with lighter fare with the period sports comedy Leatherheads. The PG-13 pic also stars Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski while the former Caped Crusader directs. Given the story of the origins of football in the 1920’s, turnout should come mostly from older adults although The Office star is being counted on to pull in some younger moviegoers. In Los Angeles, Clooney is a God. But the other 99% of the U.S. population doesn’t necessarily bow down to him (unless pals Brad and Matt are along for the ride). Michael Clayton, which creatively was one of the actor’s best films, only managed $10.4M in ticket sales during its first wide weekend. And it was backed by plenty of Oscar buzz and glowing reviews.
Reviews for Leatherheads have been lukewarm at best which spells bad news since the target audience will be reading up on the opinions of critics and taking their warnings. Plus Zellweger is no A-lister when it comes to drawing in paying audiences. Add in a period setting that will turn many off and you’ve got a spring film that will have to work hard for the money. To its credit, Universal has backed the title with a solid marketing push doing what it can to generate excitement and the current top five will not provide too much direct competition. But a lack of momentum in the current marketplace will also have a negative effect on all films. Rushing into 2,778 theaters, Leatherheads may take in around $15M this weekend.
Fox’s animated blockbuster Horton Hears A Who will find its competition coming from the studio’s own new Jodie Foster adventure. But the Dr. Seuss comedy has been holding up well so a 30% fall to $12.5M could result. That would up the cume to a robust $134M.
Superhero Movie stumbled out of the gate last weekend and is not likely to have legs. A 45% drop would give The Weinstein Company roughly $5M and a sum of $17M after ten days.
LAST YEAR: With Easter falling on the first weekend of April, the box office was vibrant thanks to a pair of solid sophomores and a slate of new releases. Will Ferrell‘s skating comedy Blades of Glory spent a second frame on top with $22.5M while the Disney toon Meet the Robinsons held onto second with $16.7M. Leading the newcomers was the Ice Cube sequel Are We Done Yet? with $14.3M on its way to $49.7M for Sony. Opening in fourth was the two-for-one special Grindhouse with $11.6M followed by the new supernatural thriller The Reaping which bowed to $10M. Final grosses reached $25M and $25.1M, respectively. Failing to excite family audiences was Firehouse Dog which debuted in tenth with just $3.8M leading to a weak $13.9M final.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have long reigned as the Dark Princes of Schlock-Appreciation. They make movies for those who like it rough, sleazy and thrill-packed. Every dirty flicker in Death Proof and Planet Terror pays tribute to a thousand cheaply-produced fun-rides of perversion known as exploitation films. These often violent, and always sensational, flicks were pumped out for high-profits and thrills.
And this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Trash appreciation is a fine tradition amongst film lovers, as witnessed by the large number of grindhouse gems that are repeatedly dug from their filthy graves. These resurrected zombies of the film-world still walk amongst us today and RT pays tribute.
1) Reefer Madness
This little gem had an unlikely start in life. It was a Church-made morality tale about the evils
of cannabis. That is until exploitation director Dwain Esper got his grubby mitts
on it and with a bit of creative editing turned it into a camp, cult classic.
Now walks the earth as…
Not only is Reefer Madness still compulsive viewing in college dorms and share-houses the world over, it spawned its very own off-Broadway musical satire. Still not content to let it lie, Showtime turned that musical into a film, also called Reefer Madness, starring Kristen Bell and Alan Cumming.
Ladies and Gentlemen — welcome to violence. This Russ Meyer flick is what happens when angry young go-go dances go wild and it has everything a good little exploitation film could want: speed, sex and violent women.
Now walks the earth as…
You can hardly walk past an art house retrospective without tripping over this one. It has made some reverberations in the rock world having been sampled and referenced by The Cramps, The Killers, White Zombie, and of course, metal band, Faster Pussycat. There have also been some rumours that Tarantino may have a crack at remaking it but this has not been confirmed.
This is a blaxploitation film with some pretty good pedigree. Isaac Hayes won an Academy Award in 1971 for “Theme from Shaft” and the film was box office lightning on release. It is the story of the coolest black detective in history on the search for the missing daughter of a
Now walks the earth as…
It spawned two ’70s sequels and a series of made-for-television movies. In 2000, director John Singleton brought the character back to life with his sequel, also entitled Shaft, starring Samuel L. Jackson. The original film has a place in the United States National Film Registry, preserved as a shining example of its genre.
4) Vanishing Point
Vanishing Point paid tribute to the 1970 Dodge Challenger in one of the great road trip films of the era. Car chases, hitchhikers and blind DJs are all a film really needed to find its way into the drive-ins of the early ’70s. This one was a surprising box-office hit and captured an audience on the look-out for marginalised American anti-heroes cruising the highways at great
Now walks the earth as…
Its re-make appeared in 1997 and was a little less successful. It starred Viggo_Mortensen and Jason Priestly. The original is still a staple in the DVD collections of those who love a grizzled anti-hero and Tarantino has called it one of the major influences for Death Proof.
5) Dawn of the Dead
George A. Romero’s sequel to Night of the Living Dead is violent, gory and worshipped by horror fans the world over. Not only does it pack a punch on the terror front but also carries powerful metaphors for human emotional and commercial behaviour. It was
critically acclaimed and a blow-away commercial success.
Now walks the earth as…
There are many cuts of Dawn of the Dead in existence, the most famous being Italian director, Dario Argento’s 118 minute version called Zombi. A Japanese version exists that is so violence-free that it is reviled by the purists and the extremely long German version, can inspire riots of hatred. A slightly sanitised American version appeared in 1983 to be shown along with Creepshow but the extraordinary backlash resulted in it being pulled from public viewing. Hong-Kong comedy spoof, Bio Zombie, appeared in 1998. Dawn of the Dead was remade (or re-imagined as many prefer due to its reworking of the original story) in 2004 by director, Zack Snyder. It also underwent another re-imagining two weeks later when Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg set their much loved Shaun of the Dead loose on the
6) Cannibal Holocaust
Ruggero Deodato holds the dubious honour of making one of the most graphic and controversial films in the genre. When the film was released in Italy he was immediately arrested for obscenity and held on suspicion of having made a snuff film due to the extreme graphic nature of the footage. He was released only when he was able to produce each actor alive and well. While it appears that the actors survived, many animals were slaughtered for his art.
Now walks the earth as…
Deodato is helping himself to some flesh-snacking seconds with his remake scheduled for release in 2009. It will be interesting to see if the director will match his original splash of controversy. It is safe to assume that animal welfare groups will have kept a fairly watchful eye over this set.
If Shaft was cool, Coffy was ice. Billed as the baddest one-chick-hit-squad on the block, this role of nurse turned vigilante catapulted Pam Grier to the position of Queen of the Blaxploitation pics.
Now walks the earth as…
Coffy was mirror-imaged three years after its release as The Sexy Killer (Du Hou Mi Shi) by Hong Kong director, Sun Chung. Chung loved it so much that he knocked it out again in 1977 as Lady Exterminator (A-Sir du hou lao hu qiang). 1981 saw the release of the whitest rendition of a blaxploitation film ever in Lovely But Deadly starring none other than our very own Mark Holden. Strong traces of Coffy can also be found in Kill Bill Volume 1 and Kill Bill Volume 2
8) Foxy Brown
This film started production as a sequel to Coffy but that idea was dropped and Pam Grier was reborn as brown sugar and spice, Foxy Brown. Foxy, like Coffy, is one sexy woman set on revenge and nothing will stand in her way. Despite following Coffy, Foxy Brown is often credited as the film that set the scene for strong, black women to rule the Blaxploitation screen.
Now walks the earth as…
Every time a strong woman appears on screen fighting for the power of good and her loved ones, there is a little bit of Foxy running through her motivation. Tarantino worships at her feet in the Grier vehicle, Jackie Brown, and like Coffy, Foxy’s influence can be seen throughout the Kill Bills.
9) Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS
One of the more disturbing strands in the exploitation tail is the naziploitation film and Ilsa is the undisputed queen. Here she plays the warden of a Nazi death camp who performs horrendous and sexual experiments on her captors. One of the more intriguing elements of this movie is that it was filmed on the set of Hogan’s Heroes. Go figure.
Now walks the earth as…
Ilsa had her share of sequels: Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks and Ilsa, the Tigress of Siberia. Ilsa, The Wicked Warden was also released under the titles Greta, The Mad Butcher and Wanda, the Wicked Warden. She has settled comfortably into the role of sadistic cult figure referenced in films, comics and videogames. Notably, she was an inspiration for video game, BloodRayne, and Rob Zombie’s Grindhouse trailer, Werewolf Women of the SS.
This Ross Meyer / Roger Ebert collaboration is B-grade gold. It tells the story of all-girl rock band, The Kelly Affair, and their descent into the decadence of Hollywood. Not to be confused in any way with the Valley of the Dolls, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is hedonistic satire a-go-go.
Now walks the earth as…
Like many exploitation turned cult films, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls has grossed the lion share of its profits through DVD sales and the retro release circuit. This is one film that isn’t going anywhere fast. It is heavily referenced in the Austin Powers films and by rock acts with glam leanings the world over. The Village Voice included it in its 100 Greatest Films of the Century in 2001.
An honorable mention goes to the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes which is about to be remade by Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine.
If you want more schlock, check out Rotten Tomatoes’ definitive Grindhouse A to Z special. In this era of filmmaking when the remake is king, you can be guaranteed that many more of these little treats will come crawling back from the dead, so do your homework and be prepared.
Video Ezy is offering a two for the price of one special. Rent Death Proof today and rent Planet Terror free.
The wait is over. After nearly a year of watching and wondering, after getting split releases for Death Proof and Planet Terror and after coming to the conclusion that it’d never happen, Golden Tomato-winning director Edgar Wright tells RT there’ll be a screening of the original cut of Grindhouse at the Prince Charles cinema in London ahead the print being made available to cinemas from March 28th.
The screening at the Prince Charles takes place on March 8th and Wright, whose fake trailer for a horror movie called Don’t was one of the casualties of the split and never made it outside of the USA, will be there to introduce the film and answer audience questions. The film’s UK distributors, Momentum, tell RT that it will also appear as part of Glasgow FrightFest on February 23rd.
They also tell us that this doesn’t mean the film is getting a full UK release. The print will be made available to cinemas from March 28th should they wish to book it for limited runs, late night or one-off engagements or events, but it will not be treated as a new release.
This is good news for fans of the separate parts and certainly bodes well for the possibility of an eventual DVD release. The film performed well with critics on its release but disappointing ticket sales forced the double bill to be split in two for release around the world.
For more information about the FrightFest engagement, click over to the FrightFest website. The Prince Charles tells us that booking isn’t currently open for the March 8th event with Edgar Wright, but from the end of the week you will be able to call them on 0870 811 2559 to secure tickets.
It’s a blockbuster week for DVD watchers, as two highly anticipated titles — a little robot action here (Transformers), a little zombie plague there (Planet Terror) — come a’calling. Thankfully for you more reserved types, we’ve also got some more serious (and critically endorsed) fare, whether it’s based-on-real-life sorrow (A Mighty Heart), trickery (The Hoax), or unexplainable attraction (Crazy Love) you’re after.
Michael Bay‘s high-octane saga of alien robot races warring on Earth blasted audiences away last summer and in IMAX, and the DVD release follows suit this week with a wealth of buying options. If you want two specially-made exclusive figurines with your Transformers, go to Best Buy. For a tin collectible case and an animated prequel film, hit up Wal-Mart. But if you ask us, the sweetest release comes courtesy of Target, which will exclusively offer a DVD case that transforms into OPTIMUS PRIME!! Pure marketing genius, we say. Oh yes, there are also behind-the-scenes featurettes and a commentary by Michael Bay. But the Target DVD case IS A TRANSFORMER!
Robert Rodriguez‘s half of the mis-marketed Grindhouse double feature comes this week to finish what Quentin Tarantino‘s Death Proof started back in September: namely, teasing fans with a longer version of the original flick and a few extra features while conspicuously omitting those fan-favorite fake trailers. For those, we’ll have to wait for the deluxe DVD. But, lest we encourage you to wait for that holy grail of Grindhouse fun, let us remind you that some Planet Terror is better than no Planet Terror, and watching the extended, gorier version of what some might argue was the better half of the double bill might just make your day. Features on the 2-disc release include commentary by Rodriguez, an Audience Reaction track, 10-Minute Film School with the director, and more.
This Certified Fresh dramatization of the real-life disappearance and murder of Wall Street Journal writer Daniel Pearl is told through the eyes of Pearl’s widow, Marianne, whose memoirs serve the basis for the film. Director Michael Winterbottom‘s handheld camera captures deeply emotional performances by his cast, led by Angelina Jolie; the disc’s three special features (a making-of piece, a public service announcement by Christiane Amanpour, and a documentary about the Committee to Protect Journalists) remind us of the real-life circumstances of Pearl’s case and the dangers posed to embedded journalists reporting in highly volatile areas of the world.
Richard Gere stars as Clifford Irving, a writer in the 1970s who had all of America convinced he’d written an authorized autobiography of infamous recluse Howard Hughes — until the book, for which he’d collected hundreds of thousands of dollars — was declared a fake. Critics lauded the film’s performances and direction, earning The Hoax a Certified Fresh distinction. The bonus menu is populated by the expected commentary tracks, but look especially for an interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace, in which he recounts being duped himself by Irving’s charade.
Supplementary Selections for Your Cinematic Senses
A young Bronx beauty in 1959 tries to break off her affair with a married man, but he becomes dangerously obsessed and plots a horrible attack on her; when he is released from jail years later, she not only forgives her attacker, but marries him. The craziest part about Crazy Love? It’s not fiction. The real-life rocky relationship between Burt Pugach and Linda Riss was well-documented tabloid fodder in the 1960s, and now co-directors Dan Klores and Fisher Stevens have crafted a complex documentary about love, obsession, and forgiveness that is almost as hard to believe as it is to watch. As they say, that’s amore!
Lights in the Dusk
Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismaki, a veritable master of deadpan humor, completes his “Loser trilogy” (which began with Drifting Clouds and the The Man Without a Past) with this slow but rewarding bleak comedy about a lonely watchman being set up by a blonde.
The Trials of Darryl Hunt
Wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of a white woman, Darryl Hunt, an African-American man, spent nearly two decades in prison before being exonerated; his case and court battles are chronicled in this convincing documentary.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: The Complete Series
Creator Aaron Sorkin crafted this seriocomic backstage serial, set behind the scenes of a fictional primetime sketch comedy show called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip; unfortunately, fans of the show were as fervent as they were few, and dwindling ratings led the way to cancellation after just one season. If you were among Studio 60‘s champions, make this 6-disc complete series collection a must.
Knowing is Half the Battle
Critics found little to redeem the overwrought clichés of this Biblical plague pic, which couldn’t even be saved by a starring performance by Oscar-winner Hilary Swank.
This teen ghost story about a dying kid solving his own murder while invisible to everyone around him proved too ludicrous, and yet too dull, for most critics to bear. Will you want to see it on DVD? (Get it? “See”? He’s invisible!)
Until next week, happy renting!
In what may be a cinematic first, director Eli Roth is using the trailer for a movie that doesn’t exist as the inspiration for his next project.
Roth’s fake trailer for Thanksgiving was one of the most talked-about bits of this year’s bloody Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double feature, Grindhouse — and as it turns out, Roth had so much fun teasing Thanksgiving that he decided to assemble an entire feature out of fake trailers. He announced the project, titled Trailer Trash, earlier this year. Now Roth tells Bloody-Disgusting:
Trailer Trash is not a horror film, it’s a comedy. It will be very R-rated and completely insane, and I’m producing it with Mike Fleiss (who I did both “Hostel” films with), and writing it with my friends Jeff Rendell (my “Thanksgiving” co-writer, who also played The Pilgrim), Noah Belson (my co-creator on “The Rotten Fruit,”) and my brother Gabe, who’s collaborated with me on everything I’ve ever done.
I want to make a film like “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” which I consider to be the greatest achievement in the history of cinema. The best part is I get to shoot some new THANKSGIVING scenes, as well as other holiday slasher films I’ve always dreamed of making but never would because they’d completely ruin me. I can’t wait to shoot!
Roth confirms that MGM will be releasing Trailer Trash on August 22.
Quentin Tarantino has a penchant for reviving under-recognized genres. Reservoir Dogs put gangster films into the public eye again; Jackie Brown updated blaxploitation and his last film Death Proof made its associations as clear as possible as part of a collection called Grindhouse.
Next on his revivalist roster is Scandinavian Soft-Core. For those of us less familiar with Stockholm Sex Farces, these were usually comedies about married or single (s)experimenters living in (usually) posh apartments in the sexy capital of Sweden or Denmark or some other European nation where it snows. Scandinavian Softcore commonly involved politics by featuring class mixing and Swedish Softcore films were rather famous for their displays of luxurious or high fashion home interiors.
Tarantino reaffirmed that this project would be in the style of his previous efforts while talking to The London Daily Telegraph: “I came up with the idea of like a cool sex movie that would take place in Stockholm, with a couple of Americans visiting a couple of Swedish friends…Kind of like the girls in Death Proof, just going out drinking, having a good time, hooking up.”
Tarantino’s known for pushing the envelope. “If I actually do an erotic movie, I’m going to have to reveal what I find sexy, what turns me on. And when it comes to sex in movies, it’s got to be kind of kinky, because that’s what’s cinematic, that’s what’s fun.”
Seems like the fans will be getting to know even more about QT than they ever could have expected from Kill Bill.
Source: London Daily Telegraph
Quentin Tarantino‘s Death Proof hits DVD shelves this week as a stand-alone from Grindhouse, his two-for-the-price-of-one collaboration with Robert Rodriguez. The tale of a group of young women terrorized by an aging stuntman in a killer automobile, Death Proof is an homage to 1970s road movies like Vanishing Point, as well as Tarantino’s twisted take on the slasher genre.
By itself, Death Proof fared pretty well with the critics, notching a 71 percent on the Tomatometer (check out RT’s take here); still, it’s a cut below Grindhouse‘s 82 percent. At a press conference at Cannes, the Death Proof gang, which included Tarantino, stars Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan, Tracie Thoms, and Zoë Bell, as well as executive producer Harvey Weinstein, talked about the differences between the stand-alone version and the Grindhouse cut, as well as Tarantino’s influences, his ability to write for female characters, and what’s going on with his World War II flick, Inglorious Bastards.
The cinema of the 1970s is something of an artistic inspiration for you. You’ve done blaxploitation, action movies, and martial arts. What was your inspiration this time around?
Quentin Tarantino: Two things. My starting off point was that I wanted to do a slasher film. I thought that fit in really well with the whole idea, but when I started thinking about the slasher film, that genre is so rigid. I thought if I did that, it’d be too self-reflective and [the audience] would be too outside of the experience. But I still kind of liked that genre, so I tried to do a completely different thing and use the structure of a slasher. People are asking me, “Is this a revenge film?” or “Is this a feminist film? Because the film empowers women and that’s not like the exploitation movies you took this from.” And I say, “That’s not 100 percent correct.” Actually, exploitation movies dealt with female empowerment in violent genres in ways that Hollywood never did. You just brought up blaxsploitaiton and there was no A-list, white, Hollywood equivalent of Pam Grier in the 1970s. She stood alone. There was [an equivalent] in Japan, there was in Hong Kong, and there was in the last act of every slasher film. There’s always a final girl that stands up and has the moral fortitude to beat the boogeyman. That’s always been the staple of that genre and here there isn’t one final girl, its three, and they all play it chipperly but it still follows the basic rules of the genre.
About the girls: I had no idea they talk that way when they were among themselves, and especially not in a man’s presence. How did you girls work your dialogue and what made you allow him in?
Tracie Thoms: He listens to women. I can’t figure out how he knows how we talk to each other when men aren’t around.
Rose McGowan: We’re not quite as precious as most people.
TT: We’re not and he just listens. He observes people. I read the script and thought, “I have this conversation a lot. How’d he know!?” And we rehearsed the conversation a lot.
Rosario Dawson: Quentin definitely prides himself at being the lone guy when his girlfriends go out.
TT: No one else could write Quentin’s dialogue.
RD: So you just work on it.
QT: Inglorious Bastards — I never said it was going to star Bruce Willis, Schwarzenegger and Stallone. I don’t know who’s going to be in it at this point. I have to write it first. It always starts with me and the characters. Whenever I cast an actor and try to write the character around it I always end up regretting it, so I always try to write the character and cast the actor to fit the character. Whenever I’ve written the character like in the case of Zoë [Bell] or Vanessa [Ferlito], where I know they’re who I want to play, I write it about them. Vanessa is Vanessa and Zoë is Zoë. It’s not like I thought, “I like Kurt Russell for Mike, he’d be very good.” No, I wrote Zoë. And if I couldn’t get Zoë, I’d have to throw the script away because I couldn’t do it. Same with Uma [Thurman], but she said she could do it [Kill Bill] so we did.
What about the “missing scene” in the American version?
QT: For the American version, I wanted this perverse pleasure: I enjoyed the idea of building up to this scene and not giving it to you. (Laughs) I looked forward to hearing the audience go, “Awww!” and curse my name in unison. But one of the biggest things I put [back in] was the black and white reel in the second half of the movie where Kurt’s character spies his next victims. I put that in. Most of the stuff I put back in was stuff I took out of Grindhouse for the simple fact that – we made three movies. When we made Death Proof and Planet Terror we made Grindhouse; they are three separate movies. Death Proof and Planet Terror were meant to stand alone, but when we put them together for Grindhouse we had to make them work together as one evening experience. In the case of Death Proof, in the opening scene, you meet all the girls and they all talk and everything and you have to remember in the opening scene, that’s just five minutes into the movie and we can take time and let the dialogue play out. In the case of Grindhouse, that’s not five minutes into the movie, that’s 95 minutes into the movie, and you don’t have the patience to let the jokes play. Those were the biggest cuts I made, especially shortening dialogue.
In the first cut when Stuntman Mike doesn’t get his lap dance, you kind of feel sorry for him. But in the second cut when he does get his lap dance, he kind of comes off as a sonofab—-. Did you intend any of that or was that an accidental result of the editing?
QT: That was intended. I really enjoy the fact that if you count the minutes [runtime] actually hasn’t changed that much but it has changed things 180 degrees emotionally because something as simple as showing that Stuntman Mike is stalking the girls outside the restaurant — you actually see the pictures of the girls and you know he’s the villain, you know he’s stalking them and you know he’s been there and you still don’t believe…that’s what I love. The way the tone changes is the greatest difference between the two movies (Death Proof alone and as part of Grindhouse] and I’m very proud of what I was able to do that while changing very little.
How do you feel about that, Kurt?
Kurt Russell: I haven’t seen this version, so I can’t tell you —
QT: When I knew it was going to play Cannes, I didn’t want to let the actors see it before they see it [here] so they’ve all been verboten from seeing it.
KR: I’m disappointed for any audience who walks into Grindhouse this April. There will be no movie made in the next five years for the Grindhouse audience like this one. They [audiences] will be able to see Death Proof or Planet Terror as separate films but my prediction is that 20 years from now you will want “the Grindhouse experience,” You won’t watch the films separately. You will see them separately now and hopefully you’ll enjoy them but in the end of the day, if you want to have the full effect, the full experience is something bizarre. In that regard, I like the short version, I like how it is and I’m interested to see the film in its long version [and compare] to see how it stands on its own.
QT: Most grindhouse movies have risen to the top as cult films in the last 10 years because they’ve had an audience on DVD. I feel that part of my job is to be like the symphony conductor and the audience is the orchestra. And my job is to get them to “ooh” and “ahh” and scream and clap when I want them to. That is part of the almost revival tent, religious show experience I was trying to create in the audience. It can be experienced in a lot of different ways but a bunch of strangers who have this thing in front of them that can get them to respond audibly, is the reason I worked on this and the goal I had in the editing room every single day.
Harvey Weinstein might not want to put the film out together —
Harvey Weinstein: I had a great time talking with the British press about this, who thought it was a sacrilege I release these films separately. When you see the new Planet Terror and the new Death Proof, you’re seeing Robert Rodriguez making a Robert Rodriguez movie and Quentin Tarantino making a Quentin Tarantino movie. It’s pure. The things these guys took out of their movie to save time and keep these movies together took out some of the essence of their films. Quentin talks about the scenes where Mike is introduced as a character; it’s a completely different scene in a completely different movie. It’s like cutting Kill Bill and Sin City to 70 minute versions — you’re taking some of the essence out of it. Yes, we had a fun time doing a Grindhouse for European audiences, and yes, they’ll have a great time seeing Grindhouse the way it was intended —
QT: I see what you’re saying, and I love them [the trailers] all, but it’d be wrong to try to put them in Death Proof or Planet Terror and Grindhouse isn’t going anywhere. You’ll be able to see it on DVD for the rest of your life. It would be cheapening them and prostituting them to some degree if I were to attach the trailers to the single films. It’s what makes Grindhouse special.
Your films have had such an influence. How do you define your style?
QT: I don’t define my style. I think that’s for you to do: Add the adjectives and tell me what I’ve done. I’m very proud of the influence I’ve had on filmmakers. I’m very proud when young filmmakers come up to me and say, “I know you’ve heard this a million times, but you’re the reason I’m in filmmaking.” I can’t hear that enough, and I know what I responded to before I was making movies. I actually thought to myself, “I want to make movies that when people like me see them, will make them want to make movies.” I didn’t know how I was going to do that or how I would be able to do that, I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to direct a film but that it’s worked out that way is one of the things I’m the proudest of. I wanted to find a style. As a young man watching movies, I knew what I responded to and if I saw a film I really liked: Jim McBride‘s Breathless, Jonathan Demme‘s Something Wild, John Carpenter‘s The Thing. Once I saw that, I couldn’t see another movie, it was like I couldn’t live another day until I saw that movie again. And usually, especially in my early 20s, I had to see it four times before I could say, “Okay, I can see another movie. Okay, I can move on with my life.” It was like sticking my finger in a light socket and getting all that electricity. I can only hope I can do that for other people.
RD: I think it’s safe to say you do. When I was 16, I was in this film called Kids and after that I told my dad, “I’d like to get into acting.” And the first film my dad handed me was Reservoir Dogs and I watched it seven times. If you wanna talk about his style… he [Tarantino] put his actors in a room in all the same clothes, and put it on his actors to get something going and it gets you really sucked in. I mean he doesn’t use tricks. Zoë Bell is really on the hood of that car. The movie magic he’s doing is not made of tricks; he’s making you feel something about his characters. [To Tarantino] So you did do what you set out to. I had to see your movie again and again and again. And when I had to be in your film I auditioned again and again and again. I was like, “Damn, there’s eight chicks in this movie, I gotta get at least one of them!”
What kind of expectations do you have for the audience? Do you think you have to be a die-hard grindhouse fan to enjoy the film?
QT: No, not at all. If you had to be a die-hard grindhouse fan to enjoy it then the movie is probably pretty limited. I feel that way about any kind of cinema. If you grew up with these movies and you have a sense of history with them then you’ll enjoy the film one way. But if you don’t know about those kinds of movies. I’m not saying my movie is better than those movies, but I am trying to transcend it. I do have a definite agenda. As much as I love those films, if you do love those films then hopefully everything will seem brand new to you and you’ll appreciate those films more. I have my own agenda that I’m trying to get across with the film and that agenda is different than the agenda of most drive-in movies.
Ah, Edinburgh, a city known for contrast, vibrancy, comedy, castles and, for a couple of weeks in August, a little congestion. You see, the Edinburgh International Film Festival competes with the infamous Fringe comedy festival, as well as half a dozen other festivals, and no-doubt a couple of weddings and a stag do. Hotel rooms are as scarce as A-listers from the film and comedy world are abundant and restaurants are practicing their, “I’m sorry sir, you should have booked in February,” routine.
The festival has, in the past, played home to the world premiere of Serenity and the European first-show for Clerks II. Its programme is open to the public, and provides a wide variety of home-grown, European, American and international cinema. This festival sees two of the freshest movies of the year from the US play to UK audiences for the first time – Knocked Up and Ratatouille and they’re joined by the indie likes of Hallam Foe and French warbler Les Chansons d’Amour.
In short, there’s something for everyone of every age, gender and nationality, and it’s probably one of the most relaxed and, in turn, exciting festivals on the calendar. It’s also a good place to start or join in that ever-exciting early awards buzz, and with that in mind we thought it’d be a good idea to let you know what we and the critics think of the films on display so you can add them to your wish-list.
So without further ado we present, in no particular order, our fifteen favourites of the festival. We’ve gathered quotes from the Tomatometer and our critic friends too to spotlight the cream of the cinematic crop as chosen by our international pool of critics and ourselves respectively.
THE BEST OF BRITISH
Five films that represent the best the UK has to offer at the Edinburgh Film Festival – whether produced in the UK, directed by British talent or starring British actors.
You may remember director David Mackenzie‘s previous films, Young Adam and Asylum, with respective Tomatometers favouring fresh and rotten. In the eyes of the critics we’ve spoken to, and this dashing RT-UK editor, Hallam Foe looks set to do away with any doubts and land firmly as one of the year’s freshest.
Being the tale of a rather strange teenager, the titular Hallam, who escapes a devilish stepmother for the lofty heights of Edinburgh and falls in love with a woman who’s the spitting image of his mother, the oedipal tale is at turns hilarious and heart-rending. As is Mackenzie’s wont, it’s about real people with unique lives and as a coming-of-age drama there is none finer. Its depiction of this festival’s host city, Edinburgh, isn’t troubled by big-screen sheen – this is the real Edinburgh, and it’s beautiful.
Bell and Myles are outstanding, and Claire Forlani reaches a level of wicked sadism that only Claire Forlani could accomplish and still have you falling madly in love with her. It’s quirky, but not so quirky that it becomes ridiculous, and it’s probably one of the finest films you’ll see this year.
We first experienced a sprinkle of Stardust courtesy of director Matthew Vaughn‘s invitation to the edit suite and while we loved what we saw we were curious to see if the film could maintain the pitch of the footage for its entire runtime. Having taken two trips to see the unfinished version, we’d say we’re fairly enthusiastic about the results.
Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman (to settle the argument before it starts, it began life as an illustrated novel before being published without the illustrations), Stardust follows young Tristan Thorn (newcomer Charlie Cox) as he journeys across “the wall” into a magical land in quest of a falling star to retrieve for the beautiful Victoria (Sienna Miller) in exchange for her hand in marriage. When he discovers the star is actually a young woman (Claire Danes), they begin a quest back home and, along the way, are pursued by a handsome prince (Mark Strong), a wicked witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) and a devilish pirate (Robert De Niro), all of whom have their own designs on the star.
And we have a Princess Bride fan in the office who’s convinced he’s found a movie to rival his classic. You can start queuing now.
“The antic spirit of The Princess Bride looms large over Stardust, creatively adapted from Neil Gaiman’s much more sober 1998 graphic novel. That’s probably a good call.”
– Joshua Rothkopf, TIME OUT NEW YORK
On paper WAZ (the A is actually a Delta symbol so it’s pronounced Was or W-Delta-Z depending on the mood you’re in) looks like every other torture porn movie cluttering cinemas at the moment. But to lump it in with Saw and Hostel would be to do it a disservice, because this debut feature from director Tom Shankland is much more inventive.
Detective Eddie Argo and his new partner, Helen Westcott, begin investigating a series of grisly murders with one thing in common; a mathematical equation has been carved into each of the victims. When they learn that the equation – the WAZ of the title is a part of it – is designed to test altruism, and that the victims are being offed in pairs, forced to kill each other to “save” themselves, the case turns even nastier, and as Westcott gets to know her new precinct she’s seeing things that don’t add up in the police department’s handling of previous cases.
Set in New York but filmed, predominantly, in Belfast, with a cast that includes a Swede, an Australian and a Brit, the accents are a touch on the unpredictable side, but stirring performances from Stellan Skarsgard, Melissa George, Ashley Walters and Selma Blair make you forget those troubles, and the film creates a visually arresting universe and ramping tension that keep you glued to the screen.
Lest you think we have a thing for Ashley Walters, it’s worth pointing out that Sugarhouse and WAZ mark genuinely impressive turns by the young actor following his stunning breakthrough in Bullet Boy. We’d make some sort of So Solid Career pun but that’d be annoying.
Sugarhouse, another debut film this time from director Gary Love, is a smarter kind of Brit gangster flick. Walters is crackhead D who is looking to sell a gun to Steven Mackintosh’s city worker. D’s motives are money, his client’s are revenge. But there’s a third in the form of Andy Serkis as this year’s most terrifying baddie, Hoodwink. The gun’s his and he’s damn sure not going to let D sell it on.
Based on a play, Sugarhouse is decidedly intimate, most of the action collected around D’s crack den, and its sense of realism – lacking in the works of Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn – is refreshing. It’s not about effing and blinding, it’s about the seedier side of life.
Anton Corbijn‘s Control captivated audiences upon its Cannes debut earlier this year, and with good reason; the biopic of Joy Division’s late lead singer, Ian Curtis, delivers a somber but beautiful glimpse into the life of the tortured musician that should enrich fans of the Manchester band and move the uninitiated in comparable measure.
Shot in gorgeously stark black and white monochrome, Control follows Curtis (Sam Riley), a sensitive working-class daydreamer in 1970s England, as he falls into the role of lead singer for a local band. That band, of course, soon becomes post-punk legend Joy Division; the lads sign a record deal, go on tour, and get big. But life gets in the way of fame for Curtis, and the demands of his budding fame – a young wife (Samantha Morton) and child, and a new girlfriend (Alexandra Maria Lara) on the side – paired with recurring epileptic seizures that render him helpless sometimes mid-concert, become too much for him to juggle.
With its pulsating score (all songs performed, and well, by the actors themselves) and a transcendent central performance by Curtis doppelganger Riley, Control paints a sensitive portrait of a tragic artist whose legacy lived on for decades after his untimely death at the age of 23.
THE BEST OF THE US
We cross the Atlantic (figuratively) to take a look at the five top films playing in Edinburgh from the US of A.
Theory: There’s nothing more exciting than listening to the former astronauts for the Apollo missions tell their tales of visiting the lunar surface. Except perhaps being one of them. Yes, David Sington‘s In the Shadow of the Moon is a little heavy on the America-the-Great, but it’s also one of the best documentaries of the year; a fascinating portrait of men so brave that most regular Joes couldn’t possible comprehend their journey.
And, to its credit, it allows them to get on with it – there’s no narrator – we’re just shown fascinating footage from the moon’s surface, from the launch pad, from the shuttle, and in between these men tell us their story.
For the real space-junkies, there’s doubtless little in here to learn, but for the rest of us the film is full of fascinating factoids and, like the best movies set in space – fictional or not – it’ll leave you feeling smaller than the smallest needle in the biggest haystack.
Films about rats, it seems, don’t tend to go down well with the squeamish movie-going public. That’s just about the only way to explain the poorer-than-expected box office returns for the gem that is Ratatouille. Of course, we’re not talking bomb here – it’s currently sitting at around $300m so they won’t be remortgaging – but it’s a surprise considering it’s one of Pixar’s finest movies in a crop of fine movies.
The project, about a gastronomic rat named Remy who finds himself the sous-sous-chef at a posh restaurant, has a troubled history; original director Jan Pinkava was replaced by Brad Bird with barely a year of the seven-year development time left on the clock. Pinkava left Pixar and has “no comment” on the whole affair, but given last year’s troubled Cars the tabloid tales have knocked a little of the sheen from Pixar.
Fortunately the film – credit to Bird and Pinkava – is astonishing and more than settles any doubts about the affair affecting the movie. As is traditional with Pixar, the actors are chosen because they’re right for their characters and the film’s visuals shame every other CG movie released this year. Bring on Wall-E.
“A film as rich as a sauce béarnaise, as refreshing as a raspberry sorbet, and a lot less predictable than the damn food metaphors and adjectives all us critics will churn out to describe it. OK, one more and then I’ll be done: it’s yummy.”
– David Ansen, NEWSWEEK
Caught up in this year’s Grindhouse scandal – Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez made two back-to-back flicks to be put out as one and then no-one in America went to see them – Death Proof is the Weinstein Company’s first attempt at recouping some of the expense internationally. It’s Tarantino’s half, which means lots of talking, lots of references to classic pop-culture, and plenty of hot women with well-manicured feet.
The film follows Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) as he crosses country to do damage to a bevy of beauties in his “death proof” car – he can crash it at any speed and live to tell the tale. So we first meet Jungle Julia (Sydney Poitier) and her posse (Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd and, notsomuch, Rose McGowan) before the film shifts state and introduces us to stuntgirls Tracie Thoms and Zoe Bell (who was Uma’s stunt-double on Kill Bill and their friends Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rosario Dawson.
But it’s not so much about the story or the characters as it is about the Tarantino dialogue, the homages to seventies B-movies and the fake film grain added to make it look like the print has been kicked around a bit. One segment is even in black-and-white suggesting it’s not even a complete print and the missing reel has been substituted with one from a black-and-white version of the film.
Death Proof, the standalone, replaces a title card pointing to a missing reel in the Grindhouse version with the full version, a seedy lap dance from Ferlito. And it’s steamy-hot but, of course, all the good frames have been ripped out – presumably stolen by projectionists as the print gathered dust. It’s all a very heart-warming reference to classic B cinema.
As a standalone, Death Proof is far more satisfying than it is as part of Grindhouse, though a scene with Michael Parks, while far too good to cut out, doesn’t working without the audience having seen Planet Terror. The irony is that, because Planet Terror builds to a crescendo ending and is followed by a film that takes a while to get going, Death Proof should have been the first part of Grindhouse and Planet Terror should have been the first to be released independently. Still, forgive the Weinstein mistakes and be sure you see Death Proof, even if you’re one of the lucky ones to have already seen Grindhouse.
“A beautiful piece of Americana. Stupid, and brilliant.”
– Alistair McKay, SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY
There’s a reason this comedy – usually a tough genre with the critics – is currently sitting in the nineties on the Tomatometer; it’s genuinely that good. From The 40-Year-Old Virgin helmer Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen stars as a man whose one-night-stand turns into a twenty-year commitment when his beau, Katherine Heigl, turns up pregnant. Oops.
Perhaps the buzziest film of the year – an R-rated trailer first circulated virally ages ago – it’s a laugh-a-minute romp through hysterically inappropriate gags with Rogen chewing the scenery at every opportunity, and fantastic supporting performances from Paul Rudd and Alan Tudyk.
Keep an eye out for Jonah Hill – you’re about to hear his name a lot when Superbad hits cinemas – and be sure to bring the girlfriend. Knocked Up‘s real success is that it appeals to every demographic, with just the right mix of cheap laughs and heartfelt drama that both sexes will fall in love with it, and it’s loveable “hero”.
Gus van Sant is fascinated with adolescence, and his fascination has thrown out some deeply meditative films in the last few years. From his Cannes triumph Elephant, through Last Days and now Paranoid Park, van Sant’s stoic trilogy is a labour of love that seems to shun convention at every turn.
While Last Days, ostensibly a biopic of the final hours of Kurt Cobain, and Elephant, about high-school serial killers, have courted controversy, Paranoid Park plays things decidedly safer, adapting Blake Nelson’s novel about a skater boy who accidentally kills a security guard while venturing out-of-bounds on Portland’s rail network.
And because it’s safer it’s also probably his most accessible of the three – Elephant and Last Days did little until their powerful endings while Paranoid Park first introduces us to Alex (played by newcomer Gave Nevins) before exploring how the accident affects his life.
The film looks beautiful and is rather unconventionally shot in the square 4:3 aspect ratio, while 8mm cutaways punctuate the film gracefully. It’s a testament to van Sant’s ability that he can say so much by doing so little; you could collect the film’s dialogue on a postage stamp.
“Bears some similarities with Elephant. A similarly photogenic teen milieu is shot with fluid, graceful camerawork; a non-linear structure slots together like a puzzle to reveal the panicked mindset of a boy under agreat deal of stress.”
– Wendy Ide, THE TIMES
THE BEST OF THE REST
Of course, Edinburgh is about more than British and American movies – here we take a look at some top titles from the rest of the world, as well as a few British and American flicks that we couldn’t quite squeeze into the first two categories.
Timur Bekmambetov‘s follow-up to his masterful Night Watch – a film which came out of left field from Russia and gave Hollywood a run for its money – is possibly even less accessible than its predecessor. Day Watch cuts straight into the universe, grabbing its audience by the lapels and forcing us to remind ourselves of the story so far.
It’s also decidedly more heartfelt than Night Watch; Khabensky’s Anton wrestling with a son who’s deserted him for the Day Watch and his responsibilities to his unit. The line Anton walks is blurrier than anything to come out of the big American studios, and it’s refreshing to see a little ambiguity.
“The filmmakers destroy Moscow with the same glee that Godzilla has in stomping Tokyo. Even though Day Watch is probably a good 20 minutes too long, it’s easy to forgive its excesses because Bekmambetov just seems to be having so much fun.”
– Beth Accomando, KPBS.ORG
When A Mighty Heart was first announced the reaction seemed to be shock – Angelina Jolie as a black woman? But it’s the story here that has the power, and her fine performance ensures nothing else matters.
Still, it’s an odd project to see Michael Winterbottom direct. Considering he’s recently crafted films as varied as Road to Guantanamo, A Cock and Bull Story and, erm, 9 Songs we should be long past the point of surprise when it comes to the projects he works on, and yet who could have foreseen him direct Angelina Jolie in a film produced by Brad Pitt?
Nevertheless, it wowed critics in Cannes and sent doubters – both from camps Jolie-isn’t-black and Winterbottom-doesn’t-do-Jolie – running. It’s a Winterbottom film through-and-through and the smart turns of the supporting cast – including Dan Futterman and Irfan Khan – make an impressive film even more impressive.
Allan Moyle‘s Weirdsville imagines a scenario that defines the term, “bad day.” When Royce and Dexter find the latter’s dead girlfriend following an overdose, it’s a simple trip to a seedy basement to bury the evidence. Only a group of satan-worshipping ne’er-do-wells happen to be doing their own ill deeds at the same time. And when the girlfriend can’t stay dead it seems like nothing is going to go their way.
What follows is nothing short of riotous as the pair of hapless losers beg, steal and borrow their way to morning. Moyle, whose last big hit was 1995’s Empire Records serves up a devilishly intriguing black comedy that keeps you on tenterhooks ’til the end. Weirdsville may well be another cult classic in the making.
Wes Bentley and Scott Speedman are brilliant as Royce and Dexter, while support from some cultists, a dead girlfriend, a bunch of drug dealers and a midget security guard keep them on their toes throughout.
It’s rather fitting that actress Julie Delpy’s feature film debut would be Two Days in Paris. You can imagine the financiers meetings as she explained that it was about a couple, a French girl and an American boy, and their brief stay in the City of Love. The dollar signs in their eyes are as clear as day.
And it’s with a brilliantly witty sense of irony that we behold the end result. If Before Sunset is one of the most romantic movies ever set in the French capital, its female lead has gone on to deliver one of the most unromantic. The culture clash is the source of much comedy between Delpy and the brilliantly on-form Adam Goldberg, but if Sunset is about how communication can reignite a relationship, Days is about how misreading it can be disastrous.
It’s not very often a journalist will imply that watching a film is like witnessing a car crash powerless to do anything and mean that as a compliment, but in this case it’s definitely fitting. Two Days in Paris marks Delpy as a director to watch and its sharp wit will leave it resonating with anyone who’s ever found even the slightest fault in their partner.
“[Delpy has] created two original, quirky characters so obsessed with their differences that Paris is almost a distraction. I don’t think I heard a single accordion in the whole film.”
– Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
Jeffrey Blitz first examined kids under the stress of hormones and intellectual competition in documentary form with Spellbound. With Rocket Science he this time spins a fictional yarn, but it nevertheless still manages to capture the real emotional minefield that is adolescence.
Hal Heffner’s stutter is incurable by any therapist-recommended treatment, but when he meets Ginny Ryerson and she introduces him to the world of high school debating, he finds a project to immerse himself in; one that, he’s sure, will rid him of his impediment. But when Ginny starts playing truant from their meetings and the stress of his parents’ divorce begins to take its toll he wanders whether getting even is preferable to getting mad. Enlisting the help of former debating champion Ben Wekselbaum, he becomes determined to beat his former tutor at her own game.
Reece Thompson’s nuanced performance as Hal betrays a talent beyond his age and Anna Kendrick’s Ginny is as beguiling as she is infuriating. It’s these two key performances that cement the emotional core of a film that succeeds through subtlety without ever having to hold back from its comedy. It’s certainly not the first quirky American indie to release, and its quirk threatens to alienate audiences who believe they’re tired of that sort of thing. Rocket Science matches its quirk with real emotional truth and that’s enough to separate it from the herd.
When he shot his short trailer Thanksgiving
Eli Roth cast a
lot of his regulars, including himself. Now, if he makes a feature length
version of it, he’ll have to stick with the casting, including
who appears in the trailer version.
"If we make Thanksgiving the movie, I’m Judy with Tucker, Eli playing Tucker,"
While the fake trailer includes many outrageous deaths, like landing on a knife
protruding from a trampoline, Ladd made it through her segment. Only Roth’s
character gets killed. She thinks she’s earned the right to live through the end
credits in the full length film.
"I don’t die yet in the trailer. I have not dying to look forward to. I’ve died
so many times in movies, if I were a cat, I think I’d have four lives left."
The Robert Rodriguez remake of Barbarella won’t be out for awhile, but its starring role is perfect for all kinds of nonsensical speculation, which is why we’ve been feeding you rumors about who might be stepping into Jane Fonda‘s old go-go boots on a semi-regular basis. First it was Kate Beckinsale (which the actress was quick to deny). Then it was Halle Berry. But if today’s rumor is on point, Rodriguez is actually looking closer to home to fill the role.
According to a report at JoBlo, our new Barbarella will be none other than Grindhouse star Rose McGowan. Given that McGowan is Rodriguez’ girlfriend, and has demonstrated the prerequisite va-va-voomishness in previous projects, her attachment to the project would make a certain amount of sense; in fact, as JoBlo points out, plenty of people have suggested this very thing. Now, according to the site’s source, Rodriguez is getting ready to begin production — and has already shot some test footage with McGowan.
Even if said footage has actually been shot, it doesn’t mean McGowan has been given the part. But hey, it doesn’t mean she hasn’t, either.