Words: Rob DeStefano
October, an optimistic improvement of this year’s September.
Time-tested, critic-approved: When David Fincher makes a movie, you see it. His adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestseller should fit snugly in his world of dark fiction. As entertaining and expansive as some of his projects can be, his fascination with simple human nature and how it drives or destroys relationships has remained the subject of his lens. Coming off the heels of The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl makes complete sense. The concern is the story’s non-linear and alternating narration, which does not make for an easy conversion to the big screen. Luckily with Flynn providing the screenplay, we shouldn’t see the novel’s unflinching character study or endless tension sacrificed.
Learn more about Amy Elliott Dunne.
I’m admittedly terrified of this pick. Winner of Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize and festival favorite, Whiplash pits eager jazz drummer (Miles Teller) against explosively violent, perfectionist instructor (J.K. Simmons). The buzz around this project has been deafening, and with Teller’s breakout performance in last year’s The Spectacular Now, gripping is sure to be an understatement.
Watch its unsettling trailer here.
(This film has a limited release)
Inarritu can be hit or miss (21 Grams vs Babel), but his latest, now offering a sense of humor, looks so insane and particularly envisioned that we cannot look away. Michael Keaton has been without a memorable performance in years, and now joined with a knock-out cast, its expected that this saga of a washed-up actor trying to reclaim his stardom should come with interesting connotations, specifically in our time of celebrity gazing and superhero exploitation. And no, unfortunately this is not the same character as the one below.
Watch the real Birdman‘s preview here.
(This film has a limited release)
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Originally set for an October release, the internet has provided some conflicting information (a tentative Winter 2015 push-back), so we’ve made two picks for this weekend. Kingsman: The Secret Service appears to be another slick action piece from director Matthew Vaughn (X-men: First Class, Layer Cake), who has payed close attention to character among his barrage of stunts and CGI (let’s just ignore Kick Ass as being one of his). His latest draws from comic books once again, now substituting Xavier’s mansion for another secret society of assassin trained and seemingly punkish youngsters, recruited by Colin Firth.
Join the Kingsman.
White Bird in a Blizzard
He’s not a director for the masses, but there’s no denying that Gregg Araki (The Doom Generation) creates one of the most unique atmospheres in modern cinema. Working with his most recognizable cast to date (Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Thomas Jane, Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidibe) and seemingly largest budget, the result should be, at the least, interesting. It is based off of the novel of the same name and is a coming-of-age style thriller, which sounds exactly like what Araki strives for.
Here’s its haunting trailer.
We can’t deny that the above picture is pretty funny. But all irony aside, we are looking forward to Jake Gyllenhaal’s newest outing. If he can nail this deranged performance, a media hungry sociopath who will stop at nothing to manipulate and create the most appetizing news headline, the film should just about form around him.
A glimpse at this LA-infused thriller.
Words: Rob DeStefano
I join the majority when I say that I am, now more than ever, skeptical of this DC comics amalgam, helmed by the notorious Zack Snyder. If Man of Steel wasn’t enough to deter you from ever looking at a red cape again, the unlikely Ben Affleck addition was sure to raise skepticism for its sequel. These warnings were followed by a flurry of bizarre posters, the superheroes standing in the middle of – I still don’t know, various volcanoes? Man of Steel was a tonal disaster, the camera work suggesting a gritty and grounded story, the story suggesting the opposite of something grounded. The latest Batmobile phtograph confirms that this movie will bring us only farther away from Nolan’s trilogy. The proportions on this vehicle are quite telling: tiny, impractical headlights sized against an obstructive turreted Gatling gun. If the one hour city desecration scene from the first installment didn’t scream “Aggressive directing,” this new weapon fixture should fire the message right into our skulls. On discussing this highly “anticipated” superhero merge, Snyder might have stated, “I’m going to make it Bat Shit Crazy! (…Bat…Get one of the screenwriters over here!)” Meanwhile, Nolan is off directing something of substance, hoping, “Gee, I hope no one uses Bat Shit Crazy in front of Zack.” And the people at craft services are starting to realize that the production designer can’t stop watching Dante’s Peak. That’s all for now.
Words: Rob DeStefano
Last year’s release of You’re Next was an enormous treat for genre fans. It knocked off a few of the horror niches, serving up home invasion, slasher, and revenge, ultimately proving to be a clever subversion. Director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett continue their teamwork with The Guest, and by the tagline alone – “Be Careful Who You Let In” – it doesn’t seem to wander too far from their previous film. The trailer suggests a vengeful justice to bullying and lots of inexplicable machine gun rounds. With a noticeably larger budget, I’m curious to see what Wingard dishes out this time around. From the preview alone, I think it’s safe to say that he’s retained his appreciation toward violence, wit, and style.
Opens: September 17, 2014
Words: Rob DeStefano
Choose your streaming wisely, check out our pick of the week.
Child stars. They make you want to break out in song, “I’m writing a letter to daddy!” Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? showcases two former actresses who have fallen victim to the Hollywood fame of their younger years, leaving them aged and at the mercy of unattainable dreams and disillusioned talent. Aside from reoccurring roles on “Dark Shadows” and “Roseanne,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt became known at age fourteen during the extended run of TV’s “3rd Rock from the Sun.” He then went on to gain leading man status in films like Brick, 50/50, and Looper. Now at thirty-three and with a diversified collection of films under his belt, he attempts to juggle the tasks of starring in, writing, and directing his first feature. The inevitable question springs to mind before starting Don Jon: does he have the talent to execute each of these jobs? Or will he fall victim to a generalized case of nepotism and be destined to echo Baby Jane Hudson’s famous diddy? Maybe the young director deviously references this very concern when his eponymous character sits in a movie theater and states in voice-over, “I don’t understand movies.” Luckily for us, this is not the case.
The pornographic fairytale revolves around Jon (Gordon-Levitt), a bar tending Jersey boy who repetitively shows us what makes him tick: his body, his pad, his ride, his family, his church, his boys, his girls, but most importantly, his porn. While doing his nightly prowl, Jon’s steady grip on life is disrupted when he encounters Barbara (Johansson), whom he believes to be a “perfect ten.”
Words: Rob DeStefano
Summer blockbuster season is over, but it’s still too warm for Oscar releases, so what the hell is worth seeing in theaters right now? Here’s our weekend guide to prevent you from aimlessly scrolling through Netflix – it is about time they expand their selection.
323 Avenue of the Americas, New York 10014
Pick: Starred Up
Don’t let the director David Mackenzie’s previous filmography turn you off (I’m looking at you Spread, starring Ashton Kutcher). Starred Up is an entirely captivating prison thriller, tracking the incarceration of 19-year-old Eric Love (Jack O’Connell) by means of his acquaintanceship with a ruthless officer, a peace-pushing therapist Oliver (Rupert Friend), and his estranged, fellow inmate father Neville Love (Ben Mendelsohn). O’Connell delivers an explosively aggressive and troubled performance – he’s absolutely perfect in the role. The film knows exactly how to add just the right amount of stylish flare without ever bogging down its core.
Why the big screen treatment? An intense ride that is best experienced in a theater’s setting. Watch its trailer.
Showtimes: Saturday & Sunday September 6/7: 12:35pm, 3:30, 9:55
Landmark Sunshine Cinema
143 E Houston St, New York 10002
It’s one of those high concept ideas: there’s this lead singer of an avant garde group who wears a paper mache head, and never takes it off. Frank is loosely based on the story of maniac musician Christopher Sievey aka Frank Sidebottom, here portrayed through pantomime by the always exciting Michael Fassbender. The film retains a vivacious spirit while following Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), a new edition to Frank’s experimental band, as he attempts to learn the secret ingredient behind great art. The answer, however, deflects this movie toward heavy and complex truths.
Why the big screen treatment? Fassbender sings… Watch its trailer.
Showtimes: Saturday & Sunday September 6/7: 12:30pm, 2:45, 5:00, 7:20, 9:35
City Cinemas Village East
181-189 Second Ave, New York 10003
Looking for bonkers, unapologetic action? Chris Evans loses the red, white, and blue and stars in Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho’s first English language film. Set in a post-apocalyptic world that has entered a perpetual ice age, the sole survivors circle around the earth on an all but magical train. Crazy – yes. Those in the back of Noah’s Arc-On-Wheels are oppressed by their wealthy counterparts, who reside in the bow, so naturally, a rebellion begins for social mobility. As the characters move from car to car, Bong Joon-ho reveals elaborate new sets and more reasons for us to root and care for his subjects.
Why the big screen treatment? Because carefully realized aesthetics have never been enhanced by a TV. Watch its trailer.
Showtimes: Saturday & Sunday September 6/7: 8:00pm and 10:45
136 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249
If you haven’t caught up with Richard Linklater’s masterwork about growing up and growing old, then there’s no better theater to sit back, scribble out a food and drink order, and absorb this nearly three hour feat. This is the notorious film shot over the course of twelve years, following yearly segments of Mason’s (Ellar Coltrane) life, from age five to eighteen, though the story is as much his family members’ as it is his. The result is a life affirming experience – one that is unlike anything to hit theaters in recent memory.
Why the big screen treatment? Face it, you’re not going to sit still for three hours in your own home. This movie deserves the undivided attention. Watch its trailer.
Showtimes: Saturday & Sunday September 6/7: 11:05am, 2:15pm, 5:35, 9:00
Cinema Village 12th Street
22 E 12 St, New York 10003
The latest by Pawel Pawlikowski has been receiving whispered praise for months now. Days before she is scheduled to take her vows, Ida is reunited with her distant Aunt, who she shares nothing in common with, except for a past of unanswered questions. The film is set in a Wintry 1960s Poland, and the photography is a gorgeously stark black and white. Ida leans toward a brief runtime (82 minutes), but its emotional quandary resonates long after.
Why the big screen treatment? The modern cinematography is reminiscent of The White Ribbon i.e. go big screen. Watch its trailer.
Showtimes: Saturday & Sunday September 6/7: 1:15pm, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15, 9:15
Angelika Film Center
18 W Houston St, New York 10012
Pick: The One I Love
It’s a two character film about a last ditch effort to save a marriage. Cue the science-fiction and give this indie drama a little spin. Check out our full thoughts on The One I Love here.
Why the big screen treatment? Because you’ve watched Peggy Olsen on your own TV for seven years now. Watch its trailer.
Seeing Double This Year?
Minor spoilers ahead.
In March of last year, a terrorist attack on the White House trapped the President and his particularly heroic guard, resulting in a fight for survival: the fate of the great nation resting on the broad shoulders of these two men. Four months later, June of 2013, a terrorist attack on the White House trapped the President and his particularly courageous guard, resulting in a fight for survival: the fate of the great nation resting on the sturdy shoulders of these two men. This year-in-film has not yet echoed additional iterations of Olympus Has Fallen or White House Down, but trends in story or thematic investigation are not uncommon in the medium. While those two action films serve as loud, unmissable examples, the filmmakers of 2014 have decided to expertly spiral into identity crisis, some of which express a clear proclivity for doppelgangers.
Confronting this notion since his earliest work, Polanski’s adaptation of Venus in Fur is one continuous and devilish charade between opposing sexes, and by the film’s end, it’s hard to differentiate the two, despite their most pronounced variances. The Jake Gyllenhaal platform, Enemy, and Richard Ayoade’s steampunkish The Double, both allow their central figures to square off against, themselves. And on a larger scale, this summer’s disciplined blockbuster, X-Men: Days of Future Past, addressed this self-inspection by way of time travel: what would you tell your younger self if you came face to face? Despite dealing with similar agendas, and being released in a near successive fashion, all of these films retained genuine singularity, both in their narratives – the vessels for the inner skirmishes – and in their visual execution. Slightly expecting The One I Love to flirt with sameness or prove exhaustive, my assumptions were dismantled.
Much of the film relies on the sensibility of its two leads, Ethan, played by one of the film’s producers Mark Duplass, and his wife Sophie, cast as the superb Elizabeth Moss. I am surprised at the level of ambiguity stapled to the marketing campaign. Its trailer is no different than the “on-the-next-episode-of-Mad Men” segment, where the only images we see are closing doors juxtaposed with an imperceptible montage of facial expressions. Even the IMDB summary remains vague, referring to the conflict as “an unusual dilemma.” Generally speaking, aside from a few third act deviations, the “twist” of this movie that has been enshrouded in mystery, is in fact, simply, its plot.