Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Imitation Game

Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game is yet another dull tortured genius biopic in a very long line of dull tortured genius biopics. Before I get into my analysis of these types of films, I want to be clear about something from the onset. The Imitation Game is not an inherently bad film. In telling the story of how famed mathematician Alan Turing cracked the Nazi’s unbreakable Enigma code, thereby helping the Allies win World War II, Tyldum has made a perfectly average film. Tyldum, writer Graham Moore, and star Benedict Cumberbatch, spend 114 minutes capturing the full and tortured life of Turing, resulting in a safe movie that will surely tap directly into the hearts of many Oscar voters.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

the Directors: Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols was beyond spectacle. Beyond visual effects and Hollywood glitz, beyond cheap laughs and marketability. First and foremost, Mike Nichols’ films were about story. Strength of material. The power of the word. Many of his films were based on other works – best-selling books, Pulitzer-prize winning plays, notable foreign films. Mike Nichols was a guy who believed in the written word, and finding the best possible actor to say those words. All of his best films are dominated by long scenes of people sitting around and talking. Arguing about love, life, sex, death. Infidelity was a major theme throughout his work, as was self-importance (or a lack thereof). He was one of the finest filmmakers of his era, and although his recent passing was met with shock and sadness, his best work will remain forever iconic.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Top 10 Films Shot by Their Directors

There’s something I inherently respect about a director who elects to shoot their own films. While some might argue that it’s too much work for a director to also act as a cinematographer, I appreciate that it literally gets the filmmaker closer to the performers. Though, admittedly, while the concept of directors as DPs doesn’t always work out well, below are a handful of examples of filmmakers proving their proficiency of manning the camera.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

In Character: Juliette Lewis

Few people kill it as quickly and consistently as Juliette Lewis did in the ‘90s. After being nominated for an Oscar for one of her first major roles, Lewis went on to own the ‘90s with a diverse selection of characters – from innocent school girls to white trash lovers, abused homicidal maniacs to heroic vampire killers. Although we haven’t seen as much of Lewis in recent years, I’m always pleased when she pops up in a film and steals a few scenes (such as in last year’s August: Osage County). Here’s a look back at one of the most fearless actresses of the past few decades.

Monday, November 17, 2014


“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than Good Job.”
These are words of discouragement from Terence Fletcher – renowned conductor, accomplished musician, teacher from Hell. By the time Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) utters this phrase in the thrilling new film, Whiplash, we have a full understanding of who he is: a maniacal tyrant who pushes his students at the Juilliard-like Shaffer Conservatory to the brink of emotional collapse. The harder, longer and louder he berates his pupils, the easier it will be to weed them out. If they manage to survive his cruel tutelage, then Fletcher knows he will have crafted a truly great musician.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Force Majeure

The new Swedish film, Force Majeure, concerns itself with a fascinating concept known as fight or flight. That is to say, how do people respond to catastrophe? A question we love to debate over, but one that we never really know the answer to until we’re thrown into such a situation. We’re all guilty of sitting in the comfort of our air conditioned homes and yelling at the television when we see movie characters respond to situations in a way we don’t approve of. We call Corporal Upham a coward as he lets Private Mellish be stabbed to death in Saving Private Ryan, we argue that we could’ve formulated a better plan while the passengers of United 93 storm the cockpit. And on and on. We think we know, but do we really, truly know how we’d react when faced with certain death?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In Character: Kevin Dunn

Kevin Dunn is one of the most prominent Oh yeah that guy actors currently in the game. For the past few years, Dunn has done very well for himself on various HBO shows, putting in great work on some of the network’s most accomplished programs. But truth is, this guy has been stealing scenes from the best of them for nearly 30 years. Here’s a glimpse into the career of one of our best, most prolific working character actors.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar opens in an undisclosed place at an undisclosed time in the future. And though the setting is opaque, the film makes it immediately clear that life on Earth is running out. Cities are unseen, populations are low, the military is nonexistent – all that remains is the need for steady farming, and the will to combat the dust that blankets every feasible area. The dust is so thick on Earth that a thin layer of it can be seen on most every surface. On the kitchen table, in the principal’s office, in the car, on the pillows – it’s everywhere. And by now, it’s killed every crop except corn, which we soon learn is too in short supply. Corn is how we’re introduced to Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a farmer and single father of two who gave up his career as an engineer, to literally help cultivate the Earth.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Top 10 Unsung Roles in Christopher Nolan Films

Christopher Nolan doesn’t get enough credit for his casting. Sure, most of his movies are headlined by very popular and very talented stars, but if you dig deeper, you see that his films are almost always fully cast to perfection. As I sit mere hours away from watching Nolan’s new film, Interstellar (in 70mm!), I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at the supporting players who helped make his films so good.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Top 24 Things I Love About Halloween (that no one talks about)

John Carpenter’s Halloween is a horror classic, quite nearly my favorite film ever produced for the genre. Interestingly enough, upon revisiting it this past weekend, I found myself most taken with its modesty. For being such a groundbreaking film, it really went about achieving its terrors in a rather subtle way. I hope you enjoy my thoughts Halloween, do be sure to share your favorite aspects of the film as well.