Archive for June, 2012

Indie Roundup: ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ director Benh Zeitlin

This has been one hell of a year for Benh Zeitlin, director of “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

The first-time director finished his movie a mere two days before its Sundance premiere, where it was immediately met with rhapsodic reviews. Critics hailed it as one of the most audacious movies to play at the festival in years. It went on to win the fest’s top prize, and then a few months later it won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes International Film Festival. And this week, “Beasts” hits the theaters in limited release. Given its track record, don’t be surprised to be hearing about this movie come Oscar season. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ director Benh Zeitlin’

‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ director Marc Webb talks Andrew Garfield, ‘500 Days of Summer’ and needing a vacation

Aside from his serendipitous surname, Webb wasn’t an obvious choice to reboot the franchise, but he proved to be an inspired one. Prior to directing “The Amazing Spider-Man,” Marc Webb’s only other claim to fame was helming the surprise indie hit “500 Days of Summer.” That movie connected with its audience because he worked with the actors to make the characters’ love affair feel fresh and real. For “Spider-Man,” Webb managed to keep that same light touch with the actors while still making a CG-heavy action spectacular — no mean feat. Continue reading ‘‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ director Marc Webb talks Andrew Garfield, ‘500 Days of Summer’ and needing a vacation’

Why the ‘Spider-Man’ Reboot?

A mere five years since Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 3” was released, a new version of Peter Parker’s journey from awkward high school student to crime fighter is hitting the silver screen next week. So why is the Webbed One getting the reboot treatment?

I posed that question to the cast of “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Continue reading ‘Why the ‘Spider-Man’ Reboot?’

Indie Roundup: ‘Extraterrestrial’ and ‘Beyond the Black Rainbow’

This week, we’re looking at a pair of sci-fi movies that prove you don’t need a gargantuan budget to be good.

Back in 2007, Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo wowed audiences with his debut feature, “Timecrimes,” an immensely clever thriller that combined the slasher and time-travel sci-fi genres. Told with admirable economy — the movie had only four characters — the film stuck with its premise while remaining suspenseful, mysterious, and inventive. It’s a mind-bending mini masterpiece. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Extraterrestrial’ and ‘Beyond the Black Rainbow’’

Legendary Film Critic Andrew Sarris Dead at 83

The great film critic Andrew Sarris, who was instrumental in popularizing auteur theory in America, has died of a stomach virus at the age of 83 at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.

It’s difficult to overstate the impact Sarris had on the way this country sees movies. Inspired by Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Goddard and other writers for the French film journal Cahier du Cinema, Sarris penned an essay in 1962, “Notes on the Auteur Theory,” that championed the then controversial idea that directors were the sole authors of movies. Prior to Sarris and his numerous followers, Americans would talk about, say, “Dial M for Murder” as a Grace Kelly movie, not a Alfred Hitchcock film. Or, to put it in more recent terms, without Sarris, “Jaws” would be known as a Richard Dreyfuss movie, not a Steven Spielberg flick. So if you have ever talked about a filmmaker’s “oeuvre,” referred to “Pulp Fiction” as a Quentin Tarantino movie or geeked out on thematic similarities of one David Cronenberg movie with another, you can thank Sarris for that. Continue reading ‘Legendary Film Critic Andrew Sarris Dead at 83’

Indie Roundup: ‘Patang’

Between the surprise success of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” starring a who’s who of venerable English actors, and “Trishna,” Michael Winterbottom’s subcontinental adaptation of “Tess of the d’Urbervilles,” India seems to be an unexpectedly happening location for movies this summer. Add to this list “Patang,” a gorgeous indie flick that has been making the festival rounds and is hitting the theaters this week. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Patang’’

Indie Roundup: ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’

Back in the mid-’90s, someone posted a classified ad in “Backwoods Homes” magazine reading: “Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed.” Screenwriter Derek Connolly reportedly uncovered the ad and immediately started spinning it into a script. It’s a brilliant premise that cries out for a Charlie Kaufman-style head trip. The resulting movie, “Safety Not Guaranteed,” however, is more quirky than crazy. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’’

Indie Roundup: ‘A Cat in Paris’

The animation category for the Academy Awards is one of the few to deliver real surprises. A couple of years ago, the nominating committees threw just about everyone for a loop by naming a little-known movie called “The Secret of Kells” alongside the likes of “Up” and “Coraline.” And that was a great call by the academy; not only did it rightfully recognize the movie — a dazzling, stylized tale about medieval Ireland — as being worthy of going toe-to-toe with the big boys, it also lifted the movie out of film fest obscurity. This year, the academy gave the same treatment to a pair of animated movies: “Chico y Rita,” a grownup take on jazz and Cuba, which was released earlier this year, and “A Cat in Paris,” which opens this week. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘A Cat in Paris’’

June 2012

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