Archive for October, 2012

Indie Roundup: ‘Wake in Fright’ — Ted Kotcheff’s lost masterpiece

The 1971 Australian thriller “Wake in Fright” is a sunbaked fever dream that had long been considered lost before a negative was discovered in 2004 in a warehouse in Pittsburgh. The movie is now finally getting an American theatrical release. Forty-one years after it was made, the movie is still shocking and deeply unsettling. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Wake in Fright’ — Ted Kotcheff’s lost masterpiece’

Five Film Facts for the 20th Anniversary of ‘Reservoir Dogs’

“Reservoir Dogs” is, believe it or not, 20 years old. Quentin Tarantino’s crime thriller about a simple jewelry store heist that goes horrifically wrong hit the indie film world like a shot of adrenalin to the heart. It was smart, funny, savage and, at the time, shockingly violent. None other than horror director Wes Craven walked out of an early screening of the movie because he found the flick too distressing. After “Reservoir Dogs,” black suits and skinny ties, disjointed storytelling and hyper-literate rants about movies and pop culture became for better or worse, cool. Without “Dogs,” it’s hard to imagine “The Usual Suspects,” “In Bruges” and, of course, “Pulp Fiction” getting made.

If you’re eager to catch the movie on the widescreen, you’re in luck. It was just announced that “Reservoir Dogs” along with “Pulp Fiction” will hit the theaters once again this December, just in time for Tarantino’s next release, “Django Unchained.”

So put on some K-Billy’s “Super Sounds of the Seventies” and check out these five facts about the flick. Continue reading ‘Five Film Facts for the 20th Anniversary of ‘Reservoir Dogs’’

Indie Roundup: ‘Holy Motors’

There are some movies that you can get a pretty clear read on the first time you see them, even if other dimensions reveal themselves later. Then there are movies like Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors” that are so strange, so willfully enigmatic that they pretty much demand multiple viewings.

Carax burst onto the world cinematic scene at a mere 24 years old with his 1984 feature debut, “Boy Meets Girl.” He went on to make a series of pungent, occasionally cloyingly French, frequently brilliant movies during the ’80s and ’90s like “Mauvais Sang” (1986), “The Lovers on the Bridge” (1991), and the controversial “Pola X” (1999). Carax hasn’t really made much since the turn of the millennium except the standout segment of the omnibus flick “Tokyo!” I’m not really sure what happened to him in the intervening time, but he seems to have disentangled himself from whatever had been creatively holding him back in the past. “Holy Motors” feels like the exhilarating yawp of an auteur unchained. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Holy Motors’’

Indie Roundup: ‘Seven Psychopaths’

Martin McDonagh’s directorial debut, “In Bruges” is such a strange, ungainly, hilarious movie that the film has turned into something of a cult favorite. For his sophomore effort “Seven Psychopaths,” McDonagh brings that same uneasy pairing of comedic violence with weighty philosophizing that marked his first movie, but this time he riffs on Hollywood. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Seven Psychopaths’’

‘Smashed’ director James Ponsoldt talks about ‘the drunk girl,’ John Cassavetes and ‘Jersey Shore’

Smashed,” which opens Friday in selected cities, centers on Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a 20-something-year-old woman who by day teaches grade school and by nights hits the bars hard with her husband, Charlie (Aaron Paul). She’s the sort of person who gets loaded at the local lounge and then wakes up a remote industrial part of town the next morning with no memory of how she got there. When Kate finally gets help and starts the slow, painful process to sobriety, she finds herself out of step with her husband, who is still an avid drinker. Continue reading ‘‘Smashed’ director James Ponsoldt talks about ‘the drunk girl,’ John Cassavetes and ‘Jersey Shore’’

‘Lincoln’: The actor who almost played Honest Abe in Spielberg’s bio-pic

Audiences got a sneak-peak last night of Steven Spielberg’s long-gestating project, “Lincoln,” during a secret screening at the New York Film Fest. The movie centers on the last few months of the president’s life when he managed to get the 13th amendment passed, which outlawed slavery, during the waning days of the Civil War.

Scripted by “Munich” screenwriter Tony Kushner, the movie is much more of a dialogue-heavy chamber drama than the sweeping epic you might expect from the trailer, focusing on the moral complexities of the legislative process. By all accounts, star Daniel Day-Lewis delivers a masterful, mesmerizing performance. And while Day-Lewis is now no doubt a front-runner for the best-actor Oscar, he wasn’t Spielberg’s first choice to play America’s 16th president.

That honor goes to Liam Neeson. Continue reading ‘‘Lincoln’: The actor who almost played Honest Abe in Spielberg’s bio-pic’

Indie Roundup: ‘Wuthering Heights’ director Andrea Arnold talks about Emily Bronte, visceral filmmaking, and sheep poo

Wuthering HeightsAndrea Arnold’s previous features — “Red Road” and “Fish Tank” — were tense studies of women struggling to make sense of their lives in a very contemporary Britain. Her latest movie is an adaptation of Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights,” which opens in select cities this weekend. It’s a bold departure from her previous movies, especially since she had publicly said that she wasn’t going to do any period movies. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Wuthering Heights’ director Andrea Arnold talks about Emily Bronte, visceral filmmaking, and sheep poo’

‘Looper’ Director Rian Johnson talks about time travel, Bruce Willis, and nostalgia

If you saw “Looper” this past weekend, you’re probably still thinking about it. Rian Johnson’s surprisingly dense dystopic time-travel movie is, like “The Master,” one of those movies that just engenders conversation. Johnson so thoroughly thought out the paradoxical weirdness of time travel along with the grubby, dysfunctional world of middle America in 2044 that the movie not only holds up with multiple viewers, it gets richer.

The movie is about Joe, an assassin — or looper — living in the near future. His job is to whack mob victims sent illicitly back in time. The gig might not be the most demanding, but it pays well. Joe has enough money for a sweet vintage Miata, a vault filled with silver bars, and enough drugs to keep him flying high every night. Meanwhile, citizens not involved with some form of organized crime live either in soulless tenements or out on the street. It’s the sort of blandly grim future that makes “Blade Runner” look like a utopia. No flying cars or sexy androids here. When Joe is confronted with the task of killing the middle-aged version of himself, he chokes. The older Joe (Bruce Willis) cold-cocks him and flees. While Joe the younger desperately searches for his lost target, the older one has a brutally simple plan to return back to the good life he had taken from him. Continue reading ‘‘Looper’ Director Rian Johnson talks about time travel, Bruce Willis, and nostalgia’

October 2012

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