- The Director’s Guild of America has named the 80 Best-Directed Films of All Time in honor of the Guild’s 80th Anniversary. In an era when any sap with a WordPress account (ahem) can make a Best of All Time list, the rationality of this one is actually impressive. And major respect for including Birdman.
- In sad Director-Actor news, AvaDuVernay-Lupita Nyong’o won’t be happening on Intelligent Life due to the former dropping out; in happy Director-Actor news, Andrew Garfield has joined the new film by It Follows director David Robert Mitchell.
- Kudos to anyone who followed up salutations of “May the Fourth be with you” not with today’s expected “Cinco de Mayo” but instead with “Revenge of the Fifth”. Solidarity, people. Solidarity.
Continue reading Film & TV News: May 5
Pumpkinhead doesn’t give a shit about your morals. He doesn’t really give a shit about anything, granted, and in true creature feature fashion the gory B-flick Pumpkinhead is more concerned with dreaming up gross ways for a pack of teenagers to bite it than with deriving any message out of the bloodshed. Oddly enough, though, there’s a distinct resistance to the crowdpleasing moments of heroism that usually typify late-’80s schlock-fests of this sort, which is evidence to the claim that somebody cared about something, which in this context is actually high praise.
Why, you ask, would the demonic Pumpkinhead be so prized within this ostensible Innocents vs. Monster tale? Why would we root for him instead of the terrified cabin-dwellers? Why would Pumpkinhead win? Simple: he’s Motherf*cking Pumpkinhead.
Continue reading Pumpkinhead (1988)
- Sam Mendes has officially stated that he won’t return for a third Bond outing after Spectre… but by now, of course, we pretty much know to take these sorts of “confirmations” with a grain of salt. Mendes also teased that we might expect the artist of the theme song to be made public sooner rather than later.
- Another Accidental Franchise Sam (this one’s Raimi) has given his blessing to Marvel’s high-school approach to the new Spider-Man. So, yeah. Rest easy.
- We noted how weird the career of David Gordon Green is in our review of Manglehorn, wherein we also lauded the fact that he’s leaned toward smaller indie-feel projects like Manglehorn and Joe. Now Green will allegedly be directing Stronger, one of the many adaptations concerning the Boston Marathon Bombing, thus remaining one of the most unpredictable directors in Hollywood.
- It Follows is now available on Amazon Instant Video and several other platforms, so your excuses for not watching it are really starting to thin out (you know who you are).
Continue reading Film & TV News: July 21
It’s been almost fifty years since The Quiller Memorandum, and spy movies have changed quite a bit in the ensuing half-century. It’s unfair to say they’re better or worse nowadays, especially considering the qualification of “spy movie” can mean anything from Skyfall to Syriana to Agent Cody Banks (though, if we’re talking about the latter, then yes: they’re worse). Even the superhero genre is dabbling in spy-ish flicks, with the espionage thriller Captain America: The Winter Soldier drawing favorable comparisons to Three Days of the Condor; Condor, of course, is a spy movie with a main character who is not in fact a spy, nor is he a suave step-ahead killer fighting for what’s right, nor does he even know what’s going on — this all by way of saying that a great “spy” movie doesn’t even need a spy.
But Peter Quiller is a spy, and a damn good one to boot. He’s good by today’s standards, he’s good by the standards of 1966, and he’s good by the standards of his fellow spies in Memorandum. The film opens with a stark, memorable sequence of a man plodding cautiously down a dark, quiet street. He looks around constantly, fearing that the hidden blade might finally come from the shadows. Cautious, quiet. He enters a phone booth and reaches for the receiver when bam! — he’s shot in the back. Dead.
Continue reading The Quiller Memorandum (1966)
Halloween might be the most imitated, riffed-upon, winked-at American horror film in history. To say nothing of multiple novels and comic book series starring the serial killer Michael Myers, the film franchise itself now stands at ten installments, of which — you guessed it! — nine are pretty much crap. Judging by the box office landscape of the next few years, it won’t be long before Halloween 11: We Can Out-Sequel Saw hits a theater near you. But outside of the canon there are hundreds of Halloweens, from subtle copies to straight-up rip-offs, especially with the original being the film that most credit as the start of the slasher genre (“what about Hitchcock?!”).
One case-in-point is It Follows, one of the most recent nods to John Carpenter’s first true horror flick (although we sought out the elements of horror in his feature debut Assault on Precinct 13). The similarities are numerous and unmistakable, from the suburban setting to the shot of the classroom to the sense that this thing is stalking only the protagonist with everyone else standing in as collateral damage. That Michael Myers is a thing or an it — certainly not a him — is made clear by his psychiatrist Sam Loomis, and the idea of the human form as a vessel for something more sinister is also at the heart of It Follows. The music by Disasterpeace, too, is just one more obvious piece of evidence of the influence of Halloween in movies like It Follows; go listen to “Playpen” and try not to picture a flickering jack-o’-lantern against a black backdrop.
Continue reading Halloween (1978)
There’s a building on a quiet alley in a rundown part of the city that’s almost abandoned, draped in shadow and disrepair. Inside the building is a collection of individuals from vastly different walks of life. There is a supervising lieutenant freshly assigned to the job. There is a grief-stricken father in the throes of shock after discovering his murdered daughter. There are two dainty secretaries wearing sweaters (one orange, one yellow). There are three hardened criminals, one of whom is sick with a possible virus. Each of the people inside the building is an individual with an individual story. Outside is different. Outside is a creeping evil, a legion of hunters that is nonetheless a single faceless and motiveless mass, no individual stories to be found. The hunt is all.
…sounds like a horror movie, right? Like the kind John Carpenter might make? Even beyond Carpenter, this is not at all an unfamiliar formula for fright-fests — strangers unite against mysterious evil — serving as the entire premise of movies like Cube and Saw. The idea that something lurking out there will inevitably attack each stranger regardless of their differences is an inherently scary notion. And even though Assault on Precinct 13 isn’t necessarily a horror movie, it’s at its most effective when it operates like one.
Continue reading Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
- Daniel Craig has sustained an injury on the set of the new Bond film Spectre, prompting surgery and much nail-biting over whether the filming schedule will be delayed or compressed. Eon has denied that rumor. And besides, judging by last week’s trailer, we’ve no reason not to trust that Craig and Sam Mendes will deliver.
- Tom Hardy has let slip that he’s signed on for three more Mad Max films following Fury Road, which hits theaters next month. Bring on the Tina Turner cameo!
- Netflix has renewed House of Cards for a fourth season (surprise!) and their newest series Bloodline for a second season.
- Guardians of the Galaxy 2 starts filming early next year in…Atlanta. The plot will presumably see Groot and Co. honing their Deep South sensibilities. Karen Gillan’s Nebula is set to return, too, hopefully for a much larger role this time around.
Continue reading Film & TV News: April 6
It’s cool that It Follows is getting the hype it’s getting. A lot of it is overboard, of course, as tends to happen sometimes when one good review snowballs until such claims as “It Follows is the best American horror film in decades” become commonplace. I’m all for lionizing good indie flicks, but it’s also important to let the thing stand alone for a while too, right? Anyway, that said, yes: It Follows is damn fine cinema. Technically a 2014 release, the film is just now gaining traction through an extended cinematic run.
Writer/Director David Robert Mitchell has a premise that nearly defies explanation because of its simplicity: there is this thing, slow-moving but not dumb, and if it’s “passed” to you then it will follow you. It can look like anyone, even someone you know. If it catches you it will kill you. Respite only comes from passing it along to someone else, and even then you’re still only next in line. That’s simultaneously an awesome premise — elementally terrifying in how simple it is — and yet one that’s been done a thousand times before. “Slow-moving thing inexplicably stalks people” is a staple of the horror genre, from Halloween (which we’ll discuss in a moment) to Alien (which we’ll discuss in another moment). Most “horror” flicks nowadays are really just slasher flicks with that premise mixed in. Thankfully, though, even though the premise of It Follows has been done before, it’s never been done quite like this.
Continue reading It Follows (2015)
- Hugh Jackman has confirmed that he’ll only be playing Wolverine one more time, and that means he won’t be appearing in X-Men: Apocalypse. What happened to “playing Logan until you die”, Hugh? Can’t you just defy Hollywood studio machinations and somehow cameo in Avengers: Infinity War? Can’t you just come back and do an Old Man Logan movie? No Country for Old Man Logan? Please?
- Speaking of Marvel movies, Adam McKay is now rumored to occupy the director’s chair for an upcoming MCU film. Money’s on Inhumans, and money’s also on this still not being anywhere near as enticing as Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man. Sigh.
- The Walking Dead spinoff is now officially titled Fear the Walking Dead, and a brief tease premiered during last night’s WD finale. As our friends at Collider so eloquently put it, at least it ain’t as bad as The Walking Dead Into Darkness.
Continue reading Film & TV News: March 30
– Bryan Singer announced his directorial follow-up to X-Men: Apocalypse as the Robert A. Heinlein sci-fi chronicle The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. We predict this will be awesome.
– Production is about to begin on Ang Lee’s next film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, prompting casting rumors regarding Garrett Hedlund and Steve Martin.
– Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye has officially joined Captain America: Civil War, a movie most are already dubbing Avengers 2.5. The rumor that one of the Avengers would be killed off in Age of Ultron is looking less and less likely.
– Check out this awesome video tribute to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, lensman behind the likes of Gravity and Birdman, over at Collider.
Continue reading Film & TV News: March 9