Superman, Neil LaBute and Billy Wilder Star in the 10 Best Movie Stories of the Week
This past week has really been all about us recommending movies for you guys. As it should be. Although most of the mainstream releases hitting this weekend suck, we did give high grades to the latest from Joss Whedon and Alain Resnais while also finding places to highlight some additional picks that might be more easily available to you this month than what’s just on the big screen. The latest from Neil LaBute, for instance, as well as David Mackenzie’s Tonight You’re Mine and a classic from Billy Wilder, which is a great alternative to The Internship. We also referenced Nine Queens as a better alternative to Now You See Me, Death Sentence for being better than Death Wish and anniversary celebrant Big as requiring a fresh look from your 25-year-older self.
On top of that, we officially entered super-excited-about-Man of Steel mode here at FSR. There’s only a whole bunch more to come, though, so get ready for a Super special week to come. For now, though….
Start your weekend right after the jump.
“Some Girl(s) made its premiere at South by Southwest a few months back, and since then, it’s remained one of my favorite films of 2013. The acclaimed Neil LaBute, who’s recent work hasn’t fully satisfied his fans in the way his early features did, returns to the signature humor and drama he’s famous for. LaBute isn’t behind the director’s chair this time around, but his uncomfortably funny and honest voice couldn’t be more present in this excellent character study. ” ‐ Jack Giroux
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“Each trailer has shown us just a little bit more each time, at every turn succeeding in whetting our appetites. As someone who has not been high on this project since the beginning, the footage progression I’ve seen in the trailers has brought me around…[the latest] isn’t so much an official trailer release as it is a Nokia commercial (notice the spotlight on the Nokia phone placed not-so-elegantly into the film). That said, it paints a much better picture of the scope and speed of the action Zack Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan are trying to deliver. Gone is the slow-motion orgy one would expect from the director of 300, in comes breakneck action beats and thunderous Superman on Zod action. Yeah, that’ll do.” ‐ Neil Miller
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“There’s already plenty of material to build a franchise from if this initial Fables film proves to be a success. Even handier than that, the first few story-arcs that were published were all notable because they played with the tropes of a specific film genre, like the murder mystery, or the conspiracy thriller, so future Fables movies would have the benefit of not only being already mapped out, but also being different from one another in ways that would keep the storytelling fresh. Too often these big comic book or fairytale sequels fall into the trap of being been-there-done-that stories that are only different from their predecessors because they’ve had a couple more dollars thrown at their effects work.” ‐ Nathan Adams
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“Billy Wilder’s rapid-fire 1961 comedy One, Two, Three, which is very specifically about an executive heading up the Coca-Cola plant in West Berlin (the exec is played by James Cagney, also sort of an intentionally employed symbol of America post-Yankee Doodle Dandy; also that plant later features in Goodbye Lenin!) and his dilemma of having his boss’s teenage daughter show up and then get knocked up by a communist from East Germany. There’s a hilarious contrast in ideals at play, as the exec means to get Coke introduced to the Soviet Union (“Napoleon blew it, Hitler blew it, but Coca-Cola’s gonna pull it off,”) and the young man wants to procreate for the good of the communists (“a bouncing baby Bolshevik,” he calls it). They each have their own ways of implanting their political-cultural influence. In its review, “Time” magazine even used the term “Coca-Colonization” in reference to the former idea.” ‐ Christopher Campbell
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“Let It Roll. [Richard] Linklater was not only an accidental pioneer of ’90s independent filmmaking, but also attempted to master emerging technologies in the 2000s as well. In 2001, he released two films shot on inexpensive digital video cameras: Waking Life, which was then animated using rotoscoping techniques, and Tape, a bare-bones drama between three characters, which he made through InDigEnt, a small (and regrettably short-lived) indie film company that devoted itself to exploring early digital film technologies. Tape‘s aesthetic is rough, but it’s lent a certain energy that isn’t replicable in high-quality HD cameras like the Red One: it feels like a series of events that unfold in real time. In an interview alongside Ethan Hawke in 2011, Linklater discusses the advantages this nascent technology gave him, allowing him to roll (for the first time) for 15–20 minutes on end, which enabled his cast to pursue a more ‘theatrical’ and less cut-up approach to performing.” ‐ Landon Palmer
“Now You See Me sold me on its consideration of the Great Recession and banking crisis. I thought this could be the most timely heist/con-artist film since Nine Queens…In the trailer for the new movie, after we see a trick involving a bank robbery we hear the magician characters played by Isla Fisher and Woody Harrelson mention their audience has experienced hard times, losing their homes and cars. It appears as though the movie is about Robin Hood-like illusionists stealing from the “evil” bankers and giving back to the people affected by their crimes upon the economy…So why then did Summit Entertainment’s marketing department fake us out with such misdirection? Never mind that it does seem appropriate for a movie about misdirection.” ‐ Christopher Campbell
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“Death Wish doesn’t deserve to show up on so many ‘Best Revenge Movie’ lists ‐ it’s not even a revenge movie. Bronson plays a man who’s pushed over the edge by tragedy and then lashes out at the criminal element, but his actions never have the focus that the best revenge movies do. He doesn’t even go after the particular guys who attacked his wife and daughter, he just gets a taste for brutally punishing the criminal element and then keeps indulging it. What he’s doing is closer to Breaking Bad than it is revenge. And, good lord, how ridiculous does it get that he somehow manages to get mugged by street goons every time he leaves the house?” ‐ Nathan Adams
“The French Connection Sound Gag: Although a repeat of an audio gag in The Goonies, this one was particularly special to me as someone who grew up outside New York and constantly thought about the thrill and danger of that city. I probably felt a little differently the first time I moved to Manhattan and actually feared some of the noises outside my building, but I just have always found the joke to be funny. It would be a while before I knew the movie in the scene to be The French Connection, which Pauline Kael prominently addressed in her famous essay about New York-made films being set in a “Horror City.” Big, of course, came out at a time when New York in film was all about lampooning its negative image (a year later we’d even see Jason Voorhees take Manhattan with little concern from New Yorkers). It’s one of two scene in the movie that really speak to the dual identity of NYC at the time. ” ‐ Christopher Campbell
“Everything They Cut From 2011’s The Thing…No one really wanted a prequel to The Thing, but what did soften the blow was the promised presence of practical effect technology taking the helm when it came to the creature effects…artists Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis, along with their team at Amalgamated Dynamics, had created some of the coolest shit you’d ever see in a movie. And since it was so darn cool, the studio went ahead and replaced it all with CGI for the final cut, because dicks.” ‐ David Christopher Bell
“In both films, the cutaways from our heroes’ harrowing battle for survival center on a control room with a series of monitors, panels, and technicians. From these control rooms, our dastardly puppet masters observe, and can even manipulate the various macabre scenarios constructed to dispatch the ill-fated protagonists. Moreover, there is a pronounced element of randomization to the scenarios in both films. Both have ready-made, prepackaged death contrivances, but in [Cabin in the Woods], the arrived-upon scenario is achieved via whichever cursed object is first fully investigated by the campers. Therefore, even those in the booth don’t know which scenario will be set in motion; hence the gambling. In Stay Tuned, if the unwitting Hellvision stars were lucky enough to find a portal to another channel, there was no telling in what devilish program they might next find themselves. It too therefore feels like a crap-shoot.” ‐ Brian Salisbury
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