Movies You Missed

Friday, September 26, 2014

Movies You Missed & More: The Rover

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 1:26 PM

click image "No more 'Twilight' sequels, do you hear me? NO MORE." - A24
  • A24
  • "No more 'Twilight' sequels, do you hear me? NO MORE."
This week in movies you missed: Robert Pattinson sports bad teeth and a bizarre Southern accent in a bleak futuristic Western from director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom).

What You Missed
A title card tells us 10 years have passed since the global "collapse." In the sparsely populated Australian outback, Eric (Guy Pearce) is minding his own business when three punks fleeing a robbery happen along, crash their car and steal his.

That was a mistake. Because Eric will do whatever it takes to reclaim his unprepossessing vehicle, and he has no qualms about killing those who stand in his way.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Movies You Missed & More: Gimme the Loot

Posted By on Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 2:35 PM

  • IFC

This week in movies you missed: Two young graffiti artists scheme to pull off the score of a lifetime: "bombing" the New York Mets' Home Run Apple at Citi Field.

Local note: The film's editor, Morgan Faust, is or was a part-time Brattleboro resident. I wrote about her own Vermont-shot film project here.

What You Missed

Sophia (Tashiana Washington) and Malcolm (Ty Hickson) work well together. She's tough and surly, he's gangly and wistful — and they're both good at lifting spray cans from stores and leaving their mark on city buildings.

Fed up with the Mets fans who keep defacing their art, the platonic pair plot the ultimate revenge: defacing the Mets Apple. Footage from a vintage cable-access show informs the viewer that this seemingly undoable stunt has been the holy grail of NYC graffiti artists for the past 20 years, putting the fictional characters in a real context.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Movies You Missed & More: Locke

Posted By on Fri, Sep 5, 2014 at 5:28 PM

And … this is basically the whole movie in one image. - A24 FILMS
  • A24 Films
  • And … this is basically the whole movie in one image.

This week in movies you missed:
 "That movie where a guy just talks on the phone in his car for 85 minutes."

Or: How interesting can an ultra-minimalist conceit be? Can you keep an audience absorbed in a film with one character and one set? Writer-director Steven Knight (Eastern Promises) decided to find out.

What You Missed

Somewhere in the UK, night. Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) leaves a large industrial plant and gets in his Beemer. As he speeds toward London, he makes a series of calls: to his wife and kids, his boss, his subordinate, and a frightened woman waiting for him in a hospital at his destination.

Locke is a construction foreman, and tomorrow his company will undertake Europe's largest-ever concrete pour for a new skyscraper. He's supposed to be there to oversee the complicated process; he won't be. His boss (voice of Ben Daniels) is apoplectic, his subordinate (Andrew Scott) terrified. He's never shirked a responsibility before.

Locke's wife (Ruth Wilson) is both angry and terrified — for a different reason. His kids, who expected him to be home for the game tonight, are just confused. But Locke is dead set on making it to his destination. It's the only way he can prove to himself he is the man he's always wanted to be.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Movies You Missed & More: Blue Ruin

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 9:16 PM

  • Radius-TWC

This week in movies you missed:
They say revenge is a dish best served cold.

What happens when you warm up revenge in the microwave, accidentally drop it on the floor, scrape it up and serve it anyway?

Possibly something like the plot of this wonderful offbeat thriller from writer-director-DP Jeremy Saulnier, which recalls the early days of the Coen brothers.

What You Missed

Dwight (Macon Blair) lives out of his car, spending his days on the beach and his nights Dumpster diving at the fun fair.

Until a cop contacts him with news: Back home in Virginia, the man who killed Dwight's parents is about to be released from prison.

Dwight gets in his blue ruin of a Pontiac and heads home. He doesn't have a gun or money to buy one; he's not even sure how to use one. But he does have a knife. And a will to see his version of justice done.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Movies You Missed & More: How I Live Now

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Ronan and MacKay play kissing cousins during World War III. - MAGNOLIA
  • Magnolia
  • Ronan and MacKay play kissing cousins during World War III.

This week in movies you missed:
 These days it sometimes seems like every new movie release that isn't adapted from a comic book is adapted from a young adult novel. Last week it was The Giver, from Lois Lowry's classroom standard. This week it's If I Stay.

For this trend we can thank the success of Twilight, The Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars. But not every YA novel makes for a hit movie.

Case in point: Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now, a seeming response to 9/11 in the form of a coming-of-age story, won solid sales and prizes when it was published in 2004. Briefly released last fall, the movie version sank without a trace.

What happened?

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Movies You Missed & More: Narco Cultura

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 5:14 PM

  • Cinedigm

This week in movies you missed:
 At a time when drug wars and their casualties are making headlines, this 2013 documentary by Shaul Schwarz offers a harrowingly intimate look inside Mexico's Ciudad Juárez, the city that was, until recently, the murder capital of the world.

Since the film was shot, the inter-cartel violence may have moved elsewhere, but its causes haven't receded.

What You Missed

In 2010, photojournalist Schwarz was covering "narco culture" for a National Geographic story. One day he went straight from the site of two murders in Tijuana to a Californian club where a popular narcocorrido band was celebrating the culture of drug violence. "He was still covered in blood," writes Coburn Dukeheart in this Nat Geo story:

The bizarre collision of witnessing actual violence, paired with people celebrating killing in the music of the narcocorridos, totally jarred him. It was at that moment he decided to make the film.

Schwarz spent three years with sources in Juárez and Los Angeles, gaining their trust and getting footage with a crew of just two (himself and a soundman/interpreter).

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Movies You Missed & More: Authors Anonymous

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 1:56 PM

click image Writers: not the world's most photogenic people.
  • Writers: not the world's most photogenic people.

This week in movies you missed:
a movie that decisively answers the questions: Why has no one ever made a Christopher Guest-style mockumentary about aspiring novelists? With the number of self-published books mounting every year, isn't this a phenomenon ripe for satire? Aren't amateur writing groups at least as easy to mine for comedy as dog shows, folkies and community theater?

Judging by Authors Anonymous, nope.

What You Missed

An invisible documentary crew introduces us to six unpublished LA writers who meet regularly to share their work. They include:

  • a breathy yoga-teacher-turned-romance-novelist (Teri Polo) who calls her Slavic-themed erotic opus Nyet Not Yet
  • her hubby and bankroller (Dylan Walsh), an optometrist who likes to dictate "ideas for a screenplay/novel/character" to his digital recorder but never seems to write anything
  • a crusty, flag-waving gun enthusiast (Dennis Farina) who fancies himself the next Tom Clancy but resorts to a company called U R the Publisher to put out his thriller
  • a young man (Jonathan Bennett) who idolizes Charles Bukowski and constantly asks to borrow money, explaining that his working-class authenticity depends on insolvency
  • a pizza-delivery-man-cum-carpet-cleaner (Chris Klein) who hopes to be the next Fitzgerald
  • a Sweet Young Thing (Kaley Cuoco) who is writing a novel but doesn't appear ever to have read one

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Movies You Missed & More: Maniac (2012)

Posted By on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 3:52 PM

click image "Look, Mom, no elfin' charm!" - IFC MIDNIGHT
  • IFC Midnight
  • "Look, Mom, no elfin' charm!"
This week in movies you missed: Frodo Baggins — er, excuse me, Elijah Wood — plays a psycho killer in a remake of a grindhouse flick that made Gene Siskel run for the exit back in 1980.

The new Maniac bears the distinction of having been banned in New Zealand, sort-of hobbit homeland, for its depiction of brutal killings from the killer's point of view.

What You Missed
Frank (Wood) is an Angeleno who earns his living restoring vintage mannequins. It sounds like the sort of occupation that would earn him a lot of hipster points in LA, combined with his generally emo demeanor and soulful blue eyes, but here's the thing: Frank isn't good at dating. He's better at stalking women on the street, ambushing them, murdering them, scalping them and decorating his beloved mannequins with the trophies.
The back room of his mannequin shop is a house of horrors where he sits amid his hideous creations (who appear as real women through his eyes), exhorting them not to be jealous, since he loves them all the same. Oh, and he talks to himself and his absent mommy a fair bit.

Anna (Nora Arnezeder), a young French photographer, stumbles on Frank's retro shop and thinks it's the coolest thing ever. She wants to feature his mannequins in her gallery show and make some sort of statement about objectification. Frank really likes her, but can he keep his madness at bay? I think you already know the answer. 

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Movies You Missed & More: Dogtooth

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 1:29 PM

click image Papoulia and Tsoni perform for their parents. - KINO LORBER
  • Kino Lorber
  • Papoulia and Tsoni perform for their parents.

This week in movies you missed: I watch "the weirdest feature film ever to make an Oscar shortlist," according to Steve Pond of the Wrap.

What You Missed

We are somewhere in Greece, in a house with a garden surrounded by a high wall.

Three teenagers listen to a tape introducing them to new vocabulary words. The tape gives glaringly incorrect definitions. The kids, a boy (Hristos Passalis) and two girls (Aggeliki Papoulia and Mary Tsoni), aren't fazed. They plan a new game: They'll see who can keep his or her finger under burning hot water the longest.

Dad (Christos Stergioglou) returns home from work, bringing a young woman named Christina (Anna Kalaitzidou). She goes into the boy's room and has mechanical sex with him, then leaves. The two sisters greet her as one might greet a cleaning woman.

The non sequiturs continue. The brother (none of these characters have names) speaks to someone invisible through the hedge. A plane buzzes overhead, and Mom (Michele Valley) encourages the kids to run and catch it if it falls. A wandering cat in the yard inspires bloodcurdling terror.

The more the film progresses, the more it becomes clear that the rules of this family are not our rules. The parents know this — it's by design. The kids, raised in isolation, do not. By the end, the teens' struggle to achieve independence — and their parents'  countermeasures — will have led to genuinely disturbing transgressions against everything most of us consider "natural" and "right."

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Movies You Missed & More: The Missing Picture

Posted By on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 6:57 PM

  • Strand Releasing

This week in movies you missed:
 In our world of omnipresent cameras, it's hard to believe that a regime could starve and slaughter millions of people and leave little direct evidence of its atrocities on film. But that's what the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Among its victims were the family of Rithy Panh, this film's director, who was then 11 years old.

Panh made this documentary to fill in history's "missing pictures" with those he carries in his memory. He uses clay figures and dioramas to illustrate deportation, forced labor, "re-education" and genocide, supplementing these images with existing documentary footage (much of it from Khmer Rouge propaganda films). The Missing Picture earned an Oscar nomination last year for Best Foreign Film and was honored in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes 2013.

What You Missed

Voice-over narration by Jean-Baptiste Phou (in the English-language version) tells Panh's story. It starts with tableaux of Phnom Penh in the early '70s — a lively city where young Panh, whose father teaches school, visits film studios and marvels at the beautiful actresses.

On April 17, 1975, the communist revolutionaries take the city. They herd the urban dwellers onto transports and bring them to the countryside, leaving the city a wasteland. They take their possessions and dye their clothes black. They force them to abandon modernity and work the land on starvation rations. They take away pens and eyeglasses. They control every aspect of their lives.

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