Matt Singer Biography
I think it was Jack Black (or maybe AC/DC) who once said it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll. Black sang those rocktacular words in Richard Linklater’s ‘School of Rock,’ the 2003 about a struggling musician who becomes a substitute teacher at a prep school, and then begins to lead his students as they form a band. The movie was a surprise hit in theaters, and it’s already in development as a Nickelodeon TV show. But it’s long way to the top will culminate late next year, when ‘School of Rock’ hits the Great White Way as a Broadway show.
We’re winding down Best Of 2014 Week here at ScreenCrush with today’s lists of the best TV shows and movie posters (to go along with our already completed lists of the best movies and trailers). But in this time of celebration, let’s not lose sight of what’s really important: Making jokes about terrible movies. 2014 was jammed with exceptional films, but those great movies were surrounded (and often crowded-out of multiplexes) by plenty of stinkers as well. As we bid a fond farewell to the year in movies, ScreenCrush Editor-In-Chief Mike Sampson and I decided to take one final look back at the flops that nearly destroyed us. But like that old expression says: That which does not kill us makes us write strongly-worded listicles.
I know one reaction I’ve had to the (allegedly) North Korean hackers and their attack on Sony and their movie ‘The Interview’ is “Why now?” Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are not the first American filmmakers to make fun of North Korea, or even its real-life leaders. ‘Team America: World Police,’ for example, featured a marionette-version of late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, who wants to destroy Western Civilization (but is also very lonely); the 2012 ‘Red Dawn’ remake actually changed its Asian invaders from Chinese to North Koreans in post-production because at the time that seemed like the more politically and financially safe choice. That’s not going to happen again anytime soon.
By now it’s quite clear: Sony is not releasing ‘The Interview’ in theaters any time soon. In the wake of the terrorist threats made against theaters that planned to screen the controversial film, and in the subsequent wake of numerous theater chains (including AMC Entertainment, Regal Entertainment, and Cinemark) canceling their planned runs of the movie, Sony decided to cancel the film’s release outright. It will not be a very merry Christmas for Seth Rogen and James Franco.
From ‘The Dark Knight’ to ‘Knight of Cups’: The first trailer for director Terrence Malick’s latest film has arrived and it’s ... super Terrence Malick-y. Shots of beaches! People walking slowly! Solemn voiceover narration! Other people walking slowly—on beaches! I was one glimpse of Christian Bale running his hand through a field of thistle from winning Terrence Malick Bingo!
We’ve got two more big awards updates today, and they come from the Online Film Critics Society and the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the body responsible for the annual Critics’ Choice Awards. The OFCS (of which I’m a member) announced their winners, giving the Best Picture of 2014 to Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’; the film also won Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Meanwhile the BFCA (of which ScreenCrush editor-in-chief Mike Sampson is a member) announced their nominees for the Critics’ Choice Awards. ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ was among the Best Picture nominees, along with Oscar contenders ‘Boyhood,’ ‘The Imitation Game,’ ‘Selma,’ and ‘Birdman,’ which led all films with 13 CCA nominations.
It wasn’t a great year for critics in movies—see ‘Birdman’ (or ‘Chef’ [or ‘Top Five’ (or ‘Big Eyes’)])—but it was a great year for critics at movies. 2014 offered an tremendous variety of fantastic films: big and small; foreign and domestic; mainstream and indie. To anyone who says the overall quality of movies has declined, I call B.S. There are more good movies now than ever before. If you can’t find one, you’re not looking very hard. Take, for instance, these ten instant classics:
trueBoy, when they named the last ‘Star Trek’ movie ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ they weren’t kidding. The finished film received decent reviews from critics, but did only so-so in theaters, and quickly became Trekkies’ least-favorite movie in the franchise...
The words “ ...The next Pearl Harbor that we confront could very well be a cyber-attack...” open the trailer for Michael Mann’s upcoming cyber-thriller ‘Blackhat.’ Somewhere, right now, a dozen Sony executives are nodding grimly in agreement.
Chris Rock has made movies before, but ‘Top Five’ is the first great “Chris Rock movie,” the one that feels like the product of the best and most important stand-up comic of his generation. ‘Top Five’ is infused from top to bottom with Rock’s voice, his humor, and also his love of movies. Rock, a self-avowed cinephile, has borrowed liberally from some of his favorite films (including Richard Linklater’s ‘Before Sunset,’ Preston Sturges’ ‘Sullivans Travels,’ and Woody Allen’s ‘Stardust Memories’) in creating the story of a disillusioned stand-up comic turned sellout movie star on the cusp of becoming a “serious” actor. The way Rock digests his inspirations, filters them through his own unique perspective, and spits them back out on the screen as something wholly his own recalls the way Quentin Tarantino turns exploitation obscurities into prestigious arthouse fare.