Movies are often compared to dreams. If that’s true, then filmmakers are dreamers. When Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos were kids, they dreamed of making movies, so they spent most of their childhood summers in Mississippi making a shot-for shot remake of Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. The project eventually consumed seven years of their lives and nearly destroyed their friendship, but in the end, Zala and Strompolos completed their film, which they called Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation.
Movie Reviews - Page 2
Ex Machina is Alex Garland’s first film as a director but it’s very simpatico with his screenplays for movies like 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Dredd. As a writer, Garland likes to work in compact universes — an abandoned city, a spaceship headed to the sun, a gang-infested high-rise — where characters are trapped together and pitted against one another. In Ex Machina’s story of a brilliant technologist who creates artificial intelligence, he’s found a man who fashions himself as something of an inquisitive god, and there’s a bit of that notion in Garland’s work as well — he builds little petrie dishes of life, testing mankind’s resolve under extreme stress to see whether we crack under the pressure. His findings are usually not promising.
If comedy filmmakers weren’t already jealous of their television brethren, they will be after they watch HBO’s 7 Days in Hell, which uses the cable network’s permissive attitude toward adult material to tell envelope-pushing jokes that no mainstream movie could ever hope to get past the MPAA. 7 Days in Hell is funny enough to play in a multiplex (even if, at 50 minutes, it’s not quite feature length), but its hilariously vulgar jokes would definitely saddle it with a box-office poisoning NC-17 rating. On HBO, though, anything goes, and thank goodness because director Jake Syzmanski and writer Murray Miller were able to produce a mockumentary that giddilypulses with a sense of absolute freedom — freedom from content restrictions and freedom to experiment with weird strains of comedy that would never fly in a mainstream Hollywood film.
Unfriended wants to do for social media what The Ring did for VHS tapes — take a piece of everyday technology and turn it into an object of uncommon terror. A bunch of teenagers on Skype have their group call interrupted by an intruder who claims to be a dead classmate who killed herself after she was cyberbullied. The entire movie takes place on a computer screen as one of the girls in the group, Blaire (Shelley Hennig), browses the Internet, checks her Facebook, and chats with her friends about the anonymous assailant who abuses and threatens them and then starts picking them off one-by-one. What follows becomes an original gloss on a very unoriginal subgenre. Its very clever and creepy merging of movie and technology is nearly ruined by a stale horror clichés.
The name “Disney” brings to mind images of fair princesses, charming princes, magical fairy tales, and simple happily ever afters. In recent years, though, Disney has begun rethinking their classic properties, and releasing more thematically complex versions of their famous films. Sleeping Beauty became Maleficent, which turned a wicked witch into a sympathetic anti-hero; a whole mess of fairy tales turned into Into the Woods, where happily ever after preceded a whole bunch of death and tragedy. The ranks of Disney Princesses grew to include women like Merida, the bow-slinging heroine of Brave, and Anna and Else from Frozen, who rescued each other from an prince, rather than the other way around. Every value and concept that Disney had established and reinforced through decades of repetition was seemingly up for reconsideration and revision.
The last few years in horror have felt rather stale, but hot on the heels of watching the terrifying and refreshing 'The Babadook' at Fantastic Fest comes 'It Follows,' the sophomore effort from writer/director David Robert Mitchell. Similar to the lo-fi tone of his debut film, 'The Myth of the American Sleepover,' the comparisons end there for Mitchell's follow-up, which smartly and horrifically explores the politics of young adult sexuality.
The technology in Neil Blomkamp’s movies is so fully realized and intricately detailed that it feels like another one of his characters. Now Blomkamp’s made Chappie, a film where that’s literally true in the form of a police robot given the gift of human consciousness. The result is one giant metaphor for itself; a story of the world’s first true artificial intelligence and how it is almost corrupted by violence, presented in a movie where any semblance of serious consideration of what it means to be alive is drowned out by gunfire, explosions, and macho posing.
How many times in your life have you snuck up on someone and scared them? Three, maybe four times? The Lazarus Effect is the kind of horror movie where people do that constantly. It’s basically their standard greeting; instead of “Hello!” they jump on people from behind, sometimes while wearing pig masks. It doesn’t make much sense, but they’re not doing it because it’s logical — they’re doing it because this is a bargain basement horror film and you take the scares wherever you can get them.
It’s been a decade since Will Smith was “Will Smith” onscreen. Sure, he’s made movies in the last ten years; science-fiction pictures, dramas, comedies. He even played Satan, once. But none of them riffed on that classic Will Smith persona that everyone loves; the infectious charm, the seductive smile, the cocky but casual swagger. (What’s that? Men in Black 3? No, they never made a third Men in Black. You must be confused.)
Christian Grey is an unusual guy. He’s the world’s most eligible billionaire bachelor and an enormously powerful businessman. He’s an avid jogger, an exceptional piano player, and a licensed helicopter pilot. He also really like the color gray. He wears gray suits and ties, drives a gray car to his gray office building (which is called Grey House) under gray Seattle skies, where his assistant dresses in—you guessed it—gray. (For the record, his office chairs are white but the couches are gray too.) And, oh yeah, he’s into kinky sex, including bondage, spanking, and domination.