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2014 SXSW Film Festival

‘Neighbors’ Review

Neighbors
Universal

It's hell getting old. You're overworked, underpaid, get grey hairs, everything hurts, there's barely time for sex, you fall asleep on the couch watching 'Game of Thrones' and, unless you're George Clooney, you're just not cool anymore. You either hike up your pants and accept it, or you wage all out war. It's the latter that highlights the uproarious Seth Rogen and Zac Efron comedy 'Neighbors,' which just might be the funniest American movie since ... well, since Seth Rogen's last movie.

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‘Chef’ Review

Chef Review
Open Road Films

There are some movies that feel personal because of the relationship the writer, director or actors have to the material. 'Chef' -- written, directed and starring Jon Favreau -- doesn't just feel personal, it feels like it's ripped directly from the pages of Favreau's subconscious diary. While it's a charming enough indie film about the connection between professional and personal passions that also serves as a fascinating look inside the psychology of a major Hollywood director.

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‘Oculus’ Review

Oculus review
Relativity Media

A horror movie has one job really: be scary. Beyond that, most flaws can be overlooked (at least temporarily). 'Oculus,' a horror movie ostensibly about a haunted mirror, has many flaws (not the least of which is that it's a horror movie about a haunted mirror; a tired premise if there ever was one), but it does one thing very, very well: be scary.

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‘What We Do in the Shadows’ Review

What We Do in the Shadows
Unison Films/Funny or Die

Those familiar with Jemaine Clement from his work on HBO's 'Flight of the Conchords' should be plenty excited for 'What We Do in the Shadows,' the new film he co-directed and co-wrote with Taika Waititi, who also worked with Clement on the indie film 'Eagle vs. Shark.' The pair reunite for this new venture, a faux documentary in the vein of the hilarious work of Christopher Guest -- but the eccentric group at the heart of this film is something a bit different: immortal vampires who happen to be flatmates, just trying to sort out normal life stuff while also dealing with being supernatural.

'What We Do in the Shadows' doesn't yet have distribution stateside, but that should be rectified pretty quickly. The film, the product of Clement and Waititi's brilliantly clever collaborative minds, is an insanely funny mock-doc that never skips a beat.

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‘Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter’ Review

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter
Lila 9th Productions/Zellner Bros.

Kumiko is a lonely 29-year-old woman living in Tokyo who has fantasies of being a Spanish Conquistador. Increasingly pressured by her mother and her boss to find a husband and be a more successful woman, Kumiko finds escape in the Coen brothers' classic crime film 'Fargo,' and becomes obsessed with traveling to Minnesota to find the "treasure" Steve Buscemi's character left buried in the snow. 'Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter,' from Austin, Texas natives David and Nathan Zellner, is a charming, sad and existential contemplation on life film as escapism. 

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‘Obvious Child’ Review

Obvious Child
A24

From 'Knocked Up' to 'Juno,' we've seen how women cope with unplanned parenthood, though they always seem to end with the birth of a child. 'Obvious Child,' however, from writer-director Gillian Robespierre, gives us another and totally relatable option: what if our fumbling heroine decided to get an abortion? And what if that was just totally OK?

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‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ Review

Only Lovers Left Alive
Sony Pictures Classics

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston star as contemplative vampires in Jim Jarmusch's 'Only Lovers Left Alive,' a story that is more tone poem than film. It is a languid, existential narrative that follows Adam (Hiddleston) and Eve (Swinton), two vampires who have seemingly existed since the beginning of time and have been in love for just as long, observing the world as it evolves and devolves around them. Jarmusch brings his arthouse sensibilities to the vampire genre, removing the focus from needless stereotypes and finding the humanity in the inhuman. 

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‘The Guest’ Review

The Guest
Picturehouse

Director Adam Wingard and his writing partner Simon Barrett, who last gave us horror favorite 'You're Next,' return with 'The Guest,' a genre throwback to the dark suspense thrillers of the late '80s and early '90s -- but this isn't mimicry or simply homage. Wingard and Barrett put their wryly sinister spin on this consistently engaging and unnerving story, throwing in a dash of classic John Carpenter for good measure. And who knew 'Downton Abbey' star Dan Stevens could be such a badass? 

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‘Open Windows’ Review

Open Windows Review

 

'Open Windows' stars Elijah Wood as Nick, the nerdy but affable web master of a site dedicated to fictional superstar actress Jill Goddard (former porn star-turned-actress Sasha Grey). When Jill cancels the dinner Nick won with her in a contest, a mysterious hacker named Chord allows Nick the opportunity to spy on Jill and play a little game that quickly turns dangerous and veers into an evening filled with myriad plot twists in this thriller from festival favorite director Nacho Vigalondo. Unfortunately, the film is a bit too ambitious and convoluted from the director, who's been admired for his deft sci-fi indies in the past. 

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‘Silicon Valley’ Review

Silicon Valley
HBO

It's been a while since we've seen some new content from Mike Judge, the creative mind who brought us favorites like the cult classic film 'Office Space' and the animated TV series 'King of the Hill.' Judge returns with the new HBO series 'Silicon Valley,' which marries his experience in episodic television with his knowledge and background in the world of computer technology. The sharp and highly hilarious series, which premiered its first two episodes at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival in advance of its April 6 debut, isn't all biting satire of the world of computer programmers and coders trying to parlay their talents into superstar lifestyles a la Steve Jobs -- it's actually got a lot more depth of character and quite a bit of heart beneath its comedic veneer. 

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