An angry and confused young neo-Nazi on a personal journey that will change their life doesn't sound like anything we haven't seen before, except in this case the angry and confused young neo-Nazi is a woman. 'Combat Girls' is a unique coming of age story that subverts expectations and transcends beyond the crude lifestyle of its lead to find a beating, raging heart.
I've seen plenty of airbrushed actors in my time, but I don't know if I've ever watched an airbrushed movie before the new version of 'Red Dawn.' This remake of John Milius' conservative '80 classic strips away almost all of the material's political dimensions, turning a gonzo paranoid fantasy into just another slick action movie. The original was crazy and silly, but at least it was deeply felt. The new one scrubs and smudges the quirks away, along with anything interesting or edgy. It's pretty but plastic.
We've already known how creative Rian Johnson is, and Emily Blunt even attested to that fact back during our Comic-Con interview. Back then, the celeb gave us some tid bits about what the director has in store for us with his latest project 'Looper,' and we'll find out soon enough when it hits theaters this Friday, September 28.
The movie tells the story of a designated hitman (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who kills people from the future who are sent back in time by the mob. But when he's faced with killing his future self (Bruce Willis) and "closing the loop," he misses the target and has to track himself down to finish the job.
We had a chance to speak with Rian Johnson at Fantastic Fest in Austin, just a few hours before the film's premiere, to chat about what else we can expect.
I spent the summers between my junior and senior years of college interning at an independent production company that specialized in schlocky horror movies. I worked as a post-production assistant, and when I wasn't running errands, I was sitting next to one of the editors, watching him cut. Immersing yourself in the raw footage of a horror movie for hours upon hours on end has a funny way of desensitizing you. Ghastly images of viscera and gore start to make you yawn. Bloodcurdling screams become white noise. It's not spooky. It's not fun. It's just a job.
'Berberian Sound Studio' is about a man who's having trouble making that leap from terror to tedium. He's been hired by an Italian production company to craft the sound mix for their latest horror film, a grisly tale of witches and torture named 'The Equestrian Vortex' (it's set at a horseback riding academy). The mixer, Gilderoy (Toby Jones), is an experienced professional but he's never worked on a horror movie before, and the graphic nature of 'Vortex's' content makes him uncomfortable. It doesn't seem to matter that he knows it's just a movie, or that without him and his legion of unsettling sound effects, the film would hardly qualify as scary at all. Something about it just upsets him.
'Tower Block' is about the last residents of a condemned housing project in London, who are riding out the final days before a government eviction kicks them out of their homes. One seemingly random morning, they wake to find themselves under fire from an unseen sniper, picking off as many of them as he can. The survivors regroup in the hallway, and realize their predicament: though they're safe as long as they stay out of sight, whoever is firing at them has blocking their phones and internet. He's booby-trapped the exits. They have nowhere to go and they're sitting ducks.
If Scott Adkins isn't the biggest action star in the world in five years, we as a society have failed.
Over the last half decade, Adkins has become a dependable stunt performer (he was Weapon XI at the end of 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine') and supporting baddie (he fought Matt Damon in 'The Bourne Ultimatum' and played Jean-Claude Van Damme's toadie in 'The Expendables 2') in mainstream films. His work harkens back to the action genre's bygone glory days, when special effects and computer imagery took a back seat to raw physicality and brute force. Sadly, his only leading roles to date have been relegated to the direct-to-DVD bin, where he's excelled in lean, low-budget martial arts flicks like 'Undisputed III: Redemption.'
"When you are scared, you are more alive," says Victor Bariteau, the central subject of 'The American Scream,' Michael Paul Stephenson's follow-up documentary to 'Best Worst Movie.' The quote, a nothing special bit of pop psychology ubiquitous in any discussion of "the horror industry," comes as our hero is preparing to make a scary career change, and lands with an unexpected gravitas. Indeed, the final 20 minutes of this very micro documentary, which has less production value than your average episode of 'Ice Road Truckers,' is surprisingly emotional, as it celebrates the triumphs and agonizes over the burden of dreams. It slowly evolves from a quick expose on neighborhood kooks into something truly touching.
Everyone has regrets. Despite the time-shifting mixed-media razzle dazzle of Li Yang and Guo Fan's ambitious and exuberant film 'Lee's Adventure,' this universal truth can't be ignored. The attempts to change the past can sometimes consume an entire life, and exposing this in a grand, heartbreaking scale is what makes this film so unexpectedly tender and wise.
Horror movies don't necessarily need rules, but if they're going to go to the trouble to establish some, they might as well follow them... at least for a little while. The Argentine ghost slasher gorefest 'Memory of the Dead' sets up this whole conceit about a Satanic ritual and the dead rising from their graves, and it makes a big stink about how everyone will be safe from the ghouls as long as they stay inside their house. But no sooner have they laid all this out than they immediately throw it out the window. No one goes outside, but the ghouls get in anyway. So why bother explaining it if it doesn't actually matter?