There are few mysteries more grim than that of a suicide, particularly of such a beloved and iconic celebrity. That death can blur the line between fandom and the entitled urge to know more about their private lives — as was and still is the case with Kurt Cobain, guitarist and frontman of prolific ‘90s grunge outfit Nirvana. Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck gives us unprecedented access to the mind and soul of someone who never took interviews seriously and resented his overnight rise to fame.
Paul Feig’s The Heat took a genre that has traditionally belonged to men — the buddy cop movie — and gave it a female twist. Feig’s new movie, Spy, does much the same thing, this time for spy films, a world that has long been by, about, and for dudes and their power fantasies. Spy explicitly subverts the genre’s typical gender dynamics by casting Melissa McCarthy as a lowly, desk-bound CIA analyst named Susan Cooper, who has spent her entire career in the shadow of a glamorous James Bond-esque spy (Jude Law) and then finally gets her opportunity to step into the spotlight and become a full-fledged field agent.
Individually, Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart are undeniably hilarious guys. Bringing two major comedic forces together on the big screen just makes sense on both a commercial and entertainment level. Unfortunately, Get Hard largely squanders the talents of Ferrell and Hart on an outdated premise with tired jokes, delivering what essentially amounts to one overlong joke about the terrors of prison rape.
Last night, following a very special screening of The Road Warrior at SXSW, director George Miller treated us to seven minutes of action-packed new footage from Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as an exclusive new trailer created just for the fest. The new footage was brutal and gorgeous, and gave us a nice taste of Charlize Theron’s intensely bad ass Imperator Furiosa.
Amy Schumer has built a sizable fan base thanks to her Comedy Central series, which showcases her specific brand of honest and often subversive sense of humor. There’s no denying her intense relatability — and it’s that quality that serves her well in her debut film, Trainwreck. Written and produced by Schumer and directed by Judd Apatow, the film centers on a fictional version of Schumer. We’ll never know how fictional this Amy is (and we shouldn’t), which makes her cinematic alter ego all the more appealing.
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.
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.
In a couple hours, the ScreenCrush staff will head down to Austin, Texas for the annual celebration of movies, music, and smoked meats known as South by Southwest. The 2015 lineup is one of the strongest in years, and we’ll only be in town for a couple days, so we’ve spent way too many hours studying the lineup and trying to figure out the best way to maximize our time, see as many great films (and eat as much barbecue) as humanly possible. Our extensive research yielded the following list of ten movies we’re dying to see at SXSW 2015; click the link in each title to go to each’s page at SXSW.com, where you’ll find all the details on screening times and locations. In alphabetical order, here’s Screencrush’s 10 most anticipated movies at South by Southwest: