Press Play

SIMON SAYS: THE SITTER, blah blah, balls on fire, Method Man cameo, blah blah, double-fisted punch to the balls, blah

This is it, folks: David Gordon Green isn’t the guy that made George Washington and All the Real Girls anymore. Now, he’s the guy that made Pineapple Express and Your Highness. Which is a transition that doesn’t really deserve an award or a hearty handshake or even much praise really. But for the sake of needlessly giving credit where credit is due, I have to say: this new David Gordon Green is ok.
  • By Simon Abrams
  • |
  • December 12, 2011 12:33 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments

TONY DAYOUB: TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is a worthy remake filled with lonely characters

The tall, athletic man introduced earlier in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as British Intelligence officer Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) walks into a classroom and begins to write his name on the chalkboard. Only he does not write the name we’ve come to know him by. The typically garrulous young males attending the tony prep school remain blissfully unaware of their new teacher’s identity as he starts handing out the class assignment. But the viewer is all too keenly aware of who Prideaux is if only for the fact that we saw him shot in the back at the start of Tomas Alfredson’s film adaptation of the John le Carré novel. Is this a flashback? Or did Prideaux somehow survive the shooting? Prideaux’s mild demeanor belies his efficiency, a fact his students become aware of when a bird trapped in the chimney suddenly flies into the classroom in confusion. Prideaux rapidly pulls out a club from his desk drawer and swats the bird down to the ground where it continues to squeal in pain. As Alfredson directs the camera to capture the students’ horrified reactions, the sound of Prideaux beating the bird to death comes from off-screen.
  • By Tony Dayoub
  • |
  • December 9, 2011 12:35 PM
  • |
  • 3 Comments

Joe Swanberg's CAITLIN PLAYS HERSELF defies expectations and categorization

There’s not much nuance to the discussion around Joe Swanberg’s films. You either think the amazingly prolific director’s the second coming of Ingmar Bergman and the French New Wave or a sexist softcore sleazebag. No other member of the mumblecorps generates so much heat, even if Andrew Bujalski or Aaron Katz’s films aren’t universally liked. At a Q&A in Brooklyn two months ago, I asked Swanberg why he thinks his work is so divisive. He pointed out several possible reasons – shooting entirely on video (although he’s far from alone there), acting in his own films – before settling on the fact that he puts his libido explicitly into his work. That sex drive is usually but not always directed towards beautiful young women. However, Swanberg has also filmed himself masturbating for real, and his forthcoming film, The Zone, an update of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Teorema, depicts a mysterious bisexual stranger.
  • By Steven Erickson
  • |
  • December 2, 2011 11:39 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments

MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: On “Weed Wars,” drug clichés go up in smoke

“I run a family business, and the business is cannabis,” says Steve D’Angelo, a central character in Discovery’s new series “Weed Wars” and the co-founder and executive director of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, which distributes medical marijuana to almost 100,000 customers. D’Angelo’s matter-of-fact statement sums up the tone of this series, which treats the Harborside Heath Center as just another family-owned (albeit nonprofit) business, ultimately not too different from a veterinary clinic, a hair salon or a tattoo parlor.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
  • |
  • December 1, 2011 7:53 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments

Jason Segel's THE MUPPETS proves it's time for Kermit & Co. to pack it in

In his effort to revitalize the brand, Jason Segel exposes his fondness for the Muppets as boldly as he exposed his naked body in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. No hidden agendas here, The Muppets is packed with full-frontal nostalgia that suggests not just Segel’s desire to relive the magic of yesteryear but also his fervent belief that the Muppets’ charms can cast an equally powerful spell today. The Muppets, which Segel co-wrote with Nicholas Stoller, opens with an outright appreciation of The Muppet Show and the not so subtle implication that Segel spent his childhood feeling as if the Muppets were part of his family. If you’re a hardcore fan and realize how much the brand’s spirit has strayed from its roots since Jim Henson’s death in 1990, this is exactly the kind of opening you want to see, and it’s equally encouraging when, not much later, Segel’s Gary and his brother Walter (a Muppet performed by Peter Linz) break into song. The film’s rousing opening number, “Life’s a Happy Song,” captures some of the cherished Henson-era optimism and sweetness in its title alone, and the lyrics have a casually playful absurdity to them that feels just right. But the capper is a massive dance routine at the end of the song, when the citizens of Smalltown, USA, come flooding into the frame to form a leg-kicking, jazz-handsing chorus, creating a spectacle that would rank among the all-time greatest Muppet moments if not for one small problem. None of them are Muppets.
  • By Jason Bellamy
  • |
  • November 26, 2011 7:15 PM
  • |
  • 10 Comments

LISA ROSMAN: MY WEEK WITH MARILYN pleases while it lasts

These days, you can scarcely hit a Cineplex without tripping over at least one biopic, a phenomenon I chalk up to the same one that makes reality TV so proliferate: people tend to thrill over the idea that anything really happened, like, ever. But as thrilling as some human lives may be conceptually, rarely do any produce a satisfying narrative arc.
  • By Lisa Rosman
  • |
  • November 23, 2011 3:58 AM
  • |
  • 1 Comment

SIMON SAYS: Géla Babluani’s 13 is pure, bone-headed bliss

Géla Babluani’s 13, a remake of his own 13 Tzameti, is arty, self-serious macho bullshit, and it’s also a lot of fun. The director still takes his original premise too seriously, but it’s a problem that only really becomes apparent during 13’s last 20 minutes, so until then, you easily get lost watching Babluani cover the same ground again, only this time with a mesmeric ensemble cast.
  • By Simon Abrams
  • |
  • November 23, 2011 3:44 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments

Eastwood's "J. Edgar" takes few risks with its controversial subject

You'd think Clint Eastwood would be the right guy to direct a movie about J. Edgar Hoover. After all, who better to tell the story of the 20th century's most influential law enforcement officer, the man who wrote the rule book on fighting crime only to disregard those rules when they prevented him from getting his man, than Dirty Harry himself? Or, to be less obvious, what would the man responsible for White Hunter Black Heart, A Perfect World and Million Dollar Baby — movies about men who defied authority, be it Hollywood, the law or God — bring to the life story of the man who held authority over the country for nearly 50 years? Alas, Clint Eastwood's stately biopic J. Edgar is a frustrating experience. For nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes we are held captive by the possibility of a major revelation or insight into a man whose obsession with cataloging every single detail of a person's personal and professional lives foretold the collapse of privacy. We get hints, intimations and suggestions of darker urges that shaped Hoover's behavior, but nothing concrete about the man's personality, and no attitude whatsoever toward his actions. Eastwood mistakes vagueness for ambiguity and puts us in the position of being armchair psychiatrists.
  • By Aaron Aradillas
  • |
  • November 18, 2011 9:15 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments

LISA ROSMAN: Lars von Trier's MELANCHOLIA is a masterpiece

Lars von Trier is not a brother who provokes a neutral response: there are those who feel he can do no wrong, and then there are naysayers like me. Although I consider Dancer in the Dark one of the best movies of the last decade, I swore I’d never sit through another of his films after suffering through the school-play machinations of Dogville. A guy who so unilaterally criticizes America without ever having stepped foot on its soil deserves a similar boycott, I declared.
  • By Lisa Rosman
  • |
  • November 16, 2011 3:40 AM
  • |
  • 3 Comments

RECAP: Dexter heads over the edge

This recap contains spoilers for "Dexter" season six, episode seven; read at your own risk. Something extraordinary happened on “Dexter” this week. As Dexter split into two personas as he struggled to hang on to his remaining humanity, a show that’s been MIA suddenly reported ready for duty.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
  • |
  • November 14, 2011 12:03 PM
  • |
  • 2 Comments
More: Television

Follow Us

Most "Liked"

  • Second Sight: How Channel-Surfing, an ...
  • Better Red Than Dead: Director Gabe ...
  • The Hour is Getting Late: The Outsider ...
  • ARIELLE BERNSTEIN: Orphans, Refugees, ...
  • Vivian Maier, Mystery Woman and Master ...
  • Waleed Zuaiter Discusses Producing and ...
  • Hannah Horvath from GIRLS Is the Last ...
  • VIDEO ESSAY: Lars Von Trier: Cinema's ...
  • METAMERICANA: Is James Franco a Creep? ...
  • A Video Essay On Jim Jarmusch: Dead ...