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OSCARS DEATH RACE: WAR HORSE

In his review of "War Horse" for IFC.com, Matt Singer noted that "I did like one scene which is complete enough as its own unit of story and character that it could be pulled out of the film and played as its own short subject." The scene, of course, is the one in which said horse, Joey, makes a gallop for freedom but becomes hopelessly entangled in the barbed wire that separates the British and German lines. A soldier from each side comes out to aid Joey; for a moment, the Great War pauses to admit compassion -- and Steven Spielberg pauses to work small.
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 17, 2012 7:57 AM
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  • 6 Comments

OSCARS DEATH RACE: EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE

Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) lost his father, Thomas (Tom Hanks), on 9/11. About a year later, Oskar finds what he thinks is a message meant for himself in his father's closet: an envelope with the word "Black" written on it, and a key inside. Inspired by the memory of the myth-burnished scavenger hunts his father used to devise for him -- both as a bonding agent between them and a way for Oskar to confront his phobias -- Oskar decides that "Black" is the name of someone who knew Thomas, and sets out to find that someone. No matter that there are 472 of them in the New York City phone book, or that this won't change anything; he thinks it's what his father meant him to do.
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 16, 2012 7:09 AM
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  • 1 Comment

OSCARS DEATH RACE: PUSS IN BOOTS

I bailed on the "Shrek" franchise after the first movie; I didn't really like it and I didn't need any more of it. So, either I forgot or never knew that the titular puss in "Puss In Boots" is a character from the second "Shrek" installment, which probably let me enjoy the story and the jokes without any expectations to live up (or down) to.
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 15, 2012 7:36 AM
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  • 0 Comments

OSCARS DEATH RACE: Surveying the race for Best Documentary

Ah, Best Doc -- where the short list gets the finger-pointing and pearl-clutching underway early. I like to imagine Steve James watching the Oscars at home with a bottle of Goldschlager and a Krazy Straw, wearing PJs with basketballs on them, because as you probably heard, he didn't get nominated. (Again.) Let's look at what did.
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 14, 2012 6:38 AM
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  • 0 Comments

OSCARS DEATH RACE: Pina

"Pina" made me impatient for at least an hour. A small part of it is seeing the film at BAM, where arriving at the specified showtime is considered entirely optional and in fact rather bourgeois, but whispering knowingly throughout the film is considered mandatory. A much larger part of it is the medium of dance; I respect it, and especially its physical demands, but it's…not my way, I guess. My response to "some situations have no words" is not "express the situation via the body." It's "get a thesaurus and try again."
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 14, 2012 6:35 AM
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  • 2 Comments

OSCARS DEATH RACE: THE MUPPETS

I loved the Muppets as a kid -- "The Muppet Show" is one of the few programs my parents' ambitious first-child rules about TV would allow -- and I remember them fondly. But I had misgivings about "The Muppets" going in, for two reasons. The first is that, while I like Jason Segel, he works better for me as a seasoning and not the main course.
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 13, 2012 6:56 AM
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  • 6 Comments

OSCARS DEATH RACE: Anonymous

I'd rather have seen a "Noises Off"-style story about what's going on backstage at the modern-day framing-device production that opens "Anonymous" -- actors rushing to their places; the stage manager lighting torches with one of those little lighters chefs use to fire a crème brulee -- than the film I got. Of course, I'd rather have seen a root canal than what I got; I recoiled physically from the trailer all "ohhhh no no no no no," because if a buddy/heist movie is Buntnip, a costume drama concerning Shakespeare and the dirty-haired era in which he worked is…whatever the opposite of that is. Red Byptonite?
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 12, 2012 8:35 AM
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  • 1 Comment

OSCARS DEATH RACE: FOOTNOTE

In the press notes I received at the screening of "Footnote," writer/director Joseph Cedar comments that his film "qualifies as a tragedy, as most father-son stories do." It's a big statement; what's interesting about "Footnote" -- if not entirely successful -- is how Cedar presents that tragedy.
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 10, 2012 7:38 AM
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  • 0 Comments

OSCARS DEATH RACE: DRIVE

  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 10, 2012 4:40 AM
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  • 0 Comments

OSCARS DEATH RACE: KUNG FU PANDA 2

It feels a little too long, and leans a little too hard on the "what happened to you is not who you are" messaging, but Kung Fu Panda 2 is pretty fun, even for people like me for whom a little Jack Black goes a very long way. The opening origami-style animation sequence is lovely; the fight scenes pop along; and I watched the kung-fu radish in the dream sequence three times. So cute!
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 8, 2012 5:30 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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