Lauren Humphries-Brooks is a writer, editor, and media journalist. She holds a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from New York University, and in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. She regularly contributes to film and pop culture websites, and has written extensively on Classical Hollywood, British horror films, and the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres. She currently works as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader.
Lauren is a film critic, writer, editor, and angry feminist, with a Masters in Film Studies from NYU and a PhD in making men mad on Twitter.
Lauren Humphries-Brooks is a writer, editor, and media journalist. She holds a Master's degree in Cinema Studies from New York University, and in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. ...
Written by: Lauren Humphries-Brooks, CC2K Staff Writer Is there a better candidate for a biopic than turn-of-the-century French novelist/actress Colette? Her story has everything: sex, sadism, fancy clothes, a woman rebelling against patriarchal dominance, writing.
The atmospheric horror film tends to get shorter shrift from fans of horror than its more blood-thirsty brothers and sisters. It's more understated, more psychological, more interested in establishing a sense of horror than in actually showing horrific things. Lenny Abramson's adaptation of Sarah Waters's Gothic novel The Little Stranger contains moments of violence, but...
Black KkKlansman (2018) With the release of Black KkKlansman, Spike Lee once again steps into his rightful place as a maker of bluntly provocative (and, incidentally, hilarious) films about race in America. The film follows the true story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), one of the first black police officers in Colorado Springs.
Josephine Decker's beautiful Madeline's Madeline shows at Fantasia 2018 this week, and once again I am at a loss of how to describe it with justice. Told primarily from the close perspective of its main character, it's both narrative and experimental, a dive into the complicated psyche of a young woman whose work with an...
One of the opening scenes of Issa Lopez's magical realist fabula Tigers Are Not Afraid depicts a group of Mexican schoolchildren discussing with their teacher the elements of a fairy tale. After they go through the litany - princesses and princes, castles, magic, tigers, three wishes - the room erupts in gunshots and the children...
I have been sitting here for the past five minutes, trying to decide how the hell to go about reviewing Rokuroku: The Promise of the Witch, now showing at Fantasia 2018. And I still don't know how I feel. Did I like it? Hate it? Was I impressed by its audacity, or confused by its...
We toss the phrase "Hitchcockian thriller" around an awful lot. It's become standard term for any thriller that uses clever plot devices, claustrophobic locations, or techniques that vaguely resemble something Hitchcock tried. But for once, there is a film that actually deserves the comparison. Nosipho Dumisa's Number 37 is certainly Hitchcockian and makes no attempt...
Defenses of the First Amendment have been tossed around quite a lot recently. Roseanne Barr's supporters attempted to claim that critics violated First Amendment rights after ABC decided to cancel her show over her racist comments. White men start shouting about First Amendment rights whenever someone disagrees with them on Twitter.
With the rise of so-called "prestige horror" and the mainstream establishment beginning (yet again) to take the genre seriously, contemporary horror films have the unenviable task of measuring up to a multitude of competitors for audience attention. But the increased emphasis on horror as a viable mainstream genre also means there's plenty of space for...
The Vanished is a twisty South Korean psychological thriller, a clever amalgam of classical cinematic influences - especially Diabolique-filtered through a powerful narrative about the nature of perception and guilt. The film takes place over the course of a single night, as a police team arrive at the city morgue to investigate the disappearance of the...
First Reformed represents director Paul Schrader's latest attempt to step back into the critically acclaimed arthouse fold, a world that has eluded him for some time. While he has been behind a number of critically successful screenplays - including Scorsese's Taxi Driver, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Raging Bull - his directorial output is...
Marianna Palka's deeply dark chamber comedy Egg explores issues of motherhood, female friendship, and social constructs during a single, brutally funny, equally uncomfortable afternoon party. Conceptual artist Tina (Alysia Reiner) and her husband Wayne (Gbenga Akinnagbe) are having a small get-together with Tina's old art school friend Karen (Christina Hendricks), pregnant and now married to...
No, Disobedience is not "that Jewish lesbian movie." Nor is it the film where Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams make out. Yes, the characters they portray are Jewish, yes they are lesbians, and yes there is a sex scene. Disobedience is not a puerile male fantasy in which two attractive actresses kiss; in fact, it...
Woman Walks Ahead purports to tell the true story of the relationship between Sitting Bull (Michael Greyeyes) and Catherine Weldon (Jessica Chastain), a portrait artist who travels out of New York to Dakota in order to be the first to paint the famous Sioux leader Sitting Bull's portrait.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018) Love, Simon has brought the teenage rom-com into the 21st Century, finally giving us a funny and heartfelt story about the difficulties of coming out (and falling in love). The Miseducation of Cameron Post is Love, Simon's more serious sister film, a coming-of-age drama about teens sent to a...
The Stolen Heart (1933)Most film buffs know Lotte Reiniger as the pioneer of silhouette animation and the creator of the first feature-length animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed, a combination of One Thousand and One Nights stories that predated Walt Disney's Snow White by over a decade.
No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1948) No Orchids for Miss Blandish is based on a book of the same title by James Hadley Chase - a notorious 1939 crime novel that the writer supposedly composed on a bet to "outdo The Postman Always Rings Twice."
Outrage (1950) Between 1949 and 1953, actress/writer/director/producer/general badass Ida Lupino directed five feature films, making her the most prolific female director of her era. She was only the second woman to join the DGA, and she learned to direct during one of her extensive suspensions from Warner Brothers, where she wandered the backlots and watched...
When the Duffer Brothers announced a sequel season to their breakout Netflix hit Stranger Things , the internet jumped with both excitement and trepidation. Excitement that the story was not yet over, and trepidation that it might not be able to live up to the original.
Richard Linklater's Last Flag Flying opens this year's New York Film Festival with a seriocomic drama about friendship in the midst of a topical treatment of the consequences and effects of war. With a script by Linklater and author Darryl Ponicsan, Last Flag Flying bridges the gap between Vietnam and Iraq, attempting to highlight the humor, pathos, and universality in soldiers' experiences, in war and out of it.
The pilot for CBS's new spinoff series, Young Sheldon opens with a shot of a train set accompanied by a voiceover from, uh, old Sheldon (Jim Parsons) explaining how he would have been a ticket taker if he couldn't have been a physicist.
Deliver Us (Libera Nos) (2016) The Italian documentary Deliver Us (Libera Nos) opens on a peaceful, if slightly sinister image: an Sicilian priest quietly prays with a woman sitting in a chair, her back to the camera. As the priest presses his stole to the woman's head, a terrifying change comes over her: she begins shrieking,...
Fritz Lang (2016) Fritz Lang, now showing at Fantasia 2017, is a special kind of biopic. Rather than going the conventional route and telling the story of an artist's life from beginning to end, the film engages with an important, pivotal moment in Lang's life and career: the conception of his first sound film M, which would prove...
"The picture is the baby," is the driving mantra of Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer), the titular character in Amazon's latest serial drama The Last Tycoon , based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished novel of the same name. The show follows the ups and downs of Stahr as he tries to protect that baby, sometimes at the cost of his own soul.
Bitch (2017) It's nice to know that, jaded as I am, a film still has the capacity to surprise me. Writer/director Marianna Palka's biting indie Bitch is now showing at Fantasia Fest in Montreal, and is one of the more shocking, funny, and poignant films I've seen in a very long time.
Sequence Break (2016) We've finally reached the point in horror filmmaking where directors and writers look back with fondness on the combination of schlock and awe that was 1980s horror. 80s Carpenter brought us The Thing and 80s Cronenberg brought us The Fly, so now we're beginning to see films so clearly referential to both that they...
The Final Master (2015) By now there have been a number of films dealing with Wing Chun, the martial art form made most famous in the west by Bruce Lee and his master Ip Man (whose story has been m...
Dune (1984) I've been on a David Lynch kick ever since the return of Twin Peaks to our TV screens and cerebral cortexes, reliving some of my favorite Lynchian works (that would be Mulholland Drive, by the way) and experiencing some for the very first time (Eraserhead).
Noroi: The Curse (2005) Thanks to Shudder, I've had the opportunity to watch some really excellent horror films that I'd probably never have even heard of, and many that I'd have never had the stomach to rent. And while I admit that my J-horror education has been sorely lacking, at least I have experienced the power...
A Tricky Treat (2015) and Shortcut (2016) Playing in Final Girls's Dying of Laughter shorts program is the comic A Tricky Treat, from director Patricia Chica, about one family's worrying Halloween tradition. Less predictable than one might expect, this film takes a twist that I recall coming up in the anthology film Trick R' Treat and gives it another little turn,...
Goblin Baby (2015) The terrors of motherhood are ripe for horror films, but female directors have only just recently taken possession of them. While films like Rosemary's Baby and The Brood seek to cast the experience of pregnant women and mothers as sources of the abject and terrifying, it's only recently that those experiences have been truly...
The Betrayal (2015) and Earworm (2016) The Betrayal and Earworm, included in the Phantasmagoria program of the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival this year, are among the shortest and most effective horror shorts I've come across yet. Susan Young's The Betrayal comes in at only five minutes, telling a rapid-fire story of medical violence and control through quick, almost...
Innsmouth (2015) The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival, celebrating women in horror, began yesterday, launching a program that includes some past and present horror shorts by female directors. Today, its Body Horror slate premieres, which includes the Lovecraft riff Innsmouth, from director Izzy Lee. Innsmouth takes "The Shadow over Innsmouth," one of H.P.
Rites of Vengeance (2017) Izzy Lee's other film at the Final Girl Berlin Film Festival is Rites of Vengeance, a sharp and sad short about three nuns who seek revenge on a priest after he commits a terrible sin. As with Lee's Innsmouth, this film focuses on the combination of monstrosity and the terrible beauty in female relationships,...
The Lovers (2017) The Lovers is that rarest of cinematic endeavors: a truly adult romance. By "adult," I don't mean "explicit" (though The Lovers does have one or two depictions of orgasm both tender and slightly humorous), but genuinely grown up. Rather than dwelling in puerile depictions of marital infidelity that result in either suffering...
Abundant Acreage Available (2017) Abundant Acreage Available is a strange, chamber piece of a film, taking as its subject the decline of two families and their dedication the land that both keeps them alive, and slowly kills them. The film opens as Tracy (Amy Ryan) and Jesse (Terry Kinney) bury their father's ashes in the...
Dog Years (2017) Burt Reynolds might not be the ultimate male celebrity, but he certainly makes a case for it in Dog Years, a film about aging stardom, regret, and the possibility of redemption even for an asshole. The film opens with elderly Hollywood star Vic Edwards (Reynolds) having to put down his dog Squanto,...
Chuck (2017) Everybody knows Rocky. Many might know that Rocky is based on a true story about a New Jersey boxer who stood up and faced Muhammad Ali for fifteen punishing rounds. Director Phillipe Falardeau's new film Chuck seeks to bring us the story of the "real Rocky," told with a charming irreverence that makes...
Dabka opens with a voiceover from its protagonist, Jay Bahadur (Evan Peters), explaining that he hates voiceover in films because it's lazy filmmaking. This self-aware smugness unfortunately sets the tone for the entire movie, which wavers between comedy and serious drama without much clear direction or purpose.
November (2017) If you ever wanted to see a Bergman film set in 19th Century Estonia and populated by a cast of peasants, aristocrats, demons, confused cows, angry pigs, witches, werewolves, and ghosts that turn into chickens, with some heady appearances by Satan himself, then November is what you've been waiting for.
There's a scene in The Circle in which Tom Hanks walks onto a stage in front of hundreds of adoring workers and proceeds to lay out a plan for a world in which privacy is not only a thing of the past, but is something that we give up completely and voluntarily.
Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em. Dito Montiel's disarmingly sweet comedy The Clapper is about a man who not only has greatness thrust upon him, but is desperate to avoid greatness altogether.
Take Me (2017) Quirky films are an art form and no one knows quirk better than the Duplass Brothers, who have kindly produced director/star Pat Healy's Take Me for our viewing pleasure. The film is playing at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, and is so wonderfully odd that it really must be seen.
Attempting to codify director Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto is like attempting to unify a mass of artistic movements into a clearly defined and coherent whole without contradiction. Which makes sense, as the apparent theme behind Rosefeldt's film is that the nebulous nature of art defies definition or unification.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017) Hedy Lamarr was many things, not the least of them a Hollywood star and actress known more for her beauty than her undoubted talent. But she was also just this side of a genius, a talented inventor who created (among other things) the basis of the technology employed in...
Psychological thrillers are ubiquitous right now, so it's always encouraging to see one that attempts to do more with its narrative than tell the simple story of a man coming apart at the seams. Such is Buster's Mal Heart , the sophomore effort from writer/director Sarah Adina Smith, an imperfect film that nonetheless stretches itself to do more with a genre that has threatened to fall into cliche.
The Endless (2017) Actor/directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead open their latest film The Endless with a quote from H.P. Lovecraft, setting the immediate tone for a movie that will take some of Lovecraft's notions about time, reality, and the monstrous unknown, and attempt to bend them into new shapes.
In case anyone still doubted that Steve Coogan possesses serious acting chops, Oren Moverman's The Dinner is here to prove you wrong. Coogan might not receive top billing, but he truly leads the stellar cast in this intense chamber drama currently on at the Tribeca Film Festival.
LA 92 (2017) LA 92 is unlike any documentary I've ever seen. Few documentaries plunge you into the middle of a rioting city, into the bleeding heart of America itself. Made up entirely of archival footage, including home video, news reports, and behind-the-scenes images, the film tells the story of the violent destruction of much...
A River Below (2017) Every year, the Tribeca Film Festival showcases some of the most interesting documentaries currently in the running, usually adhering (either by accident or design) to a general theme. Last year, nuclear proliferation and the rise of the police state was a major source of dialogue within Tribeca's documentary entries.
Shadowman (2017) Oren Jacoby's Tribeca documentary Shadowman looks at the vibrant New York street art scene through the life and work of graffiti artist Richard Hambleton. Along with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, Hambleton became representative of the gritty energy of emerging street art as he painted over the streets of the Lower East Side...
In the not-too-distant future, next Sunday A.D. ...well, actually, right now, on Netflix. That's right, the cult favorite TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 has returned, with all-new hosts, all-new Mads and all-new voices for some familiar bots.
The third season of Netflix's Grace and Frankie opens with Frankie (Lily Tomlin) dancing down the beach pursued by dozens of animated vibrators - an indelible image that sets the tone for the rest of the series.
One of the downsides to living in the new Golden Age of Television is that some shows, decent in their own right, will inevitably suffer in comparison to the best of the best. I fear that may be the fate of Victoria , which has its U.S. premiere later tonight.
Dearest Sister (2016) *Now streaming exclusively on Shudder. As women make ever greater strides into the horror genre, one to watch is certainly Lao director Mattie Do, Laos's first female director and first horror director. Her second horror feature Dearest Sister showed at Cannes in 2014, at last year's Fantastic Fest in Austin, and now finally sees a...
Chimes at Midnight (1967) *originally published on The News Hub Chimes at Midnight is available to watch on FilmStruck "Banish Plump Jack, and banish all the world." -Henry IV Part 1, Act II, Scene IV. The stage empties, leaving a solitary figure at the center.
The Witch (2016) *originally published on The News Hub Whatever you do, don't go into the woods - there are witches there. That's the basic moral of The Witch, one of the odder and more provocative works of cinematic horror to appear in the past few years.
The Love Witch (2016) Every once in a while, a film comes along that defies audience expectations, even when the audience is more than prepared to indulge in whatever it offers. The Love Witch, from writer/director Anna Biller, is such a film: a gleefully malevolent celebration of thrillers and horror films from the 1960s and 70s...and...
I Shot Jesse James (1949) *Originally published on The News Hub When we think of director Samuel Fuller we tend to think of films noir about displaced men, damaged women, criminals searching for redemption, and tabloid stories expanded to the level of mythology. Yet Fuller cut his teeth originally in the Western genre, with his first feature...
Evil Eye (1963) *Evil Eye is available to stream on Shudder. Continuing my probably unhealthy love affair with the films of Mario Bava: Evil Eye, Bava's 1963 film that combines psychological horror, sexploitation, and some stylized horror to become the first true giallo.
Off The Rails (2016) *Streaming exclusively on Sundance Now from December 8. This year has seen a preponderance of excellent documentaries, as no doubt the Oscar race will attest. Many have been all-too-topical, as increasing police violence, hate crimes, and the divide between the rich and poor ever widens.
Black Sabbath (1963) Mario Bava, where have you been all my life? The Italian horror maestro really is just worming his way into my heart, especially after Black Sabbath, his 1963 horror anthology film. When you put Boris Karloff, vampires, and floating corpses in the same film, you're guaranteed to get my attention.
'I Am Not Your Negro' is currently screening at film festivals including the New York International Film Festival, Hampton International Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Middleburg Film Festival, Philadelphia International Film Festival, and Virginia Film Festival. Reviewed By Lauren Humphries-Brooks Trying to define director Raoul Peck's film I Am Not Your Negro is an exercise in futility.
Director James Gray's NYFF closer The Lost City of Z is a visually stunning film. Shot in 35mm on location in Columbia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, it lovingly renders the English landscape and Amazonian jungle alike.
Director Mia Hansen-Løve's Things to Come (L'Avenir) is one of two dramas starring Isabelle Huppert to come to the New York Film Festival this year (the second is the very different Elle).
I am not entirely certain what to do with The Ornithologist, the latest from Portuguese director João Pedro Rodrigues ( O Fantasma). I'm not sure that The Ornithologist knows what to do with The Ornithologist. The film is neither surrealist, parabolic, nor realistic, yet it attempts to blend those elements into coherent whole.
A centerpiece film premiering at the New York Film Festival this year is Mike Mills's 20th Century Women , featuring performances by Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, and Elle Fanning as three different generations of women existing in close proximity in a ramshackle bohemian house.
'Manchester by the Sea' screens at the New York International Film festival in the Main Slate seciont and is the Centerpiece film at the Hampton International Film Festival Reviewed By Lauren Humphries-Brooks Manchester by the Sea is Kenneth Lonergan's quietly devastating new drama, now showing at the New York Film Festival.
During the press conference following the NYFF press screening of The Death of Louis XIV, actor Jean-Pierre Léaud quoted Jean Cocteau: "Cinema is the only art that can capture death at work."
It's a dreadful thing to write a bad review about a film that you desperately wanted to like. I find myself in this position with A Quiet Passion, the latest film from Terrence Davies that attempts to tell the biography of Emily Dickinson and manages little but mannered, superficial passion.
The films of Pedro Almodóvar always draw out the oft-melodramatic complexities of everyday existence, especially for the multi-faceted female characters that drive the narratives. In Julieta , Almodóvar crafts perhaps his most straight-forward story, shorn of many of the melodramatic flourishes and plot twists that so often permeate his films, yet nonetheless powerful and provocative.
Writer/director Kelly Reichardt's Certain Women bears the burden of being a small indie drama with A-list stars, boasting a cast that includes Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart and Michelle Williams in the title roles. Luckily for the film, and the audience, Certain Women more than justifies itself as a serious argument for the beauty of the small and intimate drama and the importance of female-driven filmmaking.
One of the most lauded films to come out of the festival circuit this year, writer/director Barry Jenkins's Moonlight is an exquisite examination of a Miami boy's growth into manhood as he comes to understand his homosexuality.
Gimme Danger is the exuberant and enticing documentary about seminal rock band The Stooges, fronted by punk icon Iggy Pop. Director Jim Jarmusch brings his quintessential art-house style to the documentary genre, blending contemporary and historical interviews, animation, public domain films, stills, and concert footage to create a wild ride that rubs the deep underbelly of 1960s and 70s counterculture.
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime...shall exist within the United States." - The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution Thus begins Ava DuVernay's searing documentary The 13th . The film views the trajectory of the United States' prison-system, the mass incarceration of African-American men, and the rising tide of police brutality, both past and present, through the lens of systemic racism.
How does one make a film about Chilean poet Pablo Neruda? The man's life and body of work is too lyrical, too complex for a simple biopic. With his exuberant visual poem Neruda , director Pablo Larraín embraces the life, the poetry, and the politics of Pablo Neruda.
The path of the TV adaptation of is fraught with peril, and not just because of demons. The small screen is currently awash in horror and horror adaptations. American Horror Story leads the pack, of course, but there's also the Scream series, Scream Queens, Bates Motel, the much-binged Stranger Things, The Walking Dead, The Strain ...need I go on?
Paul D. Hart's provocative short film Three Fingers premieres this week at Women Texas Film Festival. In a scant 12 minutes, the film tells the story of a young female Marine in the throes of severe PTSD, her life and marriage in a state of imbalance as she's unable to shake the horrors of wartime experience.
Imagine the Coen Brothers making Taken in the snowy wilds of Norway, and you've got something like the brilliantly black Scandinavian comedy In Order of Disappearance. The film stars Stellan Skarsgård as Nils, a snowplow driver in a remote corner of Norway whose son is murdered (mistakenly) by crossing a drug cartel led by the Count (Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen, of Kon Tiki fame).
Reviewed by Lauren Humphries-Brooks Like its central character, The People vs. Fritz Bauer is a quiet, understated film that gives little away, yet summons up a sense of controlled power and passion seething just beneath the surface. Taking place in a rather murky period of German history during the mid-1950s, it tells the story of...
Reviewed by Lauren Humphries-Brooks Bingham Bryant and Kyle Molzan's For the Plasma bills itself as a "lo-fi mind bender...that flirts with sci-fi and horror conventions, even as it subverts them." The ostensible plot centers on Helen (Rosalie Lowe), a young woman living in a remote town on the Maine coast, who monitors cameras in the...
The Childhood of a Leader opens not on the angelic face of its sociopathic protagonist Prescott (Tom Sweet), but on real footage of the events that shape him. Bone-rattling music plays over silent films of the events surrounding the aftermath of World War I and the Treaty of Versailles, introducing the viewer to the film's background and the formation of its protagonist's identity.
A Horror Renaissance is upon us, with a rise in unique and deceptively simple stories told with surprising depth and straightforward scares. This is the case with writer/director Jeremy Saulnier's Green Room , which hacks its way onto Blu-ray this week. Green Room pulses with punk sensibility and a dose of very real, very visceral scares.
Reviewed by Lauren Humphries-Brooks When Universal released the original Dracula starring Bela Lugosi in 1931, theaters warned film patrons that the movie would so terrify them that they might be in need of medical attention. Medical nurses stood by to tend to those delicate souls who could not cope with Dracula's horrors.
Reviewed by Lauren Humphries-Brooks Like all the best art, Ben Wheatley's bizarre and vicious satire High-Rise has divided critics, and made more than a few walk out in consternation, fury, or elation. It incites proclamations of brilliance, as well as vitriolic attacks accusing it of superficiality and overindulgence.
This year, the Tribeca Film Festival's major theme was militarization and nuclear weapons. Documentaries about drone warfare ( National Bird), nuclear accidents ( Command and Control), and police militarization ( Do Not Resist) featured heavily, prompting at least this writer to assume that we're all going to die in an accidental nuclear holocaust, probably superintended by Scientologists ( My Scientology Movie).
We of the liberal West like our stories of foreign conflict clean and straightforward, with discernible messages that reinforce ideals. We look at the relationship between Israel and Palestine in chiaroscuro lighting, content to view the Palestinians as either a repressed and battered minority, or a cadre of terrorists and thugs.
Tom Hanks has made a career out of playing, with great aplomb, nice guys stuck in weird, confusing, or untenable situations. The actor once again uses that uncanny ability to diverting effect in Tom Tykwer's meandering yet oddly entertaining A Hologram for the King .
Wolves focuses on Anthony Keller (newcomer Taylor John Smith), a NYC high school basketball star in his senior year who hopes for a scholarship to play for Cornell University. He's got a sweet girlfriend (Zazie Beetz), good friends, and an apparently happy home life.
The slow-burning indie thriller The Fixer opens on a woman speaking intense Polish, while a naked man strapped to a wheel rolls slowly away behind her. As the camera rises, we realize that this is a play being performed for a tiny audience in a small-town theatre - most of them obviously perplexed by what's happening in front of them.
Patricia Highsmith's novels have been the go-to for complex, urbane thrillers since Alfred Hitchcock made the first Strangers on a Train adaptation in 1951. A Kind of Murder is the latest in the Highsmith subgenre - it's based on the novel The Blunderer from 1954, and directed by Andy Goddard from a screenplay by Susan Boyd.
Youth In Oregon tells the story of Raymond Engersoll (Frank Langella), a former doctor who lives with his wife Estelle (Mary Kay Place) in the home of their daughter Kate Gleason (Christina Applegate) and her family.
Writer/director Christopher Smith's Detour has all the hallmarks of a noir thriller: law student and basically nice guy Harper (Tye Sheridan) falls into the bad company of Johnny (Emory Cohen) and his stripper girlfriend Cherry (Bel Powley) during a drunken binge at a bar.
There's nothing funny about the Holocaust, which is probably why some comedians think it's about time to start making jokes about it. The Last Laugh , a documentary by director and cinematographer Ferne Pearlstein, reveals, dissects, and discusses the subject of taboo humor in general and the Holocaust in particular.
Contrary to popular opinion, most critics don't go into a film hoping to hate it. Actually, we hope to love it. Probably no one knows quite so well as film critics that sense of joy that comes from seeing a really good film, must less a truly great one.
On September 18, 1980, a mechanic accidentally dropped a socket while performing routine maintenance on a Titan II missile in Damascus, Arkansas. The resulting rupture in the fuel tank nearly resulted in the detonation of one of America's most powerful nuclear warheads.
The world is awash in coming-of-age stories about children leaving home and young people learning how to be adults, but rarely does one see a story about adults learning how to be young people. That's the subject of Danish director Christian Tafdrup's Parents , a story about empty-nest syndrome and the adults among us seeking the freedom, and even the heartbreak, of youth.
A wealth of comedic talent went into making Nerdland , the animated feature film from the creative team of director/producer Chris Prynoski and writer Andrew Kevin Walker. Prynoski's animation studio Titmouse, Inc.
Child prodigies are the curiosities of the celebrity world - and while those amazing little actors and singers might impress us, it's even more remarkable when children excel in those cerebral endeavors typically left to adults.
"You shouldn't have to stop your own people from killing civilians," says a former military whistleblower in the documentary National Bird . More than just a documentary, National Bird is a scathing and clearly delineated expose on America's use of drone warfare and the effects it has on both the victims of the attacks and the people operating the aircraft.
We've heard a lot about the crisis of education in America - about poverty, about the dropout rate, about prohibitive testing measures, about charter schools and teacher salaries and the slow decline of American education having any sort of claim to intellectual ascendancy.
The Man Who Knew Infinity seeks to tell a unique and, for me at least, relatively unknown story about a mathematics prodigy who faces discrimination and homesickness in his quest to prove his own theorems. Its subject is Srinivasa Ramanujen, perhaps one of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th Century, whose work shaped the future of the discipline and whose theorems still confound mathematicians to this day.
The Church of Scientology has become the big bad of documentary filmmakers. Last year brought us Going Clear, a movie that delved into the bizarre history of Scientology and the strange, terrifying figure of its current leader David Miscavige.
Oddly enough, Alex Proyas's is not a bad idea on paper. There have been plenty of weird, kitschy films about Greek gods and Roman gods, as well as Judeo-Christian stories, but the well of Egyptian deities has (in Western film at least) been left largely untapped.
The Coen Brothers' lyrical homage to Classic Hollywood, hits Blu-ray next week. A more optimistic companion piece to the darker, seamier Hollywood of Barton Fink, Hail, Caesar! succeeds more than it fails, delivering an enjoyable and diverting, if somewhat unfocused, paean to a bygone world. Hail, Caesar!
I have seen many films, some good, some bad, some mind-boggling in their awfulness. I can safely say though that no film has ever been delivered to me in a package that contained a condom, a pill bottle full of Tic-Tacs and an H&M bikini top.
There's something delicious about a horror film that indulges in nasty, grotesque jokes at the expense of innocent - and not so innocent - people. Michael Dougherty's dark and hilarious Krampus, which jingles its way onto Blu-ray this month, is one such film.
Films about immigration to America all too often rely on the same tired clichés: about immigrants struggling to come to the new world, only to discover that the streets are not paved with gold or even properly paved, or about immigrants already here, faced with that peculiar American brand of discrimination, ghettoization, and fragmentation.
Action movies possess their own special kind of artistry. While there are numerous techniques in the action filmmaker's arsenal - jump cuts, montages, hard-pumping soundtracks, body cams - putting them all together with a certain degree of panache and energy takes a very particular kind of filmmaker.
Ron Howard's sea-faring escapade washes up on Blu-ray this month. With a strong cast and usually dependable director, the film presents itself as a maritime adventure, the "incredible true story that inspired Moby Dick," based on Nathaniel Philbrick's non-fiction account of the wreckage of the whaling ship Essex by a massive white whale.
How did Peter Pan get to Neverland? How did Captain Hook get his ship? And what's up with fairy-dust? These are questions unlikely to plague viewers, but if you were really wondering then you could pop in a disc of director Joe Wright's soaring onto Blu-Ray, digital HD, and DVD release this month.
There's very little I can say about director Lenny Abrahamson's brilliant and heart-wrenching drama Room that has not already been said - critics and audiences have praised it and the Oscars rewarded it. As the film makes its way onto Blu-ray this month, audiences will have another opportunity to experience the painful humanity of this drama, a story about a mother/child bond forged in trauma and fantasy.
Catherine Hardwicke's mixed bag of a dramedy, Miss You Already , about two friends dealing with a life-changing illness, eases its way onto Blu-ray this month. In the interests of full-disclosure, I will mention that I almost had to recuse myself from this review after watching the first half hour.
Good movies are rarer than we sometimes realize. If there's one thing you can say for Steven Spielberg, it's that he makes good movies. His films hold together with a solidity often missing in the more bloated, action and CGI- filled blockbusters that fill our multiplexes.
As with any genre, melodrama has its own artistry. Creating an emotional response in the viewer enough to cause tears, or at least for a strong connection to the main characters, is an art in itself. Done properly, melodrama can be as exhilarating as an action film, and as intense as a horror movie.
"What made you start dancing?" Director Richard Attenborough took on a great challenge in his 1985 adaptation of the hit Broadway musical A Chorus Line , now having its day on Blu-Ray from 20 th Century Fox. While this adaptation of the film certainly has its problems, there is still a great deal to recommend with it.
For our next Crush-a-Thon entry we turn to the female perspective, courtesy of Lauren Humphries-Brooks. Lauren writes about movies over at Suddenly, A Shot Rang Out... and is also a frequent contributor at Man I Love Films. She says of herself, "I long to be a daring combination of Jack Kerouac, Charles Dickens and Hunter...
House of Wax from 1953 has the distinction of being one of the first color 3D films released by a major studio. In the new 60 th Anniversary Blu-Ray from Warner Brothers, you can watch the film in its original format; if, that is, you happen to be in possession of a 3D television and Blu-Ray player.
Do you remember the last time you cried at a movie? I mean, had to stop the film for a few minutes just to recover kind of crying? I had that experience watching King Vidor's World War I epic The Big Parade , now available on a beautiful Blu-Ray from Warner Brothers.
Kurt Neumann's 1958 science-fiction film The Fly has finally had its day on Blu-Ray, in a new release from 20 th Century Fox. How very pretty it looks. The Fly differs markedly from many other science-fiction/horror films of its ilk.
Anticlockwise: The Psychedelic World of Tara King (The Avengers on Film) (Volume 3) [Rodney Marshall, Matthew Lee, Dan O'Shea, Mark Saunders, Sunday Swift, Sam Denham, Margaret J Gordon, J Z Ferguson, Darren Burch, Lauren Humphries-Brooks, Bernard Ginez, Frank Hui, Frank Shailes] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.
Back when X-Men Origins: Wolverine came out, I remember being utterly confused at the introduction of what seemed the dumbest character ever. Deadpool seemed like an act of desperation in a film that was itself already desperate. I didn't get him at all. I didn't really care. Naturally, I was wrong.
Disclaimer: This is a rewrite of a much earlier post on my own blog, but it's been changed to protect the innocent. Or something like that. I do oh so hate Twilight. I hate everything about it. I hate Robert Pattinson, I hate the greyscale pallette, I hate Taylor Lautner's abs, I really hate Kristin Stewart and her total lack of facial expression.
I have an oft-thorny relationship with fandom. On the one hand, fandom has brought me friendships across the world, has fanned the flames (as it were) of my film and television-related passions, and even has enabled me to write in ever greater depth on a variety of esoteric subjects.
Mad Max: Fury Road is everyone's new favorite action movie. Blending over-the-top violence, dystopian world-building, intense action and injected with a healthy dose of forward-thinking feminism, the film has put every other summer blockbuster to shame and made at least this writer question just where director George Miller has been all these years.
I have very mixed feelings about fandom. Sometimes I love it; sometimes I want to destroy it with fire. But most of us - at least, those of us with a vague tendency to obsession and an inveterate love of media - have been part of some fandom at one time in our lives.
"I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the super sensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in languorous ecstasy and waited, waited with beating heart."
Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of Kingsman: The Secret Service has received its fair share of praise, most of it deserved: Colin Firth is great, Samuel L. Jackson should have been a Bond villain before now, Taron Egerton has a strong career ahead of him.
Here's a little personal tidbit: I come from a small town in Central New York. It's a fairly liberal and prosperous enclave in the midst of a mostly rural area, much of which has been depressed and impoverished for years.
The film franchise is quite possibly one of the most frustrating ones in Hollywood (second only to Dredd, which desperately needs to actually BE a franchise). I am not a comic book fan, and I am even less of a fan of comic book movies, so it says a lot that I do love Hellboy and the world that surrounds him.
A Guest Honey Classic Review of Theater of Blood from Lauren No one writes better murders than William Shakespeare. Edgar Allan Poe comes in a close second, but I still give the edge to old Will. In the course of more than 30 plays, Shakespeare managed to stab, poison, hang, burn, drown, blind, rape, and mutilate heroes and villains alike.
Like most white middle-class American human beings my age, Disney was a major force in my childhood. I had my first moment of abject terror (Maleficent), was obsessed with my first movie ( Lady and the Tramp), developed my first crushes (Prince Philip and Robin Hood), and experienced my first identification with animal familiars (Lucifer the Cat, Sebastian the Crab).
Well, obviously, to become rich and famous. And sexy. Studying film, particularly at a grad school level, makes you about 30-40% sexier, according to the Associated Press. Which is pretty impressive, given that film students spend about 75% of their time in darkened rooms, shut out from the healthy light of day, staring at a screen on which flicker the pretend adventures of a variety of people pretending to be other people.
The year is 1984, and a muscular cyborg from the future pursues an innocent Sarah Connor across the comparative hellscape of 1980s Los Angeles. Accompanied by time-traveler Kyle Reese, Connor must survive the onslaught of the T-800, a vicious and apparently unkillable robot sent to murder her before she becomes the mother of the future savior John Connor, who will lead the future battle against Skynet.
"In its contemporary and most sophisticated form, paracinema is an aggressive, esoteric and often painfully ascetic counter-aesthetic, one that produces, in its most extreme manifestations, an ironic form of reverse elitism." - Jeffrey Sconce, " 'Trashing' the Academy" To my knowledge, paracinema is a term that never quite caught on.
Star Wars has never really gone away. The franchise made a spectacular splash upon the first film's release in 1977 - so spectacular that director George Lucas went on to make two sequels and millions of dollars in merchandising deals across the 70s and 80s.
Today marks the first contribution to the Criterion Top 10 Series. Over the next few weeks, I'll be running contributions from some of my favorite film critics, writers, and theorists from around the internet. Each writer will list their top 10 from the Criterion Collection, mirroring Criterion's own Top 10 series.
When 50 Shades of Grey hit bookshelves back in 2011, it was as though mainstream America discovered that not only was there written pornography based on a popular book series, but that people liked reading it.