Monthly Archives: June 2011

Another Earth might be the best sci-fi film of the year.

“This is a story about a girl who does something unforgivable.” So utters Rhoda Williams a couple of minutes into the mind-blowing trailer for Another Earth, which may be the best science-fiction film of the year. And the best part? Unlike most sci-fi films, this one delves deeply into the emotions of its characters; it sees how they interact, as well as how they react to the discovery of the titular Macguffin. It tackles questions worthy of a bigger budget, but with an honesty only possible with a shoestring. In short, while it will fall completely under the radar, this is one of the best films of the year, and should be sought after. Travel to a bigger city if you must, but see this film. Continue reading

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Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop being a jerk

Backstage during Conan O’Brien’s “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour,” Jack McBrayer has just stopped by. Before he’s even through the door, Conan is launching into a cavalcade of country bumpkin jokes.  McBrayer’s Southern accent, familiar to fans of his character Kenneth Parcell on 30 Rock, turns out to be genuine, and O’Brien’s verbal jabs continue to slap his visitor like he just caught him screwing grandma on the kitchen table on Christmas day.  Of all the people we see passive-aggressively maligned by O’Brien’s sarcasm in the documentary Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, McBrayer is the only one not on his paid staff and is therefore the only one who can properly express slack-jawed dismay that Conan O’Brien is a dick.

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Knowing maturely conveys the tragic nature of disaster

Alex Proyas has probably directed some of your favorite films, yet you don’t know his name.  His filmography is confounding: The cult-hit The Crow (1994),  Dark City (1998, the visual forerunner to The Matrix), and the Will Smith blockbuster I, Robot (2004). Proyas also directed Knowing (2009), the Nicolas Cage prophecy/disaster film at which you likely laughed.  “Great, another Nicolas Cage feature on the heels of such beloved films as Bangkok Dangerous and that National Treasure sequel.”  Yet Cage and Proyas deliver a grounded sci-fi disaster movie unlike anything we’ve seen, and though it isn’t perfect, it’s a refreshing sci-fi narrative. Continue reading

First 3D documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, is great cinema

Werner Herzog has made a career of taking bold steps forward in the world of filmmaking. He famously stole his first film camera from the Munich Film School, using it to make Aguirre, The Wrath of God; he is the only director to shoot a film on every continent; and when his friend Errol Morris finally made his debut film, Herzog kept to his word and ate his own shoe. Werner Herzog, is in short, a little unhinged. But this hasn’t stopped him from being brilliant. In his newest documentary, Caves of Forgotten Dreams, he visits the Chauvet Cave, the location of mankind’s earliest works of art, and asks rather large questions about our place in history, our place in the world, and our place within nature. Continue reading

Meek’s Cutoff – The Bleakest Western you’ll ever see.

A vast, desolate wasteland with no shelter on the horizon. A man at the end of his wits carving one word, his worst fear, into a stray log: Lost. A trickling creek breaking up the hopeless landscape. The camera pans up, and all we can see are a few women gathering water in slow motion-except then we realize there is no camera gimmickry going on here; the women are simply burdened by the weight of their own weariness. These are the shots that open Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff, and they set the pace, tone and themes of the film in motion without ever uttering  a word. Meek’s Cutoff is as difficult to watch as the terrain its characters traverse, its painstaking journey is incredibly rewarding. Continue reading

Kung Fu Panda 2 a great 3D sequel

Running too late to catch the 2D screening of Kung Fu Panda 2, I reluctantly accepted the 3D glasses from the usher, anxious about the eye strain that was soon to be mine.  To my surprise, despite a bloody 3D Friskies commercial jammed between film trailers, I was able to enjoy Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3D.  In fact, it was the best 3D film I have seen (yep, even better than Avatar) and it 3D actually added to the film experience.  Did I also mention this was a genuine sequel, setting out to develop characters and their story beyond the initial volley?  Kung Fu Panda 2 is full of surprises. Continue reading

Sci-Fi Channel’s most expensive film, Green Lantern

A studio head chomps on a cartoonishly oversized cigar, flipping through pages in a binder.  The cover reads “Green Lantern” and he parts with his cigar for the occasional guffaw over certain passages.  The man is so delighted he bellows for his assistant to write a check for $300,000,000 to make this amazing, amusing work of cinematic genius.  I spin this fictional yarn because it would be great if someone actually loved the film they were making instead of packaging a soulless product – and ultimately I’m getting tired of this shit. Continue reading