Category Archives: Articles

The New Generation of Comedy Filmmakers

Comedic auteurs are few and far between, or they were, until recently. The last decade has offered up so much fresh talent, as alluded to in my recent review of the second season of Eastbound and Down, that we seem to be in a veritable age of comedy. Somewhere between Judd Apatow’s ubiquitous productions, and Adam McKay’s strange blend of raunch and politics, for the first time in recent memory funny movies are becoming quite good. Continue reading

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes: No War but Class War

The original Planet of the Apes films (numbering five in all) took on various issues of its day, famously nuclear war (the ending to the original Planet of the Apes) and racism.  Some have alleged that the recent Rise of the Planet of the Apes discards the original franchise’s penchant for political parable, utilizing weak tropes instead – a re-hashing of Frankenstein, and the ethics of animal cruelty.  What most seem to miss, however, is the theme of anti-establishment class warfare.

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Super 8 and the way we remember

Titles have always interested me. Some are succinct and convey the basic idea of the film immediately (Se7en, Another Earth), while others manage to almost lazily describe some basic plot device or aspect of the film (Horrible Bosses, Larry Crowne). The truly astounding titles are few and far between (Adaptation., There Will Be Blood), and their power only comes from being coupled with a suitably brilliant film. But the titles I like most of all, the ones that crop up all the time, are the microcosmic ones. They aren’t particularly witty, but they do involve a deft sleight of hand, as if the goal is to make you believe you already know what the title means. Inglorious Basterds, Rebel Without a Cause, and many other classics fit into this mold, but so does the recent summer blockbuster Super 8. Earlier this year, we reviewed Super 8, finding it to be one of the very best movies to come out this summer. It is certainly that, in spite of the criticisms it has garnered for its fantastical second half. But what’s also interesting is how its title connects to our memories and the process of making them.

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The End of an Era: Deathly Hallows Pt 2 sets new bar for fantasy

This weekend marks the last hurrah for the Harry Potter film franchise. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (book) was released in 1997, Pottermania fully hit the U.S. in 2000 with the release of Goblet of Fire,* the film franchise began in 2001, and the final book was released almost exactly four years ago.  Suffice it to say – we have spent a long time inhabiting the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling in one form or another.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 has sold an unholy number of tickets for the midnight premiere, with regular reports of sold out screenings a week in advance.  Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 will surely go out with a bang financially.  What’s so surprising is how it positions itself as one of the best fantasy films ever made – better even than any of the Lord of the Rings films. Continue reading

Tetro and Youth Without Youth – Twin masterpieces from a once great director

I love Apocalypse Now. It is one of my very favorite films ever made. I love all three entries in the Godfather Trilogy, although I naturally prefer the first two to the third. I think The Conversation is a master class in post-Hitchcock tension, only rivalled by Brian DePalma’s output in the early 80’s. And yet somehow, every time someone mentions Francis Ford Coppola, director of all four, as one of the greatest directors ever to make a film, I have a small spasm, just this side of a gag reflex. Coppola made four of the greatest films ever, yes, but his work since then has largely left me cold, or worse, provoked loathing. That is, until his most recent films, following a break beginning in 1997, when after he finished The Rainmaker Coppola decided to focus on his family, and perhaps also his wine. In 2007 he returned to the big screen with a self-financed Youth Without Youth and then again in 2009 with Tetro. Both are stunning achievements and place him back amongst the cream of this generation, a place he hasn’t been in over 25 years. Continue reading

Five DVD labels who consistently push good films

When you walk into a videostore or check up on your Netflix queue, it’s generally a crapshoot finding new movies you haven’t heard much about. Here at The Filmsmith, we’ve made a habit of letting you in on some of the underground releases every week, movies you might not have heard of otherwise. But we typically can only get to one a week, and there are dozens of others making their way to home video, some for the first time. Here’s a list of a few DVD companies who have consistently put out good films – to such a degree that if you see something released by them, you can bet it’s probably top notch stuff. Continue reading

Videogames: Fun, but no story.

When Halo:Reach was a released back in September  2010 it made almost 200 million dollars in a day.  Over an extended weekend (Wednesday-Sunday), the biggest blockbuster can only muster $125 million.  These figures, combined with growing attempts by the video game industry to become more accessible to the general public (Wii, Xbox 360’s Kinect), make it a medium on the rise.  The only problem is we have yet to see a truly great story told by this technology. Continue reading