Arts | Film | Indy Week
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Film

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Movie Review: An Indie Short With a Clever Premise Becomes a Surprisingly Effective Horror Film in Lights Out

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 3:20 PM

Lights Out ★★★ ½ Opening Friday, July 22, 2016 The story behind Lights Out, the surprisingly effective first feature film by David F. Sandberg, is the stuff of indie auteur fantasy. After Sandberg put a no-budget short starring his wife, Lotta Losten, on YouTube, it went viral, attracting the attention of horror maven James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring). Wan was impressed enough to help Sandberg develop his dialogue-free short into a major studio film, and New Line Cinema’s faith was justified. While it’s no The Babadook, Lights Out is an efficient haunted-house thriller, as witty and charming as it is...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Movie Review: New Zealand Hit Hunt for the Wilderpeople Brings Genuine Emotion to Ridiculous Circumstances

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 9:18 AM

Hunt for the Wilderpeople ★★★★ Now playing The focus of this film from New Zealand, which is set in the bush of that country, is Ricky, a pudgy orphaned teenager who names his dog Tupac and uses haiku as a form of self-expression. Described as a kid who never wanted to be good, Ricky is at ease with his new foster family. He runs away every night, only to make his way back every morning for a pancake breakfast. When he is told by child protective services that he must leave his foster uncle after his foster aunt’s untimely death...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, July 15, 2016

Movie Review: Todd Solondz Lightly Links Tales of Abjection and Absurdity in Wiener-Dog

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 9:18 AM

Wiener-Dog★★★ ½ Opening Friday, July 15, 2016 Wiener-Dog is a funny, if modest, installment in director Todd Solondz’s series of meditations on the austere cruelty of the American middle-class family. The film consists of several episodes linked by the eponymous creature, a forlorn dachshund shuffled from one tenuous situation to the next. First, the dog lives with a shy little boy and his self-involved parents, then with an awkward and lonely veterinary assistant, followed by a bitter screenwriting teacher and an elderly woman dying of cancer. The dog’s goofy, kind-of-blank but also kind-of-sad expression is the perfect visual counterpoint...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Movie Review: Shut Up, Misogynists, the Ghostbusters Reboot Has a Great Cast. The Rest of the Film, Unfortunately ...

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 3:57 PM

Ghostbusters ★★  Opening Friday, July 15, 2016 Contrary to all the sexist noise online, remaking Ghostbusters with a female cast was not a bad idea. Of course not—with director Paul Feig behind the camera and Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy in front of it, it was an empirically good idea. Unfortunately, the result of that good idea is a pretty bad movie. In fact, the new Ghostbusters is lazy, uninspired, and really close to insulting. Feig and the film's four leads—Wiig, McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon—are all comedy professionals with strong track records. But this is a highly...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, July 8, 2016

Movie Review: The Secret Life of Pets Riffs on Our Animal Obsession

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 4:21 PM

The Secret Life of Pets★★★ ½ stars Opening Friday, July 8, 2016 From the creative team that brought you Despicable Me and those rascally Minions, The Secret Life of Pets is an exquisitely calibrated family movie with plenty of laughs for both grown-ups and kids. The concept is simple: What do our pets actually do while we're away? Animators have been riffing on this idea since the heyday of Looney Tunes, of course, and with good reason. It's a virtually inexhaustible comedy premise. As approximately ten billion YouTube clips demonstrate daily, pets are funny. We like to watch them,...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tim Carless's Live Score for Peter Greenaway's Cook Was Appetizing at The ArtsCenter

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 7:42 AM

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover: Reimagined Saturday, June 25, 2016 The ArtsCenter, Carrboro The Saturday before last at The ArtsCenter, Tim Carless premiered his original score for an abridged version of the cult classic The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, director Peter Greenaway’s most celebrated film. When Greenaway began filming it in the 1980s, he already had a reputation noble enough to attract Michael Gambon, Tim Roth, and Helen Mirren to the project. The film is billed as a black comedy centering on the foursome of the title as they enjoy adultery, sumptuous...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, July 1, 2016

Movie Review: Harry Potter Is Dead in Swiss Army Man, a Weird, Touching Mash-Up of Cast Away and Weekend at Bernie's

Posted By on Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 2:44 PM

Swiss Army Man ★★★ Opening Friday, July 1, 2016 Deciding whether or not you like Swiss Army Man is like trying to decide whether to keep your arm or your leg. You’re going to be somewhat dissatisfied either way, but grateful that you at least have something to appreciate. Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, two writers and directors known mostly for creating eccentric music videos, push the weirdness over the edge in their first feature film. There are times where what’s happening makes sense only to the characters, leaving the audience lost. But in the moments when we’re able...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, June 10, 2016

Movie Review: The Conjuring 2 Checks Off Every Horror Movie Trope of the Last Fifty Years

Posted By on Fri, Jun 10, 2016 at 11:25 AM

The Conjuring 2★★★ Opening Friday, June 10, 2016 Supernatural thriller The Conjuring 2 doesn't have an original idea in its scary little head. It borrows most of its plot and imagery from other horror movies, rearranges them, and then spits them back out in a gob of blood and teeth. But if you've been paying attention to mainstream horror movies of late, that's pretty much the template. With a hundred years’ worth of cinematic ghost stories in the vault, it's difficult to conjure genuinely new ideas. At least director James Wan commits his larceny with skill and style, as...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, June 3, 2016

Movie Review: For Better and Worse, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Is a Feature-Length Lonely Island Video

Posted By on Fri, Jun 3, 2016 at 3:46 PM

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping★★ ½   Opening Friday, June 3, 2016 The satirical targets of Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping aren’t just the vapid pop music industry and the boy bands that inevitably splinter when the marketplace lures their key members to solo stardom. The more self-referential sendup is of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone, the film’s writers, directors, and stars. Collectively known as The Lonely Island, they've grown from childhood friends in California to writers on Saturday Night Live, where popular shorts like “Dick in a Box” propelled Samberg to, well, solo stardom. In Popstar, The Lonely...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Monday, May 30, 2016

Movie Review: Whit Stillman's Classist Nostalgia Is Untempered by Wit in Love & Friendship

Posted By on Mon, May 30, 2016 at 11:47 AM

Love & Friendship ★★ Now playing Whit Stillman’s latest, Love & Friendship, finds the director treading new territory in a period adaptation of a Jane Austen short epistolary novel, Lady Susan. Kate Beckinsale plays the cunning, eponymous lady, with Chloë Sevigny as her meek American sidekick, Alicia Johnson. It’s an intertextual echo of their 1998 roles as frenemies Charlotte and Alice in Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco. But while the film's title tantalizingly suggests a return to the repulsion-attraction dynamic that Last Days captured so well, both love and friendship are conspicuously absent. Love & Friendship tells the story...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, May 27, 2016

Movie Review: Go See Alice Through the Looking Glass For the Visual Design or Not at All

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 11:52 AM

Alice Through the Looking Glass★★★ ½  Opening Friday, May 27, 2016 Disney has been in the spectacle business for more than eighty years now, and its fantasy movies, both live action and animation, tend toward visual extravaganzas, especially in the modern summer blockbuster season. In this regard, Alice Through the Looking Glass does not disappoint. There are maybe half a dozen glorious set pieces designed to pop your eyeballs right out of your skull. That's all you really need to know before springing for the 3-D version, which is the version to see if you're going to see it at all....

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, May 20, 2016

Movie Reviews: The Nice Guys, The Meddler, and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2016 at 10:00 AM

The Nice Guys ★★★ ½ The Meddler ★★★ Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising  ★ Opening Friday, May 20, 2016 Hollywood in the 1970s is not just the seamy backdrop for The Nice Guys. It’s the uproarious foreground of the buddy action comedy, which smartly borrows from its genre forerunners—an homage giddily reflected in a funhouse mirror. The narrative is immersed in the adult film milieu of 1977 Los Angeles, accented by such era touchstones as smog alerts, The Waltons, and the hysteria over killer bees. As a boy ogles a nude centerfold featuring a porn actress named Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio),...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War Is Like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with a Marvel Smirk Instead of a DC Frown

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2016 at 4:01 PM

Captain America: Civil War★★★½ Opening Friday, May 6 Given the factious fervor of fans on both sides of the aisle between Marvel and DC Comics films, it’s a droll coincidence that Captain America: Civil War, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, shares the same general premise as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC’s most recent blockbuster. Both films revolve around humankind’s attempts to rein in demigods and the collateral damage of their heroism. Both feature clashes between seminal superheroes who are manipulated by a bad guy and at odds over how much power they should be...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, April 29, 2016

Movie Review: TV's Key & Peele Make Unlikely Hollywood Bid With Cat-Meme-Slash-Action-Comedy Keanu

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 2:04 PM

Keanu ★★ Opening Friday, April 29 Keanu—the feature-film debut of TV comedy team Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele—is surely the biggest disappointment at the movies so far this year. It's one thing to see a bad movie. It's another thing when you're fully expecting a good one. For five seasons on Comedy Central, Key & Peele delivered high-octane funny business by blending sharp writing, kinetic physical comedy, and inspired goofiness. The idea of a movie seemed natural and promising, and the first trailers were very, very funny. Alas, Keanu is one of those movies where the three-minute preview is...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Movie Review: Bloody Action and Bloodless Politics in Punks-Versus-Skins Horror Thriller Green Room

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 9:21 AM

Green Room ★★★ Opening Friday, April 29 With Green Room, writer/director Jeremy Saulnier solidifies his burgeoning reputation as an action auteur capable of making brutally effective thrillers on a modest budget. Those looking for exploitation-style thrills and chills won't be disappointed, but those intrigued by the subcultural conflict between punks and Neo-Nazis may be left hanging by the film's surprisingly bloodless politics. The high-concept premise involves a touring Washington, D.C. punk rock band, booked at the last minute to perform for a "boots-and-braces crowd" of white-power skinheads in the woods of Washington state. Stumbling upon an internecine murder gets the...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sharpen Your Script With UNC Teacher and Veteran Screenwriter Scott Myers

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 at 2:43 PM

Write Now! Saturday, April 30 The McKimmon Conference & Training Center, Raleigh For aspiring and established screenwriters alike, Scott Myers is an invaluable resource for storytelling tips and film-industry insight. On Saturday, April 30, the UNC instructor joins other Triangle storytellers to dispense advice live. Myers is a presenter at Write Now!, the annual writing conference held by the Triangle Association of Freelancers, which includes sessions on self-editing, running a freelance “business,” and how to get published. Myers’s session is on “Character Development for Screenwriters,” though, as he’s quick to point out, “It’s actually for all writers.” “We’ll be talking about...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, April 15, 2016

Movie Review: The Jungle Book Creatively Brings the Essence of Disney's Animated Classic to Life

Posted By on Fri, Apr 15, 2016 at 1:46 PM

The Jungle Book ★★★★ Opening Friday, April 15 As a CGI bear named Baloo in Disney’s new, live-action The Jungle Book, Bill Murray channels the kind of surrogate-big-brother camp counselor that made him famous in Meatballs. He doesn’t try to hit the exact same notes as Phil Harris in the 1967 animated classic, but it’s the same principle—laidback, laconic, irresponsible but protective—capturing the essence while doing something new. That’s the strength director Jon Favreau and writer Justin Marks bring to this update, which honors the iconography of the original while restoring some of the darkness of Rudyard Kipling’s stories, which...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Monday, April 11, 2016

Full Frame: A Quirky Sunday Surfing the Net With Werner Herzog and Reading New Yorker Cartoons

Posted By on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 3:31 PM

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World Very Semi-Serious Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Durham Sunday, April 10, 2016 This weekend’s late-spring freeze turned attendees of the nineteenth annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival into puffy little cotton balls, their down jackets swishing together in tight theater aisles, making the cinemas feel even fuller than usual. By Sunday, everyone had gotten the hang of the ticketing process, screening locations, and which bathrooms had the fastest moving lines. The festival moved like a well-oiled, well-bundled machine. I’ll admit it: this was my first time at Full Frame. I was afraid...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Movie Review: City of Gold Deliciously Translates a Celebrated Food Critic's Style to the Screen

Posted By on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 12:19 PM

City of Gold ★★★ ½ Now playing For dedicated foodies, City of Gold is the best dinner-and-a-movie option to hit local theaters since Jon Favreau's underrated Chef. This sprightly new documentary profiles the life and work of Los Angeles Times writer Jonathan Gold, the first food critic to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Gold made his bones in the eighties by wandering away from the usual high-end French restaurants and exploring the city's humbler eateries, often tucked away in dodgy neighborhoods or shabby strip malls. Gold's abiding love of Los Angeles and its endlessly colliding cultures powers his writing and...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, April 8, 2016

Full Frame: The Newsploitation Industry Made Anthony Weiner a Punch Line, But the Joke's on Us

Posted By on Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 6:24 PM

Weiner ★★★★ Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Durham Thursday, April 7, 2016 Look, I’m sorry, but there’s no other way to say it: Everyone at Full Frame last night seemed very excited about Weiner, and all the delicious innuendo it unleashed. For example, when I said I was looking for Weiner, one usher at the Carolina Theatre gave me a subtle smirk that seemed to say, "We don’t need to go there, but we know." Another shot back a much franker double entendre. “I’ve been waiting all night to say that,” she added, laughing, “and you looked like the guy.”...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Movie Review: A Very Dark Knight and Cold Man of Steel in Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice★★★ Opening Friday, March 25 A millennium hence, our descendants might try to decipher our current superhero obsession the way we study ancient Greek legends. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which conflates modern religious and mythological allegories, will be rich material. In a span of minutes, eccentric nemesis Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg, too manic by half) positions Kal-El, Superman’s Kryptonian name, alongside Zeus, Yahweh, and Horus. A messianic parable, the film explores how mortals might really react to the arrival of an omnipotent being. Eighteen months have passed since the calamitous climax of Batman...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

UNC Students Head for Cannes with Short Film Of Princes

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 4:00 PM

Despite the lack of a film major at UNC-Chapel Hill, one group of passionate students didn’t just look for channels to pursue this interest. Instead, they created one. As co-founders of the video production company Uninsincerity, UNC juniors Riley Reid, Stuart Schrader, and Jan Bergengruen have produced several impressive works, including a campaign ad for student body president Bradley Opere and the short film Of Princes, which won a spot at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival. Of Princes was adapted from Schrader’s original concept, a six-part miniseries of ten-minute episodes. But he didn’t have time to implement this idea while...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, March 18, 2016

Movie Review: The Divergent Series: Allegiant Diverges From the Franchise's Intriguing Sci-Fi Sociology

Posted By on Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 9:55 AM

The Divergent Series: Allegiant★★ Opening Friday, March 18 I have a suspicion that our future overlords (probably robotic) will look back at the first years of the twenty-first century and wonder: What was up with all the teenage wasteland movies? The Divergent Series: Allegiant is the latest installment in an increasingly weary genre, one in which Attractive Young People dodge strange perils in dystopian near-futures. Think The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and so forth. (For a superior specimen, look up the 2013 British entry How I Live Now, with Saoirse Ronan.) In the Divergent saga, Shailene Woodley headlines...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, March 11, 2016

Movie Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane Has Wit and Suspense, Not Just Mysterious Marketing

Posted By on Fri, Mar 11, 2016 at 1:08 PM

10 Cloverfield Lane★★★ ½ Opening Friday, March 11 The crazy survivalist just might be right, but he’s still crazy. That’s the lesson of 10 Cloverfield Lane, a film that begins like a prequel to Room and ends like a sequel to Alien. Or, well, Cloverfield. A gripping cold open introduces Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a Louisiana seamstress sideswiped off the roadway while fleeing her estranged husband (a disembodied Bradley Cooper) and her presumably dispirited life. She awakes with an injured leg and an IV in her arm, chained to a water pipe in a barren concrete bunker. Its armed...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Movie Review: London Has Fallen Isn't the Action Movie We Need

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 2:01 PM

London Has Fallen★ Opening Friday In London Has Fallen, U.S. president Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) is back after escaping capture in 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen. To paraphrase the eulogy for another Eckhart character, Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, this isn’t the action movie we need, but it’s the one we deserve. A cavalcade of jingoism and xenophobia varnished in terror porn, it espouses a fanatical worldview fueled by Old Testament-style vengeance. Clumsily directed by Iranian-born Swede Babak Najafi, it makes 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi seem measured by comparison. Against the advice of his Secret Service director...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Calendar



Twitter Activity

Comments

Good for a quick stop”... Gettysburg Museum of History of History museum that is packed wall to wall. Made a …

by Batista Sh on Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War Is Like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with a Marvel Smirk Instead of a DC Frown (Arts)

Awesome summation of the beauty and skill surrounding this tap festival! Great Job Dan!
Annabel's mom💕 …

by Dcable on Dance Review: Tap Genius Michelle Dorrance Brings It Home at the NC Rhythm Tap Festival (Arts)

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation