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

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Film

Monday, September 5, 2016

Movie Review: Gus Van Sant's The Sea of Trees Reduces Japanese Culture to a Backdrop for American Angst

Posted By on Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 2:42 PM

The Sea of Trees★★ ½Now playing Director Gus Van Sant’s latest film, The Sea of Trees, tells the story of Arthur Brennan (Matthew McConaughey), a man intent on killing himself in Aokigahara, Japan’s famed “suicide forest.” When he finds a suitable boulder on which to swallow a bottle of pills, he sees Takumi (Ken Watanabe) wandering the forest, seemingly lost. When Arthur finds himself moved to save this mysterious man, his survival instinct kicks in to gear. As the pair wends its way through the forest, trying to find help for Takumi’s slashed wrists, the story of Arthur’s strained...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Movie Review: In The Light Between Oceans, It Turns Out They Do Make 'Em Like They Used To

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 2:07 PM

The Light Between Oceans ★★★★ Opening Friday, Sept. 2, 2016   It's a common lament among those who love old-fashioned Hollywood movies: They just don't make 'em like they used to.  Except sometimes they do. The period drama The Light Between Oceans is a throwback in all the best ways, with its epic themes, grand cinematography, and tragic story of life, love, and loss. Director Derek Cianfrance made his name with gritty realist dramas—Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines —but here he delivers an old-timey moviegoing experience with deep, mythical rhythms.  The year is 1919, and soldier Tom...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Movie Review: Don't Think Twice Gets Inside the Worlds of Improv Comedy and Saturday Night ... Er, Weekend Live

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2016 at 3:05 PM

Don't Think Twice ★★★ Now playing One of today's most distinctive comic voices, Mike Birbiglia has a meandering storytelling style that occupies a very specific coordinate in the Venn diagram of funny business, somewhere among the intersections of stand-up comedy, DIY theater, and confessional monologue. When Birbiglia brought his one-man show, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, to Durham a few years ago, I remember thinking it was the leanest, meanest, funniest thing I'd seen on stage in years. His other famous long-form comedy bit, Sleepwalk With Me, went through several incarnations—radio feature, touring show, book—before evolving into Birbiglia's 2012 feature-film debut...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, August 19, 2016

Movie Review: Who Thought the Director of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Needed a Crack at Ben-Hur?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 11:35 AM

Ben-Hur★★ Now playing It speaks volumes that the latest film version of Ben-Hur more resembles the movie-within-a-movie in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! than the famed 1959 Oscar-winning adaptation directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston. After all, Wyler won three Academy Awards over his illustrious career. Timur Bekmambetov, the director of this big-screen iteration, most recently made Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Jewish nobleman Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) and Messala (Toby Kebbell) are adoptive brothers—the first of several departures from Gore Vidal’s controversial 1959 script—who split over Messala’s desire for Roman glory. When Messala returns to Jerusalem as...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Movie Review: Neo-Western Hell or High Water Douses Black and White Hats in Texas Dust Until Everything Turns Gray

Posted By on Thu, Aug 18, 2016 at 3:16 PM

Hell or High Water ★★★★ Opening Friday, August 19, 2016 At its core, Hell or High Water is a traditional Western movie featuring cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians. The “outlaws” are introduced as wild-eyed, bank-robbing brothers in the vein of Frank and Jesse James. The aw-shucks lawman has a Native American sidekick. There are hayseed banks, land barons, and even an armed posse. The film’s resonance flows from how director David Mackenzie (Starred Up) and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (Sicario) repurpose these tropes for a modern setting. The few cowpokes left are a self-loathing, dying breed. Citizens are...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, August 12, 2016

Movie Review: When Good Actors Meet Weirdly Developed Characters, You Get Florence Foster Jenkins

Posted By on Fri, Aug 12, 2016 at 11:18 AM

Florence Foster Jenkins ★★ ½ Now playing It gives director Stephen Frears undue credit to describe Florence Foster Jenkins as an exquisite reproof of audience voyeurism. Led along by a procession of reaction shots and comedic framing, the biopic invites us to chortle at a real-life heiress’s legendarily cacophonous crooning. But it hits a sour note when Frears suddenly turns the mirror on his audience in rebuke, in effect absolving the actual enablers the film otherwise indicts. We meet Jenkins (Meryl Streep) in 1944, as a seventy-six-year-old New York City socialite and musical benefactor. The acclaimed conductor Arturo Toscanini...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, August 5, 2016

Movie Review: Though Flawed, Suicide Squad Brings Much-Needed Depth and Levity to the DC Extended Universe

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 3:05 PM

Suicide Squad ★★★ Now playing The high ideals of the Bush-era War on Terror included plunging our hands into the filth of rendition and “enhanced interrogation techniques,” usually carried out by foreign contractors at black sites outside the United States’ jurisdiction. Today, the U.S. is part of an uneasy confederation of foes with the shared aim of defeating ISIL, a terrorist group armed with American weaponry seized after the U.S. pullout from the Iraq War, an occupation initiated to topple a dictator once propped up by American treasure. Relying on bad people to do our dirty business is the fulcrum...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

Friday, July 29, 2016

Movie Review: Like Bond, Matt Damon's Jason Bourne Is Less a Character Than a Genre

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2016 at 1:30 PM

Jason Bourne★★★ Now playing Poor Jason Bourne—that guy just can’t catch a break. As an amnesiac super-spy, he's forever being shot at by people he doesn't know, for reasons he can't remember. Relentlessly hunted by every intelligence agency in the world, he must remain radically off-grid in places like Uzbekistan, Nepal, and Cleveland. When old friends get back in touch, they're invariably followed by entire platoons of elite assassins. It's hard not to isolate yourself in such circumstances. It's a drag getting old. Bourne is back in theaters this week, and once again his misery is our delight. Simply...

Continue reading…

  • Pin It

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

Calendar



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

Best ending should have been:

Aurora got really hurt by projectile (in movie it hit her arm). It should …

by Sergej on Movie Review: Passengers Proves a Bad Ending Can Ruin an Otherwise Good Movie (Arts)

I'd keep an eye on the Facebook page and expect to see events there as they finish reshuffling, but if …

by Brian Howe, INDY managing editor for arts & culture on An Epilogue for Unexposed Microcinema's Bold, Meaningful Year of Holding Down a Stable Venue for Experimental Film (Arts)

sorry i missed these events. how do I find out about future ones? Web link is dead. FB/Twitter links appear …

by Geoff Dunkak on An Epilogue for Unexposed Microcinema's Bold, Meaningful Year of Holding Down a Stable Venue for Experimental Film (Arts)

The critic sounds like a self-absorbed adolescent. Why would she publish a non-review? Only to prove that a chef doesn't …

by ncreader on Scott Crawford Refused to Sell Us a Plate of Food at Crawford and Son (Arts)

I easily believe Crawford would. There's a lot of ego needed to achieve the self-aggrandizement required at those levels. Those …

by AgentDani on Scott Crawford Refused to Sell Us a Plate of Food at Crawford and Son (Arts)

Comments

Best ending should have been:

Aurora got really hurt by projectile (in movie it hit her arm). It should …

by Sergej on Movie Review: Passengers Proves a Bad Ending Can Ruin an Otherwise Good Movie (Arts)

I'd keep an eye on the Facebook page and expect to see events there as they finish reshuffling, but if …

by Brian Howe, INDY managing editor for arts & culture on An Epilogue for Unexposed Microcinema's Bold, Meaningful Year of Holding Down a Stable Venue for Experimental Film (Arts)

© 2017 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation