Posts Tagged ‘steven spielberg’

MIDG Podcast #2: The Good And The Bad

Posted 20 Apr 2014 — by Jason A. Hill
Category Film Industry News, Film Reviews, Hollywood Beat, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Jason A. Hill & Ezra Stead

 

Jason and Ezra discuss the basic elements of good and bad film. From dramas to comedies, action to science fiction, good and bad movies come in many forms and take on many critics. Here are just a few examples as we ponder the idea of what makes a good film good and a bad film bad.

 

 

 

 

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Six Months On A Regimen Of Woman Filmmakers – Out The Gate With Diablo Cody

Posted 20 Jun 2012 — by contributor
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Member Movie Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Alice Shindelar

Diablo Cody has come a long way since Juno, her 2007 debut about a pregnant teenager who decides to give her child up for adoption. About a month ago, I made the dramatic decision to limit my film and television consumption to only women writers and directors. This isn’t out of distaste for male directors and writers. I love movies of all kinds, for countless reasons. I would never allow my opinion of a film or TV series to be influenced by the gender of the creative force behind it. That said, women writers and directors are few and far between. Their struggle for recognition in the industry and the funds to make their films is well-known (although, not well-known enough). Still, even the most ingenious amongst them tends to fade into the background before they’ve weathered a full career.

As an aspiring writer-director myself, I’ve always kept my ear closely trained on the life events that lead people in this field to success, or even just a career that pays the bills. I look for myself in their stories. I imagine how my flat feet could follow their huge strides. Or, at least, I try. It’s next to impossible to picture myself following in the footsteps of any Kubrick, or Coppola, or Scorsese. My inability to grow facial hair puts a stop to that. So I watch for the women, and this project is an attempt to do that more acutely. Read More

Monkey Shines

Posted 17 Oct 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Monkey Shines, USA, 1988

Written and Directed by George A. Romero

Based on the Novel Monkey Shines by Michael Stewart

Monkey Shines is quality entertainment from director George A. Romero. Much like famous rappers, great horror directors often do their best (or at least most well-received) work right out of the gate, only to spend decades laboring over increasingly diminished returns. Often this critical and/or commercial appraisal is unfair, but it is arguably true that, for example, Nas never again put out an album as good as his debut, Illmatic, or that John Carpenter has never equaled or exceeded his early work of the 1970s and ’80s, though his late-period Masters of Horror film, Cigarette Burns (2005), showed the kind of genius not seen in his films for about a decade up to that point. Tobe Hooper is another filmmaker who never quite lived up to the promise of his brilliant breakthrough feature, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), despite doing some pretty quality follow-up work such as Salem’s Lot (1979) and Poltergeist (1982), though of course producer Steven Spielberg is commonly recognized as the real creative force behind the latter.

George A. Romero is generally considered to be one of these unlucky filmmakers as well, and while it is true that he never topped his chilling debut feature, Night of the Living Dead (1968), there is a worthwhile body of work to examine in later decades, and his 1988 film Monkey Shines is among his best work, along with films like Martin (1976), Creepshow (1982) and, of course, the original Dead trilogy (I haven’t seen his latest, 2009’s Survival of the Dead, but based on the previous two – 2005’s Land of the Dead and 2007’s Diary of the Dead – I feel relatively comfortable relegating the new Dead trilogy to the same scorn-pile as the new Star Wars trilogy). Read More

Super 8 – A Return To The Popcorn Crowd

Posted 18 Jul 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Super 8, USA, 2011

Written and Directed by J.J. Abrams

Super 8 is a very fun summer movie in the vein of early Spielberg. Working part-time at IFC Center in the heart of Greenwich Village in New York City means, among other things, that it has been quite some time since I have been to a more mainstream, populist movie theater. It’s not that I’ve become a snob, it’s just that the allure of free movies at not only IFC, but also an extraordinary range of other indie and arthouse theaters here in the maggoty Big Apple, has kept me away from the kind of movies for which I might actually have to pay. It hasn’t really been that difficult, since pretty much everything I’ve actually wanted to see for the past six months has played at one of those less mainstream spots.

When a coworker asked me a few months ago if I was going to see Thor when it opened, I sort of shrugged, thought about it, and realized I didn’t really give much of a damn about any superhero movies coming out until next summer, when Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and Joss Whedon’s The Avengers open; the former holds significant interest because The Dark Knight (2008) is probably the best superhero movie that will ever be made (prove me wrong, Nolan), and the latter only because of Whedon, whose television series Firefly (2002) and its subsequent cinematic follow-up, Serenity (2005), are among the best science fiction works since Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982). Seriously, I am no snob – under the right circumstances, I will watch literally anything that has ever been filmed – but I don’t really feel the need to seek out yet another remake, sequel, or superhero movie every time one is released. Read More

Paul

Posted 21 Mar 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Paul, Spain / France / UK / USA, 2011

Directed by Greg Mottola

Paul is the new feature from director Greg Mottola.

Paul is the simple story of an alien with an attitude and a heart of gold. In fact, the entire point of the film is so sweet that it seems almost impossible to believe that most of the film itself is crude, and partly cruel. Unlike Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007), which were helmed by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have brought us an eager “who said it” film filled with countless references and … political poignancy. All this, from Superbad (2007) and Adventureland (2009) director Greg Mottola. Mottola’s filmography is small, but consistent – he’s a comedian’s director with a lot of his own to say. That’s a form of direction I’ve always appreciated; the ability to let others shine while imbuing your own specific messages into the forefront. But here, Paul has mismatched its intent with its delivery. And that, in retrospect, hinders a positive remembrance of the film.

When I saw this film about a couple of weeks ago, I remember that I laughed throughout. It’s a funny, sharp, and deliriously rich comedy. With the talents of Pegg, Frost, and Mottola, we also get Bill Hader, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Sigourney Weaver, David Koechner, and Seth Rogen’s voice as the alien Paul. Outside of Pegg, Frost, Rogen, and Wiig, all of the other actors have borderline cameo roles, but are given enough material to stretch their legs and get the ball rolling. Read More

I Saw The Devil

Posted 19 Mar 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

I Saw the Devil, South Korea, 2010

Directed by Jee-woon Kim

I Saw the Devil is very impressive as a work of gonzo cinema, but disappointing as a story.

I wanted to like this movie a lot more than I ultimately did. Throughout its two hour and twenty minute running time, much of which seems intentionally designed to feel like an endurance test, I observed the multitude of things on display to recommend the film: great acting, superb direction, beautiful cinematography, not to mention a visceral intensity that has made it the talk of gore-hounds everywhere since its U.S. release, which is still very limited. There is a lot to like about Jee-woon Kim’s blood-soaked revenge saga, especially for fans of South Korea’s recent wave of such films, among whom I feel I can count myself as one, at least to a point. Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy (2003) is one of my absolute favorite films of the past decade, a brilliant work of art that only gets better upon subsequent viewings; I also really like his other films that I’ve seen – Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Lady Vengeance (2005), Thirst (2009) and his short for 2003’s Three … Extremes, “Cut” – as well as Kim’s earlier film, A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), a strange but intriguing and frequently frightening psychological horror story.

So what went wrong with this one, a film that boasts a visual style on par with Park’s best and even shares one of its stars, the always compelling Min-sik Choi? I guess what it comes down to is that simplest but most important flaw that kills so many otherwise excellent films – the script, by Hoon-jung Park, just doesn’t work. It will be impossible to delve into my mixed feelings about this fascinating but fatally flawed film without a multitude of spoilers, so the interested reader is hereby advised to stop reading now unless he or she has already seen the film; despite my overall disappointment, this is absolutely required viewing for all lovers of extreme cinema. Read More

The Goonies – Much Worse Than You Remember

Posted 14 Mar 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

The Goonies, USA, 1985

Directed by Richard Donner

The Goonies might be the most overrated film of the 1980s.

You know what I love about the ’80s? Public Enemy, NWA, Prince, Guns N’ Roses, and the fact that The Toxic Avenger (1984), an unrated film that shows a kid’s head getting smashed by a car in graphic, bloody close-up within the first thirty minutes, was inexplicably made into a children’s cartoon on broadcast television.

You know what I hate about the ’80s? Reaganomics, Reagan, Bush, and now that I’ve pretty much got you all on my side, let me do a 180 and say that I hate The Goonies (1985).

Okay, so you’re probably yelling at your computer screen now, but I defy any of you, to give me any kind of logical argument for why anyone over the age of ten, with an IQ over 100, should like this film, let alone consider it “the greatest adolescent adventure film of all time,” as at least one critic has dubbed it.

Now, I’ll admit that I am lacking the one and only prerequisite for liking The Goonies: I never saw it as a kid. I know dozens of people who profess to love the film because they grew up with it. Most of them haven’t seen it since they were kids, but I guess that’s beside the point. The point is, I also never saw Labyrinth (1986) or The Princess Bride (1987) or The Neverending Story (1984) as a kid either, but I still love those movies now, after having seen them as an adult. Why? Because they’re actually good films.

The Goonies, on the other hand, has one good thing going for it: Chunk (Jeff Cohen). Perhaps the only worthwhile scene in the whole godforsaken film is Chunk’s tearful confession of causing a massive puke-fest, which would have been funnier if it were shown rather than merely described, a la Stand By Me (1986), an infinitely superior “adolescent adventure film.” Chunk’s other shining moment is, of course, the infamous “truffle shuffle,” a cheap joke at the expense of a fat kid that I would still rather watch for three hours than sit through the rest of the movie. Read More