13 items from 2016
If you have been living and routinely interacting with other human beings over the last month, you’ve probably heard one or two words involving this year’s Academy Awards and the heated controversy over the startling lack of both films and people of color among the nominees. Personally, I think that the real focus of concern ought to be less on the back end-- awards handed out for films which were financed and/or studio-approved, scheduled for production and filmed perhaps as much as two or three years ago-- and more on addressing the lack of cultural and intellectual and experiential diversity among those who have the power to make the decisions as to what films get made in the first place. This is no sure-fire way to ensure that there will be a richer and more consistent representation of diverse creative voices when it comes time for Hollywood »
- Dennis Cozzalio
When asked about their inclination for kidnapping comedies, Joel Coen recently told Variety, “I’m not sure why. They are all very different. We should probably give that a rest.” He and Ethan Coen are responsible for three of the finest kidnapping comedies ever made, and are perhaps adding a fourth to their résumé this weekend.
The addition of comedy into a crime story is hardly a new prospect, but the kidnapping comedy is a wonderfully specific little nook in this often darkly funny cinematic world. The Coens practically own this genre — if you can call it a genre –having covered and re-covered it in such uniquely different ways.
Their fourth kidnapping comedy (although I doubt they would refer to any of these films as such), Hail, Caesar!, follows a Hollywood studio fixer (Josh Brolin) whose work life begins to unravel after the kidnapping of one of his biggest stars, »
- Tony Hinds
Irrational Man, 2015.
Directed by Woody Allen.
A philosophy professor, in the midst of an existential and a moral crisis, commits an irrevocable act of murder.
Nihilistic philosophy professor Abe (Joaquin Phoenix), a newly recruited member of the fictional college campus Braylin, is immediately sought after by fellow colleague Rita (Parker Posey) and one of his students Jill (Emma Stone). The first act is entrenched in a tonally jarring malaise; any semblance of believable character agency exerted by either of the two female leads is lost. Jill’s voice over describes Abe as a tormented genius, and an irresistible allure that she, both in this manner and toward her friends, family, and boyfriend Roy (James Blackley), cannot stop talking about him. Rita’s opening gambit to notify Abe of the campus’ gossip in the “who’s fucking who” category is brash, »
- Matthew Lee
James GrayThere's perhaps no indie director currently working today that seems tailor made to use Christian Bale's skills quite like James Gray. The director's numerous collaborations with Joaquin Phoenix have set a powerful precedent for the ways in which he can dig beneath intense screen presences to reveal their complex, tortured souls. Bale's characters — be it Bruce Wayne in Nolan's Batman movies or Russell Baze in the gritty "Out of the Furnace" — are often battling the pressures of who the public needs them to be versus who they truly are behind closed doors, and that construction is often the central crux to Gray's male characters. Even the villainous Bruno Weiss in "The Immigrant" takes subversive roads to redemption since Gray rarely chooses to keep his character's boxed inside our first perceptions of them. Gray's films have run the gamut from period dramas to crime thrillers and dramatic romances; all »
Director: Woody Allen
Special Features: “On The Red Carpet” Feature and Photo Gallery
Boasting the same understated, dialogue-driven style that’s long been his trademark, the most recent addition to Woody Allen‘s enviable body of work – Irrational Man – is one that proves quite difficult to quantify. Taking inspiration from some of his previous successes, Allen mixes romance, mystery and comedy elements into this latest offering, making for a quirky, unusual drama.
When philosophy professor Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) arrives at his new Rhode Island campus, it’s fair to say his reputation precedes him. Famed as an original thinker with alcoholic tendencies and a penchant for womanising, his arrival is the talk of the town, not least in the home of Jill (Emma Stone), a bright student enrolled in his class.
It transpires however that Abe has become disillusioned with »
- Mike McCarthy
Even Jackie Chan’s action flair falters in this bombastic tale of Imperial Rome’s clashes with the Chinese
The chance to see Jackie Chan sword fighting with John Cusack in 50Bc China doesn’t come along often. What next? Cusack squabbling with Chan in a Chicago record store about the respective merits of Green Day and Stiff Little Fingers?
This stately, slow-moving action spectacular, with its huge digital landscape shots, is about the Silk Road, the trade route extending through China and the Middle East. Chan plays Huo An, the leader of a protection squad pledged to keep the peace between all the tribes and nations along the Road. After their meet-cute swordfight, he finds himself befriending General Lucius (Cusack) and his Roman soldiers, who have escaped from the evil and duplicitous Tiberius, played by Adrien Brody with an English accent, not unlike Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator. Huo An, »
- Peter Bradshaw
Our countdown of the 100 best films of the 21st century continues. This is Part 2 #75 through 51.
Click here for Part 1 (#100-76)!
The first decade and a half of the 21st century has brought a lot of changes to the landscape of film. The advancement and sophistication of computers has made realistic computer generated effects a mainstay in both big-budget and small-budget films. The internet and streaming technologies have given big Hollywood new competition in films produced independently and by non-traditional means. We went from purchasing films on yards of tape to plastic disks, and now we can simply upload them to the cloud. Advertisements for films have reached a higher, more ruthless level where generating hype through trailers and teasers is crucial for a film’s commercial success. Movie attendance has fluctuated along with the economy, but that hasn’t stopped films from breaking box office records, including having films gross »
- email@example.com (G.S. Perno)
There are few annual cinematic traditions you can rely on, and one of them is a new film from Woody Allen. The director rarely lets a year go by without delivering a new movie, and last summer he brought "Irrational Man" to the big screen. And if you didn't get a chance to catch it then, we have a few copies to give away to some lucky readers. Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone, the story follows the relationship that develops between a college professor and his student. Here's the official synopsis: Read More: Cannes Review: Woody Allen's 'Irrational Man' Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone And Parker Posey Soon after arriving to teach at a small town college, Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) gets involved with two women, Rita Richards (Parker Posey), a lonely professor who wants him to rescue her from her unhappy marriage; and Jill Pollard (Emma Stone), his best student, »
- Edward Davis
And the winners are…
Awfj Best Of Awards
These awards are presented to women and/or men without gender consideration.
Best Film: Spotlight
Best Documentary: Amy
Best Animated Film: Inside Out
Best Actress: Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Kristin Stewart – Clouds of Sils Maria
Best Ensemble Cast: Spotlight and Straight Outta Compton (Tie)
Best Non-English-Language Film: Son of Saul
Eda Female Focus Awards
These awards honor women only.
Best Woman Screenwriter: Emma Donoghue »
- MaryAnn Johanson
With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit the interwebs. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.
An ecstatically original work of film-history-philosophy with a digital-cinema palette of acutely crafted compositions. Amour Fou seamlessly blends together the paintings of Vermeer, the acting of Bresson, and the psychological undercurrents of a Dostoevsky novel. It is an intensely thrilling and often slyly comic work that manages to combine a passionately dispassionate love story of the highest order with a larger socio-historical »
- TFS Staff
A new year means an opportunity to reflect on the past. This is our list of the 100 best films of the last 15 years, Part 1 #100 through 76.
The first decade and a half of the 21st century has brought a lot of changes to the landscape of film. The advancement and sophistication of computers has made realistic computer generated effects a mainstay in both big-budget and small-budget films. The internet and streaming technologies have given big Hollywood new competition in films produced independently and by non-traditional means. We went from purchasing films on yards of tape to plastic disks, and now we can simply upload them to the cloud. Advertisements for films have reached a higher, more ruthless level where generating hype through trailers and teasers is crucial for a film’s commercial success. Movie attendance has fluctuated along with the economy, but that hasn’t stopped films from breaking box office records, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (G.S. Perno)
The Alliance of Women Film Journalists has announced the nominees for their 2015 Eda Awards recognizing the amazing work done by and about women -- both in front and behind the camera. According to their site, "the EDAs are named in honor of Awfj founder Jennifer Merin.s mother, Eda Reiss Merin, a stage, film and television actress whose career spanned more than 60 years. A dedicated foot soldier in the industry, Eda was one of the founders of AFTRA and a long-standing Member of AMPAS."
I wish I can vote for the Eda Awards because their Special Mention Awards are just too darn fun with categories like "Best Nudity," and "Actress Most In Need of a New Agent!"
Winners of the 2015 Eda »
Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the most popular actors working today. His work on Sherlock for the BBC has made him a global superstar. Since then, he has become incredibly sought after in Hollywood. It was no surprise when the rumors began to circulate that Marvel was interested in him for a role in one of their big tent pole films. They wanted him so badly, in fact, that they decided to shift the production of the film around in order to fit his very busy schedule. When the casting for Doctor Strange first became a topic of conversation, there were a number of other names -- Joaquin Phoenix, chief among them -- who were reportedly being considered. Now, it turns out that the other casting options were on the table, not because Marvel didn.t want Benedict Cumberbatch, but rather because they weren.t sure they.d be able »
13 items from 2016
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