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A Condolence on Elm Street

28 April 2017 8:54 AM, PDT

How the Nightmare franchise kept things real even at its silliest.

A Nightmare on Elm Street is the franchise with possibly the steepest sequel cliff of any of its contemporaries. The first was a classic, the second was clumsy but interesting, and the third was arguably as good as the original, but then…4…5…and 6 happened. The problem was that Freddy Krueger — the once terrifying, murderous invader of dreams — had become in the later sequels a scenery-munching quip-machine who spent more time mugging to the camera and selling lunchboxes than bothering to be scary.

Freddy’s one-liners weren’t the only standard of the franchise however, and silly as they became, the other recurring element was remarkable for its attempt to ground the series in reality. A Nightmare on Elm Street, and its sequels, are gonzo for funeral scenes! The original 1984 installment, The Dream Warriors (which is the subject of this week’s Junkfood Cinema podcast, as »

- Brian Salisbury

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‘Titans’ and ‘Young Justice’ to Launch DC’s Streaming Service

26 April 2017 12:39 PM, PDT

Dick Grayson isn’t just part of the Teen Titans. He’s leading the Teen Titans.Young Justice (2010)

Lately, we’ve been blessed with an overabundance of good comic news. First, 20th Century Fox releases dates for Deadpool 2, New Mutants, and Dark Phoenix. Now an interesting announcement from Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment.

Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment announced that they are launching a “digital streaming service” at an undisclosed time in 2018. They were obtuse on the details, but the gist is that this streaming service is an “immersive experience designed for the fans.” The service will host a live-action Teen Titans show called Titans and the third season of Young Justice: Outsiders.

Young Justice: Outsiders is the much demanded third season of the Cartoon Network show Young Justice. Young Justice was fantastic: it was spiritually faithful to its source material, beautifully animated, and well voice acted. Following »

- Francesca Fau

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The Perfect Shots of ‘Vertigo’

26 April 2017 12:34 PM, PDT

This week’s Shot by Shot podcast tackles one of the greatest films of all-time.

We’re going all in for the latest episode of Shot by Shot, the official cinematography podcast of One Perfect Shot and Film School Rejects, in which myself and co-host Geoff Todd are talking about a film most consider to be one of the best ever made, and some consider the best ever made: Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 masterpiece Vertigo, which was shot by Hitch’s most frequent collaborator, Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Burks.

Vertigo is hands down Hitchcock’s most experimental film, and as a result it boasts the most innovative and nuanced cinematography of the director’s career, including the dolly zoom, a shot so synonymous with the film it was once primarily known as “the Vertigo shot.”

If this is your first listen to our show, the format’s simple: each week Geoff and I each pick a few shots from »

- H. Perry Horton

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6 Filmmaking Tips from Maya Deren

26 April 2017 11:19 AM, PDT

We celebrate the experimental cinema legend for her centennial.

This Saturday is the 100th anniversary of Maya Deren’s birth, making it a time to honor the filmmaker, her work, and her significance and legacy within not just the arena of experimental cinema but film history in general. Regardless of the surreal, poetic content of her films, which include Meshes of the Afternoon (with husband Alexander Hammid) and At Land, she’s important as a pioneer and theorist of independent film. It’s mostly through the latter that we can find her filmmaking advice and lessons, all of them more than 50 years old but still relevant to aspiring cinema artists today. Here are six of the tips, collected from her writings, lectures, and interviews:

1. Amateur Filmmaking is for Lovers

If you’re looking for advice on breaking into Hollywood, Deren’s tips are not for you. She was a big proponent of “amateur” filmmaking, which »

- Christopher Campbell

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We Are Groot (But Also Howard The Duck)

26 April 2017 10:17 AM, PDT

As we look back at what came before ‘Iron Man,’ we marvel at the miracle that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Earlier this week, the Fsr team brainstormed the plot of Avengers 4 based on the idea that its mysterious subtitle was a potential spoiler for the still unseen Avengers: Infinity War. It was a fun exercise that briefly allowed me to nerd out over a few spandex epics penned by personal favorites, Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman. The resulting conversation spawned some excitement, and a good heap of cynicism as well…or better yet, apathy. How much further can the Marvel Cinematic Universe expand? Will Thanos ever sit up from his chair, and prove he’s the big bad Mad Titan comic book fanboys claim him to be? Next week, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will mark the 15th entry in Marvel’s unprecedented shared universe machine, and by the time we get to Avengers »

- Brad Gullickson

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Cinema, AI, and Human Nature

26 April 2017 10:14 AM, PDT

Why being honest about AI stifles good storytelling.

Open any newspaper and you’ll find a profusion of articles and op-eds debating the future of artificial intelligence. Elon Musk is terrified of it. So is Jack Ma. Peter Thiel isn’t. The AI mania has even permeated the film world, which (the latest slew of “film is dead” articles warns us) will apparently not escape the automation boom. Of course, our public conversation about AI has long been tied to the cinema. As our own Sinead McCausland has pointed out, films have supplied the popular imagination with images and existential questions about AI since Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. But as AI gradually shifts from the realm of science fiction to that of reality, it’s worth examining the premises film has fed us about the technology, and asking whether they’ll serve us well in the coming decades.


There is a special circle in hell reserved »

- Jake Orthwein

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‘Bad Boyz II Men in Black;’ Nuff Said

26 April 2017 10:10 AM, PDT

Oh yeah, it’s from the director of ’Kong: Skull Island

I don’t mean to be hyperbolic, but today’s Short of the Day is one of the greatest things mine eyes have ever beheld. It comes from Jordan Vogt-Roberts who, besides having the raddest beard in all of Hollywood — sorry Joaquin — is also the director of two features you might have heard of: 2013’s Kings of Summer, and this year’s Kong: Skull Island.

But before he was conquering the box office, Vogt-Roberts was just another guy on Vimeo, albeit a ridiculously talented guy. And in one of his earlier works that became a Staff Pic sensation on the website, he combined two of my favorite things in the world — Bad Boys and Boyz II Men — with another thing I can tolerate, Men in Black, to create the short masterpiece Bad Boyz II Men in Black, essentially an action-packed, shoot-em-up »

- H. Perry Horton

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Interview: ‘Buster’s Mal Heart’ Knows Which Finger We Give to Systems of Control

26 April 2017 10:09 AM, PDT

We chat with Sarah Adina Smith, writer and director, about the magic available to us today and “fortune cookie” wisdom.The Sword of Damocles is an apology for those who rule us in the systems of control. Time is a butcher’s chop and existence is its block. What are we doing?!

The Shallow Pocket Project is going to Tribeca (in spirit)! We’ll be chatting with several independent filmmakers making the trek to New York for this year’s film festival. Stay tuned! Check out our last Tribeca chat with Jamie M. Dagg (Director of ‘Sweet Virginia’). Special thanks, as always, to In The Mouth of Dorkness, Brad Gullickson, and Darren Smith.

Sarah Adina Smith is a fucking brilliant madwoman. It hurt my brain talking with her. Honest to goodness, I am not being hyperbolic. She is so effortlessly purposeful and creative in her casual discussion of philosophy that it made me wish I was smarter »

- William Dass

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Forever and Ever and Ever: Uncanny Doubles in ‘The Shining’

26 April 2017 10:08 AM, PDT

Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 masterpiece is full of doubles, doppelgängers, and alter-egos.

Mirrors, ghosts, doppelgängers, reflective surfaces, repetitions, and perfectly symmetrical frames…these are just a few cinematic devices which Stanley Kubrick uses to create an uncanny atmosphere in his 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining. Sigmund Freud defines the term “uncanny” in his essay “‘The Uncanny’” as something which is familiar yet somehow frightening. The Shining tells the story of a family of three — Jack (Jack Nicholson), Danny (Danny Lloyd), and Wendy (Shelley Duvall) — whose lives are terrifyingly disrupted when they move into the Overlook Hotel for the winter. Family is, by definition, the most familial subject matter, and therefore it is all the more terrifying when one’s family members somehow seem different. The Shining is filled with uncanny doubles, where those who look or act familiar are mysteriously different, which provoke feelings of terror. Kubrick creates this uncanny atmosphere by meticulously crafting a story-world »

- Angela Morrison

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Why Studios Need To Get Back In Touch With What Made Them In The First Place

26 April 2017 10:05 AM, PDT

The Fault Is Not In Our Stars, But In Ourselves.

I recently had a discussion with a friend, on a subject discussed quite a bit in recent years among cinephiles or movie geeks or whatever we people who prefer to spend our time in dark rooms watching shadows flicker on screens prefer to call ourselves. My friend, with the heavy sigh of the no longer young, asked “What the hell happened to movie stars?” and proceeded to run down a number of current Hollywood A-listers. I mostly listened and made occasional non-verbal “I’m listening” noises, because I didn’t agree but also didn’t have a fully-formed rebuttal at hand. Later, I remembered there was a movie with Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, and John Boyega coming out in a few days, about which I’d seen a total of three ads, and which I had to Google just now to remember it was called The Circle. At »

- Danny Bowes

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American Gods: What to Expect

26 April 2017 10:01 AM, PDT

Bryan Fuller is full-on adapting Neil Gaiman’s book. Here’s what book readers and novices can expect from the Starz show.

American Gods is finally coming to television. Published in 2001, the book by Neil Gaiman is more than cinematic enough to warrant an adaptation, but it’s never made it to the screen until now.

And thank God for that.

Had it been made into a movie, the 700-odd page book would have had to be hacked up and reworked to fit into two hours. The atmosphere might have survived, but the story would have suffered. If it had been picked up by network television it might have had the time, but it would have lost a lot to the censors. Neil Gaiman writes children’s books, it’s true, but American Gods is not one of them.


If the first four episodes released »

- Liz Baessler

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7 Noteworthy Things In The ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ Trailer

26 April 2017 9:56 AM, PDT

In descending order of awesomeness.

Last week came the ten second trailer trailer, and then Monday brought us the bonafide trailer for Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the somewhat anticipated (hey, let’s be honest here) follow-up to 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, adapted from the The Secret Service limited comic book series, which answers a burning question you hadn’t thought to ask: “What if James Bond was a millennial?” The answer itself is not one that can be adequately summarized — it truly needs to be experienced — but suffice it to say it’s bloody good fun. Emphasis on the bloody. And the sass. A lot of sass too.


Anyway, the newly released trailer (trailers? Your mileage may vary as to whether or not the first one counts) lays out the plot of the upcoming film pretty clearly: the Kingsmen HQ gets »

- Ciara Wardlow

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‘Akira’ and the Post-Human Dilemma

26 April 2017 9:51 AM, PDT

Got your thinking cap handy? Put it on for this video analysis.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: film as a medium is a mirror to the human condition. Film shows us ourselves in ways we could never see on our own, it draws us out of our self-centered mindsets and reveals aspects of self and society that otherwise we might not notice. That’s because film — as opposed to the other dominant storytelling medium, literature — is built first of images to which words are added, and images affect us differently than words, they suggest rather than lead, they leave more room for interpretation and personal translation, and thus they have the power to ring truer with an audience than does dialogue.

At the same time, film is an utter fabrication, even the most realistic (narrative) films about actual events take significant dramatic liberties in order to emphasize certain themes. After »

- H. Perry Horton

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Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ Poster Has Lots of Akira Kurosawa (and Dogs)

26 April 2017 9:31 AM, PDT

…Let’s hope the dogs don’t die.

On Tuesday, the first poster for Wes Anderson’s newest feature film since 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel was released. Whilst not much is known about the story of Isle of Dogs, its poster reveals small details about what to expect, and, more importantly, the influence of Akira Kurosawa on the stop-motion animation.

Set in Japan, the poster’s large, red font places the Japanese title at the center, with its English translation held within the script. Wes Anderson’s posters usually have either one clear defining image at the forefront or a depiction of the ensemble cast, so Isle of Dogs is a slight departure from what Anderson’s audience are used to.

The poster for The Royal Tenenbaums places family at the center while Anderson’s classic Futura font title stayed beneath the family as something that was not meant to draw attention. Moonrise Kingdom »

- Sinéad McCausland

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Exploring The Art of H.R. Giger, The Architect of Your ‘Alien’ Nightmares

26 April 2017 9:21 AM, PDT

Art of the strange and grotesque was his forte.

Alien would not be what it is today without the art from H.R. Giger. Just take a cursory image search on Google for ‘Alien’ and the first thing that will come up is the design for the terrifying creatures from Giger’s pages. The aliens of H.R. Giger have tied everything together throughout the Alien series, even as the actors and actresses portraying the prey frequently change. While those designs might be his most memorable achievement, Giger created countless art pieces conjuring up nightmare fuel.

By 1967, at the age of 27, Giger was fully immersed in his art. Even though he had a 9-to-5 job, he would spend his evenings creating larger ink drawings. According to the Hr Giger Museum, he created some of his early celebrated pieces during that time such as The Astro-Eunuchs seen below.

Astro-Eunuchs, H.R. Giger, 1967

You can see where many of his future concepts »

- Max Covill

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There’s a Familiar Face Returning to ‘Jurassic World 2’

26 April 2017 8:57 AM, PDT

If you weren’t excited before…

A few years ago when it was announced that we were being invited back into the world of Jurassic Park, the big question on everyone’s mind was, “how will this new film connect to the original trilogy?” There were theories that Chris Pratt’s character was a grown version of a little boy seen in the first film — a theory Pratt himself recently shot down — but aside from assurances by the producers that this would be a continuation and not a full-on reboot, and a few lines of dialogue here and there, Jurassic World stands on its own, dependent on its own characters to propel the film. But now, with Jurassic World 2 in production for director J.A. Bayona, there’s word that we’re getting an honest to goodness, verifiable link to the original films, via perhaps the most beloved character in the franchise: Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm »

- H. Perry Horton

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16 Good Movie Pick-Me-Ups on Netflix Right Now

26 April 2017 8:51 AM, PDT

Why so glum, chum? Movies are fun and they need watching.

In the immortal words of Shane Black via Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight, “Life is pain. Get used to it.” These days life has been really painful though, and it’s not so easy to get used to it. Thankfully movies are always here to pick us up when we need it, or bring us down if we’re looking to wallow. This month we’ve made a list of movies that will leave you smiling and feeling good about humanity after you watch them — at least for a little while. Click on their titles to be taken to their Netflix pages.

Pick of the Month: Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

It’s possible that Big Trouble in Little China might be the stupidest movie ever made. It’s about a fast-talking, rock-stupid, man-child truck driver battling Asian mystics over the fate of his »

- Nathan Adams

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30 Things We Learned from James Mangold’s ‘3:10 to Yuma’ Commentary

26 April 2017 8:21 AM, PDT

“No one, and I mean no one wanted to make this movie.”

James Mangold delivered one of this year’s best films with Logan, and among its many acclaimed aspects is its vibe and feel of a modern-day western. It’s something he’s done before with Cop Land, but Mangold also made a point of directing an actual western as well.

Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for…

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Commentator: James Mangold (director)

1. He assumes the first question we might have for him regarding this film is “why” make a remake at all? “That original film had had such power on me ever since I saw it when I was seventeen years old, and I felt that the story could have power again in a very relevant way now.”

2. While he thinks most remakes are motivated by greed in his eyes for easy, recognizable »

- Rob Hunter

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The Bursting Bubble of Streaming Services

26 April 2017 7:51 AM, PDT

Everything old is new again, especially when it comes to distribution.

So let’s say you start with Netflix, because everyone has Netflix, and you’re not going to pass on another season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Stranger Things. That’s $9.99 a month out of the gate. And then maybe you add FilmStruck, because who wouldn’t want to watch all those AMC and Criterion Collection titles? That’s another $10.99. Finally, let’s throw in another niche streaming service for some of that specific content that the broader services may not provide. Maybe you’d like to scratch your horror itch with Shudder ($4.99), catch up on every season of Star Trek on CBS All Access ($5.99), or finally get around to watching The Wire on HBOGo ($14.99). And of course, none of this even touches on the bigger Netflix competitors like Amazon Prime or the international platforms not yet available in the United States (DisneyLife). There’s »

- Matthew Monagle

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‘Getaway Driver’ Hearkens Back to Hollywood’s Classic Car Chases

25 April 2017 5:01 PM, PDT

Short of the DayA high-octane short.

It just takes a momentary twist to make a good film great. Think about The Sixth Sense: until it’s final revelation that [Spoiler (?)] Bruce Willis has been dead the whole time, the most intriguing bit of that film was wondering how a mook like Willis got a doctorate in psychology. But then they drop that twist and oh shit, you got yourself a movie.

Getaway Driver, a short film directed by Abner Pastoll, is another example of this. What starts out as a cool, slick, high-octane short about a lady and her pug trying to escape a bad guy via a sweet ride becomes something else entirely in its final seconds, something I’m obviously not going to spoil here. As for that escape, Pastoll and director of photography Richard Bell have choreographed a thrilling, breakneck, nail-biter of a chase set in a parking garage that’s highly reminiscent — in »

- H. Perry Horton

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