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‘Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?’ a quirky love letter to Noam Chomsky and old-fashioned animation

5 December 2013 9:05 PM, PST

Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?

Written and directed by Michel Gondry

USA, 2013

On first blush, a so-called “animated conversation” between a documentary filmmaker and the esteemed linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky seems to exist solely so people can raise their eyebrows, perplexed. But then, when you realize that the filmmaker is Michel Gondry, the man behind such whimsical and quirky films as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep, it all begins to make a bit more sense. There’s, perhaps, not much more to Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? aside from Gondry’s hand-drawn interpretations of every topic Chomsky covers in a series of interviews that have been boiled down to about 90 minutes’ worth of footage, but his knack for visualization ends up being what makes the film so unique and special at all.

This is not to say that Chomsky, »

- Josh Spiegel

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‘Narco Cultura’ a shocking, damning drug-cartel documentary

5 December 2013 9:05 PM, PST

Narco Cultura

Directed by Shaul Schwarz

USA, 2013

Note. This review originally appeared at Sound on Sight when the film played at this year’s Fantastic Fest. It has been updated to tie in with the film’s wider theatrical release.

One of the most shocking moments of the new documentary Narco Cultura comes near the end, as one of the musicians who profits from the most heinous and violent acts committed by Mexican drug cartels deliberately misquotes a memorable line from Brian de Palma’s Scarface: “First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the bitches.” The surprise is not that the 1983 gangster opus is name-dropped here, but that it only happens once. The hits just keep on coming in Narco Cultura, a thoroughly horrifying look at the neverending criminal battle going on south of the border.

Narco Cultura‘s director and cinematographer Shaul Schwarz »

- Josh Spiegel

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‘The Broken Circle Breakdown’ an emotionally manipulative but tuneful Belgian drama influenced by Americana

5 December 2013 9:05 PM, PST

The Broken Circle Breakdown

Written and directed by Felix Van Groeningen

Belgium, 2012

Some things are universal, crossing moral or literal boundaries. Some situations are, when described, so inherently sad that it’s hard not to well up with tears, just as some music is so joyous and hopeful that it’s hard not to react positively no matter where you’re from. Such is the power and the curse of The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium’s entry for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar that embraces Americana so wholeheartedly and spurns it in equal turn, and presents a scenario so nakedly emotional and manipulative that responding with an outpouring of emotion is almost too easy. This film gets an A for effort, but it tries too hard to get a common enough response.

The basic story is about how Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) and Elise (Veerle Baetens) meet in 1999—he a bluegrass singer, »

- Josh Spiegel

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‘Out of the Furnace’ a bleak, gruesome descent into working-class hell

5 December 2013 9:05 PM, PST

Out of the Furnace

Written by Brad Inglesby and Scott Cooper

Directed by Scott Cooper

USA, 2013

In the last few years, American filmmakers have turned to the bleak parts of the country, both to explore the sharp, darkened corners of our current psyche, and to depict a world stuck in the past. Films like Winter’s Bone, Killing Them Softly, and A Single Shot, among others, attempt to mine pathos for what amounts to a forgotten stretch of the nation, peopled with hard-bitten survivors desperately trying to get by and possibly escape. And now we can add to this list the tightly wound thriller Out of the Furnace. It is a film set in the present, but one marked by the past, both in its storytelling and visual presentation.

Christian Bale, mostly, avoids going over the top and instead opts to play his character, Russell Baze, as something close to a ghost walking the earth. »

- Josh Spiegel

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When the sims go steaming in!

5 December 2013 8:34 PM, PST

Looking for a new PC-related gaming deal?  Bundle Stars has released a new Steam-based gaming bundle among the few it still has available.  New Simulator Bundle offers 9 Spectacular Steam Games for $3.99  From the Press Release:

Spread your wings, take to the tracks and get your hands dirty when you take on nine awesome Windows® compatible games in the Planes, Trains and Automobiles Bundle from Bundle Stars.

For just $3.99, fulfifl the dreams of a lifetime with this must-have collection of Steam simulator games and save a massive 97% off the normal retail price.

Settle into an idyllic farming environment taking on the daily tasks and challenges of a professional farmer, in Agricultural Simulator 2013: Steam Edition. Burn rubber in Gtr 2: Fia Gt Racing Game, with detailed photo-realistic depiction of powerful vehicles. Take to the skies as you launch an aerial offensive in Combat Wings: Battle of Britain and Pacific Storm Allies. »

- Pat Bellavance

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Watch Lana Del Rey’s Short Film ‘Tropico’

5 December 2013 8:31 PM, PST

Lana Del Rey has dropped her short film entitled Tropico, directed by Anthony Mandler, who’s also attached to direct Daniel Radcliffe in Tokyo Vice next year. Del Rey’s music has been noted for its cinematic sound and its references to various aspects of pop culture, particularly that of the1950s and 1960s Americana. The self-described “gangsta Nancy Sinatra,” draws influence from Elvis Presley, Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Britney Spears, as well as from poetry and film noir. However, Tropico is somewhat of a change; billed as “an epic tale based on the biblical story of sin and redemption,” with Del Rey in the role of Eve. The 27-minute long film features the songs “Body Electric,” “Gods And Monsters” and “Bel Air” from her Paradise Ep, with each song accompanying one of three chapters of the story. The video premiered at The ArcLight Hollywood, and at the event, she »

- Ricky

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Watch A New Clip from Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Only Lovers Left Alive,’ Featuring Tilda Swinton & Tom Hiddleston Dancing Together

5 December 2013 7:42 PM, PST

Not too long ago, we posted a review of the new Jim Jarmusch movie Only Lovers Left Alive, in which Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton play emaciated vampire lovers. The review written by our very own Tom Stoup wasn’t favourable to the film stating, “Jim Jarmusch does not intend to analyze questions but simply to put ideas out there, and as a result, his product ultimately feels lackadaisical and aimless”. It’s hard to believe the director of Down By Law, Ghost Dog and Dead Man (to name a few), could so greatly disappoint, especially while working with such an incredible cast. I still haven’t seen Only Lovers Left Alive, but despite Tom’s negative review, this new clip featuring Hiddleston and Swinton dancing to Denise La Salle’s “Trapped By A Thing Called Love,” has me very excited. Watch the clip below.

Synopsis: After being around for centuries, »

- Ricky

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‘Schizopolis’ – Soderbergh’s schizoanalysis of everything and nothing

5 December 2013 7:15 PM, PST

Steven Soderbergh followed The Underneath, a superb neo-noir that expertly uses widescreen framing and color photography to its full potential, with Schizopolis, a film motivated by his feelings of artistic impotence. This concept is somewhat surprising, as The Underneath is one of his best films, one of the best neo-noirs from the nineties, and one of Soderbergh’s more underrated works. Schizopolis is more well-known and seen (thanks to Criterion) but unfortunately, it is a stale work that only exists for the director’s edification. After Schizopolis, Soderbergh reportedly felt rejuvenated and made Out of Sight, which ended his commercial slump so we can all thank this experimental film for Soderbergh’s commercial and artistic turning point. However, this exercise is far more interesting to think and write than it is to watch. Schizopolis is ultimately more interesting in the abstract than it is in reality

The main problems with »

- Cody Lang

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Survivor 27.12, “Rustle Feathers”: Time to get rocked

5 December 2013 9:22 AM, PST

Survivor Review, Season 27, Episode 12

“Rustle Feathers”

Airs Wednesday at 8pm (Et) on CBS

It’s amazing to see just how vibrant Survivor feels this season, and the thrills are about more than picking rocks. It starts with the first scene of Hayden drawing out Gervase by crowning Tyson the victor. That conversation sets the stage for everything that follows, including an insane Tribal Council. It’s a rare case where a player with his back against the wall actually makes the correct arguments. By pressing the “Tyson as inevitable winner” story line, Hayden gets Gervase and Monica to say exactly what he wants. Ciera’s understated reactions say it all. She realizes that her road to victory doesn’t go through the Galang alliance. Monica’s reassurance that “four is better than six” isn’t what she wants to hear. Unlike the recent One World and South Pacific seasons, it »

- Dan Heaton

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Arrow Ep. 2.08 “The Scientist” is a fun, overstuffed episode

5 December 2013 6:56 AM, PST

Arrow Season 2, Episode 8 “The Scientist”

Written by Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg (story); Geoff Johns and Ben Sokolowski (teleplay)

Directed by John Behring

Airs Wednesday nights at 8pm Et on The CW


As more and more (and More) casting announcements for season two of Arrow came out this summer, I began to worry if a show only starting to realize its potential would be able to handle such a flurry of subplots, character introductions, and fight scenes. So far, things have gone well: the writers of Arrow have integrated Canary and Brother Blood into the mix in interesting ways – and have even re-invigorated poor season one characters (like Deadshot and The Count) with some well-written sophomore appearances. However, this episode is not only burdened with introducing another major character in the DC Universe – Barry Allen, aka Flash – but also setting up the rest of the season’s story lines with many of its other characters, »

- Randy Dankievitch

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‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′ reveals its first trailer

5 December 2013 6:33 AM, PST

One of the most popular comic book characters over the decades has been Spiderman, as the tale of Peter Parker has found an audience in nearly every medium. Making his big screen appearance in 2002′s Spider-man, the character was rebooted in 2012 with The Amazing Spider-Man, with a sequel being announced soon after the film’s release. Titled The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Marc Webb once again takes on directing duties, working with a script co-written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Jeff Pinkner. Andrew Garfield, Sally Field, and Emma Stone reprise their roles, joined this time by Dane DeHaan, Paul Giamatti, Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Felicity Jones, and Sarah Gadon. The first trailer for the film has now been released, and can be seen below.

The post ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′ reveals its first trailer appeared first on Sound On Sight. »

- Deepayan Sengupta

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25 Days of Christmas: ‘Day of the Beast’ – Delirious, demented and diabolically funny

5 December 2013 12:41 AM, PST

El día de la bestia (The Day of the Beast)

Directed by Álex de la Iglesia

Written by Jorge Guerricaechevarría and Álex de la Iglesia

Spain, 1995

Considered one of Spain’s hottest directors in the late 1990s, Alex de la Iglesia hasn’t slowed down one bit over time. He’s continuously directed genre-bending, imaginative films, laced with black humour and often sharp satire for over two decades. His tongue-in-cheek sci-fi thriller The Day of the Beast won no fewer than six of the Oscar equivalent, the Goyas. Best described as a comic precursor to End of Days, The Day of the Beast follows a Catholic priest and professor of theology (Alex Angulo) who tries to thwart the coming of Satan on Christmas Eve. In a rather slapdash manner, he befriends a metalhead record store clerk (Santiago Segura) and the host of a paranormal-themed TV talk show (Armando DeRazza) to help him on his quest. »

- Ricky

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Steven Soderbergh Month: ‘Traffic’s’ complexities are the War on Drugs’ wake-up call

4 December 2013 11:44 PM, PST


Written by Stephen Gaghan

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

USA, 2000

In his review of King of the Hill, Zach Lewis skewers Steven Soderbergh’s fascination with political structures throughout the director’s filmography and reading the 1993 film’s Depression-era survivalism as a “residual effect of those outside any political sphere.” Seven years after King of the Hill, Soderbergh’s fixation on politics would reach its peak in Traffic, an endlessly complex examination of America’s War on Drugs.

Traffic‘s genesis is simple enough, beginning with a pair of cops. Having run down a Mexican drug courier mid-transport, officer Javier Rodriguez (Benicio Del Toro) and his partner find their score short-lived when high-ranking General Salazar (Tomas Milian) pulls rank and takes over the drug bust. Here, the simplicity of Traffic dissipates with the monochrome yellows of the Tijuana desert. Though Rodriguez’s would-be arrest implies it, smuggling cocaine from Mexico »

- David Klein

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American Horror Story, Ep.3.08: “The Sacred Taking” – disappointing, although the actresses work their own magic

4 December 2013 10:59 PM, PST

American Horror Story, Season 3, Episode 8: “The Sacred Taking”

Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Written by Ryan Murphy

Airs Wednesdays at 10:00 Pm on FX

American Horror Story: Coven returns from its brief Thanksgiving hiatus with “The Sacred Taking,” a disappointing instalment lacking in the urgency and pace of previous episodes. The coven aligns itself with Misty to perform a ritual that will hopefully convince Fiona to end her reign has Supreme, while Queenie continues to align herself with Marie Laveau. Meanwhile Hank begins his assault on the Academy, and Miss Ramsey deals with her anger over her son Luke’s misadventures – via a conservative Christian purification. 

Whether it’s with inconsistencies in storytelling and/or character development, Coven dips in quality each and every week. Amidst the frenzy of story-lines in season three, the only two clear objectives are naming a new Supreme, and ending the war between the coven »

- Ricky da Conceição

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Without Theatres: ‘Oki’s Movie’ exemplifies bewildered love and autobiography

4 December 2013 9:47 PM, PST

Oki’s Movie

Written and directed by Hong Sang-soo

South Korea, 2010

Canonical directors such as Stanley Kubrick and Howard Hawks are easy to laud and credit as masterful filmmakers. Even those new to film can understand their inclusion in the pantheon by looking at the breadth of thematic material they covered, often switching from one genre to another throughout the years without much hint of waning talent. The ability for a director’s signature to stand out no matter the working material was the spark of the American auteurism debate — Kubrick, Hawks, and a legion of other legendary figures posthumously adorn themselves with the title from their thematic eclecticism. If this is a talent to be valued and pronounced as exemplified filmmaking, then what of a figure who not only works within the same genre, but seems to be remaking the same film over and over?

Hong Sang-soo’s love »

- Zach Lewis

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Mob City, Ep. 1.01 and 1.02, “Guy Walks Into a Bar” and “Reasons to Kill a Man”: Bitter Little World

4 December 2013 9:34 PM, PST

Mob City, Season 1, Episode 1, “Guy Walks Into a Bar”

Written by Frank Darabont

Directed by Frank Darabont

Mob City, Season 1, Episode 2, “Reasons to Kill a Man”

Written by Frank Darabont

Directed by Frank Darabont

Airs Wednesdays at 9 pm(Et) on TNT

With a dash of L.A. Confidential and a heavy dose of brutal, graphic violence, Frank Darabont’s new limited series Mob City could have enough juice to push TNT into relevant drama territory.

Jon Bernthal takes the lead as war veteran Joe Teague, a less than perfect detective in 1947 Los Angeles. He’s a man who lives in a “world of grey hats”. Early in the pilot he’s placed on the fast track to becoming the department’s “golden boy” when he gets drawn into Hecky Nash’s (Simon Pegg) blackmail scheme. Nash is a slimy, rapid fire, not so funny comedian who grew up with Micky »

- Tressa

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Interview with Filmstock Film Festival’s James Lee

4 December 2013 9:27 PM, PST

Though the big-name film festivals may have finished for the year–with Sundance rearing its head in only six weeks or so–there are still festivals running around the country. Take, for example, the Filmstock Film Festival, now in its fifth year, and catering specifically to the Four Corners states–Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona. The festival is finishing up this weekend in Tempe, Arizona, at the Pollack Tempe Cinemas. They’re bringing along 12 short films which won awards when Filmstock stopped in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico, and introducing a slew of new ones that are up for awards of their own. And although the festival premieres only shorts, both local and global, that doesn’t mean they’re completely unfamiliar; that is, unless a dual performance from Benedict Cumberbatch in one of those shorts sounds unfamiliar. As Filmstock begins its final weekend today, Sound on Sight conducted »

- Josh Spiegel

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The Blacklist, Ep. 1.10, “Anslo Garrick, Part 2″

4 December 2013 9:20 PM, PST

The Blacklist, Season 1, Episode 10: “Anslo Garrick, Part 2″

Written by Lukas Reiter and J.R. Orci

Directed by Michael Watkins and Joe Carnahan

Airs Mondays at 10pm Et on NBC

“Anslo Garrick, Part 2″ picks up directly after its first part with Red (James Spader) forced between coming out of his box of protection or allowing his bodyguard, Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq), to be shot by Anslo Garrick (Ritchie Coster). A tough decision made even more difficult when Keen (Megan Boone) and tech wizard Aram (Amir Arason) are captured by Garrick and used as additional leverage to get Red to open the box. Once opened, Garrick takes Red but doesn’t kill him. Red has some questions to answer, asked, course, by a very dangerous person (Alan Alda).

This episode is a perfect example of how The Blacklist could lay it all out on the table, explaining a few of the show’s lingering secrets, »

- Drew Koenig

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Inhumanity #1 is a Disappointing Start to Marvel’s Latest Event

4 December 2013 9:09 PM, PST

Inhumanity #1

Writer: Matt Fraction

Penciller: Olivier Coipel

Inker: Mark Morales

Colorist: Laura Martin

Publisher: Marvel Comics

On paper, Inhumanity seems like it could be a cool book or event. There are sci-fi elements (futuristic machines and medicines), political intrigue (who will succeed Black Bolt as leader of the Inhumans), and even some superheroics (the cool Inhuman transformations, guest appearances by Avengers). It even was written by Matt Fraction, whose comic Sex Criminals was voted the best comic of the year by Time.com. But the humor and nuanced characterization that permeates Sex Criminals is absent from Inhumanity #1. In its place is clunky exposition and clashing art styles. The text heavy and (often) tiny panels allow Olivier Coipel and flashback artists Dustin Weaver and Leinil Yu little room to illustrate the past and present of the Inhumans. The first page is gorgeous, but it mainly goes downhill from there.

Inhumanity #1′s biggest weakness is its storytelling. »

- Logan Dalton

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Treme, Ep. 4.01, “Yes We Can Can” a comforting, entertaining final premiere

4 December 2013 9:05 PM, PST

Treme, Season 4, Episode 1, “Yes We Can Can”

Written by David Simon (Story, Teleplay), Eric Overmyer (Story), & George Pelecanos (Story)

Directed by Anthony Hemingway

Airs Sundays at 9pm Est on HBO

This week, on Treme: Ladonna has a new man, Janette has a new sign, and Davis has on a new padawan of jazz

Treme returns this week in glorious fashion, kicking of its final mini-season with “Yes We Can Can”. With more shows being produced with each passing year and a current frustrating sameness to much of this fall’s programming, it’s wonderful to get to spend even a few more weeks in this unique world. From the characters to the music to the cinematography, this is a show that feels like no other and just hearing the theme song makes any fan of the show feel instantly at ease, welcomed back to the colorful, inspiring, and occasionally harsh world of Treme. »

- Kate Kulzick

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