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Review: Documentary 'Merchants Of Doubt' Preaches To The Choir

50 minutes ago

There is nothing in Robert Kenner's "Merchants of Doubt," his follow-up documentary to 2008's fascinating expose of corporate malfeasance in the food sector, "Food Inc," that we disagree with, or even want to weakly rebut. Nothing. The fluidly argued points flow with flawless logic one into the other, and the manner in which he traces the strategies used currently by vested interests in defense of their bottom lines, straight back to the playbook set out by Big Tobacco in the 1950s, is irrefutable and wholly convincing, especially when presented in so enjoyably arch and ironic a manner. We vehemently agreed, laughed along at the more incredible and egregious fallacies highlighted, and felt every single other member of the audience at our Goteborg International Film Festival screening doing the same. And that's a problem. "Merchants of Doubt," inspired by the Naomi Oreskes and Eric M Conway non-fiction book of the same name, »

- Jessica Kiang

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Review: Eerie 'Faults' Features A Commanding Performance From Mary Elizabeth Winstead

1 hour ago

Ansel Roth (Leland Orser) already has plenty of faults — a once-renowned expert on cults, he’s now lost a TV show, a marriage, and the rights to his latest book — but he’s looking for one more. To be specific, two worried parents (Beth Grant and Chris Ellis) hope that he can rescue 28-year-old Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) from the grip of a group known simply as “Faults.” Being significantly indebted to his manager (Jon Gries) and all-but living out of his car, Ansel agrees to kidnap their daughter and subject her to a week-long “deprogramming” session (even though his only other attempt backfired quite publicly). Anyone familiar with writer/director Riley Stearns’ short films (his most recent, “The Cub,” being a personal favorite) will be happy to hear that his first feature, “Faults,” maintains his droll sense of humor and unnerving use of framing while telling a rather different »

- William Goss

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First Look: Luke Evans In Ben Wheatley's 'High Rise,' Will Play Gaston In 'Beauty And The Beast' With Emma Watson

1 hour ago

If you need any indication of just how high Ben Wheatley's profile has risen, you should know that none other than Martin Scorsese has attached himself as an executive producer on his next movie, "Free Fire." But before that, he's got the star-studded "High Rise" ready to go. It's an adaptation of J.G. Ballard's novel and features Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Elisabeth Moss, Luke Evans, and Stacy Martin. The first look at Luke Evans in the movie recently dropped, so check it out above, and read the official synopsis below:  London, 1975. A slick apartment tower rises above the Thames, the beginnings of what will soon become the world’s biggest financial hub.Dominating the landscape, it is simply called the High-rise… its address a mark of exclusivity.Its newest resident is Robert Laing, an ambitious young doctor utterly seduced by the lifestyle and cutting-edge technology the high-rise has to offer. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: Samuel L. Jackson Goes On The Run 5,000 Miles From Home In New Trailer For 'Big Game'

2 hours ago

Now that I've started the third season of "House Of Cards," I've got the show on the brain, so apologies for the parallels I'm about to draw. But if Frank Underwood has to cajole, provoke, manipulate, and blackmail dudes in Washington to survive to the next term, he's got nothing on Samuel L. Jackson's Potus in "Big Game." Now you can see just how hairy things get for the leader of the free world in the trailer for the action satire. Nick Fury himself plays the far less heroic, nameless President, who has to go on the run from a band of terrorists and a rogue Secret Service agent when Air Force One is shot out of the sky. Ill-equipped for the Finnish mountainside in which he lands, The President finds an unlikely ally in a 13-year-old boy in the midst of a rite of passage. And while this looks like big, »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Review: 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' Starring Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel & Richard Gere

2 hours ago

The sequel “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is meant to be as comforting as a cup of tea — and a proper British cup at that. It follows the standard recipe of the first film, deviating little in its formula or execution, with plenty of warm performances, picturesque settings, and jokes about aging and proximity to death. Similarly, your appetite for a second visit to “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” depends entirely on how you felt about your first stay. Director John Madden and practically the entire cast (save Tom Wilkinson) return, so there are few surprises and little subtlety here. “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is reassuringly familiar, which should please the fans who helped the original make $137 million. Plus, it has Richard Gere, so you know your mom is going to like it even more than the first film.  “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” begins not in Jaipur, »

- Kimber Myers

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Watch: Edgar Wright Makes His Selections From The Criterion Closet

2 hours ago

The Criterion Collection has no shortage of great filmmakers in their rolodex (do people use those anymore?), and over the past little while, they've invited great directors, actors, and more to step into their coveted closet and talk about some of the boutique label's great films, and take some of them home. We've seen the likes of William Friedkin, Mike Leigh, and Bong Joon-ho share their passion and love of cinema with Criterion, and Edgar Wright is the latest to smuggle some great DVDs home from the company. In his visit, the director snapped up copies of the cult fave "Eyes Without A Face" (to give to his Dad), cult filmmaker Alex Cox's "Walker" (which Wright hasn't yet seen), Akira Kurosawa's "Throne Of Blood" (which he only recently caught up with on the big screen), and the unassailable "Don't Look Now." Even though he's a bit jet-lagged, once »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: Five-Part Video Essay 'The Substance Of Style' Explores The Films Of Wes Anderson

3 hours ago

If cinephiles spend a lot of time studying Wes Anderson films, it’s for good reason. Over the past two decades, the writer-director has emerged as arguably one of the most aesthetically unique filmmakers working in the industry today. One film buff, aficionado, and well-respected critic in particular has made a sweet little side career for himself studying Anderson’s filmography. That man is Matt Zoller Seitz, and in this five-part video essay, dubbed “The Substance of Style,” he digs deep into the other filmmakers and bards who influenced Anderson. The roughly 50-minute exploration actually dates back to 2009, when Zoller Seitz made the series for the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York. It was reposted in late 2013 to correspond with the release of Zoller Seitz’s first book on Anderson, “The Wes Anderson Study.” Now — three weeks after the February 10 release of Zoller Seitz’s updated tome, »

- Zach Hollwedel

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What 'Blade Runner 2' Can Learn From Successful Sci-Fi Sequels

3 hours ago

In case there was any doubt as to whether anything in this whole goddamn world was sacred, news that the long-mooted sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi touchpoint "Blade Runner" was actually moving ahead emerged last week to answer that with a resounding, "Yeah, no." In the days since, we have gone back and forth — hope is trying valiantly to trump experience — in regards whether this can possibly amount to anything good. First, we have the major boon that the directing reins have been handed to Denis Villeneuve, a truly original filmmaker whose last film, the eerie "Enemy," indicates his comfort with ambiguity, while the rain-washed aesthetic of his previous thriller, "Prisoners," and its tone of dread and fatalism are reminiscent of the original "Blade Runner" on a more surface level.  Moreover, we'll mostly glad it's anyone but Scott whose recent efforts — "Exodus: Gods and Kings," "The »

- Jessica Kiang

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Watch: Breathtaking Supercut Celebrates The Work Of Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki

4 hours ago

Emmanuel Lubezki might not be a household name the way Brad PittGeorge Clooney, or Ben Affleck are, but he’s worked with all those A-listers and countless others during the course of his impressive 30-year career behind the camera. A multi-award winner with such films as “The Tree of Life,” “Ali,” “Children of Men,” “Y Tu Mamá También,” and “The Birdcage” under his belt, he is one of the best cinematographers working today. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized his talents yet again this year, though this time in historic fashion; he became only the fifth ever cinematographer to win back-to-back Oscars (for “Birdman” and “Gravity”). The man’s work is just amazing. In a mere four and a half minutes, one Vimeo user, has paid gorgeous tribute to Lubezki. Combining snippets from the above films, as well as “Great Expectations,” “Meet Joe Black,” “Burn After Reading, »

- Zach Hollwedel

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Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Actress Contenders

5 hours ago

The good news: last year’s Oscar season is over. The bad news? This year’s Oscar season has begun. Obviously, this doesn’t mean you have weeks of Q&As and gaudy pull-quote ads to process, but by this time last year, “Whiplash,” “Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Boyhood,” three of this year's big winners, had already premiered. And you can bet that publicists and executives have already started planning their campaigns for the next season, even when the films are only just entering production. And as we’ve done for the past few years, we’re exorcising our demons and spending the week running down some of the premature possibilities for films that have been released so far that seem at a distance like they could have the right stuff for Oscar gold. Having looked at Best Picture and Best Actor already, we now turn our attention to Best Actress. »

- Oliver Lyttelton

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Watch: First Trailer For Michael Winterbottom's 'The Face Of An Angel' With Daniel Brühl, Cara Delevingne & Kate Beckinsale

5 hours ago

If you ever wanted the Amanda Knox story fictionalized, put up on the big screen, and told through the eyes of a struggling director, then Michael Winterbottom's distinct approach to "The Face Of An Angel" is for you. But for anybody else looking for legal drama, controversy, or even anything resembling a pulse, they might want to look elsewhere. Still, the stars may be enough to draw you in and the first full length trailer for the movie is here. Daniel Brühl, Cara Delevingne and Kate Beckinsale star in the movie which pivots around a director who is hired to make a movie about a sensational murder trial in Italy surrounding a young American student (sound familiar?). But when he gets there to do further research, he strikes up a relationship with a young bartender. The movie tends to focus more on that angle instead, and also becomes an indictment of tabloid culture, »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: The Avengers Assemble In Bombastic New ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Trailer

6 hours ago

What don’t you know about “Avengers: Age of Ultron”? Are there surprises left? We’ll see, though with rumors and websites piecing together bits of plot — plus Marvel revealing future plans — it really just feels like ‘Age Of Ultron’ is meant to splinter the ‘Avengers’ and set the stage for Captain America Vs. Iron man in Marvel’s follow-up picture, “Captain America: Civil War.” Further details have been unveiled in a recent ‘Age Of Ultron’ poster that reveals that Idris Elba, Hayley Atwell, Stellan Skarsgård, Anthony Mackie (aka the Falcon) will also be part of the movie. The official synopsis has most of the deets that you probably already know: Marvel Studios presents Avengers: Age of Ultron, the epic follow-up to the biggest Super Hero movie of all time. When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, »

- Edward Davis

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Review: Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie,' Starring Die Antwoord, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver And Hugh Jackman

6 hours ago

After failing to launch an ambitious big screen adaptation of videogame sensation "Halo," South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp unleashed "District 9," a tale of aliens abandoned in the slums of Johannesburg that was easily one of the boldest debuts in recent science fiction memory. (It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, along with Adapted Screenplay, Visual Effects and Editing.) Blomkamp's follow-up, "Elysium," was a much larger and loftier proposition, featuring movie stars like Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and an ungainly plot concerning a post-apocalyptic earth and a glittery space station where the planet's wealthy have relocated. Looking back on it, the movie is smart and entertaining and ahead of its time (#OccupyElysium), but it failed to connect on the visceral or emotional level that "District 9" did. For his third film, "Chappie," Blomkamp returns to a story that is more in line, in scale, theme and. »

- Drew Taylor

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Listen: 82-Minute Talk With Nicolas Winding Refn And Liv Corfixen About Making 'Only God Forgives' And More

7 hours ago

Love it or loathe it, Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives" was a distinctive and completely polarizing piece of work. As the filmmaker himself admits, it found him consciously destroying everything that made "Drive" a success. He wanted to ensure he didn't get stuck repeating himself. But it resulted in an anxiety filled shoot for the director, captured on camera by his wife Liv Corfixen, who turned it into the documentary "My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn." It's an up close look at Refn's process on the movie from the kind of perspective you don't often get. And over the weekend, the pair hit New York City to talk about the film. The Close-Up podcast captured that conversation, and as always, Refn makes an enjoyable raconteur. He reveals that he's a "big admirer of reality television," which made it easy for him to be filmed by Corfixen, and »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: First Trailer For Tarsem’s Biogenic Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Self/Less’ Starring Ryan Reynolds

7 hours ago

It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from Tarsem; he is the mono monikered director behind “The Fall” and “The Cell.” After being absent for a few years, he made up for lost time in 2011/2012 with the almost one-two punch of “Immortals” and “Mirror Mirror” — both films were released within five months of each other. And while neither did much to quell the criticism that Tarsem is style over substance, they did decent enough worldwide business to keep the Tarsem brand in business. And so his latest is the biogenic sci-fi thriller “Self/Less,” which is about an extremely wealthy man dying from cancer, who undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man. Of course things like this don’t always go according to plan. Ben Kingsley stars as the older scion, Ryan Reynolds his younger self, and the movie also co-stars Matthew Goode, »

- Edward Davis

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Watch: Sherlock Holmes Tackles An Unsolved Case In First Trailer For ‘Mr. Holmes’ Starring Ian McKellen

8 hours ago

We've seen Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes on screen dozens of times in myriad different forms; from Billy Wilder's "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes," to Guy Ritchie's more "Maxim"-friendly versions with Robert Downey Jr., to the comedic “Without A Clue” in 1988 with Ben Kingsley (to name a few). But never have we seen Holmes retired and in the winter of his life. Is that interesting? It is a movie? We kind of had our doubts, but Bill Condon’s “Mr. Holmes” premiered in Berlin this past February and it turns out it’s pretty damn good (here’s our review). Maybe it has to do something with the excellent lead actor: Ian McKellen who apparently puts in a terrific performance. Here’s the longform synopsis released during Berlin: England in 1947. The famous detective Sherlock Holmes, now 93 years old, lives in his Sussex country house. When »

- Edward Davis

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'Transformers: Age Of Extinction' Featured The Most Product Placement Of Any Movie In 2014

8 hours ago

Michael Bay likes to do two things: film sexy ladies and make things explode, and it's even better if he can do both at the same time. But his artistic canvas usually requires a lot of money to make it work, and anybody with a set of eyeballs knows that his blockbusters tend to be packed front to back with prominently placed brands. Those appearances help with the budgetary bottom line. And so this following bit of news will be of little surprise. Brandchannel reports that "Transformers: Age Of Extinction" featured the most product placement of any movie in 2014, with fifty-five separate brands all managing to pop up in the film. Michael Bay is a previous winner too, with "Pain & Gain" taking the prize in 2013 and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" winning it for 2011. But again, this is all part of the texture of the Michael Bay experience. Hell, there »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Jeff Goldblum Back For 'Independence Day 2,' Liam Hemsworth Also On Board

8 hours ago

Well, if there's going to be an "Independence Day" sequel without Will Smith, our only requirement was that Jeff Goldblum return. And he is. So all is right with the world. Roland Emmerich announced on Twitter that Goldblum's MIT nerd David Levinson would be back for the sequel, with Liam Hemsworth also joining the gang in a lead role. But the name we should probably be paying attention to is Jessie Usher, who THR reports has been cast in the key part of Will Smith's son from the first movie. The actor is currently the lead of Starz's "Survivor's Remorse," and also featured in "When The Game Stands Tall," but this will be his first blockbuster outing. Meanwhile, we just want to know when it becomes official that Bill Pullman is returning.  "Independence Day 2" saves the planet on June 24, 2016. Excited to Officially announce @LiamHemsworth and #JeffGoldblum as the »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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'Chappie' Actor Admits There Was "Tension" On Set With Die Antwoord's Ninja; Check Out Two New Featurettes

9 hours ago

It sort of flew over my head at the time, but last year, there were rumblings that there was trouble on the set of Neill Blomkamp's "Chappie." While the casting of South African hip hop duo Die Antwoord seemed like an inspired choice, Ninja was apparently earning the enmity of the cast of crew, reportedly criticizing acting choices, and in the words of one crew member, acting like "pure evil." Blomkamp was so fed up, he reportedly wound up reducing Ninja's role in the movie. And one actor who became a particular focus of Ninja's attitude was Brandon Auret, and he's spoken out recently — sort of — about his dealings with the rapper. In an interview with South Africa's News 24 (via The Movies), Auret — who initially says he has "no comment" on working with Ninja — admits that the rapper was unprofessional and a total pain to work with, and his behavior "became an issue. »


- Kevin Jagernauth

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Major Theater Chains Already Refusing To Screen Netflix's 'Beasts of No Nation'

10 hours ago

Times are changing in how, where, and when we watch movies. VOD has become a major force and platform in the release strategy for independent films, and streaming is quickly becoming a major hub for cinema too. Netflix of course is leading the charge, not only producing but acquiring new content, while Amazon and other players are also getting into the game. Frankly, they are filling a niche that many of the major studios have become more selective about about lately, and when it emerged earlier this week that Netflix was dropping a staggering $12 million to pick up Cary Fukunaga's child soldier drama "Beasts Of No Nation" — already seen as a potential 2016 Best Picture contender — it felt like the kind of big money buy Harvey Weinstein would've made in the '90s. But even people like Harvey aren't spending that kind of money anymore (for comparison sake, the starrier »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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