4 items from 2015
When I saw writer-director Kyle Patrick Alvarez's first feature Easier with Practice, based on a short story, I knew to keep this guy on my radar. For a first film on a shoestring budget, the film looks something born out of Hollywood. Smart move. Alvarez's next film, C.O.G., was also based on a short story, this one by David Sedaris. A fun and large fact about Alvarez: this young filmmaker is the first and only to get Sedaris' full blessing to adapt one of his stories into a feature film. Sedaris has given the green light to other filmmakers a few times before but changed his mind. Not for Alvarez. C.O.G. had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. I was there -- not important...
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One of the more intense films to emerge from the Sundance Film Festival, Kyle Patrick Alvarez's gripping "The Stanford Prison Experiment" (read our review) is a dramatization of a notorious 1971 psychology experiment that went very, very wrong. It's a potent piece of work, featuring a terrific ensemble cast (Michael Angarano, Ezra Miller, Logan Miller, Keir Gilchrist, Tye Sheridan, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Mann, Moises Arias, Johnny Simmons, Olivia Thirlby and Billy Crudup), and which takes the filmmaker into different territory following his first two pictures, "Easier With Practice" and "C.O.G." Like any filmmaker who can easily switch gears, Alvarez's cinematic tastes are wide ranging. In the latest entry in our series Movies That Changed My Life, Alvarez discloses how films as diverse as "Vertigo," "Showgirls" and "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" left an impression. "The Stanford Prison Experiment" »
- Edward Davis
You'll be kicking yourself if you don't see "The Stanford Prison Experiment" in theaters. Seriously. And, no, I'm not just saying that because I happen to know director Kyle Patrick Alvarez socially or that it's a Sundance Jury Award-winning movie or that it depicts one of the most shocking events to occur at one of America's greatest Universities over the past fifty years.* The real reason is that besides the questions it raises about the human condition and our ability to descend to abject cruelty, "Stanford" features a once in a life time cast that will dominate Hollywood for the next 15 to 20 years.* *It also has earned strong reviews to date including a 71 grade on Metacritic and 78% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Based on true events, the new drama chronicles the 1971 psychological experiment that found Stanford University students sorted into the roles of prison guard or a generic prisoner. In theory, »
- Gregory Ellwood
An elaborate behavioral simulation spirals shockingly out of control — and to a lesser degree, so does the movie — in “The Stanford Prison Experiment,” a grimly staged dramatic reconstruction of Philip Zimbardo’s notorious 1971 scientific inquiry into the psychology of power and the human capacity for inflicting and accepting abuse. In an ambitious step up from his intimate character studies “Easier With Practice” and “C.O.G.,” director Kyle Patrick Alvarez commits to a fully immersive procedural approach that potently conveys the study’s lengthy duration and claustrophobic intensity, making for a viewing experience that is by turns gripping, tedious and deliberately discomfiting. But for all its bludgeoning effectiveness, the film also manages to be at once heavy-handed in some respects and annoyingly vague in others; although sure to have its defenders, it’s probably too strong a dose of foul medicine to catch on significantly with the public.
Perhaps performing their own sort of audience case study, »
- Justin Chang
4 items from 2015
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