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Showing posts from December, 2014

The Goods: Ranking Wes Anderson's Feature Films

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We love Wes Anderson. You love Wes Anderson. The whole world does, really. This man has made some of the funniest, most adorable, most colorful, most uniquely singular films ever and in doing so, he has created a distinct style that is often imitated, but never duplicated. His brand is so built into our culture, even parodies are mostly just homages. His frequent collaborators—Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Anjelica Huston and Tilda Swinton, to name a few—feel like family members to us. Released early in 2014, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” has remained one of the year’s best films as well as a bright spot on Anderson’s already sterling résumé. As we gear up for end-of-the-year superlatives and Oscar nominations, we’ve ranked all of the films in Wes Anderson’s glorious filmography. Where does his first feature, “Bottle Rocket,” fit in? How about his latest, “The Grand Budapest Hotel?” Find out after the jump! 8. “Bottle Rocket” It was six years ago

Review: "Unbroken" (**½)

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Jack O’Connell stars in “Unbroken” Watching Jack O’Connell’s performance as the raffish, far-reaching World War II bombardier Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken,” you can’t help but admire and relish in the unbreakable resilience of the human spirit. People are rather extraordinary, and this film is a testament to those people who push the boundaries of what’s possible. Because, at the heart of it, beyond the bawdy and often unforgivable wartime treatments and mistreatments, “Unbroken” is a story saturated with sincerity. O’Connell enlivens the material while still leaving room for periphery characters to hem themselves in. But, to me, the film itself often felt more angular than fluid, more forceful than purposeful, and more eager to embolden the highlights of Zamperini’s life than simply allow us explore them ourselves. “Unbroken” is Zamperini’s story. There’s rarely a scene in which he’s not featured. As a young boy, wily and pure-hearted, Zamperini had a serious knack fo

Review: "Wild" (****)

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Reese Witherspoon and her backpack Monster star in “Wild” “Wild” opens with a shot of gorgeous and serene, snow-capped mountains. We hear a woman gasping for air, breathing as if caught right in the middle of some pretty rigorous sex. This woman, as it turns out, is a hiker arduously laboring her way to a pretty stunning lookout. And it is here that we meet our heroine Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon). She removes her backpack called Monster (a rather appropriately named symbol for all the things in her life that weigh her down) from her sweat-drenched and filthy back, takes off her too-small boots, peels off her blood-soaked socks revealing her mangled and blistered feet. She picks and rips off a dead toenail, and in the process, somehow, knocks her shoe off the side of the mountain. In frustration, she hurls the other shoe, full force, into the abyss. She curses at the mountains, screaming her frustrations at the top of her lungs, and it’s this moment that we learn the defiant, gri

#GAfilm Review: "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" (***½)

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Jennifer Lawrence stars in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” With every fiber in my being, I believe in the power of a story. That’s why I made it my business to study them (UGA, English/Creative Writing); that’s why, since graduation, I’ve made it my business to work within them. That’s why I read and watch them. It’s all for the story. So when I first saw “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” I loved it. I loved it because I love Suzanne Collins’ source material. Well, not all of it, there were some parts that, honestly, I’d rather do without, I didn’t particularly love the third book for example, but that’s not the point. Whether or not I like what happens isn’t the point. The story is the point. And, I think, Collins’ story remains true and honest and in this third act of this “Hunger Games” trilogy specifically, she paints a bold and unsubtle picture of modern day warfare. The film itself does a wonderful job reflecting those narratives. That being said, after allowing my

Review: "Interstellar" (***)

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Matthew McConaughey stars in “Interstellar” Here’s the first thing I have to say about Christopher Nolan’s newest film “Interstellar”: 159 minutes is too long. There are films, though rare they are, that warrant this kind of length: “Boogie Nights” (149 minutes), “Titanic” (195 minutes), “The Godfather” (175 minutes)… you get the picture. “Interstellar” does not belong on this list. That’s not to say it doesn’t belong on other lists, because I absolutely think this is a quality film with valuable insights. But there is a whole chunk of the movie, that had it not been there, I think it would have made for a much better viewing experience. Without spoiling or revealing too much, there’s a 30-minute subplot line that involves a very tragic and angry Matt Damon that is so maundering and unnecessary that it nearly defines the word superfluous. There was an extremely dumb looking fistfight (boys will be boys, I guess?) on am extremely gorgeous looking planet, and I found myself laughing at a

Review: "The Theory of Everything" (****½)

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Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne star in “The Theory of Everything.” I’ve been very reluctant to write this review for James Marsh’s “The Theory of Everything.” I saw this movie a week ago and have since been chewing on my thoughts and feelings surrounding this film. You know that you get feeling where sometimes you enjoy something so much that you just want to keep it all to yourself? I don’t want to share it because I don’t want to risk someone not feeling the same way. That, and more simply, it was my experience; I don’t think anyone else deserves it something that was mine. But in this instance, I’ll suck it up, because this is a movie so absolutely worth seeing. “The Theory of Everything.” It was devastatingly poignant and magnanimously visceral. I expected this movie to be a bio-pic of sorts; I expected it to weigh a thousand pounds, bloated with science and maths and formulas in a way that would be impossible to relate or understand. Of course this movie does have formulas and

Review: "Big Hero 6" (****)

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The unlikely band of heroes that make up the “Big Hero 6.” I saw “Big Hero 6” all by my lonesome on a rainy Saturday morning. I didn’t have high expectations for this film. Why? I don’t exactly know. And I didn’t even bother asking any of my friends to go with me (They all would have laughed and said no. Why would they have said no? I don’t exactly know that either.). “Big Hero 6” was, to my pleasant surprise, an engaging, emotionally and comically driven adventure story, that I found to be extremely enjoyable. “Big Hero 6” isn’t a movie that demands a big screen, but if you want to see the gorgeously rendered, futuristic world of San Frantokyo in all it’s detailed glory, than you may want to run out and catch it while it’s still in theaters. The films starts with Hiro (voiced by newcomer Ryan Potter), a teen-genius, wasting his smarts and time in the underground world of (ro)bot fights. His older brother, Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney), on the way to a promised bot fight, detours a

Atlanta Film Festival Needs Help Raising Money to Bring Filmmakers to Atlanta

The Atlanta Film Festival is following-up last year’s successful #Artists2ATL Kickstarter campaign with another aimed to bring filmmakers into town during the festival. The campaign video is quick and to-the-point, illustrating the simple message that not having the filmmaker in attendance with their film is detrimental to the festival. The campaign was launched three weeks ago and currently has seven days left, wrapping up at 11:59 PM on Wednesday, December 17, 2014. As of publishing date, over $8,300 has been committed, leaving them with just over $6,600 to go. The biggest benefit of contributing to the Atlanta Film Festival’s Kickstarter is that you can renew your year-round membership through the campaign. Your pass to the festival is your membership, so by purchasing a Moviehopper Card ($50), Film Pass ($125), Film & Conference Pass ($225) or All Access Pass ($325), you are paying the same amount that you would just before the festival, but you are getting your 2015 member

#GAfilm Review: "The Homesman" (****)

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Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones star in “The Homesman” “The Homesman” was the second film I saw at the 2014 Savannah Film Festival, but it was the first of many good films that week. I went into the SCAD Museum of Art pretty blind—only knowing that the film starred Hillary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones, who also directed. I didn’t know it was partially shot in Georgia, or that it features a much more unique—and female-driven—story than most of the westerns you see hit cinemas these days. Female roles in westerns usually consist of the barmaid or the wife/mother/sister stuck back on the range. It isn’t often that a western starts with a woman, features a woman in a lead role and  has plenty of more women in supporting roles. Now, that isn’t to say that a woman remains the lead of the film the entire time or that the supporting actresses are given particularly weighty roles. Set in remote Loup City on the Nebraska plains, Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) is an unmarried (although, not for lack

Review: "Fury" (***½)

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Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Brad Pitt, Michael Peña & Jon Bernthal star in “Fury” Very rarely do I enter a theatre completely blind to what it is I’m about to see. I’m too greedy, too curious and far too impatient for the kind of diamond-like discovery that comes with digging in the dark. That analogy may have fallen a bit flat, but the point I’m trying to make here is that this was my experience with “Fury;” I went into the theatre knowing only that it was a war movie and that Brad Pitt was in it. I hadn’t heard too much about the film, and I never really felt any pressure to see it. I hadn’t heard anything too great about it, though to be fair, I hadn’t heard that anyone despised it, either. The buzz surrounding “Fury” was essentially non-existent… for me, at least. The only reason I did see this movie was because it was a very, very rainy Sunday and, quite simply, I love the movies. Plus, I have less a tendency to watch period pieces in the comfort of my own home. Had I not seen

The 2015 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Deadline Has Been Extended

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We’re nearing the end of 2014, which means that the 2015 spring festival season is closely upon us. If you’ve polished your screenplay to the point of perfection and are looking for a place to submit, the Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) has extended its deadline for feature length screenplays to December 15, 2014. ATLFF is offering a limited time 50% discount to anyone who submits before the deadline. The Atlanta Film Festival has a 4 decade long history of discovering and nurturing new filmmaking talent, including showing early works by Robert Rodriguez, Spike Lee, and Victor Nuñez. Recognizing that a strong screenplay creates the foundation for great filmmaking, the Screenplay Competition was founded in 2008 to expand ATLFF’s tradition of discovery and support. The retreat brings the writers of the winning screenplays together not only with established writers, but also with producers and directors who can provide a different perspective on the script and advice on how to move forward

Georgia Film Critics Announce Dates for 2014 Awards

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The Georgia Film Critics Association (GFCA) has released the dates for their 2014 awards. Nominees will be announced the morning of Monday, January 5th, 2015. At the other bookend of that  same work-week, winners will be revealed on the morning of Friday, January 9th, 2015. The critics group uses their Twitter account to release the nominees and winners gradually, followed by the complete listing on their website. This will be the fourth awards presentation for the GFCA. Founded at the tail end of 2011, Best Picture honors have been bestowed on films “The Tree of Life,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Her.” Fourteen film critics across print, television and digital media are included in the group. More information can be found at the GFCA website, www.georgiafilmcritics.org .

Review: "Dear White People" (***)

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Part of the ensemble cast of “Dear White People” I’d been looking forward to seeing writer/director Justin Simien’s feature film debut, “Dear White People,” for quite some time now. After gaining steam at Sundance earlier this year, it played as the final film at the 2014 Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF). I was on staff at the time for ATLFF, and the hype and excitement for this film, it was, quite literally, more than we could handle. We had to turn people away, giving them only our most syruped and sincere apologies as we walked them back out the front doors; we brought additional chairs into the theatre, chairs that were cumbersome and heavy and strangely angular (I know, I carried some); some staff and crew were reduced to standing in the back desperate to catch even a small glimpse. The theatre was vibrating with anticipatory energy, an extremely tangible excitement. I, unfortunately, had to attend to other business, what with me being on staff and all, so I wasn’t able to sit down a

"Free to Yowl" Casting Call for Extras

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An local, independent production  that we originally posted a casting call for lead actors back in the spring is looking for extras for a pivotal scene to be shot at Atlanta landmark Paris on Ponce. “Free to Yowl,” from Muse of Fire Films , is set in 1940s Nazi-occupied Paris. 25-35 individuals are needed to pack out a scene set in a 1940s Paris jazz club on December 8th to 10th (Monday to Wednesday), 11 AM – 5 PM.  Monday is the highest priority for extras. If you’re not available for all three days, no problem. Two, or even one day, will be very helpful! Partial hours are no problem! If interested, please review some of the preliminary information we’ve provided below and sign-up here . Within 24 hours of sign-up, you’ll receive information regarding wardrobe, hair, and make-up for the shoot; with shoot-specific details (i.e. call time, parking, etc.) emailed by Friday, December 5th. Scene Description: Parisian Jazz Club, Winter 1943. It’s World War 2, during the Nazi occupation of

Review: "Laggies" (**½)

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Chloe Grace Moretz and Keira Knightley star in “Laggies” Lynn Shelton has created one of my most favorite movies of all time. Now I haven’t seen all the movies in the history of all time, so that first statement isn’t entirely accurate, but of all the movies I have seen, Lynn Shelton has captured me. But not with “Laggies,” her most recent directorial venture, but with “Your Sister’s Sister.” I saw “Your Sister’s Sister” three years go, and this is the only time I’ve done this, but once the credits rolled, I immediately played the movie again in its entirety (I was watching it OnDemand). This isn’t the best movie ever made, it’s not even among the best, but this movie, it reached inside my chest, worked around my breastbone, and squeezed my heart until I felt nearly ready to burst. I loved its honesty, its sincerity, its small, freehanded charm. Everything about it, to me, is gorgeous. And since watching “Your Sister’s Sister,” I’ve followed Lynn Shelton’s career with a magnifying glas

Review: "St. Vincent" (***)

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Bill Murray and Jaeden Lieberher showing off their moves in “St. Vincent.” Had anyone else coveted the film’s namesake roll, “St. Vincent” would not have as successful a run as it’s had here. But Bill Murray, in his predictably unpredictable nature, works as the prickly, curmudgeon of a man whose bad decisions are only bested by the bad decisions that precede it. In fact, somehow, with each poor decision he makes, we’re tricked into liking him more. And more and more. Vincent is a wildly unhappy man who grips the bottle too tightly and runs his mouth too quickly. He’s cheerless, frankly belligerent, incorrigible, and tolerates only a seldom few: a pregnant stripper Daka (Naomi Watts), an older woman named Sandy (Donna Mitchell) who we later learn is his Alzheimer-riddled wife, and Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), a small and shy 12-year-old boy who moves into the house next door with his newly single mom (Melissa McCarthy). After being bullied at his new school, Oliver’s keys are taken he fi

First Ten Features from 2015 Atlanta Film Festival All Directed by Women

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Although the 2015 Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) is still nearly four months away, the organization has released the first ten feature films selected for the 39th annual festival lineup. This announcement is different from typical festival releases in that the diverse slate of films have one thing in common—all ten films are directed by women. “Films from female directors composed nearly half of last year’s feature film program. This first glimpse at the Festival’s 2015 lineup showcases the outstanding quality of work found in submissions from female filmmakers,” said ATLFF Director of Programming Kristy Breneman. Of the ten features in this first wave, six are narrative (fiction) and four are documentaries. Three of these selections are Georgia-produced films. “Female Pervert” is a comedy from Atlanta Film Festival alumnus Jiyoung Lee. “Imba Means Sing,” directed by Danielle Bernstein, follows children from the African Children’s Choir as they leave their home in Uganda for a world tou