The Overnight Features Laughter, Squirms and Helicopter Parents

Categories: Movies

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Courtesy Sundance Institute.
Taylor Schilling in The Overnight.
A contemporary riff on Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), Patrick Brice's The Overnight ups the sexual ante (and hetero anxiety) by emphasizing same-sex attraction over old-school wife-swap. Co-producer Mark Duplass — who co-wrote and co-starred in Brice's first film, Creep — clearly exerts some influence: As an actor, Duplass had comic fun with a similarly charged situation in Lynn Shelton's bromantic Humpday, and The Overnight takes the same low-key, naturalistic approach to comedy as Duplass' writer-director collaborations with brother Jay (The Puffy Chair, Jeff, Who Lives at Home and Cyrus).

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Magic Mike XXL Has Pecs and Abs. A Plot? Not So Much.

Categories: Movies

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Claudette Barius. 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment
One guess as to what happens next.
If you want a picture of the future, imagine Channing Tatum grinding his crotch in a human face, forever. You think I exaggerate? Between this cringe-worthy jamboree of dim-bulb manflesh (and that of the first film, which wasn't even this embarrassing) and Fifty Shades of Grey's celebration of abuse as romantic, Hollywood has gotten a warped idea about What Women Want. Expect more of it, soon. Because plenty of women have embraced these things. I console myself with the thought that we women are so unused to being catered to by The Movies that many of us welcome even distorted attempts at it. Like how black audiences embrace Tyler Perry's minstrel shows.

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Marnie Is a Beautiful Story of a Girl Learning How to Live

Categories: Movies

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© 2014 GNDHDDTK
Girlhood angst, animated.
Those who think of anime as a medium suited only for science-fiction heroes with bad haircuts and neurotic animals competing in repetitive card-playing games may be surprised and quite likely charmed by the down-to-earth quality of When Marnie Was There, the latest — and some fear the last — offering from Japan's revered Studio Ghibli. Long-time Ghibli fans may find it a little less ambitious than earlier milestones such as Spirited Away, but what Marnie lacks in adventure or fantasy is compensated with a convincing depiction of adolescent angst with a gothic twist. It's a deliberately low-key tale set (well, mostly) in the real world and guided by the self-conscious emotions of youth — but filtered through a Henry James-like ghost story.


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The Wolfpack Reveals the Hidden World of the Angulo Brothers

Categories: Movies

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Courtesy Magnolia Pictures
A true case of life imitating art.

It begins with a flurry of activity — six young men with waist-length hair, mostly teenagers, wearing dark suits and running back and forth in a narrow apartment hallway. They carry a variety of homemade prop guns elaborately constructed from cardboard, aluminum foil and duct tape. It will not take long for most viewers to recognize that these young men are enthusiastically restaging their own version of Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. We've all heard of cult movies, but what we seem to be witnessing is a reversal, a movie-based cult.


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Andrew Bujalski Veers Closer to Mainstream with Results

Categories: Movies

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Courtesy Magnolia Pictures/Ryan Green
Cobie Smulders leaves guys in her dust in Results.
A realistically shaded romcom, Results represents a tentative move into Hollywood-style filmmaking by mumblecore pioneer Andrew Bujalski, whose Funny Ha Ha helped launch that ill-defined "genre" of miserablist seriocomedies about unmoored young adults drifting through life. This transition scarcely qualifies as a surprise: The DIY approach of mumblecore — hand-held camerawork, lo-fi video, naturalistic performances, collaborative creation, amateur actors — was always as much a function of available resources as a conscious Dogme-like aesthetic, and, in their more recent work, the principal filmmakers associated with the movement (Joe Swanberg, Lynn Shelton, the Duplass brothers) have happily incorporated the name actors and the enhanced production values afforded by bigger budgets.


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Abel Ferrara Creates a Messy, Compelling Film About Greed, Power and Lust

Categories: Movies

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Courtesy of Nicole Rivelli. © June Project LLC. A Sundance Selects Release.
Gérard Depardieu in Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York opens with two prologues, unrelated but textbook-Brechtian: The first is an interview with the film's star, Gérard Depardieu, about acting and politics (he doesn't like either, for reasons that he doesn't really explain); the second is a montage of historical monuments and Washington landmarks, ending with shots of dollar bills emerging from a printing press while "America the Beautiful" plays. What is director Abel Ferrara trying to tell us? That his film is really about how money and political power go hand in hand? That we should keep a sense of distance from the film and not look for true story melodrama or psychological verisimilitude? It's not clear, and it may not even matter.


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Yves Saint Laurent Remains a Mystery in Bonello's Biographical Film

Categories: Movies

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Carole Bethuel, © 2014 Mandarin Cinema-EuropaCorp-Orange Studio-Arte France Cinema-Scope Pictures, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Gaspard Ulliel as Yves Saint Laurent.
Bertrand Bonello's Saint Laurent opens with the fashion designer pseudonymously checking into a hotel and calling a reporter for an interview. His face still hidden from the audience — reinforcing the scene's resemblance to a Catholic's confession — Yves Saint Laurent (Gaspard Ulliel) immediately unburdens himself by recounting his military-service stay in a mental hospital, where he was heavily medicated and given electroshock therapy. The pole-positioning of this sequence and its reprise later in the film strongly indicate the centrality of those 1960 events in Saint Laurent's life: The implication is that they reverberate through the years, influencing (and explaining) all that follows, especially his persistent depression and copious drug use.

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In Dark Star, H.R. Giger Is Present, But Not a Presence

Categories: Movies

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The late H.R. Giger at home.
Artist H.R. Giger first entered (and seriously disturbed) the consciousness of the wider public in 1979 with Ridley Scott's Alien, which continues to spawn prequels, sequels and spinoffs -- including Scott's own Prometheus -- and an array of pop-culture detritus (e.g., toys, action figures, video games, an entire line of Aliens vs. Predator comics). Credited with the design of the titular Alien and awarded an Oscar as part of the film's visual-effects team, Giger was essential to Alien's success: His ever-mutating biomechanical critters -- whether gestating in creepily vaginal seed pods, attaching unexpectedly to a face, exploding from a chest cavity, extruding a set of telescoping metallic teeth or dispatching a crew member with a skull-popping head bite -- remain nightmarishly frightful, their primal power undiminished by the highly variable quality of the endless iterations.


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Love & Mercy Hits the Highs and Lows of Brian Wilson's Life

Categories: Movies

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Frances Duhamel
Paul Dano as Brian Wilson.
So many words have been written about Brian Wilson that it is difficult, if not impossible, to get an accurate picture of the man who gave the world Pet Sounds and Smile, the two greatest pop symphonies ever composed. Director Bill Pohlad attempts to sharpen our perception of Wilson by using different actors -- Paul Dano and John Cusack -- to portray Wilson at two key moments in his "inspired by the life of Brian Wilson" biopic, Love & Mercy.


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The "New" Poltergeist Shoulda Stayed Dead

Categories: Movies

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Twentieth Century Fox & Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures Inc.
"Take us with you, this movie stinks!"
I don't understand why this movie exists. There's no reason for it. I mean, I get the business reason why someone decided it was a good idea to cash in on a nearly 35-year-old movie that many critics (including me) and fans consider one of the greatest horror movies ever made. But no one on the supposed creative side of this "new" Poltergeist could be bothered even to pretend to have something to add, something fresh to say that wasn't said back in 1982 about the trials of a suburban American family whose house is menaced by nasty spirits. If you have any inclination to see this Poltergeist, just rent the original. (Or pull out the DVD — you probably already own it.) You will lose nothing, and you'll have a far better time.


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