Blood Runs Thin in Spike Lee's Latest

Categories: Movies

Courtesy Da Sweet Blood of Jesus
Stephen Tyrone Williams as Hess.
Spike Lee's Da Sweet Blood of Jesus starts with an exuberant credit sequence that perhaps captures everything that works in the film, and everything that goes wrong. Set against a background of Day-Glo-bright Brooklyn settings, a young man performs an athletic dance to Bruce Hornsby's solo piano. It's a wonderful sequence, yet it doesn't really have anything to do with the remainder of the film. Which is to say it has everything to do with the rest of the film, because it's Lee's way of letting us know from the start that this is his film -- or "joint," if you prefer -- and he doesn't really care if it meets our expectations.

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Albert Maysles' Final Film Looks at Iris Apfel's Unique Art -- Life Itself

Categories: Movies
Magnolia Pictures
This Iris is one-of-a-kind.
Iris Apfel appears more energetic, engaged and intensely curious at 93 than most of us can manage at 23, and a clearly smitten Albert Maysles emphasizes that indomitable spirit in his irresistible portrait of the geriatric fashion icon. Direct Cinema pioneer Maysles, a hugely influential figure in documentary film, was in his late eighties when shooting Iris -- he died on March 5 -- and he clearly recognized himself in his subject: Having blazed impressive trails, both continued to light out for new territory instead of settling in comfortably at the homestead during their senescence. However, as someone who regards fashion with a skepticism bordering on contempt, I confess that Apfel's accomplishments are harder to quantify than those of Maysles, whose films include such seminal documentaries as Salesman, Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter.More »

Avengers Disassemble: Parents Furious There's No Black Widow Bear at Build-a-Bear

Build-A-Bear on Facebook
Natasha Romanoff ("Black Widow") isn't part of Build-A-Bear's Avengers group.

A woman can subdue a deranged god, infiltrate a top-secret military unit and high-kick bad guys into oblivion, yet still "The Man" keeps her down.

Or "The Bear," in this case.

St. Louis-based toy company Build-A-Bear is capitalizing on the box-office success of Disney/Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron, offering a discount on four special-edition Avengers bears. Kids can worship at the altar of the comic book movie gods with plush, make-your-own versions of the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America.

But those who prefer a little gender diversity in their superheroes are out of luck -- kick-ass spy Black Widow isn't part of the package. And boy, have people noticed.

-- Update, 3:20 p.m. 5/14 -- Statement from Build-A-Bear added to the end of this story.

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Cymbeline Reworks Shakespeare's Troublesome Play into a Gangland Puzzler

Categories: Movies

Lionsgate. A Keep Your Head/Benaroya Pictures Production
Cymbeline proves that every Shakespearean work needn't be remade.
Late last year, it was announced that Michael Almereyda's latest Shakespearean film was going to be released under the distinctively non-Shakespearean title Anarchy (possibly as a lure to fans of the TV series Sons of Anarchy, which features Shakespearean themes placed in a biker-gang setting). The producers thought better of the name change, but you can sympathize with their dilemma: The new film is peopled with drug dealers, skateboarders and punks, and punctuated with gunfire and explosives. Wouldn't Shakespeare himself agree that Anarchy had more box-office appeal than The Tragedie of Cymbeline?

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The Salt of the Earth Documents Our Destruction

Categories: Movies

Sabastiao Salgado © 2015 Sony Pictures Classics
Salt is a visually stunning documentary.
It begins with an image of what appears to be an ancient city of towers and walls completely covered with — as you eventually recognize as your eyes focus — hundreds of bodies, as if the structure were actually made of human beings. It is in fact the Brazilian gold mine Serra Pelada, but the masses of miners scrambling up and down its steep face create a kind of accidental surrealism, a flesh-and-mud equivalent to the nightmares of Bosch or Doré's illustrations of Dante's Inferno. Shot in stark black and white, the Serra Pelada is merely the first of many corners of the world, some mysteriously unfamiliar, others painfully recognizable, captured by Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado, whose work is explored in The Salt of the Earth.

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Lambert & Stamp Illuminates the Who Who Made the Who

Categories: Movies

Magic Rabbit, LLC/Sony Pictures Classics
Although the subjects of Lambert & Stamp are no doubt familiar to Who obsessives, casual fans are more likely to echo one of the band's song titles — "Who are you?" — upon hearing their names. But as James D. Cooper's illuminating documentary makes clear, and as surviving Who members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey readily confirm, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp were equal partners in shaping the band, with Lambert exerting particular influence by playing Henry Higgins to Townshend's Eliza Doolittle.

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St. Louis Finally Gets Added to Cities Getting Free Selma Tickets for Students

Categories: Movies

Images courtesy of Paramount Pictures
David Oyelowo plays Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the movie Selma.
Four St. Louis-area movie theaters are giving junior high students free tickets to Selma, the film about the 1965 voting rights protests lead by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Selma Students program started in New York, where 27 black business leaders offered to pay for tickets for 27,000 7th, 8th and 9th grade students in early January. The program became so popular that it sold out after expanding to 75,000 student tickets. As the program gained traction, Paramount Pictures expanded it to several other cities, including Boston, Dallas, Chicago and Nashville.

But not St. Louis.

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Seth Rogen's The Interview Harnesses the Power of Butthole Jokes [UPDATE]

Categories: Movies

Ryan Orange
Seth Rogen finds the absurd in North Korea in The Interview.
Update: Sony has officially canceled the theatrical release of The Interview following terrorist threats against theaters -- and the announcement that several major theater chains had opted not to exhibit the film. Here's Sony's official statement on the decision:

In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners' decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers. Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale - all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.

Sony assumed North Korea would hate the movie. The question was: What would it do? Pyongyang had just tested its atom bomb and threatened "preemptive nuclear attack." And the Supreme Leader with his finger on the trigger was barely over 30, with less than two years of experience.

But Kim Jong-un didn't care about Olympus Has Fallen, even though the violently anti–North Korean 2013 film showed his people strangling women, murdering unarmed men, kidnapping the U.S. president and even executing their fellow citizens. That wasn't worth a fight.

A year later, North Korea had a bigger enemy: Seth Rogen.

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St. Louis Pickup Truck Limo Featured in Dumb and Dumber To

Categories: Autos, Movies

Photo by Mitch Ryals
It's gotta be hell finding a place to park this thing.
Randy Combs can now add Jim Carrey to the list of celebrities who've used his 34-foot Dodge Ram limousine.

The fourteen-passenger limo with a hot tub in the bed is slated to appear in at least one scene in the new movie Dumb and Dumber To that arrives in theaters in November. Combs tells Daily RFT that Jim Carrey (Lloyd Christmas) uses the limo to pick up his prom date in the film. We're guessing in some sort of flashback scenario because the movie takes place twenty years after the original Dumb and Dumber, but Combs didn't know for sure. In the scene, Carrey escorts his date to the rear of the truck, rips her dress off and throws her into the hot tub. She has a swimsuit on, though.

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Podcasts: Gone Girl Explores Marriage, the Media, and Missouri

Categories: Movies

Gone Girl

Alan Scherstuhl and Stephanie Zacharek of the Village Voice, along with LA Weekly's Amy Nicholson, talk about one of the big movies of the year, Gone Girl, which opens in about 3,000 U.S. theaters on Friday, but the trio also makes room for lesser-known films like The Blue Room, Men, Women & Children, The Skeleton Twins, and The Two Faces of January. It's all on this week's episode of the Voice Film Club podcast.

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