Dan Heching

Ten F’d Up Fairy Tales

Article: Ten F’d Up Fairy Tales

Now that virtually every comic book hero and ’80s cartoons have gotten the blockbuster treatment, Hollywood is in the process of pillaging yet another trove of storybook treasures—fairy tales. Aside from this summer’s Maleficent, there are a slew of upcoming updates: Cinderella, due in March 2015, Pan slated for summer 2015, and the Guillermo Del Toro written and produced Beauty and the Beast in development—just to name a few. Of course, this is territory Hollywood has trod before—behold our list of the top 10 f’d up fairytale films.

What Does Wes Anderson Owe to “Harold and Maude” and 8 Other Influences?

Article: What Does Wes Anderson Owe to “Harold and Maude” and 8 Other Influences?

Wes Anderson has been making feature films since the ’90s (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore) so needless to say his influences date further back than that. It’s a testament to this auteur’s considerable talent that although he’s supremely nostalgic, he’s by no means derivative. He doesn’t rob his predecessors. He nods to them. So to begin… (Cue the Futura title card bearing the words Chapter 1:)

Moviemakers Just Can’t Decide If Dictators Are Funny or Frightening

Article: Moviemakers Just Can’t Decide If Dictators Are Funny or Frightening

Dictators have always made great movie fodder. But whether they’re a source of ridicule or revulsion is another story. Take a look at some of the greatest portrayals of dictators in Hollywood history and you’ll see the interpretations are all over the map! Even Hitler (represented four times in the list below) can span from a buffoon to a holy terror. Don’t believe it? Read on.

1. The Great Dictator (1940)
Charlie Chaplin’s first true talking film stirred the nation, and can be considered a significant cultural reference point that served as inspiration to everything from Mel Brooks’ The Producers to Ivan Reitman’s Dave and even Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. If for nothing else, re-watch this seminal comedy for the climactic speech at the film’s conclusion, a moment when a legendary silent film star steps out of character and truly finds his voice, and a chillingly apt (but sadly ignored) call to action at a pivotal time in history—1940.

Crazy Good! The Top 10 Movie Meltdowns

Article: Crazy Good! The Top 10 Movie Meltdowns

One of the most enjoyable things about movie-watching is that moment when a beloved character loses his/her crackers, even if just for a moment, showing us a whole other shade of person. And as enjoyable as it is for the audience, it’s probably lots of fun for the actors, too. A compendium of raging, comic, emotional and/or heartbreaking meltdowns follows…

1. Entire Cast, Blue Velvet (1986)
As for the best meltdown in this film, take your pick! In the surreal world of David Lynch, every single character seems to be at a different point in his/her own personal undoing, as everyone’s hold on reality becomes increasingly looser. Blue Velvet is the epitome of “on the edge.” As with most of Lynch’s work, this can be considered an exploration of what happens post-meltdown.

2. Hayley Stark (Ellen Page), Hard Candy (2005)
Hayley gives us one long, brutal but very talky meltdown in Hard Candy, a pressure cooker of a flick that never lets up and always keeps you guessing. After a relentless torture scene (not spoiled here), Hayley continues her ravings and revenge fantasy on the roof, literally driving a bland and listless Patrick Wilson to jump clear off it. Can you blame him?

Top 10 movie meltdowns

Article: Top 10 movie meltdowns

One of the most enjoyable things about movie watching is that moment when someone loses his or her crackers, even if just for a moment, showing us a whole other shade of character. And as enjoyable as it is for the audience, we suspect that it’s probably lots of fun for the actors to let loose a little too. A compendium of raging, comic, emotional and/or heartbreaking meltdowns follows.

Top 10 hicksploitation films

Article: Top 10 hicksploitation films

Aaah… the great American outdoors. It can sure be beautiful, but beware: The further afield you get, the harder it is to find help. Help with what, you may ask? Just ask the boys from DELIVERANCE, currently playing on the Sundance Channel: deviant lunatic hicks, o’course!

Top 10 films to jumpstart your ambition

Article: Top 10 films to jumpstart your ambition

Photo credit: Screened

We hate to admit it, but life is tough. To persevere, rise above and truly succeed, a very simple choice must be made every day: Am I going to do what it takes to take care of myself and those around me, or am I not? It may feel like that decision gets harder and harder in light of new challenges that present themselves day after day, but the choice always remains our own. The brand new Sundance Channel series GET TO WORK examines this process, following down-and-out unemployed citizens as they try to pick their lives back up, find work and unlock their forgotten potential.

Review Revue: PREMIUM RUSH, SLEEPWALK WITH ME, LITTLE WHITE LIES

Article: Review Revue: PREMIUM RUSH, SLEEPWALK WITH ME, LITTLE WHITE LIES

Going to the movies should never, ever be stressful (unless, of course, you’re planning on seeing the latest Lars von Trier flick). You want to see something new and relevant so that you can talk it up with your know-it-all friends. But you don’t want to sit through the one film that everyone thought would be great but… isn’t. So here is our formula, simplifying the should-you-see-it conundrum:
5 new releases x 2 critical samplings = what you should go see.

Simple enough, right? This week we have a road-trippin’ couple, a bike messenger in a serious rush, a sleepwalking Mike Birbiglia, some weepy French friends and a badass undead army vet.

When does Oscar season start? It's already started

Article: When does Oscar season start? It's already started

This time last year, a little film called THE HELP hit theaters, and almost immediately the chatter started. Traditionally speaking, it seemed just a little early for Oscar buzz to begin — even in better times, August is a nadir-point in box office revenue, when studios are known to shed the clunker titles they still haven’t released before the “more serious” fall and holiday seasons kick in. Still, THE HELP, a delightful film based on a popular page-turner, got an extremely healthy helping of Oscar buzz right from the start, and it carried Octavia Spencer all the way down the red carpet and into the golden boy’s arms.

Top 10 summer thrillers that will give you chills

Article: Top 10 summer thrillers that will give you chills

Photo credit: The Movie Waffler

Looking for a great way to beat the heat? Summer has always been a time for everything to run high: temperature, hormones, blood pressure, nerves. And a summer thriller is the perfect way to make them all go over the top. This is the season that has seen some of the best horror and thriller classics of all time, like ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and THE SIXTH SENSE. And those titles are in great company with the following list.

Review Revue: PARANORMAN, COMPLIANCE, ROBOT AND FRANK

Article: Review Revue: PARANORMAN, COMPLIANCE, ROBOT AND FRANK

Going to the movies should never, ever be stressful (unless, of course, you’re planning on seeing the latest Lars von Trier flick). You want to see something new and relevant so that you can talk it up with your know-it-all friends. But you don’t want to sit through the one film that everyone thought would be great but… isn’t. So here is our formula, simplifying the should-you-see-it conundrum:
5 new releases x 2 critical samplings = what you should go see.

Simple enough, right? This week we have a serious creep, a kid born from a tree, RPatz cruisin’ in a limo, a jewel thief assisted by a robot and some unmentionable activity in the back of a fast-food joint.

COMPLIANCE filmmaker Craig Zobel asks: What would you do?

Article: COMPLIANCE filmmaker Craig Zobel asks: What would you do?

People are strange. In a way, that is the origin point for Craig Zobel’s beautifully acted thinkpiece COMPLIANCE, an examination into how we tend to behave around and submit to authority, even when we should probably question the source. The “we” is up for discussion, since the movie outlines things I would never dream of “complying” with. But the fact is, COMPLIANCE is inspired by true events, something I learned from the film’s first title card. “I wanted it to fully sink in,” Zobel tells us. “The more I asked myself the question, ‘In that situation, how would I have reacted?’ the more I recognized there was something very human about this kind of reaction. It became hard for me to simply dismiss them all as just a bunch of stupid people.”

Top 10 most awkward family moments

Article: Top 10 most awkward family moments

Regardless of the season, it’s always important to make time for family. And with family comes some of the most awkward, amusing, cringe-worthy or downright creepy moments on film. This selection, including the much-loved SIDEWAYS, covers some of the best and most guffaw-inducing moments imaginable, from a talk about the birds and the bees to lying to mom to something perhaps even a bit weirder…

Review Revue: 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK, HOPE SPRINGS, THE BOURNE LEGACY

Article: Review Revue: 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK, HOPE SPRINGS, THE BOURNE LEGACY

Going to the movies should never, ever be stressful (unless, of course, you’re planning on seeing the latest Lars von Trier flick). You want to see something new and relevant so that you can talk it up with your know-it-all friends. But you don’t want to sit through the one film that everyone thought would be great but… isn’t. So here is our formula, simplifying the should-you-see-it conundrum:
5 new releases x 2 critical samplings = what you should go see.
Simple enough, right? This week we have a young and harried French-American couple, an aging and passionless married couple, spies, presidential hopefuls and… ghosts!

Top 10 differences between the Gothams of Nolan and Burton

Article: Top 10 differences between the Gothams of Nolan and Burton

Photo credit: Flickr: Stefan the Cameraman

Amazingly, Bruce Wayne has donned his Batsuit for the seventh time in a little over 20 years. The role of Batman has become a nouveau-James Bond of sorts, with a grand total of 4 actors portraying him thus far, in films directed by three different men. When the original BATMAN came out in 1989, comic book and superhero films were far from guaranteed successes, since effects and makeup hadn’t quite risen to the standards of what the deliriously imaginative comic creators could come up with. Nevertheless, Tim Burton’s BATMAN was a commercial and (mostly) critical success, enough to ensure delivery of the arguably better sequel BATMAN RETURNS three years later. Fast-forward (remember that?) to 2005, and MEMENTO director Christopher Nolan resuscitated the franchise with the much darker — and more realistic — BATMAN BEGINS, which in turn was also followed by a superior sequel, THE DARK KNIGHT. Pretty much across the board, the newer Batman films are considered to be the most relevant and successful, but there remains a small and embattled contingent of film fans who actively miss the old days of (pre-SLEEPY HOLLOW) Tim Burton.

Review Revue: WIMPY KID 3, TOTAL RECALL and CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER

Article: Review Revue: WIMPY KID 3, TOTAL RECALL and CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER

Going to the movies should never, ever be stressful (unless, of course, you’re planning on seeing the latest Lars von Trier flick). You want to see something new and relevant so that you can talk it up with your know-it-all friends. But you don’t want to sit through the one film that everyone thought would be great but… isn’t. So here is our formula, simplifying the should-you-see-it conundrum:
5 new releases x 2 critical samplings = what you should go see.
Simple enough, right? This week we have Colin Farrell trying to pull off Schwarzenegger, a wimpy kid, young and pretty divorcees, some babymakers and a bunch of wayward Europeans.

Top 10 reasons the Coen brothers are like the Beatles

Article: Top 10 reasons the Coen brothers are like the Beatles

Everyone has a favorite Beatles song. And if there’s a Beatles song for everyone, why can’t there be a Coen brothers movie for everyone? After the shocking brilliance of their debut BLOOD SIMPLE., Joel and Ethan Coen followed up with RAISING ARIZONA, proving that they could make comedy just as well as crime drama and violence that actually has a point (most of the time). Since then, they’ve done just about everything in between.

So which Coen Brother’s movie are you?

Further proof that TV is the new film

Article: Further proof that TV is the new film

It’s old news that the increased presence of high-profile film stars in TV land is just another not-so-subtle sign of the recession in action: Those usually used to a fat paycheck from the film studios have had to think out of the box — or rather, right into it, as have 2012 Emmy nominees Glenn Close of Damages, Kathy Bates of Harry’s Law and Steve Buscemi of Boardwalk Empire, to name just a few. But their presence is also a sign of another larger shift in the entertainment media landscape, one that has also been in development for a while now: The boundaries between the kind of content on TV and in film may be disappearing altogether.

Review Revue: SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN, KILLER JOE, THE WATCH

Article: Review Revue: SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN, KILLER JOE, THE WATCH

Going to the movies should never, ever be stressful (unless, of course, you’re planning on seeing the latest Lars von Trier flick). You want to see something new and relevant so that you can talk it up with your know-it-all friends. But you don’t want to sit through the one film that everyone thought would be great but… isn’t. So here is our formula, simplifying the should-you-see-it conundrum:
5 new releases x 2 critical samplings = what you should go see.
Simple enough, right? This week we have a misunderstood musical legend, some vulgar neighborhood watchmen, a well-mannered hit man, a devoted disabled couple and an artist/activist who’ll never apologize.

Review Revue: THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES rules

Article: Review Revue: THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES rules

Going to the movies should never, ever be stressful (unless, of course, you’re planning on seeing the latest Lars von Trier flick). You want to see something new and relevant so that you can talk it up with your know-it-all friends. But you don’t want to sit through the one film that everyone thought would be great but… isn’t. So here is our formula, simplifying the should-you-see-it conundrum:
5 new releases x 2 critical samplings = what you should go see.

Simple enough, right? This week we have a Caped Crusader, a make-believe girlfriend, a rags-to-riches-to-rags tale, a well-digger and some hot n’ bothered New Yorkers.

The Barbra Streisand blogosphere goes bananas for THE GUILT TRIP

Article: The Barbra Streisand blogosphere goes bananas for THE GUILT TRIP

Photo credit: The National Enquirer
Did you know there was a Barbra Streisand blogosphere? Of course you did! And it can barely contain itself over Babs’ first non-FOCKERS role as an actress in more than 15 years, playing Seth Rogen’s kvetchy overbearing mom in Paramount’s upcoming THE GUILT TRIP. First of all, perfect casting, no? Secondly, we mean “upcoming” in the loosest sense of the word — apparently, the film has had quite a few tweaks, both in release date and in title. But don’t fret: Although changes like this normally mean a studio is less than thrilled, screenings for this mom-son road trip flick (originally titled MY MOTHER’S CURSE) have actually tested through the roof, and as a result Paramount first moved the film from Mother’s Day to pre-Thanksgiving and finally to Christmas Day. These moves betray the studio’s increased confidence in the film, since Christmas is the time to roll out the biggest and best. And we would expect nothing less from Streisand or Rogen, not to mention director Anne Fletcher (of THE PROPOSAL) and writer Dan Fogelman, who penned the not-at-all-bad CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.

Review Revue: The QUEEN is on the MONEY

Article: Review Revue: The QUEEN is on the MONEY

Going to the movies should never, ever be stressful (unless, of course, you’re planning on seeing the latest Lars von Trier flick). You want to see something new and relevant so that you can talk it up with your know-it-all friends. But you don’t want to sit through the one film that everyone thought would be great but… isn’t. So here is our formula, simplifying the should-you-see-it conundrum:
5 new releases x 2 critical samplings = what you should go see.
Simple enough, right? This week we have a Stockholm drug runner, an Indian maiden-in-waiting, feuding New York sisters, a doomed royal court and an immaculate rock ‘n’ roll conception.

Top 10 antiheroes fighting the superhero film monopoly

Article: Top 10 antiheroes fighting the superhero film monopoly

It’s July, which means we are all hot, tired and pretty much superheroed out. We’ve weathered the explosive onslaught of THE AVENGERS and now (another) AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and still have a certain DARK KNIGHT to go. All this hoopla gets us thinking: Are graphic novels and comic books responsible for classic fanboy superheroes, and nothing more? Of course not! This rich literary (yes, literary) genre has inspired a wealth of other cinematic material, from dystopian yarns to biting black comedies, some of which you may not have even guessed had comic connection.

Are gay and closeted stars just as bankable as straights?

Article: Are gay and closeted stars just as bankable as straights?

This weekend, Oliver Stone’s gritty new SAVAGES took to screens across the country, with the embattled John Travolta as one of the main headliners. Travolta has had his fair share of controversy of late, with more than one male “masseur” (the term should probably be applied with only light pressure) claiming sexual misconduct against the actor, as well as a cruise-ship worker just two weeks ago. Along with his fellow mega-moviestar Scientologist buddy Tom Cruise, Travolta has long battled a rumor mill that seems hellbent on outing him as gay. While the verity of those claims remains hotly contested, the real question is: Does it make a friggin’ difference anymore?