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My World Of Flops: Going for the gold! case file #84: The Bronze

6 hours ago

My World Of Flops is Nathan Rabin’s survey of books, television shows, musical releases, or other forms of entertainment that were financial flops, critical failures, or lack a substantial cult following.

The runaway success of Napoleon Dynamite gave a lot of small-time filmmakers false hope. Jared Hess’ surprise hit convinced aspiring creative types that with the right combination of elements, a low-budget comedy with an unlikable protagonist, costumes that look like they were procured from a Sears catalog in 1986, and production design heavy in wood paneling could break their films out of the indie film/arthouse ghetto and become a hit.

Like a lot of movies that flourished at Sundance, only to die a painful death outside it, 2015’s The Bronze shares a certain sour, curdled sensibility with Napoleon Dynamite, though The Bronze is the far superior film. The Bronze was picked up for a wide release ...

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- Nathan Rabin

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Movie Review: Before Mr. Robot, Rami Malek signed on for the bigger mind fuck of Buster’s Mal Heart

6 hours ago

Buster’s Mal Heart is indie sci-fi at its most abstract, taking elements of more populist, influential films like Fight Club and The Matrix and filtering them through philosophical exchanges and coolly stylized compositions to produce something that’s somehow simultaneously more weighty and more slight. Director Sarah Adina Smith, who broke through with the similarly ambiguous The Midnight Swim in 2014, takes a cerebral approach to the material, referring to “spiritual fission” and “individual responsibility in a mechanistic universe” in her official statement on the film. Whether you find this sort of thing pretentious or intriguing is, essentially, a matter of taste.

The main character, whose consciousness appears to be split into three distinct identities, is played by a quietly intense Rami Malek, who serendipitously took the part shortly before his breakout role in Mr. Robot. We’re initially introduced to him as a nameless man covered in long ...

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- Katie Rife

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Coming Distractions: This Alien: Covenant prologue is probably as close as we’re going to get to Prometheus 2

7 hours ago

Fox has been remarkably generous with its footage for Alien: Covenant, offering up whole five-minute swathes of the movie to get people intrigued by Ridley Scott’s latest exercise in sci-fi horror. But the studio has been more cagey about the aftermath of Scott’s last film in this universe, Prometheus, only noting that Michael Fassbender’s android David would return, and that star Noomi Rapace was also set to somehow appear.

That mystery is over, now, as the studio celebrated today’s “Alien Day” by deploying a new prologue for Covenant that it calls “The Crossing.” The video features David and Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw on their journey to the Engineer’s planet. Shaw seems remarkably forgiving of David—considering he killed her boyfriend and got her knocked up with a xenomorphic hellspawn in the previous film—repairing him, and gently dealing with his newfound android crush. Meanwhile, we »

- William Hughes

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Great Job, Internet!: Read This: David Byrne pens a tribute to his friend Jonathan Demme

9 hours ago

Jonathan Demme died today, ending a directorial career that blended music, empathy, and technical artistry with elegance and skill. Despite Demme’s numerous triumphs, few of his films display that cocktail better than his Talking Heads concert film, Stop Taking Sense. Now, Demme’s friend, and Talking Heads frontman, David Byrne, has posted a letter to his personal web site, eulogizing Demme’s humanity and talent.

“I met Jonathan in the ‘80s when Talking Heads were touring a show that he would eventually film and turn into Stop Making Sense,” Byrne writes. “While touring, I thought the show had turned out well and might hold up as a movie, and a mutual friend introduced us. I loved his films Melvin and Howard and Citizens Band (Aka Handle With Care). From those movies alone, one could sense his love of ordinary people. That love surfaces and is manifest over and over »

- William Hughes

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Newswire: David Fincher might direct World War Z 2 for his old buddy Brad Pitt

9 hours ago

Lured in by his long-time collaborator Brad Pitt, it sounds like David Fincher might soon be going from Gone Girl to gnawed flesh, with Variety reporting that the Oscar-nominated director is close to finalizing talks to direct World War Z 2.

To hear Variety tell it, the deal is less an artistic collaboration, and more one buddy helping another out; Fincher famously avoids sequels, and hasn’t filmed one since his first feature, the troubled Alien 3. But Pitt—who’s made three films with Fincher, including Se7en and Fight Club—was forced to put WWZ2 on hold in the wake of his high-profile divorce from Angelina Jolie, and has reportedly struggled to find a director to take up the project and get producers at Paramount back on board. Bringing the critically beloved Fincher—who’s been hanging out on TV of late, working on Mindhunter for Netflix—into the »

- William Hughes

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Newswire: Captain America director Joe Johnston is headed to Narnia

10 hours ago

Stretching his “dangerous fantasy world contained inside a magical wooden box” muscles yet again, Jumanji director Joe Johnston has signed on for TriStar’s upcoming Narnia movie, The Silver Chair. Johnston—whose credits also include Jurassic Park III, The Rocketeer, and Captain America: The First Avenger—will be the first director to helm a film in this latest attempt to bring C.S. Lewis’ beloved religious allegories to the screen, picking up where Walden Media’s lavish Chronicles Of Narnia films left off.

The Silver Chair sees the unfortunately named Eustace Scrubb—last seen looking like Will Poulter in Walden’s Voyage Of The Dawn Treader—return to the fantasy kingdom with his friend Jill, in search of Narnia’s missing prince. Variety reports that Life Of Pi screenwriter David Magee will adapt Lewis’ timeless prose for the screen.

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- William Hughes

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Newswire: Ewan McGregor in talks to play an adult Christopher Robin

12 hours ago

According to Variety, Ewan McGregor is in talks to star in Christopher Robin, the live-action Disney movie about Winnie The Pooh’s friend growing up and moving on without that honey-loving bear and his adorable buddies. When Pooh realizes that Christopher Robin has “lost all sense of imagination,” he re-enters the now-adult man’s life to “help him gain that back.” McGregor would play the imagination-less man, and barring some kind of time travel twist, that means it would largely revolve around him hanging out with Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet.

Christopher Robin is being directed by World War Z’s Marc Forster, but despite all evidence to the contrary, it doesn’t sound like this is supposed to be one of those grim and gritty twists on a beloved old property. Also, Variety doesn’t go into this, but bringing McGregor into the Disney family would make it a »

- Sam Barsanti

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Newswire: Of course the Doof Warrior will be back for the next Mad Max movie

12 hours ago

Although there are no concrete plans currently in motion, George Miller has been promising another Mad Max movie from pretty much the moment Fury Road became the surprise blockbuster hit of 2015. Now, he’s revealed that one of that film’s weirder characters is likely to show up in whatever version of the outlandish outback he ends up making, confirming that we haven’t seen the last of the flame-guitar wielding Doof Warrior.

Veterans of the Fury Road will recall that the Dw—played by Australian rocker iOTA—rides around on a giant stereo truck, keeping the heavy metal bloodlust up for the troops of Immortan Joe, The People Eater, and The Bullet Farmer as they pursue Max and Imperator Furiosa across the blasted deserts. Apparently, he has a well-considered backstory, too, explaining how a blind, mute survivor became the rock and roll mascot for all the Valhalla-seeking ...

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- William Hughes

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Newswire: The secret mythology of the Cars universe is apparently super dark

12 hours ago

Pixar’s Cars movies have been the target of a lot of bizarre fan theories, with most of them centered around the fact that the universe clearly has no humans but still has evidence that humans once existed—i.e. door handles on the living cars, buildings and monuments that cars couldn’t build themselves, and the piles of skeletons that are always just off-camera in every scene. The movies themselves will probably never address the mysterious lack of humans, but it turns out that Jay Ward, the Creative Director of the Cars brand, has some theories of his own. This comes from Screen Crush, and though the piece makes it clear that it’s “not necessarily” official Pixar canon, Ward himself has an extremely dark idea for where the humans went:

If you think about this, we have autonomous car technology coming in right now. It’s getting to »

- Sam Barsanti

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Great Job, Internet!: J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis thought Snow White sucked

16 hours ago

It’s fun to imagine the details of the friendship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, poring over dusty tomes and arguing over the details that created some of the most beloved fantasy worlds ever. A new article on Atlas Obscura, though, details a very different aspect of their friendship: They both fucking hated Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs.

In particular, they hated the dwarves and their goofy-ass faces. Lewis wrote in a letter that Snow White’s companions “ought to be ugly of course, but not in that way,” later describing them as “bloated, drunken, low comedy faces.” Tolkien, who released The Hobbit just a few months before Snow White hit theaters, concurred about Disney films in general, later firing off a letter to a friend saying that, “Though in most of the ‘pictures’ proceeding from his studios there are admirable or charming passages, the ...

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- Clayton Purdom

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Great Job, Internet!: They did some disgusting stuff to make the sounds in Fight Club

17 hours ago

Most films aren’t necessarily interested in depicting violence honestly. If they did, most fights would be over after the first punch, and then we wouldn’t have movies like The Raid: Redemption, The Raid 2, and well, every other action movie that isn’t part of The Raid franchise.

Other times, the authenticity of violence is part and parcel of a film’s raison d’etre, as is the case of Fight Club. As this new video from Film Radar shows, the tried-and-true sounds of socking wouldn’t play out in a movie that aims to depict the real damage fists can cause.

Fight Club | The Beauty of Sound Design from Film Radar on Vimeo.

By talking to Fight Club sound designers Ren Klyce and Richard Hymns, Film Radar gets a glimpse into the tools the duo used to create the wet, crunchy thwocks of the film’s fight »

- Randall Colburn

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Newswire: Now you too can be a neomorph with the Alien: Covenant Vr experience

17 hours ago

Have you ever dreamed of experiencing life as a horrifying creature from the Alien franchise, instead of just watching one destroy a bunch of space travelers? Well, now you can. For Alien Day, 20th Century Fox is launching a virtual reality experience available on Oculus called Alien: Covenant In Utero that puts you in the slimy skin of a neomorph, the breed in the new movie. (You can catch a glimpse of the awful-looking thing in one of the recently released images from the film.) According to the website, In Utero is “a 360-degree virtual reality journey into a living nightmare and offers a terrifyingly close and personal encounter as an alien neomorph at the time of its birth.” You’ll be “reliving the very first memories of the neomorph in an immersive environment,” meaning at least you won’t be the one running in fear.

Alien: Covenant is due »

- Esther Zuckerman

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Newswire: That Thing You Do!’s The Wonders reunited onstage at the Roxy last night

17 hours ago

The crowd at the Roxy in L.A. received an unexpected bonus last night when That Thing You Do! movie band The Wonders (a.k.a. Oneders)—Tom Everett Scott (drummer Shades), Johnathon Schaech (singer Jimmy), and bass player Ethan Embry (The Bass Player)—reunited onstage to perform their singular, eponymous hit. Josh Adam Meyers facilitated the reunion for The Goddamn Comedy Jam; EW reports that Everett Scott teased the event out on Twitter “with a link pointing to The Goddamn Comedy Jam with Bill Burr: ‘Tonight at the Roxy there might be a little surprise for Ttyd.’”

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Steve Zahn, who played guitarist Lenny, was unfortunately Mia, but the rest of The Wonders gleefully took the stage along with a stand-in player wearing a Zahn mask. Even though Embry told EW recently that he was forever sick of “That Thing You Do!”—saying, “I hate that song. »

- Gwen Ihnat

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Newswire: M. Night Shyamalan confirms he’s making a Split / Unbreakable crossover sequel

17 hours ago

[Fair Warning: This post contains spoilers for Split.]

Split, the wildly entertaining (and extremely profitable) low-budget B-movie that has proven to be writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s creative and commercial comeback, has two twists, neither of which are very easy to guess. The first is that it’s actually playing its premise straight, which is to say that it doesn’t really have a twist at all. The second is that takes place in the same fictional universe as Unbreakable, the pre-comic-book-blockbuster-boom reimagining of superhero origin stories that has come to be regarded as one of Shyamalan’s best films.

After months of hints, Shyamalan revealed this morning that his next project will in fact be a proper sequel to both Unbreakable and Split—one that will presumably pit Bruce Willis’ everyman of steel David Dunn against James McAvoy’s The Horde, with some involvement from Samuel L. Jackson’s ...

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- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

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Newswire: Jeff Goldblum gave away sausages in Australia, and you missed it

18 hours ago

Imagine getting a sausage from Jeff Goldblum. Now take your mind out of the gutter, because Goldblum quite literally handed out free meat in Australia yesterday. According to Twitter Moments, he randomly appeared in Sydney, and held court at a food truck deemed Chef Goldblum’s Jazzy Snags. The Daily Telegraph reports that he was cryptic about just why he was there: “I’m doing a little research for some work that I’m going to do in my chosen profession,” he said. So either he’s doing his version of Chef, or Ian Malcolm will decide that it’s time to eat dinosaur in the Jurassic World sequel.

Heard about a “Chef Goldblum” foodvan in Sydney, went down and got to give compliments to the Chef himself!#ChefGoldblum #JeffGoldblum pic.twitter.com/cUhONoBSfY

Leon Sjogren (@Leonsjogren) April 26, 2017

Alert: Jeff Goldblum is in Sydney handing out free sausages ...

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- Esther Zuckerman

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Newswire: R.I.P. Jonathan Demme

20 hours ago

Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director of dozens of films including Stop Making Sense, The Silence Of The Lambs, Philadelphia, and Rachel Getting Married, has died. The cause of death, as reported in Indiewire, was esophageal cancer and complications from heart disease; Demme had been treated for the latter off and on since 2010, but his condition reportedly worsened in recent weeks, and he died in New York City earlier this morning. He was 73.

Demme was born in Long Island, New York in February of 1944, growing up in the Americana-infused Eisenhower era that would profoundly influence his directorial obsessions later in life. He initially wanted to be a veterinarian, but a lack of scientific aptitude led him to writing film reviews, then to a job as a press agent at now long-shuttered studio Avco Embassy, then to legendary exploitation producer Roger Corman, who Demme would come to consider a ...

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- Katie Rife

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Movie Review: Jaime Lannister goes ex-con weary in the uneven Netflix genre riff Small Crimes

25 April 2017 10:00 PM, PDT

As Joe Denton, the hapless ex-cop/ex-con protagonist of Small Crimes, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau wears a thick goatee that somehow, all by itself, transforms his look from Lannister nobility into discount Josh Brolin. That’s entirely appropriate for this seedy exercise in corruption and redemption—the sophomore feature from Evan Katz, who was credited as E.L. Katz on his 2014 debut, Cheap Thrills. As the film begins, Joe is being released from prison after a six-year stretch, though the details of his crimes are slow to emerge; conversations with the ironically named Lieutenant Pleasant (Gary Cole) makes it clear that Joe was previously on the force, where both were involved in graft and murder, but the dialogue throughout is naturalistic rather than expository. For a while, all we really know about Joe is that his life is in ruins: His ex-wife has left town with their two young daughters and »

- Mike D'Angelo

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Movie Review: The sci-fi abduction thriller Rupture is as personality-free as its title

25 April 2017 10:00 PM, PDT

In Steven Shainberg’s inane thriller Rupture, one Renee Morgan (Noomi Rapace) is abducted from a Missouri roadside and taken to a secret lab that looks just like a Halloween haunted house. It’s got gurneys, barred windows, purple lights, extra-large syringes of mad-scientist mystery syrup—the general aesthetic of a place that might be called the Screamatorium or the Shoe Factory Of Terror, but without the sickly sweet smell of glycerin vaporizing in a fog machine. There she is subjected to bizarre experiments by pod-person-esque creeps (played by the likes of Michael Chiklis, Peter Stormare, and Lesley Manville), who occasionally put on binocular glasses and yammer on about genetic codes, fear, and evolution. There are other test subjects, too. One tries to talk to her through a shared vent before what sounds like a drill is put through his eye. And poor Renee—she just dropped off her teenage »

- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

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Movie Review: Two new Netflix films reexamine JonBenet Ramsey and Rodney King through performance

25 April 2017 10:00 PM, PDT

“What more is there to say?” It’s a question that plagues any attempt to wade back into yesterday’s headlines—the stories that have been covered so exhaustively, so round-the-clock extensively, that their every sordid detail is now burned into the public imagination. Indeed, without new information, what more can be said, for example, about the still-unsolved murder of child pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey? And what fresh insight can be gleaned from the caught-on-tape beating of Rodney King and the unrest that rocked Los Angeles after the police officers responsible were acquitted? These are the separate subjects of two movies arriving on Netflix this week, entirely different and yet strangely similar in their unconventional approaches to media milestones of the ’90s. Neither film features a single date-stamp, a single news clip, even a single image of Ramsey or King. Instead, both filter these highly public tragedies through the scrim »

- A.A. Dowd

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Newswire: Doritos is selling chips with the Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 soundtrack installed on the bag

25 April 2017 9:08 PM, PDT

How many times have you been shame-gorging on Doritos, fingers slick with the blue or orange flavor dust of your choice, and suddenly thought, “It sucks that this chip bag isn’t playing music for me right now”? If the answer to that question is “once, or more than once, across your entire lifetime,” then you’re in luck, because Frito-Lay has announced that it’s making bags of its unpleasantly addictive flavor shards that fill exactly that extremely targeted niche. Specifically, the company’s new Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2-branded bags will come equipped with a music player stuck directly to the front of the plastic, in the shape of an old-school cassette player, and loaded with the film’s soundtrack.

Luckily for the grocery store clerks of the planet—who’d presumably be driven to madness by the sound of Parliament’s “Flashlight” playing on 50 ...

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- William Hughes

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