The Worst Movies of 2011
Published on January 23, 2012 by Sara Foss

Tired of best of lists?

In this entertaining round-up, critics list their least favorite movies of the year.

Watching "The Adventures of Tintin"
Published on January 18, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new movie "The Adventures of Tintin."

Click here to read it.

"Moonrise Kingdom" Preview
Published on January 16, 2012 by Sara Foss

The preview for the new Wes Anderson movie, "Moonrise Kingdom," has been released.

Check it out.

Watching "Young Adult"
Published on January 11, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new Jason Reitman/Diablo Cody film "Young Adult."

Here's an excerpt:

"In just six years, director Jason Reitman has amassed an impressive body of work that includes the movies 'Thank You For Smoking,' 'Juno' and 'Up in the Air.' These films were funny and touching and focused on flawed people taking halting steps to get in touch with their better natures.

Reitman’s new film, 'Young Adult,' marks a big departure for the young director: The movie tells the story of a 36-year-old woman, named Mavis, who simply lacks a better nature. Though it is possible to sympathize with Mavis, viewers expecting a conventional story arc, where the main character learns something about herself and grows as a person, will be disappointed.

Mavis is a real piece of work. As the film opens, she is living in Minneapolis, where she makes a living as a successful writer of a series of young adult novels. She drinks heavily, and her intellectual development appears to be stuck in her junior year of high school. When she learns that her old high school boyfriend Buddy (Patrick Wilson) just had a baby, she decides that he’s unhappy in his marriage and should be with her. She throws some clothes into a suitcase and heads home to Mercury, determined to win back Buddy. On her first night home, she runs into an old classmate, Matt (Patton Oswalt), who tells her that this is a bad plan. But she isn’t convinced."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Film Capsules
Published on January 11, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about some of the films I've recently watched on DVD, including "Ticket to Heaven," "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale."

Click here to read it.

Watching "My Week With Marilyn"
Published on January 3, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the new film "My Week With Marilyn," about a naive young man who becomes friendly with Marilyn Monroe while working for Laurence Olivier on the set of "The Prince and Showgirl."

Here's an excerpt:

"Every fall, movie studios dutifully begin releasing the films they deem most likely to net Oscar nominations, and since Oscar voters love it when famous actors portray famous people, many of these films are biopics. And if there’s a genre I’m less enthused about (the stoner comedy?) I can’t think of it. Biopics tend to be staid, predictable affairs, and I find it difficult to get excited for them. I never think, 'Oh, I’m so eager to see Jamie Foxx portray Ray Charles,' or 'Oh, Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover, how fun.' Going to see a biopic always feels like a huge chore, even if I enjoy the film, as I often do.

'My Week with Marilyn' is not a conventional biopic in that it doesn’t try to tell Marilyn Monroe’s life story, but it fits my broad definition of what a biopic is all about. For one thing, the film is rich in period detail and also an acting tour de force — Michelle Williams, who plays Monroe, is pretty much a shoo-in for a best actress nominations, and Kenneth Branagh, who plays Sir Laurence Olivier, is a strong candidate for a best supporting actor nomination. Like most other biopics, 'My Week with Marilyn' is content to be popular middlebrow entertainment — it doesn’t try anything new, or seek to challenge audiences. But it doesn’t have to. Unlike other biopics, which often feel like tragic slogs through the lives of troubled yet talented people (think 'Sylvia,' about Sylvia Plath, or 'Pollock,' about Jackson Pollock), 'My Week with Marilyn' is fun. If most biopics are solemn, serious affairs, this one is frothy and funny — I actually found myself laughing from time to time."

Click here to read the whole thing.

"Tucker & Dale vs. Evil" Turns Slasher Cliches on Their Head
Published on January 2, 2012 by guest author: J.K. Eisen

It’s a familiar story.

A group of college kids decide to vacation in a remote backwoods area, only to find a deranged killer is bent on slaughtering them one by one.

It’s the plot of countless slasher films, which is why it's so much fun watching Tucker & Dale vs. Evil turn it on its head. This comedy horror film by director Eli Craig takes the well-worn slasher story and asks: What if the whole thing is a great big misunderstanding?

The result is a funny – and gory – good time.

The movie starts as one might expect. A group of college students plans to spend their Memorial Day weekend camping in the woods. As the travel down the rural back roads, they pass a pickup truck occupied by two burly hillbillies leering at them. When the kids stop at a gas station, they encounter the hillbillies again. It’s all very ominous, suggesting the worse is to come as these mountain men eye the young girls.


Why People Don't Go To the Movies
Published on January 2, 2012 by Sara Foss

There's been a lot of hand-wringing about the fact that box office revenue in 2011 was down compared to 2010.

On his website, Roger Ebert offers some thoughts on why fewer people went to the movies last year, and I pretty much agree with all of them. Here in Albany we're lucky to have a good independent theater that brings a variety of films to town, serves decent food at its concession stand, and actually caters to an adult audience. But many communities aren't this fortunate, and so many moviegoers are forced to watch films in dreary mall-like environments that attract crowds of poorly behaved teenagers and various other fools.

Anyway, click here to read Ebert's thoughts.

Watching "J. Edgar"
Published on December 21, 2011 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new Clint Eastwood film "J. Edgar."

Click here to read it.

Watching "The Descendants"
Published on December 13, 2011 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the Alexander Payne/George Clooney movie "The Descendants," which I enjoyed very much.

Click here to read the review.

Previous movie reviews: "A Serbian Film"


Melies at 150
Published on December 8, 2011 by Sara Foss

Having just seen "Hugo" (click here for my review), I felt compelled to post this link to Mubi Notebook's compilation of links to articles about George Melies 150th birthday.

Watching "Hugo"
Published on December 7, 2011 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new Martin Scorsese film "Hugo."

Here's an excerpt:

"There’s been some discussion about who, exactly, the new film 'Hugo' is for. Is it for children? Families? Film buffs? Film critics? Is it like 'The Muppets' — something that’s more fun for adults than kids?

'Hugo' isn’t for everyone, but it is for people who love the movies. Its director, Martin Scorsese, is one of the greatest living filmmakers, but he is also an enthusiastic advocate for film preservation, and 'Hugo' is both a work of art and a compelling argument for why film history matters. You don’t need to know who Georges Melies was to enjoy the movie, but it helps. And if you don’t know who he is, it will make you feel like learning more about him. (I was familiar with Melies heading into the movie, but I still headed straight for Wikipedia as soon as I got home.)"

Click here to read the whole thing.

Extreme Cinema: The Serbian Standard
Published on December 7, 2011 by guest author: J.K. Eisen

A Serbian Film might well become the standard to which all movies in the extreme cinema genre are compared.

A lot has been written about the controversy surrounding this movie, which features a relentless parade of sexual violence that tramples every taboo imaginable. But this film, available for streaming at FlixFling, is more than a macabre spectacle in which director Srdjan Spasojevic has put cruel and nightmarish scenes on the screen that shock audiences and earn an NC-17 rating.

Spasojevic takes his audience into a bleak world where hopelessness and brutal exploitation seem to be the only certainties in life. The desperation is palpable from the outset of the movie, where the movie’s central characters are struggling for a better life.

It has been said this film is an allegory about the betrayal and vicious exploitation of the Serbian people. Viewers might not make that connection, but it’s likely A Serbian Film will leave them with a haunting sense of tragedy and hopelessness unlike any movie they’ve experienced. It’s an experience that makes A Serbian Film a success in conveying life in a world where you’re either a victim or victimizer.


Film Capsules
Published on December 5, 2011 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I offer short reviews of movies I've recently watched on DVD, including "Tetro, "The Last Wave" and "Park Row."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Watching "The Muppets"
Published on November 29, 2011 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review "The Muppets."

Some links:

Julie Klausner on why Kermit is a terrible boyfriend

Sam Adams on the unlikely origins of the popular Muppets tune "Mahna Mahna"

Jason Bellamy on why he didn't like "The Muppets"


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