You all know the song, and you’re gonna start singing it as soon as you read these lyrics: “Take a load off, Annie / take a load for free / take a load off, Annie / aaaaaaaaaand you put the load right on me.” I’ve heard this easily-recognizable and earnestly-sung chorus from “The Weight” everywhere in the world, from clubs to concerts to cruise ships to its cover by a Scottish band called Travis. If you didn’t know, this song was originally written and performed by a band called… The Band. Getting their name due to being a backing band for the likes of Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan, they started writing and recording their own songs, and “The Weight” is their most famous one. Sung by drummer Levon Helm, “The Weight” seems to capture the soul of a bygone era, where a man can stroll in and out of any town on a whim. This song also serves to introduce a new documentary about Helm, titled Ain’t In It For My Health, which follows Helm around for what turns out to be the last year of his life, as he succumbed to cancer in 2012.
Man, I really wish I hadn’t read the Frances Ha poster in the theater lobby before I saw the movie. “A deft, uproarious comedy” is the big quote that’s emblazoned at the top of the poster… and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Advertising does color one’s expectations, so I went into the movie looking for a lot of laughs and silliness. Definitely got the latter, but very few of the former. Instead, what Frances Ha turns out to be is a movie concerning a girl who is trying like hell to hold on to her youth and fighting growing up. Sure, there are some laughs, but they’ll mostly arise from the kind of awkward comedy that’s not based on how funny a line is, but how funny it’s not. I generally hate these kinds of movies, but reflecting further upon the film and distancing myself from basing my opinion on another reviewer’s quote, I’m finding that the movie is simply about post-college life in New York City and trying to find your place in the world.
(If you read nothing else of this review, know this: do not leave the theater until the credits start rolling up the screen.)
It’s pretty hard to up the ante and the game from one sequel to the next. However, Furious 6 (also known as Fast & Furious 6 – the print I saw only bore the shortened title) director Justin Lin manages to do exactly that for his final film of the series, and he makes his exit from the franchise with an epic bang. With both Fast Five and Furious 6, Lin knows precisely what the target audience wants to see, and he makes damn sure that they get what they’re expecting: exciting car chases, big action set pieces, brutal fight choreography, and, of course, the family that makes the Fast & Furious franchise worth revisiting every time.
Sitting through the “Hangover” sequels has been like helplessly watching from a remote satellite feed while someone vandalizes my car.
The 2009 mega-hit original was something of an anomaly, at least as far as box office-topping comedies go. Why? Because it was actually funny, particularly amidst the proliferation of disposable “gross-out” fare at the time. But something that was once great has been dismantled and sold for scrap – inevitable, I suppose, in Hollywood.
Full Company Announced For The Return Of The Critically Acclaimed Musical Event, ONE NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN!
Following a critically acclaimed run at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater this past fall, One Night with Janis Joplin, hailed by The LA Times as “a seismically sensational triumph,” returns for a summer run. Leading the production is Mary (more…)
20th Century Fox has released the second trailer to the superhero sequel, THE WOLVERINE. Starring Hugh Jackman as the title character (in the role that made him famous), the new film follows the rapidly-healing mutant as he journeys to Japan. Though (more…)
Announced today by Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theatre, force/collision, a Washington D.C.-based interdisciplinary performance ensemble, will participate in this year’s Kogod Cradle Series, which supports the exploration and development of new and emerging work. The company will present the U.S. premiere of Trust Me, a devised dance/theater project (more…)
Writer/director Sarah Polley’s new documentary, Stories We Tell, is a very personal and engrossing movie, but it sure as hell isn’t easy to digest. Pointing the cameras straight at her family members, she asks them to tell the story of her late mother, leading them to the point where they all have to discuss the fact that Polley is not her father’s biological daughter. It was a secret that even her mother kept well beyond the grave, and it was only through correspondence with her biological father that this was uncovered. Stories We Tell is a fascinating look at Polley’s family and the strength of the love that ties them together. Had this happened to someone else, I’m pretty sure we’d be seeing it play out on a show hosted by Jenny Jones or Jerry Springer. But Polley, in her hardnosed, truth-digging style, seeks to disclose this information as she sees fit, and with the full participation of everyone involved.
Following the ”First Look” Hollywood screening of Ron Maxwell’s COPPERHEAD, Reel Film News had a chance to speak with actor, Mark Valley. Currently playing on ABC’s Body of Proof, Mr. Valley has put together an impressive body of work in not only film, (more…)
On Day 4 of the GI FILM FESTIVAL, Reel Film News was in attendance as the “Wounded Warrior Appreciation Night” commenced at the AMC Hoffman Theater in Alexandria, Virginia. Featuring a screening of IRON MAN 3, the event also included an appearance by renowned actor/director Mykelti Williamson. Well-known for his extensive movie and television work in films such as HEAT, CON AIR, ALI, LUCKY (more…)
You might recognize Michael Shannon as the psychotic super-villain General Zod in the trailer for Zack Snyder’s upcoming Superman reboot “Man of Steel”, but if you haven’t seen films like William Friedkin’s “Bug”, Jeff Nichols’ “Take Shelter” and Ariel Vromen’s “The Iceman”, you probably have no idea what you’re in for. (more…)
I’m not sure what I expected from “Stories We Tell”, and apparently neither did director Sarah Polley when she set out to make it. Ostensibly a chronicle for some personal archive that might one day resurface in a time capsule for the great grandkids to appreciate, this documentary cum cathartic autobiography turns out to be as revelatory to the director as it is to the audience, if not so deeply personal that you probably won’t get most of the Polley family’s idiosyncrasies. Of course, this winds up being a big part of the film’s charm - no airs and graces are put on for the camera, and I imagine that the editing room floor remained relatively uncluttered. (more…)
This past week, the nation’s capitol played host to the 7th Annual GI Film Festival; a festival whose mission (through the medium of film) involves sharing the military experience in and out of the arena of war. On day 3 of the Festival, special guest David James Elliott was on hand at the festival which took place (that night) at the Canadian Embassy. Though he is most remembered as the (more…)
Director J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot of the Star Trek franchise into a new alternate universe was met with resounding success – it was a critical darling, a fan favorite, and a box office smash. Why? We got to know the origins of characters that had, to that point, been around for 43 years. It was fun spending time with the younger versions of Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Commander/Science Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto), Chief Medical Officer Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Simon Pegg), Communications Officer Nyota Uhura (Zoë Saldana), Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), and Ensign Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin). We saw the depth of their personae and became involved with them as they found their way through their relative adolescence in Starfleet. Four years later, they’re ready for action, and Star Trek Into Darkness doesn’t hesitate to drop you right into the middle of it.
Though the X-Men comprise a team of superheroes, one particular character (over time) has overshadowed the rest. What character do I speak of? Why, Wolverine, of course! Such a fact is never more prevalent considering what happened with the X-MEN film (more…)
On the last day of AWESOME CON, Reel Film News had an opportunity to catch up with comedian/actor, Phil LaMarr. Remembered as one of the original cast members of MadTV, Mr. LaMarr has appeared on tv shows, such as Reno 911 and Castle, as well as film (see PULP FICTION). In addition, Mr. LaMarr has become quite prolific with his voice-over work, providing his (more…)
Aside from Mr. West and Mr. Brendon, another awesome (no pun intended) guest that the show offered was actor Ernie Hudson! Though he will always be remembered for his iconic role in the GHOSTBUSTERS franchise as Winston Zeddemore, Mr. Hudson has had quite a diverse career in film & television, including LEVIATHAN, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, THE (more…)
As a tennis fan from childhood, I spent a lot of time with my father watching the Grand Slam tournaments on television and attending exhibition matches locally here in DC at Rock Creek Park. Every few years or so, a new powerhouse player would come into the scene; the era which I remember was famous for players like Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Boris Becker, Steffi Graf, Jennifer Capriati, and other greats. However, in the late 90s, a new force was rising in the tennis world which is still present today: the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena. Everyone knows the story of their life, but very few have been shown what you’re about to see in Venus and Serena, a new documentary by Maiken Baird and Michelle Major. Following the sisters for a year in 2011, Venus and Serena takes us behind the courts and the press tables to examine what makes the Williams sisters tick.
Started back in 2007, this unique film festival was started (as stated by the Founders) for one reason: to let artists tell the story of our great troops, their successes and their sacrifices. Though this year will only mark the film festival’s seventh year, it has accomplished notable successes in that short time, distinguishing itself as the nation’s most significant venue for the screening of military films. (more…)
In addition to the supremely talented voice actor Billy West, AWESOME CON had much more to offer in the way of panels. One such panel was the Nicholas Brendon Panel that took place on opening day…If the name sounds familiar, Mr. Brendon (for seven seasons) played Buffy’s best friend, Xander Harris, on television’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer. (more…)
My initial reaction to director Mira Nair’s adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist was one of spite and, truth be told, a little bit of anger. It’s very easy for an American to view this movie and be upset by it, as 99% of the Americans portrayed in this movie are painted as ugly, stupid, and ignorant; there are exactly zero sympathetic white Americans to be found in this movie. But there’s one quick, almost throwaway sequence early in this movie that attempts to disarm the viewer and explain its motif, and that has to do with our perceptions. With this scene in mind, one can almost understand the director’s intentions with this movie, and the perspective can be appreciated, but it doesn’t keep The Reluctant Fundamentalist from being a bit of a mess.
It goes one of two ways when looking at performers in the adult entertainment industry in America. On one hand, you’ve got the people who watch pornography or look the other way, allowing it to be just another facet of life; on the other, you have the people who revile the industry and all who work inside it. Regardless of your viewpoint, when you consider it carefully, these people are only doing a job. When you’re getting paid to do something, be it working at a desk, shoving a puck around on a sheet of ice with a hockey stick, handing drive-through bags of food out of a restaurant window, or legally having sex on camera, it’s just work. And nobody knows it like the women in Aroused, a new documentary which aims to shed a little candid light on women in today’s adult film industry.
Just announced today, The Atlas Performing Arts Center will play host to the unique interactive performance known only as red, black & GREEN: a blues (rbGb) this May. Check out the press release: (more…)
A few days ago, Reel Film News had the opportunity to speak with director Terance Nance about his film, AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION OF HER BEAUTY. Produced by Jay-Z, Dream Hampton, and Wyatt Cenac, the film documents the relationship between Terence (Nance) and a lovely young woman (Namik Minter) as it teeters on the divide between platonic and romantic. Utilizing a tapestry of live action and multiple (more…)
Let me guess: as soon as you saw this review heading, the switch flipped in your head and you started recalling the melody of “Hava Nagila,” right? Of course, you did! It’s one of those involuntary reflex actions our brain makes our body execute from time to time, like when the doctor taps your knee with the rubber hammer, or when your mouth waters when you smell bacon. You start remembering the many times you’ve heard it; maybe the first time was at your friend Nate Heller’s bar mitzvah (which I think I did, but I can’t remember well), or maybe it was Anthrax’s use of it in their comedic song “I’m The Man.” Regardless, you know the song, and you know you’re singing or humming it right now. But does anyone really know the song? Its roots, its composition history, its impact on the world at large? Hava Nagila (The Movie) serves up the story of this song that has reached across cultures, races, religions, and musical styles, and it comes off as being one of the most informative, enlightening, and flat-out joyous documentaries I’ve ever seen.
Kiss of the Damned harks back to a time when vampires were exclusively nocturnal and decidedly more aristocratic than metrosexual. In fulfilling her homage to this sub-genre, which is known as much for its heavy sexuality as it is for blood and gore, writer/director Cassavetes lays the melodrama on thick, with lascivious characters and an ambient retro-goth score to boot. (more…)
In the world of commercials, director Dante Ariola has established himself as quite a visionary, astonishing us with some of the most memorable commercial moments of our time. Some examples of his work include: (more…)