Recent Reviews

Bellflower, Dir. Evan Glodell

Stories that take you down pathways completely unpredictable and fresh, there aren't enough of them. Viewers will adore the surprises experienced during the first third of Bellflower. The The Mad Max inspired, slacker romance, end of the world, comic buddy tragedy. This ultra-low budget project is the debut feature of  Evan Glodell. Also credited as co-writer and is a star of the film, Glodell specially designed the camera used for shooting this movie. This gives its cinematography an impressive grimy feel. Grime is important to this film, which is the first surprise of many.

You wouldn't expect a movie about two charming young men building backyard weapons of mass destruction to turn into a quirky love story. You wouldn't expect a date that starts off with a bug eating dare to turn into a blossoming romance. You certainty wouldn't expect to care for these characters so much. What you also don't expect is the ugliness that the characters of this film expose when their relationships turn sour.  Toward the end of Bellflower there is a sudden shift toward  madness. It is jarring and completely unexpected. This casts a darker shadow, but creates a lingering effect of the films entire experience. -Robert Walters



Alien, directed by Ridley Scott

1979. Last year, Star Wars and Annie Hall. This year, Manhattan and Apocalypse Now. The icons are becoming icons. In its shot composition, Alien is more Kubrickian than any other sci-fi approach: just take the opening shots of the space ship Nostromo: long cavernous tunnels, complicated engineering, blips and lights strobing everywhere. The eerie silence and claustrophobic labyrinth of the ship sets up the tension immediately. Especially when you know what’s coming. I did. I hadn’t seen Alien before (another in a series of avoided canonical works like Taxi Driver) but I’d seen enough clips to know what the alien looks like, from the moment it bursts through John Hurt’s stomach to the mouths within mouths routine. The creature looks silly now, but it’s not seeing it that’s scary, it's waiting, and Scott frames gorgeous shot after shot with emptiness and anticipation. Knowing you won’t be afraid once you see the stupid thing doesn't matter, it’s the what’s to come? where will it be? that’s terrifying. It’s “Why do they keep going out to find that lost cat?” and “Who’s next?” Find any theme you want—phalluses abound, invasions, approaches, whatever. The unknown makes it great, maybe that’s Prometheus problem? 

-Ben Glass


Prometheus, directed Ridley Scott

Okay, so Battle for Los Angeles was worse. Way worse. But that doesn’t excuse what’s happening here. Is this what the Alien franchise has come to – cannibalizing itself to the degree that even now its creator (its Prometheus?) has delivered a consensus action flick? Sureit’s fun to go back to this storyline. “Oh yeah, there’s the alien on that frieze,” or “Wasn’t the ship standing up on its side in Alien?” Fine, I’ll give you that. But this movie begins with such a promising concept and ends up throwing itself on its own razzamataz sword. This isn’t an abomination. Not even close. It’s intriguing and fun. Comforting summer sci-fi. A couple good scares and the gross-outs. Sure thing. And the whole Ridley Scott vs. James Cameron thing going on. I liked Avatar too. Did you see it in 3-D? Not sure it added much, but who knows? Yeah, Alien 3 was way underrated. I’d have to watch it again, though. No, Ripley definitely had a grudge against androids. Remember what’s his name? Ian Holm in Alien? He played Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings – he’s been in a ton of Shakespearean plays. Ash. Right.

 Satisfied? No, I wasn’t either.        -Jay Cullis



Headhunters - Norwegian film directed by Morten Tyldum 

Roger Brown believes that life is a game, and as long as you have a reputation as a good player, you don't actually have to play by the rules, even if you are the smallest player on the team. You just have to collect: the luxury car, the beautiful wife, and the most expensive house, and you are the winner.

Aksel Hennie, the tiny star of director Morten Tyldum's new Norwegian film, Headhunters, is a corporate recruiter by day and an art thief by night. He uses his heist earnings to keep his supermodel wife wrapped in luxury. So, when this little jerk with a Napoleon Complex starts to whine because he just can't steal enough to keep the illusion going, the audience has little pity. That is, until, Hennie meets Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, an actual, I know 50 ways to kill you, headhunter. Then, the dark roller coaster of implausible loops begins. Seeing Hennie strapped into this mad ride, you quickly feel sorry for the guy. Sure, at first, you wanted to punch the cocky little bastard, but the savage and darkly funny odyssey that he goes through will eventually earn your deepest sympathies. -Robert Walters



After the success of Martha Marcy May Marlene last year, I’m particularly interested in forthcoming movies featuring innocent females under the threat of the ominous male.  Am I a sicko? Possibly. But after a year that also produced Bridesmaids (initiating Apatow’s female phase—who isn’t talking Girls) there’s also a series female-threatening dramas forthcoming. These suspense-dramas aren’t mainly female ensembles, but they serve as a contrast to the female comedies that will be also rolling out this year (notably: Damsels in Distress). Two devastatingly compelling trailers are for Hick and Happily Never After. Innocence is key here, whereas for the comedies, “innocence” is a non-word, not that there’s no morals or ethics, but that the focus of the characters isn’t on innocence and it’s looming demise. The comedy women are open, funny, employ gross-out humor (you saw Bridesmaids right?) and undergo far less violent crises.

The females in threat movies are less dynamic in their role, though they achieve powerful depth.  They’re tied to a man. He has power of them. He might destroy them. The question is: are these inhibiting female roles from expanding, or freeing them up by acting as a revealing metaphor of male dominance in film? 

HICK Trailer 


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