Sigourney Weaver (#110 of 11)

Cannes Film Review: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

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Cannes Film Review: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Netflix

Cannes Film Review: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Centered around a bitter patriarch and his three alienated children, Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) feels lived-in despite its glaringly mannered dialogue and charmingly eccentric characterizations. After all, there aren’t that many people like bitter also-ran sculptor Harold Meyerowitz (Dustin Hoffman), clingy musician turned stay-at-home father Danny (Adam Sandler), depressed control freak Benjamin (Ben Stiller), and Danny and Benjamin’s pushy but kind step-sister, Jean (Elizabeth Marvel).

The Meyerowitzes are rich oddballs: Danny somehow can afford to not work for long stretches of time; Harold tellingly quibbles about the merits of his colleagues’ work right before he beams proudly about bumping into a celebrity (Sigourney Weaver!); and Harold’s fourth wife (Emma Thompson) secretively combats alcoholism while binging on expensive hummus, and serving rarefied dishes like shark and pigeon. But while these individuals may not talk like the people you know, they obsess, kvetch, and ache in ways that make it seem as if you’ve known them for years.

Ripley’s Got a Death Drive Alien³ at 25

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Ripley’s Got a Death Drive: Alien³ at 25

20th Century Fox

Ripley’s Got a Death Drive: Alien³ at 25

David Fincher’s Alien³ may be the only film ever made to peak with its logo. As the 20th Century Fox fanfare crescendos over the studio’s familiar logo, the music holds on the minor chord before the usual last note, replacing jubilant bombast with a dissonant groan of strings. The alteration produces an immediate sense of discomfort and unease, setting the tone for something ominous and fearsome. It’s an ingenious shot across the bow from Fincher, ushering in a feature career dotted with immaculately ordered, carefully scored works of blockbuster entertainment that veered from audience-pleasing major keys to their grim underbellies.

The perversion of the Fox theme epitomizes a succinct grasp of horror that only occasionally surfaces in the film proper. Too often, Alien³ shows its seams, whether in its thematic arc or the design of the xenomorph, and at not even two hours it still feels weighed down by unnecessary exposition and padded suspense scenes. But blame for much of this cannot fall at one person’s feet, as the film was notoriously the product of years of production hell that saw the studio soliciting wildly different drafts from writers including (but not limited to) cyberpunk author William Gibson, writer-director Vincent Ward, and producer/filmmaker Walter Hill. Eventually, ideas from each version found their way into a Frankenstein monster of a shooting script, one further plagued by endless on-set rewrites that left Fincher so exasperated that even Fox’s officially released behind-the-scenes footage shows the director railing against the pressures of the studio’s poorly planned project.

Toronto Film Review Walter Hill’s (Re)assignment

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Toronto Film Review: Walter Hill’s (Re)Assignment

Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto Film Review: Walter Hill’s (Re)Assignment

Walter Hill’s first feature film since 2012’s Bullet to the Head is, like much of the finest pulp fiction, designed to shock. To wit: Did you hear the one about the rogue surgeon who turned the hitman into the hitwoman? What a hook! And what a lurid, tattered paperback it would make, though Hill treats the story more like an underground comic book, complete with transitional sequences featuring exaggerated thought bubbles and garish splash panels.

Sensitivity, at least of the calculated sort, doesn’t enter into the proceedings. The film’s as steely as Sigourney Weaver’s Dr. Rachel Kay, a sort of Hannibal Lecter by way of Marlene Dietrich who liberally quotes Shakespeare and Poe, and has a monomaniacal disdain for most of humanity. But as she tells the smug head psychiatrist (Tony Shaloub) of the mental hospital where she’s imprisoned, the main target of her ire is assassin Frank Kitchen (Michelle Rodriguez), who murdered her brother (Adrian Hough) several years before. The doctor’s elaborate revenge culminates in the bearded, virile Kitchen given forced gender reassignment surgery. And then the counter-revenge begins.

M83-Scored Trailer for A Monster Calls Summons Another BFG

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M83-Scored Trailer for A Monster Calls Summons Another BFG

Focus Features

M83-Scored Trailer for A Monster Calls Summons Another BFG

In April, it was announced that Juan Antonio Bayona, director of The Orphanage and The Impossible, would be at the helm of Jurassic World 2. Say what you will about the filmmaker, he has a gift for summoning spectacle, as evidenced throughout the new trailer for his upcoming A Monster Calls. Based on the children’s fantasy novel of the same name by Patrick Ness, the film tells the story of 12-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall), who copes with the travails of his coming of age, from his mother’s (Felicity Jones) illness to bullying classmates, through his friendship with a tree-like monster that appears at his bedroom window. Given the subject matter, and the impression left by the trailer, aptly scored to the navel-gazing synth grooves of M83’s “Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun,” comparisons to Steven Spielberg’s The BFG and Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are will be inevitable.

Ranking the Top 10 Final Girls of Horror Cinema

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Ranking the Top 10 Final Girls of Horror Cinema
Ranking the Top 10 Final Girls of Horror Cinema

Happy Halloween, folks. Hope you're enjoying our epic horror list, which is counting down the best of the best in a genre that's near and dear to our hearts. As an added bonus, I thought I'd pay tribute to one of my favorite horror tropes—the Final Girl, a very specific type of heroine who's usually left to deal with the cops when they come to clean up the bodies. There are newbies, legends, and even a comedienne on this roster, but all of them have earned their right to be here, either by standing on the shoulders of giants or wildly impaling creatures of the night. Sadly, I Know What You Did Last Summer's Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) didn't make the cut, but as she would say, “What are you waiting for?!?!” Read on.

15 Famous Fights to the Death

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15 Famous Fights to the Death
15 Famous Fights to the Death

Nearly two dozen teens bite the big one in The Hunger Games, sure to be cinema's most popular source of adolescent bloodshed. There's no darker vicarious thrill than watching someone perish on screen, as many an action junkie will certainly tell you. In light of Jennifer Lawrence's blockbuster standoff against her oppressed peers, we've got 15 Famous Fights to the Death, which, together, should sate even the bloodthirstiest film fans.

Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm on Criterion

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Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm on Criterion
Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm on Criterion

As an NYU-educated Taiwanese filmmaker, Ang Lee seemed to make it clear with his 1992 debut that his concerns were both Eastern and Western. Only a few years on the heels of Amy Tan's bestselling The Joy Luck Club, Pushing Hands and its commercially successful follow-up, The Wedding Banquet—two films which were mainstream in their temperament, but bold in their bilingualism—inserted themselves into an environment increasingly hospitable to Asian-American immigrant narratives. These first films were among the very few of their time that were interested in seriously examining the ways in which Chinese and Westerners interact in today's world, and it is difficult to know what Lee could have contributed to the stunted development of Asian-American cinema had he mined this subject further.

Amazons with Diaper Bags: Science Fiction’s Mommy Track

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Amazons with Diaper Bags: Science Fiction’s Mommy Track
Amazons with Diaper Bags: Science Fiction’s Mommy Track

The beauty of sci-fi is that you can always hope for improvements in the future—to technology, society, equality. As a female, you prize the idea that there will be, not a genderless future, but one where gender doesn't determine one's career path. The military is one such place in which the future offers promise—the promise, for instance, of being the best pilot in the fleet without compromise. Unfortunately, sci-fi is written in our time. Our gender stereotypes continue to influence how our futuristic counterparts behave, even in a setting where you'd think women might finally have a shot.