Category Archives: Film

Me And Earl And The Dying Girl: Trailer Reflections

1. “So if this was a touching romantic story, our eyes would meet and suddenly we would be furiously making out with the fire of a thousand suns; but this isn’t a touching romantic story”.

  • I hope this isn’t a case where a film tells us everything it isn’t going to be without actually being about anything. People often forget to have an endgame when rebelling against established narrative practices.

2. Token black best friend saying stuff like, “punk ass cat”, makes me go “ughhhhh!”.

3. Annoying trait of novice director showcasing their knowledge of film by having their main characters be knowledgeable about films in a way that most normal people aren’t.

4. What is it with the recent trait of white women finding themselves by way of fatal disease? Between ABC Family’s Chasing Life, the film adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars, and this, I can safely say it’s a trait I’m growing tired of. Soon you’ll have young girls trying to get diagnosed with cancer so they can “find themselves” and date sensitive guys. I know movies are supposed to have a little romanticism but having all these women’s lives suddenly open up and become fulfilling once they get cancer seems a little self centered/indulgent.

  • Even Michel Gondry’s 2013 film Mood Indigo gave a grounded portrayal of what havoc a fatal disease can wreak on a young woman’s life and the people who love even with Gondry’s requisite whimsy.

5. Molly Shannon. It’s good seeing her. She’s so talented and so much funnier than Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and most other modern female comediennes. It’s a shame her movie career never took off. She had the goods…….has the goods.

6. Anyone notice  at about the 1:37 in the trailer another girl appears? She’s pretty, vibrant, caring and seems to be cancer free. Glad to see the movie has another girl lined up for Greg (the main protagonist) after his current crush becomes worm food.

7. Dealing with cancer can be magical when you have health insurance.

8. Do kids still hang out on steps eating rocket pops just shooting the breeze or is that just nostalgic wishful thinking?

9. “Life can keep unfolding itself to you as long as you pay attention to it.” Huh?

10. In all fairness it does look like the guy who plays Earl (R.J. Cyler) brought his A game. The scene where he confront’s Greg near the end of the trailer looks pretty intense.

11. Lastly, and not to make this a tribute to Michel Gondry, but doesn’t Greg and Earl’s practice of remaking classic films cheaply and stupidly (yet with heart) mimic what the main characters did in the film Be Kind Rewind?

12. I know the context is different but it still seems like a stolen idea.

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Burying The Ex: Trailer Reflections

1. Why are people not more excited about this?  Joe Dante is directing films again. Forget how formulaic the plot looks. If Ingmar Bergman had decided to direct a boy meets girl rom-com, no one would dare utter the word formulaic. Instead they’d say, “how brilliant of Bergman to use genre conventions to subvert audience expectations”, or something. I think Dante deserves the same amount of respect and trust in view of his remarkable body of work.

Joe D and Gremlin.0

2. I could care less that “Burying The Ex” has a surface resemblance to “Life After Beth”. I don’t care because the director is Joe Dante…..the great Joe Dante. Lets not turn this into a Chasing Liberty vs. First Daughter thing.

3. Big ups to Dante….he always pays tributes to his influences/forefathers. At about the halfway point in the trailer you see our hero outside a movie theater. Advertised on the marquee are two films: “Cat People” (1942) and “I Walked With A Zombie” (1943). Besides being great films (especially “Cat People”) they are both the work of renowned horror/noir filmmaker Jacques Tourneur.

4. Kinda wish the trailer didn’t reveal that the main character’s brother gets eaten by his zombie girlfriend.

5. Does every affable-quirky leading man in a movie have a slothful, slovenly, wise older brother/best friend? Besides the obvious potential for cheap jokes, it seems like a way to show the audience what the main character would be like if he gave up on himself. Another good example is Jack Black’s character from “Orange County” (2003).

6. I know that execution-wise the movie will be excellent cinema (it’s Dante after all), but in idea form it seems like a discarded plot for a “Masters Of Horror” episode.

7. Speaking of Joe Dante’s TV work, when will we get an “Eerie Indiana” movie, or TV revival?

8. It seems the main character has difficulty choosing between Ashley Greene and Alexandra Daddario? Boo-Hoo. I know one of the girls is dead but excuse me if I reserve my sympathy for someone with real problems and not “Andy Hardy” problems.

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9. The 2008 anthology film “New York, I Love You” (spun off from the excellent “Paris, Je t’aime”) was an altogether terrible film. It’s one redeeming quality was the segment directed by Brett Ratner (not kidding) starring Anton Yelchin. Check it out.

10. Anton Yelchin wasn’t terrible in J.J. Abrams “Star Trek”.

11. Nil Baskar wrote a terrific book on Joe Dante’s work as a director that encapsulates his impressive oeuvre. The book features a great interview with Joe Dante along with in-depth reviews and analysis of his landmark films. It’s a great read.

12. Lastly, keep and eye out for Dick Miller. Dick Miller is the man.

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Fantastic Four (2015): Character Trailers Reaction

 

Four separate trailers/featurettes for the four leads of the new Fantastic Four film have arrived. Like most of you, when it comes to recent news about the new Fantastic Four film, I head straight to the comment section. This is where a good collection of the Internets racist bigots are too be found. They’ve been congregating there ever since news broke that an “n word” would be playing Johnny Storm. Of course, following hot on their heels are the reformers. These tireless souls make it their duty to correct the inevitable racist arguments that arise online in discussions regarding topics like politics, feminism, religion and entertainment just to name a few.

 

 

Watching the bigots and reformers go at it is equal parts hilarious and saddening. On the one hand, people getting so worked up about a simple casting decision is amusing. On the other hand, I know the fury and consternation behind all this goes a lot deeper than simple pettiness, revealing the struggles America’s had coming to terms with who we are as a people and what we’ve been though as a country. This gives me pause…..

 

 

Personally, I try to keep my views simple regarding the new Fantastic Four film. I’m a fan of Josh Trank’s first film Chronicle so I’m definitely going to see it (although, I think the true strength of that flick lies with the script). As for Micheal B. Jordan being cast as the Human Torch, I say; Why not? We already saw what happens when an “ideal” white actor gets a chance at the part.

 

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I’m sure Micheal B. Jordan can do better than that. Furthermore, people can go ahead and stop with the whole, “Kate Mara is white and Micheal B. Jordan is black, so they can’t be brother and sister”, argument. Forget for a second how this statement shows a complete ignorance of science, genetics, and the adoption process. Instead, for comparisons sake, let me draw your attention to the great chemistry Chris Evans (Johnny Storm) had with Jessica Alba (Sue Storm) in Tim Story’s Fantastic Four films. Here is a clip showcasing their chemistry:

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Oh, that’s right. There is no footage of Chris Evans and Jessica Alba’s chemistry because they had none. They were believable as brother and sister in the same way Leonardo Dicaprio was believable as Jay Gatsby. In other words, not at all. They failed despite having everything the racists say the new versions of Johnny and Sue Storm should have (namely, a more visible form of a familial bond). So what does that tell us. Maybe that an actors melanin levels should not be a deciding factor in picking them to play a part. I think its best to stick with choosing people for parts based on stuff like acting talent, chemistry with other performers, and charisma.

 

Laugh: Movies With Hilarious LGBT Scenes And Jokes

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I wanted to stay out of this. I’ve put up with all the complaining and moralizing. I ignored the reports from SXSW where the film was deemed racist and homophobic. I winced my way through review after review where critics felt it necessary to explain the ethics of comedy in relation to LGBT people. I withstood it all, weathering the storm of mediocre film criticism gracefully. Regrettably, I can remain quiet no longer after reading this:

http://www.hitfix.com/news/cringe-13-movies-with-blatantly-homophobic-scenes#disqus_thread

That pissed me off. Its not enough for you to lose your collective cool over one slight comedy, but now you condemn other popular movies people have enjoyed for containing “homophobic” scenes that you deem offensive .

All I want a critic to do is tell me whether or not a movie worked, and then explain why. Furthermore, it’d be nice if that why wasn’t based on a film offending your own personal political and social beliefs

Hitfix highlighted certain scenes from random movies deeming them offensive because they ridicule people who are LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender). To serve as a bit of contrast I will post some scenes from popular movies that contain jokes, situations and characters that could be construed as offensive or mocking toward LGBTpeople but still work regardless in the film they’re apart of.

 

Airplane

In Airplane, the classic 1980 send up of 70’s disaster flicks, there’s a character named Johnny. Johnny was portrayed by gay actor Stephen Stucker. In the film Johnny is a worker in the control tower helping to safely land a plane where a major indecent has occurred. Johnny is Gay. He is hilariously, sterotypically gay. Enjoy.

 

 

Dirty Work

Dirty Work is a 1998 comedy staring Norm Macdonald. It’s about the exploits of two guy’s named Mitch and Sam (played by Norm Macdonald and Artie Lange). They decide to open a revenge for hire business and capitalize on their superior pranking abilities. A showcase of their talent comes early in the film when Mitch and Sam get jobs at a local movie theater. Their boss, Mr. Hamilton (Don Rickles) is a colossal jerk. He humiliates Mitch and Sam, making an example of them in front of the theater staff. They take revenge on Mr. Hamiliton by embarrassing him in front of his superiors who’ve come for an inspection. They sneak a very special edition of Men In Black into the projection booth of the theater. Needless to say, it’s probably not the Men In Black the crowd was expecting to see.

 

 
Later, Mitch and Sam’s antics land them in the slammer. Sam, being a big dumb ox, is more than able to handle himself, but Mitch is a bit uneasy. He’s heard rumors about what inmates like to do each other behind bars. Soon Mitch’s worse fears are conformed as a group of inmates come and select him for a very unpleasant welcome to the penal system.

 

 
Treasure this one folks cause its one of the only instances in modern comedy where a rape joke is done right.

….and by right I mean funny.

 

Scary Movie

Although the Wayans Bros. have a history of hilarious gay comedy in their films, they reached their apex with the character of Ray (portrayed by Shawn Wayans) in Scary Movie 1 & 2. Of course we know that the strength/weakness of most slasher movies are the simplified characterizations like the jock, the slut, the prude, the clown, the token black, ect. The character of Ray is a jock. He’s a jock who has all the stereotypical earmarks of a flaming homosexual yet doesn’t believe himself to be gay. I don’t quite understand the origins of the joke in relation to the parody at hand. Maybe its an out of place commentary on latent homosexual urges in the male sport athlete? Maybe It could be that Keenan Ivory Wayans thought it would be funny if the character of Ray was a blissfully unaware flaming homosexual? In that instance, Keenan was right.

 

 

Just Friends

In Just Friends Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) has transformed himself from high school loser to big success yet finds his money and looks don’t impress his old high school crush Jamie Palamino. In desperation, he transforms into his old brace faced, khaki wearing, awkwardly sensitive high school self. Since he and Jamie were best friends back then she’ll probably be attracted to the older model instead of the new. He goes method in his performance, sacrificing comfort and his “man card”, to accompany Jamie to a screening of the 2004 film The Notebook. To describe his agony at viewing the film Chris uses a word that, while not exactly politically correct, is hilarious nonetheless. However, the payoff to what he says, involving the couple a few rows in front of him, makes the joke kind of brilliant.

 

 

Rush Hour 2

Yes, Brett Ratner sucks. Can we move on?

A blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut and even an inept “action comedy director” like Brett Ratner can occasionally hit bulls-eye with his material. The film in question is Rush Hour 2. Not a good film mind you, and a noticeable step down from the Rush Hour 1, but it has it moments. Cheif among them is a cameo by Jeremy Piven playing a overly stereotypical gay man, selling clothes in a posh Las Vegas boutique. The main hero’s of the film, Carter and Lee (Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan), stop by to get some nice threads in order to blend in better with the Vegas crowd. They’re mistaken for a gay couple by Piven’s character and despite Carter and Lee’s objections, he can’t be convinced of the contrary . Its a funny scene thanks in part to how well Chris Tucker and Piven play off each other, with Jackie as the straight man (no pun intended). Enjoy.

 

 

Money Talks

I really don’t see how anyone, even the most hardcore L.G.B.T. advocate and gay rights supporter could not find this funny. Let’s leave Brett Ratner (the director of Money Talks) out of this one and focus on how brilliant Chris Tucker and Faizon Love are in this scene. Chris Tucker plays Franklin Hatchett; con man with a heart of gold. Given the nefarious nature of his profession Franklin soon finds himself in jail. His cellmate is Faizon Love’s character playing an obviously gay cellmate clearly attracted to Franklin. It’s a pretty cheap set up. “Hey the main character is in prison and his cellmate is gay. Isn’t that hilarious!”. For the lazy version of this joke check out the 1982 Ron Howard film Night Shift. If you want to see that same joke performed brilliantly then watch the scene from money talks.

A little advice:

Focus on the individual characters in the scene. Watch how Chris Tucker reacts, and how Faizon Love seduces. It’s the little things they do both in ignorance and in full knowledge of the situation that makes the scene into pure comedy.

 

 

Dumb and Dumber

I never got the joke as a kid. Written on a bathroom wall was:

“For Manly Love Be Here March 25th 2:15 Sharp”.

I had no idea what was meant by “manly love”. Now I know that it was another way to say gay sex (forced or consensual, the movie is never clear on which and that the Sea Bass, a violent, ill tempered truck driver wanted to give some to Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) in a gas station bathroom. Earlier in the film Lloyd and Harry ran afoul of Mr. Bass earning and his ire. After Lloyd and Harry had been bullied into submission, they pulled a killer prank on Sea Bass and got revenge. (Go to 1:00 mark for Sea Bass)

 

 

Sea Bass disappears from the film following this incident, which makes it all the more surprising when he returns. He doesn’t come bearing fists and fury but, ironically enough (based on how homosexuality has been stereotyped in relation to typical manliness), he shows up at a gas stop on the highway for a homosexual encounter with another random man. It good luck for Sea Bass that Lloyd Christmas happens to be in the wrong place at the right time.

 

 
What so funny about this scene funny isn’t the surprising aspect of a big tough trucker being secretly gay but that Sea Bass sought to exact his revenge in a way that the audience (and certainly Lloyd and Harry) never expected or even considered in the realm of possibility. We laugh in recognition of having our own narrow worldview and prejudices (relating to what kind of man Sea Bass is) turned against us. I’m not trying to suggest that Dumb and Dumber is some landmark of gay cinema, but it’s a lot deeper than you think.

 

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Speaking of Deeper:

In Ace Venture: Pet Detective, Ace (Jim Carrey) has been hired by the Miami Dolphin’s to locate their missing mascot Snowflake. In the following scene Ace figures out the culprit in the Animal theft. The culprit is Lois Enhorn, who happens to be Lieutenant for the Miami Police department. It was an inside job from the start and Ace was hired only to make the investigation look serious enough so that no one would ever suspect Einhorn. Thankfully, Ace solves the case but before he can call in the cavalry there is something he must do.

 

 

It’s not how one would normally celebrate breaking a case. What we actually see is a hilarious overreaction to a past encounter between Lois Einhorn and Ace Ventura. We’ve learned from the clip above that the perpetrator behind the theft of Snowflake was Lois Einhorn and that Lois Einhorn is the transgender cover of disgraced Miami Dolphin’s kicker Ray Finkle. Finkle/Einhorn kidnapped the dolphin (and Dan Marino) to get revenge on the team. Lois Einhorn is constantly on Ace’s case throughout the movie, helping keep up the appearance that Ace was hired reluctantly and not to feed into a sham. However, when she had Ace behind closed doors, a different side of Lois Einhorn came out.

 

 

When Ace finally realized who Einhorn was, he reacted as any straight man would who almost made love to a transgender man believing he was a woman. It’s a ridiculously over the top reaction and is only pulled off because Carrey is such a brilliant physical comedian. How anyone can look at this scene and cry homophobia or gay panic is beyond me. Even if it was, it’s not mean spirited or intelligently presented homophobia (if such a thing was possible). He’s using a plumber to try and suck the kiss of a transgender man out of his mouth. This isn’t exactly the Westboro Baptist Church we’re dealing with here.

 

Toy Story 3

“A gay joke in Toy Story!? I don’t believe it!”

Well start believing.  The joke originates from the Barbie and Ken story line which ran sort of parallel to the main story. As the lead characters of Woody, Buzz, Rex, Jessie, ect have their adventures at daycare, Barbie and Ken (new additions to the franchise) meet cute and fall in love. Only when it’s convenient to the story do they interact with the other characters. On one such occasion Barbie double crosses Ken who is in league with the main villian of the film to obtain some critical information that can help Buzz Lightyear. She ties Ken up then uses one of his many disguises to obtain information from behind enemy lines (start the clip at 3:20 for the gag).

 

 

Whew, thank God that the other toys think Ken is a bit of a “twink” or else Barbie would have been found out.

In all the positive reviews I read for the film (including the gushing review from Hitfix) no one mentioned this little bit of kiddie homophobia. Shouldn’t we condemn a film in which it’s okay to look down on a male toy who expresses his sexuality by wearing high heels? What is that teaching our children?

Why was there such a massive oversight where missed this joke? Could they have been so entranced by the magic of Pixar that they didn’t notice? Maybe. Or perhaps most film critics didn’t see it as homophobic but just though it was a great joke?

 

Blazing Saddles

No introduction needed. Ladies and gentlemen, “The French Mistake”.

 

What’s Going On

Before I dive into the mess lets do a quick recap of what has been happening in film culture since I vanished.

1. J.J. Abrams, otherwise know as a subpar director, has been given the helm of the Star Wars franchise (at least for one film anyway).

I’ve seen the trailer and I’ll admit it has some nice visuals, but then again its a trailer. At his worse J.J. Abrams can produce good looking stuff. It’s the other stuff, the constructing a good narrative stuff, and drawing good performances out of your actors stuff, that I’m concerned about. I’m not trying to be a hater. I understand the love for the Star Wars and the mythology. I just can’t get excited about a new Star Wars film knowing that the person making is not a good director. Ask yourself, wouldn’t you be kind of upset if you heard that Uwe Boll is directing the next Indiana Jones movie. You would still love the subject matter and enjoy the mythology, but you would know that the story would not have received the best presentation it could have gotten had it been handled by a more capable craftsman.

2. Ant-Man has found its yes man.

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Rather than dive into the whole sordid history of what happened, I’ll just post a resent excerpt of an argument I had in a comment section concerning Peyton Reed replacing Edgar Wright as the director of Ant-Man and how some people were defending Marvel in this decision:

“They chose to dispose of a creative original voice because he didn’t want to contribute to making another part of their massive product masquerading as a film franchise. Also, Peyton Reed……really? He’s only made one good film and a bunch of terrible ones. Where is all this goodwill for Peyton Reed coming from. If you are a fan of good cinema and art than I don’t see how you can in any way be happy with Marvel having Peyton “Yes Man” Reed directing Ant Man.”

“Look at these responses. I can picture the movie brats of the 1970’s somewhere in a corner crying. Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg, Bogdanovich, Milius, Altman. They fought the system to make original groundbreaking genre defying films. We championed them and now we are spitting in their faces. People are no longer defending the artists. They are defending the product makers. No one talks about ideas in relation to a film or how movies make us feel. Its all box office numbers and grosses, as if money has any bearing on emotional and creative impact. If you dare speak of a films quality or execution you are attacked and dismissed. You are called a troll, or old fashioned. Its dangerous having high standards these days.”

3. Hollywood Is Still Racist As All Get Out

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Really, I’m surprised at how shocked people still get by racist responses to casting choices in Hollywood. Did people really think we’ve come that far? Are people still that naive?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/between-ferguson-and-the-_b_6255596.html

http://popwatch.ew.com/2014/04/30/lupita-nyongo-jungle-book-oscar/

http://www.thewrap.com/michael-b-jordan-fantastic-four-racist-backlash-expected/

http://screenrant.com/exodus-gods-kings-race-controversy-ridley-scott/

Some food for thought on racist Hollywood.

http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/the-5-most-insulting-defenses-nerd-racism/

 

 

Star Wars Episode 7: Return Of The Abrams

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Imagine that a fantasy property has just been optioned in Hollywood. This property is very famous and beloved the world over. Soon it will be a film. From the moment it’s announced there is a ground swell of excitement. Things start to come together. Locations are scouted. A script is written. Fan posters have started to show up online. Then it happens. The one step in the filmmaking process that’s a sign it’s “really” happening. The cast is chosen. Whether or not the cast selected is universally loved or abhorred is not important. What’s important is that the imaginations of the fans have been ignited. Who will these ordinary people be embodying? Will they measure up to how we’ve imagined them in your mind or will they look completely different? How will they look in their costumes?  Who knows? That’s the fun in speculation.

Speculation, however, can cover a multitude of sins. Lets say this imagined film, complete with a dynamite cast, crackerjack script, spectacular set design, and dynamic score was being directed by a no talent hack. It’s no secret that the best ingredients can produce a nasty mess if not properly mixed together. Look at those Night At The Museum movies (or just read the plot synopsis online…..don’t actually look at those films). You take a multi-million dollar budget, a slew of A list actors, a score by a Hollywood vetern (Alan Silvestri) and other top notch assets, mix them all together and what do you get? Unwatchable garbage. Why? Because the guy doing the mixing is none other than Shawn Levy. Shawn Levy is a director of motion pictures. Shawn Levy is an awful director of motion pictures. If you give Shawn Levy the best tools for filmmaking, allot him a few months, and then return to see the finished product you will be disappointed. Why? Because, (say it with me now) Shawn Levy is an awful director of motion pictures. Even when given the best assets he has turned out nothing but duds time and again.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0506613/

Now lets jump from the imaginary to the real. Star Wars 7 (or VII) is happening. The script (at least a first draft) has been written, the sets are being assembled, John Williams is writing the score, and, as of about 24 hours ago, the final cast has been revealved and the assorted players assembled

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Now, before I start let me just say that yes, I am excited. It would be a lie to say I wasn’t. A new Star Wars film is actually happening. One of the most successful motion picture franchises of the past 30 years, instrumental in shaping the imagination for millions of people living in this modern age is getting another installment. Yes, I will eagerly await and watch the first trailer over and over. Yes, I will visit the fan boards to see the exicted chatter. Yes, I will probably buy my ticket early to ensure I will see it the first week and yes, I will likely skip work and play hooky wooky to see the film. Still, I wonder about myself on that day. As I stand in line with millions of others waiting to see the continuing adventures of Luke Skywalker and Co., what, perchance, will I be feeling: excitement, apprehension, doubt, joy, stress, peace? Maybe all of these or maybe none, but one feeling I can count on to be present will be regret. Regret about the fact that I just paid 15.00 dollars to see an IMAX 3D presentation of the new film by none other than J.J. Abrams.

You know who J.J. Abrams is don’t you? Take a closer look at the picture above. See the guy awkwardly gesturing near Harrison Ford, kind of doing an annoying Spielberg impersonation? Yeah that’s him. Want a closer look?

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Now that you’ve been properly introduced let me regale you with the only information you need to know about J.J. Abrams; he is not a good director. Rather than bore you with all the facts of his artistically unfulfilling career, we’ll just stick to analyzing his career as a film director (mercifully overlooking his writing and producer credits for TV). Suffice to say, of the few big screen credits he has there is not a good film among them.

  • Mission Impossible: 3 (A.K.A. Alias the Movie) was nothing more than a multi-million dollar TV movie with all the lazy staging and cliché dialogue we’ve come to expect from most prime-time TV nowadays.
  • Star Trek (2009) was revisionist storytelling of the worst kind, wherein Abrams took solid characters residing within an interesting canon and reduced them to a slick, narrative-bankrupt reboot devoid of any good cinematic ideas except for whip pans, bad Dutch angles, and lens flare
  • Super 8 plays like a montage of scenes deleted from superior 80’s children’s entertainment (E.T., Explorers, Goonies, etc). All the scenes that didn’t move the story forward, dialogue the kids spoke that felt forced and fake, and bad special effects shots which couldn’t pass the mustard in those films were included in Super 8 strung together with a convoluted alien plot featuring the Cloverfield monster.
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness provides the greatest example of J.J. Abrams’ lack of talent. It’s essentially a convoluted remake of Wrath of Khan, performed by your local high school drama team, but lacking the sincerity or potential found in such productions. Oh wait, it did have lens flare though. Redemption!

Yes, we have a cast, we have a writer (the great Lawrence Kasdan), and we have the wonderful John Williams back writing music. All that’s well and good but at the helm of the ship is still one of the most inept directors working in Hollywood today. I find it hard to get excited when a new film on the horizon is being made by an untalented filmmaker. Maybe if Brad Bird, Steven Spielberg, Genndy Tartakovsky, or John Woo (my dark horse pick) were directing the film I could muster some genuine excitement that extended past the realm of morbid curiosity. As it is, that’s about the only kind of excitement I can muster for this project.

Come December 18, 2015, I don’t want a good Star Wars movie ; I want a good movie period. Abrams can cram the screen with weird and familiar characters; give them lines to say; call action and make them perform, but he can’t give the film any real life or kinetic energy. He doesn’t seem to have the same preternatural cinematic instincts of his “mentor” Spielberg. His style has never risen above the level of a slightly above average TV director. Come December 18, 2015 all the familiar faces, as well as some new, will be in a brand new Star Wars story. It’s sad that the aesthetic value of the film won’t be any higher than an episode of Castle.

 

 

Finding Nemo 2: The Search For More Money

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Here is the official press release from Disney regarding their forthcoming film “Finding Dory”, the sequel to the 2003 blockbuster film “Finding Nemo” (the really stupid and asinine parts are in bold for your viewing pleasure).

When Dory said “just keep swimming” in 2003’s Oscar®-winning film “Finding Nemo,” she could not have imagined what was in store for her (not that she could remember). Ellen DeGeneres, voice of the friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish, revealed details today about Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Dory”—an all-new big-screen adventure diving into theaters on Nov. 25, 2015.

“I have waited for this day for a long, long, long, long, long, long time,” said DeGeneres. “I’m not mad it took this long. I know the people at Pixar were busy creating ‘Toy Story 16.’ But the time they took was worth it. The script is fantastic. And it has everything I loved about the first one: It’s got a lot of heart, it’s really funny, and the best part is—it’s got a lot more Dory.”

Director and Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton takes audiences back to the extraordinary underwater world created in the original film. “There is no Dory without Ellen,” said Stanton. “She won the hearts of moviegoers all over the world—not to mention our team here at Pixar. One thing we couldn’t stop thinking about was why she was all alone in the ocean on the day she met Marlin. In ‘Finding Dory,’ she will be reunited with her loved ones, learning a few things about the meaning of family along the way.”

One thing we couldn’t stop thinking about was why she was all alone in the ocean on the day she met Marlin. In ‘Finding Dory,’ she will be reunited with her loved ones, learning a few things about the meaning of family along the way.

Done retching. Okay, lets break this down. I’ll start with a question. When in the history of either the Disney, Pixar, or Disney/Pixar enterprises has a sequel to one of their films ever been a good idea. If you’re finding it hard to get beyond “Toy Story 2” (it was okay people, not groundbreaking), and the “Shaggy D.A.” then you would understand why I’m so saddened to see Pixar, an other wise reputable studio go down the sequel route. Typically when a sequel is done by Disney it is solely to make a cash grab. That’s why most of their putrid spin offs to their animated classics, both from the golden age and second renaissance, have only been released on home video. They had no real cinematic value and Disney, even in the bowls of unabashed capitalism that produces such films, would not disgrace their cinematic track record with such trash.

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The Disney sequels were not movies at all really. They were babysitters. They were distractions put on by frazzled adults so their screaming children could be quiet. Unlike their typically superior predecessors the plots of these Disney sequels and prequels tended to have uninspired plots, lazy motivations and second rate animation. Sadly those three attributes have come to define the upcoming slate of Disney and Pixar animated features on the horizon. For those that think I’m being cynical or negative a simple compare and contrast will easily show how superior the original Disney/Pixar product is in comparison to its forthcoming prequel/sequel/ or spinoff.

Compare this:

“Monsters Inc.”: Fear is not only a defining aspect of childhood, it is a business. The Boogeyman doesn’t just scare you for the heck of it, but to make a living, supporting himself and the society in which he lives. That society is Monstropolis: the world on the other side of your closet door. The central (primitive) source of power is the screams of human children. There is no better harvester of screams than James P. “Sully” Sullivan. Along with his one eyed assistant Mike they help provide Monstropolis with as much power as they can which is not easy thanks to Sully’s rival Randall always looking to sabotage him and the simple fact that children are getting harder to scare. But beneath the rivalry and the daily macabre grind lies a more sinister conspiracy. Power plays, unholy alliances, and hidden secrets combine to uproot the very structure of the Monstropolis society and only Sully and Mike can save the day. With a plot containing elements of corporate intrigue and societal growth coupled with sly yet innocent humor, Monsters Inc. is a workplace comedy that both kids and adults can enjoy on many different levels.

With this:

“Monsters University”: We take a look back at Sully and Mike’s college days. Hilarity ensues. Seriously, isn’t this the kind of idea screenwriters get fired for. Who the heck looked at Monsters Inc. and thought the characters would work just as well in a college type setting. No one, that’s who. I’ve actually heard this described as a sort of tribute to “Animal House” or some such nonsense. That funny because when I first saw “Monster Inc.” I thought the only thing that was missing (besides cowbell) was a little bit of raunchy frat house humor.

Compare This:

“Finding Nemo”: The beauty and danger of the ocean is home to a simple yet textured tale of a father and son. We watch them grow together and grow apart as they figure out who they are in the big anemone that lies within the deep. Themes such as fatherhood, letting go, coping with loss, finding your way home, sacrifice, and finding your inner strength are all explored with humor and great pathos. All the elements come together to make “Finding Nemo” a wonderful parable of life under the sea.

With This:

Finding Dory: Remember the quirky forgetful fish from the first film Dory who almost sunk the film with her tired shtick featuring pop culture references (Fabio…really) and saccharine signing. Well now she gets her own story in which we get to meet her equally eccentric and annoying family. Isn’t that basically the plot from “Nutty Professor 2: Meet The Klumps”. 

Compare These:

“Cars”, “Cars 2”: Pixar phones in a serviceable cash cow. Its basically the cinematic equivalent of an A student bringing home two B- papers in a row.

With This:

Planes: Followed by a D+ travesty. “Planes”. “Planes!!!!!” Whats next? Will we see talking trains or boats? Maybe a hang gliders that does a soliloquy? With “Planes” we’re surely starting to see the cracks in the Pixar formula come through. What once was brilliant and intuitive storytelling prompted by imaginative and honest probings into humanities most enduring meanderings (i.e., what happens to your toys when you put them away, what happens inside that ant colony, or is being a superhero really that super?) gets replace by hokey premises and uninspired stories (i.e., wouldn’t it be cool if a car could talk, a boat could talk, a plane could talk, monsters went to college, ect).

Pixar is slowly abandoning all the good will they’ve built up by releasing these lame “what if” concepts masquerading as movies. A return to storytelling with substance is needed before I have any confidence in plunking down my money on any future Pixar films. Until then most every prospect Pixar has on the horizon looks completely:

Percy Jackson and the Lowering of Cinematic Standards

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Hey check out the new trailer for Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1704670/percy-jackson-sea-monsters-trailer.jhtml
(Sorry I couldn’t embed, wasn’t working)

I expected to see an attack but instead I get bemused indifference. I understand that the constant barrage of substandard material has deadened the internet film community’s ability to respond accurately and vigilantly to both good and bad film news. As a result discerning the steps taken either forward or backward in cinema have become an altogether muddled affair. Either people don’t see the problem, are unwilling to admit their is a problem, or they just don’t care anymore. Probably a combination of all three. Still, the deteriorating standards of the modern film community notwithstanding, its very easy to see that with Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monster we are witnessing a clear (if not slickly presented) step backwards in cinephilia. Just don’t look to the film blogs to tell you that.

Based on the popular YA books by Rick Riordan, Chris Columbus’s PERCY JACKSON & THE LIGHTNING THIEF was evidently profitable enough to compel Fox to keep the series running. I thought the first film worked as a glossy Greek Mythology primer for kids (it was certainly more enjoyable than Louis Leterrier’s CLASH OF THE TITANS), so I’ve no issue with more of the same. Not that it matters. I’m not the target audience for this stuff, and, unless you’re a precocious eight- to twelve-year-old reading this website, neither are you.

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And honestly, it does look kind of fun. Like the first film, it appears that the sequel will play around with the adult actors cast in very silly roles, like Stanley Tucci as Dionysus, Nathan Fillion as Hermes, and Sean Bean as Zeus. It looks like they are having an absolute blast, and it’s possible audiences could, too. It’s also worth noting that the screenplay was co-written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who wrote “Ed Wood,” “The People Vs. Larry Flynt,” and “Man in the Moon,” and Marc Guggenheim, a beloved comic book author.

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With Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, we are thankfully getting a more manageable title and from the looks of this trailer, a more ambitious attempt at epic adventure.

The exchange of director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter 1 & 2) for director Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) is somewhat dubious – if only because Columbus has more experience with filmmaking on this scale than Freudenthal does. Still, the trailers looks like what you’d expect, given the first film, with some nice (if moderately budgeted) effects shots.

Sea of Monsters also features a nice supporting cast of fan-favorite actors like Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle), Stanley Tucci (Captain America) and Anthony Head (Buffy) – along with Missi Pyle (The Artist), Leven Rambin (Wizards of Waverly Place) and Yvette Nicole Brown (Community).

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Even though the first Percy Jackson was both a bit muddled and leaned a little too hard on the silly, we liked the gags and the world-building. Plus it got points for turning Pierce Brosnan into a centaur that will forever haunt our dreams. And now, there’s a second Percy Jackson movie, and… it looks cute. Maybe even decent.

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When I interviewed Abel about The Host last week it was interesting hearing him admit that the Percy Jackson series is pretty much exclusively for kids at this point, which might be tough for a twenty-something actor making his way in the world but also provides a pretty steady paycheck. And as evidenced by all the work these actors have gotten since Lightning Thief, it’s definitely not hurting that they’re most recognizable to elementary schoolers. You’d think the original Percy Jackson film might not merit a sequel, making just $88 million in the United States, but with a $226 million worldwide total it’s enough to move forward even without Harry Potter orHunger Games-sized grosses.

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Like many YA adaptations outside the Harry Potter and Twilight series, The Lightning Thief didn’t quite wow audiences. Unlike many stillborn series, however, this one is actually getting a sequel. 

This chapter features Alexandra Daddario and Brandon T. Jackson returning to support Lerman’s hero, and we get to see Stanley Tucci as Dionysus. Oh, and Nathan Fillion plays Hermes, which might be enough to get people watching.

The trailer doesn’t even think that audiences remember the first film, as it spends thirty seconds refreshing us on the series’ storyline. After that, it does get down to business, with the sort of big CG visions of mythological creatures that populated the first film.

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Thats all quite of lot of pandering to take in so if you don’t mind I’ll sum up the general points most of the internet film community made about this upcoming film.

1. It understandable and forgivable that a new sequel is being made to an awful film just because that first film netted a huge profit.

2. Well it looks like the adult actors are having fun in their roles which is all that matters anyway.

3. Nathan Fillion is a god. Worship him and give him money. Browncoats forever! Forever!!!!

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4. Well its for kids anyway so if it sucks thats okay. Having high standards for cinema only should apply to adults. At the very least our kids are getting an introduction to Greek mythology.

5. The first film sucked less than “Clash Of The Titans” and Eragon so it gets a pass.

Geez. I hope you enjoyed that set visit and free swag guys. I hope it profited you to gain all that stuff at the expense of you collective cinematic soul.  Must I reiterate that if we don’t start demanding more of the studios and filmmakers of this present age then things will continue to get worse. You may think I’m making a big deal out of this (“its only Percy Jackson!”) but its the little things, not the big, that over time build up until the problem is almost to big to solve.  Think of the all style and no substance money driven film culture we’ll be leaving behind for the next generation. They wont have stories with depth and artistry but only garish forgettable popcorn flicks to look forward to. But do we even consider the next generation at all anymore. We’ve already resigned to letting our kids (and ourselves) be receptacles for this kind of cgi laden garbage so who knows what we’ll allow in the future.

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Well excuse me if that’s not the way I want to respond to our film culture. Let me provide you with the response to Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters trailer debut that the other film blogs should have been more responsible enough to give you:

Hey did you hear! That mediocre piece of crap film that insulted audiences a few years back is getting a sequel. Yes Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters is upon us. What better chance will you have at the cinema this year to watch otherwise serviceable actors phoning in performances though belabored prosthetics and phony c.g.i.? At least you wont have to worry about any scenery chewing since 99.9 percent of the sets aren’t even there. You know who is there? Nathan Fillion. Bow down and sacrifice your daughters at the altar of Nathan Fillion. But it gets better. You remember the wunderkind turned hack director Chris Columbus? Well he’s history. We scrapped the bottom of the barrel, then lifted the barrel up and looked under it and found another guy to direct the film. Remember that instant classic Hotel for Dogs? The film that made Beverly Hills Chihuahua look like Citizen Kane. Well we got the guy who directed that (Thor Frudendthal……real name) to helm this turkey. Are you still there? Have you fainted from the amount of pure awesomeness we’ve assembled to make this project? Well you will when we tell you who we got to write the film. You know Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who wrote “Ed Wood,” “The People Vs. Larry Flynt,” and “Man in the Moon”? Well we payed them enough money to squander their talents and sell out by writing this new film. On top of that we hired a comic book writer to help with the scripting duties to trick nerds into seeing the film. Top that off with a couple of scenes and scenarios lifted from likewise sub-par films (Pirates of the Carribean franchise, Harry Potter franchise, Clash Of The Titans, ect) and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. But as long as that disaster nets the studio about 120-200 million you can be sure another sequel is on the way. But hey…..the film has Nathan Fillion. See you at the cinema!

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“Hey, You Got Some D.E.A. In My Special Forces!” “You Got Some Special Forces In My D.E.A.”

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A quick statement before we get to the trailer.

I wonder if you would take a second and compare and contrast Denzel Washington and Nicholas Cage careers. If you were to do so I believe you would find a lot of commonalities. The biggest one being they have forgotten how to chose good scripts and are consequently starring in formulaic, asinine genre movies. Occasionally each can strike gold with a project. Denzel seemed to find a meaty performance in Flight and Nicholas just happened to star in one of the greatest film of the past 20 years in Knowing (not kidding at all). Yet, for the most part we sit and watch two men who once were considered two of the greatest (or at least most promising) actors in their generation practically defecate over the prestige of their careers. The funny thing is, only one of the two actors seems to have become the object of parody; Nicholas “BEES!” Cage.


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Now to be fair Denzel has taken his fair share of criticism for his current string of one note performances. His particular brand of smooth heroic masculinity that once proved uniquely watchable has by now lapsed into parody. Still the mild chiding he receives for those performances doesn’t begin to compare to the hate a genuinely gifted actor like Nicholas Cage receives. Roger Ebert made a great observation about the Nicholas when he stated that:

Cage is accused of showboating, but I prefer to think he swings for the fences. Sometimes he strikes out but more often he connects (he took enormous risks in “Leaving Las Vegas,” “Bringing Out the Dead” and “Adaptation”). He has a kind of raging zeal that possesses his characters; what in another actor would be overacting is, with Cage, a kind of fearsome intensity.

Even in the worst movies Nicholas Cage always comes to the plate and swings for the fences. The same, as of late, cannot be said of Mr. Denzel Washington. Especially when you see him in trailers like this for his new movie like 2 Guns. Yes that’t the title. 

Couple of things

1. Despite his age he was serviceable in Book of Eli. Not so much nowHow old is Denzel gonna have to be before he is not able to do action roles anymore? I’ve come to terms with the fact that Hollywood  often sinks its teeth into its black cash cow’s like Denzel and milks them for all the box office potential but this is getting ridiculous. There has to be thousands of other black actors out there vying for roles in buddy cop pictures/biopics/and other various sidekicks roles. Keep using Denzel like this and eventually all that’s left is going to be a chocolate skeleton on screen sitting next to Jonah Hill in the next big buddy cop flick. 

2. Does anyone actually write these types of movies any more or do the actors just wing it. If its the former then I think we should pray for the talent of our Hollywood writers. If its the latter then screen acting in terms of improvisation has truly taken a nosedive. Did you actually listen to some of that inane dialogue in the trailer.

Denzel: You ever heard the saying never rob the bank across from the diner that has the best donuts in 3 counties?

Mark: That’s not a saying.

Denzel: Yes it is.

Mark: No its not, I get what your saying, but its not a saying.

Denzel: You never heard it? Maybe you’ve never heard it?

Mark: Okay.

Denzel: It is a saying. It’s a saying to me.

Mark: (laughs)

Denzel: (laughs)

Audiences: (cries)

Talk about bad overlapping dialogue  Seriously, that is just plain lazy. Just because Tarantino was able to get away with the whole “low life” “tough guy” banter thing doesn’t mean it should become the norm in Hollywood  Screen writing is an art unto itself and to see two actors fumble their way jokingly through their lines like that is just plain awful. The actors may find it fun (or easy) but it comes across as smug, boring, cloying and insulting to the audience.

3. Paula Patton like Rosario Dawson in Unstoppable, Eva Mendes and Sanaa Lathan in Out of Time, Paula Patton in Deja Vu, and Mila Kunas in The Book of Eli, is playing a role so clearly designed to net a paycheck that you can almost hear chi-ching every time she opens her mouth.

4. This trailer seems less like an advertisement for the movie and more an advertisement for car crash porn. After seeing Tony Scott and Micheal bay roll cars up down and all around the past 20 years, the sight of a couple of trucks playing tag isn’t really doing it for me.

5. Jimmy Hendrix has apparently spun in his grave so hard that he tunneled all the way to China.

6. More Bad Dialogue:

Denzel: The Bank was a set up. We gotta figure out whose money that was.

Mark: (super-excited) What, like we’re working together?

Denzel: No, not like we’re working together.

Mark: Yeah!

Denzel: Naw, like we’re working in the same vicinity.

Mark: Together!

Denzel: Like we’re working in the same Area code.

Mark: Together!

7: Paula Patton I can understand. Paychecks are hard to come by in Hollywood for black actresses. But what excuse does Bill Paxton and Edward James Olmos have. They’re two of the best character actors of our generation and they’ve reduced themselves to doing slop like this. And don’t give me that “it’ll be fun to watch them chewing the scenery” garbage. If the scenery around them is moldy and gross (i.e. a badly structured film) then they’ll just end up regurgitating garbage to the audience.

8. Also did anybody notice James Marsden was in the movie. Exactly!

9: “Incentivized”

10: A final bit of bad dialogue that probably mirrors the screen writers approach to writing this movie:

Denzel: So partner, What’s your plan?

Mark: I’ve got a plan. I mean I’m capable of coming up with a plan.

Denzel: I’m not saying you’re not capable. I’m just saying you haven’t told me. What is it?

Mark: (annoyed) I’m working on it!…. Screw it!

Drives through fence

Denzel: That was your plan?

Mark: No one expected it. You should have seen you’re face.

Audeience: (cries)

I understand that the buddy cop genre has never been considered the height of cinema, but does that excuse the makers of this film of having such low expectations for themselves. As trivial as this genre may be it’s still capable of producing such entertaining fair as 48 hrs, Die Hard With A Vengeance, Alien Nation, Bad Boys, Mississippi Burning, Hard Boiled, Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour (yep). Sadly it seems the makers of these kinds of films don’t feel the need to try anymore. They have their formula. They know their film will at least net a profit of 150-200 million dollars no matter how good it is. From there moving forward they can option any other sub-par buddy cop script they want and develop further plans to bilk the American public with garbage product. To borrow a phrase from buddy cop veteran Roger Murtaugh, I think its time we let the actors, directors, writers and producers who make these films know that,  “We’re getting to old for this….stuff (T.V. edit)

Film News Worth Your Time 10/23/2012

We at film-cycle like to shine a light on film news that we believe is worthy of your time. Every week we showcase a new collection of articles and websites  that provide only the most articulate and mature film journalism (with some levity thrown in as well). You will encounter film news that will leave you stimulated, provoked, challenged, enlightened and ultimately hopeful about film and the interesting pathways it’s taking.

Linda Holmes of NPR has written a very in-depth article that examines the birth and evolution of the regan era working woman in contemporary 80’s cinema as examined through two films: Baby Boom and Fatal Attraction. Good Stuff. http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2012/10/14/162895778/two-very-different-working-women-at-the-movies-25-years-ago-this-week

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Different shades of Hitchcock. The genius’ at the Movie Morlocks blog over at TCM attemt to trace the stylistic influence of Rear Window throughout a myriad of different films both classic and contemporary. Do they succeed? Find out for yourself. http://moviemorlocks.com/2012/10/20/rear-windows-for-everyone/#more-56283

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Give the Movie Geeks credit. Unlike most of their contemporaries in the movie podcast realm, they actually try to delve deep into cinema by covering a variety of different subjects ranging from Kubrick to De Palma (although I think they’ve beat the whole 80’s thing to death). Their latest challenge has been the seemingly impossible task of decifering the cinematic process of David Lynch. I give em credit for even trying to do this at all. Give a listen. http://www.moviegeeksunited.net/lynchseries.htm

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I feel sorry for what has become of Stan Lee. What once was probably a very astute pop personality has been relegated to a sort of theme park attraction monstrosity  I see him in interview after interview, asked the same asinine questions over and over, poked and prodded into saying the most grating of catchphrases (excelsior!!!). I appreciate all he has done just as much as the next guy, but isn’t there more to his process and genius than red tights and web shooters.  I’ve always thought so, and apparently so does Turner Classic Movies. Check out an interview Stan does with Scott Mcgee of Turner Classic where he talks about the influence classic cinema had on his creative process. http://www.tcm.com/this-month/podcast.html

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The Film Colony ♛

with Alicia Mayer

Things 90s Kids Realize

A warm & fuzzy cup of nostalgia for my fellow 90s kids.

Streamline | The Official Filmstruck Blog

Streamline is the official blog of FilmStruck, a new subscription service that offers film aficionados a comprehensive library of films including an eclectic mix of contemporary and classic art house, indie, foreign and cult films.