Phil is the Most Powerful Short Documentary Currently Online, Bold we know

You’ve seen them. Lurking in your Facebook feed, ready to provide you with inspiration and a glimpse into the life of someone else, perhaps someone who lives in Portland and makes artisanal soaps, or perhaps someone who lives in San Francisco and grows a beard competitively, or perhaps someone who lives in Brooklyn and loves run-on sentences spliced together by commas. They are the subjects of profile documentaries — a short doc style that has become so prevalent online that Jim Archer has made a beautiful parody version.

Phil: A Tribute to a Man hits all the correct wrong notes: airy interview presented without context, long meaningful looks into nowhere in particular, and an everyday dude trying to appear far more profound than he really is. It’s also shot and cut together for maximum importance…regardless of whether there’s any of it to be found in what Phil (Joseph Morpugo) is saying. Read more 

Disney, Lionsgate and Fox are teaming up and investing in a new ticketing app that would see new variable ticket pricing for certain types of movies. Called Atom Tickets, the novelty app would introduce concepts such as group discount pricing for a herd of friends going to see a big budget film. Could both Hollywood and smaller budget indie films possibly see any potential benefits from this endeavor in the long term? Or will Atom Tickets only exist to help us start thinking about the future of ticket pricing between big budget vs low budget films in general before its novelty wears off?

It feels ridiculous to say as it means nearly a full year has passed since we returned from covering Sundance 2015 in Park City, UT, but the 2016 edition of the Sundance Film Festival is right around the corner. We’re already making plans to return, and while we’re excited at the prospect of the fest’s entire roster the fest’s Midnight section of programming always holds a special appeal.The nine titles making up 2016’s Midnight section have just been announced, and is is typically the case the films are a mix of known entities and fresh faces. Kevin Smith returns with part two of his unofficial “True North” trilogy, Yoga Hosers, a spin-off of sorts from the odd, absurd, but not unfairly maligned Tusk, and Rob Zombie follows up his witch-focused (and better-than-expected) The Lords of Salem with evil clown mayhem in 31.Some lesser known but still recognizable names have made the cut too. Richard Bates Jr.‘s last film, Suburban Gothic, is an indie Ghostbusters mixing laughs and spectral shenanigans, and he’s back with the darkly humorous-sounding Trash Fire. Jim Hosking follows up his disturbingly entertaining “G Is for Grandad” short from ABCs of Death 2 with his feature debut, The Greasy Strangler. Another talent on the rise is Mickey Keating who chases 2015’s Pod and Darling with the fantastically-cast Carnage Park.Check out the complete list for Sundance 2016’s Midnight section here#ffffff;">

There really aren’t enough female-headlined action films, so when one comes along it’s almost worth a look on its existence alone. Ideally it will lean more Haywire than Mercenaries quality-wise, but the paucity of options means we’ll take what we can get at this point. Happily, the newest lady-led action picture, Momentum, is an entertaining and frequently thrilling ride that very nearly lives up to its title.A high-tech team of slick-looking bank robbers are midway through their heist when mistakes and bad attitudes get the better of them. One of their number is killed, and another is unmasked in front of the hostages. With her face all over the news, Alex (Olga Kurylenko, Quantum of Solace) is forced to lay low and wait for the deal with those who hired her team to wrap up, but a double cross leaves her on the run and low on options. A man named Washington (James Purefoy, Solomon Kane) is on her trail, but the bigger threat might just be the U.S. Senator (Morgan Freeman, playing against type as a character who wants to be president but isn’t yet) pulling his strings.Stephen S. Campanelli‘s day job as a long-time camera operator for Clint Eastwood takes a backseat for his feature directorial debut, and the result is a fun, fast-moving action-thriller that hits some speed bumps along the way but still delivers where it counts.The action sequences are strong starting with the opening heist and continuing on through shoot-outs, fist fights, and pretty stellar car chase. An early hotel fracas showcases both Alex’s capabilities and Washington’s malicious ways — along with Kurylenko’s action chops and the pure joy of an evil Purefoy. The fight choreography feels right for Kurylenko’s frame meaning we’re never in doubt of her abilities, and the bigger action is well-crafted to the various environments.Just as entertaining at times is the back and forth banter between Alex and Washington. Their dialogue is a the kind of witty and insulting mix that you’d hope real criminals use in their day to day exchanges but you doubt actually exists. Performer-wise these two are by far the strongest here, and it’s not just because of the rough acting seen in some of the supporting roles.The script moves the film into generic, mid-list action territory with some repetitive beats and simplicity, but there are highlights including Alex’s character and the details of the opening heist. That opening is also a source of curiosity though as it appears to exist in some manner of the near future — the robbers’ suits feature lights, voice modulators, and other advancements, and the bank’s vault uses a biological lock that feels very much like science fiction. Once they leave the bank though it feels like it could be any time between the late ’90s and the present. It’s either an odd choice or late recognition that the budget wasn’t going to last.Momentum is a fun, sleek movie that’s far better than most straight-to-DVD/VOD action films, and while I’m not as confident as the film’s ending is that it’s the start of a possible franchise I’m certainly hopeful.Read more at Film School Rejects:

Horror, much like comedy, is something of a subjective genre. What scares one person might bore the next, and what disturbs someone might simply annoy others. Similarly, the very definition of a horror film isn’t always clear either. Jump scares, blood n gore, and monster effects have their place, but oftentimes the most effective horror comes from an unsettling atmosphere, personal terrors, and the possibility that it could happen to you.Narrowing down fifteen years worth of such films to just a handful of top picks isn’t easy, but Matthew Monagle and I shuffled through the hundreds of titles and settled on the fifteen we think make up the best of the best. Our picks include ghosts, creatures, zombies, vampires, killer kids, and perhaps most frightening of all, some very human monsters too.One last note, in regard to viewing the millennium as having started in 2000 or 2001, we’re deferring to the renowned educational series, Seinfeld, in which a much-respected philosopher stated: “Since there was no year zero, the millennium doesn’t begin until the year two-thousand and one.”So here are the 15 best horror films from 2001-2015.  

Of the thousands of pictures released around the world in a given year, maybe a few tens of them appear as complete creations of a singularly identifiable artist. Visuals can often look much the same, and stories tend to be inspired by the same set of stories. Jean Pierre Jeunet is one of those filmmakers with a very identifiable kind of film artistry. His films are equally colorful and drab, playful and serious, charming and ultra-quirky – and up until I saw Liza The Fox Fairy (crazily of the mind of a first-time feature length director, Karoly Ujj Maszaros) I would have said almost completely unique to himself. While Liza may feel akin to a Jeunet film in its art direction and charm mixed with a whimsical, dark humor it would feel a complete disservice to Maszaros to claim that the film channels another artist. It does not, but it’s wholly exciting to think there are two filmmakers alive who succeed at making this kind of picture.Read more#ffffff;">

The pull of the open road is strong and tantalizes with the untold possibility of adventure and experience, but not all roads lead to their intended destinations. Such is the highway to hell that several travelers find themselves on in the new horror anthology, Southbound.

Two men with bloodied faces pull into a remote way station in the American Southwest. Something is on their mind, but more pressing, something is on their tail. Skeletal phantoms have followed them across the desert, and escape is clearly not an option. Read More

It speaks to the state of cinema that one of the most beautiful, haunting, and powerful films of the year will be seen by most people on a streaming service, but such is case with the growing face of movies these days. The consolation is that movies manage to find a home after their brief festival run even if they are relegated to being content for the digital pipe as opposed to having a shot at being a truly exceptional in-theatre experience.

I’m lucky, then, to have experienced Beasts of No Nation as it was intended, at a glorious, hundred-year-old theatre no less. For Beasts is surely a film to be shared collectively in the dark, one whose power is amplified by the image looming over you while your fellow audience shares in the joys and shocks as the story unfolds.

The tale of a young boy who gets swept up in a civil war and becomes a child soldier, the film proves to be one of the most raw, unforgettable coming-of-age tales ever made. Newcomer Abraham Attah is the film’s core, and his performance is the stuff of legend. His role is both physically and psychologically complex as we the audience simply follow him through his travails.

The film is stunningly shot with some terrific narrative elements, but the direction by Cary Fukunaga may be most lauded for what he draws from young Attah. Kids on film, especially in such a storyline, will make or break the project, and here we see an absolutely riveting turn that provides much of the film’s weight. Fukunaga’s script, based on the novel by Uzodinma Iweala, provides its rich ideas and unsettling moments. Read More



Director Jim Strouse is excellent at conveying the emotional range of the adult male experience. It’s not something you might hear a lot, especially in the context of it being refreshing, mostly because just about every movie is delivered from the male perspective. But there’s something a little more special, insightful and tender about Strouse’s work. This began with the pain explored in the John Cusack-led Grace is Gone, continued with the failure management of the Sam Rockwell-led The Winning Season and has come to fruition once again in the fatherhood dramedy People, Places, Things starring Jemaine Clement. Read full review

Films saddled with the label “quirky” are often dismissed sight unseen these days as they’ve earned something of a bad rap in recent years. It’s frequently well-deserved as many attempt to take a shortcut into our good graces with oddball supporting characters, manic pixie dream girls and impromptu dance/singalong scenes, but few succeed because they’re usually surface-level efforts. So when a movie comes along that backs up its fun-loving eccentricities with raw honesty, sincere depth and glorious belly laughs you should pay attention. Read more