FINALLY, clever, retro-styled thriller The Guest is here. Check out our interview with the filmmakers and star here, and then go see The Guest this weekend. You're welcome.
After you've TCB in that regard, you might also want to check out sleek new Patricia Highsmith adaptation The Two Faces of January(review here), family drama The Judge (interview with the director here), or journalism thriller Kill the Messenger. How to decide? Read on for reviews of these and even more films, plus trailers.
Joel and Ethan Coen have been creating films for 30 years, dating back to their still-stunning, low-budget debut, neo-noir Blood Simple (1984); it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1985. They followed with the screwball satire Raising Arizona (1987), which contains a pair of timeless (and quotable) performances by Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter.
And yet the Coens' next three films lost millions: the tough-nosed noir Miller's Crossing (1990), the darker-than-black comedy Barton Fink (1991), and their surprisingly enjoyable ode to Frank Capra, The Hudsucker Proxy (1994). Luckily, their brilliant mid-Western Fargo (1996) followed, winning them an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and a trophy for Frances McDormand (Joel's partner in crime) for Best Actress.
With dysfunctional family tale-meets-courtroom drama The Judge (out Fri/10), director David Dobkin is no longer simply "the guy who directed The Wedding Crashers (2005)" — he's also the guy who got Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall to go toe-to-toe. Downey plays hotshot Chicago lawyer Hank, who verrrry reluctantly returns to his rural hometown after the death of his mother; he's met with hostile hospitality from his aging, long-estranged father, the town judge (Duvall), who verrrry reluctantly allows his son to represent him when he's accused of murder.
The Judge's biggest flaw (besides its nearly two-and-a-half-hour running time and some sentimental tendencies) is that it tries to be too many genres at once. But those marvelously acted Downey vs. Duvall tête-à-têtes — and one memorably hilarious jury-selection scene — can't be ignored. Prior to its theatrical release, The Judge screened at the Mill Valley Film Festival, and I got a chance to speak with Dobkin about his latest film.
FILM/LIT It's anyone's guess how many films and videos George Kuchar made before his death in 2011 (Portland's Yale Union is valiantly attempting a comprehensive retrospective, which they estimate will take seven years), but there's material for at least a hundred more in The George Kuchar Reader (Primary Information, 336 pp., $27.50). Read more »
The 37th annual Mill Valley Film Festival opened last night and runs through October 12 at all the big Marin venues (Larkspur's Lark Theater, Mill Valley's Cinearts@Sequoia, and San Rafael's Smith Rafael Film Center). Guardian critics take on the Children's FilmFest program, docs, and offer short takes; for complete information, visit www.mvff.com.
This side of the Golden Gate, it's a big week for Hollywood as David Fincher's latest thriller goes up against Jason Reitman's take on social-media malaise, as well a demonic doll and a Nicolas Cage-goes-evangelical howler (all involved in the latter better clear a shelf or two when Razzies season rolls around).
Scottish filmmaker David Mackenzie’s prison drama Starred Up is a brutally raw indie film starring rising actor Jack O’Connell as Eric, a 19-year-old offender who has just been “starred up,” or transferred to an adult prison due to his uncontrollable and dangerous behavior. Though he's passive when we get our first look at him, he won't be for long: One of the first things Eric does upon entering his new cell is expertly rig a shank out of a toothbrush and a shaving razor, which he then hides in an overhead light fixture. Clearly, he's done this before.
If Jesse Hawthorne Ficks' ongoing Pixel Vision posts about the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival have you longing for your own festival experience, check out the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's one-day "Silent Autumn" series at the Castro Theatre, as well as Cine+Mas' San Francisco Latino Film Festival, which opens tonight at the Brava Theater and runs through Sept. 27 at various venues.
First-run picks o' the week include Liam Neeson's latest lone-wolf action movie, an ensemble movie starring Tina Fey and Jason Bateman, and Kevin Smith's new joint, in which Justin Long turns into a walrus. Yep, you read that right. Read on for reviews and trailers!