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“It’s the fear that’s killing us. The fear!”

Movies that take place entirely on a computer screen haven’t quite become all the rage, but there have been enough of them over the past few years to justify the idea of a “desktop horror” sub-genre. Some like The Den (2013) are terrifically terrifying, and others are Nacho Vigalondo’s Open Windows (2014). Director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) has touched the sub-genre before as producer of Unfriended (2014) and this year’s sequel, Unfriended: Dark Web, but he takes a more controlling hand with his latest film, Profile.

Amy (Valene Kane) is in something of a pickle. She’s a freelance journalist living paycheck to paycheck, and with rent and other bills overdue she’s settled on a story a news producer is excited to air. Numerous Western European women have left home to join ISIS, and so far no one’s figured out the exact method by which the terror group’s recruiters lure women into their grip. Amy’s pitch is simple — using social media she’ll pose as a recent convert to Islam, wait to be contacted, and then play the role to see how and why Western women are making the journey. She doesn’t wait for long as her Facebook account quickly catches the eye of Abu Bilel Al-Britani (Shazad Latif), and soon she’s engaging in Skype video calls, trading flirtatious emojis, and making plans to join him in Syria.

Profile is based on a novel by Anna Érelle which in turn is based...

Wes Anderson’s latest animated feature follows a pack of dogs we didn’t realize we needed in our lives until now.

At first glance, an animated film with a cast of dogs as its leads may not seem like the most important or relevant story of the day. But those dogs have a lot to say, and their story, much to convey, and Isle of Dogs shies away from none of it.

The film centers around 12-year-old Atari (Koyu Rankin) and his journey to retrieve his dog and body-guard Spots (Liev Schreiber), but the leaders of the story are the pack of dogs who help him to find Spots, namely one dog, Chief (Bryan Cranston). Atari’s uncle and mayor of Megasaki City has banned the dogs in the city, sending them to Trash Island, after a canine epidemic breaks out. But there’s more than that going on. He’s not telling the whole story, and clearly, he despises dogs. A group of students led by one very determined American exchange student (Greta Gerwig), senses this and they work together to protest and uncover his secrets, with the film intercutting between the two ongoing but connected plot lines.

Anderson’s dedication to authenticity in this film is necessary and was nice to see. Rather than having Japanese characters living in Japan speak English, they speak Japanese, and Anderson found ways to incorporate translations without outright subtitles. Kunichi Nomura, a Japanese actor, and writer, also worked with Anderson to develop the story and has a...

Spectacular Optical turns their attention towards Santa slayings, Krampus killings, and evil elves, with their new holiday horror compendium.

Christmas-themed horror movies are a sub-genre unto themselves, and while most casual film goers might expect there are no more than a dozen or so examples the truth is far greater. That dozen can be multiplied several times over as there are over a hundred horror films featuring the holiday as part of its centerpiece. A few of us here at FSR actually put together a ranked list of Christmas horror films late last year, and it’s a project that’s still growing. We’re not alone in our affection either as the fine folks behind Spectacular Optical Publications recently released on an entire book on the subject.

The Canadian small-press publisher, named after a twisted organization in David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, is no stranger to releasing tomes about genre cinema with their three previous titles delivering insight and education on various themes. Kid Power!, Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s, and Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin are all well-written, smartly-crafted books covering kid cult movies, films about devil worship, and Rollin’s filmography, respectively, but it’s their fourth release that has touched our sociopathic Santa-loving hearts.

Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television delivers exactly what the title promises as it brings together twenty-five essays covering various Christmas horror films, television episodes, and shorts. The back of the book offers a fairly exhaustive list of every example they could...

Plus: an action movie from the ‘Workaholic’ guys, an Arthur Miller documentary, a Roxanne Shanté biopic, and the latest from the director of ‘Narcos.’

This week’s TV caters to all kinds of tastes with a truly varied mix: a police procedural starring Alan Cumming, a Superman prequel series, an action-packed comedy that moonlights as a Workaholics reunion, a political high-stakes drama from the director of Narcos, a rap biopic about hip hop’s first female pioneer, a documentary about an American theater icon, and the sequel to an acclaimed nature documentary; all neatly packed within seven days.

To help you keep track of the most important programs over the next seven days, here’s our guide to everything worth watching, whether it’s on broadcast, cable, or streaming for March 18th –24th (all times Eastern):

Instinct (CBS, Sunday 8pm)

Alan Cumming is one of those actors who can steal the show even just as a supporting character (which for some reason is often the case). But after The Good Wife, CBS knows better and has placed the actor at the center of its latest police procedural, Instinct. Based on James Patterson’s novel “Murder Games,” the show follows Dr. Dylan Reinhart (Cumming), a former CIA operative turned author and university professor who is lured back into his old life when NYPD detective Elizabeth Needham (Bojana Novakovic) asks for his help to stop a serial killer who is using Reinhart’s book as a guide for murders. Naveen Andrews, Sharon Leal, Daniel Ings, and Whoopi Goldberg also star in...

The director and the star of Hearts Beat Loud spoke with us about incorporating music into a story and the power of “feel-good” films.

Brett Haley and Nick Offerman returned this year to SXSW with their newest film Hearts Beat Loud. The story follows a single father and Brooklyn record store owner, Frank (Offerman), and his daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons), as they spend her last summer before college bonding over music and songwriting. One evening, they compose a song which Frank later loads to streaming sites like Spotify, calling themselves We Are Not A Band, and soon after, it becomes an Indie hit. As Frank deals with the stresses of his daughter leaving, his record store closing, and taking care of his mother,  he begins to find some joy through focusing on this newfound success in their music.

During the festival, we got the chance to sit down and talk with Offerman and Haley about their latest feature.

How does it feel to be back in Austin at SXSW with this new film?

Haley: I can speak for I think both of us. We really love SXSW, and we love Austin. I think Janet [Pierson] has incredible taste, and I know she’s very picky about, especially movies that have premiered at Sundance and other festivals, that come here. So it’s a real honor. We have a really good time here in Austin. The audiences are great. And this being sort of a music-driven movie, I was hoping Janet would like it because it seems like a...

We recommend movies to watch after you see the latest adaptation of the ‘Tomb Raider’ video game.

Director Roar Uthaug has cited Raiders of the Lost Ark as an influence on his movie Tomb Raider, which is pretty obvious. Even if the Lara Croft video games weren’t mostly inspired by the Indiana Jones movies, they come out of the same tradition of archaeologist-as-treasure-hunter adventures.

But Uthaug’s main inspirations in making the rebooted game adaptation were fellow franchise reboots like Casino Royale and the Dark Knight trilogy and other big franchises helmed by genre guys gone Hollywood such as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings series. But Tomb Raider is much smaller than all of those influences.

For this week’s Movies to Watch list, I’m leaning more on picks that actually fit the scope, tone, themes, and plot of Tomb Raider, including the Indiana Jones kind of stuff — and one Indiana Jones movie, in fact.

‘Pimpernel’ Smith (1941)

Mosts lists of influences on and precursors to the Indiana Jones franchise overlook this take on “The Scarlet Pimpernel” updated to be set during World War II. But the whole Nazis are the enemy idea is straight out of the adaptation, which was produced and directed by Leslie Howard, who also stars as the titular archaeologist. The plot involves him...

“Nobody’s going anywhere until we see this guy molest somebody.”

It’s not often a film introduces its female teen protagonist in the final throes of fellating an officer of the law, but Erica’s (Zoey Deutch) a firm believer in doing what you like. Of course, she’s also after cash money, and with the aid of her two best friends, Kala (Dylan Gelula) and Claudine (Maya Eshet), they quickly blackmail the cop for the $400 in his checking account. Her friends are after spending money, but Erica’s saving with a specific goal in mind — she wants to bail her father out of jail.

Her already complicated life grows more so when her mom’s (Kathryn Hahn) current boyfriend (Tim Heidecker) brings his own teenage son into the home. Luke (Joey Morgan) is fresh out of rehab for a variety of offenses, and while the two teens are worlds apart — he’s shy, overweight, and prone to violent outbursts — a tentative bond develops between them when Erica discovers his problems began after he accused a teacher of fondling him. Will (Adam Scott) never faced charges due to lack of evidence, but he’s back in town now leading Erica to convince Luke and her friends that justice needs to be served.

The synopsis above doesn’t exactly suggest as much, but Flower is a very funny movie. Granted, much of the humor is dark, cruel, and unexpected, but it’s balanced so precariously against an atypical narrative and characters in real jeopardy that you’re...

One small island. Lots of acting talent.

Between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the so-called Emerald Isle is home to less than 6.6 million people. Considering the worldwide population is inching its way towards 7.5 billion people, that would make it seem like the Irish only represent about 0.09% of the world’s population. With that in mind, it seems like the island produces a disproportionately large percentage of the biggest working names in film and television. Who knows, maybe it’s something in the water—or perhaps more accurately, all that rain.

In honor of March 17 being St. Patrick’s Day, here are 17 Irish actors we’re especially grateful for — and yes, we’re going for the whole Emerald Isle here, including the six northern counties still part of the UK — listed alphabetically by first name because we’re doing this thing elementary school line-up style.

Please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list, merely a sampling of some of some of the many acting talents working today the island has produced.

Aidan Gillen

From: Dublin

Where You’ve Seen Him: Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders, The Dark Knight Rises, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and Maze Runner: The Death Cure, The Wire

Where You’ve Heard Him:

A deeply personal story about the relentlessness of mutating cells and what Alex Garland’s Annihilation gets right about cancer.

There was a small bump on my left flank. It was red and circular. I thought it was from a bug bite. Harmless. Nothing to fret over. Time passed. The bump grew in size. I poked and prodded, and tried to figure out what it was and why it was getting bigger. It eventually caused an intermittent pain in my side. I would later learn precisely what this growth was. I was eight. It was a melanoma.

A nineteenth-century surgeon once described cancer as “the emperor of all maladies, the king of terrors,” as related in physician and oncologist Siddartha Mukherjee’s book “The Emperor of All Maladies.” It’s an apt description of what we know today is an umbrella term for numerous types of diseases all unified under one central concept: unsuppressed growth. A normal cell has in its programming “apoptosis.” Once a cell reaches a certain point in its cycle, it dies. Cancer cells “rage” against their own mortality so to speak. Through mutations, these cancer cells can’t stop growing and do not follow their ingrained programming to die. Their propagation results in the eventual death of the body, as normal cells are inundated by the cancer cells and can no longer function. Cancer is our cells mutating and turning against us. Siddartha...

Filmmaker Max Winkler shows us 6 of his favorite Perfect Shots and talks about how they inspired the look of his new film, Flower.

You know what kind of person really loves to celebrate the beautiful language of cinema? Filmmakers. Alongside everyday fans, filmmakers are some of the most likely people you’ll see engaging in film discussions in the One Perfect Shot mentions. They’re a huge part of our little community on the web and from time-to-time when one of them has a film headed to theaters, we invite them here to share some of their favorite shots. We find it fascinating to see what they love, why they love it, and how it inspires their own work.

This week we’re welcoming Max Winkler, director of the Zoey Deutch led comedy Flower, hitting limited theaters (NY/LA) this weekend. He’s also known for films like Ceremony and TV work on shows such as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Casual, and New Girl. To put together his list, Winkler enlisted the help of his Flower cinematographer Carolina Costa, who herself is an up-and-coming name in the world of cinematography. Together they put together this list of Shots and captions that you can see below.

But first, a little bit about their film Flower. Here’s the official synopsis: “Rebellious, quick-witted Erica Vandross (Zoey Deutch) is a 17-year-old firecracker living with her single mom Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) and mom’s new boyfriend Bob (Tim Heidecker) in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. When Bob’s mentally unbalanced son Luke (Joey Morgan) arrives from rehab to live with the family,...

Eleven weeks into our MCU rewatch, and peace in our time is left in the hands of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner’s warring robot babies.

Tony Stark bears the weight of the world on his shoulders. At least that’s what his delusions of grandeur would have him believe. He’s not Atlas. He’s just a mad scientist who has convinced a few folks of the value of his gadgets. For ten films (technically three previous solo adventures), the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been slapping him on the back, giving his ego a few jabs, but letting the audience revel in his scalawag ways. Avengers: Age of Ultron is here to offer him and you a real beating.

With aliens having already rolled up to the club, Stark is plagued with a vision of an impending armada descending upon our precious little rock. He can no longer afford to tinker with tiny variations on an old design. After Iron Man 3’s house party protocol, he’s lost interest in his Iron Legion, and it’s time for macro over micro thinking. He sees it as his world to fix, Sokovians be damned.

Every hero has a savior complex. Why else would you strap on the tights? Stark simply takes it one step further into actual creation. It’s a meal scrapped together from hubris. Recipe one equals Old Testament wrath. Recipe two equals New Testament salvation. Two robots in the woods, contemplating the worth of humanity. Ultron vs. The Vision. Wrath vs. Love.

The British director is a thoughtful pick for this real-life drama.

One of the UK’s most promising up-and-coming directors is finally hitting the big leagues with a Cold War drama. Deadline reports that A United Kingdom director Amma Asante is set to helm a Ben August-penned adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David E. Hoffman’s “The Billion Dollar Spy.” Hoffman’s 2015 book tells the true story of a high ranking USSR engineer who provided the CIA with tens of thousands of highly classified documents during the Cold War. Adolf G. Tolkachev quickly became a hugely valuable asset for the Americans but, curiously, his most significant demand was not for a financial reward but, instead, gifts for his son.

It’s this disarmingly human detail that makes Asante such a great choice to bring this story to the big screen. She’s so far specialized in narratives dealing with race and identity across borders, but this Cold War spy thriller is better suited to her than one might initially think. For one, all of her films — besides her social realist debut, A Way of Life — have been historical dramas, spanning from 18th-century England (Belle, her second feature) to World War II, for the upcoming interracial romance, Where Hands Touch, starring Amandla Stenberg and George MacKay. But, within these hugely significant historical contexts, Asante’s focus has always remained on the characters. If her previous films are anything to go by, the human stakes of The Billion Dollar Spy will be as high as the political ones.

She’s also known for drawing very strong performances from her...

Why keep watching the movies we hate?

What is the purpose of the film critic? Why do some aspire to a life of watching and writing about film? The answer, I think, is pretty simple: to make the case for the movies we love. Despite the negative connotation of the word, critics are best remembered for their writings on the films they championed. Think Pauline Kael’s essay on Bonnie and Clyde, François Truffaut’s book on Alfred Hitchcock, and Roger Ebert’s collection of reviews on the “Great Movies.”

After all, why waste time on a bad movie? If a movie is terrible, tweet about it, write 800 words on it and move on. Right? Well, sometimes, maybe even 99% of the time, I would say, yes, throw those films in the rearview mirror. But, there are some films that we cannot quit, that we hate so much that we cannot help but watch them every so often and remind ourselves why we hate them. For me, that film is Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

I hate Midnight in Paris. I hate it with all my heart. It is incredibly pretentious, cliché, and banal. Yet, why do I continue to watch this terrible movie? Because hate watching is important. It allows us to truly understand what makes movies terrible and better appreciate the ones we love. And because I had nothing better to...

Thanos snaps his fingers and Earth’s Mightiest come calling.

The end is near for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Thanos finally collects every MCU McGuffin into one sparkly glove and sets about wiping out half the universe. The Guardians of the Galaxy understand the potential of his threat, but Tony and the gang have some catching up to do. Slap on those made-up monikers, it’s time for Avengers: Infinity War.

Official Synopsis:

As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.

Avengers: Infinity Wars hits theaters on April 27th.

The post New ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Trailer Shatters the Cosmos appeared first on Film School Rejects.

The ‘Wrinkle in Time’ director’s next movie is bound to be another epic spectacle.

Game-changing filmmaker Ava DuVernay proved her blockbuster mettle with A Wrinkle in Time. Although reception of the film has been tepid from some, DuVernay’s ambitious storytelling in the movie is still absolutely laudable. Even just as a book adaptation, Wrinkle is a very faithful movie that stretches the boundaries of imagination and possibility, and does plenty for young girls, especially girls of color.

DuVernay has been getting better and better opportunities over the years — she was the first woman of color to direct a $100 million live-action film — and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, she will follow-up Wrinkle with another project with a budget above the $100 million mark.

Deadline reports that DuVernay is in final negotiations with Warner Bros. to direct a new superhero tentpole, The New Gods, based on the classic Jack Kirby comics. Kirby, known as the co-creator of iconic superheroes like Captain America, set up shop at DC after leaving Marvel behind in the 1970s. He then created his “Fourth World” metaseries which included the New Gods.

Set in a time after the Old Gods perished during Ragnarok, the New Gods — of which there are many scattered across the planets New Genesis and Apokolips — are a fictional race of characters that possess a wide variety of superpowers between them such as super strength, stamina, and speed. They are actually immortal as well, except for a...

Scott Frank is now working on the adaptation of Don Winslow’s best-selling novel.

James Mangold‘s next directorial project is an adaptation of Don Winslow‘s novel about the blurring of crime and justice in New York City. A cop realizes he might be the baddie but still feels an obligation to help his city out of a jam. Deadline reports that Scott Frank, one of Mangold’s Oscar-nominated writing partners for Loganhas signed on to rewrite the script for The Force (previously handled by David Mamet). And he has the right background to turn a dose of reality into an enjoyable chunk of time at your local movie theater.

Frank has a way with these types of morally confusing or deeply conflicted characters. This past year, aside from Logan, he also wrote, directed, and produced Netflix’s Western series Godless. The common element? Mostly, he remembers people are people. Things like good and evil and right and wrong usually only feel so starkly different in retrospect. In the present, it all gets fucked up.

Mangold and Frank earned Academy Award nominations for their last writing team up with Logan. The very human sendoff to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine rocked a lot of people’s worlds. The Wolverine can be angry forever, but Logan is just a man at the end of it all. His body catching up with his world-weariness was haunting. But, Charles Xavier’s (Patrick Stewart) deterioration was crushing. The character work earned every bit of the popular and critical acclaim and accolades the film received.

Aside from Logan, Frank has a...

The comic book adaptation has been in development for more than 10 years.

Ridley Scott deftly manages to resist typecasting when it comes to choosing directorial projects. Of course, many associate him with pioneering sci-fi films with the Blade Runner and the Alien franchises. But between being in talks to direct a Disney filmfinding new things to terrify us in one of his flagship series, and dabbling in a healthy sprinkling of crime dramas every so often, the director has done it all. Scott’s next film will reportedly be another adaptation, this time of a comic book.

It won’t be a superhero movie by any means, because remember when he implied that those aren’t smart or realistic enough to be considered good cinema? The Wrap has confirmed that Scott is instead in talks to direct Fox’s long-gestating graphic novel adaptation Queen and Country.

Written by Greg Rucka (“Whiteout”), the original comics — which won the Eisner Award for Best New Series in 2002 — provide a grounded look into the lives of secret agents, with a goal of demystifying spy missions and the bureaucracy and politics surrounding them. Queen and Country is led by British Intelligence spy Tara Chace. Although her storyline in the 32-issue long comic series takes her all over the world on a series of different espionage missions, The Wrap specifically states that in this film will have the character baiting a terrorist out of hiding after an attack in London.

Queen and Country has been in limbo for...

Vinegar Syndrome brings another eclectic trio of titles to Blu-ray!

One of the best genre labels out there brings three films to Blu-ray as part of their February slate. Penitentiary II is a prison bral flick, Prey is an odd sci-fi feature from the UK, and Mary! Mary! is one of the 70s funnier, sexier adult films.

Penitentiary II (1982)

Martel “Too Sweet” Gordone (Leon Isaac Kennedy) is out of jail and on parole. It’s not quite freedom — one wrong move and he’s back in the slammer — but it’s an opportunity to do right. Unfortunately an old nemesis is also back on the street after a daring escape, and Half Dead (Ernie Hudson) only has one goal in mind for his time back in the real world. He wants to make Martel suffer.

Writer/director Jamaa Fanaka‘s first entry in the trilogy added some clunky fight scenes to something of a dramatic look at prison life and social injustice. By contrast, the follow-up opens with a Star Wars crawl that isn’t even the slightest bit shy about its aping of the Star Wars crawl. That goofiness spreads throughout the film with a more prevalent sense of humor, but even better the film’s fight scenes are amped up with better choreography and a messy aggression that adds intensity to the...

Me and you and everything we know about Miranda July’s next movie.

Author, performance artist, and filmmaker Miranda July is going back behind the camera after a seven year absence. Teaming up with Annapurna Pictures (Phantom Thread, Spring Breakers) and Plan B Entertainment (Okja, The Lost City of Z), July’s untitled third feature is described as a family heist movie. Production is set to start in May and will be produced by Youree Henley (20th Century Women, The Beguiled). Based on her previous cinematic work, the film will probably be more Bottle Rocket than Ocean’s Eleven.

July originally sprung her inspiration from the riot girl scene of Portland. The feminist punk movement was the catalyst for her own DIY cinematic distribution system. Linking up with other female filmmakers, July started a chain letter video collection where one creative added their short film atop another. Her first film, Atlanta, was attached to the second tape in the series, and July nurtured the project from 1995 to 2003 when she passed it off to Bard College’s film department.

Her feature directorial debut, Me and You and Everyone You Know, was an offbeat (don’t say “quirky”) gaze at contemporary love. It won the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and made a little splash within the American indie scene. I can’t help but think it would make an even larger impression if released today — the John Hawkes factor alone would score certain eyeballs.

July was last seen at this...

The duo’s shockingly human characters push the audience to question their innate support of a protagonist.

After seeing the Safdie brothers’ 2017 film Good Time, I felt rattled. The film can have that effect on a person. The frenetic plot, pulsing score, and impressive ease and speed at which things go wrong require a lot from a viewer. However, the most arduous task the brothers, Josh and Benny, lay at the audience’s feet is whether they will empathize with the near-sociopath leading man, played by Robert Pattinson.

Looking back at two of their earlier films, Heaven Knows What and Daddy Longlegs; this is something they ask of their audience often. The heist thriller Good Time centers on Connie Nikas, a manipulative thief on the lam while trying to get his mentally handicapped brother out on bond. Heaven Knows What is a drama about a homeless heroin addict Harley and her turbulent relationship based on the life of the lead actress Arielle Holmes. An autobiographical film, Daddy Longlegs takes place during the two weeks a year an immature father Lenny has custody of his young sons. Ronald Bronstein, who plays the father, is a frequent collaborator of the Safdie brothers, co-editing all three films and co-writing Good Time and Heaven Knows What.

None of their protagonists make it easy to root for them. They can be selfish and dangerous. They are incredibly fallible and one-track minded to a fault. They cross ethical, social, and legal lines for their benefit. How then do we empathize with these flawed leads? Can we negotiate...