As he did in films like Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Charlie Kaufman continues to explore the nature of human identity in this bracingly original stop-motion animated feature. It's an exquisitely crafted drama following a man and woman who find a way to see beyond the sameness of the world around them. And with his co-director Duke Johnson, Kaufman creates a witty, complex, dreamlike world that's unashamedly aimed at grown-ups.
It's the story of Michael (voiced by David Thewlis), an efficiency expert who travels to Cincinnati to deliver a lecture at a conference. But his mind is preoccupied with Bella, an ex who lives there. He phones his wife and son to clear his conscience before arranging to meet Bella in his hotel. Then later that evening he runs into Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a fan of his book who feels like such an anomaly that she can't quite believe that Michael might be interested in her. But there's a spark of attraction between them, something that feels rare in this soft, bland place.
This is a story about how life is essentially selfish and lonely, only livened up by hopeful connections we make with the people around us. Yes, it's sometimes rather bleak and dark, but it's also breathtakingly honest. And the film is packed with staggeringly clever touches that touch on ideas in ways that cut right through to our hearts (we'll never year Girls Just Wanna Have Fun in quite the same way again). Aside from Michael and Lisa, all of the characters are voiced by Tom Noonan, a stylistic flourish that feels gimmicky until its meaning becomes clear. As played out by these delicately crafted puppets on remarkably detailed sets, the film looks simply astonishing. It's almost hyper-realistic, with characters who are packed with visible quirks that echo in the actors' vocal performances.
Continue reading: Anomalisa Review
Anomalisa is a new film from directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich) also wrote the film - his first animation. Initial funding for the movie was achieved on Kickstarter, the project raised over 400,000 dollars, doubling their initial asking price.
The stop-motion film used 3-D printers to create the puppets and the story follows the day to day life of Michael Stone, a man who's struggling with going through the same processes every day. When he meets a stranger in a hotel, she might just be able to show Michael a new view point.
Continue: Anomalisa Trailer
Set in a small and snowbound Pennsylvania town, Snow Angels at the very least looks like a town from reality, as opposed to the idyllic villages filmmakers create when they want to tell moral fables about violence and family (see Reservation Road, In the Bedroom, and so on). It starts with a high school marching band practicing in the cold, performing in a lackluster fashion that brings about a hilariously stern lecture from their instructor (played to icy perfection by Tom Noonan). Then a pair of gunshots are heard cracking through the cold air and the film flashes back to "weeks earlier."
Continue reading: Snow Angels Review
Horror fanatic Sean (Andre Gower) and his pals Patrick (Robby Kiger) and Horace (the late Brent Chalem) spend every waking hour obsessing over fright films and playing monster hunter games. Ah, if only a real ghoulie would stumble into their neighborhood! When the kids come into possession of Van Helsing's (the original vampire hunter) diary, the Squad gets more than it bargained for: Dracula has arrived in town looking for the book and he's brought a rag-tag collection of creeps with him. Let the monster rumble begin!
Continue reading: The Monster Squad Review
The Roost follows four kids en route to a wedding, lost during the dead of night in some rural backwoods. In time-honored horror movie tradition, their car breaks down and they're left near an abandoned farmhouse and barn with no resources at their disposal -- their cell phone is dead from over-use. West dallies a bit too much during this part of the movie, since we never really get to know any of these characters very well.
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What Happened Was... a film directed, written by, and starring Tom Noonan, and dedicated to his wife. Having watched the film, I now wonder if he and his wife have suffered a divorce as a result or if they simply had something close to the complete nightmare of a first date illustrated in the film.
Continue reading: What Happened Was... Review
In a reasonably fresh twist on the organized-crime genre, "Knockaround Guys" is a post-Tarantino-styled slick flick about a quartet of pampered gangsters' sons trying to prove their worth as wiseguys.
"To regular people we're stone f**ing goombahs," gripes sharp-dressed 20-something tough Matty Demaret (Barry Pepper), who has recently given up his dream of going legit as a sports agent because his last name scares the bejesus out of potential employers. "But to knockaround guys, to our fathers, we're nothing but errand boys."
Now Matty's plan for his crew to earn some respect within the mob has gone horribly haywire. Entrusted to deliver $500,000 cross-country, Matty enlists a paranoid, recovering cokehead buddy called Johnny Marbles (Seth Green) because he flies a small plane and can make the trip in a day or two. But while refueling at remote Wibaux, Montana airport, Marbles panics when eyed by the local law and lets the bag of money out of his sight.
Continue reading: Knockaround Guys Review
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