Film :: 2014

by Greg W. Locke on May 29, 2015

Best of 2014

The 2011 Golden Cat Award Winner: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Check out some lists from past 40+ years: 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998  1997  1996  1995  1994  1993  1992  1991  1990  1989  1988  1987  1986  1985  1984  1983  1982  1981  1980  1979  1978  1977  1976  1975  1974  1973  1972  1971  1970

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usherA couple may decide to record themselves having sex for a number of reasons. Maybe they find the thought of being on camera thrilling. Maybe they’re just curious what they look like during the act. Or maybe they really want to critique one another’s moves. Regardless of their motivation, it’s safe to say that when a couple makes a sex tape, the majority of them would be absolutely mortified if it were to fall into the wrong hands. When a celebrity is involved, however, there are plenty of cases where the exact opposite is true.

All too often “leaked” celebrity sex tapes are exposed as nothing more than intentional ploys to grab headlines. Celebrities like your Kim Kardashians and your Paris Hiltons claim to be “so humiliated” when their tapes are released, yet they lap up all of the attention gained from it. And then there’s the really ballsy pseudo-celebs like Mimi Faust and Farrah Abraham who, even after their tapes are sold and released legitimately, continue to insist that they were “leaks.” Abraham held out particularly long trying to make it seem as though her professionally made porno was a leak. Even now the cover of her tape, Farrah Superstar: Backdoor Teen Mom, is referred to as “The private tape made public,” per Adam and Eve.

Usher and his ex-wife, Tameka Foster, on the other hand remain among the seemingly small group of celebs with a sex tape floating around who really, really don’t want you to see it.

According to BET, the tape was stolen when the artist’s car was burglarized while in Atlanta in 2010. The thieves made off with $1 million in jewelry, two laptops, and two video cameras‚Äîone of which contained the explicit footage of Usher and Foster.

Soon afterwards the thieves attempted to sell the tape. However, in knowing it was stolen property, legitimate outlets wouldn’t touch it. Now, more than three years later, the tape has reportedly hit the market again, this time targeting smaller sources such as blogs. Although, to the relief of Usher and Foster, small and large sources alike are still steering clear, well aware of the legal shit storm that would rain on them if they attempted to post the footage.

Now, the reason the two don’t want you to see the video isn’t because they’re into some weird fetish or because they think it will ruin their image. Instead, their reasoning for keeping the tape under wraps is far more simple: it’s private.

Foster has even tried to deny the tape’s existence, a common approach that some celebs take when they don’t want the video to come to light. A recent article from Madame Menoire quoted her saying, “I know I have never made a sex tape, especially not for distribution.” What Foster said following the statement, however, had some questioning the sincerity of her claim.

“You get married so you can do whatever it is you want. My ex-husband and I definitely made our children the old-fashioned way; they are not products of the immaculate conception. That was my husband. We had a lot of fun.”

In addition, the very same article disputed Foster’s claims by reporting that Mark Geragos, the attorney representing Usher on the matter, is aggressively trying find the person attempting to cash in on the tape. Usher has yet to make a statement.

So, is there a sex tape? While it can’t be confirmed, it certainly sounds like it. But, is the former couple trying to use it to gain attention or fame? Absolutely not.

It seems odd to say, and maybe I’m alone on this, but Usher and Foster’s reaction to the tape resurfacing has actually been kind of refreshing. While I never thought I’d use the word “refreshing” when talking about a sex tape, it’s nice to see some celebs who aren’t doing everything they can to stay in the limelight. If put in a similar position, most couples would likely react the same way if their private and deeply personal property was at risk of being exposed to the masses.

Dare I say it, the whole situation has almost made the two celebs seem like normal human beings.

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Every time I hear about a movie starring George Clooney and Matt Damon that is based on a true story, I am pretty sure it’s going to be huge. Usually, that’s how it is and The Monuments Men is no exception.

The new film created by Columbia Pictures and directed by George Clooney premiered this February and has an amazing WWII-set story to tell. The Nazis have stolen more than 5 million pieces of artifacts. Basically, one thousand years of history, culture and art were stolen by Hitler. His plan was to destroy it all, in case Germany falls or he dies. How sad that would have been, not only for Europe, but for the whole world. President Roosevelt decided to task seven men with finding, saving and protecting the stolen artworks. Those seven individuals were named The Monuments Men. They were art industry people who entered the Germany’s territory at the worst time of the war. They tried their best and were brave in everything they did. The Monuments Men were the ones who protected one thousand years of culture.

An amazing true story is shown in this gorgeous movie. There is so much to see and experience, because this film has an outstanding cast, starring stars like John Goodman, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray and many others. “The Monuments Men” is a must see for all of us. We should know the story of the ones who protected the European culture and its art, because if there was no art, there would be much less beauty in life. The Nazis tried to destroy it, but the Monuments Men defended it all for future generations to have and treasure.

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Do you want to watch a movie that has murder, mystery, fun and great actors? If you do, then The Grand Budapest Hotel is the right choice for you. It is directed by Wes Anderson and it has an incredible plot. The Grand Budapest Hotel trailer says it all. Once you watch it, you simply understand that this movie is different from anything you have ever seen. The movie centers on M. Gustave, a concierge at a famous European hotel, and his lobby boy, Zero Moustafa.

M. Gustave has a delicate relationship with the old ladies that visit the hotel. One of them, Madame D., who adores him with all her heart, gets killed in a mysterious way. Suddenly, everyone finds out that she left a huge fortune for her friend M. Gustave. That’s the moment when all the drama starts, as our main hero is accused of murder and the family of Madame D. in turn fight hard for the fortune.

M. Gustave and Zero Moustafa start a journey that shall never be forgotten. It is spiced up with incredible adventures. The story quickly becomes an adventure like no other. The Grand Budapest Hotel is the kind of the movie that will make you feel many different emotions, starting with sadness and ending up with incredible fun. It has mystery, murder, comedy, snow, prison, first love, struggle, guns and many other grand storytelling devices. The film is going to get into your heart and mind. It will make you laugh while showing you real art. And that’s what The Grand Budapest Hotel is: art.

The creativity of the director and the great play of the absolutely amazing actors will be, I think, greatly appreciated world wide. The critics are saying that is movie is brilliant and it should be seen by everyone. This March, watch the new dramedy The Grand Budapest Hotel and dive into the artistic adventures of M. Gustave and his lobby boy.

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BEST PICTURE: 12 Years a Slave
BEST ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey
BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jared Leto
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lupita Nyong’o
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: The Wind Rises
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Gravity / Emmanuel Lubezki
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: The Great Gatsby
BEST DIRECTION: Alfonso Cuaron
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: The Act of Killing
BEST EDITING: American Hustle
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Great Beauty
BEST SCORE: Her
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: Happy
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: 12 Years a Slave
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: 12 Years a Slave
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Her

BEST PICTURE: Gravity
BEST ACTOR: Leo D
BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Michael Fassbender
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jennifer Lawrence
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: The Wind Rises
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Gravity / Emmanuel Lubezki
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: American Hustle
BEST DIRECTION: Alfonso Cuaron
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: The Act of Killing
BEST EDITING: 12 Years a Slave
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: The Great Beauty
BEST SCORE: Her
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: The Moon Song
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Her
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Before Midnight
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Her

BEST PICTURE: Blue is the Warmest Color
BEST ACTOR: Joaquin Phoenix in Her
BEST ACTRESS: Adele Exarchopoulos in Blue is the Warmest Color
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Daniel Bruhl in Rush
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lea Seydoux in Blue is the Warmest Color
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: The Wind Rises
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Larry Smith / Only God Forgives
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Her
BEST DIRECTION: Nic Refn for Only God Forgives
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: The Act of Killing
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Blue is the Warmest Color
BEST SCORE: Cliff Martinez – Only God Forgives
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: Karen O – “The Moon Song”
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Inside Llewyn Davis
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Blue is the Warmest Color
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Inside Llewyn Davis

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Mogwai :: Rave Tapes

by J. Hubner on February 14, 2014

It was July of 2004 and my best friend and I headed to Chicago to the Curiosa Festival. We were psyched, man. The Cure, Interpol, The Rapture and a bunch of other bands. Who cares who else was there – The Cure and Interpol, that’s all we needed to know. So we arrived in the early afternoon, headed to the beer garden and bought ourselves a guitar-shaped liter cups of watered-down lite beer. We made our way to the stadium seats under the pavilion of the amphitheater and noticed immediately that the noise emanating from the stage had taken a sharp turn to the grating. No longer could we hear ourselves speak or think. There were four or five guys on stage creating a wall of noise. This shrieking flaming phoenix of noise began rising from the stage, filling every square inch of seat, concrete, dirt and fence within the Tweeter Center. Pretty soon people were running from their spots directly in front of the stage, clasping their hands over their naked ears. Blood began flowing from their earholes as if this sonic assault from a relatively underwhelming stage was liquifying their brains.

If memory serves me, I remember finding it hard to breathe as if the squall from the Marshall amps and motionless guitars were thickening the air. It was a wave of dense, bright, razor wire-sharp noise that I’d never heard the likes of before. I turned to my best friend to see if we should exit the place before it imploded but it was too late. He’d succumbed to the nuclear blast of Marshalls and Gibsons and was lying on the beer-stained floor of the seemingly harmless amphitheater; his guitar-shaped liter of warm lite beer snapped in half from the seizure he’d endured. He was foaming at the mouth, what looked to be grey matter seeping from his earholes and a mixture of Miller Lite and urine staining the front of his cargo shorts. I knew I was going to have to carry him out in order to save what little bit of sanity and brains he had left. I began pulling him by his Curiosa Festival Tour shirt up the aisle to possible safety. All he could do was stare up at me, eyes half crossed, guyliner running down his cheeks, saying something that sounded like “Moebye … Moebye … Moebye.” I think he’d had a stroke by the droop in his left eye and left side of his mouth. Before I could get us to row B in the upper section of the amphitheater the aural assault suddenly stopped. Silence reigned in the former World Music Theater, the only noise was the ringing in our collective ears. Pretty soon someone came to the stage and said “Give it up for Scotland’s Mogwai!” I looked down at my urine-soaked best friend, he smiled at me with a tooth missing (how’d he lose a tooth?) and said “Mogwai … Mogwai … Mogwai.” And so began my introduction to Mogwai.

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Tops at the Box: Warner Bros. new animated flick, The Lego Movie, opened big last weekend, selling $69 million in the U.S. over its first three days. If you’re not one to follow box office trends, then let me tell you that $69 in three days during February is no joke. Reviews thus far for the flick are very strong, Variety’s Peter Deburge writing that directors “Phil Lord and Christopher Miller irreverently deconstruct the state of the modern blockbuster and deliver a smarter, more satisfying experience in its place, emerging with a franchise for others to build upon.” So, in short, this Lego thing is for real.

Also at the Box: George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, The Monuments Men took the No. 2 spot over its first weekend, selling just under $23 million over its first three days. Not a bad number for a semi-artsy ensemble period piece released during the Dump Season. Monuments stars Matt Damon, Clooney, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban and is produced by Grant Heslov and Clooney, who produced Best Picture winner Hugo together. Buddy cop flick Ride Along took the No. 3 spot at the U.S. box office, selling another $9.3 million over its fourth weekend, bringing the film’s total to $105 million so far. Taking the No. 4 spot at last weekend’s box was Frozen, which sold another $6.9 million, upping the flick’s total to $368 million in the U.S. and $913 million worldwide. That’s right, I said $913 million worldwide – good enough to make it a Top 25 grossing film of all-time. All-time. Rounding out last weekend’s Top 5 was something called That Awkward Moment, a Tom Gormican-directed buddy rom-com starring Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan. The film sold $5.5 million over the weekend, bringing its 10-day total to just under $17 million. Looks like it might be a good lightweight comedy, especially if they let the hugely talented Teller (who is basically a hybrid of young John Cusack and Swingers-era Vince Vaughn) do his thing.

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Like many people, I considered every movie featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman to be mandatory viewing. Even when the film itself wasn’t the greatest (Mission: Impossible III, Along Came Polly, etc.), PSH was always worth seeing. In most cases he either blew his co-stars off the screen or inspired them to be better than ever (Joaquin Phoenix, Laura Linney, etc.). When I heard news of Hoffman’s passing this past Super Bowl Sunday I stopped what I was doing and sat quietly for a while, thinking, surprised at the news. Heroin? Who’d have thunk it. Not me. Sure, the guy often looked disheveled when he wasn’t working, but the rate – not to mention the quality – of his production over the last decade would alone suggest a level of sobriety. Needless to say, I was a bit tore up about the news, as were, I’m sure, just about all the other cinephiles around the world. PSH was, almost undeniably, one of the top three or four screen actors of his time. As something of a tribute, I figured I would take this week to talk about my five favorite Philip Seymour Hoffman performances. Looking over the very lengthy list of films I considered for my Top 5 I was shocked by how cool, how tasteful, how good Hoffman’s filmography was. And so, of course, it was hard to pick just five, but here they are …

5. Happiness (dir. Todd Solondz, 1998) - Todd Solondz very eerie, unsettling family sex drama is the only movie to ever make me physically ill. It’s one of the most uncomfortable, odd, divisive films I’ve seen, and much of that drama is driven by Hoffman’s very powerful performance as the sexually frustrated Allen. Chances are good that, if you read this column regularly, you’ve seen this film and already have an opinion on it; if not, definitely rent or stream or steal it ASAP.

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Warpaint :: Warpaint

by Greg W. Locke on February 4, 2014

Warpaint is the kind of record that would have kept a young David Lynch up late into the night. It’s a dark, expensive, moody, cinematic, gothic, dreamlike listen that rewards familiarity more than most recordings. Pretty, creative, thoughtful, skilled girls sing and rock, embracing time changes and pro rock bravery in a way very few have the courage to do these days. It’s a long, balls-out set of songs that sees a band going all out, trying to make a major classic without ever blushing. In this era of abundant sarcasm and scarce sincerity, it’s a rare record that is more concerned with being good than cool.

In order to expand their sound from the dreamy, proggy rock of their 2010 debut, The Fool, the gals of Warpaint (bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg, guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman and drummer Stella Mozgawa) have changed things up quite a bit. In addition to getting a new drummer between recordings, they’ve also embraced new instruments into their mix, prominently featuring keyboards and drum machines throughout. Also added to the forumla this time around are two of the great studio men on the planet – Flood (who producer) and Atoms for Peace’s Nigel Godrich (who mixed the album). To say that Warpaint is a great sounding recording is an understatement.

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