There's never been a better time to head to the movies. From the huge blockbusters to the indie masterpieces, from Netflix to the theater, there are great movies everywhere you look. Meanwhile, we're in a "golden age of TV," with some of the best TV shows ever made gracing the smaller screen. There are more ways than ever to watch, and more ways than ever to talk about what we watch. Movies are being funded on Kickstarter and they're being distributed by Amazon, or they're coming to Redbox Instant and streaming to our phones. Whether you make movies and TV, or you just love to watch them, there's more going on now than ever.Here, we'll collect all our best coverage of Hollywood: film reviews, TV reviews, and interviews with and stories about the people who make them so great. We'll help cut through the flood; these are the movies, shows, and artists you should be paying attention to.
May 23, 2015
How Disney Imagineering revealed the secrets of Tomorrowland two years ago
Tomorrowland is now in theaters, and since the project was mysteriously announced four years ago it’s appeared to be many things: an ‘80s-style children’s adventure, a mysterious sci-fi tale of interlocking mysteries, and — as I mentioned in our review — a story about the hope and optimism that technology and exploration can unleash in everyone.Read Article >
The promotional ramp-up to the movie has also revealed that there’s a complicated backstory in play, with a tie-in book and mysterious promotional videos hinting at secret societies and grand utopian visionaries. The film doles out its share of those secrets, of course, but a huge chunk of the Tomorrowland mythology was revealed to those paying attention back in 2013.
Jul 29, 2014
'Guardians of the Galaxy' review: Marvel hits interstellar space
Like Pixar before it, Marvel Studios has developed a brand that transcends any particular character or franchise. That red rectangle with the white letters has become a stamp of quality, a relative guarantee that the comic-book movie you’re about to see will be worth your time and money. But also like Pixar, Marvel now has to decide how best to extend and expand that brand. Make more sequels to the films we already enjoy? Or try to branch out and invest in new stories, which brings fresh risks?Read Article >
Guardians of the Galaxy shows the studio choosing the latter option, and the film truly manages to find its own rhythm and tone. More emotional than Captain America, more awe-inspiring than Thor, more genial than Iron Man, and more playful than the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy has the same downside as a lot of franchise-starters in that it mostly sets the table for presumably bigger future installments. But its underdog spirit, visual wonders, and decent comedic hit-to-miss ratio keep the movie from being a mere placeholder. Rather than just repeating the Marvel formula, Guardians of the Galaxy feels like a legitimate attempt to add more elements to the mixture.
Dec 20, 2013
Why 'Saturday Night Live' still matters: a conversation with Taran KillamRead Article >
Video production by Christian Mazza and Zach Goldstein. Ross Miller and Bryan Bishop contributed to this report.
Nov 26, 2013
From alpha to ‘Betas’: how Amazon is rethinking the way television is made
When Amazon Studios launched in 2010, it had a bold vision for reimagining the way movies were made. Writers and filmmakers could upload their work, the pitch went, and with the help of other customers could workshop their projects in the hopes of getting them discovered and made. In 2012, a year after Netflix had closed its deal for House of Cards, Amazon Studios announced it was going after television as well.Read Article >
Betas is just the second series to come out of the studio, joining the John Goodman vehicle Alpha House which premiered earlier this month. Created by Evan Endicott and Josh Stoddard, it tells the story of a group of friends in the Silicon Valley startup scene, but more importantly, it represents Amazon Studios taking its crowdsourced-feedback concept and applying it to the traditional model of making TV shows. By combining Amazon Instant Video viewing data and user reviews, the company is betting it can take some of the guesswork out of the creative process, allowing it to produce shows that will have ready and waiting audiences right out of the gate.
Nov 22, 2013
Creating analog with digital: the beautiful black-and-white cinematography of ‘Nebraska’
Alexander Payne’s new film Nebraska is about a fading older man (Bruce Dern, hitting a new high in a career full of them) who embarks on a road trip with his son to redeem a sweepstakes prize he’s sure will earn him a fortune. It’s a raw and funny look at family and the relationships we forge, and it’s made all the more resonant by the breathtaking black-and-white cinematography of Phedon Papamichael.Read Article >
When discussing small character studies, the natural inclination is to think of the low-budget indie gems that shoot on film to bring their worlds to life. But despite Nebraska’s aesthetic sensibilities, the filmmakers actually went the opposite way, creating a filmic, black-and-white beauty with digital cameras.
Nov 20, 2013
‘I wasn’t scared’: Spike Lee on reimagining ‘Oldboy’
Filmmaker Spike Lee has been getting the attention of audiences since 1986’s She’s Gotta Have It, but for his latest film he took on a decidedly different challenge: mounting a remake of Park Chan-wook’s revenge classic Oldboy. Starring Josh Brolin as a man who finds himself mysteriously imprisoned for 20 years, the new film is an English-language reimagining of a film that’s held dear by fans. We spoke with Lee about the challenges of taking on such a beloved film, what it was like working with Brolin, and his recent foray into online crowdfunding.Read Article >
This is the first time you’ve done a remake of an existing film. What was it about Oldboy that inspired you to take it on?
Nov 7, 2013
‘About Time’: director Richard Curtis on the tradition of time travel comedies
Bring up a time travel movie with a group of sci-fi or fantasy fans, and odds are you’ll end up in an argument. It simply comes with the territory; whether it’s the chicken-and-the-egg conundrum of John Connor sending his dad back in The Terminator, or the mind-melting temporal gymnastics of Primer, part of the fun of time travel flicks is tearing them apart to suss out their internal logic — and whether they play by their own rules.Read Article >
But there’s also a quiet dance partner to those sci-fi tales: the comedies and dramas that use the conceit to mine laughs and explore feelings of love and regret. Call it time travel for regular humans, but it’s a subgenre with its own playbook and conventions that goes back to the trail Mark Twain blazed with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. One of the latest films to carry that mantle forward is About Time. Starring Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson, it’s the story of a young man who learns he can whip back and forth through time at will.
Oct 14, 2013
Director of ‘The Fifth Estate’ responds to Julian Assange's attacks: ‘He just flat-out makes things up’
Director Bill Condon has shown the ability to move between genres with ease, shifting from the the likes of Gods and Monsters and Kinsey to Dreamgirls and the two-part Twilight closer Breaking Dawn. For his latest film, he’s taking on another project inspired by real-life events: the WikiLeaks origin story The Fifth Estate.Read Article >
The movie arrives amidst a storm of criticism from WikiLeaks itself, with the organization publishing script reviews and even suggesting alternative viewing options for UK filmgoers. We spoke with the director about the intense reaction, what it says about Julian Assange, and how whistleblowers like Edward Snowden are continuing the conversation that WikiLeaks started.
Oct 10, 2013
How the sound masters of 'Gravity' broke the rules to make noise in a vacuum
3D and IMAX may receive top billing, but the secret weapon of Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is something the audience will never even see. From the sound design to the score, Gravity features one of the most innovative and inventive sound mixes to make its way to theaters — one that breaks with modern movie convention in significant ways. It’s a film where space is actually silent, touch is the best way to hear, and dialogue whirls around the audience in an immersive 360-degree cyclone.Read Article >
Two of the artists who helped bring it to life are sound designer and supervising sound editor Glenn Freemantle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours), and sound re-recording mixer Skip Lievsay, a frequent Coen brothers collaborator. We spoke with them both to learn about the techniques and tricks used to bring Gravity’s aural panoramas to life — and the technology that made it possible.
Oct 3, 2013
Heavy metal spectacle: the making of 'Metallica Through the Never'
From Katy Perry to One Direction, concert films have been enjoying a recent resurgence, but Metallica’s decision to jump into the genre with Metallica Through the Never didn’t happen overnight. “We’ve been trying to do an IMAX film for a long time now,” guitarist Kirk Hammett tells me. “The idea had been around since the ‘90s, and it’d been revisited numerous times but for some reason or another never came to be.”Read Article >
The idea resurfaced several years ago, with the band’s manager envisioning a custom-built stage that would incorporate imagery from records like …And Justice For All and Master of Puppets. “What we wanted to do,” Hammett says, “was make the stage so incredible, and super cool, and basically build the film around it and do it in IMAX and 3D.” But while the technology is a prominent selling point on the film’s poster, the most vital differentiating element was a wholly creative concern: the decision to interweave a narrative storyline alongside the live footage.
Sep 13, 2013
'Insidious: Chapter 2' review: the horror of diminishing returns
Director James Wan has proven himself to be one of our most gifted genre filmmakers. After kicking off the Saw franchise almost a decade ago, he surprised everyone in 2010 with Insidious, a suspenseful take on the classic ghost story.Read Article >
Wan took things up a notch earlier this year with the fantastic The Conjuring, showing that he’s not just a master of the simple scare, but that he can summon the kind of unrelenting dread that’s a signature of horror classics. His second film this year is Insidious: Chapter 2, and while it bears all the trademark flourishes that have made his recent outings so effective, it’s missing their soul, resulting in a rushed, jump-scare amusement that shocks and then immediately fades away.
Sep 6, 2013
'Riddick' review: still angry after all these years
The Riddick Series has never been AAA cinema. 2000’s Pitch Black was a B-movie mash-up of sci-fi, horror, and action, while its PG-13 sequel The Chronicles of Riddick aspired to be more of a costumed action epic — and failed at the box office.Read Article >
The character has maintained a loyal following over the years, however, and nine years after the last installment Diesel and writer-director David Twohy have stripped the character back to his R-rated essence with Riddick. The new film sets the stage for what could be a gleefully absurd genre ride, but the movie never quite finds its footing, missing out on the very elements that have made Diesel’s recent films so much fun in the first place.
Aug 15, 2013
'Kick-Ass 2' review: a mean and brutal miscalculationRead Article >
For a movie that seems interested in examining the difference between comic book escapism and the repercussions of real-life violence, Kick-Ass 2 is virtually empty of consequences. Where Matthew Vaughn’s 2010 original transplanted a superhero origin story into a marginally realistic world, Jeff Wadlow’s follow-up does the opposite, taking pajama-clad wannabes and catapulting them into a universe where merciless beatings produce minimal bruises, and devastating losses are fodder for mythic origin stories. In overestimating the appeal of its central characters and underdeveloping the emotional substance of its secondary ones, Kick-Ass 2 feels fatally miscalculated, a would-be genre deconstruction that explains way too much without understanding at all what it wants to say.
Aug 13, 2013
'The World's End' review: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reunite over pints to battle robots
Nobody articulates what it’s like to be in love with pop culture quite like Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright. Starting with Spaced, the inventive UK series Pegg created with co-star Jessica Hynes, the duo have crafted a body of work that feeds on our cultural obsessions — even when the stories they’re telling gently remind us that yes, eventually, we all need to grow up. That’s what makes it so shocking when they deliver a debilitating body blow to nostalgia itself in The World’s End.Read Article >
It’s the final film in the unofficial Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy they’ve made with longtime collaborator Nick Frost, but if you’re expecting a trip down memory lane with the carefree exuberance of Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, you’re in for a shock. What you’ll find instead is a movie that will unexpectedly challenge your expectations — in some of the funniest ways you can imagine.
Aug 8, 2013
'Elysium' review: class warfare heads to space
Four years ago District 9 hit theaters, heralding the arrival of a new voice in contemporary science fiction. Writer-director Neill Blomkamp’s alien-invasion film impressed visually, portraying a gritty, realistic world that seamlessly blended humans and digital creations. More importantly, it carried on in some of the best traditions of the genre by serving as intriguing social commentary without stepping on a soapbox — and earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay in the process.Read Article >
Blomkamp has now returned with his sophomore effort, the Matt Damon vehicle Elysium. With a bigger budget and broader scope, the film portrays a futuristic world where the chasm between classes is the divide between space and Earth itself. In its rush towards sci-fi action spectacle, however, it commits the same mistake as its wealthy space dwellers: forgetting about the human characters that make the whole thing possible in the first place.
Aug 7, 2013
Drawing dystopia: behind the incredible sci-fi art of 'Elysium'
Director Neill Blomkamp's first feature film, District 9, was a vision of Johannesburg beset with alien-filled slums. It was science fiction that felt plausible — the aliens had to deal with xenophobia and bureaucracy, and their weapons and ships looked dirty and rundown. For his follow-up Elysium, Blomkamp looked to build a similarly deep and realistic sci-fi setting, only this time based in Los Angeles. "My largest personal goal making this film was to try and frame a vision of the future for the audience, and to do that with a world that felt as real and multi-layered as possible," he writes in the foreword for Elysium: The Art of the Film. "The only way that can be accomplished is with a shitload of conceptual design and visual ideas." All told, more than 3,000 pieces of art were created in order to build that vision.Read Article >
Elysium takes place 140 years in the future, when the planet has been divided into two very distinct social classes: those who live in the gleaming space habitat Elysium, and the rest of us stuck back in the slums of Earth. Early on, creating that world involved lots of sketches, which Blomkamp gathered into a detailed graphic novel that covered everything from characters and locations to weapons and vehicles. That book became a tool that helped him sell lead actor Matt Damon and others on the project. "Neill's an accomplished designer in his own right and often had very specific ideas on how things should look," says Aaron Beck, a Weta Workshop concept artist who worked on the film. "So he had great concise feedback when necessary.”
Aug 6, 2013
Welcome to ‘The World’s End’: a conversation with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost
Director Edgar Wright had a great time at this year’s Comic-Con — but there was one thing he wasn't able to do. “It was the first Comic-Con where I did not go on the convention floor. It was kind of sad,” he says, almost wistfully. “Especially because the only time I had off was like, lunchtime on Saturday, which is when it has achieved critical mass.”Read Article >
Simon Pegg pushes his phone across the table, showing off a photo of a man wearing a Boba Fett helmet. “That’s me on the convention floor. I walked around perfectly fine for about an hour, and had my little fill... and then came back.” Did he reveal his identity to anyone? “I said to myself, ‘If I see somebody dressed as Shaun of the Dead, I’ll take them aside.’ Because I knew there were a few walking around. But I didn’t.”
Aug 1, 2013
Remembering Stanley: Christiane Kubrick on protecting the legacy of a master
First published in 2005, Taschen Books’ The Stanley Kubrick Archives provides fans and film scholars an unprecedented look behind the scenes of the iconic director’s life and work. But perhaps unsurprisingly, the 544-page book hardly penetrates the wealth of material that Kubrick retained from the production of his 13 feature films. The Stanley Kubrick Archive at the University of the Arts London stands as an even richer resource — and yet, for his students, aficionados, and disciples, this still doesn’t seem like enough.Read Article >
But even if Kubrick the man remains largely unknowable to the public, there were indeed people who did know him. Christiane Kubrick, the filmmaker’s third wife, first met him in 1957 during the shooting of Paths of Glory, and remained with him until his death on March 7th, 1999. To commemorate the recent Stanley Kubrick exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Christiane sat down for an exclusive conversation about her late husband’s life and work. In addition to discussing and contextualizing the behavior that earned him labels like “reclusive” and “eccentric,” Christiane talked about the challenge of choosing what parts of a private man’s life should be made public, and offered her thoughts about the myriad interpretations applied to the work of a filmmaker whose career was nothing short of mythic.
Jul 26, 2013
'The Wolverine' review: a samurai redemption story
Hugh Jackman’s take on Wolverine has always been one of the most enjoyable elements of the X-Men film series, but recent movies have failed to match the quality of the actor’s own efforts. Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand was a dumber, shallower adventure than Bryan Singer’s first two entries, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine drowned the character in a pedantic story and a barrage of bad visual effects. Now, with Wolverine’s headlining efforts in need of a reboot, comes James Mangold’s The Wolverine.Read Article >
The difference in approach is apparent straight from the title itself. A streamlined, introspective take on the emotional perils of immortality, it’s a superhero film that’s not afraid to see itself as more of a noir-infused character piece than an action set-piece generator. It’s a welcome approach, and the film sings at first as it’s able to deliver on both fronts — but The Wolverine is ultimately unable to balance the two elements, collapsing upon itself in a heap of comic-book absurdity.
Jul 23, 2013
How murderers tell stories: director Joshua Oppenheimer on 'The Act of Killing'
In the fall of 1965, the Indonesian military began a coup against the government. Over the next year, the army systematically eliminated its opponents — including union members, landless farmers, intellectuals, and the ethnic Chinese who were declared “Communists” and led to their deaths. Self-declared “gangsters” and paramilitaries executed between 100,000 and 2 million people; estimates vary widely because few records were kept, and because those guilty of the killings have remained in power ever since, making no secret of their past.Read Article >
When Joshua Oppenheimer started interviewing the Indonesian killers for his documentary, The Act of Killing, he found men eager to boast about what they’d done. One, the nattily dressed, seemingly avuncular Anwar Congo, demonstrated an improvised garrote he’d created, then broke into an elegant dance routine. He told Oppenheimer that Elvis Presley musicals put him in a great mood for killing. Recognizing how cinema had influenced Anwar and his fellow gangsters, the filmmaker proposed a unique sort of collaboration: the killers would re-enact their crimes for Oppenheimer’s cameras, through whatever story or genre they thought appropriate.
Jul 22, 2013
From 'Saturday Night Live' to streaming: Seth Meyers on his new Hulu series 'The Awesomes'
Original streaming video programming got a boost of legitimacy last week when two Netflix shows received Emmy nominations. Now Saturday Night Live stalwart (and future Late Night host) Seth Meyers is bringing his latest venture to life as an animated show on Hulu.Read Article >
The Awesomes is a comedy about the adventures of some not-so-super heroes. Conceived of back in 2006 by Meyers and Michael Shoemaker (Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon), the show didn't find the right creative home until Hulu stepped up in 2011. "They were the first place that were willing to let us tell it the way we wanted to tell it," Meyers says of the relationship, describing Hulu as the "perfect vessel" for the show. The Awesomes debuts on Hulu on August 1st — Xbox owners will get it a week early starting this Thursday, July 25th — and is just one of several new original series the service will be releasing this year.
Jul 21, 2013
Striking the perfect balance: director Jeff Wadlow on making 'Kick-Ass 2'Read Article >
Writer and director Jeff Wadlow has been on a bit of a hot streak lately. He recently signed a deal to write X-Force, and will be directing the action film Go Fast for Sony. Before those projects come to fruition, however, there's the much-anticipated Kick-Ass 2. Wadlow was picked by Matthew Vaughn — director of the original Kick-Ass and a producer on the sequel — to take over directing duties and the movie's been a big part of Universal's splash at Comic-Con this year. We sat down with Wadlow to talk about how he hit that careful balance between comedy and violence, what it's like crafting a sequel to a well-known original, and what his hopes are for the upcoming X-Force.
Jul 19, 2013
Sending kids to war: 'Ender's Game' director and producer on bringing a sci-fi classic to life
Here at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International, nothing gets more attention that science fiction and fantasy — and one of the projects that people are most excited about is the big-screen adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s classic Ender’s Game. First published in 1985, the novel has travelled a long, rocky road on its way to movie theaters, but the first trailers released earlier this year showed a beautifully rendered take on Card’s vision with high-profile talent like Harrison Ford and Sir Ben Kingsley.Read Article >
Here at Con, we sat down with the film’s writer and director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and producer Roberto Orci (a prolific multi-hyphenate with credits like Star Trek Into Darkness and Fringe to his name). The topic was how they were able to finally bring Ender’s Game to the big screen, and the challenges of balancing flash and spectacle with the book’s deeper thematic questions.
Jul 19, 2013
‘R.I.P.D’ review: when ghostbusting stops being fun, and starts being terrible
It’s weird, watching the opening scenes of a movie knowing the protagonist is about to die. It’s even weirder when he’s already dead. Yet that’s how R.I.P.D opens, with Nick Walker, played by Ryan Reynolds, explaining as a very large man leaps over his head that he’s going to tell us how he died, and why being dead involves having a very large man leap over your head.Read Article >
The “how he died” part of the story doesn’t take long to get to. Nick, a Boston cop, finds himself in the midst of a warehouse firefight while chasing a druglord, and he’s shot about a dozen times by a supposed friend. The scene is gorgeous action porn; director Robert Schwentke proved with Red that he can do action, and the scene is a hair-raising mix of video-game slow motion and jump cuts through hails of bullets. But from the moment Nick falls, hitting the ground headfirst, everything stops. First intentionally — Nick finds himself wandering through a freeze-frame of the last moment of his life — then because the movie never finds its footing again.
Jul 18, 2013
'The Conjuring' review: the return of true horror
In 2004 director James Wan helped launch an entire subgenre of horror with Saw. Dubbed “torture porn” — a derisive label used by cultural critics that confused catharsis with titillation — it became the gory norm for years, with the Saw franchise creaking out sequel after sequel. Starting with 2010’s Insidious, however, Wan himself has been exploring different, more nuanced ground: bringing the classic ghost story back in terrifying fashion.Read Article >
His latest effort is The Conjuring, based on a case from Ed and Lorraine Warren — the real-life ghost hunters behind The Amityville Horror investigation. While the “true story” premise adds an additional layer of allure, the film goes far beyond that sort of one-note trickery, providing Wan the opportunity to take the techniques he’s learned in his previous outings and turn them up to 11. It’s a movie that doesn’t quite leap into the pantheon of genre classics it’s riffing on, but it proves James Wan is able to do one thing better than almost any filmmaker working today: scare the hell out of you.