<p>  Alexander Payne's <em>The Descendants</em></p>Remarkably Unremarkable

Solely because 2010 was a regrettable stinker-of-a-year, 2011 was a measured improvement, insofar as we’re more likely to forget it altogether than remember it with remorse.

Greenbacks Make Us Blue

In a year that finally saw the birth of resistance to radical wealth distribution to the greedy few, nobody will pity Hollywood for the failure of its “mo’ sequels, mo’ money” strategy. For the second consecutive year, both tickets sold and total revenues are doing the downward-facing dog pose. The last time attendance was this bad, Bill Clinton had just been elected to the white house. Not that I’m proposing a correlation. Total revenue will settle at less than $10 billion, one of the rare times collecting billions of dollars results in disappointment.

It’s no coincidence 2011 set the record for most sequels, with a whopping 27, the same year every major measure of success got flushed. With mega-flops like The Green Lantern and Happy Feet 2, one would like to imagine a message was served, but that fallacy is such stuff as dreams are made on.

Netflix In Flux

Perhaps the biggest shakeup and kerfuffle involving movies this year came from inside our homes, as Netflix tried its hardest to make everyone hate it. After making the calculated business decision to split up its DVD-by-mail and online services, resulting in a 60% price hike, CEO Reed Hastings gave us the business equivalent of “jumping the shark” when he gave us the phrase “introducing Qwikster.”

Qwikster was going to be a new company that would handle the physical DVD mailing, while Netflix would only handle the streaming content. Short of telling customers to flat-out “suck it,” creating a subsidiary company to divide a product in half and require an entirely new interface is the worst business move ever. Hastings crapped out an online mea culpa and terminated Qwikster before it was born. So where does this leave Netflix? Check next week’s 2012 predictions to find out!

Big O Lives Large

It goes without saying that when Alexander Payne, Omaha’s beloved directorial son, releases a new feature for the first time in ages, it’s a good year for our fair city. It also goes without saying how wonderful it was to see Film Streams at the Ruth Sokolof Theater roll out such a delightful premiere. But what else could we come to expect from a place that was lauded this year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and continues to deliver incredible events such as bringing local musicians to play live scores to silent films?

What’s incredible is that Aksarben Cinema has been working to deliver the same kind of quality that Film Streams brings to the art house experience to blockbuster mainstream fare. With phenomenal themed events, not to mention the occasional movie-inspired cocktail, the locally owned operation has proved in 2011 that bigger need not mean impersonal.

For the second year in a row, things were peachy in Omaha, even if 2011 was largely forgettable when taking a view from above. 


entered on 12/22/11 at 11:35 AM | read comments »


<p>  Play Time</p>Cutting Room for December 21

  • After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we all deserve some Play Time and Film Streams (filmstreams.org) is going to give it to us. They will literally be screening Play Time, the 1966 comedy by legendary French director Jacques Tati, at 7 pm on Thursday, Jan. 12. Together with daOMA (design alliance OMAha) and Omaha Creative Institute, the theater will also host a post-show discussion featuring New York architect David Leven. You may not consider yourself an architecture enthusiast, but that’s strange considering how much time you spend inside buildings…
  • Also coming to Film Streams is the winner of the 5th Annual Members Select vote: The Big Lebowski, which will screen Jan. 20-26. I’m not sure any single vote has reaffirmed my faith in the democratic process quite as much as seeing these results. If we, as a people, can collectively correctly identify the brilliance of “the Dude,” maybe this coming November won’t be as scary as I thought.
  • In perhaps the strangest news ever featured in this column: Clint Eastwood and his family are shooting an E! reality television show in the same vein as the one featuring the Kardashians. Yes, that’s right; everybody’s favorite high-waistlined yard defender is going to be doling out fatherly advice to his two teenaged daughters who apparently want to follow in celebutant footsteps. This sounds like a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, not real life. Of course, I say that, but who isn’t going to at least tune in once to see the wrinkly, rankly mega-star dole out gruff fatherly advice?

Cutting Room provides breaking local and national movie news … complete with added sarcasm. Send any relevant information to film@thereader.com. Check out Ryan on Movieha!, a weekly half-hour movie podcast (movieha.libsyn.com/rss), catch him on the radio on CD 105.9 (cd1059.com) on Fridays at around 7:30 a.m. and on KVNO 90.7 (KVNO.org) at 8:30 a.m. on Fridays and follow him on Twitter (twitter.com/thereaderfilm).


entered on 12/21/11 at 10:09 AM | read comments »


Cutting Room for December 14

  • If you’ve got the “I don’t know what to do with these in-laws visiting for the holidays” blues, you can thank Santa for the gift of Film Streams (filmstreams.org). The Ruth Sokolof Theater has some great events that just may bail you out of those awkward conversational pauses and disapproving backhanded compliments. First up, on Dec 15 at 7 pm, the “Silents in Concert” series concludes with a screening of The General, which will be accompanied by pianist Jim Boston of the Great Plains Ragtime Society. Then, starting Dec 17 and running through the 29th, It’s a Wonderful Life will hit the screen, bringing ample opportunity for loved ones to demonstrate their terrible Jimmy Stewart impression.  
  • If you loved Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, I have good news for you…provided you don’t loathe literacy. The film was actually based on a book by James Sallis, who has just written a sequel to his original novel, which will be called “Driven.” So if you want to see more adventures of the handsomest scorpion-jacket wearing semi-mute, you’ll find them between the covers!
  • Despite the fact that it’s not all that old, Lionsgate has announced that they’re already remaking American Psycho, the film that took Christian Bale from Newsie to “who’s he?” Although technically it will be another film based on the book and not a true remake, that’s a distinction reserved only for those looking to not offend die-hard fans of the original. Because if there’s a group of die-hard fans you don’t want to offend, it’s those who love something with “psycho” in the title.

Cutting Room provides breaking local and national movie news … complete with added sarcasm. Send any relevant information to film@thereader.com. Check out Ryan on Movieha!, a weekly half-hour movie podcast (movieha.libsyn.com/rss), catch him on the radio on CD 105.9 (cd1059.com) on Fridays at around 7:30 a.m. and on KVNO 90.7 (KVNO.org) at 8:30 a.m. on Fridays and follow him on Twitter (twitter.com/thereaderfilm).


entered on 12/14/11 at 09:31 AM | read comments »


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Ernest & Celestine

A kids movie for kids with kid jokes and kid themes.

GRADE
B+


Captain America: Winter Soldier

A kinetic crash of conspiracism and costumed crusaders!

GRADE
A-


Noah

Bible school by way of JRR Tolkien and Stephen King.

GRADE
A


The Grand Budapest Hotel

This madcap caper proves Anderson can do things (kinda) different!

GRADE
A


Need for Speed

If you're the "dumber" version of Fast and Furious, you lose.

GRADE
F


300: Rise of an Empire

A prequel, side-quel and sequel with the same style and carnage.

GRADE
B


The Wolf of Wall Street

DiCaprio crackles but the movie fizzles without taking a clear stance on Wall Street excess.

GRADE
B-


Stranger by the Lake

It's a Hitchcock thriller by way of Grindr.

GRADE
C+


That Ship Cray

They gave the guy who made Requiem for a Dream $150 million to make a movie about Noah’s ark. Huh?! In Requiem,...

more »


Quirking on Something Different

To alter a phrase from Twain, who won’t mind because he’s dead, writer/director Wes Anderson repeated history until he...

more »


Speedy and Irritable

The most important thing to know before attempting to endure the lumbering bore that is Need for Speed is this: every...

more »


Xerox Xerxes

When director Zack Snyder’s opus of underwear modeling amidst geysers of animated blood, 300, first arrived eight years...

more »


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