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Tag: PopWatch Rewind (1-10 of 30)

'Scream 4' opens today, so join PopWatch Rewind in a look back at the great, decent, and utterly terrible original 'Scream' films

The year was 1996, and the slasher-film genre was dying. Long-running franchises like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street had long since spiraled into the upper numerals of self-parody. Thirty-six years after Janet Leigh was stabbed to death in Psycho, and almost 20 years after her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis taught us that virginity is a killer-shield in Halloween, people just seemed a bit tired of the genre built on the semi-Freudian foundation of “Hot Chicks Being Stabbed.” And then Scream changed everything. Directed by Elm Street auteur Wes Craven and written by pop culture savant Kevin Williamson, Scream poked fun at slasher films, but it wasn’t a parody: It was a great scare film in its own right, and it spawned a new boom in teen horror films (and even an echo boom in non-horror teen films). Two films followed — one a worthy successor, one a travesty of in-jokes. Now, 11 years after Scream 3, the series returns to theaters. Join us in a long, loving look back at the original trilogy, and don’t forget to tell us your favorite Scream memories in the comments. READ FULL STORY

There's something about 'There's Something About Mary': PopWatch Rewind looks back at the Farrelly Brothers' biggest hit

This weekend, Peter and Bobby Farrelly direct the husbands-on-a-break comedy Hall Pass. We decided to look back on the movie that brought the Farrellys’ particular brand of feel-good gross-out humor into the American zeitgeist. There’s Something About Mary was the sleeper hit of 1998, spending most of the summer slowly rising higher on the box office top 10. It kickstarted the careers of stars Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller. But 12 years later, has the movie aged well?

Keith Staskiewicz: This movie really makes you realize that there is a big difference between being “offensive” and being truly offensive. Sure, there’s endless political incorrectness and gross-out visual gags, but there’s an actual heart behind it. Now, look at something like The Ugly Truth or Bride Wars. There’s certainly less, um, bodily effluvia, but at their cores, those movies are as morally blackened and shriveled as Mr. Burns’ heart. There’s a certain joy in a Farrelly Brothers movie that makes you realize just how mean-spirited a lot of rom-coms actually are. READ FULL STORY

Christopher Nolan's 'Memento' turns 10: PopWatch Rewind remembers the film. And then immediately forgets it.

With all that Christopher Nolan has done since, from gravel-voiced Batmen to Russian-nesting dreams, it’s easy to forget just how great his 2000 backwards-is-the-new-forwards thriller Memento really is. Almost as easy as it is for its main character to forget just about everything. To refresh people’s memories, the film will be celebrating its tenth anniversary with special one-night screenings tonight in 11 cities. We decided it’d be a good time to revisit the movie that put Nolan on the map and made a practical case for body art and Polaroid cameras. Now, where were we?

Darren Franich: Memento should feel more like a gimmick. The quick description is that the story moves “backwards,” but that’s not really true. Just like the dream-heist in Inception, the movie’s actually constructed on multiple distinct planes. The main plotline starts with the death of Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) and moves backwards. A secondary plotline, shot in black and white, moves forwards in time. Through those black-and-white scenes, we learn the fable of Sammy Jankis, which runs throughout the movie. Finally, there’s the occasional flashback to Lenny’s life before “The Incident.” It sounds like a film written on a 3-D chessboard. So how is it possible that Memento is actually the funniest movie Christopher Nolan has ever made?  READ FULL STORY

Adam Sandler's 'Billy Madison': Should we just go with it? PopWatch Rewind looks at the funnyman's first big movie

Adam Sandler is one of the last true movie stars. Tellingly, he’s essentially the only über-successful actor in contemporary Hollywood to never take a role in a film franchise — because, just like the Hollywood stars of yore, he is the franchise. He produces almost all his movies, and has a regular caravan of co-creators (like director Dennis Dugan) and co-stars (like Rob Schneider, who’s been in 12 Sandler movies playing 12 different offensive stereotypes) who follow him from project to project. To celebrate today’s release of Just Go With It, the 22nd film Sandler’s headlined since 1995, we went back to where it all began: Billy Madison, the story of a man-boy who decided to go back to school, back to school, to prove to his dad that he’s not a fool. READ FULL STORY

'Single White Female': The 'Roommate' inspiration signs a lease with PopWatch Rewind

Single White Female has all the hallmarks of an early-90s erotic thriller, a curious subgenre that mostly disappeared with the dawn of the porn-happy internet (to say nothing of the MPAA’s evolving preference for ultraviolence over sexuality). In SWF, stars Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh are relentlessly naked. All the dudes are lying dolts with bad hair. Half the film takes place in the most blue-tinted hour of the evening. But the film has had a surprisingly long tail in pop culture, right up to this weekend’s The Roommate, which seems more than a little influenced by SWF‘s vision of friendly live-in sisterhood shading into obsession.

Keith Staskiewicz: Watching The Roommate, it’s impossible not to think of Single White Female. But it’s also interesting to see another movie with a woman who wants to be/have sex with/murder/all of the above with another woman so quick on the heels of Black Swan. It’s an interesting sub-genre. Although to be fair, Single White Female is itself beholden to Fatal Attraction: Obsessive crazy lady, irrational jealousy, poor murdered house-pet… READ FULL STORY

'The Rite' done right: Something possesses PopWatch Rewind to rewatch 'The Exorcist'

Everett Collection

What an excellent day for an exorcism. While Anthony Hopkins is in theaters compelling demons out of people and dollars out of people’s wallets with The Rite, we decided it was a good time to revisit the granddaddy of all possession horror, The Exorcist. Made in 1973 by William Friedkin, straight off of The French Connection, it stars Linda Blair, the original Haley Joel Osment, as a charming young girl who loves her mother, horseback riding, and turning her head around 180 degrees while screaming profanities. Ah, youth! So start doing your stretches, because it’s time to exorcise. READ FULL STORY

Natalie Portman in 'The Professional': PopWatch Rewind takes aim at the 'Black Swan' star's debut

Natalie Portman is everywhere right now. Just a week after winning a Golden Globe for her soul-baring, body-punishing, Mila Kunis-kissing performance in Black Swan, Portman is headlining the change-of-pace romantic comedy No Strings Attached. That’s just one of the five movies she’ll appear in this year. Portman’s also newly engaged and pregnant with her first child. What better time to look back at where it all began? Portman’s first movie was The Professional, in which an emotionally detached hitman meets a chain-smoking orphan who becomes his companion, his student, and his unrequited love. It’s a plotline that could seem icky — Lolita with a sniper rifle — but great performances by Jean Reno and Portman make The Professional (also known by its international title, Leon) into a uniquely tenderhearted thriller.

Keith Staskiewicz: Before he started producing all those English-language, Euro-financed, An American in Paris Shoots People movies, Luc Besson was quite the rising star. La Femme Nikita would spawn two TV shows and a remake, but it was The Professional that brought him into the mainstream. It’s a fascinating movie. It exists in this Bizarro-New York that doesn’t ever feel like real New York. Instead, it’s some strange fairy tale idealization of the city as it existed in the ’70s or ’80s.

Darren Franich: It reminded me a little bit of the snow-globe Manhattan of The Royal Tenenbaums, right down to Besson’s preference for Andersonian wide-angle lenses. I love how, in The Professional‘s New York, no one can ever hear anything through the walls of an apartment building. A bomb can go off in the apartment next door, and nobody notices. READ FULL STORY

Winona Ryder's 'Reality Bites': PopWatch Rewind tries to figure out if Generation X was sarcastic or sincere

This is the true story of four friends who decided to live together in a house, and have their lives taped by the one who considers herself a “videographer” to find out what happens when people stop being polite…and start getting really, really obnoxious. Reality Bites: It sure does! Okay, full disclaimer: We are two snot-nosed members of Generation Y. The film was not made for us. We have no emotional attachment to it. But even though Reality Bites looks incredibly dated now — let’s be honest, it was dated one year after its initial 1994 release  — we both found the movie fascinating. It’s essentially a time capsule constructed entirely of flannel, denim, Big Gulps and pre-corporate alt-rock. At the center of the film is Winona Ryder, an actress who more or less defined her generation. Ryder has small roles in two current films — she’s a cheating wife in The Dilemma and an extremely Winona-esque dancer in Black Swan — and given Ryder’s difficult career arc in the last decade, you could argue that Reality Bites looks even more melancholy now, a vision of youth in all its naive idiot glory. Or maybe it’s just a film about naive idiots.  READ FULL STORY

Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Predator': PopWatch Rewind gets stalked in the jungle

Predator-movie-posterConan the Barbarian is a film about the birth of an ancient legend, but the film created its own modern legend: Arnold Schwarzenegger, the impossibly muscular, unbeatable, barely understandable, curiously noble badass. In turn, Commando is a film about a legend (super-soldier John Matrix) at the peak of his form. Coming right after Schwarzenegger’s breakout hit The Terminator, it’s no coincidence that the hallmarks of John Matrix’s life — big house, cool cars, comely flight attendant, regularly breaking the law — are also the hallmarks of a movie star’s existence. But now, on the final day of Arnoldfest ’11, we reach Predator. It’s a thrilling film, packed full of macho posturing and breathless action. But it is also, ultimately, a film about the deconstruction of a legend. Schwarzenegger plays Dutch, who initially seems like John Matrix with a slightly more realistic name. Before the film is even one-quarter finished, Dutch and his men have already defeated an entire encampment of guerillas. But then things start getting strange, and Dutch discovers that brute force won’t be enough to defeat an enemy he can barely even understand. (This is the third day of a festival honoring the end of Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial term. Click here for our thoughts on Conan the Barbarian, click here for our musings on Commando, and let us know your own thoughts on these action classics in the comments section.)

Keith Staskiewicz: So, Darren, here we are. Three days, three movies, and three instances in which Arnold dons camouflage. But here’s the catch, and here’s one of the reasons Predator is my favorite of the three: This is the only one in which the camo actually serves a purporse. All three of them are pumped up with more testosterone than a lumberjack vs. blacksmith bear-punching contest refereed by a cyborg Ernest Hemingway, but Predator is the only one that is actually also very smart and really well-plotted. Basically the first 20 minutes of the movie is a condensed, and much better, version of Commando, complete with gunfights, explosions, Arnoldisms like “Stick around,” as well as supplemental manliness, as if we needed it, from Jesse Ventura and Carl Weathers. And that’s all before the Predator even shows up. READ FULL STORY

Going 'Commando' with Schwarzenegger: Day 2 of PopWatch Rewind's Arnoldfest

commando-movie-posterCommando isn’t just an ’80s action movie, it’s the ’80s action movie. Of course, in terms of quality, it’s nowhere near as good as The Terminator or Die Hard, but in terms of big guns, nacho-cheesy dialogue, nonsense plots about vaguely Contra-like South American politics, and explosions, explosions, explosions, it’s miles ahead of the pack. So for our second day (of three) honoring Arnold Schwarzenegger’s departure from Sacramento, we look back at what might be the purest distillation of Ah-nold-ness.

Darren Franich: To me, Commando is the ultimate Schwarzenegger movie. That doesn’t mean it’s the best, not by a long shot. But this is what you think about when you think “Vintage Arnold”: ludicrously greased-up arm muscles; wry one-liners tossed off after every kill; a dictator bad-guy from the fictional land of Val Verde; and a final-act blood orgy that makes The Wild Bunch look like Tootsie. And it all kicks off with an extended montage of Schwarzenegger out in the wilderness, carrying what looks like the trunk of a Sequoia tree, which he’ll probably carve into a rocket launcher.

Keith Staskiewicz: But like we pointed out yesterday, despite all this machine-gunning, drop-kicking testosterone, it’s also the first film that gives us a glimpse of the cuddlier, less genocidal, side of Arnold. READ FULL STORY

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