Excess All Areas: ‘Deflowering’ the Disney Girls in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers

Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson), Cotty (Rachel Korine), and Faith (Selena Gomez, from left to right) are caught in the act.

You can probably say an awful lot of things about Harmony Korine but not that the man has ever shied away from controversy. In fact, he seems to embrace it, at least occasionally. In 1996, the American filmmaker stormed the Hollywood landscape when he wrote the semi-autobiographical screenplay for Larry Clark’s disturbing Kids. His own films from Gummo to Trash Humpers have followed a similar pattern. Since, Harmony Korine and his output have been open to dispute, and there are even voices that keep clamoring for his immediate retirement from the director’s chair. His latest work, Spring Breakers, continues the trend. Once again, opinions on the movie diverge, although the premise of the film is pretty intriguing.

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A Little Bit of Finger: Chicken and Other Assorted Goodies in The Bone Man

Brenner (Josef Hader, right) and his new lover Birgit (Birgit Minichmayr, left).

Austrian films have been the secret stars of the German-speaking landscape in recent years, not just because of the eccentric Michael Haneke and his Oscar-winning drama Amour. In artistic terms, many of these usually indie pictures have outperformed the more expensive productions from the bigger neighboring country. Lately, one of the mainstays of Austrian cinema has been the Brenner comedy mysteries by director Wolfgang Murnberger. Based on the novels by bestselling author Wolf Haas, these movies impress with their quirky mixture of grotesque crimes and typical Austrian humor. As the third installment of the series, The Bone Man has been one of the most successful movies made in the Alpine Republic. In other parts of the world, however, the film has largely flown under the radar.

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Screaming in Digital: Pixar Takes Us to College in Monsters University

Monsters University
Sulley and Mike chase a fraternity mascot.

Ever since John Lasseter’s Toy Story in 1995, the Disney-owned Pixar Studios have been leading the charge when it comes to computer-generated animation movies. Like the parent company, however, the CGI pioneers have been struggling in recent years – hitting rock bottom with head honcho Lasseter’s Cars 2 in 2011. Despite Brave winning the Oscar as Best Animated Feature Film in February, the studio’s latest releases wowed neither critics nor audiences. Now Pixar has brought back some favorites from 2003’s crowd-pleaser Monsters, Inc. with the hope of returning to former glory. Will Dan Scanlon’s $270-million prequel Monsters University do the trick?

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Bitter Sweet Symphony: Terrence Malick Takes Us To The Wonder

Neil (Ben Affleck, left) and his old love Jane (Rachel McAdams, right).

There is no other director like Terrence Malick. Granted, you could probably say that about pretty much every other filmmaker out there. The American director, however, remains a peculiar case. After all, we’re talking about an eccentric, reclusive artist who deliberately stepped away from the limelight and the Hollywood industry after a really promising debut, Badlands, and an equally fascinating sophomore effort, Days Of Heaven, before finally resurfacing with the anti-war movie The Thin Red Line and reaping a whopping seven Oscar bids.

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The Millionaire Waltz: Rekindling the ‘Roaring Twenties’ in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby

The eccentric, enigmatic millionaire Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) is literally the toast of the town.

With his leading role in Baz Luhrmann’s modern version of Romeo & Juliet, Leonardo DiCaprio burst onto the Hollywood scene in grand style in 1996. So when the news spread that the charismatic superstar and the director of the Oscar-winning musical Moulin Rouge! would reunite for an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby, expectations were enormous. How would the filmmaker’s flamboyant audiovisual style mesh with the source material, in itself a harsh criticism of its own raucous era, America’s ‘Roaring Twenties’?

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Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em: Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter, or a Different Kind of Sucker

Vampire hunter Captain Kronos (Horst Janson, left) with his beautiful female companion Carla (future Bond girl Caroline Munro, right).

The movies by British studio Hammer Film Productions might be among the most fondly remembered shockers in the history of cinema. Some of them have even held a cult status in fan circles for decades and made their leading men and women world-famous.

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Private Investigations: The Birth of the Hard-boiled Detective in John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon

Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart, right) uses his very own investigative methods on the sneaky Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre, left).

Nowadays, devious investigators must be considered an integral part of the Hollywood repertoire. That wasn’t always the case. Their archetype is a guy named Sam Spade, who first appeared on the big screen in 1941. At the time, the character created by writer Dashiell Hammett had already been immensely popular as the hero of the crime novel The Maltese Falcon.

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School’s Out: John Hughes’s Cool Way to Skip Classes in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara, left), Cameron Fry (Alan Ruck, center), and Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick, right) enjoy their day off.

When John Hughes died of a heart attack at age 59 in 2009, the filmmaking world lost one of its true greats in the comedy realm. His biggest box-office smashes as a writer have been family movies in the 1990s, such as Home Alone and 101 Dalmatians. Earlier, however, John Hughes had already pulled off a string of beloved comedies as a director in the 1980s. The Breakfast Club comes to mind. So do Plains, Trains & Automobiles and Uncle Buck with another late great, John Candy. John Hughes is also known for coming up with the scripts for the popular National Lampoon’s series starring Chevy Chase. Yet the finest moment of his career is arguably Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

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Man on a Mission: The Post-Apocalyptic Tom Cruise of Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion

Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) saves the day.

There once was a time when science-fiction films were innovative and ahead of their time. Back then, even B-movies could attract audiences because they had something to say, despite their overall trashy appearance. Nowadays, it sometimes feels as if major studios seem to be more interested in shelling out large sums for rather pedestrian works in terms of storytelling that desperately attempt to make up for their deficiencies in that area by means of impressive visual and aural effects. TRON: Legacy by Joseph Kosinski was a prime example for that recent phenomenon in 2010. Three years later, the director returns with his sophomore movie, Oblivion and Tom Cruise on his coattails as the star du jour.

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Father to Son: Passing the Action Torch in John Moore’s A Good Day To Die Hard?

John McClane (Bruce Willis, left), his son Jack (Jai Courtney, center), and Russian refugee Komarov (Sebastian Koch, right) attempt to escape.

‘I fought with you, fought on your side,’ Freddie Mercury once sang in an early Queen song called “Father To Son.” In 2007, a then 52-year old Bruce Willis already played action hero John McClane as a daddy on a mission to save his child in Live Free Or Die Hard. Rescuing his daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) was then, but now he’s back to save Spartacus: War Of The Damned star Jai Courtney as his prodigal son. Can an aging Bruce Willis continue his recent string of enjoyable old-school action movies such as R.E.D. and The Expendables with the John Moore-directed sequel A Good Day To Die Hard?

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Danger Zone: Science-Fiction and Metaphysics in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker

This room is only one of the many enigmas that the Stalker and his companions encounter in the mysterious zone.

Apart from legendary Battleship Potemkin genius Sergei Eisenstein, Andrei Tarkovsky is arguably Russia’s most renowned movie director from the Soviet era. The son of famous poet Arseni Tarkovsky polarizes, however. Opinions on him are divided. Some can’t really get into his films and only consider them to be dead boring. Others regard these works as masterpieces of cinematic history – Stalker among them. Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 science-fiction epic is unlike anything from the same genre we’ve ever encountered from Hollywood.

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Love & Marriage: Going Behind the Scenes in Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins, left) and his leading lady Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson, right).

Psycho is arguably Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece. Granted, there are numerous other classics that he created over his almost six-decade career as a filmmaker, such as The 39 Steps, Rebecca, Notorious, Rear Window, Vertigo, North By Northwest, or The Birds, just to name a few. Psycho and its famous shower scene, however, are probably the first things that come to mind when talking about the English ‘Master of Suspense.’ He has never wavered in popularity, and the making of the fabled thriller has always been somewhat shrouded in legend. So why not tackle it as the subject of a feature film?

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Unleashed in the East: Kung-Fu Meets Grindhouse in RZA’s The Man With The Iron Fists

The invincible Brass Body (Dave Bautista, left) fights 'The Man with the Iron Fists' (RZA, right).

It’s no secret that Django Unchained mastermind Quentin Tarantino is an avid fan of all things kung-fu, martial arts, and grindhouse. Therefore it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that he would give his name to a movie called The Man With The Iron Fists co-written by his protégé Eli Roth, who once created Hostel and starred in Quentin Tarantino’s own Inglourious Basterds. The bigger zinger, however, is the man at the helm of The Man With The Iron Fists: RZA, former member of the legendary hip-hop outfit Wu-Tang Clan and now a first-time director. The question is how good of a show he puts up in his debut.

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Children of the Revolution: Slapstick, Soviet-style in Leonid Gaidai’s Operation ‘Y’ & Shurik’s Other Adventures

Shurik (Alexander Demyanenko, right) and his crush Lida (Natalya Seleznyova, left) in the second segment, "Delusion."

Operation ‘Y’ And Shurik’s Other Adventures (1965) is one of the cult comedies from that time virtually every Russian knows. Other than having a fun time, what can we can learn about life in the Soviet Union of the 1960s from watching the film?

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Through the Looking-Glass: Why Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver Remains an Important Movie

Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) fails to kill himself.

Movies in which persons stare at themselves in the mirror or talk to themselves are a dime a dozen in the world of today. Yet there aren’t too many iconic characters in modern Hollywood, or in contemporary cinema in general, especially not too many polarizing figures inspired by real life. Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle, however, the mad cabbie from Martin Scorsese’s 1976 Taxi Driver, is certainly among them. He eventually becomes a hero in the eyes of the public – but for all the wrong reasons imaginable.

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