1. Your weekly streaming recommendation: The Story of Film: An Odyssey

    There was a time, not too long ago, when it was extremely difficult for a young cinephile to get a proper education in film. When I was growing up, I spent plenty of time paging through dog-eared guides written by Roger Ebert or Leonard Maltin, or scouring local video stores to find a relatively obscure classic on a VHS that would actually play. 

    Fortunately, the rise of Netflix and video-on-demand services has made it exponentially easier for anyone who’s curious about the history of cinema to get up to speed. But with so many movies at your fingertips, where do you begin? Fortunately, Netflix has a documentary series that doubles as an intensive course on the history of cinema: The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which director and narrator Mark Cousins adapted from his book of the same name.

    In 15 hour-long segments, Cousins takes viewers from the “Birth of Cinema” in 1888 to the present, and even provides some intriguing predictions about cinema’s future. Along the way, he offers information, analysis, and perspective on a number of important movements and eras throughout film history, including the European New Wave, the American cinema of the 1970s, and the ongoing rise of world cinema in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. All the while, Cousins strikes a careful balance by providing essential context to the iconic films and filmmakers you’d expect — D.W. Griffith, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock — while challenging conventional wisdom by highlighting out the female and non-western filmmakers who contributed far more to cinema than they’ve ever received credit for.

    The Story of Film is thoughtful and deeply intellectual — but fortunately, that doesn’t make it feel like work. Cousins’ thick, laconic Irish accent can take some time to adjust to, but he makes an appealing and comprehensive host. And on a pure engagement level, the series is an absolute joy to watch — where else are you going to see so many brilliant films, so beautifully woven together and contextualized, in one place?

    If you have any interest in the history of cinema, clear some time in your binge-watching schedule for The Story of Film — and use it as the springboard to an appreciation of film that will last for the rest of your life.

     

  2. The best online movies to watch this weekend: Stage Fright, A Field in England, and more

    Don’t feel like going to the movie theater this weekend? Stay in and watch one of these newly available flicks from the comfort of your couch.

     

  3. Watch the final trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past

    This is easily the most ambitious of the X-Men movies.

     

  4. The first trailer for Gone Girl features Ben Affleck, eerie cover song

    The real standout of the trailer is the ghostly version of Charles Aznavour’s “She,” covered by Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs.

     

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  6. "Dear Diary: My teen angst now has a body count."

    How Heathers changed teen movies forever

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  7. After spending all of February recommending Valentine’s Day-friendly love stories, we’ll be recommending a movie that will make you think twice about romance for each week in the month of March. This week: Billy Wilder’s film noir classic Double Indemnity.

    Looking for proof that Hollywood’s older movies can be just as biting and cynical as the so-called ‘darker,’ ‘grittier’ dramas that studios traffic in today? Look no further than Billy Wilder’s immortal noir Double Indemnity, which was nominated for seven Oscars in the wake of its 1944 release. 

    Watch a trailer for Double Indemnity

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  8. Heathers was a revolutionary experience because it didn’t follow the narrow confines the ratings system had imposed on teen narratives in the name of morality. It was real and raw, even in its candy-colored satiric absurdity. Heathers was a scathing response to the “very special” issue episodes of the ’80s. All of the same teen laments were present — eating disorders, date rape, bullying, gossip, suicide, drinking, cliques — but without the melodrama that demanded that teenage darkness be matched with an obvious moral message”

    Girls on Film: Why no teen film compares to Heathers

     


  9. After spending all of February recommending Valentine’s Day-friendly love stories, we’ll be recommending a movie that will make you think twice about romance for each week in the month of March. This week, a double-feature of Alex Karpovsky movies: The unnerving thriller Rubberneck and the quirky, navel-gazing comedy Red Flag.

    Alex Karpovsky is most famous for his supporting role as Ray on HBO’s Girls. But Karpovsky is an accomplished filmmaker in his own right, and the best example of his talent and range comes with a pair of his films released as a double feature in 2013: Rubberneck and Red Flag, in which Karpovsky serves as writer, director, and star.

    Watch trailers for these films here.

    Subscribe and listen to all of The Week’s mini-podcasts on SoundCloud hereand on iTunes here.

     

  10. On Thursday, the internet briefly lit up with a totally unexpected announcement: The as-yet untitled 24th movie in the James Bond franchise had suddenly been revealed. A 30-second teaser trailer revealed that the film would be titled Come and Dive, which would see Bond “swept away by a dangerous love story. As MI6 rises from its ashes, 007 must protect a mysterious stranger and unveil long forgotten secrets.”

    The only problem? All of that — literally all of that — was totally fake.

    Anatomy of an internet hoax: How so many people were fooled by a fake James Bond trailer

     

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  13. After spending all of February recommending Valentine’s Day-friendly love stories, we’ll be recommending a movie that will make you think twice about romance for each week in the month of March. This week: Errol Morris’ Tabloid, which traces the media frenzy behind a bizarre love story that went famously awry.

    Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris shot to fame with serious-minded films like The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War. But his strangest and most playful film takes on a case you’d never have read about on the front pages of The New York Times or the Washington Post: The famed “Mormon sex in chains” chase, which dominated the headlines of British gossip rags in the 1970s.

    Not familiar with the story? Many of the facts remain in dispute, but here’s what we know for sure: Joyce McKinney, a onetime Miss Wyoming, fell in love with a young Mormon man named Kirk Anderson. When Anderson went to England as a missionary, McKinney followed him abroad, rediscovered him outside a Mormon meetinghouse, and drove him to a cottage in Devon. When Anderson resurfaced a few days later, he claimed that McKinney had kidnapped him, tied him to the bed, and raped him.

    That’s the last we hear from Kirk Anderson, who refused to be interviewed for the documentary. Instead, Tabloidgives us Joyce McKinney’s side of the story — and what a story she tells. In McKinney’s telling, she and Kirk were in the midst of a passionate love affair when the Mormon church brainwashed him and whisked him away to England. She insists that the so-called “kidnapping” was consensual, and that she and Anderson spent several joyful days in the cottage before he got cold feet and went back to the Church of Latter-Day Saints. “It was like a honeymoon,” Joyce insisted at the time.

    What’s the real story? Errol’s film doesn’t choose a side. Instead, he’s content to let audiences decide for themselves, as a variety of talking heads tell their versions of the story nearly 30 years after it happened. But despite the lurid subject matter, Tabloid has a lot to say: About the slippery of nature of the truth, and the role the media plays in shaping it.

    "It’s not a porno story like these crazy newspapers have tried to make it. It’s a love story," insisted McKinney in the wake of her 1977 arrest. Watch Tabloid, and decide for yourself how much you believe her.

    Read more on this story here.

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