A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! - a look at Russ Meyer's finest film. (possibly NSFW)
Tonight Frontline aired the documentary film "The Interrupters", the video is available on Frontline's website. On WTTW, Chicago's major PBS affiliate, a special "Chicago Tonight" followed the presentation. It featured a panel discussion with Violence Interrupters Ameena Matthews, Eddie Bocanegra, and Cobe Williams, an interview with the filmakers and an interview with former Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis and CeaseFire Director Tio Hardiman. [more inside]
In 1993, Lifetime released Men Don't Tell, a landmark film exploring female on male domestic violence. [more inside]
In Do the Right Thing, the subject is not simply a race riot, but the tragic dynamic of racism, racial tension, and miscommunication, seen in microcosm. The film is a virtuoso act of creation, a movie at once realistic and symbolic, lighthearted and tragic, funny and savage... I have written here more about Lee’s ideas than about his style. To an unusual degree, you could not have one without the other: style is the magician’s left hand, distracting and entertaining us while the right hand produces the rabbit from the hat. It’s not what Lee does that makes his film so devastating, but how he does it. Do the Right Thing is one of the best-directed, best-made films of our time, a film in which the technical credits, the acting, and Lee’s brazenly fresh visual style all work together to make a statement about race in America that is all the more powerful because it blindsides us. - Roger Ebert (SPOILER) [more inside]
The Interrupters is a new film from Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here) about the work of CeaseFire's Violence Interrupters (previously), who work to prevent violence in Chicago with direct intervention and mediation. The film follows Ameena Matthews, the daughter of of a notorious gang leader; Eddie Bocanegra, who teaches art to children and is driven by remorse for a murder he committed when he was seventeen; and the charismatic Cobe Williams, who recently joined James and Kotlowitz for an interview with WFMT's Andrew Patner. Some of the videos contain strong language and scenes of violence.
The Return of a Clockwork Orange - Writers, artists, directors, UK film censors and starring actor Malcolm McDowell discuss Stanley Kubrick's classic film A Clockwork Orange
This European filmmaker is in the midst of remaking one of his most controversial films for an American audience. Funny Games is a film that may be difficult to watch for many. Here is the trailer from the original 1997 version of the film. Micheael Haneke wants audiences to think about their own beliefs regarding violence (insightful spoilers inside). Can Haneke find success with an American audience with a "shot by shot" remake? Haneke discussed previously on mefi here and here. [more inside]
"It has always been as if I carry chaos with me the way others carry typhoid. My purpose in writing is to transcend my existence by illuminating it." Crime novelist Edward Bunker, who died last Tuesday at age 71 (LATimes obit), became at 17 the youngest inmate at San Quentin after he stabbed a prison guard at a youth detention facility. It was during his 18 years of incarceration for robbery, check forgery and other crimes that Bunker learned to write. In 1973, while still in prison, he made his literary debut with "No Beast So Fierce", a novel about a paroled thief James Ellroy called "quite simply one of the great crime novels of the past 30 years" and that was made into the movie "Straight Time" starring Dustin Hoffman. Also a screenwriter ("Runaway Train"), Bunker appeared as an actor in nearly two dozen roles, most notably as Mr. Blue in "Reservoir Dogs." (more inside)
Cannes film sickens audience It proved so shocking that 250 people walked out, some needing medical attention. Good lord.
Bowling for Columbine Michael Moore, the visionary documentary maker, has the big hit at Cannes this year with Bowling for Columbine. Ostensibly a film about guns and violence in America