Latest Features

Fall 2014 Preview: Our 20 Most-Anticipated Festival Films

Written by TFS Staff, August 27, 2014 at 3:30 pm 

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After looking at 20 of our favorite fall films thus far and another 20 we’re looking forward to, our last fall preview explores the festival line-ups. From Venice to Toronto to NYFF to a few question marks, the below 20 films either have yet to secure distribution or a release date. While it might be wishful thinking, we’re hoping the forthcoming reaction to the respective features is enough to see some of these in theaters by year’s end, but in all probability, the majority will unspool over the next year.

Considering the hundreds of titles premiering there a few we had to leave off  (Return to Ithaca, Far From Men, The Face of an Angel, Hungry Hearts, Cymbeline, Tokyo Tribe, Burying the Ex, Samba, and Hill of Freedom come to mind), but below, one can find the selections we’re most looking forward. As is the case with fall festival, many surprises are bound to occur along the way, so stay tuned for our reviews and let us know what you want to see most.

99 Homes (Ramin Bahrani)

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With Spider-Man consuming his life, it’s been four years since Andrew Garfield took part in a respectable drama and while Martin Scorsese‘s Silence is on the docket to shoot this year, before that we’ll get one of our most-anticipated films of the year. 99 Homes, set to premiere at Venice and then stop by Toronto, comes from the talented Ramin Bahrani, and follows Garfield as a construction worker , who is unemployed and must save his family’s home after it’s foreclosed. To do so, he links up with a shady realtor (Michael Shannon), for a pairing we can’t wait see. - Jordan R.

The Cobbler (Thomas McCarthy)

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While we’ll touch on a certain star hopefully returning to something promising later in this feature, the same case can be made for Adam Sandler. It seems like he’s made enough money from his execrable films (minus the underrated That’s My Boy) the last five years, and is looking to get a little more serious. Along with Jason Reitman‘s Men, Women & Children, he’s taken the lead in this fantastical Thomas McCarthy-directed tale. After the director has created the environment to give Peter Dinklage and Richard Jenkins career-best performances, hopefully the same is in store for Sandler. – Jordan R

The Cut (Fatih Akin)

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The latest film from Fatih Akin (Head-On, The Edge of Heaven) will finally premiere at this year’s Venice Film Festival and it’s easily one of our most-anticipated of the year. The Cut follows Tahar Rahim (A Prophet, The Past) as a man who, after surviving a genocide, is on a search to reunite with his twin daughters. With Akin drawing inspiration from Martin Scorsese, Terrence Malick, Sergio Leone, and Bernardo Bertolucci, if it’s not yet on your radar, it’s time for it to appear. - Jordan R.

The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland)

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After the enveloping aural and visual experience that was Berberian Sound Studio, Peter Strickland has returned with what looks to be his riff on Ingmar Bergman‘s Persona. The Duke of Burgundy, world premiering at Toronto International Film Festival before a release by IFC Films, follows an amateur butterfly expert whose wayward desires test her lover’s tolerance. Produced by Ben Wheatley, it sounds quite enticing, so check back for our review. – Jordan R.

Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve)

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Although Mia Hansen-Løve may not yet be as widely known as her partner, she’s hardly inferior. What’s brought to her films, too, is an uncannily strong eye and ear for atmosphere, building each scene from distinct physical and formal elements until their convergence leads us to a rapturous climax. Considering how well she’s implemented music in the past, tackling the rise of the electronic / house scene — chronicled with the assistance of her brother and co-scribe, Sven Hansen-Løve, himself a veteran of said scene — in a multi-national narrative is simply too tantalizing to resist. (Has Greta Gerwig ever made anything worse, for that matter?) I’d be mighty hesitant to say anything yields potential to be generation-defining when it’s sight-unseen, but… well, what promise there is nevertheless. Eden, indeed, sounds like paradise.  - Nick N.

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Recommended Discs & Deals of the Week: ‘The Double,’ ‘All That Jazz,’ and More

Written by TFS Staff, August 26, 2014 at 4:03 pm 

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Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. If we were provided screener copies, we’ll have our own write-up, but if that’s not the case, one can find official descriptions from the distributors. Check out our rundown below and return every Tuesday for the best films one can take home. Note that if you’re looking to support the site, every purchase you make through the links below helps us and is greatly appreciated.

All That Jazz (Bob Fosse)

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Finally arriving on The Criterion Collection this week is Bob Fosse‘s finest film, the stunning, superb All That Jazz. Following Roy Scheider in an semi-autobiographical story as he attempts to mount a provocative play while editing a Hollywood stand-up film, juggling his family, love live, and drug habit, it’s an experience like none other. Courtesy of Criterion we have a new 4K restoration and special features including audio commentary with editor Alan Heim, various interviews with Fosse and the cast & crew, a pair of documentaries, and more. – Jordan R.

The Double (Richard Ayoade)

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Richard Ayoade’s The Double is darkly comic, unsettling, and visually stunning, with a perfect performance from Jesse Eisenberg as Dostoyevsky’s protagonist. So winning are Eisenberg’s “performances” as the unlucky drone and his brash, winking doppelganger — as are Ayoade’s shadow-filled visuals — that The Double feels like one of 2014’s most gobsmackingly original films. As is often the case when a tricky-to-categorize film emerges (see also: Under the Skin), The Double was unfairly ignored by some and saddled with obvious comparisons by others. (Yes, there are some Terry Gilliam-esque elements. No, it is not a Gilliam rip-off.) If anything, the tone calls to mind Tenant-era Polanski. How interesting that Polanski himself once attempted to film an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s novel. I imagine he would nod with approval at Richard Ayoade’s creation. – Chris S.

Rent:

age_of_uprising  belle  dance_of_reality  trust_me

Recommended Deals of the Week

(Note: new additions are in red)

The American (Blu-ray) – $6.00

Amelie (Blu-ray) - $6.94

The Big Lebowski (Blu-ray) – $9.96

The Cabin in the Woods (Blu-ray) - $7.88

Casino (Blu-ray) – $9.68

The Counselor (Director’s Cut Blu-ray) – $9.99

Drag Me To Hell (Blu-ray) – $8.49

Gangs of New York (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Goodfellas (Blu-ray) – $9.04

Gone Baby Gone (Blu-ray) – $6.00

The Grey (Blu-ray) – $9.13

Hanna (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Heat (Blu-ray) – $8.48

High Plains Drifter (Blu-ray) – $9.96

Hot Fuzz (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Hugo (Blu-ray) – $8.49

Inside Llewyn Davis (Blu-ray) – $12.98

Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) – $5.09

Killing Them Softly (Blu-ray) – $9.92

Knocked Up (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Looper (Blu-ray) – $9.50

Lost In Translation (Blu-ray) – $9.68

Office Space (Blu-ray) – $9.99

On the Road (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Pain & Gain (Blu-ray) – $8.39

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Blu-ray) – $9.99

The Place Beyond the Pines (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Pineapple Express (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Public Enemies (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Reality Bites (Blu-ray) – $9.96

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Blu-ray) – $10.99

Seven (Blu-ray) – $7.27

Shame (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Shutter Island (Blu-ray) – $7.99

The Spectacular Now (Blu-ray) – $12.74

Spring Breakers (Blu-ray) - $9.96

Stoker (Blu-ray) – $9.98

Submarine (Blu-ray) – $9.49

There Will Be Blood (Blu-ray) – $9.49

Vanilla Sky (Blu-ray pre-order) – $8.64

Zero Dark Thirty (Blu-ray) – $9.99

What are you picking up this week?

Fall 2014 Preview: Our 20 Most-Anticipated Films

Written by TFS Staff, August 26, 2014 at 12:30 pm 

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After highlighting the best films we’ve already seen arriving this fall, it’s time to venture into the unknown. Our next fall preview takes a look at the 20 most-anticipated features we have yet to see, either because the studio has yet to officially unveil them or, when it comes to a few, ones we’ve missed during their festival run.

While there’s the perhaps expected choices of celebrated auteurs making their return, the rundown also includes an inventive animation, a certain action star’s most promising dramatic material in some time, the directorial debut of a notable political satirist, and much more.

As one note, it has yet to be confirmed if Michael Mann‘s thriller Blackhat will qualify awards as rumors suggest, so we left it off, but rest assured if it does, it would be near the very top. Check out the feature below and let us know what you are most anticipating this fall in the comments.

20. The Interview (Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg; Dec. 25th)

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While a trio of comedy sequels will be arriving this fall (Horrible Bosses 2, Dumb and Dumber To, and Hot Tub Time Machine 2), the one that’s most caught our attention is Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg‘s This is the End follow-up, The Interview. Following Rogen and James Franco as TV journalists who get entangled in a plot to kill Kim Jong Un, the first teaser was light on laughs, but it was already enough to get North Korea perturbed. From the sounds of it, it might just be one of the stranger, more daring studio releases of the year, and that’s enough to pique our interest. – Jordan R.

19. St. Vincent (Theodore Melfi; Oct. 24th)

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After an all-too-brief appearance in The Grand Budapest Hotel and supporting the disappointing Monuments Men earlier this year, those in need of a Bill Murray fix will certainly get it with St. Vincent. Premiering at Toronto International Film Festival ahead of an October debut, it looks like prime material for the actor, who plays a cynical retiree who befriends a young neighbors. With an ensemble also including Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard and Naomi Watts, hopefully it’s a sleeper hit come fall. – Jordan R.

18. Men, Women & Children (Jason Reitman; Oct. 3rd)

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Barely registering during its theatrical run earlier this year, Jason Reitman‘s Labor Day was one of the bigger disappointments as of late, but the director has returned, reteaming with Paramount for another drama, one that’ll feel much more current. Based on Chad Kultgen‘s novel, Men, Women & Children follows families in a suburban town and the effect of the Internet on their way of life. The first trailer was enticing with its dialogue-free approach and, if nothing else, it’ll provide Adam Sandler with his most promising role in some time. - Jordan R.

17. Unbroken (Angelina Jolie; Dec. 25th)

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There has yet to be a trailer that been sold as premium Oscar-bait moreso than Unbroken this year, but based on the talents involved, we’re hoping that’s simply the necessary evils of marketing. Scripted by the Coens, shot by Roger Deakins, and directed by Angelina Jolie (whose debut In the Land of Blood and Honey was an accomplished drama), it follows the true story of WWII hero and Olympian Louis Zamperini who survived both a plane crash at sea and as a POW. While other biopic dramas this fall such as Kill the Messenger, The Theory of Everything (and Paradise Lost, to an extent) have yet to catch our attention, this one certainly does. - Jordan R.

16. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (Ned Benson; Sept. 12th and Oct. 10th)

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Spread across two months, you might get to decide which version of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby you’ll get to see, but chances are it’ll be the Them version, which consolidates the story into one, commercial-friendly release. Exploring the ups and downs of a marriage between a recently split couple (James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain), we’ve seen this more concise version, which makes for a respectable drama. However, our true anticipation lies in the more ambitious undertaking of crafting His and Hers, two feature-length films that approach the story from their respective sides, and experience like none other this year. – Jordan R.

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Fall 2014 Preview: 20 Best Films We’ve Already Seen

Written by TFS Staff, August 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm 

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With the summer cooling down, we’re entering perhaps the best time of year for fans of cinema with a variety festivals gearing up, some of which will hold premieres of our most-anticipated falls features. As we do each year, we’ve set out to provide a comprehensive preview of the films that should be on your radar, and first we’ll take a look at quality selections we can attest to. Ranging from a handful of premieres last fall to acclaimed debuts at Sundance, Cannes, and more, we’ve rounded up 20 titles that will arrive from September to December (in the U.S.) that are all well worth seeking out.

As a note, these didn’t make the cut but you can see our reviews at the links: No No: A Dockumentary (Sept. 5th), Kelly & Cal (Sept. 5th), The Skeleton Twins (Sept. 12th)Honeymoon (Sept. 12th), The Zero Theorem (Sept. 19th), Harmontown (Oct. 3rd), Camp X-Ray (Oct. 17th), Young Ones (Oct. 17th), Housebound (Oct. 17th), Laggies (Oct. 24th), Horns (Oct. 31st), Open Windows (Nov. 7th), The Homesman (Nov. 14th), and R100 (Dec. 12th).

Check out the 20 best fall 2014 films we’ve already seen below in chronological order, including links to complete reviews, and return for two more preview features this week:

God Help the Girl (Stuart Murdoch; Sept. 5th)

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The directorial debut of Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch has been a long time coming and it’s well worth the wait. Initially conceived a decade ago, in 2009 he released an album of the same name which would be the foundation for the film that premiere at this year’s Sundance. While our review was mixed, I found the story following a youthful band to be brimming with sincere energy and one that would make a great pairing with this year’s We Are the Best! (or even Not Fade Away, which was severely overlooked a few years back). – Jordan R.

Memphis (Tim Sutton; Sept. 5th)

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Deep within the tumultuous, creative mind of musician Willis Earl Beal (played by the real-life musician of the same name) is where writer/director Tim Sutton‘s Memphis takes place. When we first meet Willis, he’s talking big and bad at the host of a local Memphis talk show. He describes his work as “sorcery,” a kind of trickery of the human soul. What follows is Willis’ fight against normalcy. Though it’s clear the man has found some success in the music business, he spends his days wandering around Memphis on his own, mumbling to himself and those around him. He’s got a mostly ex-lover and child he barely sees and a fleeting wish to rediscover his faith. In one poignant scene, Willis, dressed in a sloppily put-together suit, attempts to address an excited congregation only to go speechless. - Dan M. (full review)

Stray Dogs (Tsai Ming-liang; Sept. 12th)

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A woman sits at the edge of a bed, brushing her hair while a young boy and girl are positioned to her side, sleeping soundly. The camera, stationary, can capture nothing but the shapes of three bodies, segments of a comforter, and a wall whose minimal qualities of design would give the stronger impression of a small film set than actual room. This sequence proceeds for a few minutes; no dialogue is spoken and none of these people are identified, yet one can understand, on an almost-instinctual level, that it’s a mother figure, either worn down by her children or sitting in blissful relaxation. Not that we need read too greatly into this bare situation: an explication of circumstance is not necessary, nor is the opportunity for an explication of circumstance necessarily provided. Taken both in its entirety and viewed within proper context, the image is as much a proposition as an introduction, demanding our acclimation to a peculiar tenor of temporal cinematic geography — no room for personal compromise included. – Nick N. (full review)

The Guest (Adam Wingard; Sept. 17th)

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How blue can human eyes get? The question is answered succinctly in Adam Wingard‘s The Guest, a comfortably diverting riff on most all of the action/thriller elements from the ’80s that made performers like Kurt Russell bigger than life. The Guest opens with a knock on the door. The woman answering the door is Laura (Sheila Kelley), the mother of Caleb, who was killed in Afghanistan. The man at the door is David (Dan Stevens), a too-handsome-to-be-real veteran with a message to deliver to Caleb’s family. Overwhelmed with gratitude by David’s act, Laura invites him into her home and makes him feel like part of the family, which also includes her husband Spencer (Leland Orser), daughter Anna (Maika Monroe) and young son Luke (Brendan Meyer). Before long, David is the man of the house, solving any and all problems with a devil-may-care smile and some extremely violent, extremely entertaining fighting techniques. – Dan M. (full review)

Tracks (John Curran; Sept. 19th)

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A stunningly beautiful film, director John Curran‘s Tracks traces the physical and psychological 1,700-mile trek of Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) from the central Australian town of Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean. As masterfully shot by Mandy Walker, the film has images that, at times, are lucid, while its structure and Curran’s direction takes little risks. Inspired by an award-winning 1980 account (expanded from a National Geographic article published in 1979), Tracks allows us to share a journey that shaped Robyn, an awkward young woman who survived in Alice Springs doing odd jobs in exchange for a camel. - John F. (full review)

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New to Streaming: ‘The Three Colors Trilogy,’ ‘The Zero Theorem,’ ‘Jealousy,’ ‘Winter Soldier,’ and More

Written by TFS Staff, August 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm 

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With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit the interwebs. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below, and shoot over suggestions to @TheFilmStage

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Anthony Russo and Joe Russo)

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Marvel should take what Captain America: The Winter Soldier does and use it as the rubric to follow with subsequent phases. Iron Man 3 does well using what happened in The Avengers as a way to evolve its lead and work towards the dark, scary future our world is becoming in real life and in the comics to warrant such a need for superheroes in the first place. But Tony Stark is a sarcastic genius we either aspire to be as cool as or begrudge his smug sense of entitlement despite saving America numerous times. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is the exact opposite. He’s a regular Joe who risked his life just to attempt being a hero; a man who lost decades sacrificing himself for freedom’s salvation; and the one man strong-willed enough to corral the egos surrounding him and stand with unwavering loyalty to those he serves. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

The Dog (Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren)

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The Dog is a lively, epic documentary biography of John Wojtowicz, an anti-hero of sorts in New York’s gay rights movement. A later episode in his life would be immortalized in Sidney Lumet’s 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon and while that remains a masterpiece, The Dog, shot with Wojtowicz from 2002 till his death in 2006 is a complete biography, going beyond Lumet’s film and Pierre Huyghe’s 1999 installation The Third Memory. That project featured, like The Dog, a direct address by Wojitowicz walking us through the details that Hollywood, well, made more “Hollywood” in Dog Day. – John F. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Draft Day (Ivan Reitman)

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Kevin Costner built his career as a movie star on one American Pastime. With Draft Day, directed by Ivan Reitman, we get the aged actor’s continued attempt at a leading man resurrection via the “new” American Pastime. Trading the glove for the pigskin, Costner stars as Sonny Weaver Jr., the much-maligned General Manager of the Cleveland Browns. It’s the morning of the NFL Draft and Sonny has just traded for the number one pick. Over the course of one day, our man will face the possible loss of his job and his girlfriend, played here by a very-game Jennifer Garner. – Dan M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Jealousy (Philippe Garrel)

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Relationships are never simple and they certainly don’t feel easy in Jealousy. However, there is a seeming simplicity to the filmmaking, courtesy of veteran filmmaker Philippe Garrel, whose latest film finally arrives in United States after a year-long festival tour. Many of the shots are static, locations are kept to a minimum and the script revolves around one couple and their tumultuous relationship. One character in particular, Claudia (Anna Mouglalis) struggles with her desires, passions, and insecurities, affecting the more stable of the two. – Will M. (full review)

Where to Stream: iTunes

Teenage (Matt Wolf)

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Matt Wolf’s Teenage is an awfully bland telling of an interesting story. Combining media, including archival materials with some newly shot footage, it traces the development of the adolescent. Early on it claims that “adolescence is the new birth,” a post-war, post-Industrial Revolution phenomenon with the improvement of child labor laws. Based on the book by John Savage, part of the problem is the narration. Found footage documentary is a powerful genre, with admirable essay films employing the technique, notably by two British masters. Julian Temple‘s London: The Modern Babylon was a rare overlooked gem from the Toronto International Film Festival last year and Terence Davies has also used this technique to unpack truths about his life, sexuality, and location. – John F. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix

The Three Colors Trilogy (Krzysztof Kieślowski)

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If he were to only craft The Decalogue, Krzysztof Kieślowski would be considered one of our greatest filmmakers, but along with that 10-part series and stellar stand-alone features, before he passed the Polish master gave us the Three Colors Trilogy, made up of Blue, White, and Red. Each distinctly of their own, they feature perhaps Juliette Binoche and Irène Jacob‘s finest as Kieślowski vividly weaves through tragedy, fate, and even comedy. Aside from their must-own box set, it’s been on Criterion’s Hulu+ channel for some time and now the trilogy has newly been added to their iTunes collection. – Jordan R.

Where to Stream: iTunes

To Be Takei (Jennifer M. Kroot)

One of the most iconic members of the original Star Trek cast, George Takei has reinvented himself over the years to stay relevant in the cultural zeitgeist of our times. Using his magnetic charisma and positivity he has become a notable advocate for gay marriage, an important voice in recognizing the horrors of the Japanese internment camps all while delighting millions daily with his popular Facebook posts. The documentary chronicles the day to day life of George and his husband Brad while exploring the trajectory that made Takei who he is today. While the film is fun to watch, especially for fans of the luminary actor, it cannot escape the feeling that it was originally intended to be a reality show, which would probably be a better fit for the antics of George and Brad. – Raffi A.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Under the Electric Sky (Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz)

Profiling the Electric Daisy Carnival, an annual concert that takes place in a sprawling Las Vegas stadium, this 3D concert documentary takes you into the heart of EDM culture. By following around several attendees who travel far and wide to attend this annual orgy of neon lights and bass thumping music, the film sometimes feels like a glorified advertisement for the festival. It also glosses over the rampant drug use prevalent at these types of events. However, the experience as a whole is nearly as fun as attending the concert and it’s hard not to dance in your chair along with the thousands of concert goers experiencing the ecstasy of the journey. - Raffi A.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

The Zero Theorem (Terry Gilliam)

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The comparisons between The Zero Theorem and Terry Gilliam’s most-beloved film are inevitable: dystopian sci-fi, a looming corporation, one lone man navigating this future yet, hopelessly, a drone to the very end. But Terry Gilliam better damn well have a reason for blatantly positioning his newest as a return to Brazil. The issue at hand is that, ultimately, The Zero Theorem seems to have no justification for itself, despite the potential of a wealth of contemporary issues, whether it’s  the technological overload of social media or its ensuing series of political contradictions. Of course, the ultimate irony of this film is that it revolves around the old thematic chestnut of pointless existence, yet ultimately finds little reason for its own. - Ethan V. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Also New to Streaming

Amazon

Are You Here

Netflix

Go For Sisters
Great Expectations
Thanks for Sharing
The Unknown Known

What are you streaming this weekend?

Discover more titles that are now available to stream.

Recommended Discs & Deals of the Week: ‘Only Lovers Left Alive,’ ‘Y Tu Mamá También,’ ‘Shame’ and More

Written by TFS Staff, August 19, 2014 at 2:25 pm 

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Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. If we were provided screener copies, we’ll have our own write-up, but if that’s not the case, one can find official descriptions from the distributors. Check out our rundown below and return every Tuesday for the best films one can take home. Note that if you’re looking to support the site, every purchase you make through the links below helps us and is greatly appreciated.

Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)

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From its opening, woozy camera swirls and, even, the genre-satisfying final shot, Jim Jarmusch’s vampire film is unlike any you’ve ever seen, mostly because it can’t be bothered to take too deep an interest in the subject. Instead of human-hunting or castle-scouring, he asks us to spend a bit of time with two mouthpieces of his own snobby, cranky, ultimately affable personality as they… talk art. That’s the extent of it, event-wise, but there’s too much else to dismiss, most notably the trenchant commentary on why people are attracted to these sorts of things in the first place and why, unfortunately, it might not make us as happy as we feel. Yet, for all its elucidating on that point, few films from 2014 offer as much pleasure as Only Lovers Left Alive. – Nick N.

Manakamana (Stephanie Spray, Pacho Velez)

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While it’ll easily end up being one of the lowest-grossing features on this list, the latest work from the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab is also one of the most powerful, transformative experiences one is bound to experience this year. Taking a different approach than Sweetgrass and Leviathan, Manakamana places us as a passenger on twelve separate trips to and from the titular sacred temple in Nepal. While some may consider it an endurance test, I found it to be a warm, vulnerable exploration of humanity, stripping down barriers which even the vast majority of documentaries can’t help but produce. – Jordan R.

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (Pedro Almodóvar)

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Pedro Almodóvar’s colorful and controversial tribute to the pleasures and perils of Stockholm syndrome, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! is a rambunctious dark comedy starring Antonio Banderas as an unbalanced but alluring ex-mental-patient and Victoria Abril as the B-movie and former porn star he takes prisoner in the hopes of convincing her to marry him. A highly unconventional romance that came on the spike heels of Almodóvar’s international sensation Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, this is a splashy, sexy central work in the career of one of the world’s most beloved and provocative auteurs, radiantly shot by the director’s great cinematographer, José Luis Alcaine. – Criterion.com

Y Tu Mamá También (Alfonso Cuarón)

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Before he took us to space or ventured in to the (hopefully not) near future, Alfonso Cuarón provided a stripped-down road trip dramedy that remains one of his best works. Y Tu Mamá También, released in 2001, follows Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna on a sensual, funny journey with Maribel Verdúa across Mexico. It’s the sort of project we hope Cuarón will one day return to and now it’s available through The Criterion Collection. Along with a restored transfer, the disc also includes interviews with the cast and crew, Slavoj Žižek, an on-set documentary and a short film from Alfonso’s brother, Carlos Cuarón. - Jordan R.

Rent:

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Recommended Deals of the Week

(Note: new additions are in red)

The American (Blu-ray) – $6.00

Amelie (Blu-ray) - $6.94

The Big Lebowski (Blu-ray) – $9.96

The Cabin in the Woods (Blu-ray) - $7.90

Casino (Blu-ray) – $9.68

The Counselor (Director’s Cut Blu-ray) – $9.99

Drag Me To Hell (Blu-ray) – $8.49

The Double (Blu-ray) – $12.26

Gangs of New York (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Goodfellas (Blu-ray) – $9.04

Gone Baby Gone (Blu-ray) – $6.00

The Grey (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Hanna (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Heat (Blu-ray) – $8.48

High Plains Drifter (Blu-ray) – $9.96

Hot Fuzz (Blu-ray) – $7.28

Hugo (Blu-ray) – $8.49

Indiana Jones & the Raiders of the Lost Ark (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Inside Llewyn Davis (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) – $5.00

Killing Them Softly (Blu-ray) – $9.92

Knocked Up (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Looper (Blu-ray) – $9.50

Lost In Translation (Blu-ray) – $9.68

Office Space (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Pain & Gain (Blu-ray) – $7.99

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Blu-ray) – $9.99

The Place Beyond the Pines (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Public Enemies (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) – $7.00

Reality Bites (Blu-ray) – $9.96

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Blu-ray) – $10.99

Seven (Blu-ray) – $6.86

Shame (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Shutter Island (Blu-ray) – $7.99

The Spectacular Now (Blu-ray) – $12.74

Spring Breakers (Blu-ray) - $9.96

Stoker (Blu-ray) – $9.98

There Will Be Blood (Blu-ray) – $9.49

Vanilla Sky (Blu-ray) – $8.64

Zero Dark Thirty (Blu-ray) – $9.99

What are you picking up this week?

New to Streaming: ‘Only Lovers Left Alive,’ ‘Neighbors,’ ‘Manakamana,’ ‘Dinosaur 13′ and More

Written by TFS Staff, August 15, 2014 at 3:13 pm 

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With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit the interwebs. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below, and shoot over suggestions to @TheFilmStage

Belle (Amma Asante)

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Directed by Amma Asante, Belle quietly became one of the surprise hits of the summer, and now it’s available to stream. Featuring Gugu Mbatha-Raw (who has previously starred in a wealth of TV, along with Larry Crowne) as an illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral, the film has earned much acclaim since its Toronto International Film Festival last year. The top-notch ensemble also includes Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Sarah Gadon, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Tom Felton, James Norton, Matthew Goode and Emily Watson. – Jordan R.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Breathe In (Drake Doremus)

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In nearly every possible way is Drake Doremus‘ Like Crazy follow-up, Breathe In, a more mature, confident and impressive piece of work. For the first hour at least. Featuring quietly devastating performances from Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan, who play a couple at the bitter end of a 17-year old marriage, Doremus allows his actors to act, slowly letting us into this family that is broken to pieces once foreign exchange student Sophie (Felicity Jones) comes to stay. He and cinematographer John Guleserian let the camera stay put for the most part, a welcome change of pace from the handheld shakery that consumed Like Crazy. It’s a handsomely shot film that makes the very most of its Upstate New York setting. At once dreary and serene, the color tone of the picture very succinctly meshes with the emotional pull going on inside this home. All is wrapped together with a beautiful score from Katie Byron. – Dan M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Capital (Costa-Gavras)

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Capital, accomplished filmmaker Costa-Gavras‘ new film set within the world of corporate finance, is a fast-paced, cynical piece of entertainment that serves as a surprisingly simple criticism of our uneven system of dollars and cents. The film opens with the CEO of Phenix, one of Europe’s largest banks, collapsing on a golf course. Marc Tourneil (Gad Elmaleh), the CEO’s heir apparent, then turns to the camera and explains to us what will happen next. - Dan M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix

Dinosaur 13 (Todd Douglas Miller)

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While production on Jurassic World recently wrapped, if one needs a dinosaur fix before next summer, this documentary might do the trick. Coming from director Todd Douglas MillerDinosaur 13 premiered at Sundance Film Festival and is now on VOD. The story focuses on paleontologist Peter Larson and his team who discovered the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found back in 1990. To their dismay, the U.S. government stepped in, confiscating their files and the dinosaur and the project chronicles their decade-long fight. – Jordan R.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Manakamana (Stephanie Spray, Pacho Velez)

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While it’ll easily end up being one of the lowest-grossing features on this list, the latest work from the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab is also one of the most powerful, transformative experiences one is bound to experience this year. Taking a different approach than Sweetgrass and Leviathan, Manakamana places us as a passenger on twelve separate trips to and from the titular sacred temple in Nepal. While some may consider it an endurance test, I found it to be a warm, vulnerable exploration of humanity, stripping down barriers which even the vast majority of documentaries can’t help but produce. – Jordan R.

Where to Stream: iTunes

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NYC Weekend Watch: ‘A Better Tomorrow,’ ‘Pola X,’ ‘The Killing,’ and More

Written by Nick Newman, August 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm 

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Since any New York City cinephile has a nearly suffocating wealth of theatrical options, we figured it’d be best to compile some of the more worthwhile repertory showings into one handy list. Displayed below are a few of the city’s most reliable theaters and links to screenings of their weekend offerings — films you’re not likely to see in a theater again anytime soon, and many of which are, also, on 35mm. If you have a chance to attend any of these, we’re of the mind that it’s time extremely well-spent.

Museum of the Moving Image

For “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: The Cinema of Patrick Lung Kong,” The Story of a Discharged Prisoner will play on Friday; Teddy Girls comes on Saturday; and A Better Tomorrow is offered this Sunday. Patrick Lung Kong and Tsui Hark will be available for Q & As following these films.

“See It Big!: Hollywood Melodrama” has two versions of Imitation of Life on-hand: the first by John Stahl, the second by Douglas Sirk, both of which screen on Sunday.

pola x posterFilm Forum

“Carax” brings what the title promises. This Friday offers screenings of his latest picture, Holy Motors, while a print of his best picture, The Lovers on the Bridge, is made available. Mauvais Sang and the rare Pola X (on 35mm) occupy Sunday, along with the Motors-inspiring Eyes Without a Face.

A double-feature of Kubrick‘s The Killing and Gun Crazy runs all weekend.

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Red Hollywood and the Blacklist” looks at one of the darker periods of American politics with several titles, including an exclusive theatrical run of Thom Anderson‘s Red Hollywood.

Blood for Dracula is offered near midnight on Friday.

Poster_of_the_movie_The_Baron_of_ArizonaMuseum of Modern Art

The Great War: A Cinematic Legacy” and “A Fuller Life” continue their excellent runs.

Nitehawk Cinema

Kathryn Bigelow‘s Near Dark plays on 35mm this Friday and Saturday at midnight, as part of their “Bite This!” series.

Celebrating Alec Guinness‘ centennial is “Art Seen,” with The Horse’s Mouth having brunch-accompanied screenings Saturday and Sunday at noon.

IFC Center

The Shining plays Friday and Saturday at midnight.

What are you watching this weekend?

Recommended Discs & Deals of the Week: ‘Locke,’ ‘Out of the Past,’ ‘Love Streams,’ and More

Written by TFS Staff, August 12, 2014 at 2:00 pm 

OUT OF THE PAST / BUILD MY GALLOWS HIGH

Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. If we were provided screener copies, we’ll have our own write-up, but if that’s not the case, one can find official descriptions from the distributors. Check out our rundown below and return every Tuesday for the best films one can take home. Note that if you’re looking to support the site, every purchase you make through the links below helps us and is greatly appreciated.

Locke (Steven Knight)

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In Steven Knight’s Locke the whole wide world is reduced to the nighttime interiors of Tom Hardy’s car. For most films, this kind of gimmicky paring-down would signal a limited, specialized experience, an artificial hurdle the drama could never overcome. I’ve seen Colin Farrell trapped in a phone booth, Stephen Dorff locked in a trunk and Ryan Reynolds buried under the dirt in a coffin, but Locke ends up being more riveting and suspenseful than all of them. – Nathan B. (full review)

Love Streams (John Cassavettes)

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The electric filmmaking genius John Cassavetes and his brilliant wife and collaborator Gena Rowlands give luminous, fragile performances as two closely bound, emotionally wounded souls who reunite after years apart. Exhilarating and risky, mixing sober realism with surreal flourishes, Love Streams is a remarkable film that comes at the viewer in a torrent of beautiful, erratic feeling. This inquiry into the nature of love in all its forms was Cassavetes’s last truly personal work. – Criterion.com

Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur)

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Few film noirs are as compelling and well-acted as this Jacques Tourneur classic from 1947. Following Robert Mitchum as a private investigator who is gets intertwined with both a femme fatale (Jane Greer) and shady mobster (Kirk Douglas), Out of the Past is a bleak, razor-sharp tumble into darkness that one won’t soon forgot. Now available on Blu-ray, the only special feature is a decade-old commentary with film historian James Ursini, but it’s well worth picking up regardless. – Jordan R.

Rent:

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Recommended Deals of the Week

(Note: new additions are in red)

The American (Blu-ray) – $5.75

Amelie (Blu-ray) - $6.94

The Big Lebowski (Blu-ray) – $9.96

The Cabin in the Woods (Blu-ray) - $7.90

Casino (Blu-ray) – $9.68

The Counselor (Director’s Cut Blu-ray) – $9.99

Drag Me To Hell (Blu-ray) – $7.50

The Double (Blu-ray) – $12.26

Gangs of New York (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Goodfellas (Blu-ray) – $9.04

Gone Baby Gone (Blu-ray) – $6.00

The Grey (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Hanna (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Heat (Blu-ray) – $8.48

High Plains Drifter (Blu-ray) – $9.96

Hot Fuzz (Blu-ray) – $7.00

Hugo (Blu-ray) – $8.49

Inside Llewyn Davis (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) – $5.00

Jaws (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Killing Them Softly (Blu-ray) – $9.92

Knocked Up (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Looper (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Lost In Translation (Blu-ray) – $9.68

No Country For Old Men (Blu-ray) – $4.50

Office Space (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Pain & Gain (Blu-ray) – $7.99

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Blu-ray) – $9.99

The Place Beyond the Pines (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Public Enemies (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) – $7.00

Reality Bites (Blu-ray) – $9.96

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Blu-ray) – $10.99

Seven (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Shutter Island (Blu-ray) – $8.48

The Spectacular Now (Blu-ray) – $12.74

Spring Breakers (Blu-ray) - $9.96

There Will Be Blood (Blu-ray) – $9.49

Vanilla Sky (Blu-ray) – $8.64

Zero Dark Thirty (Blu-ray) – $9.99

What are you picking up this week?

How ‘The Missing Pieces’ Deepen the Legacy of ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me’

Written by Nick Newman, August 11, 2014 at 1:30 pm 

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Three disclaimers before moving forward:

1. Because this piece has been written by someone who simply cannot discuss Twin Peaks from a newcomer’s perspective, the following contains numerous spoilers for both the 30-episode series and its prequel / sequel film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

2. Those who’ve not had the fortune of viewing these scenes would be well-off picking up the set for themselves or, if they must, comb over a thorough recap to get some lay of the land. But if you’ve waited this long, why compromise what’s finally available with the words of another?

3. We’re gonna talk about Judy; we’re not gonna keep her out of it.

The wealth of scenes excised from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me have plagued a very dedicated fandom for more than two decades, in time only looming larger and larger over the legacy of both the 1992 picture and its landmark TV predecessor. Fans have hardly been compensated, waiting decades and, some exceptions notwithstanding — grainy behind-the-scenes photos, or the opportunity to envision what might be by poring over an ungainly script — to no avail whatsoever. Regardless of where you stand on his divisive feature, it’s easy to now recognize that ancillary material as a millstone  — in this fan’s estimation, one that no domestic-abuse drama already driven by such honesty, brutality, and passion deserves.

If you’ve felt the unique pain of this anticipation, it should go without saying that a recent trailer promising some 90 minutes of these scenes — possibly all the “extra” material that had been filmed, judging by this comprehensive breakdown of Lynch and Robert Engels’s original script — offered a thrill unlike almost anything I’d experienced in a very long time. On the surface, a fanboy-ish indulgence much in the vein of reactions I’m quick to criticize; deep down, however, the sudden (and unexpected) satisfying of a desire I’d had pent up for years. As I said to one friend when the first preview hit in May, to finally have a glimpse at these near-mythical scenes, however piecemeal the presentation, was akin to seeing a long-recurring dream slowly, vividly come to life.

Thus it should also be understood that watching the full collection — sold under an aware-of-its-legacy title, The Missing Pieces, and as the main attraction of the recently released Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery Blu-ray set — proved an absolutely disorienting experience, rendering any traditional assessment nearly impossible. (Part of me likes to think this is true of almost all deleted-scenes presentations, though those stated-above reasons would only be further exacerbation.) For anyone who cares about the show, the film, and what that long experience encompasses for the receptive viewer, these scenes are too overwhelming to make for a passive experience. Judging by the litany of reactions that have flooded out in recent weeks, people want to talk about it — first, upon their premiere, in recap form, and since then in the sense of asking “what does it all mean?” Because we’ve seen numerous summaries of these sequences and, over the years, enough has been done to tackle the strange beast that is Fire Walk With Me, few “new” angles are left, if any could be said to exist at all. But a good one hasn’t been mined as much I’d expect: assessing The Missing Pieces as a deepening of the Twin Peaks legacy — the path toward a deeper understanding of the 30-episode series, its big-screen counterpart, and the beautiful frustration that become inherent to mad love for a long-gone cult show.

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Nestled in a strange space between lavish cutting-room-floor salvation and enticing new feature, it’s as hard to pin down as almost anything in the Lynch oeuvre. A big contradiction defines this experience: its action runs in the same order as Fire’s narrative and, yet, is divorced from the context of that story, all at once breeding both general coherence and absolute bemusement. Its seemingly aware that we’ll be watching with full knowledge of already-seen events at our disposal, permitting a certain indulgence in the unexplained that, even for Lynch, is especially palpable, the gateway to a Lynchian expression on par with some of Inland Empire’s headier segments. Given their decades-old status and the unliklihood of any follow-up, however, the ripples created at any single point may never cease undulation.

While we may have a better grasp on what Phillip Jeffries (a southern-accent-donning David Bowie) was up to before and after his beguiling one-scene appearance, the snatches of new dialogue open possibilities we may have never even thought a part of Twin Peaks‘ world. (Excepting, that is, the mystery of Judy, who Jeffries had famously refused to “talk about.” The Missing Pieces expand: he does, in fact, talk about her just a bit, and in doing so [somewhat] clarifies the significance of her small role in this series. How amusing that it only took a few extra seconds and some additional sentences to dissipate a 22-year-old mystery.) Yet the more expansive, longer sequences are largely a more open-and-shut affair and a longer road toward the same dead ends. This is evidenced by the Jeffries companion, in which BOB and The Man from Another Place’s negotiation is extended by significant lenghts. The pure intensity of this sequence is jaw-dropping — seen on Blu-ray, the modern-day AV quality brought to that long-lost item, bringing Frank Silva‘s terrifying creation “back” in fierce form, may be as strong a case for HD home presentations as any disc I’ve yet encountered.

The show’s final episodes hinted, somewhat obliquely, that what we’d been watching all this time was not exactly an “original” series of events — rather the latest trip around a circular construction that its characters are destined to repeat over and over. Richer though it may grow with time and subsequent revisits, Fire Walk With Me continues to frustrate in at least one respect (even if only slightly and not enough to significantly detract): how it complemented this specific conceit without diving a smidge deeper, leaving certain pieces (e.g. the return of Annie Blackburn) dangling. It wasn’t meant to be this way, of course: the final two items, set “Some Months Later,” feel as if they’d begin either a third season or second film. That we’ll probably get no more is positively maddening, and Cooper’s scenes, both pre- and post-series — this former setting bringing a one-person dialogue with Diane, the existence of whom we still can’t determine to be real — are terrific, albeit emblematic of the enticing problem at this franchise’s center.

Consider a line from Episode 4, wherein Cooper summed up his peculiar tactics like so: “In the heat of investigative pursuit, the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line.” Instead of breaking Twin Peaks’s circular trajectory into a straight line, everything now bolstered by clear incepting and concluding points, these additional segments mostly expand the circumference — an effect that is now the closest we can come to solving an unsolvable puzzle. Lynch, I think, had mostly asked that we go further in embracing the mystery as less a series of questions and more a system shock of sight, sound, and feeling.

Twin Peaks - Fire Walk With Me

And, perhaps, asked us to stop complaining about his mistreated passion project. Since Peaks fandom is relatively large, numbers-wise, and has much to work from, speaking in terms of content — plot, mythology, tone, cast, formalism; it remains one of the most well-mounted series in TV history — it seems impossible that any two viewers will walk away with the exact same feelings. One effect that’s likely to appear with some consistency is an enhanced understanding (perhaps outright appreciation) of Fire Walk With Me, a picture that, despite its recently burgeoned reputation, some corners continue to malign for its supposedly errant shift from beloved series regulars. If, indeed, I cannot reasonably assume how these stung faithful will feel about the scenes themselves — save for the laugh elicited be Nadine’s three-second appearance, or the familiar comfort of a secluded nighttime date between Ed and Norma — I have, regardless, noticed that some are coming around to the purpose behind the 1992 film. In short: nice though these scenes may be, it only highlights how unnecessary the inclusion of their likes is to Laura Palmer’s story. Much like the mythology-heavy characters who’ve been fleshed out in prior sequences, it takes us through memory lane and perhaps nowhere else, but when we haven’t seen them in so long — and when their true purpose in Fire Walk With Me was, in fact, fan service — their brief return provides the as-intended comfort without infringing upon a stronger narrative.

Which could speak to why the only scenes with any sense of stagnation involve Laura herself: simply put, shedding light on hidden corners, even those that prove tangential, enlivens Peaks’s sprawling saga more than a different angle on what’s been established through other narratives. Any story that’s been experienced multiple times — through the lens of those who knew her, through the lens of her final seven days, and, if you’re a particularly adventurous fan, on the pages of her secret diary — can be recounted beat for beat, “missing pieces” or not. Having an additional peek at everything may fail to account for the odd structural choices Lynch made in Fire Walk With Me (this, despite Chester Desmond and Sam Stanley’s extra material pleasing just fine), but more sex, more drugs, and more fights with loved ones mostly stress just how Lynch focused his efforts in 1992. Having not seen the film in nearly four years was hardly an issue, as far as context is concerned — its portrayal of an incestuous nightmare proves core-shaking as is. When the excised is restored, the retained has been bolstered.

The Missing Pieces are undoubtedly an essential part of Twin Peaks’s legacy, but perhaps not to the effect voracious fans might have anticipated. Where one scene expands — another example: the Log Lady’s most human moment, briefly seen here, is both a supplanting of and complement to one of her only personable appearances in the original series — another contracts, making us ask where things might have gone if box-office returns were more fruitful. If this collection doesn’t exactly leave us at square one, we’re mostly unsure as to how much can be “applied,” mystery-obsessive-wise. How nice, though when the show many love with such passion had never even intended to solve the mystery at its dark heart, why hope to have our perceptions reconfigured now? Among a litany of pleasures offered by The Missing Pieces, its greatest may be a vindication of original intent.

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery is now available on Blu-ray.

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