The Grab Bag (Feb. 11, 2014)

OFCS members don’t just write film reviews. Here are several articles you might find interesting.

Awards Coverage

The 86th Annual Academy Awards: Best Actress

Jerry Roberts @ Armchair Cinema

  • Excerpt: It’s a sure thing for Blanchett . . . but not so fast.

The 86th Annual Academy Awards: Best Costume Design

Jerry Roberts @ Armchair Cinema

  • Excerpt: Period frocks may yeild to Polyester and Butterfly collars

The 86th Annual Academy Awards: Best Costume Design

Jerry Roberts @ Armchair Cinema

  • Excerpt: An very wide range of styles, but the end result may land in the polyester vortex of “American Hustle”

The 86th Annual Academy Awards: Best Original Screenplay

Jerry Roberts @ Armchair Cinema

  • Excerpt: A first glance at the nominees would tell you that David O. Russell is going home with the award. The WGA indicates something different.

Oscar Preview: Precursor Winners & Losers, Week 10

Wesley Lovell @ Cinema Sight

  • Excerpt: Looking at the big winners and losers of the tenth week of Oscar Precursor Season.


Hank Paulson on “Hank: Five Years from the Brink”

Nell Minow @ The Huffington Post

Mark Cousins – Filmmaker, Historian, Author, and Altar Boy of Cinema

Matthew Blevins @

Festivals: General Coverage

Europa Utopia

Michael Pattison @ The Notebook / Mubi

Nagging Doubts

Michael Pattison @ The Notebook / Mubi

Oscars: Sundancing Into Awards History or Obscurity

Erik Childress @

Festivals: Individual Reviews

Dog Days

Mike McGranaghan @ Film Racket

The Double

Don Simpson @ Film Threat

  • Excerpt: Channeling the dark and moody dystopian worlds of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Delicatessen, The Double is staged in a universe that seems futuristic but also recalls the early days of computer databases. The Double speaks rather metaphorically to the horrors of the homogenization of post-industrialized society, creating an Orwellian environment that is bogged down in the quagmire of ridiculously absurd bureaucratic processes.

The Foxy Merkins

Don Simpson @ Film Threat

  • Excerpt: The Foxy Merkins deserves credit for its brazen approach to an otherwise overlooked subject, as Olnek cleverly discusses the economics of prostitution, specifically how the shape and size of one’s body factors into the equation.

The Guest

Don Simpson @ Film Threat

  • Excerpt: The fight scenes are just as humorous as they are impressively choreographed, culminating in a visually orgasmic coup de grâce set in a haunted house. Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett have really outdone themselves with The Guest, with chilling black comedy and astounding visual panache it is the most fantastically entertaining action flick of recent memory; it might just be the most unexpected comedy of Sundance 2014.

Happy Christmas

Don Simpson @ Film Threat

  • Excerpt: Unabashedly a woman-centered film, Happy Christmas presents two devastatingly authentic female characters who may have been roughly outlined by Swanberg but were fully colored in by Lynskey and Kendrick. The result is a beautiful and loving portrait of these two women, warts and all.

Life After Beth

Don Simpson @ Film Threat

  • Excerpt: Writer-director Jeff Baena cleverly turns the teenage rom-com genre upside-down by integrating certain aspects of the zombie mythos into the mix. While zombies have functioned as a wide variety of socio-political metaphors throughout their history, Life After Beth might just be the first film to use zombies as a symbol for the deterioration of a relationship, capturing the near-apocalyptic suffering of a young man after losing his girlfriend.

A Most Wanted Man

Don Simpson @ Film Threat

  • Excerpt: Focusing on the everyday tedium of espionage, A Most Wanted Man is by no means an action movie in any conventional sense. The narrative gets severely bogged down in the boring minutia of spy work, showcasing the smallest details of Gunter’s investigations, all the while muddling up the plot and any sense of character development.

TIFF’s Godard Forever Review: Les Carabiniers (1963)

Matthew Blevins @

  • Excerpt: Godard’s approach in Les carabiniers may be ineffectual as a call to social action, but it is unique and humorous as it lampoons the divine folly of humanity and its tendency toward useless self-destruction.

The Trip to Italy

Don Simpson @ Film Threat

  • Excerpt: There is no denying Coogan and Brydon’s comedic chemistry; their impersonations are humorous (especially their elongated bit about The Dark Knight Rises and Tom Hardy), but that alone cannot carry an entire narrative.

War Story

Don Simpson @ Film Threat

  • Excerpt: Mark Jackson’s War Story functions as a languid visual essay that passively contemplates Lee’s warped psychological state, while avoiding any exposition of the events that triggered her present state of mind.

White Bird in a Blizzard

Don Simpson @ Film Threat

  • Excerpt: White Bird in a Blizzard is styled like a Sirkian melodrama in which the bright and shiny surface conceals a bitterly ironic critique of American suburbia. The banal and stilted dialogue is merely just a device to reveal the superficial artifice as Araki establishes a nightmarish otherworld proliferated by caricatures of suburban archetypes.


Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)

Glenn Lovell @

  • Excerpt: … an early conversation with the chameleon-like actor

Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Tragedy of Addiction

Mike McGranaghan @ The Aisle Seat

  • Excerpt: For every fan mourning Hoffman’s passing, it seemed there was one self-righteous person waiting to condemn him. And one thing was very clear: a lot of people don’t know jack about addiction.

Predictably unpredictable: Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman

Simon Miraudo @ Quickflix

RIP Maximilian Schell

Tony Dayoub @ Cinema Viewfinder

A Tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman: 10 Greatest Performances

Ross Miller @ Scotcampus

  • Excerpt: A tribute post to the late-great Philip Seymour Hoffman, featuring a list of 10 of his greatest performances.


The American Experience: The Amish: Shunned

MaryAnn Johanson @

  • Excerpt: A poignant documentary about those who have been cast out of their culture and coping with a larger society for which they are unprepared.

The Broker’s Man: Series 1

Luke Bonanno @

  • Excerpt: The Broker’s Man is definitely not a bad show, just an ordinary one that’s tough to praise for simply going through the motions. Somewhere in between a procedural and a mystery series, this late-’90s drama proves unable to do anything distinctive or well, which explains why so few people seem to remember it and why it’s only now come to DVD, despite star Kevin Whately’s steady exposure from British television.

The White Queen

Marina Antunes @ Row Three


Destroy All Monsters: The Joker Effect

Matt Brown @ Twitch

On Portrayals of Dissatisfied Wives and “Concussion”

Candice Frederick @ Reel Talk

  • Excerpt: If they’re not serving a thankless role in the background, they’re the sole focus of a film that fails to capture the complexities of their lives.

Reviews of Short Films

Dentes e Garras!

Paulo Peralta @ CinEuphoria [Portuguese]

  • Excerpt: Portuguese Short Film Review

M Is for Macho

Paulo Peralta @ CinEuphoria [Portuguese]

  • Excerpt: Portuguese Short Film Review

O Assalto

Paulo Peralta @ CinEuphoria [Portuguese]

  • Excerpt: Portuguese Short Film Review

Other Articles

Five Things The Walking Dead Needs To Do When It Returns

Brent McKnight @ Giant Freakin’ Robot

The Morning After: Feb. 3, 2014

Wesley Lovell @ Cinema Sight

  • Excerpt: Short reviews of “Z”, “Blowup” and “Bullitt”

Reel Zombies

Peter Nellhaus @ Coffee Coffee and more Coffee

Subversive Saturday: The First Movie (2009)

Matthew Blevins @

  • Excerpt: In his search for kindred spirits and through his passionate desire to share the magic of cinema with every forgotten realm of the world, Mark challenges preconceived notions perpetuated by a disengaged media and shows us that humanity exists in unmitigated glory wherever huddled masses of our kind reside.

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