What to See at the BlackStar Film Festival

Michael K. Williams in "They Die By Dawn," screening Sunday during the BlackStar Film Festival.

Isaiah Washington in “They Die By Dawn,” screening Sunday during the BlackStar Film Festival.

The 3rd annual BlackStar Film Festival kicks off this Thursday, July 31st. The event comprises screenings of more than 40 feature and short films, and panels made up of filmmakers, artists, and other film-industry industry professionals.

BlackStar celebrates cinema by and about people of African descent, highlighting works from emerging filmmakers across the globe. The festival includes works from a range of genres—narrative, documentary, experimental, even music video—and seeks to cultivate an open space for dialogue on the varied landscape of black life.

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Movie-O-Meter: Our Take On Lucy, A Most Wanted Man, Happy Christmas, and More

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Lucy: Luc Besson’s bugnuts quasi-action-thriller-cum-time-and-space-meditation stars Scarlett as a student living in Taipei who gets embroiled in a nasty Asian drug cartel and accidentally ingests an enormous amount of a synthetic drug that allows her to access up to 100 percent of her brain capacity. It’s not a great action flick, and it’s pretty silly as anything more serious, but somehow his energy—and Johansson’s powerful performance—make it more than the idiotic sum of its parts. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

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INTERVIEW: Boyhood Director Richard Linklater

Writer/Director Richard Linklater has released a steady stream of critically adored indie films since 1988′s It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books, but it’s taken the Texan much longer to connect with larger audiences. He doesn’t move in grand plot schemes or subversive genre machinations, his films are content to spend their time exploring lengthy, engrossing philosophical discussions between protagonists—be they young, yet-to-be-lovers in Before Sunrise, an animated character exploring a dream world in Waking Life, or an undercover cop in the near future who tries a new drug and begins to unravel in A Scanner Darkly.

His new film, Boyhood, takes the idea of time passing (another frequent obsession in his work) and actually builds it into the fabric of the film. The result, shot over 12 years, begins with a 6-year-old protagonist and follows him through the day he leaves home for college. It is easily one of the best films of the year. He spoke with us about his body of work, his life outside filmmaking, and the female protagonist with whom he most identifies.

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Movie-O-Meter: Boyhood Shines, Sex Tape Fizzles + Our Take On Other New Releases

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Boyhood: Easily one of the most-anticipated films of the summer by film critics and indie fans since its debut at Sundance this past January. Richard Linklater’s concept film was shot over the course of some 12 years, chronicling the childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood of one boy, Mason (Eller Coltrane), as he navigates the difficult and confusing waters of growing up with two loving-but-divorced parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette). Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

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The Full Lineup for 2014’s Awesome Fest

Awesome Fest Crop

Imagine a film festival that includes everything from The Karate Kid to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to documentaries on bronies (those male lovers of My Little Pony) and George Takei…and imagine that most of the screenings are free. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Read more »

5 New Films You Should Stream Right Now on Netflix: Lost Children, Tarantino, Pryor Live and More

Hollywood’s blockbuster movie season is officially upon us, bringing with it an endless stream of superheroes, big-star comedies, and a depressing shortage of anything really worth watching. So, what better time to curl up on your sectional for a moment at your personal multiplex? The seat is more comfy, no one is texting during a crucial scene, and the popcorn costs about 40 cents a bag.

To help you choose your films well, we present our monthly guide to what’s new and fantastic on Netflix instant streaming.



Movie-O-Meter: Tilda Swinton Plays a Vampire, Cameron Diaz Flops, and Our Take on Paul Walker’s Final Film

Capsule reviews of the weekend’s new movies. Should you see it, wait for DVD, or skit it altogether? We lay it out below. 

new movies 2014

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1. Only Lovers Left Alive:  Jim Jarmusch jumps on the played-out vampire shtick with his own brand of moody, slow-paced atmospherics. However, he was smart enough to cast a thoroughly dynamic pair of leads (Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston) to portray his depressed, achingly bored immortals. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

2. The Railway Man: The continued on-screen suffering of Colin Firth shows no signs of abating. Here, he plays a former WWII POW, still haunted by his torture, given the opportunity to confront his primary tormentor many years later. Also with Nicole Kidman (welcome back, Nicky!), as his well-intentioned wife. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

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Highlights the Tribeca, Part 1: Equal Parts Mad, Creative Cenius

Enjoying the somewhat peculiar charms of the Tribeca Film Festival, I’ve taken in a host of films on my first two days. Here are some of the highlights.



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