Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Grab more passes for two weeks of free advance movies

Our steady stream of advance passes for films continues this week with two new release movies that you can see before they hit theaters! If you need a pre- or post-Halloween film happening, we have you covered.

First up is My All American, an Aaron Eckhart-fronted drama about the University of Texas's football team from the writer of Hoosiers. We have no clue if it's any good, but that's some good sports movie pedigree. This one is at 7pm on Thursday, October 29th at the AMC in Friendship Heights. Grab passes here.

A little further down the road, we also have passes for Brooklyn, the story of an Irish immigrant in the 1950s played by Saoirse Ronan. Early reviews from film festivals are very positive (with some Oscar talk, of course), so you might want to see this one before Ronan breaks out. This screening will be at 7:30pm on Tuesday, November 3rd at the Georgetown Loews theater. Early birds can get their passes via Fox Searchlight.

Of course, as we always need to warn that these events are intentionally overbooked to ensure that there's a full house. Arrive early at these screenings to get a seat.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The ultimate guide to movies with really big worms

There are some recurring hazards in movies that we should be glad not to deal with in real life. Quicksand, for one. Also high on that list are massive, carnivorous worms. For some reason, science fiction and fantasy films love giant worm monsters. We understand that fairly big worms do exist somewhere out in the wild, but we rarely have to deal with ones the size of cruise ships.

Should you ever cross paths with a house-eating annelid, Atlas Obscura has created this handy guide to the most memorable worms in movies. This short videos covers a wide range of sizes, all the way up to the Star Wars space slug so big that it was mistaken for a cave. Tremors is always our first thought when it comes to worms in movies, and this is a bizarre reminder that, for whatever reason, deadly super-worms are more common threats than we remembered.

With the exceptions of Labyrinth and The Liar of the White Worm, all the movies featured in this video are available for checkout at the AU Library.

King Kong – HU DVD 1891
Beetlejuice – HU DVD 9030
Men in Black II – HU DVD 11323
Tremors – HU DVD 2811
Dune – HU DVD 6106
The Empire Strikes Back – HU DVD 1644

Monday, October 26, 2015

HitFix hunts for the top 100 horror movies

What is the greatest horror film of all time? Is that too broad? How about a top 10 or even a top 50? With enough aggregated stats and expert opinion, you can probably make a killer list of the best in the genre. The editors at HitFix have done just that, polling horror directors, writers, critics, scholars, and superfans to create a ranked list of the 100 greatest horror movies ever.

The upper end of the list is stacked and difficult to argue against: The Exorcist takes the top spot, followed by The Shining, Rosemary's Baby, Alien, and the usual bedfellows. Once you get further down it gets a little odd, as these lists tend to, with rule-skirting oddities like Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom showing up or the American remake of The Ring ranking higher than the Japanese original. Part of this might be the fault of the odd methodology, which weights the number of mentions over their relative ranking.

It's still a solid list, though, and its greatest asset might be its interviews with film figures about their favorite horror movies. Clive Barker apparently loves Bride of Frankenstein, and we're better hearing him gush about it than knowing that it's #37 on the list.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Night of the Living Dead is getting longer

George Romero's Night of the Living Dead established many of the zombie tropes we still know and love today, like lumbering speed, the importance of beheading, and parallels to contemporary social issues. Though films before it had undead monsters, Night of the Living Dead might be the first (and arguably still most) culturally significant zombie movie. And shockingly, there's even more of this foundational movie that we've never seen before.

At a screening earlier this month, Romero announced that he had discovered an old reel containing nine additional minutes of zombie chaos. Maybe it had been cut to keep the running time trim, but that's a substantial chunk of one of most influential horror films. Hopefully we'll see it resurface on the restoration that Romeo was working on or the inevitable Blu-ray release

In the meantime, you don't need to wait to watch the current version of Night of the Living Dead. As it turns out, the film was never actually copyrighted; it can be streamed from any number of sites and services. We even embedded it above!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

DC rings in the official arrival of The Future

At long last, 26 years after the film's release, today is the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown arrive in the future in Back to the Future Part II. Despite occupying only a fraction of the running time of the entire trilogy, the futuristic 2015 is one of the most iconic and memorable depictions of the future on film.

Dozens of websites have already covered what BTTFII got right and wrong about the distant future of 2015, so instead, let's round up all the Back to the Future-related happenings in the city today!

Reston, VA is the center of the biggest celebrations: as part of the Washington West International Film Festival, the city has changed its name to Hill Valley and will host a marathon screening of the trilogy at EXACTLY 7pm tonight. On Sunday, WWIFF will also screen a new documentary about the history of the series and a sold-out red carpet celebration featuring Doc Brown himself, Christopher Lloyd.

If you can't make it out to Reston, the Regal 14 in Gallery Place downtown will host a screening of BTTFII at 5pm... which we assume is as close as they could get to the 4:29pm, the exact time Marty and Doc arrive in the future. The Esquire Network will also run a marathon of the series throughout the day. (Our copy of Back to the Future II is already checked out, sorry! The original is still available though.)

And for the 21+ crowd, Fantom Comics in Dupont Circle will hold a Back to the Future celebration party this evening, complete with a costume and impression contest. Hill Valley-themed drinks are promised.

We could join the chorus bemoaning that we didn't get hoverboards or self-drying jackets, but instead, let's celebrate that our 2015 is exciting in different, totally unexpected ways. for instance, you're reading this blog post that I wrote from the basement of a library instead of a newspaper! Take that, USA Today!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jimmy Stewart takes a detour through Kubricktown

The world has reached peak mashup, with seemingly every television show and movie spliced together with clever editing, so we now only feel compelled to share the really good ones. And one such terrific video has come along featuring a very wary Jimmy Stewart.

"The Red Drum Getaway," published by new film site Gump, features Jimmy Stewart wandering through a ghostly mish-mosh of director Stanley Kubrick's creepiest films. Much of the digital editing involved is extremely obvious and artificial-looking, but Stewart's paranoia and Kubrick's surreal lingering make a great pair. There's a particular inspired combination of the most stylized scenes from Vertigo and 2001: A Space Odyssey that we're surprised no one pieced together earlier.

Now we wish Stewart had starred in a Kubrick film. How surreal would The Shining have been with Mr. Smith as Jack Torrance?

(We should warn that the video includes some footage from the famously explicit Eyes Wide Shut, so use discretion.)

Monday, October 19, 2015

See the acclaimed Room for free on Wednesday!

Although there are some big film-related things afoot on Wednesday, you might be looking towards the future rather than the past. And right now in the movie world, the future looks bright for Room, the claustrophobic Brie Larson-fronted drama that has made waves in limited release. The film currently has a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and has garnered some early Oscar discussion. Room hits more theaters this weekend, but you can see this serious award contender before anyone else in the city on Wednesday!

We have passes to a pre-wide-release screening of Room for Wednesday, October 21st at 7pm at the AMC Mazza Gallerie in Friendship Heights. Visit our page on Gofobo to redeem your pass before they run out (limited quantity this time). As is always the case with pre-release screenings, show up early to ensure that you get a seat; these events are always intentionally overbooked, and your pass only guarantees you a place in line.

Given the extremely positive buzz, we expect this one to be packed, so show up as far in advance as you can. Maybe even at... exactly 4:29 pm! Great Scott! (Sorry, but October 21st is a special day, and we can't get over that. You really should see Room though.)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

New Acquisitions - October 2015 - Part 2

We're pickin' up good vibrations this month... or at least because we just added Love & Mercy, the biopic of The Beach Boys singer Brian Wilson.

That's one of our bigger titles for the second half of October. Our other major highlight is Salad Days, a locally produced documentary about the DC punk scene in the 80s and 90s. David Oyelowo's HBO film Nightingale is an exciting option for anyone looking for under-the-radar prestige. And genre TV fans should be ecstatic to learn that, as part of the tail end of our absorption of the CDI collection, we now have Xena: Warrior Princess. Ayiyiyiyiyiyiyi!

There's lots of great documentaries in this latest round... and also Real Genius, the 80s movie where Val Kilmer blows up a house with popcorn. You should probably watch Love & Mercy instead.

Continue on for a full list of what's new...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Take the Media Services Challenge: watch these 100 great documentaries

Congratulations on, presumably, passing mid-terms! Your workload will likely be in a bit of a downswing before we head into final project season, so you might be ready to spend some time chipping away at things you've been meaning to watch. If you're the type that has always wanted to see more documentaries but never knew where to start, we have 100 films for your list.

This summer, we all put our brains together and made a list of the 100 best documentaries available in our collection through streaming. There are a few classics including The Battle of Chile and King Corn, as well as odder ones like The Yes Men Save the World. All of these documentaries are free to watch via your web browser if you sign into your library account, and they're among the best in our collection.

If you're feeling really driven, we're challenging anyone with a hunger for documentaries to watch all 100 on the list before they graduate. No one has yet completed the Media Services Challenge, but if you do, we will enshrine you in a place of glory that we have yet to determine, probably on the wall next to your desk. It's like a Man vs. Food challenge, but with fewer ribs and more social theory.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Arabian Sights Film Festival brings its twentieth year to Friendship Heights

From From A to B

We're close to the start of the unending stream of Halloween-related activities, but the rest of the world doesn't stop in October. There are plenty of film happenings around DC this month, so let's talk about one of the cooler ones, the twentieth anniversary of the Arabian Sights Film Festival.

Sponsored by Filmfest DC and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, Arabian Sights is one of DC's best annual showcases of Arab cinema, and it takes place in our backyard at the AMC Mazza Gallerie in Friendship Heights. From October 16th to October 25th, you can catch ten new films, as well as a discussion panel titled The New Arab Cinema. On the 24th, you are also invited to a free happy hour event celebrating twenty years of the festival.

Each screening costs $13, which is a pretty good price. You can buy tickets in advance from the Filmfest DC website, or you can buy them at the door. Either way, this should all be very tempting for fans of world cinema. If you need to get a little culture in before everything turns to skeletons in a few weeks, Arabian Sights is only a quick walk from AU campus.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Alternative programming: How about a different holiday?

From The Native Americans

We probably don't need to recap the reasons why Columbus Day has lost favor in the past few years. Ask your favorite history professor or the ghost of Howard Zinn.

But, if you're looking for more material about the real history of Columbus's expeditions and the lives of Native Americans we are happy to supply you with a few relevant videos. Many groups are pushing to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day, so we'd like to tear down the old history narrative at the same time as celebrating the people who should really get the credit for being here first.

Rather than listing individual titles this time, we'll point you to our Indigenous Peoples of the Americas filmography. The general filmography list has some stirring videos about historical narrative and revisionism, but you'll most likely want to look at the U.S. / Canada page, which focuses on both the effect of Europe's expeditions and current Native American life and media portrayals.

That list includes many streaming titles, so you can watch them instantly from your device of choice. It's certainly a better way to spend an hour than continuing to observe this very strange holiday.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

DC's most genuinely spooky place becomes a landmark

If you're an AU student who has made the trek to Georgetown, you've probably encountered the Exorcist steps, the legendary staircase famously used in a climactic scene from the bone-chillingly terrifying film The Exorcist. It's in an unassuming spot – behind a gas station on M Street – but it has for decades served as a beacon for local horror and movie fans.

At long last, the DC local government has decided to honor the Exorcist steps by making them an official city landmark. The commemoration ceremony will be held on October 30th at 6pm, right in time for Halloween. Public attendees are welcome and are invited to mingle beforehand with writer William Peter Blatty and author William Friedkin. (Bring something for them to autograph!)

American University and the School of Communications appear to be co-sponsoring this event, though we couldn't find anything official about that. Either way, it's still unlikely that you'll be able to go to the invitation-only screening of The Exorcist that follows the ceremony. But certainly head down to see a piece of DC movie trivia become DC history.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Snag an armload of Criterion titles for half-off today!

Like an Arby's selling piles of loose beef, the Criterion Collection has opened the floodgates on their store and is selling their entire DVD and Blu-ray stock for 50% off for the next 24 hours.

This is a fantastic sale that every film buff should consider taking advantage of. The Criterion Collection sells the definitive home video restorations of hundreds of classic films, everything from 20s silents to one of last year's Oscar nominees. They have a formidable storefront, and if you've ever wanted to start your own film library, this is the best place to jump in and pick up a few great titles. DVDs that might normally cost $40 are selling for $20, which is a steal considering the extra content and commentary packed onto each disc.

If you're having trouble figuring out what to buy, check out Criterion's sale dashboard, which tracks the most popular films as well as which ones have almost run out. As of this writing, there's only a few copies of Videodrome left. Go go go!

(To get the 50% discount, use the promo code SUZY when checking out.)

Thursday, October 01, 2015

New Acquisitions - October 2015

Spooky season is here – and not just because of Halloween. A hurricane might be hitting us soon, and we're not feeling a weekend of overcast, rain, and wind. As with nearly any other circumstance, we see this as a prime opportunity for movie-watching... at least until the power goes out.

So we present to you another round up of new DVDs from the last few weeks. Our two biggest names are the box office-annihilating Furious 7 and Divergent sequel Insurgent. On the critical acclaim front, you should probably see the devastating, Marion Cotillard-fronted Two Days, One Night and the Oscar-winning Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour. Television fans could consider HBO's stealth hits Hello Ladies and The Jinx. And if none of that strikes you, surely everyone has a soft-spot for I Am Big Bird.

Follow the link for a full list of what we have this month...