Why You Should See Craft Cocktail Documentary Hey Bartender, Now in Wide Release

By Laura Shunk in Directors, Interviews
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Douglas Tirola behind the bar at Employees Only.
By weaving together the stories behind New York City cocktail lair Employees Only and Westport, Connecticut corner bar Dunvilles, director Douglas Tirola takes on the changing world of bartending and the rise of craft mixology in his recently released documentary Hey Bartender. And while the film focuses on a pair of tenders with rich back stories, it also features insight from some of the most celebrated people in the industry, including Dale DeGroff, PDT's Jim Meehan, Milk & Honey's Sasha Petraske, and Clover Club's Julie Reiner, who give anecdotal detail on how bartending became a celebrated profession and not just a plan b pursuit.

As the movie heads into wide release, we chatted with Tirola about why he opted to tell the story of this community, what he was trying to capture, and how making a movie about bartending changed the way he drinks.

Review: The Attack Is Not Just About Terrorism

By Alan Scherstuhl in Reviews
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm
3B Productions
This is not my beautiful wife.

Since it opens with a suicide bombing in downtown Tel Aviv, and since its mystery plot involves an attempt to track down a sheikh whose public expectorations call for the slaughter of Israeli civilians, The Attack is most avowedly "about" terrorism. But that's a subject, not the subject. The film, an arresting and upsetting one, is also about love, trauma, and trust, both within one particular marriage and within entire cultures. There's an explosion (offscreen), much gumshoeing, and the most nerve-racking interrogation I've seen in ages, but this prickling thriller is too invested in life as it's lived to bother much with thrills—or even a traditional mystery. Not long after that blast kills 11 children we're told who did it. Director Ziad Doueiri, a perceptive humanist working from a (surprisingly bleaker) novel by Yasmina Khadra, instead digs into what the headlines about such damnable acts rarely bother with: the why.

Review: Downloaded Breezes Through the Story of Napster

By Alan Scherstuhl in Reviews
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm
Sean Parker in Downloaded.

"You cannot build a business on copyright infringement," points out Ian Rogers, the CEO of Topspin, not too long into Downloaded, director Alex Winter's too-breezy account of Napster, the teensy app that liberated digital music, destroyed the record industry, and swallowed some $500 million worth of loans and seed money from bubble-age investors convinced that a start-up built to facilitate the free sharing of mostly pirated material was somehow bound to be wildly profitable. What an age that was: Angels expecting huge yields after investing cash into the exact opposite of capitalism.

Review: In A Hijacking, the Pirate Life Is Tense

By Stephanie Zacharek in Reviews
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 10:45 am

Until 2005 or so, no one thought much about modern piracy of the high-seas variety. But then Somali pirates began attacking merchant ships with increasing frequency, seizing vessels and holding their crews hostage for outlandish sums. Danish director Tobias Lindholm's wiry, neatly crafted thriller A Hijacking wrests fact into the shape of believable fiction, although the movie is most remarkable for everything it doesn't show: We never see, for example, the pirates clambering aboard the victimized ship. One minute it's business as usual—the cook hustling about the galley, ascertaining just how the captain takes his coffee—and then, suddenly, the pirates are just there. Their almost vaporous appearance makes their presence especially sinister.

World War Z Shows Off Some Horrifically Effective Filmmaking

By Stephanie Zacharek in Reviews
Monday, June 17, 2013 at 12:18 pm
World War Z: In global chaos, cling to Brad Pitt's humanity.

Destruction is scary, but not half as scary as the act of rebuilding, the moment of looking at the random, jagged pieces you've got left and wondering how the hell you're going to fit them together. In Marc Forster's World War Z, the world as we know it—or even as we don't really know it—is destroyed by a virus that turns people into zombies. Within 12 seconds of being bitten by an infected host, any human will turn into a twisted, soulless creature with cloudy, heroin-addict eyes, motivated only by a ravenous need to hunt down and tear into healthy flesh. Brad Pitt plays a New York City family man—a U.N. peacekeeper turned househusband, if you can imagine such a thing—who strives to protect his family from these fearsome drones, at first by sticking close but later by leaving them. The best way to save them, he realizes, is to serve the greater good and find the source of the killer virus.

Man of Steel: Making Sense of All That Christ and Death Stuff

By Alan Scherstuhl and Stephanie Zacharek in Features
Friday, June 14, 2013 at 11:45 am

Sometimes, there's just too damn much to say about a movie than can fit into any one review. (Even Stephanie Zacharek's exhaustive, excellent one.) So, here's more: Stephanie Zacharek, our lead film critic, and Film Editor Alan Scherstuhl hashing over all the portentous craziness in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel

Warning: This discussion is thick with spoilers. It's nothing but spoilers. In fact, we might spoil books four and five of Game of Thrones, too, so consider yourself well and truly warned.

Berberian Sound Studio Is a Lavish Gift to Film Geeks

By Michael Atkinson in Reviews
Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 12:39 pm

A bewitching helix of pure movie stuff, Peter Strickland's seething and self-conscious whatsit Berberian Sound Studio may scan as a psychological thriller, but it's really a lavish gift to film geeks in a lovely matryoshka box.

Seth Rogen's This Is the End: The Apocalypse With Dick Jokes

By Alan Scherstuhl in Reviews
Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 11:39 am

From the peak of Anchorman to the nadir of Burt Wonderstone, the formula for studio comedies of the last 20 years has been simple: Dude acts like a dick for an hour, turns blandly sweet toward the end, and then everyone on the DVD commentary can claim to have made a movie about redemption. Since we like to forgive, and we like to like the stars who make us laugh, this has proven profitable—audiences can relish in the bad behavior and then take comfort in the restoration of something like a crackpot decency. But it's hampered the range of movie comedy. Even as the language has grown more flamboyantly obscene, and exposed junk has become the new red-heart boxer shorts, the comic form itself has rarely been less anarchic. What bite could The Campaign have when we know that in the end Will Ferrel's baby-punching, wife-poaching candidate will prove as apple-pie pure as a Capra Boy Scout?

Pandora's Promise Offers One Side of the Nuclear Debate

By Nick Schager in Reviews, Tracking Shots
Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 10:34 am

Like its gaggle of former anti-nuke environmentalists who've now switched sides, Pandora's Promise takes the form of a traditional liberal pop-doc while proffering a decidedly nonconformist message.

To Actresses on the Brink of 40: Go Bad or Go Home.

By Inkoo Kang in Features
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 9:28 am
Meryl Streep: Why be America's sweetest, nicest, most forgettable mom when you can inspire a meme with a masterful eye-roll and be immortalized on Tumblr?

Last week, EW columnist Mark Harris tweeted a statistic disturbing to anyone who cares about gender equality on the big screen: "It's now been 61 days since the last wide release of a major studio movie starring a woman." Unfortunately, that number will only increase—to 84 days—until Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy bust through the lucite ceiling later this month with The Heat. Those testosterone-choked three months confirm a sad fact of life for actresses: It doesn't get better.