Tyler Rubenfeld's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Return of the Secaucus Seven
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

It's hard to really explain the appeal of John Sayles' [b][u]Return of the Secaucus 7[/u][/b], his first feature and precursor to "The Big Chill" (actually, "Big Chill" is suspiciously similar to this movie--even the Kevin Kline character in this one bares a resemblance to Kevin Kline). It centers around a generation of people I was never a part of. It's very low-budget. You can tell it's a first film. And it hinges on acting and how much you're interested in the characters.

So, about 98% of my generation (and that's being generous) would be asleep after the opening credits. Though, that's probably the same percentage of my peers who thought "Dead Man" was too slow.

There's no denying the film's likability; the believable characters, the warm, conversational dialogue.... The editing is fantastic--its tight and manages to balance the situations of all the characters. In a sense, I appreciate this more than "Big Chill" because that one had a lot more money put into it, without as much of the heart (which it made up for with music and Jeff Goldblum). "Secaucus 7" doesn't yank at your heartstrings--in fact, it doesn't really ask much. Both times I've watched this, I've gone into it not thinking much of the mundane situations and conflict. But after the movie, I'm filled with a warm feeling; I'm not quite sure where exactly I pick it up. In hindsight, what seems ordinary becomes extraordinary.

And with that, I'm going to bed.

Frownland
Frownland (2007)
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

[color=black]Rarely do I write lengthy reviews of movies I really enjoyed, mostly because it gets boring when you're using all the same adjectives. It's much easier to write about a bad movie and make ridiculous metaphors. However, I feel it is my duty to my lack of readers to tell you about three great movies, one that will most certainly be at a theater near you in the next few weeks, one that might in a few months, and one that probably won't. New York has definitely been good to me in the way of movies. (Incidentally, I'm attending the New Filmmakers/New Films festival screenings of "Momma's Man" and "Ballast" this weekend. If they're as good as I've heard, I'll let you know). [/color]
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[color=#000000][b]Snow Angels [/b][i]Warner Independent [/i]March 7, 2008[/color]
[color=#000000]Over the past few months, I've really taken a shine to David Gordon Green's work. This is surprising considering, before March 7th, he'd only released three movies--one that was great ("George Washington"), one that frustrating but well-done ("All the Real Girls"), and one that wasn't great ("Undertow"). I was mostly going by the fantastic trailers for this, as well as his work as a producer on the amazingly underrated "Great World of Sound." Let me tell you, "Snow Angels" is right up there and surpasses "George Washington." Despite the flashier cast, the dialogue is as naturalistic as "ATRG," and the scenes feel authentic--which makes the plot of the film all the more chilling. Though Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale certainly deserve the accolades that are coming to them for their work in this film, for me, the standout in the cast was Jeanetta Arnette, who played Michael Angarano's long-suffering mother. A veteran actress who's most famous work was six seasons of "Head of the Class," her performance was the highlight of the most underwritten thread of the film. For some really effective drama (and a bit of comedy thrown in for good measure), check this shit out.[/color]
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[color=#000000][b]Frownland [/b][i]Frownland, Inc. [/i]March 7, 2008[/color]
[color=#000000]The film that won the 2007 Gotham Award for "Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You" never did find a distributor...which these days is most definitely a good thing. Movies like "Little Miss Sunshine" find distributors. "Inland Empire" won't. So, director Ronald Bronstein decided to screen the film for a week at the IFC Center, in all its unforgiving glory. And let me tell you, I haven't seen a more promising debut in a long time. Just when I was beginning to get disillusioned with the mumblecore scene and their similar storylines featuring pretty indie-folk, here comes a movie that embraces what's good in DIY-filmmaking while also pissing over their predilection for the Soy Chai Latte crowd. (Anyone still following me?) It's an unflinching portrait of a babbling, self-aware "New York troll," portrayed incredibly by non-professional actor Dore Mann. In fact, he and Bronstein were at the screening I attended and I was shocked to see how normal this guy was in real life. I thought they just peeled some psycho off the street. The film itself is quite haunting, in a John Cassavetes meets David Lynch sort of way, but it's not for everyone. ...Actually, if it's not for you, you're a pussy. Go watch "Four Eyed Monsters" instead.[/color]
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[color=#000000][b]Shotgun Stories [/b][i]International Film Circuit [/i]March 26, 2008[/color]
[color=#000000]Further proof that everything David Gordon Green touches (with the exception of "Undertow") is gold, "Shotgun Stories" is the second film he's produced but not directed. This one's directed with equal amounts fire and restraint by newcomer Jeff Nichols, and--boy howdy--does it pack a wallop. Most of the film rests on the shoulders of character actor Michael Shannon, who's been gaining more attention these days from high-profile roles in "Bug" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," (watch for him in Sam Mendes' "Revolutionary Road" this December, in a role that has the pedigree to grant him a Best Supporting Actor nod). He speaks in terse little grunts and his mouth barely moves. He's the kind of actor that is destined to star in a Cormac McCarthy adaptation. And he's absolutely amazing here as the eldest Hayes brother, a clearheaded man blinded by revenge. "Shotgun Stories" is, without a doubt, an incredibly made thriller. Incredibly shot, acted, scored...everything. If you enjoyed any of DGG's work, or "No Country for Old Men," seek this one out.[/color]

The Rocker
The Rocker (2008)
9 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

[color=black]I'm on a roll with these advanced screening reviews. This screening, for all intensive purposes, occurred at the Emagine Canton theater in Canton, MI on June 18. Douchebags passing off as demographically correct youngsters were there to try to wheedle an opinion out of me, but I remained stubborn. Until now.[/color]
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[color=#000000][b]The Rocker [/b][i]20th Century Fox [/i]opening July 30, 2008[/color]
[color=#000000]I was curious about this trifle of a comedy because of it's peculiar pedigree. On the one hand, the trailers looked bland--a [i]School of Rock[/i] retread with annoying teen actors (including some bargain basement Jonah Hill)--and I've never been too much of a fan of the director, Peter Cattaneo of overrated [i]Full Monty[/i] fame. On the other hand, Rainn Wilson is the shiiiiit. "The Office" is one of the funniest shows on TV, and he's brilliant (as is John Krasinski, who, until his Sam Mendes comedy is released next year, has struggled on the big screen). Furthermore, the supporting cast includes such fellow comedy giants as Will Arnett (though he's in everything), Jeff Garlin, Fred Armisen and Demetri Martin. Shit, all this needs is Zach Galifianakis and it's a downright comedy cavalcade. Anyway, what we get is this odd mixture of genius comedians and formulaic PG-13 slapstick--neither side really cancelling the other. And, believe me, it's formulaic. It's predictable. As soon as pretty-boy lead singer looks at just-friends-hottie bass player, you know they're destined for each other (and that's A-OK with portly-dweeb-not-Jonah-Hill keyboardist). As soon as you see Christina Applegate, you know she's once again taken the thankless role as the vague love interest in a comedy sausage-fest. Just like Guitar Hero (which they play in one scene, and serves as a nice metaphor), it hits every note at just the right time. But...if all thrown-together studio vehicles were like [i]The Rocker[/i], I'd be fine--for every two or three groaner moments, there's one really clever joke. It even tries its best to be Apatowian with an occasional obscure pop culture reference. The comedy veterans do their best with the material, (the highlight is Demetri Martin's two minutes onscreen, as a pretentious video director, and SNL's Jason Sudeikis as the smarmy asshole he plays on SNL). It should be noted, however, that playing the rocker is not that big of a stretch for Wilson, who channels only a slightly-more-laid-back Dwight Schrute throughout the film. He's talented, I just hope he'll be given bigger hurdles in the future. We don't want him to end up like Jason Alexander, or any former castmember of "Seinfeld" for that matter. So...in conclusion, [i]The Rocker[/i] is only a sporadically clever comedy, good enough for the dog days of summer, but nothing too substantial. It's the Guitar Hero to [i]School of Rock[/i]'s guitar. Or "The Office."[/color]

Momma's Man
Momma's Man (2008)
9 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

[color=black]I caught a few advanced screenings whilst in New York (two via the ND/NF festival, one via some weird theme night at the IFC Center), so finally these reviews of mine may have a shred of importance. [/color]
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[color=black][b]Momma's Man [/b][i]THINKFilm [/i]opening August 22, 2008[/color]
[color=black]If you've felt that independent film has gone downhill in the past decade (perhaps too many are pandering to crowdpleasedness, so they can be bought out by Fox Searchlight and released near Oscar Season?) "Momma's Man" has come to the rescue. It's a film that has no name actors (unless you consider Richard Edson a "name," and even though I do, I realize I represent maybe 0.001% of the moviegoing public), no claymation, no time-lapse photography, no Shins songs--really, just a damn good story and damn good performances. It reminded me of the Sundance of the mid-90s, where films like "Swingers," "Spanking the Monkey," and "In the Company of Men" could take compelling concepts and take them seriously, without any of the frills. Most people will bill "Momma's Man" as a comedy, but it really does pack an emotional wallop that stays with you for days. Seek this one out.[/color]
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[color=black][b]Ballast [/b][i]IFC First Take [/i]opening September 5, 2008[/color]
[color=black]I saw "Ballast" the day after "Momma's Man," and maybe it suffered a tad from the comparison. To give it it's due credit, "Ballast" is a solid character study. The able, non-professional actors deliver their improv-filtered lines believably, and the perpetually grayness of the Mississippi Delta compliments a fairly gray story: three people trying to recuperate after a suicide. Narrative-wise, it's a tad clunky--nothing is really spelled out for the audience, which I like, but, in the end, it leaves us on a weird, anti-denouement. Ultimately, while "Ballast" has a lot going for it, (and I mean a lot, though this review is coming across as negative), it's not as memorable as, say, "Chop Shop," a similar film with non-actors in an interesting setting, and a free-form narrative structure.[/color]
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[color=black][b]Fear(s) of the Dark [/b][i]IFC First Take [/i]opening October 31, 2008[/color]
[color=black]"Fear(s) of the Dark" is one of those ever-popular anthology films, this one from comic book artists around the world, telling their own creepy story (primarily in black and white). The sequence by Charles Burns, of "Black Hole" fame, was the most anticipated and the biggest letdown. In stills, his animation is beautiful. When moving, it's creepy and lifeless, much like that movie "Renaissance." The film is framed by a penciled animation from Blutch that's visibly appealing, but not really scary in any way; and an abstract, weird shapes thing from Pierre Disciullo, overlayed with a woman calmly listing her irrational fears. It's outside-thinking, yes, but jarring when juxtaposed with the more traditional horror-shorts. Like most of these anthology films, it's framed in an arbitrary fashion, and I kind of wish they'd just show these films uninterrupted. However, it's well worth it for the last short, by Richard McGuire. It's by far the creepiest story--a burglar traipsing through a haunted house--with the best use of its simplistic black-and-white. All-in-all, "Fear(s) of the Dark" is a nice showcase for animation, with a few show-stopping moments, but little else.[/color]

Peur(s) du Noir (Fear(s) of the Dark)
9 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

[color=black]I caught a few advanced screenings whilst in New York (two via the ND/NF festival, one via some weird theme night at the IFC Center), so finally these reviews of mine may have a shred of importance. [/color]
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[color=black][b]Momma's Man [/b][i]THINKFilm [/i]opening August 22, 2008[/color]
[color=black]If you've felt that independent film has gone downhill in the past decade (perhaps too many are pandering to crowdpleasedness, so they can be bought out by Fox Searchlight and released near Oscar Season?) "Momma's Man" has come to the rescue. It's a film that has no name actors (unless you consider Richard Edson a "name," and even though I do, I realize I represent maybe 0.001% of the moviegoing public), no claymation, no time-lapse photography, no Shins songs--really, just a damn good story and damn good performances. It reminded me of the Sundance of the mid-90s, where films like "Swingers," "Spanking the Monkey," and "In the Company of Men" could take compelling concepts and take them seriously, without any of the frills. Most people will bill "Momma's Man" as a comedy, but it really does pack an emotional wallop that stays with you for days. Seek this one out.[/color]
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[color=black][b]Ballast [/b][i]IFC First Take [/i]opening September 5, 2008[/color]
[color=black]I saw "Ballast" the day after "Momma's Man," and maybe it suffered a tad from the comparison. To give it it's due credit, "Ballast" is a solid character study. The able, non-professional actors deliver their improv-filtered lines believably, and the perpetually grayness of the Mississippi Delta compliments a fairly gray story: three people trying to recuperate after a suicide. Narrative-wise, it's a tad clunky--nothing is really spelled out for the audience, which I like, but, in the end, it leaves us on a weird, anti-denouement. Ultimately, while "Ballast" has a lot going for it, (and I mean a lot, though this review is coming across as negative), it's not as memorable as, say, "Chop Shop," a similar film with non-actors in an interesting setting, and a free-form narrative structure.[/color]
[color=black] [/color]
[color=black][b]Fear(s) of the Dark [/b][i]IFC First Take [/i]opening October 31, 2008[/color]
[color=black]"Fear(s) of the Dark" is one of those ever-popular anthology films, this one from comic book artists around the world, telling their own creepy story (primarily in black and white). The sequence by Charles Burns, of "Black Hole" fame, was the most anticipated and the biggest letdown. In stills, his animation is beautiful. When moving, it's creepy and lifeless, much like that movie "Renaissance." The film is framed by a penciled animation from Blutch that's visibly appealing, but not really scary in any way; and an abstract, weird shapes thing from Pierre Disciullo, overlayed with a woman calmly listing her irrational fears. It's outside-thinking, yes, but jarring when juxtaposed with the more traditional horror-shorts. Like most of these anthology films, it's framed in an arbitrary fashion, and I kind of wish they'd just show these films uninterrupted. However, it's well worth it for the last short, by Richard McGuire. It's by far the creepiest story--a burglar traipsing through a haunted house--with the best use of its simplistic black-and-white. All-in-all, "Fear(s) of the Dark" is a nice showcase for animation, with a few show-stopping moments, but little else.[/color]