A great trick director J.J. Abrams and screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman pulled with Star Trek (2009) was to shake the Etch-a-Sketch and start over. After all, how does one deal with the monster that is the Star Trek universe? One doesn’t. Abrams destroyed, on screen, nearly everything that came before him. It’s disheartening [...]
Now that The Great Gatsby is out, there’s just one relevant question: To whom is this film targeted? It can’t be people who read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel when it was first released. They’re dead. Is it for recent high school graduates? The millennials, who are plugged into everything all the time and don’t seem to have the attention span for Fitzgerald? Or is it for hip-hop lovers?
Hollywood is content to blow shit up in the months before May and after August in a way it never used to be, but the dog days are still the time* to find the most literal bang for your dinero. Here’s what the studios are pushing, and what we think. The Great Gatsby Does [...]
It may seem strange to suggest that a movie about the survival of the human race doesn’t have high stakes, but Oblivion, a movie about the survival of the human race, doesn’t feel as if it has high stakes. What Oblivion does have is a unified vision, excellent production design, camera work and computer graphics, [...]
Thankfully, 42 isn’t sanctimonious and Jackie isn’t sage-like. From the movie’s perspective, he’s just a boring guy who wants to play baseball. Jackie also knows that he has to be the coolest head on the field; Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) tells him as much.
Gory resurrection If you see only one bodily dismemberment movie this year, see Evil Dead. If you see only one demon resurrection movie this year, see Evil Dead. Whew! Those opening sentences are a stretch, kind of like Evil Dead itself. It’s two-thirds of a great horror movie. Even though it loses steam during the [...]
It’s spring, and you know what that means: A young man’s fancy turns lightly to thoughts of love. Tennyson doesn’t appear to have thought of the old men or women at all, so let’s assume they’re all thinking about baseball, or as I call it at home, love. Normally I wouldn’t put together a post [...]
Forget that this story recalls not only Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but also Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters and John W. Campbell’s Who Goes There?—better known to most people as Howard Hawks’ The Thing from Another World or John Carpenter’s The Thing. Because, really, this story is about liking boys. And Jesus, sort of.
At Admission’s center is Tina Fey, who stretches beyond playing the straight man and being the butt of every other character’s jokes.
Magically funny: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone exceeds low expectations The advertisements for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone make it seem like it will be the least funny, most egregious, and patience-trying movie of Steve Carell’s career. A movie comedy about Las Vegas performers and street magicians? News flash: The David Blaine jokes stopped being funny the moment [...]
Behind the curtain: Oz the Great and Powerful is a playful take on the wizard’s rise In this day and age, when everything in life—movies, television, sporting events, you name it—seems rooted in money, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz feels like, perhaps, the most cynical of moneymaking schemes. Is there a more surefire [...]
There’s a story about “Jack and the Beanstalk” in which Jack trades a cow for some magic beans. He gets the beans wet, they grow into a beanstalk that reaches into the sky, and Jack and a rabbit battle a giant with a speech impediment who wants to grind their bones to make bread.
A loving married couple, Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges, (Jean-Louis Trintignant), both retired music teachers in their 80s, find their marriage taking a markedly different turn when Anne suffers a stroke. At first, Anne is able to retain something of her former self. She’s confined to a wheelchair, but has control of one side of her body.
Each year we think the Oscars can’t possibly be worse than the year before. And then each year, it’s so much worse than the year before (except last year; nothing will ever out-worse Billy Crystal and his non-eyebrows). Straight up: I will pay for the next Academy Awards ceremony if they bring back Franco and [...]
When did the demon dogs of hell stop merely influencing movie stars and studios and begin pulling the strings? To reiterate the inescapable point, A Good Day to Die Hard is a piece of shit.
The trailers for Side Effects, director Steven Soderbergh’s new thriller, make it look like an indictment of all things pharmaceutical.
What Warm Bodies has that most other zombie flicks don’t is the zombie’s story. Our narrator, R (Nicholas Hoult), is a zombie. He doesn’t know why he’s a zombie. He just knows he is. He also knows he’s different from most other zombies. He collects things, like vinyl records. He tries to make friends, and has one in M (Rob Corddry).
Non-sequitur alert: Now that the wretched Super Bowl is over, let’s discuss music documentaries. There are two reasons I’m thinking about music documentaries. First, 2012 was a great year for them. Searching for Sugar Man—which is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature—gets my vote for the best nonfiction narrative film of last [...]
Is this movie a comedy? Horror? A—gasp!—drama? Why does Jeremy Renner play Hansel for laughs? Why does Gemma Arterton play Gretel straight, but occasionally for laughs? Why is Famke Janssen so, so, so serious? For that matter, why is she covered in hideous make-up for the most of the movie when she has such an exquisite face?
Here’s the deal. There are three key pieces of information that roll up in Broken City’s first three scenes: Billy Taggart (Wahlberg), a New York cop, shoots and kills a suspect he’s chasing; a judge decides the district attorney’s office doesn’t have sufficient evidence to bring charges against Taggart; Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Crowe) and the police commissioner congratulate Taggart on beating the rap, and he’s forced to resign.
The torture debate detracts from a different critical narrative; imagine how we’d howl if the movie whitewashed that part of America’s recent past. But forget the politics. This is a movie. As a piece of drama, Zero Dark Thirty is a marvel.
In the awards show canon, the Golden Globes have secured themselves a lofty place just below Oscar. How is it that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which once called Pia Zadora “New Female Star of the Year” for her role in the soft-porny Butterfly, is now arbiter of taste and soothsayer of the Academy Awards? [...]
I mention all this to give Les Misérables context in the annals of film history. Unlike Playing for Keeps, Les Misérables features a solid cast. Hugh Jackman, a man known for his acting and singing chops, is Jean Valjean, the hero we love.
Spaghetti southern: Django Unchained is a lawless, violent romp marked by stellar performances First, the cynical: One wonders whether making a movie that takes place in the pre-Civil War American South is Quentin Tarantino’s way of getting around criticism for using the n-word. Second, the straight-up: Django Unchained is loads of fun. For years, I’ve railed [...]
There’s a lot going on in writer-director Judd Apatow’s This is 40, including bickering siblings, failing businesses, grand theft, and one or two big surprises. Perhaps this is Apatow’s achievement: He’s made a watchable movie in which the emotional content mirrors real life so closely he doesn’t need a conventional narrative. The ups and downs of human existence are plenty.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first film in writer-director Peter Jackson’s three-part Hobbit series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s book. That means each film—and this one is just shy of three hours—tells about 100 pages of story, provided each film sticks to the events contained within those pages. Before we get any more meta, [...]