Russell Crowe still commands the screen. As his waistline has increased so has his ability to carry material of varying degrees of quality. There are few actors working at his level that can do this and Crowe still possesses the unique ability to elevate otherwise shoddy filmmaking.
There is so much to admire about the Furious franchise (or is it the Fast franchise?) When Director Justin Lin injected fresh NAS into the series with Fast 5 the film embraced all of the original’s silliness and doubled down on the absurdly fun action. It was the kind of over-the-top cheesy goodness that Michael Bay could only dream of.
Its official, Neil Blomkamp is the new king of the B-movie in Hollywood. Give this man a bad script (or allow him to write it) and he will direct the shit out of it – filling every nook and cranny of the film with more allegorical nonsense than an 8th grade book report on The Great Gatsby. Does any of it work? Not really, in fact most of it probably won’t. Then why – oh why – did I end up enjoying Chappie so much?
No matter how hard Matthew Vaughn’s new movie Kingsman: The Secret Service tries to lampoon James Bond, British high-culture and martinis it never strays far from Austin Powers. In fact the final third of the film takes place in a Dr. Evil underground lair that I’m 90% sure was lifted directly from the old Mike Meyers-sets.
In many (some completely obvious ways) Clint Eastwood and sniper Chris Kyle are kindred spirits. They have both fancied massive “lone gunmen cowboy” personas – two men who play by their own rules. In a world of good and evil, Eastwood and Kyle dish out their unique form of vigilante “Dirty Harry-esque” justice. In American Sniper Eastwood has an opportunity to tell Kyle’s story (adapted from his memoir of the same name,) contradictions and all. What comes of it is a worthy tribute to Kyle’s hefty legacy that is also maddening white-washed and simple.
On Monday Paul Thomas Anderson joined Marc Maron on his wondrous podcast WTF. In the nearly two-hour interview Marc grills PTA on literally every film in his catalog – often asking him point blank – “what the fuck is THIS movie about?” It’s hilarious and completely sophomoric but it’s clear that PTA doesn’t get a question that pointed very often. It throws him, makes him wonder aloud what each film in his cannon has to say. The surprising thing is most of the answers are just as simple as the question.
It’s tough to conjure up many more words for Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth. At the start of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies the audience has spent a collective 15+ hours in the world of Hobbits, Wizards, Elves and Orcs. That is frankly astounding. What Jackson has done in sheer volume is impressive, the fact that his vision is a compelling, often intoxicating one feels like icing on the cake.
Interstellar is all at once bold, audacious, thrilling…and a little dim (kind of like its lead actor, heyo!) It’s Christopher Nolan flexing big budget muscle at a time in his career when he can take huge chances.
Director David Fincher has a knack for many things cinematically. His obsessive attention to detail give his film’s a flawless look and feel. The intense musical scores of each project compliments this obsession, lending each its own sense of dread or even whimsy…but mostly dread.
The Guardians of the Galaxy are basically the Marvel universe’s weird cousins. They are mostly castaways from a much more obscure comic book series playing second-fiddle to the likes of the X-Men, Captain America and Iron Man. But anyone with weird cousins knows that at the family reunion they are usually the ones you have the most fun hanging out with.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was my #1 movie of 2011. I was stunned by its mix of B-movie gusto, special effects and general whimsy. It was even enough to overcome a clunky script and sleepwalking James Franco. Problems aside, the film was a stark reminder of the power of the Hollywood blockbuster (one that we see less and less of these days.)
Count me as a Melissa McCarthy fan. I have a soft spot for her particular brand of loud, brash comedy. Considering the cast she has assembled for Tammy I would say she has a few fans in Hollywood as well.
Edge of Tomorrow is going to yield a ton of Groundhog Day comparisons and I suppose that’s fair. The film’s main conceit involves repeating the same day over and over as the protagonist gains more knowledge of his ultimate purpose
I guess everyone has their superhero. And while I’ve written endlessly for two-years about my superhero fatigue I’m allowed to enjoy this crap every once in a while. Maybe it’s dumb luck to have such an inconsistent series like X-Men find its stride again.
1998 Godzilla is an abomination. It was directed by world-class hack Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 10,000 B.C.) and starred Ferris Bueller and some other people. Emmerich was rolling in ID4 money and Jurassic Park momentum which helped him bankroll that nightmare behemoth.
Transcendence is a seriously frustrating sci-fi enterprise. On the one hand the film is chalk of full of interesting (albeit well tread) ideas – technology vs. humanity, free will vs. destiny etc. etc. On the other hand the film is stupendously dumb and has very little to say about any of said ideas. Its true camp of the highest order with a serious bit of Hollywood gloss smeared on the lens to distract us from the true lack of substance.
Captain America is a depressing and tragic character when you really break it down. He was a diminutive man with a huge heart, dedicated to serving his country even when his body wouldn’t allow it. His voluntary inclusion in a super soldier program made him a monster of a man and a marketing ploy to sell war bonds in the 1940’s.
No one will accuse Enemy of lacking ideas. The new film from Director Denis Villeneuve is chalk full of them. His tendency to indulge in these ideas is also on display. For better or worse Villeneuve uses Enemy as a playground for the human condition – leaping between reality and pseudo dreamscapes to ratchet up the tension.
One great thing about having your own movie website is that you can write your top ten of the year in early January – a celebration of the wonders of cinema – and then go silent from January – March as studios dump their most horrific mutants into theaters…
The Wolf of Wall Street is debauchery with a studio budget. It meanders, slinks and plows through its 3-hour runtime like a Wall Street lackey on a cocaine bender. This is lavish, gutsy filmmaking from the legend Martin Scorsese.
Spike Jonze is Hollywood’s most wonderful enigma. He hasn’t made a feature film in 4-years (the ethereal Where the Wild Things Are) but continues to actively work in short form and the occasional cameo (look for him in The Wolf of Wall Street.)
I was not exactly enthusiastic about last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Sure, it had all the markings of a Peter Jackson – middle earth epic but none of the soul. Jackson had seemingly succumbed to his darkest tendencies – leaning too hard on his masterful CGI teams and less on the classic source material.
Frozen – Disney’s new animated feature – feels like it comes from a company resigned to its fate. They’ve invested millions into development of action-adventure movies, high-concept family comedies and other silly ventures. Frozen is Disney’s bread and butter.
A snow-speckled landscape outlines a beautiful cobble stone street. Children rush to school in their winter uniforms as their parents open storefronts and fritter away the day with chores and errands. It’s a setting saved for post cards and snow globes. And I know what you’re thinking…Nazi Germany right?
One thing we can all be sure of, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a sure thing. Make no bets to the contrary; this movie is going to be a box office monster. Luckily for most viewers who haven’t read the books this is a series with actual substance.
What went wrong here? With a project like The Counselor I think it’s ok to expect a lot. The pedigree on paper is impressive. An A-list Director who’s been wowing audiences consistently for 40+ years? Yep. America’s greatest living author penning his first screenplay? Check. A cast of the finest actors working today that most crews would only dream of? You bet.