Archive for the 'Features' Category
No Surprises in this City
On paper, the new crime thriller Broken City has all the elements of a classic film noir: a hero with a past is brought by a powerful, corrupt figure into a conspiracy that involves a dangerous femme fatale. Unfortunately, to paraphrase a popular sports idiom: that’s why they make the movies. Okay, so it doesn’t directly translate to the world of cinema, but you get the point. The elements of a great story are there, but the execution is lacking.
The Untouchables of L.A.
If Brian DePalma’s operatic 1987 cop drama The Untouchables and Warren Beatty’s colorful, machine gun-happy Dick Tracy from 1990 were to get together and have a cinematic offspring, it would probably look something like director Ruben Fleischer’s new cop flick Gangster Squad. Like the former, it’s the story of a determined cop and his equally devoted team as they attempt to bring down a mobster that has control of their city. Like the latter, it’s got lots and lots of machine gun fire. It’s definitely got the style to rival its cinematic parents, but the plot is a little too familiar for it to stand out on its own.
They Like Each Other, They Like Each Other Not
This is 40 is being advertised as the “sort-of sequel to Knocked Up.” That Judd Apatow-directed movie told the story of an unexpected pair of parents-to-be as they faced the consequences of their one night stand. Pete and Debbie were two of the supporting characters in that movie and now Apatow has decided to give them their own movie that focuses on the relationship between these two people who both turn forty in the same week. If nothing else, This is 40 works as a solid showcase for the acting talents of Apatow’s wife, Leslie Mann.
It’s Going to Be a Long One
It has been nine years since director Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy concluded, an accomplishment that stands as one of the greatest achievements in the history of cinema. Given the trilogy’s success, it was only a matter of time before that trilogy’s literature prequel, the much beloved The Hobbit, arrived in theaters. Delayed by, among other things, legal trouble, the tale of Bilbo Baggins has finally arrived in theaters; at least, part of it has. In a curious decision, Jackson has decided to tell the three hundred page story in three parts, each part epic in its own right. The first film in the new trilogy has been titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and it comes in at just under three hours.
Having already been seen by a number of people thanks to early festival screenings, Silver Linings Playbook’s early Oscar buzz can be seen as more than just hype. This movie is already earning a reputation on more than just pure expectations. The buzz is somewhat surprising, considering that the movie, at its core, follows the typical romantic comedy format. But it is because the writing is so sharp, the characters so deep, engaging, and well-played by talented, popular actors that this movie is running up to the podium draped in a garbage bag; you know, “for sweat.”
A Stunning Portrait
Poll one hundred random Americans as to who the greatest president in our country’s history was and it’s a safe bet that Abraham Lincoln’s name would come up quite a bit. The Great Emancipator is held in great esteem by this country, and yet, just a few months ago, he was something of a joke in cinemas thanks to the awful Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Fortunately, director Steven Spielberg and star Daniel Day-Lewis are here to right the ship with Lincoln, their fascinating story about the 16th President’s battle to pass the 13th Amendment, banning slavery.
Not Just a Bad Guy
Wreck-It Ralph’s title character is the villain of an 8-bit arcade game that has just turned thirty years old. Maybe that is why the people who are most looking forward to this animated movie are not kids, but people in their thirties who grew up playing games like Pac-Man and Super Mario Bros. This movie promised to be for video game characters what Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was for cartoon characters. Sadly, the movie fails to deliver on that promise.
Tyler Perry has gotten pretty well known as a director, but outside of his role as Madea in his own films, he is not really known as an actor. Alex Cross signifies a blind leap into the deep end for the actor, taking over a popular literary character; a character that was previously played in movies by Morgan Freeman, no less. You have to admit, the casting choice is intriguing. Sadly, the dive into the deep end is more belly flop than swan dive.
Declassified Real-Life Suspense
As a director, it is safe to say that Ben Affleck’s career is currently skyrocketing. Following the critically successful, Boston-set Gone Baby Gone and The Town, the director now heads to the middle-east for an Iranian-set drama that just screams Oscar bait. Based on a formerly classified true story, Argo not only tackles an incredible event in the history of America’s relationship with the Middle East, but does so with a Hollywood twist. How will Academy voters be able to resist?
Not Psycho Enough
It all sounded so brilliant. Director Martin McDonagh reunites with his In Bruges star Colin Farrell for a comedy called Seven Psychopaths. As if that weren’t enough, the cast of the psychopaths was filled out by the likes of Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits, and Christopher Walken! How could it be anything but great? Unfortunately, the movie turns out to be just a mildly amusing mess.
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