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.
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 Visual Delight
Life of Pi, Yann Martel’s popular novel about a young boy stranded on a lifeboat with a deadly Bengal tiger, once seemed unfilmable. Multiple high-profile directors have been attached to the project, but none could figure out how to pull it off. Oscar-winner Ang Lee once thought the same thing, until he had a revelation: shoot it in 3D! It’s an unexpected direction to take a drama that doesn’t feature any giant robots or laser beams, but it’s a technique that works to bring the audience right into the center of Pi’s story of survival.
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.