The last time star Brad Pitt and writer/director Andrew Dominik teamed up was for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”. That film is a long, slow burn; drifting in and out of scenes, dream like at times. Despite the gradual, deliberate pace, there is a force behind the narrative. Their latest endeavor, “Killing Them Softly”, an adaptation of George V. Higgins’ novel “Cogan’s Trade”, aims for the same goal. This time, however, they miss the mark, and instead of a steady, measured tempo, the film sags and meanders. It goes nowhere, and in the end, even though the story reaches the only logical conclusion, it peters out and leaves you empty.
Friday, November 30, 2012
So, do all serial killers these days need tools and snares and an intricate system of booby traps in order to ply their trade? If the current trend in horror is to be believed, then yes, yes they do. I was hoping that we were going to leave that one to the “Saw” franchise, but from the looks of “The Collection”, that’s not going to happen. Granted, both writer/director Marcus Dunstan and writer Patrick Melton are veterans of that particular set of films (they also delivered “Feast”), so you should expect a device or two. Still, it’s gimmicky, and not particularly frightening.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
When John’s (Scott Adkins) family is murdered in front of him, he sets out on a quest for to find the man who pulled the trigger, Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme). His journey takes him to some dark, unexpected places. That’s the basic plot to Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, the latest installment in a franchise that began in 1992. The film, however, takes that simple premise, and buries it beneath a big ol’ pile of crazy. Like Van Damme looking like psychotic clown crazy.
Monday, November 26, 2012
Well Glenn (Steven Yuen) certainly showed that he really is one tough son of a bitch in “When the Dead Come Knocking,” the latest episode of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”. There’s no doubt why he’s survived so long, and moving forward, no one will ever have reason to question his mettle again.
We’ll talk more about that, among many other topics, down below, but be warned, spoilers abound. They lurk everywhere, waiting strike when you least expect it. Proceed with caution, my friends.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
In the spirit of honesty, I’m a little bit ashamed about what I’m about to write, but here it goes. I like “Red Dawn”. And just to be clear, we’re talking about the unnecessary remake, not the 1984 John Milius original. As a fast-paced, low-brain-cell action flick, it turns out that “Red Dawn” is a lot of fun. As a movie with all of the trappings and trimmings of such a thing, it isn’t quite so successful. There isn’t much in the way of set up, or any of the elements that go into a traditional narrative. Here are a handful of people—I hesitate to call them characters. Most of them have names. Hey look, some ambiguous evil bad guys are parachuting out of the sky. Go!
Giving Academy-Award-winning director Ang Lee access to 3D camera equipment and a modern-day fable like “Life of Pi” is the best idea anyone has had in a long time. He plays so much with depth field, color, and composition, that the end result is nothing short of breathtaking. Lee’s style and mechanics are the perfect delivery system for an epic tale of survival that borders on the world of magic realism. The heart of the story is, after all, the tale of a young boy and his tiger bro, engaged in the quirky tale of adventure, unlikely friendship, and an extraordinary existence. “Life of Pi” watches like a fairy tale.
Monday, November 19, 2012
When last we left Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” he had just picked up a telephone. And that’s how he spent the vast majority of last night’s episode, “Hounded”. Seriously, he was like a teenage girl this week, either ear glued to the receiver, or frantically checking to make sure the phone still works, waiting for the-most-important-phone-call-ever.
It should go without saying that there are major SPOILERS contained within. So if you haven’t watched “Hounded”, stop reading unless you want a lot of things ruined for you.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
With “Casino Royale”, Daniel Craig stepped up and owned the living hell out of the role of James Bond. After Pierce Brosnan’s turn as the iconic British spy, which never felt like much more than a caricature of Sean Connery, Craig’s vaguely psychotic rendition of Bond brought life back to a franchise that had become stale. Craig plays the part with a callous coldness that gives a gritty, real-world edge to the character.
Monday, November 5, 2012
I’m a huge Steven Seagal fan, and have been for most of my life at this point. Films like “Out For Justice”, “Under Siege”, and “Hard to Kill” rank among my all-time favorites, and with a scarce few exceptions, I’ve seen every movie the man has made. Even with these qualifications, it’s getting harder and harder to watch the man’s new work. Over the last few years he’s become a bloated caricature of his former self, and nowhere is that more evident than in his new direct-to-video offering, “Maximum Conviction”.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
“Flight” is less a movie about a plane crash, as you’ve been led to believe, than it is about a man facing off with his own personal demons. In this story those demons take the form of a severe battle with alcoholism. At its best, “Flight” resembles a cleaned up version of “Leaving Las Vegas” with airplanes. At the other end of the spectrum, the film is like a made-for-television cautionary tale about the evils of drink and excess, one that is just a little too clean, a little too easy and rosy-cheeked to ever truly get to the point it sets out to make. What keeps “Flight” from devolving into a full-fledged Lifetime melodrama are a strong beginning and Denzel Washington’s performance.
“Wreck-It Ralph”, the new animated feature from Disney, delivers exactly what you expect, nothing more. That isn’t to say it’s bad. In a vacuum this is a fun enough movie, the visuals are good (though the 3D feels unnecessary most of the time), and there are all the heartwarming moments you would expect from a family cartoon. The chief problem is that, at every single juncture, the film is predictable, and never shows anything beyond the most obvious levels. If you have kids they’ll likely fall in love with “Wreck-It Ralph”, and while parents have sat through much, much worse to appease their tots, “Wreck-It Ralph” is middle of the road at best.
Going into Barry Levinson’s new horror film, “The Bay”, you get the feeling that it could either be something really special, or fall flat on its face. The concept is certainly strong enough. A creepy creature infestation, unexplained fish/wildlife death, and a government cover-up, what’s not to like? On the other hand, this is yet another low budget found footage picture, and these are, at best, a hit and miss proposition to begin with.