You have to hand it to M. Night Shyamalan. For a filmmaker most known for forcing unearned, out-of-left field—some may say asinine—twists into every movie at inopportune moments, he certainly resisted that urge with his new sci-fi adventure After Earth. It couldn't have been easy for him, and there are times in the film when you, and the entire audience, wait for that holy-shit-it-was-all-a-dream moment, a moment that thankfully never materializes. There are a few groaners, but the closest thing to a twist is nothing more than a poor decision in the writing process that bestows way too much empathetic power on a giant bird.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
As a culture, we have a fascination with outlaws, with the men and women who live beyond the bounds of conventional social restraints and rules. In few places is that as clear as our love of gangster movies. Almost as soon as we figured out how to project moving images on film we started producing movies about mobsters, with their Tommy guns, pinstripe suits, and crooked sneers. As part of their “Ultimate Gangsters Collection,” Warner Bros. has put together a Blu-ray anthology of “Classics” to go along with its “Contemporary” partner.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
As a kid “Top Gun” told me I should to be a fighter pilot, James Bond movies showed me how awesome it is to be a spy, and gangster movies made me want to be a gangster and live a life outside the law. None of those career options panned out, but to celebrate the long, illustrious history of mobsters in cinema, Warner Bros. has released their “Ultimate GangsterCollection” so you can live vicariously through some of he all-time fiercest movie criminals in history.
After a sojourn into other realms, and a self-imposed year-long hiatus from the industry—sort of, he did release the documentary “Arirang” in the interim—controversial director Kim Ki-duk is back to doing what he does best, making grim, tough to watch movies about a bad man doing terrible things to people. While his latest film, “Pieta,” never reaches he highs of other recent South Korean revenge films, never truly delivering that strong emotional connection, it is a gritty, visceral ride nonetheless.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Sandwiched between blockbuster superhero movies and epic science fiction adventures, this summer at the movies also delivers the close of the so-called “Wolf Pack” trilogy. “The Hangover Part III” closes out the lucrative franchise with the most tedious, supremely unfunny installment yet. Walking out of the theater we can all be glad that this is finally over. The best you can say is that at least it wasn’t a simple rehash, like the sequel.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Watching his films, you might get the impression that director Noah Baumbach is a dyed in the wool pessimist. While movies like “Greenberg,” “The Squid and the Whale,” and my personal favorite, the underrated “Kicking and Screaming,” have sharp bitter edges, his latest, “Frances Ha,” is his most hopeful, least combative work to date. The fact that this is collaboration with star Greta Gerwig might have something to do with that, and the events are largely autobiographical on her side of the equation.
Chow Hin Yeung’s thriller Nightfall, now available on Blu-ray and DVD, begins with a moment of extreme violence, so brutal as to be legitimately uncomfortable to watch. This highly stylized pre-credits scene informs the rest of the film, imbuing the remainder with a sinister undertone, with the potential for fierce explosions of violence.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Our pets are full-fledged members of the family. For many of us, they’re as close to children as we ever plan to have. We watch them do all manner of stupidly cute things, occasionally dress them up in demeaning holiday costumes, and share our entire lives with them. We know going in that, odds are, we’re going to outlive any domesticated animal we bring into our home, but we push this to the periphery and ignore it like we ignore death as whole.
Horror, as a genre, certainly seems like it’s out to prove that no one, anywhere, should have kids, ever. Either someone is going to steal it and use in some sort of heinous ritual (Rosemary’s Baby), or when it grows up it will be the son of the devil (The Omen), turn out to be a murdering psychopath (The Good Son), or become a total turd (Anything featuring Ashton Kutcher).
Friday, May 17, 2013
Admittedly, last year's much ballyhooed horror anthology "V/H/S" was a disappointment. Individual pieces were okay, but taken as a whole, it's an underwhelming experience. With that in mind, expectations for the upcoming sequel have been kept in check, even though it involves the likes of Jason Eisener, director of "Hobo With a Shotgun," and Gareth Evans, who helmed "The Raid: Redemption." Still, even with ample skepticism, this latest red band trailer for "V/H/S 2" is impressive.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Thursday, May 9, 2013
If you’re like me, then when you read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel “The Great Gatsby” your first reaction is, “damn, this shit needs to be in 3D.” Lucky for us Baz Luhrmann heard our cries and is on the case. For just his fifth feature length motion picture, the Aussie director has, yet again, superimposed his frenetic, larger-than-life style on a beloved literary institution. While the onscreen effort is pretty to gawk at, when you take “The Great Gatsby” as a whole, this isn’t the best melding of styles. The story of a mysterious man who, at least initially, is all about appearances and the external, the film mirrors this sentiment. Only unlike the book, Luhrmann’s film never delves any deeper, and you’re left cold and empty.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
So a cop walks into an all night diner…No, this isn’t he beginning of a tired joke, this is how the new direct-to-video crime thriller “Pawn” kicks off. Said cop, played by Forest Whitaker, walks smack into the middle of an armed robbery. From this simple set up spools out a twisted web of story threads, layered narrative, and constantly shifting points of view. Though the film starts off strong—not great, but solid—it comes off the rails not far down the line.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
The world has changed since “The Avengers.” You can’t have Norse gods falling to Earth and aliens invading New York City through a wormhole without fundamentally altering at least a few preconceived notions about how the universe works. “Iron Man 3” is the story of how these changes have impacted one man, only this particular man happens to be millionaire playboy, maverick inventor, and key member of the Avengers, Tony Stark.