When you hear that one or both of the Duplass brothers, Mark and Jay, are involved in a movie, you have certain expectations. Your mind immediately goes to quirky indie comedies with a droll sense of humor and heart. If the new horror thriller Black Rock, now out on Blu-ray, has anything to say about it, this perception may, while not change entirely, at least add a new dimension to their collective sibling body of work.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Maggie Carrie’s “The To Do List” aims to do for teen sex comedies what “Bridesmaids” does for the bachelor party film, and “The Heat” does for buddy cop movies. It takes a well-worn, male dominated genre, and tells that same story, only this time from a female perspective. And it’s really god damn funny to boot, which, for a movie like this, means that it’s mostly successful. Trying to do something different is laudable, but if this movie doesn’t make you laugh above everything else, and question the taste of everyone involved, then what the hell is the point?
Thursday, July 18, 2013
As you most likely guessed from the title, “RED 2” is the sequel to a movie called “RED,” which, in reality, has little to nothing to do with the color. Instead we’re talking about an acronym that, in this instance, stands for “Retired Extremely Dangerous.” This is a designation the CIA, at least in the world of Warren Ellis’ comic that serves as the source material, gives to former agents that could still prove to be a threat down the road. They may not be in the field anymore, but they’re still good at killing. Who knows if this is a real thing or not? Never having worked for the CIA, or any intelligence gathering agency for that matter, I can offer no insight on the matter. I have, however, seen “RED,” so I feel qualified to chime in on that side of the conversation.
With films like “Drive,” “Bronson,” and “Valhalla Rising” on his resume, anything Nicolas Winding Refn does immediately leap frogs to the top of my must see list, especially when it involves teaming up with his handsome man muse Ryan Gosling. You can imagine that as soon as I heard about their new collaboration, “Only God Forgives,” described as a Muay Thai spaghetti western, my anticipation meter went through the roof. The trailers, posters, and pictures, all indicate a quiet, tense film, punctuated by sharp bursts of brutal violence.
James Wan may be most known as the writer and director of “Saw,” and for being responsible for the assault of questionable “torture porn” movies that franchise helped launch. Lately, however, he has eschewed over the top gore and elaborate ways to kill people for a spooky, less gore-soaked style of horror, like “Insidious” and “Dead Silent.” These movies atmosphere, escalating tension, and jump scares over blood and guts and violence. And Wan’s latest, “The Conjuring,” takes pages from two of our favorite subgenres—the haunted house and the exorcism—and combines them to great effect to tell a purportedly true tale of real life terror.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
“Jump,” the latest film from Irish director Kieron J. Walsh, is garnering comparisons to the likes of Doug Liman’s “Go,” and “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barels” and “Snatch” from Guy Ritchie. Those are apt comparisons given that “Jump” is a fast paced crime story comprised of multiple threads and numerous narrative layers. However, the puzzle of the plot is more complex, as Walsh’s script zips you back and forth in time. Watching “Jump” is like playing an engaging game, full of twists and turns, and the action keeps you barreling through the spare 81-minute run time. In a post “Pulp Fiction,” post “Sixth Sense” world, you’ll see some of these shifts and curves coming, but that shouldn’t dampen your enjoyment of the film.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
There are going to be people who absolutely hate Pacific Rim, and with good reason. Guillermo del Toro’s highly anticipated mech versus monster adventure is a big, clunky mess. The movie is 20 minutes too long, and you can pick apart just about every element. But on the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find people like me, who totally love Pacific Rim. My reaction to this movie is similar The Dark Knight Rises. All of the criticisms leveled at it are legitimate complaints, and when you break it down, there are big problems. I recognized all of this while I watched the film, but that didn’t impact my enjoyment one iota.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
I’m torn, so very, very torn. On one hand, the fact that Hollywood is remaking a badass modern revenge classic like Park Chan-wook’s “Oldboy,” which is barely a decade old, is a travesty. They’re going to water it down, take away all of the bite, give it a happy, Americanized ending. You get where this train is headed. On the other hand, this new redband trailer for Spike Lee’s version of “Oldboy” is really good.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Science Fiction author Orson Scott Card has made no secret made no secret about his stance on homosexuality. He has so often and so vehemently stated his opposition that there is a growing movement to boycott Summit’s upcoming adaptation of his novel Ender’s Game. They kind of walked into that one. Following the Supreme Court’s historic ruling extending equal rights to all state recognized marriages, gay or straight, Card has issued a statement.
Monday, July 8, 2013
People certainly seem to like IFC’s sketch comedy series “Portlandia,” though I am certainly not one of them. Personally, I’ve never quite got the appeal, but far be it from me to deny others things they enjoy. Season three of the satirical show is now available on Blu-ray and DVD, and they’re back to doing that thing they do, poking and prodding at all the pretentious stereotypes and foibles of Oregon’s largest urban center. Chances are that, if you’re already a fan, you’ll be all over this release, and if not, you know where you stand. If you’ve seen the show, you know exactly what you’re going to get. There are no surprises here.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
“The Lone Ranger” is a big, fat waste of time. Disney’s latest attempt to cash in on nostalgic moviegoers isn’t even memorably bad. If it failed in a spectacular ball of fire and disaster, at least that would be something. Instead, what you get is 149 minutes—and you feel each and every one of those minutes scrape by—of tedious boredom. The story is convoluted, and by turns attempts to be a tent pole action film, a buddy comedy, a family melodrama, a revisionist western, and a tale of heroism, and it falls flat in every instance. I saw this less than a week ago, and I’m honestly having trouble recalling any specific details without referring to my notes. Except one, I was bored as hell.