‘Rush’ fires on all cylinders
Racing movie one of the year’s best
It isn’t easy to make a great sports movie. There are plenty of decent examples and quite a few good ones, but the true greats are exceedingly rare. It is just too difficult to marry the greatness of sport with the requirements of great cinema.
So when a great sports movie does make an appearance, it warrants our attention.
Love and pornography – ‘Don Jon’
Gordon-Levitt makes feature writing, directorial debut
When an actor – even a talented one – makes his or her first foray behind the camera, viewers should always approach with some trepidation. Talent in one film-related arena does not necessarily equate to talent in another. And when the actor in question has written and directed the film – one in which he himself stars – all you can do is cross your fingers and hope for the best.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Looper”) has managed it better than most.
Take no ‘Prisoners’
Quality direction, performances elevate thriller
The best films are the ones that provoke reactions long after you’ve seen them. There are few things in the pop cultural world as rewarding as a movie that prompts you to ask yourself the big questions - questions about your own basic nature, about how what we do defines who we are.
“Prisoners” is one of those movies; it holds up a mirror and asks us if we’re really so different from what we’re seeing before us. It’s the sort of movie that, for better or worse, stays with us long after the credits roll.
A losing ‘Battle’
“Battle of the Year” a trite, tepid dance movie
There’s something to be said for knowing that a movie is going to be bad before you go into it. While I’m generally a proponent of doing my utmost to give any film the benefit of the doubt, there are plenty of offerings whose lack of quality is impossible to ignore.
I’ll also admit to not being a huge fan of the dance movie genre. It’s rare for me to be genuinely engaged by a story of how a youth center/school/neighborhood/who-gives-a-crap is going to be saved by the power of dance.
Little value in ‘The Family’
Film much less than the sum of its parts Sometimes, you look at a film and you can just tell that it isn’t going to work, no matter how impeccable the pedigree of the people involved. For instance, if someone were to say that Luc Besson was going to direct and co-write a Mafia action comedy starring Robert DeNiro (“Killing Season”), Michelle Pfeiffer (“People Like Us”) and Tommy Lee Jones (“Men in Black 3”) and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, you’d probably think that that had a chance to be a pretty good movie.
A too-slow burn – ‘Out of the Furnace’
Film fails to maximize its potential
December is the time when movie studios start trotting out the “prestige” pictures in earnest. These are the films that are designed to be “important,” films that are built specifically to rake in award nominations for the companies that make them.
And that’s great; regardless of the motivation behind them, quality movies should always be welcomed into the marketplace, if only to counterbalance the CGI-laden cash grabs with numbers after their titles. We all love superhero movies and rude comedies, but sometimes we’re looking for a bit more substance.
Remaining Baskaukas brother exits ‘Survivor: Blood vs. Water’
He may not have won the game, but Vytas Baskauskas did outlast his brother on the CBS hit reality show “Survivor: Blood vs. Water.” Baskauskas lasted 27 days (two more than his sibling Aras) in a game that requires contestants to outwit, outlast and outplay one another on a remote island for $1 million. Vytas played a great social game and was well liked by both the veteran players and the first-time players. However, he was ultimately sent home when fellow moms Tina and Laura M. teamed up to defeat him on Redemption Island. I recently spoke with Baskauskas by phone, who said he has no hard feelings towards the duo that defeated him.
The Maine Edge: You and your brother are both competitive. Are you surprised you outlasted him on “Survivor?”
Alabama farmer loses chance to win ‘Survivor’
The conditions on “Survivor” didn't bother Caleb Bankston a bit. This farm boy from Alabama admitted he is used to hard work and the heat. However, his strategy and loyalty were both put to the test early in the season when his fiancé, former “Survivor: One World” contestant Colton Cumbie, outright quit the game. But Bankston was able to recover from that drama quickly and make an even bigger move in the game when he successfully knocked out one of this season's most recognizable players - former NFL player Brad Culpepper. I recently spoke with Bankston about his time on the show and whether or not he's upset about now being part of the “Survivor” jury.
The Maine Edge: Are you bummed you're part of the jury?
2013’s best and worst Christmas albums
Making my way through a stack of some of this year’s holiday-themed albums was a little like going for a walk in the woods before winter has truly set in. There were smooth stretches and a few pleasant surprises coupled with intermittent steps in wet muddy goop and a trip over a log.
Kelly Clarkson – “Wrapped In Red” (RCA/Sony)
A classic reinvented – ‘Cinderella’
PTC offers a new telling of an old tale
BANGOR – Penobscot Theatre Company is bringing something new to the holiday season.
PTC is presenting “Cinderella: A New Telling of an Old Tale” at the Bangor Opera House as their holiday offering this season. The show is running through Dec. 29.
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