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Stories that spring from the dangers of distance have always fascinated us. Whether they are journeys into the wilderness, across the sea or into the heavens, the perils of separation from those who might help us should emergencies arise can make for compelling drama.

Stories of space travel have largely supplanted those of treks into the wild or over the waves; so many space stories – particularly ones that seek to hew relatively close to the realm of the plausible – revolve around the idea that help will not and cannot come. In space, you’re more or less on your own.

“Stowaway,” the new film directed by Joe Penna from a script that Penna co-wrote with Ryan Morrison, is the latest exploration of the unforgiving nature of the unknown and the emotional consequences that can come with being forced to make impossible choices.

It’s also a crackerjack space movie, one in which care has clearly been taken to maintain a degree of verisimilitude that exceeds that of all but the most meticulously-crafted near-future sci-fi. It’s a taut thriller, one that mines tension from moments that could have felt flat and/or mundane in the hands of another filmmaker.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 19 September 2018 11:19

Grant yourself ‘A Simple Favor’

When I first saw a trailer for “A Simple Favor,” I was intrigued. Sure, I figured it was basically going to be another “Gone Girl” knockoff – I wasn’t familiar with the 2017 Darcey Bell book of the same name or anything, but it all seemed pretty clear how this was going to go. I assumed I had it all figured out.

But you know what they say about when you assume.

I should have been suspicious. Paul Feig – best known for making sitcoms and Melissa McCarthy-led comedies – was in the director’s chair. The odd couple pairing of Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick as the leads. Still, I went into the theater expecting an entertaining, albeit fairly formulaic thriller.

Instead, I got something else. “A Simple Favor” definitely has “Gone Girl” in its DNA, but Feig has reflected the standard “Lost Woman” thriller through the skewed lens of his own absurd-leaning sensibility. The result is a movie riddled with twists and turns, filled with weird secrets and outlandish choices. It is somehow deadly serious and rather silly at the same time, with neither tone undermining the other. And it sure is fun to watch.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 13:49

Voice change - ‘Pitch Perfect 3’

Comedy sequel strikes some odd notes

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 16 November 2016 13:40

Autobiographical Anna

Kendrick pens essay collection 'Scrappy Little Nobody'

Published in Style
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 12:04

Action by the numbers - 'The Accountant'

Affleck thriller uneven, but entertaining nevertheless

Ben Affleck is nestled firmly in the Hollywood sweet spot right now. He's got his massive superhero franchise connection. He gets to act in and/or direct awards-bait prestige projects while tossing in the occasional standard-issue popcorn flick if he feels like it.

Published in Movies

The past few years have seen the rise of a subgenre of comedic film, movies marked by the foul-mouthed, ludicrous and largely consequence-free antics of idiotic man-boys, overgrown children whose ability to function in any semblance of the real world strains the bounds of suspension of disbelief. They feature long, improv-driven riffs and plenty of raunchy moments.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 15:32

Sing along with Pitch Perfect'

Film explores the world of competitive a cappella

Anyone who has been on a college campus has seen them. Or heard them, anyway. They are enclaves of a unique brand of music nerd.

They are a cappella singing groups.

These groups write their own arrangements of popular songs, not only singing the lyrics, but also creating melody and rhythm using nothing but their voices. They're usually cheesy as all get out, but no less enjoyable because of that.

Published in Movies

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