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Wednesday, 12 September 2012 14:26

Words, words, words

The Words' offers story-within-a-story-within-a-story

As a lover of the written word, I was intrigued when I first heard about 'The Words.' The idea of a movie built around the nature of authorship and the siren's song of literary fame and fortune sounded pretty good to me. But then a simple, fundamental question occurred to me - can they actually make this interesting?

For me at least, the answer was 'yes.'

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 14:30

They fought the law and the law won

Lawless' an ambitious attempt that falls just short

The Prohibition Era was a time of outlaws and folk heroes. The government fought and continually lost - a constant battle against the bootleggers and gangsters that arose following the illegalization of alcohol. Their jobs weren't made any easier by a general populace that mostly disagreed with the law and often casually violated it.

This is the world of the Bondurant family, a group of Virginia brothers that rose to prominence through their Depression-era bootlegging exploits. 'Lawless,' based on the book 'The Wettest County in the World' by Matt Bondurant, follows the brothers as they are finally confronted by the law.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 14:10

Hit and Run' more run than hit

Chase comedy has moments, but falls flat

August's end also marks the end of the summer movie season. This means that the last couple of weeks of that month are the repository for many of the studios' also-rans. These are films that don't fit the blockbuster bill, nor do they warrant inclusion in the fall's lineup of more sophisticated movies. Calling it a wasteland is probably harsh, but not overly so.

This is where we find movies such as 'Hit and Run,' a comedy that seems to be the pet project of actor Dax Shepard (TV's 'Parenthood'). By all appearances, this is Shepard's magnum opus not only did he star in the film, but he wrote and co-directed it as well. Heck, he's even listed in the credits as an editor.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 14:36

A vote of confidence for The Campaign'

Satirical political comedy crass, crude and better than you think

2012 is an election year, so it shouldn't be a surprise to see politically themed movies make the scene over these next few weeks leading up to November. What is surprising at least a bit is who fired the first satiric salvo of the season.

It's Will Ferrell.

You have to call Ferrell's latest film 'The Campaign' a political satire, if only because there's really nothing else you can call it. It's as broad and goofy and crass as anything else Ferrell has done. Throw co-star Zach Galifinakis into the mix and you can expect things to get seriously weird.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 14:32

A franchise re-Bourne'

Series tries to move forward with new star, story

The 'Bourne' franchise has been incredibly popular over the past decade. All three films have managed to be both commercial and critical hits nine figure box office takes don't combine with rave reviews all that often. Matt Damon's Jason Bourne (loosely based on the novels struck a chord. He was a hero that matched up well with the uncertain, gray-area-laden mood of the first few years of the 21st century.

However, Damon's Jason Bourne days appear to be behind him; he's moving on to other things. But the Bourne brand is still viable; there are a lot of parts to that universe that have yet to be explored.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 16:08

Memories light the corners of your mind

Total Recall' remake explores the nature of memory

Current conventional wisdom (or what passes for it in Hollywood, anyway) indicates that there's very little room in the Cineplex for original ideas. It's all about creating and maintaining franchises or else buffing a modern sheen onto repackaged old ideas, so the fact that Hollywood rebooted a movie like 'Total Recall' isn't nearly as surprising as the fact that it took over 20 years for them to get around to it.

The works of author Philip K. Dick have served as the basis for something like a dozen films his stories led to films such as 'Screamers,' 'Minority Report,' 'Paycheck,' 'The Adjustment Bureau' and more but 'Total Recall' was only the second Dick-based work ('Blade Runner' was the first.). It was based on Dick's short story 'We Can Remember It for You Wholesale' and it was far from a sure thing.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 14:37

You won't catch their 'Drift'

New 'Ice Age' movie a formulaic rehash

One of the most welcome developments in cinema over the past 15 or 20 years is the marked increase in quality from films aimed at children. It used to be that your choices were Disney or a bunch of condescending, derivative crap (the occasional Don Bluth offering notwithstanding). But now that heavy hitters such as Dreamworks and Fox are doing their own kid-oriented movies, the bar for once-easily dismissed 'kid stuff' has never been higher.

Which is why a movie like 'Ice Age: Continental Drift' is so disappointing.

The gang from the previous three installments is all here again. Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano, TV's 'Men of a Certain Age') and his wife Ellie (Queen Latifah, 'Joyful Noise') are raising their willful daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer, 'Joyful Noise') in yet another generic prehistoric setting. The gang from the previous movies is here too: Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary, TV's 'Rescue Me') and Syd the sloth (John Leguizamo, 'One for the Money') are both still part of the picture.

Published in Movies

I love movies with drama, action and suspense. Throw in some big name actors like John Travolta ('From Paris with Love'), Salma Hayek ('Puss in Boots'), Blake Lively ('The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants'), and Benicio Del Toro ('The Wolfman') and it's bound to a be a hit, right? Wrong!

'Savages' is, well, how do I put this...Purely savage! The bloody film focuses on two California friends Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Johnson) who start their own marijuana-growing operation after Chon, a former Navy seal returns from Afghanistan with the 'best of the best' marijuana seeds. The two make a good living off the illegal drug and so does their partner in crime, Dennis (Travolta), a crooked DEA agent. However, everything starts to spiral out of control when the Mexican Baja Cartel (run by Hayek and her underling, Del Toro) want to partner with the boys. The guys refuse at first, which is not an option as far as the Cartel is concerned. So the duo offer to sell their entire business to the Cartel, which again isn't a viable choice since the Mexicans need to know how the friends' growing techniques produce some of the purest drugs on the market. In order to drive their point home, the Cartel steals the boys' shared girlfriend, Ophelia (Blake Lively) and hold her for ransom. The rest of the movie, viewers see how quickly Chon and Ben turn from peaceful drug users and producers to murders, thieves and blackmailers in an attempt to recover the girl they both love.

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 15:11

Rebooting Spider-Man' in a flash

NEW YORK (AP) On a weekend in January of 2010, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios pivoted faster than even Spider-Man would dare. 

A fourth installment of the hugely popular Spider-man franchise was planned, with director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire returning to their trilogy of films that had earned more than $2.5 billion at the global box office and generally been hailed as a standard-bearer in big-screen comic book adaptations. 

But by that Monday, Raimi's dissatisfaction with the script and the producers' eagerness for a new movie had come to a head. In a flash, the sequel was kaput, and a reboot was ordered up. Next Tuesday, 'The Amazing Spider-Man' will be released, charting a new start for the web-slinger just five years after 'Spider-Man 3.'

Published in Movies

Pixar, which is famous for its vibrant movies, original and humorous characters, seemed to be able to do no wrong. It could knock sequels out of the park with box office numbers envied by all those around them. So I was incredibly excited when I first started hearing about 'Brave,' which at first was nothing more than a screenshot of a feisty red-haired archer. This was to be Pixar's first female heroine - how cool! Too bad they traded in all of their original and creative storytelling for tired tropes and clichs.

'Brave' centers around Merida, a fiery Celtic princess who is chafing under her mother's lessons in being a lady. She would rather be out gallivanting with her horse Angus and plunking targets with her bow. When she finds out that she's to be betrothed to one of the three eldest sons of the local clans she is determined to change her fate. Stop me if you've heard this one before Oh, you probably have. Hold on, I need to finish.

Published in Movies
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