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Thursday, 01 November 2012 11:04

The powerful ambition of Cloud Atlas'

Film offers look at the constancy of the soul

There's something to be said for ambition.

The current cinematic culture doesn't appear to have a whole lot of room for ambitious undertakings anymore at least in terms of storytelling. It's all about massive CGI extravaganzas and franchises, remakes and reboots. It sometimes seems that no one is willing or able to tell an original story in an original way anymore.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 24 October 2012 14:05

Madea fights crime? Alex Cross'

Film attempts to jumpstart Tyler Perry action franchise

There's something admirable about an actor who tries to break out and advance beyond his or her comfort zone. Watching someone trying to become something more comedians attempting dramatic roles, rom-com stalwarts trying action movies can be a lot of fun, and it can help an actor jump a tier or two in the Hollywood hierarchy.

But that's only if it works. If it doesn't work, you get a project that comes off as sadly (or comically) misjudged - a movie that is a transparent attempt to make the leap, yet not good enough to actually result in success. You get a movie where instead of catching hold and hauling himself up, the leaper instead falls to the ground in failure.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 24 October 2012 14:03

Paranormal Activity 4' more of the same

Latest installment brings nothing new to the table

One of the mainstays of the horror genre has always been the idea of the franchise. From those early Dracula/Wolfman/Frankenstein offerings from Universal Studios, the world of cinematic horror has long been rife with sequels.

A more recent development has been the spate of 'found footage' films a filmmaking style that lends itself particularly well to horror movies. These faux documentaries provide a number of benefits: They're intimate and they're very, very cheap.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 14:56

Argo' stranger than fiction

Director/star Affleck brings true story to life

One of the things that Hollywood often forgets is that some of the greatest stories are true stories. A movie doesn't have to be populated by fictional supermen and grand events that never were in order to be engaging, exciting and interesting.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 15:37

Taken 2' The Takening

Flat sequel mostly a rehash of the original

There are certainly valid reasons for the spate of sequels that Hollywood has been trotting out in recent years. Moviegoers often like seeing stories extended beyond the 120-minute running time of a single blockbuster or beloved characters placed into new circumstances. Not to mention the sheer lucrative nature of the beast.

Of course, the downside is that you regularly get crap like 'Taken 2.'

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
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 14:51

Staying in the loop

Looper' a fresh, fascinating take on time travel

Every once in a while, a film comes along that takes a tired cinematic trope and breathes new life into it. These new and interesting takes on old ideas are relatively rare why have a new take when old takes make plenty of money?

Take the new film 'Looper' for instance. The latest offering from writer/director Rian Johnson takes one of the classic science fiction foundations (time travel) and takes it in a direction that we've never seen onscreen. The result is a smart and challenging film that transcends its speculative origins.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 14:48

Checking in with Hotel Transylvania'

Animated film has thin plot, but plenty of laughs

As a rule, I don't tend to have particularly high expectations going into a kids' movie (Pixar being the exception, of course). So when I started seeing trailers for the new movie 'Hotel Transylvania,' I was on the fence as to whether I would even bother. I mean, Adam Sandler stars how good could it be?

But then I received a vital piece of information. Game-changing information. You see, it turns out that 'Hotel Transylvania' is the feature film directorial debut of Genndy Tartakovsky, the man behind the subversive brilliance of an assortment of wonderful animated series. This is the guy who unleashed 'The Powerpuff Girls,' 'Dexter's Laboratory' and 'Samurai Jack' on the world.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 15:27

No trouble with Trouble with the Curve'

Relationships take the field in this baseball offering

As a rule, I enjoy most sports movies, but the truth is that with very few exceptions, Hollywood has been most successful with films about boxing and baseball. While boxing's visceral brutality is a large part of why it works on film, baseball's advantage is in its inherent romanticism. America's relationship with its pastime allows the sport to work as a framework to explore our relationships with one another.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 15:05

Passing judgment on Dredd'

Remake far surpasses the original

The recent trend in action movies has been toward a sense of self-awareness. These movies take great pains to let the audience know that they recognize their own basic ludicrousness with the occasional wink and/or nod.

Published in Movies
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