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Say what you will about Joe and Anthony Russo, but they understand what it means for a movie to be big. There are few filmmakers currently working who understand the particulars of blockbusters as well as they do. The Russos seem to have an inherent grasp of what makes large-scale films work. So it’s no surprise that the powers that be at Netflix would tap the Russos to helm their biggest budget film to date.

That film is “The Gray Man,” an action blockbuster currently streaming on the service. The Russos direct from a script by Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, adapted from the 2009 Mark Greaney novel of the same name. It has all the components of a massive movie – huge budget, A-list stars, elaborate set pieces and exotic locales, the whole shebang – so of course, why not enlist guys who fundamentally get it to steer the ship?

It’s an espionage action-thriller, a story about one man’s attempt to survive when the government agency for which he has spent over a decade working decides that he has become a liability. This is a big, loud globetrotter of an adventure, and while it perhaps doesn’t work as fully as it might have, it remains an exciting and engaging work of popcorn entertainment.

Published in Movies

There are some stories that should be told over and over again. These are the stories that are a part of the fabric of who we are as a society, stories that represent the pinnacle of human capability in a tangible, visceral way.

The story of the moon landing is one such story. No matter how often the story is told and retold, no matter how many times it is referenced directly or obliquely in popular culture, it isn’t enough. It will never be enough. It’s a story we should keep telling with every increase in our capability to tell it.

“First Man” – directed by Damien Chazelle and adapted by Josh Singer from James R. Hansen’s “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong” – stars Ryan Gosling as that titular astronaut and relates his story as he walks the path that inexorably draws him toward space. It’s a portrait of the quiet aptitude and stoic readiness that made Neil Armstrong an ideal candidate for this leap into the unknown; it also examines the impacts of this journey (positive and negative alike) on those around him – particularly his family and his NASA compatriots.

Published in Movies

There’s a lot of risk that goes into revisiting an idea long after the fact. Adding to a cinematic universe that has been both unchanged and largely beloved for decades is a demanding prospect. To be able to do justice to the original and satisfy its acolytes while also telling a story that feels both new and necessary, well … that’s a real challenge.

For example: Ridley Scott’s 1982 film “Blade Runner” is one of the most cherished sci-fi films in movie history. If you’re going to make a sequel to THAT film – one that in many ways essentially served as the model for the genre for 30-plus years – you better be damn sure you get it right.

“Blade Runner 2049” gets it right.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 22 February 2017 12:35

Celebrating cinema with the Academy Awards

Predicting the Oscar winners for 2017

Published in Cover Story
Sunday, 08 January 2017 18:29

'La La Land' is la-la-lovely

Movie musical a wonderful blend of old and new

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 25 May 2016 12:26

The Nice Guys' finish first

Buddy comedy an entertaining throwback

If you've watched and enjoyed any sort of action-oriented buddy comedy over the past three decades, you owe a debt of gratitude to Shane Black. Black's screenplay for 'Lethal Weapon' back in 1987 essentially defined that particular style; things have shifted and evolved in the 30 years since, but the basic DNA is still there.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 13:34

Gangster Squad' looks better than it is

Film puts style over substance

There's a lot of fun to be had with period pieces especially when you've got an enthusiastic cast. It's interesting to see that even the most well-regarded movie star can get a little giddy when you tell him to put on a fedora, brandish a tommy gun and talk tough.

That's the new movie 'Gangster Squad' at its core. It's an undeniably stylish film visually striking with a cast that can't help but delight in the movie that they're making. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of substance here; the characterizations are weak and the story is thin. It's all sizzle and no steak.

Published in Music

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