Friday, June 23, 2017

The Third Season Of Fargo Offers Dark Themes, Bold Storytelling And Loads Of Memorable Performances


Noah Hawley is an ambitious man, ain't he? Three years ago, he voyaged into the creatively perilous world of TV show adaptations of movies by making a TV show out of the 1996 movie Fargo and created something utterly fantastic in the process. For the second season of that program, he brought the proceedings to the 1970's, widened the scope and managed to deliver something even better than that first season. Just earlier this year, Hawley was the creative head on another FX drama called Legion that managed to fully embrace trippy storytelling and created maybe the best superhero TV show of all-time in the process.

Cars 3 Delivers A Shocking Amount Of Emotionally Engaging, If Sometimes Formulaic, Storytelling

In many ways, Cars 3 feels like a companion piece to last summer's PIXAR movie, Finding Dory. Not only are both sequels but they arrive in an era of PIXAR's filmography so heavily dominated by sequels it's become understandable to question whether the more bold storytelling instincts the studio was relying on for its first 15 years of existence have escaped them (though Inside Out is the kind of masterpiece demonstrating how good this studio can be when it really swings for the fences). Cars 3, even moreso than Finding Dory (whose predecessor never really spawned much in the way of merchandise) is mostly a gamble to create toys and assorted paraphernalia that these Cars movies have become most noteworthy for.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Transformers: The Last Knight Somehow Takes The Transformers Franchise To New Tedium-Drenched Low Levels Of Quality

It shouldn't shock any human being to hear that a Transformers sequel is bad. After what I recollect to be a solid first movie in 2007 (I haven't watched that original Michael Bay feature in years so I can't attest to how it holds up), the sequels in this series have been a never ending series of assaults on the senses. The only good things that have come out of these sequels is the various essays on Revenge Of The Fallen Roger Ebert penned back in 2009 and this one inexplicably bizzare John Turturro moment from the third movie. Otherwise, it's been utterly irritating nonsense for four straight movies. While other American blockbusters lend real gravitas to obscure characters, contemplate weighty themes or deliver rousing spectacle, the Transformers sequels are content to devote entire scenes to the Romeo & Juliet Law.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rough Night Has Major Story Problems But Don't Worry, It's Got A Good Number Of Laughs To Its Name

Someone pointed out to me the other day how the new comedy Rough Night marks Scarlett Johansson's first foray into straight-up full-on comedies and to my surprise, it kind of actually is. Granted, she's gone into romantic comedies multiple times in her career as well as a Woody Allen dramedy (I'm shocked I didn't know a Hugh Jackman/Scarlett Johansson comedy from Woody Allen movie even existed prior to a couple months ago) and providing voicework for The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and Sing but in terms of headlining a top-to-bottom live-action comedy, this new Lucia Aniello feature does mark new terrain for the celebrated actor.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Come Sing Along With The Thoroughly Delightful Mary Poppins

I have been a Disney geek my entire life, to the point that my first word uttered on this planet was "Disney". I was doomed from the start to be a total nerd for all things Disney which is a key reason why I have such an encyclopedic knowledge of animated Disney fare and hold the man known as Walt Disney in such high esteem. Despite all of that though, I'd somehow never seen the movie Mary Poppins until just a few days ago. Perhaps the running time had put me off the movie as a lad, or perhaps because I wasn't as enamored with other classic live-action Disney movies as I was with classic animated Disney fare, but whatever the reason, Mary Poppins had evaded my eyeballs for over two decades of my life.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Gene Kelly And George Gershwin's Music Shine In The Terrific Musical An American In Paris

Whenever we talk about modern actors, us film critics tend to have a habit of comparing newer movie stars to prolific actors of the past. I'm not exempting myself from this trend for sure, I totally did that with Michael Fassbender in my Steve Jobs review. It's not an inherently bad thing, but I do have to ponder if this tactic (which, again, I'm as guilty of as anyone else) when used so ubiquitously does tend to damper newer movie starts chances to establish their own identity while also reducing the uniqueness of the legendary older actors they're being compared to.

The Book Of Henry Has Lots Of Strange Plot Turns But What's The Point Of It All?


While the film geek community was aware that director Collin Trevorrow had a movie called The Book of Henry on the docket for release in 2017, the feature didn't gain all that much in the way of attention until it's bonkers first trailer was released, revealing the movies bonkers-looking plotline and immediately rocketing itself onto many people's radars. I'll freely admit to being one such person whose interest got piqued by the absolutely tonally all-over-the-map trailer which combined super-inventive kid movie tropes with Naomi Watts as a sniper action. The biggest question remaining for me and many others after watching that trailer was whether or not the actual movie itself would be this crazy....

Gone With The Wind Looks Nice But It Really Blows It When It Comes To Being Substantive In Any Way

We all know Gone With The Wind. Even if you haven't seen it, it's sheer level of pop culture presence is so widespread and ubiquitous that it's become something you know lines of dialogue and visuals from even if you haven't taken the plunge and watched the entire four-hour long movie. When you have a movie that's so incredibly popular and influential, the subject question inevitably comes up on whether or not it's actually any good. Was it an all-time classic or just a flash in the pan type deal that was only popular because of outside circumstances that boosted up an otherwise lackluster motion picture (see Twilight and American Sniper as examples of the latter day phenomenon).

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Cars 3 Has One Of PIXAR's Weakest Opening Weekends While All Eyez On Me Overperforms And Rough Night Flops

Even PIXAR couldn't avoid the summertime box office blues that have plagued many a-sequel this summer, as domestic audiences have rejected new Jack Sparrow, Alien, King Arthur and Mummy movies. Cars 3, the newest entry in the Cars saga, grossed $53.5 million this weekend, an underwhelming bow that makes it the fifth-lowest opening weekend for a PIXAR movie and only the third PIXAR movie in the 21st century to open below $60 million, which is really disappointing considering Cars 3 is a sequel to an already existing franchise. In terms of 2017 animated fare, Cars 3 can claim to be the biggest animated family movie opening weekend of 2017 as it came in $500,000 ahead of the bow of The LEGO Batman Movie while also ending up 7% ahead of the opening weekend of non-sequel The Boss Baby from this past March. Small thing to note; no animated movie has debuted to over $60 million in America since The Secret Life Of Pets nearly a year ago. Two animated movies (Moana and Sing) have managed to crack $200 million, but 2017 really hasn't had a mega-animated movie hit yet this year.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

3 Generations Is A Scattered And Clumsy Mess

3 Generations was supposed to come out in a general theatrical release domestically all the way back in September 2015 with the title of About Ray. After it garnered a critical thrashing at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Weinstein Company pulled it from its release schedule and it basically vanished. Then, earlier this year, it was abruptly announced that the studio would be releasing About Ray under its current title and in a smaller theatrical release under their Radius-TWC banner, which had been discontinued for over a year but was briefly brought back to life solely for the purpose of getting this feature finally released.

The 1932 Take On Scarface Still Remains One Of The Best Gangster Movies!

Howard Hughes is like a never-ending source of historical trivia. The guy's eccentric and reclusive private life is already the stuff of legend, and while I was well aware of him having a heavy hand in the film industry, I had no idea he was a staunch fighter against The Production Code (an entity meant to curb raunchy or unsavory behavior in American cinema) while he was the producer of the 1932 version of Scarface. Apparently, he told the directors in charge of this project (Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson) to forego any consideration for having their Scarface adhere to the guidelines of The Production Code and instead focus on making the most realistic and highest quality movie they could.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"Ya Got Me Clueless, Look Into Your Eyes And The Skies The Limit..."

My disdain for John Hughes High School fare like The Breakfast Club (especially The Breakfast Club) is well-known but there's no denying, no matter how I felt about such projects, that they left a massive impact on pop culture. In the years following the 1980's, when such movies were released, a swath of High School set comedies came out and tried to replicate the identity of those John Hughes directed features only to come off as derivative and fade off into the oblivion. It was only those High School set movies that tried to be something different that managed to create their own impact on pop culture.

Your Mission To Mars, Should You Choose To Accept It....

Brian De Palma was one of the most influential filmmakers of the final three decades of the 20th century, with films like Scarface, Carrie and the 1981 masterpiece Blow Out cultivating praise from general moviegoers and film geeks alike. It's a pity then that he's been mostly M.I.A. in the 21st century, with only his divisive 2002 movie Femme Fatale scoring much in the way of praise, though a documentary all about the man himself entitled De Palma was released last year and ended up being widely praised. Hopefully a studio like Amazon Studios, Annapurna or A24 gives Brian De Palma a chance to make a truly great movie again.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Where To Even Begin With The Cinematic Cataclysm That Is The Mummy?

The Mummy is so much fun, I really was shocked by how well-made it was. Sure, it gets more than a little obsessed with generic CGI mayhem, but The Mummy is a ton of fun, with strong lead performances that make casual conversations between the characters super entertaining, I'd totally recommend giving the 1999 version of The Mummy a watch! The 2017 take on The Mummy on the other hand....there's no easy way to put it, so lemme rip this band-aid right off and just say it: The Mummy is a full on disaster, a film that can't be counted on to deliver solid scares, originality or competent action. If you told this movie to go make two pieces of toast, I'm sure it would end up burning down the entire house in the process, that's how massively incompetent it is.

Red Planet Is The Most Boring Movie Ever Made About Astronauts Evading A Robot On Mars

If you want a fantastic high-quality motion picture all about a human being looking to survive on Mars and get back home to Earth, complete with thoughtful cinematography, a tremendous lead performance and loads of edge-of-your-set fun, then go check out Ridley Scott's The Martian, that's a sublime piece of cinema. If you want the super boring Asylum knock-off of The Martian that somehow got made 15 years before that Ridley Scott movie even came out, well, why would you want such a movie? That being said, if that's what you crave, the 2000 sci-fi "thriller" Red Planet should scratch that itch you shouldn't even have in the first place!