They say a pictures worth a thousand words. I say, those thousand words are extremely important. And sometimes, it takes a nerd to give those words life.
Welcome to Lamans Language (A.K.A.) Land of The Nerds, where I, Douglas Laman (A.K.A. Nerd In The Basement) discuss the world of pop culture, namely cinema, in the form of news pieces, editorials and reviews!
Crime thrillers have been a notable part of the very fabric of cinema for decades upon decades upon decades, so it's no wonder that Akira Kurosawa, a director notable for the versatility in the genres his films inhabits, would eventually dip his toes into this pond of storytelling with High And Low (which, unless I'm horribly mistaken, is not the only crime thriller in his filmography). Reuniting with Toshiro Mifune, the Leonardo DiCaprio to his Martin Scorsese, this is a tale set in then modern-day Japan and revolves around a kidnapping.
20th Century Fox is in a fascinating position with their X-Men movie franchise. This year they scored a massive box office hit with an X-Men movie that became a pop culture phenomenon. But said movie wasn't X-Men: Apocalypse, a $178 million (at least) budgeted summer blockbuster intended to launch untold amount of sequels and spin-offs. Nope, their big success story was Deadpool, a film Fox executives had zero confidence in and cost less than a third of X-Men: Apocalypse. And yet, Deadpool managed to make $200 million more domestically alone than X-Men: Apocalypse, the latter film managing to make slightly less at the domestic box office than the sixteen year old X-Men movie that started it all.
In a run-down, mostly abandoned neighborhood, there lives an elderly blind man whose named...The Blind Man (Stephen Lang). He's got a ton of cash he received after his daughter was run over and three young adults are hankering to steal all of that moolah. The three individuals looking to pull off this score are Rocky (Jane Levy), a single parent looking to take her daughter to a better life in California with this dough, Alex (Dylan Minnette), a paranoid rules-follower whose super apprehensive about the heist and Money (Daniel Zovatto), Rocky's boyfriend and the one who gets the tip about all of the money The Blind Man has.
A lot has happened in the past six months for me but perhaps one of the most formative things that have transpired is that my opinion of Jim Carrey as an actor has been completely altered by watching movies like I Love You, Phillip Morris, The Truman Show and now Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind for the first time. Carrey is a truly talented individual with an incredible amount of range and I'd wager no other motion picture (despite Morris and Truman Show containing some top-notch work from Carrey) so eloquently shows off the level of talent Carrey is capable of commanding as Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, a 2004 Michel Gondry effort that's really...well, something else.
It's always nice to see movies that actually understand Texas and don't treat it like some idyllic postcard that's an ode to "the good o'l days". Instead, Texas as depicted in Hell Or High Water is very much true to life, full of people struggling to make the ways of farming work in the modern day world (one dude who's trying to wrangle his cattle during his thunderstorm jokes about how he wonders why his kids don't wanna do this job), red Coke cups in every diner and those smaller towns that aren't just an anomaly in America but even in Texas itself which is, in 2016, dominated by bustling metroplexes.
Boy, if you're a movie loving youngster right now, or someone that just likes good cinema, you've basically hit the jackpot this month. Each of the first three weeks of this month have managed to deliver a noteworthy family film that's managed to not treat younger audiences like morons and has decided that families deserve strong storytelling too. The presence of such films makes the existence of Nine Lives (which was also released this month) somewhat more tolerable, I guess. The newest motion picture in this trend of high-quality August 2016 family movies is Kubo And The Two Strings which also happens to be the newest film from animation studio LAIKA, the place where Coraline and ParaNorman originated.
Pete's Dragon is a pretty blatant attempt to cash in on the success of two March 2010 family movies; Alice In Wonderland, which proved remaking classic Disney movies could be a fruitful road to profit, and How To Train Your Dragon, another tale of a boy and his dragon developing a friendship. I'm sure some Disney producer was looking around for other titles Disney could remake after Alice In Wonderland became such a massive box office bonanza and thought Pete's Dragon could coast on the coattails of How To Train Your Dragon nicely. Yep, this is a pretty cynical cash-grab, a marketer's most serene fantasy....and it's also an emotionally thrilling with an excellent script and plenty of strong performances. Who'da thunk?
It's pretty clear that Florence Foster Jenkins wants to be the new watermark for inspirational cinema, the kind of film that's a feel-good adventure that inspires individuals to embrace their own talents and not let the obstacles of the world get in their way. A noble artistic goal, but one that's distinctly at odds with the true-ish story it's presenting that concerns a woman named Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) who has dreams of singing in super public places, despite her vocal talent not being the best around.
Six months after The Matrix Reloaded disappointed fans worldwide, The Matrix franchise returned for its concluding chapter to middling box office and a largely tepid critical reception. Not until the third Hangover movie a decade later would a third chapter in a franchise have such a steep box office drop off from its predecessors with The Matrix Revolutions failing to match the five-day gross of The Matrix Reloaded in its entire domestic run. That's not exactly shocking information given that this third Matrix adventure is ultimately a mess, though I would put it slightly above the first turgid Matrix sequel in terms of overall quality for what that's worth.
When we're kids, we know, even if it's just subconsciously, that we'll all one day become the very grown-ups, the ones that seem to have to have all answers and tower over us at such a young age. As one grows older and the days and years fly by, it begins to slowly dawn on you that, as the years go by, the inevitable is occurring...you've grown up. It's not an automatic thing, but a gradual one. And you quickly learn that adults, well, they don't have all the answers, no one does. In the words of the father from Calvin & Hobbes: "I don't think I'd have been in such a hurry to reach adulthood if I'd known this whole thing was going to be ad-libbed".
Back in, oh, I'd say...2010, I say an image from Passion Play in an issue of Entertainment Weekly with the publication promoting said image as "an exclusive first look" of an upcoming movie starring then-recent Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke and one of the lead characters of the Transformers movies. I simply assumed from that moment on that Passion Play would be a high-profile release only for the feature film to vanish off the face of the Earth afterward. It received a small May 2011 theatrical release in two locations that summoned up a massive $3,669 domestic gross and five years later I've finally managed to watch this movie.
The bad guys of the DC universe had a, well, bad second-weekend dip as the Suicide Squad faced off against poor word-of-mouth and competition from three new titles in their second weekend of release. Suicide Squad had one of the sharpest second-weekend declines for a major superhero movie on record, losing 67% for a $43.7 million second-weekend cume. That's a better second-weekend decline than Batman v. Superman and last year's Fantastic Four debacle and slightly larger than the ones experienced by Kick-Ass 2 and X-Men: The Last Stand. It's pretty apparent that Suicide Squad is really not resonating with audiences, though at least the Labor Day holiday weekend in three weeks could get it barely past $300 million domestically provided it doesn't sink like a stone in the next two weeks (which isn't our of the realm of possibility). Suicide Squad has now taken in $222.8 million domestically and a strong $465.3 million worldwide.
Two years ago this past Thursday, Robin Williams tragically passed away, leaving a massive hole in the world of entertainment that no other human being can hope to fill. The man was overwhelming in the level of talent he commanded and Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King is a prime example of how this was a guy who could create a bounty of varying emotions in his performances. There's plenty of laughs to be had in Robin Williams acting here, but there's also a tremendous amount of pain here that no other actor could have pulled off like Williams does.
Back in 1989, The Simpsons was thought of as revolutionary for its concept of merging animation with more adult-oriented storylines and jokes. Now, for my generation, the idea of adult-skewing animation existing in American pop culture is normal thanks to high-profile TV shows like Family Guy, South Park, Rick & Morty and Bojack Horseman. Considering how prevalent adult-orient animation is on the small screen, it was really only a matter of time until we got a major American computer-animated movie aimed at adults (following the footsteps of countless Japanese animated movies and other American works like 9 and Fritz The Cat). Such a time has now come thanks to Seth Rogen and his cohorts who have created Sausage Party, a full-fledged parody of the works of PIXAR.
A trend I'm seeing a lot in modern day comedies is a lack of real visual inventiveness. For some reason, the likes of Get Hard and Bad Moms are just so rote in terms of their overall cinematography and visual aesthetic. And then, like a noble Knight riding over the hill to save villagers in distress, comes Taika Waititi's Hunt For The Wilderpeople, which has plenty of visual flourishes to speak of. There's actual thought put into the block and placement of characters in individual scenes, craft has gone into the shot compositions, what is with this level of care going into this production??