Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Me Him Her Is Simply Generic And Aimless

It's odd just how lifeless Me Him Her is considering how much it constantly strains to establish its own "quirky" and "unique" identity. On-screen text, usually depicted in various different colors and font style, pop up frequently for no good reason while more stylized elements (such as a giant penis that bellows "AAAH!! A PENIS!!" to two different sexually confused characters on two separate occasions) also crop up randomly. One gets the feeling these more heightened entities basically exist as a way to compensate for the lackluster script that thrives on being a hodgepodge of various American indie movie tropes.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Profound Loss Guides The Remarkably Astonishing Film A Single Man

Loss is a universal emotion. There isn't a soul on this Earth who hasn't dealt with losing someone they cared for. Whether that someone was a parent, a lover, a pet, a friend, the sharp emotional pains stemming from their sudden absence in your life is something we all endure. And because so many go through the process of grief after losing someone near and dear to them, there are limitless ways to cope with a tragic loss. Some withdraw from the world, some mask their pain with an endless facade of smiles and chipperness. For George (Colin Firth), he's simply tried to go on with his life in as normal as fashion as possible after the sudden death of Jim (Matthew Goode) a man he's spent over a decade with.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Toxic Avenger Musical Has Energy To Spare But Doesn't Utilize That Energy Properly

The Toxic Avenger is a musical currently being performed by the Uptown Plays at the Kalita Humphreys Theater in Dallas, Texas from August 27, 2016 through September 11, 2016. This review covers the opening night performance given on August 27, 2016.

Many of Broadway's biggest musicals have been based on motion pictures, most notably adaptations of animated Hairspray and Beauty And The Beast. Following in the tradition of said movies is The Toxic Avenger, a musical adaptation of a well-known 1980's B-movie (a film I have not seen, for full disclosure) that debuted in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 2008. And in terms of Broadway musical adaptations of notable Hollywood movies, it's overall quality is closer to Bullets Over Broadway than The Lion King.

Don't Breathe Takes People's Breath And Money Away While The Mechanic Resurrection Gets Busted And Southside Has A Lovely Time On Opening Weekend

Hey folks, sorry for no box office report last Sunday. Last week was the first week of my new semester of college and preparing for that took precedence over writing up this column. But I'm back and we've got a lot of feature films to cover so let's get right down to the brass tacks!

While plenty of big-budget blockbusters have failed this summer, horror movies have meanwhile managed to thrive, with four horror movies (all costing under $41 million to make and three of the four costing under $15 million to produce) managing to open to over $20 million in the past two-and-a-half months. The newest of those four films was Don't Breathe, which debuted to a fantastic $26.1 million, way above expectations and managed to best the bow of director Fede Alverez's last movie, Evil Dead, which was a remake of a well-known horror feature. It's also the fifth biggest opening weekend for an R-rated movie in 2016.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Akira Kurosawa Tackles The World Of Crime Thrillers With High And Low

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.

A Look At The Complicated Confusing Future Of The X-Men Franchise

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.

Plenty Of Intensity Awaits In Don't Breathe

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.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind Can Only Be Described As Beautiful, Profound And....Nice

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.

There's Plenty Of Excitement To Be Had In Hell Or High Water

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.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Kubo And The Two Strings Is A Majestic And Beautiful Adventure

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.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pete's Dragon Is Far More Heartwarming And Well-Crafted Than I Could Have Ever Expected

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?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Florence Foster Jenkins Just Can't Quite Carry A Tune Or Its Story

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.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Matrix Revolutions Ends Things On An Overstuffed Whimper

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.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Little Prince Beautifully Contemplates Mortality, Friendship And The Nature Of Growing Up

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'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".

You Should Press Pause On Passion Play

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.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Suicide Squad Rules The Box Office But Has a Mighty Drop While Sausage Party Is A Big Weiner

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.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

I Hereby Crown The Fisher King One Of The Best American Movies Dealing With Mental Illness

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.

Sausage Party's Key Ingredients Include Raunchy Jokes And Theological Themes

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.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Just Try And Not Be Won Over By Hunt For The Wilderpeople

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??

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Matrix Reloaded Goes Bigger Than Its Predecessor To Mixed Results

Like many sequels, The Matrix Reloaded has a burning desire to go bigger than its predecessor in every way possible. It wants to double down of the philosophical themes as well as provide more pulse-pounding action than you can shake a stick at. It's an admirable sort of ambition, the kind that runs deep through both the hits and misses in the filmography of The Wachowski Starship. But ambition on its own just can't quite sustain The Matrix Reloaded, which ends up falling quite short of the first Matrix movie.

Nine Lives Is Not The Cats Meow

Film academics across the planet are well aware of Nine Lives, the 1963 motion picture directed by Francois Truffaut that proved to be one of the defining movies of the French New Wave. The film serves as an examination of certain social status quos of young French individuals in this era, with modern day interpretations of the motion picture feeling that...nah, actually, Nine Lives is a kids movie from Barry Sonnenfeld that was released just this past Friday that's about Kevin Spacey being turned into a cat.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Full Metal Jacket Review (Classic Write-Up)

In the early 1960's, Stanley Kubrick created one of the definitive cinematic re-tellings of the Cold War in his farcical comedy Dr. Strangelove. Apparently, the potential world-shaping real-life events could have in terms of storytelling never left Kubrick's mind as 23 years later Full Metal Jacket was released. This time, the actual events that inspired this Stanley Kubrick movie was the two-decade long Vietnam War that basically impacted every aspect of American life you can imagine. How the news impacts people's perception of foreign affairs, the mainstream consensus of the military complexity, hell, the hippie movement in the 1960's, all were spurred on by the Vietnam War.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

What The Hell Is Going On With The DC Extended Universe?

I was so excited for Man Of Steel. My God, me and my buddies absolutely couldn't wait. We were all superhero movie geeks and in love with Christopher Nolan's take on The Dark Knight, so the idea of him shepherding Superman into the modern age just sounded like a recipe for pure gold as far as we were concerned. And those trailers! They inspired a sense of awe that we couldn't wait to see in the movie itself. So, on Friday June 14th, we all met up at our local Cinemark and excitedly sat in our seats, prepared to see Superman's newest motion picture.

We went in hoping for awe-inspiring spectacle. What we got was Shaky-Cam: The Movie that managed to waste Kevin Costner, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon in one movie.

Nearly Two Decades Later, The Matrix Is Still A Thrilling Game-Changer

Despite being a movie that hinges entirely on the concept of what technology and computers could accomplish in at the tail end of the 1990's, The Matrix has aged surprisingly well in its seventeen years of existence. In fact, the concept of having an alternate persona or even an alternate world nestled within technology feels very much like an idea of the moment considering how prominent Twitter,. Tumblr and Facebook are in so many peoples lives. The plot of this super fun movie is similarly timeless, taking Joseph Campbell's conventional Heroes Journey plot structure and adding in dashes of kung-fu and technology paranoia for good measure.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Cafe Society Review

Woody Allen really stretches his boundaries as an artist with Cafe Society. Topics he's never touched in his forty-plus years as a filmmaker like the appeal of New York City and the romance between a pretty girl and a neurotic young man all show up here. Bold new storytelling terrain for the master filmmaker, wouldn't you say? All snarking aside, it's no problem for directors to have recurring traits or story elements in their work, but it does become a bit of an issue when said reoccurring aspects are executed in a paint-by-numbers fashion like they are in Cafe Society.

End Of Watch Review (Classic Write-Up)

Me and the works of David Ayer haven't really gotten along up to this point. The two films I've seen from Mr. Ayer are....well, flat-out messes, honestly. Fury is a confused movie that wants to be a deep introspection on how brutal war is and then turns into a video game at the end. Suicide Squad is an out-and-out disaster, though that one I blame less on Ayer since the studio meddling on that one is so obvious and immense it's hard to tell where his influence begins and ends. So imagine my shock at finding End Of Watch to actually be quite a strong movie, a character-focused action film with two top-notch lead performances.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Suicide Squad Has Massive But Troubling Opening Weekend While Nine Lives Get Neutered At The Box Office

For the second time in 2016, Warner Bros. released a movie based on DC Comics characters that earned dismal reviews that grossed a massive opening weekend that was also troubling front-loaded. Suicide Squad obliterated the August opening weekend record over the past three days, grossing a massive $135 million, an insane amount given that the Suicide Squad was mostly comprised of unknown character (though legitimate A-list comic book characters The Joker and Harley Quinn factored heavily into the marketing). In three days, it's also already the 12th biggest movie ever for Will Smith and the biggest movie ever for both Margot Robbie and Jared Leto.

The Boss Review

If Paul Feig is seemingly the best filmmaker for Melissa McCarthy to work (judging by their super great track record of Spy and Ghostbusters), then Ben Falcone may be the nadir of directors McCarthy has worked with, namely because Falcone directed Tammy, the absolute worst comedy of McCarthy's career. She and Falcone (who is Melissa McCarthy's real-life husband) reunite for The Boss, a new comedy that can be rightfully praised as a step up from Tammy...and that's about it.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Take Shelter Review (Classic Write-Up)

Why hasn't Take Shelter gotten more recognition in the half-a-decade since its release? This 2011 Jeff Nichols movie got super positive reviews upon its initial release, so it's hard to call it "underrated" per se, but it does feel like the film doesn't come up enough in cinema-related conversations, especially when it comes to movies depicting mental illnesses. Then again, maybe I shouldn't be shocked Take Shelter is an underrated motion picture considering it stars two of the most talented yet undervalued actors in Hollywood and is written and directed by a man by the name of Jeff Nichols.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Suicide Squad Is An Exhausting Catastrophe

Suicide Squad is practically begging its audience to recognize how hip, how edgy, how fresh it is. By the time the credits roll, its pervasive desire for its audience to recognize just how "cool" it is left me beyond weary. Here's the weird thing though; despite Suicide Squad constantly pleading with its viewer to notice how "bold" it is through its music cues, certain pieces of "edgy" dialogue and how violent its main characters are, it's a seriously by-the-numbers production. Once the actual plot gets going, it practically goes through a checklist of well-worn storytelling tropes regardless of if they actually fit organically into the plot or not. Here's how much of a misfire Suicide Squad is though; that grave narrative shortcoming is one of its lesser problems.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Batman: The Killing Joke Is A Melting Pot Of Very Bad Ideas

Batman: The Killing Joke has been mired in praise for its 28 year existence, but it's also experienced heavy and well-deserved criticism throughout the decades, primarily for its treatment of Barbara Gordon, the sole notable female character in the graphic novel whose shot and sexually assaulted by The Joker solely so said actions can motivate the other male characters in the tale. It's fairly obvious the first 25-ish minutes of the animated movie adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke is intended as a mea culpa by the filmmakers as they attempt to boost up Barbara's role prior to her encounter with The Joker (yeah, they still leave her being sexually assaulted by The Joker instead of just cutting that icky bit from the graphic novel out).

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Great Cast And A Promising Premise Are Wasted In The Wretched Bad Moms

Summer 2016 has been filled with many cinematic misfires but Bad Moms may be the most tragic of the bad movies to emerge from this torturous season of moviegoing. I mean, this film has a superb cast and a premise that's practically oozing with opportunities for big laughs, but instead Bad Moms has a pretty dismal script that offers no chance for its myriad of talented performers to thrive nor the opportunity for the plot to fulfill its true comedic potential. Perhaps most damning of all, it's about as funny as the worst Adam Sandler movies.