14 items from 2015
The Stanford Prison Experiment, which premiered this week at Sundance to mostly positive reviews, is not always an easy film to watch.
Much of the action takes place in barren 6-foot-wide hallway. The characters--seemingly normal and well-adjusted Stanford students recruited to participate in a landmark 1971 study about the psychology of imprisonment--take their role-playing as prisoner and guard to extremes, turning power-hungry, violent and occasionally sadistic. The "grown-ups," led by researcher Philip Zimbardo (played by Billy Crudup), watch a live feed of the action from a nearby office and fail to stop the abuse--fueled by their own power trips and unchecked ambition.
None of the men or boys come off looking very good in the film, though director Kyle Patrick Alvarez does a masterful job humanizing them. And it’s impossible to watch without wondering how you’d react if parachuted into Zimbardo’s simulated prison. Would you stand up for yourself--or for the humanity of others? And can »
The Stanford Prison Experiment might be the most jacked-up movie that I've seen at Sundance this year. The thing that makes the film so compelling and disturbing is the fact that it's based on a true story. I wasn't aware that this ever happened, but it did, and it was pretty messed up.
The story is set in 1971, when a Stanford psychology professor named Dr. Philip Zimbardo puts together a prison experiment in which he recruits a group of young students to study the psychology of imprisonment. With the flip of a coin the professor decides which of the students will be prison guards, and which ones will be inmates. In the process we see how these people react and adapt to this situation. When you first meet everyone, they all seem like nice guys who would never really do anything too crazy — they seem like they all have good heads on their shoulders. »
- Joey Paur
An elaborate behavioral simulation spirals shockingly out of control — and to a lesser degree, so does the movie — in “The Stanford Prison Experiment,” a grimly staged dramatic reconstruction of Philip Zimbardo’s notorious 1971 scientific inquiry into the psychology of power and the human capacity for inflicting and accepting abuse. In an ambitious step up from his intimate character studies “Easier With Practice” and “C.O.G.,” director Kyle Patrick Alvarez commits to a fully immersive procedural approach that potently conveys the study’s lengthy duration and claustrophobic intensity, making for a viewing experience that is by turns gripping, tedious and deliberately discomfiting. But for all its bludgeoning effectiveness, the film also manages to be at once heavy-handed in some respects and annoyingly vague in others; although sure to have its defenders, it’s probably too strong a dose of foul medicine to catch on significantly with the public.
Perhaps performing their own sort of audience case study, »
- Justin Chang
French stereotypes in American cinema, you’re going to have to wait a little longer. Writer/director Victor Levin’s feature directorial debut, “5 to 7,” is an unorthodox romance about an aspiring novelist, Brian (Anton Yelchin), who engages in an affair with Arielle (Berenice Marlohe), a gorgeous, free-spirited French woman (is there any other kind in American movies?) who also happens to be happily married. This open affair becomes complicated when Brian and Arielle fall in love, which doesn’t sit well with Arielle’s diplomat husband, Valery (Lambert Wilson a.k.a. Merovingian from the two shitty “Matrix” sequels), who’s also seeing someone on the side (Olivia Thirlby). Is it too much to hope for a foursome in the third act to perhaps bring something genuinely interesting and “thought-provoking” to such a maudlin-looking romance? Levin primarily hails from the world of the small screen, having written many episodes of "Mad Men, »
- Oktay Ege Kozak
IFC Films has unveiled the trailer for its upcoming "5 to 7" romantic comedy, starring Anton Yelchin, Glenn Close, Frank Langella, Olivia Thirlby and Berenice Marlohe (Skyfall). Check it out below. Plot: A chance encounter on the streets of Manhattan draws 20-something aspiring writer Brian (Yelchin) into a passionate love affair with a glamorous French woman (Marlohe). The catch? She's married, and can only meet him for hotelroom trysts between the hours of 5 and 7. As Brian yearns for more than just two hours a day with the woman of his dreams, he learns hard won lessons about life and love. The new movie is written and directed by Victor Levin and is set to be released in select theaters on April 3rd and on VOD on April 10th. Trailer: »
The Wedding Ringer, 2015.
Directed by Jeremy Garelick.
Two weeks shy of his wedding, a socially awkward guy enters into a charade by hiring the owner of a company that provides best men for grooms in need.
Confession time: I find Kevin Hart and his unlimited energy for hyperactive comedy antics a hoot. We are talking so funny to the point that I almost automatically to an extent can enjoy anything Kevin Hart is a part of. He knows how to deliver lines, make the most of his limited physical stature for laughs, and how to take his frenetic style of comedy and turn it into a sledgehammer of a weapon.
So it goes without saying that I did find parts of The Wedding Ringer hilarious, but make no mistake about it, »
- Robert Kojder
Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is a likable shlub with a fat bank account, a beautiful fiance (Kaley Cuoco) and one small problem. He has no guy friends to be his best man and groomsmen at his upcoming wedding. That all changes though when he discovers Best Man, Inc. and its CEO, Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart). He won’t be your friend after the wedding, but for a small fee Jimmy will be the best best man you could have hoped for, for a slightly bigger fee he’ll also include one or two groomsmen for your special day and for $50k? For $50k he’ll roll out the Golden Tux package. The illusion works flawlessly for the first few minutes, but it’s all downhill once grandma (Cloris Leachman) catches on fire. The Wedding Ringer is less of a movie than a log line, and it’s a fact evident through almost every one of the film »
- Rob Hunter
Screen Gems (Sony) released their new comedy flick, "The Wedding Ringer," into theaters today, and all the reviews are in from the top,major movie critics. It turns out that the majority of them didn't like it too much, giving it an overall 32 score out of a possible 100 across 20 reviews at the Metacritc.com site. The movie stars: Cloris Leachman, Jenifer Lewis, Kevin Hart, Olivia Thirlby, Mimi Rogers, Josh Gad, Ken Howard and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting. We've added blurbs from a couple of the critics,below. Michael Ordona at the San Francisco Chronicle, gave it a 75 score, saying: "Respect is not something viewers will find much of in The Wedding Ringer, nor propriety, nor any of those things that make for respectable family viewing. It’s just a funny, impolite, very not-for-kids romp that goes there." Alonso Duralde from TheWrap, gave it a 53 score,stating: "While The Wedding Ringer isn’t »
Chicago – “The Wedding Ringer” is a Wedding Stinker. It’s a misogynistic trip through a barren land of hackneyed premises, stock characters, female stereotypes and strained physical gags that exemplifies everything that is wrong with big studio comedies today.
The sheer fact that it even lunges out of the starting gate is a credit to the whirlwind of activity from star Kevin Hart. But the little man’s riffing can’t shock this film to life.
Hart plays Jimmy - a professional best man for hire. He’ll give you the best man of your dreams for a very lucrative price. He’s apparently very successful – despite the fact his business is run out of a basement inside a run-down go-cart track. It’s really just another character that allows for Hart to run his mouth off. In one of the hoariest plot devices to come out of the old Hollywood script-o-matic, »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Hey film fans, are you ready for the first odd coupling “bro-mance” of 2015? Well, you’d better be, cause it’s here at the multiplex now. It owes little to that Neil Simon classic creation other than an unlikely pairing. Perhaps it’s closer the 48 Hrs films or the Rush Hour series, although race and ethnicity doesn’t factor in quite as mush as those earlier action comedies. And what instigates this team-up? Why it’s that epic fodder for catastrophe, a big wedding ceremony, where slapstick, conflict, and deception collide. Throw in a shady transaction and you’ve got a new big matrimonial farce in The Wedding Ring (get it, ring, and singer, eh?eh?). No need to mail in a RSVP, just get your tickets at the box office.
As the film opens, we meet frazzled fiance Doug Harris (Josh Gad) as he calls up every fella’ he »
- Jim Batts
Let's clear up a few things about The Wedding Ringer right off the bat. First, it's a Kevin Hart film. If you don't like Kevin Hart (I do) then don't go see the movie, you most likely won't enjoy it at all. Secondly, it's rather misogynistic. This is more a bromantic comedy than a romantic comedy as the men primarily speak as if the ladies aren't in the room. If such comedy offends you, perhaps you too might want to sit this one out. Otherwise, The Wedding Ringer is a mixed bag. I smiled and laughed frequently while I found myself saying, "Okay, get on with it," more than once. It's not a strong brom-com contender, but it should satisfy the right audience in a pinch. There is little out of the stereotypical norm as we meet Doug (Josh Gad), an overweight, nerdy, loner type, who's engage to be married to Gretchen, »
- Brad Brevet
The sweet-and-salty chemistry of Josh Gad and Kevin Hart is good for a few yuks in “The Wedding Ringer,” a well-cast but clumsily assembled buddy-for-hire comedy that increasingly smacks of desperation as it approaches its big-day climax. It’s not that there’s anything wrong, in theory, with setting Cloris Leachman on fire or showing a guy getting fellated by a dog, but these and other sub-“Hangover” hijinks feel like over-the-top distractions from an otherwise predictably earnest tale of a big-hearted loner in need of some bromance en route to the altar. The ever-popular Hart scored a January 2014 smash with “Ride Along,” and if this Screen Gems item doesn’t hit quite the same box-office sweet spot, it could nevertheless pop a few champagne corks in Sony’s beleaguered executive suites.
Hart previously played a best man in last summer’s “Think Like a Man Too,” and he mercifully embodies a less manic, »
- Justin Chang
While “The Wedding Ringer” isn’t the total waste of time that its painful trailer (and January release date) threatens, it’s also a movie whose occasional good ideas are ultimately drowned out by sloppy, contrived screenwriting. On the scale of Kevin Hart vehicles, it’s not up to the standards of “Think Like a Man” and “About Last Night” — but hey, at least it’s better than “Ride Along” or “Think Like a Man Too.”
- Alonso Duralde
“Blackhat,” the Michael Mann-directed movie about international cyberhacking that opens Friday, could hardly be more timely given the November attack on Sony Pictures. But the R-rated thriller starring Chris Hemsworth and Viola Davis is a very long shot to break out at the box office over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend that kicks off Friday.
It’s projected to take in around $10 million over the four days — not what Legendary Entertainment and distributor Universal Pictures envisioned from “Blackhat,” which has a $70 million production budget.
See photos: Sony Hack Attack Timeline: From First Cyberbreach and Leaks to ‘The »
- Todd Cunningham
14 items from 2015
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