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7 articles


Lucy movie review: head case

11 hours ago

In this pile of adolescent heavy-metal-deep pseudo-sci-fi philosophy, the meaning of humanity (or lack thereof) depends on how “cool” something looks onscreen. I’m “biast” (pro): love Scarlett Johansson

I’m “biast” (con): not generally a fan of Luc Besson

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

You know how you can tell that Luc Besson is completely full of shit — and knows it — with the adolescent heavy-metal-deep pseudo-sci-fi philosophy of Lucy? Because what it has to say about the meaning of humanity varies depending on nothing but how “cool” something looks onscreen.

When Lucy (Scarlett Johansson [Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Chef], who deserves better than this) accidentally ends up with a massive overdose of a synthetic drug meant to increase one’s “cerebral capacity” — an unself-aware riff on the myth that we dumb monkeys typically use only 10 percent of our brains — she begins to acquire preposterous superpowers, such as the »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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Into the Storm movie review: all wet

21 August 2014 4:01 PM, PDT

A movie to make you despair of the found-footage conceit (if you weren’t already). Suddenly Twister looks like Shakespeare. I’m “biast” (pro): love Richard Armitage

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

It’s like Roland Emmerich made a preposterous two-and-a-half-hour climate-change disaster flick — *cough* 2012 *cough* The Day After Tomorrow *cough* — and then someone went in and cut out most of the cheesy melodrama: the subsumed personal issues that come to the fore in the face of certain death, the contrived heat-of-the-moment romances, the triumph-of-the-human-spirit moments when the music swells and the tears are jerked. Whoever did such a thing probably thought they were doing us a favor, but it turns out: not so much. Because what we’re left with, in Into the Storm, may not be risible Mystery Science Theater-worthy crap, but it’s still pretty bad, »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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Deliver Us from Evil movie review: weak spirits

21 August 2014 5:44 AM, PDT

A rote police procedural conducted by a cardboard movie cop investigating a supposedly demonic evil that simply cannot compete with nonsupernatural reality. I’m “biast” (pro): love Eric Bana

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Somebody please get Eric Bana (Lone Survivor) a nice juicy TV role where he can actually create a character worthy of his talent and intense presence, rather than being forced to shuffle — yet again — through another underwritten genre pawn. This time out he’s NYPD sergeant Ralph Sarchie, who falls into teaming up with “undercover” Jesuit priest Mendoza (Édgar Ramírez: The Counsellor) to investigate some weird demonic-possession shit going down in the South Bronx. (This sidelines Sarchie’s goofy partner, Butler [Joel McHale: Blended], though not so much that Butler cannot ultimately fulfill his own genre-pawn purpose.) Talk to any actual »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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female gazing at: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (again)

20 August 2014 7:06 AM, PDT

Since it’s been four years since we last gazed at the lovely Joseph Gordon-Levitt — and in honor of him being one of the few very good things about Sin City: A Dame to Kill For — let’s have another look.

Cute and creative:

Someone make this happen:

With a kitten because awww:

(If you have a suggestion for someone we should female-gaze at, feel free to email me with a name or a link to a particular photo. But check to see whom we’ve already gazed at.) »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For movie review: meaner streets

20 August 2014 6:01 AM, PDT

An unnecessary sequel that’s empty and arduous, little more than vignettes on vengeance and cruel parades of sociopathic power performed as gleefully ultraviolent shadowplays. I’m “biast” (pro): loved the first film

I’m “biast” (con): didn’t see a need for a second

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

There’s the nihilism of Sin City. A place where wounded men have to remind themselves to “never let the monster out,” and a woman can “makes slaves of men,” and even “good men” are turned on by a woman’s tale of rape (which she invented, of course, because this is Sin City, where you can’t trust a dame). A place where men are nothing but how they can use their rage and women are nothing but how they can use their bodies.

And that’s none of it nice. »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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what’s on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix (from Aug 19)

19 August 2014 5:26 PM, PDT

What’s new, what’s hot, and what you may have missed, now available to stream.

streaming now, before it’s in theaters

The Zero Theorem: Terry Gilliam’s would-be mind-frak is chock full of glorious Gillam style and a fun performance from Christoph Waltz, but little else [my review] [iTunes Us]

streaming now, while it’s still in theaters

Dinosaur 13: bittersweet documentary reminder that while the scientific method may be coolly rational, the people who do science are deeply emotionally caught up in their work [my review] [iTunes Us]

streaming now, before it’s on dvd

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: stuns me with its scathing commentary on what is happening in the real world today, wrapped up in what is some of the most delicious, most comic-booky fantasy ever [my review] [iTunes Us]

streaming now, before it’s in theaters

The Zero Theorem: Terry Gilliam’s would-be mind-frak is chock full of glorious Gillam style »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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what’s on iTunes, Amazon UK Instant Video, blinkbox, Netflix UK, BBC iPlayer (from Aug 18)

19 August 2014 4:10 PM, PDT

What’s new, what’s hot, and what you may have missed, now available to stream.

streaming now, while it’s still in cinemas

Blood Ties: some excellent performances — by Clive Owen and Billy Crudup — can’t disguise the fact that there’s absolutely nothing here we haven’t seen too many times before [my review] [iTunes UK]

streaming now, before it’s on dvd

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: suffers badly by comparison with the cogent, witty Avengers flicks — this feels like a campy Saturday-morning cartoon left over from the 1970s [my review] [iTunes UK]

new to stream

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: stuns me with its scathing commentary on what is happening in the real world today, wrapped up in what is some of the most delicious, most comic-booky fantasy ever [my review] [iTunes UK] Tracks: romantic in the grandest sense, a visceral and hypnotic experience of idealistic aspirations set against the desolate beauty and danger of the »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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7 articles



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