1-20 of 31 items from 2015 « Prev | Next »
Intentional or not, it's hard to imagine that there was another film released in UK cinemas last Friday in which sex was less sexy than in It Follows, a terrific lo-fi horror film that comes highly recommended by all accounts.
And yet, last Friday also saw the release of Rob Cohen's The Boy Next Door, an erotic thriller that isn't as sexually charged as it is accidentally hilarious. For all intents and purposes, the film plays like an episode of the How Did This Get Made podcast waiting to happen.
At the start, high school teacher Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) is a single mum who's mulling over whether or not she should get back together with her cheating ex-husband Garrett (John Corbett). Enter Noah, (Ryan Guzman) a »
She sings, she dances, she's on the American Idol judging panel and, on the odd occasion, she acts. Considering the super-busy Jennifer Lopez only makes a film once every couple of years (her last screen outing was 2013's second-tier Statham vehicle Parker), you'd think she'd be a little more discerning in her choice of roles. After watching the abysmal Boy Next Door, that red-hot breakthrough in Out of Sight feels firmly out of mind.
Her latest has aspirations to be the kind of slick and stylish adult thriller popularised in the '80s and '90s, but ends up imploding thanks to a clunky script, off-key performances and a tone that swings wildly between ultra-serious and camp comedy. If Gone Girl was the perfect example of how to make »
To pull a successful and entertaining con in a movie is to walk a fine line between feeling sensational and realistic. You want to give the audience a sense of magic and illusion while still making them say, “Well, that could happen.” It’s perfectly acceptable not to let us in on the con, but the con shouldn’t be on the audience. When all is finally revealed, I should think that was clever, not cheap.
There was hardly a moment where I cracked a smile or even a smirk during the entirety of Focus – a film that seems to think it can get by on style as opposed to smarts. Fashionable clothes, luxurious cars, and exotic locales can’t help this sorry attempt for a con film. Focus doesn’t have an ounce of charm or charisma beneath all the flash and glamour, which is a great shame considering the talent involved. »
- Michael Haffner
The best con artists let the rube have fun while they’re being hustled. The wonderful new scam-fest, Focus, has learned this lesson well. Of course, none of the scams hold up to later scrutiny, but they’re fun as hell when you’re in the thick of it. Like a simplified Mamet thriller hopped up on Out of Sight juice, Focus breezes by on the confident charm of Will Smith and a clever script that pays off each slight-of-hand with a masterful reveal. So far, this is easily the most entertaining Hollywood film of 2015.
Nicky (Will Smith) is one cool customer. He’s a lifelong grifter who knows that emotion is the enemy of precision. “Love will get you killed in this game,” he tells his insanely gorgeous new protégé Jess (Margot Robbie). That sounds good in theory, but matters of the heart are unpredictable, »
- J.R. Kinnard
Samuel Goldwyn Films weren’t especially active during Sundance this year, but are smoking barrels today with the pick-up of Charles Stone III‘s Lila & Eve, the closing film at the fest is a female-centric vigilante film starring Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez. Plans are for a 2015 release.
Gist: This tells the story of Lila (Davis), a grief-stricken mother who in the aftermath of her son’s murder in a drive-by shooting attends a support group where she meets Eve (Lopez), who has lost her daughter. When Lila hits numerous roadblocks from the police in bringing justice for her son’s slaying, Eve urges Lila to take matters into her own hands to track down her son’s killers. The two women soon embark on a killing spree of their own, as they work to the top of the chain of drug dealers to avenge the murder of Lila’s son. »
- Eric Lavallee
The film premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival. Davis and Lopez both first appeared onscreen together in 1998’s “Out of Sight.”
Goldwyn plans a 2015 release.
Davis portrays Lila, a grief-stricken mother whose son is murdered in a drive-by shooting and meets Eve (Lopez), who has lost her daughter, while attending a support group. Frustrated by the inability of law enforcement to bring the killer to justice, the two women embark on a killing spree against a chain of drug dealers to avenge the murder.
“Lila and Eve” is a Lifetime Films presentation. Production companies are A+E Studios, Chickflicks and JuVee Productions. Producers are Sara Risher and Darrin Reed; executive producers include Viola Davis, »
- Dave McNary
There are two ways of seeing "Focus": as a slick, derivative con man movie starring a typically debonair Will Smith that channels the labyrinthine schemes and accompanying jubilance found in everything from "Ocean's Eleven" to "Out of Sight" — or as the worst movie yet from Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the writer-director pair behind "I Love You Philip Morris" and "Crazy, Stupid, Love." It's the latter perspective that makes "Focus" such a letdown for anyone intrigued by the pair's other work. Despite its stylish execution, the movie sags into formula and shows little of the vulgar, edgy sensibilities that made this filmmaking pair worth following in the first place. Ficarra and Requa first gained attention as the screenwriters behind "Bad Santa," which, like "Focus," revolves around the plight of a criminal defined by his routine. In their directorial debut "I Love You Philip Morris," Jim »
- Eric Kohn
Every movie star is a con artist of sorts, seducing audiences into forking over millions by adopting a character bigger than him- or herself. But what to do when the streak falters? Will Smith made his film debut as a high-society scammer in “Six Degrees of Separation,” and now, a bit more than 21 years later, he’s back at the hustle in “Focus,” a sexy sleight-of-hand caper that feels small-time by the tentpole king’s standards, though a solid opening ought to prove Smith’s ongoing drawing power — and that there is life after the commercial debacle of 2013’s “After Earth.” Lithely directed by the duo responsible for “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” this suave if quick-to-dissipate divertissement shrewdly recasts the star in the George Clooney mold — a good look for the next stage of Smith’s career.
With the rare exception of 2005’s hit “Hitch,” romance hasn’t really been Smith’s bag. »
- Peter Debruge
A review of tonight's "Justified" coming up just as soon as I come across a chupacabra... "Maybe this time, things end different." -Boyd Last week, I wrote that I looked forward to "seeing the very stupid way" in which Choo-Choo would died, thinking about the accidental demises of White Boy Bob in "Out of Sight," or Danny Crowe when he tried to test his 21-foot rule theory on Raylan last season. "Alive Day" appears to kill off our latest impulsive man of violence, who fails to get crushed by his namesake, but instead expires from wounds acquired in a shootout with Raylan, Tim, Ty Walker and some of Avery Markham's other mercs. And it's not just the method of Choo-Choo's death that's a surprise, but the tone of it. Introduced as perhaps the dumbest and strongest of the series' many dumb strong guys, he instead turns out to be someone »
- Alan Sepinwall
Sometimes, the Oscars have a tendency of giving out awards to actors who are seen to have paid their dues, perhaps not for the best performance of that year or even for the particular actor's own best performance, but to recognise past work. Michael Keaton is not the most likely of these, but this could be why some speculated that he was an early favourite for this year's Best Actor award, for his performance in Birdman.
The later frontrunner Eddie Redmayne rightfully and very graciously wound up taking it home for his work as Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything, though Birdman went on to take home the main prize for Best Picture and a number of other major awards.
It would hardly have been a major upset if »
Based on the incredible life story of the Godfather of Soul, Get On Up gives a fearless look inside the music, moves, and moods of James Brown (Boseman), taking audiences on the journey from his impoverished childhood to his evolution into one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.
In addition to the standard Blu-ray and DVD releases, Zavvi has announced that a limited edition steelbook Blu-ray will be available.
–Full Song Performances (Out of Sight, Steal Away (Steal Away to Jesus))
–Extended Song Performances
–Long Journey to the Screen
–Chadwick Boseman: »
- Scott J. Davis
For American Idol addicts, the Top 24 announcement episode is akin to being a kid on Christmas morning.
Over the last six weeks, we’ve flipped through our J.C. Penney and Sears catalogs — hey, I grew up in the ’70s; that was as close to perusing the Internet as it got! — and picked out what we wanted in our voting rounds: “Ooooh, I gotta have one Sarina-Joi Crowe, a Clark Beckham and definitely the Savion Wright that Santa accidentally left in his workshop last year!”
If you were to turn to the dictionary entry for “dead tired,” the illustration accompanying the definition would probably look a lot like the survivors on The Walking Dead did this week. They were exhausted, hungry, dehydrated and, worst of all, demoralized. But then, something happened that promised to change everything. Wanna know what that something was? Keep reading…
Out Of Gas | As the hour began, times were so tough for our remaining regulars that Daryl was eating a worm for sustenance, Maggie was almost too pooped »
Eddie Murphy, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Evans, Dakota Johnson, Jennifer Lopez, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Margot Robbie will be presenters at this year’s Oscars, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced on Thursday. The Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC.
Murphy received an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in the 2006 film “Dreamgirls.” He has starred in such features as “Bowfinger” (1999), “The Nutty Professor” (1996), “Coming to America” (1988), “Beverly Hills Cop” (1984) and “48 Hrs.” (1982), and has lent his voice talents to all four of the “Shrek” animated features to date. He will next be seen in the independent drama “Cook.”
Ejiofor received his first Oscar nomination last year for his lead performance in “12 Years a Slave.” He previously appeared in such features as “Salt” (2010), “American Gangster” (2007), “Children of Men” (2006) and “Dirty Pretty Things” (2003). His upcoming films include “Z for Zachariah” and “Triple Nine. »
- Michelle McCue
If the problem with too many literary adaptations is a failure to capture the author’s voice, then that shortcoming turns out to be the single greatest virtue of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the hotly anticipated first film inspired by E.L. James’ bestselling assault on sexual mores, good taste and the English language. In telling the story of a shy young virgin and the broodingly handsome billionaire who invites her into his wonderful world of hanky-spanky, director Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel have brought out a welcome element of cheeky, knowing humor that gradually recedes as the action plunges into darker, kinkier territory. Glossy, well cast, and a consistent hoot until it becomes a serious drag, this neo-“9½ Weeks” is above all a slick exercise in carefully brand-managed titillation — edgier than most grown-up studio fare, but otherwise a fairly mild provocation in this porn-saturated day and age.
Still, any »
- Justin Chang
Chadwick Boseman gives a swaggering, soulful performance in this most delectably funky and fresh of biopics. Get On Up, as directed by The Help‘s Tate Taylor, is an energetic and eclectic blast, packed with toe-tapping musical numbers and a groove all its own. Exploring the legendary James Brown both as a tremendously talented musician and as an extremely troubled man, it’s refreshingly free from clichés and more than happy to blaze its own, fascinating trail.
The film is different immediately, opening on an older, wearier Brown than any fan of the musician would think to visualize, menacing people in a strip mall with a shotgun. Their perceived slight against him? One of them, he believes, used his private bathroom without his consent. Get On Up doesn’t shy away from just how extreme an individual Brown was, or how brutishly he tormented the people around him, whether they were employees, »
- Isaac Feldberg
Now this is a list that could result in a lot of fascinating dissection and thanks to HitFix it comes to our attention almost three years after it was originally released back in 2012, celebrating the Motion Picture Editors Guild's 75th anniversary. Over at HitFix, Kris Tapley asks, "Is this news to anyone elsec" Um, yes, I find it immensely interesting and a perfect starting point for anyone looking to further explore the art of film editing. In an accompanying article we get the particulars concerning what films were eligible and how films were to be considered: In our Jan-feb 12 issue, we asked Guild members to vote on what they consider to be the Best Edited Films of all time. Any feature-length film from any country in the world was eligible. And by "Best Edited," we explained, we didn't just mean picture; sound, music and mixing were to be considered as well. »
- Brad Brevet
A random bit of researching on a Tuesday night led me to something I didn't know existed: The Motion Picture Editors Guild's list of the 75 best-edited films of all time. It was a feature in part celebrating the Guild's 75th anniversary in 2012. Is this news to anyone else? I confess to having missed it entirely. Naturally, I had to dig in. What was immediately striking to me about the list — which was decided upon by the Guild membership and, per instruction, was considered in terms of picture and sound editorial as opposed to just the former — was the most popular decade ranking. Naturally, the 1970s led with 17 mentions, but right on its heels was the 1990s. I wouldn't have expected that but I happen to agree with the assessment. Thelma Schoonmaker's work on "Raging Bull" came out on top, an objectively difficult choice to dispute, really. It was so transformative, »
- Kristopher Tapley
When the cops don’t show enough interest in a drive-by shooting, a pair of grieving mothers take matters into their own hands in “Lila and Eve,” a vigilante thriller with a twist: Featuring an awards-caliber performance from Viola Davis and flavorful support from Jennifer Lopez (“Guess I’ll get my Tina on!” she barks, imagining her pop idol strong enough to smack back at an abusive Ike Turner), this gritty drama from Lifetime Films plays best on the bigscreen, which is how it premiered the second Friday of Sundance, though it’ll take some savvy positioning to draw its ideal audience of middle-aged women.
Add to that a younger contingent who don’t take J.Lo’s acting career all that seriously — those connoisseurs of camp who helped push “The Boy Next Door” to a nearly $15 million opening last weekend — and there’s a substantial audience out there for this cleverly conceived, »
- Peter Debruge
This year’s Sundance Film Festival closes with “Lila & Eve,” a gritty crime drama starring Jennifer Lopez and Viola Davis as two moms who lose their children to crime, and take vigilantism into their own hands. The two actresses, who first worked together on 1998’s “Out of Sight,” share other common ground. Both of the leading ladies juggle television (Lopez on “American Idol,” Davis on “How to Get Away With Murder”) with film careers. They talked to Variety separately by phone this week about their new movie, diversity in Hollywood and why it’s still so hard to get financing for a project with two female leads.
Viola, when did you first meet Jennifer?
Davis: “Out of Sight” was my second film. I was so excited — I thought, “I’ve made it. I’m going to be a star.” I only had three days on it, but we clicked immediately. »
- Ramin Setoodeh and Brent Lang
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