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Ahead of American Ultra’s release in UK cinemas, we look at the rise of the stoner in film, from the 30s to the present...
"The motion picture you are about to witness may startle you. It would not have been possible, otherwise, to sufficiently emphasize the frightful toll of the new drug menace which is destroying the youth of America in alarmingly increasing numbers. Marihuana is that drug - a violent narcotic - an unspeakable scourge - the Real Public Enemy Number One!
So reads the opening crawl to the now infamous film Reefer Madness. Originally released in 1936, it was designed as a hard-hitting expose of marijuana and its inherent dangers. The drug could cause "violent, uncontrollable laughter," the movie's introduction read. It could induce "dangerous hallucinations," "monstrous extravagances," all eventually leading to "shocking acts of physical violence... ending often in incurable insanity."
Reefer Madness was one of many »
Lionsgate released their new action/comedy movie, "American Ultra," into theaters today , August 21st, 2015, and all the top, major movie critics have submitted their reviews reviews. It turns out that it got a pretty mixed bag with an overall 50 score out of a possible 100 across 29 reviews at Metacritic.com. The film stars: Connie Britton, Jesse Eisenberg, John Leguizamo, and Kristen Stewart. We've posted blurbs from a few of the critics,below. Peter Hartlaub from the San Francisco Chronicle, gave it a decent 75 grade, stating: "The screenplay is deceptively tight, even as the main characters seem to be buzzing aimlessly through the proceedings. Like the most successful films of the drug-hazed genre, this movie only appears to be going off the rails." Leah Greenblatt over at Entertainment Weekly, gave it a 75 grade too, saying: "Check your brain at the popcorn-butter pump in the lobby and enjoy it." Brian Truitt from USA Today, »
- Andre Braddox
Written by Max Landis
Directed by Nima Nourizadeh
Take the amnesiac spy from the Bourne franchise, throw him into the anarchic nihilism of Kick-Ass, add some romantic idealism and then bubble it all through the comedic sensibilities of Pineapple Express and you have something that approximates American Ultra. As entertaining as it is flawed, director Nima Nourizadeh’s film is sure to divide audiences with its haphazard mix of ultra-violence and heartfelt romance. A gleefully-belligerent experiment in style that thumbs its nose at your expectations.
Can a pair of hopeless romantics survive in a modern world consumed by security, surveillance, and sarcasm? Not if one of them is a merciless killing machine for the CIA! Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) is a well-meaning stoner who just wants to find the right moment to propose to his long-suffering girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart). Those plans seem permanently derailed when a »
- J.R. Kinnard
Rolled into a joint made with the kief leftover from a dozen different movies, American Ultra is a natural underachiever. An early action scene, in which our protagonist average Joe brutally dispatches of two government goons through unconscious reflex, is a familiar one. So too are many of the events that follow, like when a military liaison explains to his CIA superior (Topher Grace, delightful) why their hit on a former asset has gone pear-shaped. “How is he still alive?” yells Grace’s pissy and psychotic company man. “Well, sir,” replies the Army brass, “he had a spoon.”
Deadpan statements shine like whites beneath the wide, spectral black light of American Ultra’s influences. It’s a paranoid pothead thriller (The Bourne Indica) that’s been hybridized with a sweetly simple relationship comedy. It’s also a violent action vehicle, a dopey stoner romp, and a Looney Tunes vision of surveillance state overreach. »
- Sam Woolf
In a summer film slate awash with reboots, sequels and dutifully box-checking superhero product, it’s refreshing to see a genre film made from a completely original screenplay. Yet “American Ultra,” a stoner action-comedy directed by Nima Nourizadeh from a script by Max Landis, too often plays like an earnest yet unsatisfying adaptation of a cult graphic novel, with most of the charm lost in translation. Full of clever ideas, bloody violence so cartoonish that it’s almost cuddly, and an eminently likable leading pair in Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg, the film has a lot going for it but, like a fridge-clearing omelet prepared after too many bong hits, it can’t manage to cook all these goodies into a palatable whole. Box office should be modest, though more couch-bound demographics may well embrace it on homevid.
For a well-meaning, not-so-bright stoner who works at a run-down mini-mart and »
- Andrew Barker
Shortly following the turn of the millennium came a transitional moment in Hollywood humour. Comedies featuring adolescents and comedies featuring adults had never been a rare sight, but following the Farrelly brothers’ There’s Something About Mary (1998), the maturation of the American Pie (1999) series, and particularly with the rise of the Frat Pack (a term coined in a Variety review of Old School (2003)), it became increasingly popular to combine the two, and to blur the line dividing maturity and immaturity that is supposed to magically appear during the progression into adulthood.
Suddenly, it was common to see films reversing the coming-of-age narrative of many teen comedies, continuing the natural progression of slacker films such as Clerks (1994), and intensifying the feckless nature of adults from examples such as The Big Lebowski (1998) and Office Space (1999). The Frat Pack were at the forefront of that change, and their movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) was its harbinger, »
- Liam Ball
Judd Apatow, director of Knocked Up, 40 Year-Old Virgin and Pineapple Express isn’t known for his lead female characters. His films usually focus a lot more on the world of men, yet in Trainwreck it’s all about the women. That is thanks to comedienne Amy Schumer, who wrote the script specifically for Apatow; she also undertakes the leading lady role.
First things first, Trainwreck is utterly hilarious, and is easily the best female-centric comedy since Bridesmaids. There are a lot of genuine laughs throughout, and for once they’re aimed at the female market. Schumer is laugh-out-loud funny and is sure to rise to the top of the funny female celebrity pile. However, the story feels a little worn and, whilst there is the gender reversal of having the female wary of commitment and the male ready to dive on in, it lacks a certain freshness.
- Kat Smith
Given the guy's talent, it's only a matter of time before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decide to reward Jake Gyllenhaal with his very own Oscar - we're just waiting to see what that feature winds up being. It's entirely possible that it could be the next project he's eying to add to his upcoming slate, which will see him playing a man who lost his legs during the Boston Marathon bombing that occurred back in 2013. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jake Gyllenhaal is now thinking about signing on to Stronger, a new film that is being directed by David Gordon Green (George Washington, Pineapple Express). Should he sign on the dotted line, the Nightcrawler star would be playing Jeff Bauman, a survivor of the aforementioned terrorist attack who lost his legs in the explosion. The movie is based on a script by screenwriter John Pollono (and »
Jake Gyllenhaal is considering the lead role in a drama set in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, according to Variety.
The film, called Stronger, is based on the experiences of survivor Jeff Bauman. Bauman, who was waiting for his girlfriend to finish the race, lost both of his legs after two pressure-cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon on 15 April 2013. He helped to identify the bombers – brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev – and went on to co-write a book about his experience, on which the film is based. David Gordon Green, whose previous work includes Pineapple Express and Joe, will direct.
Continue reading »
- Henry Barnes
Earlier this month it was announced that David Gordon Green (Joe, Pineapple Express) would be directing Stronger, an account of Jeff Bauman's story regarding his experience with the Boston Marathon bombings. Bauman was waiting for his girlfriend at the finish line when two pressure cooker bombs exploded, taking both of his legs. He served as a key witness in the trial of bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which... Read More »
- Sean Wist
Stronger, a film about the Boston Marathon bombing, has found its director.
On April 15, 2013, two pressure cooker bombs exploded at the annual marathon in Boston, taking three lives and injuring about 264 people.
Bauman, who was waiting for his girlfriend at the finish line, lost both of his legs during the attack.
In the book, written by Bauman and Brett Witter, Bauman shared his experience being a key witness in the trial of bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his journey to rehabilitation after the attack.
Stronger is one of the three movies being made about the Boston Marathon bombing.
This particular project, set up at Lionsgate, is set to tell the story of Jeff Bauman, one of the survivors of the attack who lost lost both his legs in the attacks. In Stronger, co-written by himself and Bret Whitter, Bauman told of his experiences and his rehabilitation after the bombings, where he was waiting for his girlfriend at the finish line. John Pollono and Scott Silver have adapted the book and written the script.
Patriot’s Day, CBS Films’ version of events set to star Mark Wahlberg, and Boston Strong, directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House), are two of the other projects about the bombings which set to go into production soon.
- Scott J. Davis
Green started his career with well-regarded indies like “George Washington” before moving to studio pics like “Pineapple Express” and into TV with “Eastbound and Down.” He has also signed on for Warner Bros.’ upcoming Sandra Bullock starrer “Our Brand Is Crisis,” based on the documentary about campaign financing.
John Pollono has adapted the script for “Stronger,” which marks his full-length feature debut. Pollono wrote and co-starred in the Off Broadway play “Small Engine Repairs.” “Stronger” has been set up with Mandeville Films principals Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman along with Scott Silver, while Peter McGuigan will exec produce.
- Dave McNary
David Gordon Green is an interesting director. The acclaimed filmmaker behind movies like George Washington, Joe, Prince Avalanche, and Manglehorn is also known for less artistic fare like Your Highness and Pineapple Express. His next film looks to be a blend of mainstream and dramatic fare that should play well to his strengths as a filmmaker and will join multiple projects developing at the same time... Read More »
- Alex Maidy
One of our least pretentious filmmakers, David Gordon Green makes the movies he wants to make. Thanks to the cushion provided by big-budget forays like the "Pineapple Express" (2008) and "The Sitter" (2008), Green actually gets away with it. Now he has signed on to direct Lionsgate's "Stronger," one of several Boston Marathon Bombing projects in the works from multiple studios. This one focuses on Jeff Bauman, a survivor who was adjacent to one of the two pressure cooker bombs when he lost both his legs. Bauman was crucial in helping the FBI identify the suspects, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Other Boston projects in the works include CBS Films' "Patriot's Day" with Mark Wahlberg, and Fox's "Boston Strong." With cowriter Brett Whitter, Bauman chronicled the events in a book also titled "Stronger." John Pollono and Scott Silver wrote the script for the film. Producers are David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman »
- Ryan Lattanzio
Images from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings are still seared into the hearts and minds of people around the world, and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that multiple film projects about the terrorist attack are in the works. Today, Manglehorn director David Gordon Green has signed on to helm one such pic, titled Stronger and set to focus on Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs in the attack.
Lionsgate is behind the inspirational true story, which is based on the autobiographical book Bauman co-wrote with Bret Whitter.
Bauman was at the finish line of the marathon on April 15, 2013, waiting for his girlfriend to finish the annual race, when he was caught in the blast from a pressure cooker bomb left at the crowded event by terrorists Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The explosion took both his legs. When he awoke in a nearby hospital, Bauman was able to identify »
- Isaac Feldberg
The last time Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart starred in a movie together was 2009's Adventureland, which I love, and while I know American Ultra has absolutely no relation to that film, I like the idea of seeing Eisenberg and Stewart together again on the big screen. Much to my delight, a new clip from the film has just been released, featuring Mike (Eisenberg) confessing to a double-homicide over the phone while Phoebe (Stewart) comes to check out the scene, trying to comprehend exactly what just happened. From the synopsis, American Ultra centers on a stoner and his girlfriend as their sleepy small-town existence is disrupted when his past comes back to haunt him in the form of a government operation set to wipe him out. Walton Goggins, Connie Britton, Bill Pullman, Topher Grace and Tony Hale round out the cast. I sense a bit of a Pineapple Express-meets- »
- Jordan Benesh
Academy invitee Eddie Redmayne in 'The Theory of Everything.' Academy invites 322 new members: 'More diverse and inclusive list of filmmakers and artists than ever before' The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has offered membership to 322 individuals "who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures." According to the Academy's press release, "those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy's membership in 2015." In case all 322 potential new members say an enthusiastic Yes, that means an injection of new blood representing about 5 percent of the Academy's current membership. In the words of Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs (as quoted in the press release), in 2015 "our branches have recognized a more diverse and inclusive list of filmmakers and artists than ever before, and we look forward to adding their creativity, ideas and experience to our organization." In recent years, the Academy membership has »
- Anna Robinson
©Renzo Piano Building Workshop/©Studio Pali Fekete architects/©A.M.P.A.S.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this week that the Los Angeles City Council, in a unanimous vote, approved plans for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Construction will begin this summer, and ceremonial groundbreaking festivities will occur this fall.
“I am thrilled that Los Angeles is gaining another architectural and cultural icon,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “My office of economic development has worked directly with the museum’s development team to ensure that the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will create jobs, support tourism, and pay homage to the industry that helped define our identity as the creative capital of the world.”
“We are grateful to our incredible community of supporters who have helped make this museum a reality,” said Dawn Hudson, the Academy’s CEO. “Building this museum has been an Academy »
- Michelle McCue
Strangely dropping a press release on a historic day where the nation's attention is elsewhere, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed their annual list of new member invitees this morning. For those who criticize the makeup of the Academy there was some good news and the stark realization the organization still has a long way to go. The Academy has spent the last eight to 10 years attempting to diversify its membership and this year's class mostly reflects that. There are significantly more invitees of Asian and African-American descent, but the male to female disparity is still depressing. Out of the 25 potential new members of the Actor's Branch only seven are women. And, no, there isn't really an acceptable way for the Academy to spin that sad fact. Additionally, It's important to realize the 322 people noted in the release have only been invited to join Hollywood's most exclusive club. »
- Gregory Ellwood
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