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|2296 reviews in total|
Tremendous. It's a nonstop thrill-ride with interesting, though quickly drawn, characters and some of the most economical storytelling I've ever seen. It makes all other Hollywood action movies look like they're in kindergarten. Every minute brings a new indelible image. It has a strong female presence, with Charlize Theron as almost a co-lead to Tom Hardy's Max. Both Theron and Hardy are wonderful, with Hardy giving Max a very different flavor from Mel Gibson. I loved Nicholas Hoult, as well, and Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the Toecutter in the original Mad Max, has a powerful presence as the major villain. A masterpiece of its genre. I loved it so much I saw it twice this week in the theater.
Pretty entertaining, low-key crime flick. Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts play two going-nowhere punks in NYC. Roberts in particular works as a waiter in a club for gangsters and wishes he could be more like them. He overhears things, and picks up some information that he thinks could lead him and his cousin/best buddy Rourke to big money. Of course, everything goes wrong (you'd have to be nuts to try to commit a crime with nutjob Eric Roberts by your side). Rourke is a bit of an overactor, but looks extremely subtle next to Roberts. As bad an actor as Roberts is, though, there's some crazy there that always makes me kind of like his performances. Geraldine Page has a small role and got nominated for an Oscar for it. This is an example of an aging star giving a serviceable character actor performance, and it's nothing special. My choice for best in show would actually be Daryl Hannah as Rourke's girlfriend. She has a couple of really good scenes. Kenneth McMillan is also good as the Irish safe cracker Rourke and Roberts hook up with, and Rocky's Burt Young is good as the mob boss they're ripping off. M. Emmet Walsh also co-stars but doesn't get much to do.
The advancement of artificial intelligence to human levels has been a favorite subject for science fiction writers since the concept was invented, and it's been a popular subject for sci-fi movies for a long time now. Alex Garland's Ex Machina does little new with the subject, and contains very few surprises. Despite being fairly unoriginal, it's still an enjoyable piece of cinema. It survives on looks and the talent in front of the camera. Domhnall Gleeson stars (and is easily the least interesting of the basically four person cast) as a programmer who is selected by internet genius Oscar Isaac to test his new, advanced robot, Ava (Alicia Vikander). She is more than intriguing. She's gorgeous, and, against his better judgement, Gleeson becomes attracted to her as he tests her. Vikander is very convincing as a robot. Sounds like an insult, but her performance is very subtle in the way she emotes. Isaac is fun as always. The fourth person in the cast is Sonoyo Mizuno, who plays Isaac's Japanese servant - not difficult to figure out what her deal is, but I liked whenever she popped up. She and Isaac share a dance that's easily my favorite moment in the film. The movie's production design and cinematography, as well as its score, are all very good. Worth a watch, but I'd recommend waiting for video or streaming.
Coming off his best picture-winning Chariots of Fire, I have to imagine director Hugh Hudson thought to himself, "Hmm, how could I make Tarzan as boring as possible?" Whatever the answer to that question, Hudson succeeded with flying colors. This is about as boring as the story can get. 90% of it takes place in England and the 10% that takes place in the jungle is only marginally more interesting. Christopher Lambert plays Tarzan (never called that) and is silly. I mean, the story's always going to be silly, but Hudson wants this to be played seriously, and he failed by casting Lambert. Sir Ralph Richardson died shortly after production wrapped and scored a posthumous Oscar nom for his role, but I barely remember him in the film. Ian Holm is a little more memorable as the Frenchman who discovers Tarzan on his jungle exposition. Andie MacDowell, playing Jane in her film debut, was apparently so awful they had to hire Glenn Close to dub her voice. The ape costumes aren't bad considering. I would have been much better off throwing in the first two Weismuller Tarzans, which combined would have run about the same length.
Francis Ford Coppola reunites with Mario Puzo to deliver another gangster film, this one revolving around the infamous Cotton Club in Harlem starting in the year 1928. To those hoping for another Godfather, it must have been somewhat disappointing - this is just not another Godfather movie, despite the similar milieu. The script isn't nearly as tight, and the all-star cast, despite being mostly good, isn't anywhere near as good as the Godfather ensemble. Personally, I'd take it over at least the third Godfather film any day of the week (that one was nominated for Best Picture; this film must have had similar aspirations, getting released near Christmas of 1984, but it only garnered two noms, for art direction and editing). The film is kind of Altman-esque with the way it follows multiple story lines (my first thought was "I wonder what Altman could have done with it?" but then I remember his own film of a similar vein, Kansas City, was a dud). None of them are particularly fantastic, truth be told, but all are serviceable. Richard Gere is the closest thing we have to a protagonist, as a cornet player who becomes a right-hand man to a gangster (James Remar). Diane Lane becomes romantically entangled with the both of them, but ends up with the gangster. Another plot line follows dancer Gregory Hines' romantic pursuit of the light skinned singer Lonette McKee. Bob Hoskins and Fred Gwynne play gangsters who co-own the Cotton Club. Nicolas Cage plays Gere's brother, who also becomes a gangster. The real worth of the film, though, is just the wonderful milieu and the awesome musical and dance numbers. Near the end of the film, Cab Calloway becomes the Cotton Club's premier musical talent (he's played by Larry Marshall). Perhaps this isn't great, but it's definitely worthwhile.
The third hip-hop/break dancing musical of 1984 (after Breakin' and Beat Street) and easily the worst. In fact, it barely got released theatrically at all. Lorenzo Lamas stars and let's just say he's no Adolfo 'Shabadoo' Quinones. He's such an unlikable meathead douchebag you'd have to be a sociopath to care whether he's successful in his music/dancing career or not. The other big problem is that the film's music, while not necessarily awful, is in no way hip-hop. It's all techno-pop. Lamas may be Hispanic, but the movie definitely feels like it was made more to appeal to whitebread audiences (not that the other two movies mentioned above weren't also made for that audience, but at least they featured actual black music). If you want authenticity, go for Beat Street. If you want goofy fun, go for Breakin'. If you want to be bored out of your mind, go for Body Rock.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Carmen Maura plays a put-upon housewife (apartment wife?) in this early Almodovar comedy. And when I say put-upon, I mean really put-upon. The film ends with the implication that there are all kinds of people in Maura's situation, but I kind of doubt it. Her abusive husband is a cabbie working on forging Hitler's letters. Her oldest son deals heroin, while her younger son is banging his buddy's dad (later she sells him to his dentist). She also has to deal with her nutty, lizard-loving mother-in-law. There's also the prostitute next door and the telekinetic girl down the hall. It's all really crazy! Honestly, a plot does eventually develop (it's kind of dumb), but too much of the film just feels like a catalogue of the crazy stuff that's happening. Maura is as great as always, and the film definitely has its amusing moments, but, overall, it's not one of Almodovar's stronger films.
Poorly plotted Hitchcock rip-off, which is too often the case with De Palma. This one particularly suffers because the lead actor (Craig Wasson) is absolutely terrible. Who could have possibly allowed him to be the lead in a movie? He's so wishy-washy and unlikable. I mean, the guy is such a wimp that he almost has a heart attack due to his claustrophobia when he finds himself in a tunnel the size of my apartment. The only ace this movie has up its sleeve is Melanie Griffith at her absolute hottest co-starring as a porn star, and she doesn't even show up until an hour into the film. The plot revolves around Wasson peeping at the neighbor woman (Deborah Shelton) when he's housesitting for a guy he just befriended (Gregg Henry). He sees a strange man hanging around Shelton, and decides to get involved.
Wow! I've never quite heard such angry grumbling over a movie when the
lights came up before. The word "horrible" was being thrown around
generously, so much so that the teenage girl waiting to clean up the
theater afterword commented on how angry everyone was. No, I'm not
quite with these people (the theater was loaded at 11 AM, for the
record), but this was a major disappointment. Much like the desperately
overrated The Babadook, this is a somewhat clever horror movie that
sort of bucks mainstream horror conventions. Just because it's better
than most horror movies (and, believe me, I had to sit through half an
hour of terrible-looking horror previews to see this movie - if you
want a good laugh look up Unfriended on Youtube) doesn't make it
Maika Monroe (pretty but thankfully not boringly pretty like the protagonists in most horror movies) sleeps with her new boyfriend for the first time, and is in for a rude awakening. He knocks her out and ties her to a wheelchair. When she wakes up, he explains that some mysterious, murderous entity, in the guise of a random person, will follow her until it is able to kill her. She is advised to find someone quick and pass on the curse, although, if the next person is killed, it will come after her again. Monroe, her sister and their friends attempt to run away from the thing, but escape proves impossible.
There is definitely some cleverness in the filmmaking. I love the way Mitchell makes you scan every frame of the film to search for the next follower. The film is never that scary, but it does raise some nice tension. There are some big flaws, though. The monster, when it appears, is usually pale with sunken, dark eyes, and it thus resembles a lot of modern horror ghosts and zombies (similar monsters appeared in three or four previews before the movie). The monster even hisses at one point. Lame. The film's biggest mistake is the climax, where the characters suddenly become total morons. My enthusiasm for the film fell a lot during the sequence. The characters in general are pretty bland, though they're perhaps a tiny bit better than your average horror film (I did quite like Monroe's performance). I loved the John Carpenter-esque score.
The summer of 2013 saw two big Rapture-themed comedies released, This Is the End and The World's End. Well, apparently, Rapture-Palooza was a third, but you probably never heard of it. It was actually released a few days before This Is the End in a few theaters, but it disappeared with little note and ended up on Netflix (is it even on video?). No surprise, really, as it isn't very good. It's not awful, though. Anna Kendrick stars, so it probably couldn't be really terrible. She and John Francis Daley (who played Sam Weir on Freaks and Geeks) star as a dorky young couple who stayed on Earth after the Rapture. Craig Robinson (who also co-starred in This Is the End) plays the Antichrist. When he catches sight of Kendrick, he falls for her, so she and Daley decide to put an end to him. There are actually a good handful of big laughs here, but for every joke that works there are at least two that don't. It seems to fall back on random swearing when things start to slow down (Craig Robinson is particularly disappointing here, since that seems to be his whole schtick). That said, my favorite gag in the movie is probably the foul-mouthed crows. Rob Corddry, Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, Tyler Labine, Ana Gasteyer, Thomas Lennon, Ken Jeong and John Michael Higgins co-star.
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