Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

The World, the Flesh and the Devil

Friday, March 21st, 2014

tn_worldthefleshTHE WORLD, THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL, which I never heard of until I picked up the Warner Archive dvd box abandoned sideways on top of the Post-Apocalypse section at Scarecrow Video, is an early take on the LAST MAN ON EARTH type of concept. It’s from 1959, making it the earliest one I know of, and it’s based on a book other than I Am Legend. Actually it’s apparently based on two things, The Purple Cloud, a 1901 novel by M.P. Shiel (H.G. Wells was apparently a fan!) that sounds like it has very little in common with the movie other than a last-man type concept, and a story called “End of the World” by Ferdinand Reyher (which I can’t find much information on).

Harry Belafonte plays Ralph Burton, an inspector who gets trapped alone in a collapsed mine. He’s down there a long time and goes stir crazy talking and singing to a radio that never talks back (he assumes it’s broken). Eventually he gives up on anyone rescuing him but is luckily able to dig his own way out of the rubble. (Shoulda tried that before, I guess.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Out of the Furnace

Monday, March 10th, 2014

tn_outofthefurnaceOne movie that came and went during the “summer is over, time for some actor-y shit” period of 2013 was OUT OF THE FURNACE. This is the second movie directed by Scott Cooper, who also rewrote from a script by Brad Ingelsby (writer of the gratuitous American remake of THE RAID that apparently is still happening). Cooper previously directed CRAZY HEART, which was known as the Jeff Bridges Oscar movie, but it was also a good movie in its own right, so it was intriguing that he was doing one with Christian Bale next.

I feel like after we got used to him being Batman we kind of forgot how great Christian Bale is. It’s a relief to see him being funny again in AMERICAN HUSTLE, but I also still like watching Earnest Christian Bale. And in this case Rugged Christian Bale. (read the rest of this shit…)

Rush

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

tn_rushRUSH is a Ron Howard movie about race car drivers, but it’s better than that sounds. It follows the expected template and visual techniques except that it has two protagonists, two narrators, and really made me bounce back and forth about which one I was rooting for.

The guy most prominently featured on the poster is James Hunt, played by Thor. He’s the long-haired blond rock star of Formula One racing, a charming, dry-witted Brit, a fun guy, great racer and legendary lover of women. If he wasn’t so charismatic he’d be easy to hate because he has it all except the championship, and that he’s confident he’ll get too.

The other guy is Niki Lauda, played by Daniel Brühl, the NATION’S PRIDE Nazi sniper from INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. He’s kind of Hunt’s opposite. He’s terrible at making friends, and doesn’t see that as a bad thing. He’s blunt and insulting, finds a way to push his way onto a team and doesn’t mind that his own teammates will resent him for it. When those teammates go out of their way to be helpful and welcoming he doesn’t reciprocate. Also he agrees with Hunt saying he looks like a rat.

But he’s brilliant. He’s not just a good driver, he tells the team how to reconfigure the car to make it faster. He explains later that he was blessed with an ass that can detect any problems in a car that he sits in. When he gets on the Ferrari test track he tells them their cars are shit. He’s like the P.L. Travers of racing. (read the rest of this shit…)

Kon-Tiki

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

tn_kon-tikiKON-TIKI is light, well-constructed and direct, just like the raft it’s named after. It’s the true story of the Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl embarking on a dangerous raft trip to try to prove that ancient Polynesia could’ve been populated by South Americans. This was before American Idol and stuff so back then you would have to try to prove or discover things to get famous. And then instead of a reality show you would film an actual documentary about your adventures. They just didn’t know any better, you know? I’m sure if Jacques Cousteau had known about sex videos he would’ve just done that instead of winning an Oscar by having an ax fight with a school of sharks while Louis Malle filmed him.

Anyway, Thor here comes up with this theory while living on an island, and he wants to write about it, but all the publishers of scientific books and magazines (I’m calling you out, National Geographic!) laugh him off as an idiot. He comes up with the raft idea but still has trouble getting funding, ’cause this was before Kickstarter. He has to go around talking to people who often think he’s a crazy man. Which he kind of is I guess. (read the rest of this shit…)

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

tn_thebutler“I always loved servin’.”

LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER by Lee Daniels is the new one from crazy fuckin Lee Daniels, and I know what you’re thinking: thank God a Warner Brothers claim with the MPAA forced them to include “LEE DANIELS’” in the title at 75% the size of THE BUTLER, because otherwise I would’ve assumed that this modern movie with Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey on the cover is the lost silent short from 1916 THE BUTLER. I mean, who wouldn’t? It would be an easy mistake to make.

Also I know what Lee Daniels is thinking: that’s pretty cool that some crazy corporate bullshit that makes no sense caused me to get my name in the title like WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE or JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Saving Mr. Banks

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

tn_savingmrbanksSAVING MR. BANKS is the story of P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) flying out to Burbank to develop the movie of her book Mary Poppins with Walt Disney (Tom Hanks). I’m surprised it’s not called TRAVERS, following the last-name-of-character-to-indicate-this-is-a-biopic-and-this-small-story-is-representative-of-the-larger-story-of-their-life trend (CAPOTE, HITCHCOCK, LINCOLN, BLADE, E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, etc.). Maybe they were worried people would think it was about Peter Travers.

As a one-time film critic herself, P.L. would never be confused with Positive Pete. It’s not mentioned in the movie, but I’ve read that in ’37 this Travers reviewed Disney’s pioneering achievement SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS and trashed it. I wish I could read the whole thing, but all I can find is this quote that’s been floating around: “There is a profound cynicism at the root of his, as of all, sentimentality.” Lucky thing Rotten Tomatoes was only on index cards back then, so nobody cared that she was the Armond White of the ’30s, fuckin up its 100% fresh rating. (read the rest of this shit…)

Green Street Hooligans

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

tn_greenstreetGREEN STREET HOOLIGANS (as we call GREEN STREET in America) is a very watchable but meat-headed movie about assholes (as we call cunts in America) obsessed with soccer (as we call soccer in America) and exploiting the American fascination with English exoticism. Elijah Wood (THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY Extended Edition Blu-Ray + Blu-Ray 3D + UltraViolet Digital Copy combo pack) plays Matt Buckner, a young writer who gets unfairly expelled from Harvard and decides to go visit his sister (Claire Forlani, POLICE ACADEMY: MISSION TO MOSCOW) and her family in London. His brother-in-law Steve (Marc Warren) wants to get rid of him so he sends him to a soccer game with his little brother Petey (Charlie Hunnam). So they go out to drink beer and sing songs with the fellas and then go to the game. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mud

Monday, November 18th, 2013

tn_mudMUD is the latest from Jeff Nichols, whose SHOTGUN STORIES and TAKE SHELTER I’ve been a big not-get-around-to-er of for years. I hear they’re great from people I trust and then I go watch a BLOODSPORT or something. But some day I’m gonna make you guys proud. For now I’ve just seen MUD.

As you can tell by the title, MUD is one of these historical fiction adventures where Dr. Samuel Mudd, imprisoned for aiding John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, has to redeem himself by solving mysteries from his cell on Shark Island using his forensic knowledge and what not. But then there’s a twist where actually he’s not redeeming himself at all, he’s giving medical attention to various bad guys like Jesse James, Jack the Ripper, Count Dracula, etc. And then it’s a triple twist because actually he’s redeeming himself by giving them medical attention but then trying to influence them to be better people. It’s kind of like an underworld doctor story but also redemption, procedural, action, romance, racism, etc.

Actually that’s not what MUD is about, I tricked you into reading the pitch for my new intellectual property, for sale to Hollywood as a movie or TV series or both. Please buy. I don’t need my name on the credits though if it’s all the same to you guys. As we’ve all heard, the MUD that actually exists is real good, and Matthew McConaughey is real good in it. What I had not heard was anything else, like what it was about. And I’m glad, it’s rare to see a movie completely fresh like that. You won’t get that if you keep reading.

(Why am I always telling you not to read my reviews? This kind of defeatist attitude is why some dude from Lost is not playing Samuel Mudd on tv yet) (read the rest of this shit…)

12 Years a Slave

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

tn_12yearsaslaveWe all know the grand American tradition of the movie about the black man but in the POV of the white man. It’s the story of the civil rights struggle and the brave white FBI agent or country lawyer who stood up and made a difference, or the spunky white lady who gave the mistreated black maids of Jackson a voice, but with her name on the cover. These are well-meaning, sometimes good movies, but they’re suspect in assuming the audience can only follow if they have a white surrogate on screen. They don’t trust us to put ourselves in the shoes of black characters. If Spike Lee hadn’t made MALCOLM X I bet it would’ve been about a white dude trying to understand Malcolm X, or giving him his ideas.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Ip Man: The Final Fight

Friday, August 30th, 2013

tn_ipmanfinalfight“A scholar and a warrior!”

Hey, you know what, how ’bout another movie about Ip Man? This is the fifth one I’ve seen in as many years. But this is THE FINAL FIGHT, so it’s the last one, at least until IP MAN: A NEW BEGINNING or WES CRAVEN’S NEW IP MAN.

This is from Herman Yau, the director of the least known but still good Ip Man picture, LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN, and once again with an appearance by Ip Man’s actual son Ip Chun (a consultant on all of the Ip Man movies except THE GRANDMASTER). But this time the attraction is seeing Anthony Wong (HARD BOILED, HEROIC TRIO, INFERNAL AFFAIRS, EXILED, VENGEANCE, everything else) take over the Ip Man role and play him as an old man. In THE GRANDMASTER it ends up when the good old days are over and everybody’s opening kung fu schools left and right. That’s when this is, over a period of years but focusing on the early 60s, around the time Ip Man was giving Wing Chun lessons on the roof of a building. (read the rest of this shit…)