January 2013 Archives
We break down the nominees for live action short.
We judge this year's crop of the animated shorts that are up for Oscar.
Time to figure out a different activity.
Forget the Schwarzenegger dud The Last Stand; the most authentic, ridiculous and overall entertaining '80s action movie throwback in theaters right now is Parker, the Taylor Hackford-directed, Jason Statham-starring big-screen version of the crime novel anti-hero created by Richard Stark (a.k.a. Donald E. Westlake). Although the character has been brought to the screen several times before -- including the 1967 classic Point Blank, starring Lee Marvin, and the compromised 1999 Mel Gibson-led Payback -- this is the first film that has been able to legally use the Parker name. And unlike those movies, it's not an adaptation of Parker's 1962 debut The Hunter, but rather a more recent installment, 2000's Flashfire (although the plot, once again, involves the character being betrayed by his fellow crooks and then embarking on a mission of revenge). But even though it takes place in the period of iPhones and Google, Hackford is very much working in the tradition of seedy Reagan-era crime pictures like John Frankenheimer's 52 Pick-Up and William Friedkin's To Live and Die in L.A.. Here are five ways in which the mostly satisfying Parker clearly loves the '80s.
Despite the participation of a galaxy of stars (Emma Stone! Chris Pratt! Richard Gere! Halle Berry!) and several big-name directors (Peter Farrelly! James Gunn! Brett Ratner!), the feature-length assemblage of skits that's billing itself as Movie 43 arrives in theaters this weekend unscreened for critics. (Imagine spending 90 minutes surfing Funny or Die and you've got the general gist of what it has to offer.) That's almost certainly a terrible sign, but I can't help but hold out hope that maybe, just maybe Movie 43 will be as stupidly enjoyable as the all-star sketch comedy revue it's clearly inspired by. I'm speaking, of course, about 1987's Amazon Women on the Moon, where such then-famous actors as Steve Guttenberg, Rosanna Arquette and Ed Begley Jr. popped up in spoofs of TV commercials, shows and one very bad '50s sci-fi movie.
If you're looking for a funny comedy to rent on DVD, call these girls... maybe?
Sure, The Last Stand may look like a brainless, pumped-up action movie that only exists because ex-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger decided he wanted to be a movie star again. But in actuality, the film -- which casts Arnie as a border town sheriff tasked with preventing an escaped drug kingpin (Eduardo Noriega) from crossing back into Mexico -- has a number of valuable lessons to teach audiences. Here are just a few of the things I learned from this contemporary treatise on heroism, honor and killing bad guys real good:
If your goal is to make a contemporary version of Roman Polanski's Chinatown, complete with an anti-heroic private eye and a shady land-grab deal overseen by corrupt politicians and businessmen, you'd best bring your A-game. It's too bad then, that the creative forces behind Broken City -- including director Allen Hughes, screenwriter Brian Tucker and star Mark Wahlberg -- only came to play with their B-game. But hey, even second-string teams can eke out a victory now and then and Broken City turns out to be a solid, if unexceptional, urban crime yarn that updates the Chinatown template from 1930s Los Angeles for 2010s New York, although the movie's version of the Big Apple feels a heck of a lot closer to the '90s than today.
With Mama, horror movie maestro Guillermo del Toro continues to give back to his favorite genre, using his significant influence within the film industry to give new directors the opportunity to freak audiences out. Mama, the feature filmmaking debut of Spanish director Andrés Muschietti, is the third scary movie to be released under the "Guillermo del Toro Presents" banner after 2007's The Orphanage and 2010's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. It's also the first horror movie for dramatic heavyweight (and current Best Actress Oscar nominee) Jessica Chastain, who gets a Goth makeover to play the edgy rocker chick-turned-reluctant guardian of two little girls recently returned to civilization after five years spent living like animals in a cabin in the woods, with only the ghost of a long-dead mental patient for company. Even if del Toro's name by itself is enough to lure you into the theater, here are five additional things you should know about Mama:
Liam Neeson is taking it to the limit one more time.