Happy Anniversary: Batman Returns and Batman & Robin

by Ethan Alter July 18, 2012 3:51 pm
Happy Anniversary: <i>Batman Returns</i> and <i>Batman & Robin</i>

Before The Dark Knight Rises closes out the current Batman series, we celebrate the anniversaries of two older Caped Crusaders.

I Want My VOD: September 2013

by Ethan Alter September 4, 2013 4:46 pm
I Want My VOD: September 2013

Ken Marino and Gillian Jacobs have demon trouble in the horror sort-of comedy Bad Milo.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, August 6, 2013

by Ethan Alter August 6, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tom Cruise peers through the murk of Oblivion.

<i>This is the End</i>: Seeking Six Friends For the End of the World

It's not a spoiler to say that the world really is ending in the all-star comedy This is the End. This isn't an artificial apocalypse or a meta mega-disaster designed to complement the movie's already-heightened level of reality that comes with its cast -- including Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride -- playing themselves (albeit slightly tweaked versions of themselves) rather than fictional characters. The film, which Rogen wrote and directed his longtime creative partner Evan Goldberg, takes the end of days seriously... so seriously that the level of violence (to say nothing of the body count) is higher than you might expect for a warm weather comedy. Fortunately, much of what's unfolding in the shadow of the apocalypse is also seriously funny, so even though the world as we know it is over, it's ending with laughter rather than a whimper.

Indie Snapshot: Quirky Comedy Edition

by Ethan Alter June 7, 2013 1:57 pm
Indie Snapshot: Quirky Comedy Edition

This summer's other apocalyptic comedy starring Craig Robinson opens today, along with Violet & Daisy and Free Samples.

The Kings of Summer: Where the Wild Teens Are

by Ethan Alter May 31, 2013 6:00 am
<i>The Kings of Summer</i>: Where the Wild Teens Are

Fairly or not, the Boys' Life-ready coming-of-age story The Kings of Summer will likely be measured alongside Wes Anderson's rapturously received Moonrise Kingdom, which opened around the same time last year. After all, both movies are warm-weather tales of young love and growing up set against the backdrop of a wilderness adventure. But where Moonrise is as impeccably crafted as only a Wes Anderson joint can be, Kings lacks that high-sheen polish. That's not necessarily a bad thing because -- as all of us on the north side of 20 can attest -- adolescence is a messy time and, in its best moments, Kings's rough-edged style beautifully captures that turbulence. At the same time, though, there are a number of moments that are just plain turbulent, which speaks to the disparity in skill sets between a master craftsman like Anderson and a young apprentice like first-time feature filmmaker Jordan Vogt-Roberts.

42: Jackie at the Bat

by Ethan Alter April 12, 2013 8:22 am
<i>42</i>: Jackie at the Bat

It's not fair to spend an entire movie comparing it to another film on the same subject that was never actually made. But as I sat there watching the new Jackie Robinson biopic 42, I couldn't help measuring it against the version of the Robinson story that Spike Lee and Denzel Washington spent years trying to get off the ground before they were relieved by writer/director Brian Helgeland. Knowing Lee's penchant for provocation, his Jackie Robinson movie almost certainly would have been more confrontational -- and less commercial -- than the studio funding it would have liked. And, to be honest, there's no guarantee that it would have succeeded artistically; after all, as terrific a talent as Lee is, his stats are inconsistent with big wins like Do the Right Thing and He Got Game sitting alongside such heartbreaking losses as She Hate Me and Summer of Sam. But, win or lose, Lee's 42 would almost certainly have been more interesting than Helgeland's 42, which takes a crucial piece of sports and social history and treats it with kid gloves, substituting Hollywood gloss for real-world grit.

<i>Cloud Atlas</i>: Five Other Unadaptable Books We’d Like to See As Movies

We've already listed some of the other unlikely book-to-film translations that Cloud Atlas put us in mind of. But seeing what writer/directors Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski achieved with this challenging adaptation of David Mitchell's unique novel made us eager for some brave visionary to bring the following five seemingly unadaptable books brought to the screen.


I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 17, 2012

by Ethan Alter January 17, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 17, 2012

George Clooney for president? Hey, he's got the foreign policy experience.

Indie Snapshot: The Skin I Live In and Father of Invention

by Ethan Alter October 14, 2011 3:20 pm
Indie Snapshot: <i>The Skin I Live In</i> and <i>Father of Invention</i>

Pedro Almodóvar spins another twist-filled yarn, while Kevin Spacey's would-be comedy inspires more yawns than laughs.

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