Gimme Shelter: There’s No Place Like Someone Else’s Home

by Angel Cohn January 24, 2014 6:00 am
<I>Gimme Shelter</i>: There’s No Place Like Someone Else’s Home

The commercials for this movie may lead you to believe that erstwhile High School Musical starlet Vanessa Hudgens has taken the bold step to becoming an adult actress, and she's admittedly trying, but her idea of a transformative performance is heavily reliant on her choppy haircut, makeup job and facial piercings. Otherwise, she seems to think that acting involves some sort of New York accent that fluctuates in frequency throughout the movie and screaming most of her lines. Perhaps that's what happens when you are used to belting your lines to get attention when Zac Efron is around. Instead of a major theatrical release, this mediocre flick with poor structure would have fit in far better as a Lifetime or Hallmark Channel movie of the week.

The Internship: Google Crashers

by Rachel Stein June 7, 2013 6:01 am
<i>The Internship</i>: Google Crashers

The Internship is quite literally a two-hour commercial for Google. It's ridiculously racist and sexist, and every character who's not played by Vince Vaughn or Owen Wilson is at best an archetype. The plot developments and beats are almost directly ripped from Wedding Crashers. The film has enormous plot holes, essentially no stakes and a resolution that barely solves anything; to say it makes any sense at all is an overstatement. And yet, thanks to its stars, it is also ridiculously charming, and very, very funny.

Smashed: Five Things This Movie is Not

by Rachel Stein October 12, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Smashed</i>: Five Things This Movie is Not

Based on the actors -- Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World's Mary Elizabeth Winstead, The Help's Octavia Spencer and royal comedy couple Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally -- Smashed sounds like indie movie gold. Writer/Director newcomer James Ponsoldt and his co-writer Susan Burke even debuted the film at Sundance and won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing. Unfortunately though, unless you're going into the film with fairly low expectations, you'll be sorely disappointed. To get you ready for what's to come, here are five things Smashed certainly is not.

Battle of the Blockbusters: <i>Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol</i> and <i>Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows</i>

After the year-end glut of prestige pictures and awards bait, it's kind of a relief to settle in for a pair of high-concept blockbusters that have no greater ambition beyond blowing stuff up real good. That's the mission statement behind Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol, the second and fourth installments in their respective franchises. The former reunites director Guy Ritchie with Robert Downey Jr. as a strapping, ass-kicking Sherlock and Jude Law as his right hand man/pseudo boyfriend Dr. Watson. The latter matches Pixar wizard Brad Bird (making his live-action directorial debut) with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Ethan Hunt, the Impossible Missions Force's premiere covert agent. Both films emphasize spectacle over story (Ghost Protocol even more so, since several sequences were filmed using IMAX cameras), action over acting and explosions over erudition. But only one of them actually makes good on its promise of escapist entertainment.

Take Shelter: The Storm is Threatening

by Ethan Alter September 30, 2011 4:23 pm
<i>Take Shelter</i>: The Storm is Threatening

Writer/director Jeff Nichols' first feature, Shotgun Stories, ranks as one of the finest filmmaking debuts of the past decade. Now, following an acclaimed run on the festival circuit, his second effort Take Shelter blows into theaters and instantly jumps to the top of the list of 2011's very best films. A family drama, a psychological horror story and a rich character study all rolled into one, Take Shelter is a beautifully assured work of art that doubles as an up-to-the-minute portrait of the country's mood. When future generations study this specific period in American history, this film will function as an evocative look at the Way We Lived Then.

I Don’t Know How She Does It: And I Don’t Care

by Ethan Alter September 16, 2011 6:00 am
<i>I Don’t Know How She Does It</i>: And I Don’t Care

A poster child for First World Problems syndrome, I Don't Know How She Does It asks moviegoers to invest in the trials and tribulations of a well-off investment manager who shares a lovely Boston townhouse with her architect husband, their two young children (the eldest of whom attends private school) and a part-time nanny to boot. Considering the troubled state of the economy these days, the amount of privilege on display might be too big a hurdle for some viewers to get over. At the same time though, it's worth remembering that families like this one do still exist in America (in smaller numbers, to be sure) and some of the challenges this particular character faces -- including juggling work and family time, making her marriage work and being there for the kids when they need her -- cut across social and economic divides. Would a movie about an exhausted mom forced to work two jobs in order to support her malnourished kids and out-of-work husband whose unemployment benefits just expired be a more up-to-the-minute reflection of what's going on in the country right now? Of course, but good luck trying to get a major Hollywood studio to greenlight it. If you're in the market for that kind of movie, you're better off waiting until Sundance comes around in January.

Something to Declare: Jay Baruchel Talks Crotch Shots, Nic Cage and <i>She’s Out of My League</i>

The latest slightly-misogynistic-but-not-enough-to-be-unfunny buddy comedy, She's Out of My League, is miraculously not directed by Judd Apatow, but does star one of his discoveries, Jay Baruchel (Undeclared, Knocked Up, etc.). He plays Kirk Kettner, a frumpy-yet-happy airport security agent who catches the eye of a flawless girl and spends the duration of the film struggling to understand why such a perfect creature would be interested in him. In League's most memorable scene, Kirk's friends convince him to "manscape" his crotch, and (spoiler alert!) while we don't get any full frontal action (a la Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Mashall), we do see a shot of Kirk's entire backside. There's also a pretty gnarly scene in which, through a sequence of only-in-a-rom-com events, an enormous dog licks Kirk's (clothed) crotch to no avail. At a press junket this weekend, we spoke with Baruchel about acting in these humiliating scenes, as well as his experience co-starring in the upcoming Nicolas Cage film, The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Ghost in a 3-D Shell

by Tippi Blevins April 15, 2008 1:10 pm
Ghost in a 3-D Shell DreamWorks has just acquired the rights to the Anime franchise Ghost in the Shell. Having made the jump from the pages of manga (Japanese comic books) to several animated films, television series, and video games, Ghost is now jumping even farther into reality, as DreamWorks plans to adapt the work as a 3-D live-action feature film.

The story, as it's been presented in the past, involves a futuristic task force known as Section 9, which fights technology-related crimes. At its center is Major Motoko Kusanagi, herself cybernetically enhanced and engineered. No word on whether she will figure into the new movie or not.

Of interest is DreamWorks' plan to humanize the franchise with flesh-and-blood actors (no doubt framed by state of the art CGI) while adding an element of surreality with the 3-D aspect. 3-D could be said to make something seem more realistic, but the "wow factor" often overwhelms the intended result. Plus, can anyone ever truly forget that they're wearing a pear of special glasses at the move theater? If you already wear glasses (from reading too much manga by the dim glow of a flashlight under the bedsheets) the result is doubly cumbersome.

There's also the lingering stigma of cheesetastic 3-D films of the past, as has been mentioned here just recently. New technology aims to bring 3-D into the digital age, although this time giving you the option of forty-dollar glasses instead of the flimsy disposables. (It's either that or wait until cybernetics advances to the stage where your eyes can simply be reprogrammed.) Will the new Ghost be a technological marvel, or a technological crime, deserving of Section 9's special attention?

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, August 13, 2013

by Ethan Alter August 13, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Count this as the only time where Gerard Butler could beat Channing Tatum at anything.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, June 25, 2013

by Ethan Alter June 25, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Presenting the not-so-incredible Burt Wonderstone.

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