White House Down: Your Burning Questions Answered

by Ethan Alter June 28, 2013 6:00 am
<i>White House Down</i>: Your Burning Questions Answered

A White House under attack? Channing Tatum in Bruce Willis's old Die Hard wife beater?? America actually elected Jamie Foxx to the presidency??? You must have burning questions about Roland Emmerich's old-school (by which I mean, early '90s) summer blockbuster White House Down and we've got the answers.

Hitchcock: A Real Psycho Drama

by Ethan Alter November 23, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Hitchcock</i>: A Real <i>Psycho</I> Drama

So far Alfred Hitchcock biopics are batting 0-for-2 this year, with Fox Searchlight's anemic Hitchcock opening in limited theatrical release on the heels of HBO's crummy The Girl. Thanks largely to its skilled ensemble cast -- including Anthony Hopkins as Hitch, Helen Mirren as his wife Alma and Toni Collette as his long-suffering assistant, among others -- this film isn't quite as unpleasant and misguided as its small-screen predecessor, which strained to turn the Master of Suspense into one of the obsessive creeps that populated his movies. Hitchcock, which was directed by Sacha Gervasi (the guy who made that Anvil documentary a few years back), also deserves credit for paying more attention to its subject's formidable skills as a filmmaker, whereas The Girl seemed inordinately interested in his clumsy stalking of his leading ladies. Indeed, the narrative thrust of the movie concerns Hitchcock's own fears and doubts about his career as he seeks to reinvent himself in an industry that prefers the status quo. In a way, Hitchcock aspires to be another -- a self-aware portrait of an artist at a crossroads, unsure of which road to take next.

Hit & Run: Baby, He Can Drive Her Car

by Ethan Alter August 22, 2012 2:13 pm
<i>Hit & Run</i>: Baby, He Can Drive Her Car

You can count the number of current real-life couples who make believable big-screen lovers on one hand. There's The Amazing Spider-Man's Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield (although they started dating well after the movie wrapped), Vicky Christina Barcelona's Penénolpe Cruz and Javier Bardem and, until recently anyway, Twilight teammates Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. To this extremely short list you can now add Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, the affianced duo at the center of the new action comedy Hit & Run, which Shepard also wrote and co-directed with David Palmer.

Snow White and the Huntsman: The Fairest of Them All

by Ethan Alter June 1, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Snow White and the Huntsman</i>: The Fairest of Them All

Every summer there's that wild card big-budget studio picture that catches you off guard by being better than you could have predicted. Last year, that film was the Hail Mary franchise reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which made up for the terrible performances of its human cast with a compelling simian hero (Andy Serkis's Caesar) and some entertaining ape-driven action sequences. And while 2012's summer movie season is just getting started, Snow White and the Huntsman is the current favorite to be its most unexpected surprise. That's not to say it's perfect, by the way; first-time director Rupert Sanders and screenwriters Evan Draugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini make a number of major and minor mistakes in the process of bringing the age-old fairy tale back to the big screen. But the movie ultimately gets more right than wrong, finding the proper balance between spectacle and storytelling -- a trick that certain other recent blockbusters (looking at you Men in Black 3 and Battleship) failed to achieve.

White Stripe Writes Song of Solace

by Odie Henderson July 30, 2008 1:53 pm
White Stripe Writes Song of Solace Finally some good news from the set of the latest 007 movie. Alicia Keys and Jack White are set to record the theme song for the 23rd James Bond film, Quantum of Solace. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the duo will make history by performing the first Bond song duet. It's not as impressive as Sheena Easton's history making appearance in For Your Eyes Only -- she remains the only singer to appear onscreen to serenade Mr. Bond's credits--but it'll have to do. I'll reverse that opinion if Jack White delivers a credible Shirley Bassey imitation. After all, she's the queen of Bond themes.

Indie Snapshot: The Crash Reel

by Aly Semigran December 13, 2013 5:50 am
Indie Snapshot: <i>The Crash Reel</i>

To simply label The Crash Reel as a sports documentary doesn't do it proper justice. Director Lucy Walker's chronicle of the events that led to snowboarder Kevin Pearce's devastating head injury prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics, and the dramatic turn his life took afterwards is so much more than that.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, November 5, 2013

by Ethan Alter November 5, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Channing Tatum's attempt to be the next John McClane goes down.

Indie Snapshot: Morning Doesn’t Shed Much New Light on Mourning

by Aly Semigran September 27, 2013 12:00 pm
Indie Snapshot: <i>Morning</i> Doesn’t Shed Much New Light on Mourning

The long-delayed drama Morning, which began to hit the film circuit back in 2010, is finally being released in limited release this weekend. And if you wondered what took the harrowing, but humanistic film so long to see the light of day, it's probably because distributors had no idea what to do with it. After all, who wants to sit through 95 minutes of watching people experience the worst, most crushing grief of their lives with almost no hope or resolution for the characters?

Lee Daniels’ The Butler: The Times They Are A-Changin’

by Ethan Alter August 16, 2013 5:55 am
<i>Lee Daniels’ The Butler:</i> The Times They Are A-Changin’

It was roughly an hour into Lee Daniels' The Butler (as I'm apparently legally obligated to call the movie) when I realized that we had only just met the second of the seven U.S. presidents that the title character was going to serve in his capacity as a White House butler and my heart started to sink just a little bit. There wasn't anything specific happening onscreen in that moment that inspired that reaction -- not a tone-deaf performance, a flat line of dialogue or a questionable directing choice. It was more the dawning realization that we still had two decades and six presidents left to go on this noble, reverent and altogether tedious march through the second half of 20th century American history, with a specific emphasis on the Civil Rights movement. And as vital as that story remains and as important it is for present and future generations to remember the many sacrifices that were made on our behalf by so many brave men and women, watching that piece of history being dramatized in such a plodding, superficial manner left me with the same eyes-glazing-over boredom that I used to experience when reading a particularly dry high school textbook.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, June 4, 2013

by Ethan Alter June 4, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Wake up, Bruce. It's time to let Die Hard die.

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