Gangster Squad: A Crime Against Cinema

by Ethan Alter January 11, 2013 6:01 am
<i>Gangster Squad</i>: A Crime Against Cinema

The easiest way to ease into a discussion of Gangster Squad, the fedora-era set, City of Angels-based cops vs. crooks action movie from Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer, is to describe what the movie is not. For starters, it's not a serious take on old-school film noir in the tradition of Chinatown and L.A. Confidential. Neither is it a twisty detective story like The Big Sleep or square-jawed, no-nonsense crime picture like The Public Enemy. It's also not a richly stylized comic book take on the period like Dick Tracy. And it's definitely not a successful piece of pop art mythmaking like the film it most clearly aspires to be, Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. Above all, in case you couldn't tell already, it's also not a good movie.

Men in Black 3: Big Willie Flop

by Ethan Alter May 25, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Men in Black 3</i>: Big Willie Flop

A prime example of a franchise sequel that exists purely because it can, rather than because it should, Men in Black 3 arrives in theaters feeling like a relic from a distant past when Will Smith was the biggest movie star in the world. And it's possible that he still is, in which case it's the picture that's real small. Even though it affords its lead plenty of opportunities to flash that mega-watt smile and sharp comic timing and piles effects-heavy set piece on top of effects-heavy set piece, MiB3 can't mask its fundamental pointlessness. It's so instantly forgettable that even though I saw it in the theater in all its 3D-enhanced glory, I felt as though I was watching it at home during the late-night cable run it'll receive a few years hence. You know, one of those experiences where you randomly stumble upon a sequel while surfing the movie networks and go, "Oh right -- they made a third one" before changing the channel.

Convention or Film Festival? You Decide!

by Tippi Blevins August 19, 2008 1:56 pm
Convention or Film Festival?  You Decide! Later this month, movie stars and producers will descend upon Colorado. Hollywood's A-listers will rub shoulders with the industry elite, hobnob with the wealthy, attend exclusive parties, promote their causes, and get a sneak peek at a slate of movies. Is it the highly regarded Telluride Film Festival they're all turning out for? Not this time around. According to The Hollywood Reporter, what's got actors and producers all frothing with an excitement usually reserved for prestigious film festivals and awards ceremonies is, instead, the Democratic National Convention.

Prosthesis Envy

by Kasey McDonald August 14, 2008 1:54 pm
Prosthesis Envy

I fully admit that my inner twelve-year-old could not be suppressed when reading about James Franco and Sean Penn's new project Milk. I will even admit that the juvenile and annoying elementary school playground rhyme, "Milk, milk, lemonade, round the corner..." popped into my head at the end of the first sentence and it took me about fifteen seconds to regain my composure. That said, I dare you to remain a grown-up while reading this. I won't say it can't be done, but then, you're probably a better person than me. The news here seems to be not the project itself--a film about politician and activist Harvey Milk (Penn), who in 1977 was the first openly gay American man to be elected to office--but that Penn, who will play Milk, and Franco, who will play one of his lovers, will don prosthetic penises in all their nude scenes. Dude. I can't even type "penis" without tittering. I hope the make-up artist who had to apply the prosthesis has a lot more decorum than I.

The Cast That Fights Together

by Tippi Blevins July 15, 2008 11:27 am
The Cast That Fights Together As if there weren't already enough controversy surrounding the filming of Oliver Stone's George W. Bush biopic, some of the actors and film crew from W. went and got themselves arrested during a bar brawl in Shreveport, Louisiana last Saturday morning. There's an old saying in Hollywood: "The cast that fights together stays together." Okay, there's no such saying. But after this, maybe it will catch on.

Oliver Stone Shows Off His Bush

by Tippi Blevins May 9, 2008 12:35 pm
Oliver Stone Shows Off His Bush

Oliver Stone is showing off his version of George W. Bush via a spread in Entertainment Weekly. It might seem a little premature when you consider that Stone says the script is "still evolving" and he's yet to cast someone in the role of Dick Cheney. Maybe his hope is that the early showcase will inspire some actor to step up to the plate -- and soon. After all, Stone is aiming for a release date a mere five months from now in order to hit movie screens before the November elections. Newsflash: People are already getting burnt out on politics; by fall, they'll be willing to shell out money to not sit through another two hours of it.

Labor Day: Trapped In Utero

by Ethan Alter January 31, 2014 6:00 am
<i>Labor Day</i>: Trapped In Utero

I'm all for directors attempting to break out of their comfort zone, even when those initial steps end in a stumble. After all, had Woody Allen not taken a hard left turn into Bergman territory with the dry, dour Interiors, we might never have gotten superior dramatic efforts like Crimes and Misdemeanors and Husbands and Wives. Similarly, Steven Spielberg's first brush with comedy, 1941, was an abject disaster that almost ended his career, but the lessons he took away from that film paid off with Catch Me If You Can, one of the fleetest, funniest pictures in his filmography. (On the other hand, The Terminal is still a chore to sit through.) So in the potentially not-to-distant future, when he makes a wrenching, beautiful film that wins every Oscar in sight, I hope to look back on Jason Reitman's Labor Day as the bad drama he had to make before he could produce a good one.

Bonham Carter lends a touch of class to Terminator

by DeAnn Welker June 30, 2008 4:42 pm
Bonham Carter lends a touch of class to <i>Terminator</i>

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Helena Bonham Carter is the latest casting coup for the producers of Terminator Salvation.

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