Parker: Jason Statham Loves the ’80s

by Ethan Alter January 25, 2013 1:44 pm
<i>Parker</i>: Jason Statham Loves the ’80s

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.

Five Things to Know About RED 2

by Ethan Alter July 18, 2013 1:05 pm
Five Things to Know About <i>RED 2</i>

The 2010 action comedy RED wasn't exactly a critical favorite or box-office record beater, but a $90 million final gross gave the franchise-hungry studio Summit (the company that Twilight built) incentive to get the movie's gang of Retired and Extremely Dangerous counter-intelligence agents -- including Bruce Willis's eternally wry Frank Moses, John Malkovich's eternally paranoid Marvin Boggs and Helen Mirren's eternally hot Victoria -- back together again for another gag-friendly action picture. Before you join them on their globetrotting second adventure, here are five things you should know about RED 2.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, May 21, 2013

by Ethan Alter May 21, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, May 21, 2013

One of the side effects of Side Effects is sadness that Steven Soderbergh is now one film closer to retirement.

Happy Anniversary: Spider-Man

by Ethan Alter July 2, 2012 6:00 am
Happy Anniversary: <i>Spider-Man</i>

It's been ten years since Sam Raimi showed us a man could swing. How does the original Spider-Man hold up? Quite well, thank you for asking.

<i>The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel</i>: The British Avengers Assemble

If superheroes aren't your bag, there's another star-powered ensemble movie opening this weekend that unites a group of screen legends and sends them off on a globe-trotting adventure. In The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Shakespeare in Love director John Madden assembles some of the most popular and beloved veterans of British cinema -- among them Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson -- and puts them on a plane bound for Jaipur, India, where their new home, the titular retirement castle, awaits. And just like their costumed counterparts in The Avengers, this squad of heroes begins their mission with a lot of trepidation and mistrust before ultimately learning the value of friendship and the thrill of boldly venturing into unfamiliar territory.

Red Tails: Up, Up and Away

by Ethan Alter January 20, 2012 5:58 am
<i>Red Tails</i>: Up, Up and Away

Legend has it that for early test screenings of the first Star Wars movie, George Lucas substituted footage of World War II aerial dogfights in place of the not-yet-completed sequences pitting the Rebel Alliance's X-Wings against the Empire's fleet of TIE fighters. Now, three decades later, Lucas has made a full-fledged World War II movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, the celebrated squadron of African-American fighter pilots who defied the prejudice of the times and flew a number of crucial missions in the European theater of the war.

Trailers Without Pity: New Year’s Eve

by Ethan Alter December 2, 2011 12:55 pm
Trailers Without Pity: <i>New Year’s Eve</i>

Last year, Garry Marshall gave everyone another reason to hate Valentine's Day by releasing the all-star romantic comedy, Valentine's Day, in which a bunch of obnoxious Angelenos had a variety of misadventures in that crazy little thing called love. The improbable success of that movie convinced Marshall that he should ruin another holiday, so here comes New Year's Eve, in which a bunch of obnoxious New Yorkers have a variety of misadventures while the big Times Square clock ticks down to midnight. Jeeze Garry, why'd you have to go and mess with a holiday we actually like?

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.

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