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Five Things to Know About Escape From Tomorrow

by Ethan Alter October 11, 2013 5:55 am
Five Things to Know About Escape From Tomorrow

Escape from Tomorrow -- in which a seemingly ordinary man loses his mind at the Happiest Place on EarthTM Disney World -- was one of the buzziest titles from this year's Sundance Film Festival (and a movie that many thought would never be released). It's now available for general audiences in limited theatrical release and on VOD. If you opt to journey to this particular Magic Kingdom, here are five things you should know.

This Is 40: Scenes From Judd Apatow’s Marriage

by Ethan Alter December 21, 2012 6:00 am
This Is 40: Scenes From Judd Apatow’s Marriage

Judd Apatow's newest comedy This Is 40 is billing itself as the "sort-of sequel to Knocked Up," which is technically true in that the film does feature Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (the real-life Mrs. Apatow) reprising their roles as married couple Pete and Debbie from Apatow's 2007 mega-hit. But in spirit, This Is 40 is actually a sort-of sequel to the second half of the writer/director's more divisive 2009 effort, Funny People. That movie marked a notable transition for Apatow, with the first hour-and-change following the same kind of high-concept comic premise that fueled his previous movies. i.e. "What if a 40 year old virgin finally found a girlfriend?" or "What if a total slob knocked up a total hottie after a one night stand?" In the case of Funny People, the initial hook was "What if a major movie star discovered he was dying?" and Apatow explored that scenario with the same raunchy, but warm-hearted (not to mention, celebrity cameo-filled) sense of humor that had propelled him to the throne as Hollywood's reigning King of Comedy.

Argo: Fake It Til You Make It

by Ethan Alter October 12, 2012 6:01 am
Argo: Fake It Til You Make It

Your average, conventional thriller probably wouldn't build its big climactic set-piece around a bunch of people waiting in line at the airport trying to catch a plane, but then Argo most certainly isn't your average, conventional thriller. Instead, Ben Affleck's third feature film as a director is a loving throwback to the political procedurals of the '70s -- think films like All the President's Men and Three Days of the Condor -- where the "action," such as it is, chiefly involves government (or government-adjacent) guys in suits talking, scheming and plotting instead of running around firing off their guns. In fact, the film's central hero, CIA agent Tony Mendez (Affleck, handing himself the starring role as he did in The Town two years ago) never wields a firearm once during the course of the movie, even when he's in the most desperate of circumstances. He's on a mission where stealth matters more than a show of action movie strength.

End of Watch: Watcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?

by Ethan Alter September 21, 2012 5:58 am
End of Watch: Watcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?

Now that the found footage aesthetic has become an accepted staple of horror movies, there appears to be a concentrated effort to apply it to other genres as well. This past February, for example, saw the release of the surprisingly terrific Chronicle, an inventive superhero picture told from the perspective of a Peter Parker-like outcast who acquires great power, but ignores his responsibilities. The following month, Project X depicted the ultimate high school house party where images of extreme debauchery and destruction were recorded for posterity by one very lucky teen. Now here comes End of Watch, a street-level Los Angeles-based police drama from writer/director David Ayer where the action is supposedly being filmed as it happens by the two men caught up in it -- good cops and even better buddies Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña).

Seven Words to Describe The Words

by Ethan Alter September 7, 2012 6:00 am
Seven Words to Describe The Words

Following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival way back in January -- where it barely attracted an iota of buzz, despite the presence of its extremely photogenic cast -- the indie-ish bookworm drama The Words is dumped into theaters on an exceptionally slow post-Labor Day weekend. You might think this indicates a lack of confidence on the studio's part... and you'd almost certainly be right. Although it's production values positively ooze class and a handful of scenes actually prove somewhat compelling, the overall experience of watching Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal's directorial debut is the cinematic equivalent of staring at a blank page for roughly 90 minutes. Here are seven words that perhaps best encapsulate The Words.

Anonymous: Full of Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing

As a filmmaker, Roland Emmerich is first and foremost a savvy opportunist who cannily exploits topics and controversies currently percolating in the culture to grab attention for his particular brand of spectacle-driven entertainment. The Day After Tomorrow, for example, was a climate change-induced environmental disaster movie, while 2012 played off of the superstition that the world will end next year as the Mayans supposedly predicted centuries ago. With his new film, Anonymous, Emmerich has inserted himself another ongoing debate: Was William Shakespeare the actual author of such timeless plays as Hamlet, King Lear and The Comedy of Errors?

Harry Potter: Spin-Offs We’d Like to See

by Ethan Alter July 15, 2011 12:04 pm
Harry Potter: Spin-Offs We’d Like to See

Harry Potter may embark on his final adventure in the just-released Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, but that doesn't mean we have to leave J.K. Rowling's wizarding world behind for good. Check out our gallery of potential spin-offs we'd like to see and sound off with your own picks for characters that deserve their own movies.

Zookeeper: 5 Other Blue Collar Roles Kevin James Should Play

Over the course of his career, Kevin James has held down a variety of blue collar jobs where wacky things happen. His breakout role was as a delivery guy for a UPS-like company on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens, who puts up with a crew of oddball buddies at work and an exasperating wife and father at home. James later went on to play a fireman that marries his best (male) friend in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and a mall cop who battles a gang of robbers Die Hard-style in Paul Blart: Mall Cop. His latest film, Zookeeper, casts him as... well, a zookeeper that discovers the animals under his care have the power of speech. So far this recipe of "blue collar job" + "wacky stuff" seems to be working out for him. After all, Queens ran for nine seasons and both Chuck and Larry and Paul Blart grossed over $100 million. With that in mind, here are five pitches for James' next big-screen outing. Oh and as an FYI to his agent: We accept royalty payments by cash, check or PayPal.

Jennifer Garner as Miss Marple? We Can Think of Worse

Disney has acquired the rights to Agatha Christie's meek-old-lady-solving-crimes property Miss Marple and plans to turn it into a feature film reboot starring... Jennifer Garner, who is only 38 and primarily known for kicking people while wearing lingerie on Alias. So they're going a different way with it! A younger, and hence, more attractive way with it, which sounds like a financially sound trend that could really take off. Might we suggest even worse old people recasting/reboot ideas? Yes. Yes we might.

Shia LaBeouf, Professional Protegé: Other Aging Stars He Should Take Over For

In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Michael Douglas returns to the role of disgraced financial guru Gordon Gekko, but he's not the main character. No, our new Charlie Sheen in this scenario is Shia LaBeouf, who plays Gekko's protegé and future son-in-law. It's a role he's become pretty good at -- after all, he was basically Indiana Jones' intern in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and he scampered around after Keanu Reeves in Constantine and Will Smith in I, Robot like a little puppy dog. He could have a lucrative career just playing the hero-in-training, which is why we came up with a list of older leading men Shia should shadow in future films.

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