Enough Said: When Julia Met James

by Ethan Alter September 18, 2013 6:00 am
<i>Enough Said</i>: When Julia Met James

The term "B-movie" is generally associated with genre fare that involves vampires, serial killers or veteran cops (and sometimes all three!), but it's also an apt descriptor for the five features helmed by writer/director Nicole Holofcener, who has been seriocomically chronicling the professional and personal travails of characters who are well-off, white and predominantly women since 1996's Walking and Talking. All of her movies are stridently small-scale, tackling weighty subjects in a minor key, with plenty of humor on hand to keep the emotions from getting too intense. This makes each of them pleasant to watch, but too unassuming to really be all that memorable. (Funnily enough, some of the TV episodes she's directed -- most notably her two installments of HBO's Enlightened and the "Eagleton" half-hour from Season 3 of Parks and Recreation -- are more resonant than any of her films, including her best to date, 2010's Please Give.) Holofcener's latest, Enough Said, again fits squarely into B-movie tradition: it's engaging, unfussy and ultimately pretty slight.

Indie Snapshot: The Spectacular Now

by Ethan Alter August 2, 2013 6:00 am
Indie Snapshot: <i>The Spectacular Now</i>

If movies could be released as cassette singles (remember those?), some enterprising producer could make a killing putting out a tape with last year’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower as the lushly orchestrated A-track and The Spectacular Now as the stripped-down flip side. Taken together, these are two of the best examples of the John Hughesian coming-of-age high school drama since… well, since the heyday of John Hughes. What’s interesting, though, is that while they cover similar ground and inspire the same heady mix of emotions in the audience, they go about the task in significantly different ways. Perks is sweeping and swoony, filled with the kind of grand passions and gestures that mark adolescence. As the title suggests, The Spectacular Now is rooted in the moment, depicting the ordinary experiences of its teenage characters in ordinary ways. But its within that ordinariness that both the characters and the audience can occasionally catch a glimpse of the spectacular.

<i>Much Ado About Nothing</i>: A Joss Whedon Fan’s Early Summer Night’s Dream

As devoted Joss Whedon acolytes know, the Geek God has long had a relationship with the Immortal Bard, staging regular readings of classic Shakespeare plays in his humble home with various cast members from his various TV shows stopping by to speak Shakespeare's speech on their days off from mouthing Whedon's lines. Though these readings were sadly never taped for public consumption, it was a thrill for Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse fans (yes, there really are some of the latter -- I'm one of them) to imagine the possible actor/role match-ups that went on behind the closed doors of the Whedon homestead. How about Eliza Dushku and J. August Richards as Juliet and her Romeo? Or Anthony Stewart Head holding court as Falstaff with Nathan Fillion's Prince Hal sitting at his feet? With Much Ado About Nothing, Whedon finally invites audiences into his living room... literally. This contemporary version of Shakespeare's comedy of (mostly bad) manners was filmed entirely on the grounds of the director's home and features a rash of familiar Whedon faces trading in his pop-culture laced quips for the flowery language of another era. It's a delight for Whedonites, but -- I'm sorry to say -- a rather mediocre production of Shakespeare.

<I>Now You See Me</I>: Maybe We Were Tricked, But This Movie Was Actually Fun

This slickly made film about four illusionists pulling off a big heist isn't particularly original (if you've seen Ocean's Eleven or really any other group heist movie, you'll see the obvious similarities), but it is still perfect summer fare. With magic tricks a plenty, a well-rounded and surprisingly funny cast and some pretty great action scenes, Now You See Me delivers more than we had expected ... though it's still the kind of easily digestible and quickly forgettable movie that tends to come out this time of year.

Indie Snapshot: No

by Ethan Alter February 15, 2013 6:00 am
Indie Snapshot: <i>No</i>

Mad Men goes to Chile in the Oscar-nominated No. Also, our takes on Shanghai Calling and A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III.

Oscars 2013: The Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts

by Ethan Alter January 31, 2013 6:00 am
Oscars 2013: The Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts

We judge this year's crop of the animated shorts that are up for Oscar.

Oscars 2013: The Oscar Nominated Live-Action Shorts

by Ethan Alter January 31, 2013 6:00 am
Oscars 2013: The Oscar Nominated Live-Action Shorts

We break down the nominees for live action short.

Oscars 2013: Our Gut Reaction to the Nominations

by Ethan Alter January 10, 2013 10:26 am
Oscars 2013: Our Gut Reaction to the Nominations

We reflect on the just-announced 2013 Oscar nominations. Sorry DC Nation... Marvel Studios has kicked your butt one more time.

Of the Beats and The Beatles: On the Road and Not Fade Away

by Ethan Alter December 21, 2012 12:27 pm
Of the Beats and The Beatles: <i>On the Road</i> and <i>Not Fade Away</i>

Two pop culture artifacts from the '50s and '60s serve as the jumping off point for a pair of low-budget dramas that are slipping into theaters this holiday weekend amidst more high-profile fare. On the Road is the long-in-the-works movie version of the seminal Jack Kerouac novel of the same name, the book that has launched a thousand soul-searching road trips in the five decades since its publication in 1957. Set a mere seven years after Kerouac's Beat Generation anthem hit shelves, Not Fade Away -- the feature film debut of The Sopranos mastermind David Chase and the first thing he's made since that show went off the air five years ago -- begins with the arrival of the British Invasion on these shores and the immediate impact groups like The Beatles, The Yardbirds and, particularly, The Rolling Stones has on the life of a suburban Jersey boy, modeled loosely after Chase himself. While both films do a fine job recreating their respective eras, only one really gets past the period trappings and tells a universal story that will resonate equally with viewers who were alive at the time, as well as their descendants.

Quentin Tarantino Gets Back on the Horse with Django Unchained

by Ethan Alter December 20, 2012 6:00 am
Quentin Tarantino Gets Back on the Horse with <i>Django Unchained</i>

Only Quentin Tarantino would be bold (or crazy) enough to make a movie about America's 19th-century slave trade in the style of a blood-soaked spaghetti Western rather than a sober, Lincoln-style prestige picture. But the gambit works -- Django Unchained is a wild, woolly ride, sending its titular slave-turned-bounty hunter (played by Jamie Foxx) on a mission to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) and taking on the entire institution of slavery in the process. Tarantino and his A-list cast appeared in New York recently and spoke to the press about the origins of the project, what it was like to shoot the movie on an actual plantation and why Django Unchained is ultimately a superhero movie.

SHARE THE SNARK

X

Get the most of your experience.
Share the Snark!

See content relevant to you based on what your friends are reading and watching.

Share your activity with your friends to Facebook's News Feed, Timeline and Ticker.

Stay in Control: Delete any item from your activity that you choose not to share.

MOST RECENT POSTS

BLOG ARCHIVES

Movies Without Pity

March 2014

16 ENTRIES

February 2014

22 ENTRIES

January 2014

21 ENTRIES

December 2013

25 ENTRIES

November 2013

21 ENTRIES

October 2013

26 ENTRIES

September 2013

16 ENTRIES

August 2013

22 ENTRIES

July 2013

22 ENTRIES

June 2013

21 ENTRIES

May 2013

22 ENTRIES

April 2013

19 ENTRIES

March 2013

28 ENTRIES

February 2013

16 ENTRIES

January 2013

16 ENTRIES

December 2012

21 ENTRIES

November 2012

19 ENTRIES

October 2012

20 ENTRIES

September 2012

19 ENTRIES

August 2012

19 ENTRIES

July 2012

17 ENTRIES

June 2012

24 ENTRIES

May 2012

21 ENTRIES

April 2012

22 ENTRIES

March 2012

26 ENTRIES

February 2012

25 ENTRIES

January 2012

25 ENTRIES

The Latest Activity On TwOP