The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Best Kept a Secret

by Ethan Alter December 25, 2013 6:00 am
<i>The Secret Life of Walter Mitty</i>: Best Kept a Secret

The curse of specializing in comedy -- either in front of or behind the camera -- is that at a certain point, you kind of want to be taken seriously. And while that understandable motivation is how we wind up with such richly dramatic career left turns as Woody Allen's Manhattan, Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love and Sarah Silverman in Take This Waltz, it also results in misguided botches like Robert Benigni's Life is Beautiful, Adam Sandler in Reign Over Me and Tina Fey in Admission. Be prepared to add The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the latest directorial effort from Ben Stiller, to that list.

I Want My VOD: December 2013

by Ethan Alter December 18, 2013 11:22 am
I Want My VOD: December 2013

Men hating women? Oh, it's just another Neil LaBute film.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

by Ethan Alter December 3, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Hey, bub -- whaddya mean I was a little pitchy in Les Miz?"

Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom: Great Man, Mediocre Movie

by Ethan Alter November 27, 2013 11:03 am
<i>Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom</i>: Great Man, Mediocre Movie

A modern-day hero whose life is still a source of inspiration, Nelson Mandela has been the subject of numerous films over the years, in which he has been portrayed by such actors as Dennis Haysbert (Goodbye Bafana), Morgan Freeman (Invictus) and Terrence Howard (Winnie Mandela). The majority of these films have opted to laser in on a specific period of his life or, as in the case of Winnie Mandela, present his experiences through another person's eyes. What makes the newest entry in this burgeoning biopic sub-genre, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, somewhat unique is that it takes a pillar-to-post approach, packing his entire life into two-and-a-half hours. Director Justin Chadwick's ambition appears to be nothing short of creating the Gandhi or Malcolm X of Mandela movies: the definitive dramatized account of this extraordinary man's biography.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, November 26, 2013

by Ethan Alter November 26, 2013 6:05 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bruce Willis and the rest of the geezers are back in action.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, November 19, 2013

by Ethan Alter November 19, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kick of the holidays by getting right drunk with Gary King & Co.

Thor: The Dark World: It’s Hammer Time, Again

by Ethan Alter November 8, 2013 6:00 am
<i>Thor: The Dark World</i>: It’s Hammer Time, Again

The original Thor was a timid movie made by a timid studio, still uncertain how fantastical they could make their superhero spectacles lest audiences revolt. That's why the title character -- a godlike being who hails from the otherworldly realm of Asgard -- spent so much time on boring old Earth, where he engaged in lots of lame fish-out-of-water comedy, middling action set-pieces that all seemed to occur in the same three-block radius of a fake, set-bound town and a chemistry-free romance with a visibly bored female lead. So whatever its flaws, Thor: The Dark World leaps and bounds over its predecessor simply due to the fact that it embraces, rather than runs from, its fantasy origins. Much like Thor himself, Marvel has matured since their early days (banking more than $600 million on an unprecedented superhero team-up movie helps with the growing-up process) and is now more willing to take chances, trusting that audiences are with them for the long haul.

I Want My VOD: November 2013

by Ethan Alter November 6, 2013 10:42 am
I Want My VOD: November 2013

This is the way the world ends in How I Live Now: not with the Hunger Games, but a moody teenage girl.

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.

Dallas Buyers Club: What a Sell Out

by Ethan Alter November 1, 2013 6:00 am
<i>Dallas Buyers Club</i>: What a Sell Out

Let's get this out of the way right up front: Matthew McConaughey is absolutely guaranteed a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club and seems the most likely candidate to nab the statue in the (hopefully unlikely) event that voters decide to pass over 12 Years a Slave's Chiwetel Ejiofor. As Ron Woodroof, McConaughey delivers the kind of star turn that the Academy loves. Not only is his character 1) Based on a real person, who 2) Suffered from a serious illness (in this case, AIDS), but he also gets to play out the kind of redemptive character arc -- going from homophobic bigot to an outspoken activist for AIDS victims' rights -- that sends viewers out of the theater feeling uplifted rather than emotionally wrecked, as is the case with Ejiofor's devastating work. Best of all, he gets to suffer manfully while still retaining that classic McConaughey swagger, the thing that made him a star all those years ago in Dazed and Confused and gives crowd-pleasers like Magic Mike and The Lincoln Lawyer their extra charge.

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