Hit & Run: Baby, He Can Drive Her Car

by Ethan Alter August 22, 2012 2:13 pm
<i>Hit & Run</i>: Baby, He Can Drive Her Car

You can count the number of current real-life couples who make believable big-screen lovers on one hand. There's The Amazing Spider-Man's Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield (although they started dating well after the movie wrapped), Vicky Christina Barcelona's Penénolpe Cruz and Javier Bardem and, until recently anyway, Twilight teammates Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. To this extremely short list you can now add Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, the affianced duo at the center of the new action comedy Hit & Run, which Shepard also wrote and co-directed with David Palmer.

Sparkle: At Least It’s Better Than Glitter

by Angel Cohn August 17, 2012 5:58 am
<I>Sparkle</I>: At Least It’s Better Than <I>Glitter</i>

While this remake of the 1976 cult classic focuses on the titular Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) and her sister (Carmen Ejogo), it's hard to ignore the presence of Whitney Houston as the matriarch of the family, Emma. Her screentime is fairly limited, but given that this is her final movie, it makes her a lot harder to ignore. Unfortunately, this is far from her finest cinematic performance; she's very stilted in her delivery throughout, although the crowd that I saw the film with didn't seem to mind. Even her big gospel number wasn't mind-blowing -- just solid, but not chill-inducing. Still, it earned applause from the people in attendance. So for all you devoted Whitney fans out there, go, enjoy and just don't think too much about it... though you'd be better off watching The Bodyguard again. For everyone else? I'd say give this movie a pass, as Jordin Sparks's turn is not going to land her an Oscar, like fellow American Idol alum Jennifer Hudson managed to do with Dreamgirls.

Trailers Without Pity: The Dark Knight Rises

by Ethan Alter July 9, 2012 10:45 am
Trailers Without Pity: <i>The Dark Knight Rises</i>

The 2012 summer movie season has had its fair share of hits so far (The Avengers, Ted, The Amazing Spider-Man) but one film has loomed large over the multiplex landscape ever since the spring breeze gave way to summer heat: The Dark Knight Rises. The premiere of the third and final chapter in Christopher Nolan's genre redefining Batman series is now just two weeks away and Hollywood is clearing the way for his arrival: between now and the film's July 20th release date, the only major movie opening in wide release is the fourth Ice Age adventure. Yup, even the other studios are dying to see what Nolan has come up with.

To Rome With Love: Ciao, Woody!

by Ethan Alter June 22, 2012 6:09 am
<i>To Rome With Love</i>: Ciao, Woody!

What do you do when you've just directed the film that became the biggest hit of your career and scored you another Oscar? Well, if you're Woody Allen, you take your act on the road once more, trading the rain-soaked streets of Paris after midnight for sun-dappled Rome. The iconic writer/director's forty-second film (stop and take that in for a moment... that's 42 films in almost as many years; respect man, respect) is To Rome, With Love, a quartet of fancifully comic -- and, as the title suggests, romantic -- stories set against the backdrop of Italy's historic, absurdly picturesque capital city.

To Rome With Love: Woody Allen Remembers His Roman Holiday

by Ethan Alter June 20, 2012 11:35 am
<i>To Rome With Love</i>: Woody Allen Remembers His Roman Holiday

If you ever want to see a group of jaded movie journalists get truly starstruck, stick them in a room with a filmmaking legend like New York's own Woody Allen. The writer/director/actor/nerd icon was front and center at a recent press conference for his latest film To Rome With Love, and despite being flanked by some of the movie's big-name stars (among them Alec Baldwin, Penélope Cruz and Ellen Page) all of our eyes -- and most of our questions -- were directed at him. Here's what Allen had to say about working in Italy's lovely capital, acting on camera and why he rarely makes movies in his native city anymore:

Trailers Without Pity: The Amazing Spider-Man

by Ethan Alter June 6, 2012 11:31 am
Trailers Without Pity: <i>The Amazing Spider-Man</i>

Listen bud, Spider-Man may be strong (he's got radioactive blood) and can swing from a web (take a look overhead) but is he mighty enough to survive the biggest challenge of all... a franchise reboot? We'll find out on July 3 when The Amazing Spider-Man swings into theaters featuring an all-new wall crawler (Andrew Garfield replaced Tobey Maguire), an all-new director (Marc Webb taking over from Sam Raimi), an all-new origin story (what's the deal with Peter Parker's missing dad anyway?) and an all-new tone (dark like Batman Begins rather than bright and colorful like the original Spider-Man).

Snow White and the Huntsman: The Fairest of Them All

by Ethan Alter June 1, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Snow White and the Huntsman</i>: The Fairest of Them All

Every summer there's that wild card big-budget studio picture that catches you off guard by being better than you could have predicted. Last year, that film was the Hail Mary franchise reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which made up for the terrible performances of its human cast with a compelling simian hero (Andy Serkis's Caesar) and some entertaining ape-driven action sequences. And while 2012's summer movie season is just getting started, Snow White and the Huntsman is the current favorite to be its most unexpected surprise. That's not to say it's perfect, by the way; first-time director Rupert Sanders and screenwriters Evan Draugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini make a number of major and minor mistakes in the process of bringing the age-old fairy tale back to the big screen. But the movie ultimately gets more right than wrong, finding the proper balance between spectacle and storytelling -- a trick that certain other recent blockbusters (looking at you Men in Black 3 and Battleship) failed to achieve.

Happy Anniversary, CQ and The Darjeeling Limited

by Ethan Alter May 23, 2012 1:17 pm
Happy Anniversary, <i>CQ</i> and <I>The Darjeeling Limited</i>

Before you see Moonrise Kingdom this weekend, check out these two films from the movie's co-writers, Roman Coppola and Wes Anderson.

Trailers Without Pity: Prometheus

by Ethan Alter May 11, 2012 12:41 pm
Trailers Without Pity: <i>Prometheus</i>

Next to The Dark Knight Rises, no summer blockbuster has us more intrigued than Prometheus, Ridley Scott's belated return to the science fiction genre and the Alien franchise that rocketed his career into the stratosphere some three decades ago.

<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.

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