Review: Hail, Caesar!

Hollywood loves films about the motion picture industry, and generally does a terrific job with the topic. Singing in the Rain is a one of the best films ever made, and it’s about the coming of sound in cinema, as is the much more recent The Artist. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. More cinematic industry gazing: A Star Is Born, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Sunset Boulevard, S.O.B., Shampoo, Tropic Thunder, and the wry, dark and…Read More

Review: Jupiter Ascending

Andy and Lana Wachowski haven’t been able to match the brilliance of their cultural touchstone movie The Matrix with anything else they’ve done. Not with the increasingly banal sequels to the film, and certainly not with the visual f/x abomination Speed Racer. The recent Cloud Atlas was their closest effort, a thoughtful, engaging but ultimately overreaching film based on a twisty book by David Mitchell. Into this troubled oeuvre comes their latest movie, Jupiter Ascending, a…Read More

Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Some films require a specific demographic for full enjoyment, and in the action genre, it seems there are a lot aimed at teen boys. A prime example: Gone in Sixty Seconds. It’s not that it’s a horrible movie, it’s just that the storyline is incoherent, the characters are all one-dimensional, the ending is obvious from sixty seconds past the opening titles and the performances are all uninteresting. And the male/female relationships? It couldn’t be more…Read More

Review: Side Effects

A miracle drug to help manage anxiety prescribed by a psychiatrist who might be just a bit more interested in receiving payment for helping test it out than in the welfare of their patient. What could go wrong? In Side Effects, turns out that quite a bit goes wrong, and then unravels in layers with a complex “ah, you didn’t see that coming!” sequence of twists that reminded me of the brilliant Inception. Except it…Read More

Review: The Eagle

After such amazing films as Ben Hur and Gladiator, I’m a definite fan of what the industry refers to as “swords and sandals” epics, films that take place during the first century or two of the common era. The Eagle takes place during this same era, 140AD, and is a tale of a Roman commander who seeks to restore his family’s honor by recovering a lost golden eagle from the far northern hinterlands of Britain….Read More

Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Let me end the suspense right up front: I liked G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. I didn’t expect it to be a deep, thoughtful war film, nor did I expect it to be a profound visual essay on the challenges of morality in a wartime setting: see Flags of our Fathers and The Hurt Locker (my review). Instead, I expected a loud, action-filled movie that had attractive actors, shiny toys, banal dialog and a…Read More

Review: Public Enemies

Biopics are an unusual challenge for a filmmaker because the storyline is already set, whether it makes sense and whether we can understand the motivations of the characters or not. As I watched the lush, but violent Public Enemies, I kept thinking that the reason there was no story, no backstory on the characters, and no depth to the film was just this reason: we were being presented with the sequence of events as they…Read More