Category Archives: New Releases
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is inspired by the same trend that gave rise to books like Pride & Prejudice with Zombies. Purists will no doubt look upon projects like this with scorn, but hey, let’s be honest…if you even took the time to watch this, you probably knew what you were getting into, and probably liked it a little bit. I thought it was a good romp, a sort of Underworld vibe woven into a very graphic novel design. Nothing that would really compel me to have a second viewing, but it works for what it is.
Magic Mike was a surprisingly good flick. As soon as I noticed Steven Soderbergh’s name in the Director credits, I knew where all the hate came from. People probably bought tickets to this thinking it was going to be a spirited, sexytime, banana-hammock-fest, but it was actually a pretty gritty story about the darker side of living life where all you do is drink, party, pop pills and take your clothes off for women. If I could compare it to anything, it would be Anderson’s “Boogie Nights”, with less gratuitous nudity. Basically, if you think you’d hate this movie, you should probably rent it. If you think you’ll love it, then stay away. Marketing guys have duped everyone on this flick.
Seeking A Friend… was also pretty decent. It’s an offbeat Dramedy that is a kind of road movie. Despite the comic stylings the cover seems to convey, it’s actually a bit sad. The comic bits are for relief (you really have to see Rob Cordry getting a six year old to drink a martini, while yelling at her “fight through the burn”!), but the main story is more concerned with people dealing with their regrets just as life is about to end. Personally, I liked it, but everyone’s experience with this one will be different, depending on their expectations.
In a nutshell, Prometheus was an entertaining movie with a few plot holes and scenes that test one’s suspension of disbelief. The biggest achilles heel with this movie is the legacy it has to live up to. Arguably the benchmark of horror/sci-fi, Alien and Aliens set a high standard, and even with the (Alien) master at the helm, it’s a tall order. I can’t imagine any fans outwardly hating it, but questions will gnaw at you afterward that may taint the whole experience.
The Raven exceeded my expectation (which, I’ll admit, were a tad low). I guess I figured we were going to get another abomination like Sherlock Holmes. The Raven retains a lot of the grim elements that are present in Poe’s writing, and the main plot conceit, while not entirely original, is at least well executed. Cusack in the title role, though, sometimes feels like the weak link. His performance gets a bit over-the-top in places, but when he tones it down some he fits well. Genre fans should enjoy this one.
Rock of Ages….what can you say? A heavy metal musical. This thing had FAIL written all over it, and yet, somehow, it gets this odd recipe right. I wasn’t sure what to make of seeing hair metal and power ballads performed in stage musical style, but the writers and cast played this one right. It’s a kind of parody and homage all rolled into one. I can’t imagine it being a mainstream hit with everyone, but it should bring together a few segments of the niche audience quite nicely.
People Like Us really surprised me. Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks give fantastic performance in dramatic roles. Both have great comic timing as well, which really balances their character. Well written film.
Take This Waltz was a very well crafted indie flick. Stepping outside formulaic structure gives it a lot of street cred, but mainstream audiences will find it a bit too sterile for thier tastes.
Avengers was pretty much symptomatic of everything that’s wrong with Hollywood these days. Bloated, bombastic story with zero originality, and cardboard characters, all framed by a huge effects budget. Popcorn flick that’s mildly entertaining for a couple of hours, but ultimately forgettable.
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, on the other hand, shows what you can do when you put well-written characters in the hands of gifted actors. The film may not have much appeal for anyone under the age of 40, but for everyone else, this will be a slam-dunk winner.
Cabin In The Woods shattered all expectations and turned out to be a pretty funny movie that had an almost post-modern tone to it. Joss Whedon succeeds in pulling off everything Wes Craven attempted in the Scream movies. Again, it’s kind of offbeat, and may turn off meat ‘n potatoes horror fans who just want to see things slashed. I enjoyed it though.
First off, Detachment was one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. It’s not pretty, it’s not cheery, but it has some incredible, uncompromising scenes portraying the lives of inner city students and teachers. Adrian Brody continues to solidify my opinion of him as one of the best actors in the business.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was another one that caught me by surprise. I really figured it would be a chore to get through, but the chemistry between Emily Blunt and Ewen MacGregor was fantastic. This alone propels the movie to the next level. Really entertaining, feel good movie.
American Reunion was a “reboot” of sorts for this franchise. After the first three films with it’s regular cast, things kind of went off the rails as a series of mediocre spinoff films followed. I must admit it was kind of a novelty to see the original cast back in their old roles, looking a bit older (but not necessarily wiser). In that sense, the movie plays it safe, recycling a similar vibe with old gags given a twist for the update. It has some genuinely funny moments, to be sure. This formula, however, is kind of a crutch, and I couldn’t help thinking that this is all starting to feel old. In the end, it will be a movie that most fans will enjoy.
Being Flynn was a marvelous film. It’s probably the best role Robert DeNiro has had since This Boy’s Life. Based on the memoirs of writer Nick Flynn, whose father, a one-time criminal, and lifelong aspiring writer, ended up homeless and living on the streets, eventually wandering into the shelter where Nick works. The film has a mix of drama and caustic dark humor that is perfect for anyone looking for an arthouse film which is a bit more accessible. The performances are rock solid, and the fact that it’s based on a true story really gives some credibility. My favorite for the week
Margaret was an interesting film. It begins like a slap in the face, with Anna Paquin’s character Lisa witnessing an accident that she partially causes, and from there unfolds with her becoming more and more erratic as she deals with the aftermath. There are some wonderfully written scenes that expose Lisa as a spoiled rich girl who, on the surface, wants to do the right thing, but can’t seem to get out of her own way. My only beef with the movie was that it was too long, and there were too many redundant scenes smothering the really good ones. Trimmed by 30-40 minutes, this would have been a real gem. Otherwise, it’s a bit flawed with plenty of potential.