Mark Stevens directors, produces and stars in the capable 1956 noir Time Table, a film about the dual nature of the protagonist and the impossibility of the “perfect crime.” It’s also one of those movies that almost demands to be discussed with its biggest twist in full view, which presents a bit of a problem […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Time Table (1956)"
While it’s intensely formulaic and really just the sort of picture that could take up an hour on the Disney Channel, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is innocuously charming enough to squeak by. The movie is based on the 1972 children’s book of the same name by Judith Viorst with […]Read more "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)"
Henry Hathaway’s 1947 film Kiss of Death is notable for a number of reasons. Perhaps most famously, it features the debut of Richard Widmark and he essentially steals the show. It’s also notable for having been captured entirely on location, with the post-credits acknowledgment that “all scenes…were photographed…on the actual locale associated with the story.”Read more "Film Noir Friday: Kiss of Death (1947)"
Sex Tape is one of the worst movies of 2014. It’s a terrifyingly bad “comedy,” one constructed without an ounce of artistic merit and without a shred of actual humour. It spends its 94 excruciating minutes tumbling through its own unctuous, clichéd sense of self and winds up landing with an awful and pointless thud.Read more "Sex Tape (2014)"
The one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in Hercules in New York, a 1969 fantasy adventure from director Arthur Allen Seidelman. This is Schwarzenegger’s first starring role in a feature film and it is a doozy. He’s not proud of this picture and for good reason, as it’s essentially a debacle that only has value […]Read more "Hercules in New York (1969)"
A dazzling, unusually prescient motion picture, Sidney Lumet’s Network is one of those movies everyone has to see at least once. The 1976 satire won four Oscars and is both over the top and remarkably restrained. It highlights a world that is by now broadly known to anyone with cursory knowledge of cable news and […]Read more "Network (1976)"
Based on Mickey Spillane’s 1952 novel Kiss Me, Deadly, Robert Aldrich’s 1955 movie Kiss Me Deadly is one of the most vital of all film noirs. The flick came at time when cinematic possibilities were running wild and new fears were making their way across the global landscape. At the core of Kiss Me Deadly’s […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Kiss Me Deadly (1955)"
Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher is a complex film that traverses through a number of themes, but it’s more importantly a mood piece that evokes more than it confirms. Perhaps more than any other 2014 film, Foxcatcher explores the idea of the rich American white male as relates to privilege and expectation. It does so using true […]Read more "Foxcatcher (2014)"
Stuart Baird’s Executive Decision is an action thriller about the “world’s most feared terrorist” and a plane hijacking. This 1996 picture features a lot of different genre tropes, from the constant threat of a bomb to the rise of an implausible hero to the boundless tactical discussions of some sort of military strike force.Read more "Executive Decision (1996)"
It’s hard not to allow Peter Jackson his indulgences when it comes to the final chapter of his second J. R. R. Tolkien. 2014’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a rousing spectacle of a fantasy epic, the sort of picture that isn’t the least bit necessary in terms of wrapping up […]Read more "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)"
While it’s a little heavy-handed at times, Andrew Lau and Andy Loo’s 2014 film Revenge of the Green Dragons is still a mostly interesting crime thriller. It runs as a potpourri of genres and often has time settling on what it wants to be, floating from a Hong Kong actioner to a New York crime […]Read more "Revenge of the Green Dragons (2014)"
One of the better Steven Seagal films of the last few years is 2014’s A Good Man, a picture that features director Keoni Waxman finally finding his groove and places the protagonist exactly where he needs to be. The flick is kind of a blend of everything Seagal has thrown at audiences over the last […]Read more "A Good Man (2014)"
Known variously as Kong Island or King of Kong Island or even Eve, the Wild Woman, this 1968 exploitation film is a treat for fans of preposterous, moronic cinema. Roberto Mauri directs what is a gratingly stupid but somehow entertaining collection of stock footage, science fiction and jungle babe prancing and turns in about 90 […]Read more "Kong Island (1968)"
Jorge Gutierrez’s The Book of Life is a frustrating animated picture. It’s more visually inventive than most and it has a solid story at its core, but the plot takes too many turns and there’s an almost insufferable insistence on being “cool” that keeps it down. This is made all the more maddening by the […]Read more "The Book of Life (2014)"
Directed by Dean DeBlois, How to Train Your Dragon 2 returns to the well that delivered the 2010 original and wanders down the same roads. This 2014 film is as formulaic as many CGI animated features, complete with the musical cues and elegant moments of whimsy that reveal the creative art as a path to […]Read more "How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)"
Like most erotic thrillers, Addicted exists in a world of make-believe. The 2014 motion picture is based on the novel of the same name by the author Zane, whose other works have been turned into Cinemax programs. Addicted feels like one of those Cinemax programs, complete with monotonous camerawork and muggy but half-hearted erotica.Read more "Addicted (2014)"
Somewhere in the bizarre neo-noir that is Justin Steele’s 2014 film Gutshot Straight is Steven Seagal smoking a big cigar and carrying a drawling accent. He’s not the star of the show by any extent, but seeing him is interesting. It’s as though Seagal enjoyed playing a gangster in 2013’s Force of Execution but only had […]Read more "Gutshot Straight (2014)"
There are a few things to get out of the way before digging into Daniel Barnz’s Cake. First, it’s long past time to do away the notion that a woman is “bold” for taking a role that requires her to “play ugly.” Going without makeup should no longer be viewed as some sort of brave […]Read more "Cake (2014)"
Director J. C. Chandor has run the gamut between the very busy Margin Call and the very solitary All Is Lost. The former was an exciting Wall Street thriller, while the latter featured Robert Redford and his boat. Chandor’s latest, 2014’s A Most Violent Year, is paced somewhere between the two. It’s a slow-burning crime […]Read more "A Most Violent Year (2014)"
Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is a stunning example of the power of cinematic craftsmanship. The 2014 motion picture has become a political football for many Americans, with all manner of opportunists using it to make one point or another. But the film itself is more meditative than the vehemence suggests, with Eastwood constructing a restrained […]Read more "American Sniper (2014)"