Following the incomplete film that was X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006, the powers that be decided to head back to the drawing board with X-Men: Wolverine. This is a prequel and spin-off to the series based on the comic book characters, of course, and it tells the tale of the adamantium-clawed titular character and […]Read more "X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)"
A rollicking and entertaining movie, True Grit is one of those westerns that can be safely recommended to people who don’t like westerns. It’s also one of those westerns people who dig westerns enjoy to an almost embarrassing degree, thanks to one of John Wayne’s best performances and director Henry Hathaway’s supernatural ability to sum […]Read more "Western Wednesday: True Grit (1969)"
Jonathan Mostow directs Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, a sometimes campy and always preposterous entry in the series that began with James Cameron’s 1984 film The Terminator. Mostow’s flick is a long way off from the mark set by Cameron’s original and his classic 1991 sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but it’s not without […]Read more "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)"
Helmed by Josh Trank, Fantastic Four attempts to reboot the superhero franchise based on the Marvel Comics characters of the same name. This 2015 motion picture features a screenplay by Trank, Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg and is not without its share of behind-the-scenes controversies. The studio apparently ordered changes without the director’s permission and […]Read more "Fantastic Four (2015)"
Paul Feig directs Spy, a film that hits many of the same marks as The Heat and Bridesmaids. The 2015 comedy is kind of an espionage spoof, with the stipulation being that it stars Melissa McCarthy. Ha, ha. She can’t be a spy, right fellas? Like The Heat, which also starred McCarthy, Spy purports to […]Read more "Spy (2015)"
Helmed and penned by Sergio Sollima with co-writing by Sergio Donati, The Big Gundown is a rollicking spaghetti western. The 1966 film is sometimes considered a “Zapata Western” in that it functions as a political allegory, with a particular focus on the everlasting conflicts between the wealthy class and the peasant class.Read more "Western Wednesday: The Big Gundown (1966)"
Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is one of those rare animated features that manages to be an everlasting classic. The 1984 motion picture illustrates the limitless potential of the genre when it comes to storytelling, character building, emotional range, and even moral considerations. Based on his 1982 manga of the same […]Read more "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)"
Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, The Act of Killing one of the most stomach-churning, chilling motion pictures in recent memory. This 2012 documentary features co-direction by Christine Cynn and an anonymous Indonesian, with Errol Morris and Werner Herzog among the executive producers. This review is for the theatrical version, but there is a director’s cut with […]Read more "The Act of Killing (2012)"
Fritz Lang’s last American motion picture is the 1956 film noir Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Written by Douglas Morrow, this film has a shoestring budget but nevertheless boasts big names like Dana Andrews and Joan Fontaine. It touches on the familiar Lang theme of an innocent man thrust into a society that is well beyond […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)"
There’s an innate preposterousness to San Andreas, as there usually is in disaster pornography. Like horror movies, there’s something to the mass catastrophe genre that embeds itself in the popular psyche. There’s something to watching the destruction of recognizable cities while clutching a tub of popcorn. And there’s something to cheering on impossibly attractive people […]Read more "San Andreas (2015)"
There is some debate as to the film noir status of Otto Preminger’s 1947 picture Daisy Kenyon and there are certainly arguments for and against its inclusion in the genre. These arguments come down to how one defines film noir, of course. The case for Daisy Kenyon as film noir includes its visual style and […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Daisy Kenyon (1947)"
Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners has everything it needs to be a staggering thriller, from some good performances to Roger Deakins’ stunning cinematography. Somehow, however, this 2013 motion picture winds up falling well shy of the excellence it so clearly reaches for. It is bursting at the seams, with its 153-minute runtime packed to the rafters with […]Read more "Prisoners (2013)"
Tommy Lee Jones’ The Homesman is an unflinching western and that’s a damn good thing. This is a movie that explores the ruthlessness of life on the American frontier, about how social conventions can become traps and necessities at the same time. Based on Glendon Swarthout’s 1988 novel of the same name, this 2014 film […]Read more "Western Wednesday: The Homesman (2014)"
Directed by Mike Flanagan, Oculus is that rarest of breeds: a modern horror movie that doesn’t push things too far. The 2013 release isn’t just a springboard for a franchise and it’s not merely filled with jump scares and things that go bump in the night. It contends with a truly psychological matter and deals […]Read more "Oculus (2013)"
It’s tempting to discard Locke as gimmickry and move on, but cinematic cynicism is for the birds. This 2013 motion picture is written and directed by Steven Knight and features Tom Hardy in an absolutely stellar performance. The whole film, for the most part, takes place inside a car as Hardy’s character drives to London.Read more "Locke (2013)"
Director Otto Preminger reunites with Laura stars Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney in his 1950 noir Where the Sidewalk Ends. Cinematographer Joseph LaShelle is also on board, crafting a world that stands in visual contrast to the elegance of the 1944 classic. And the Ben Hecht script, based on the William L. Stuart novel Night […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)"
Helmed by Belgian director Michaël R. Roskam, The Drop is a curious but thrilling crime picture. The 2014 movie features a screenplay by Dennis Lehane and is based on his 2009 short story Animal Rescue. The script, coupled with the careful cinematography of Nicolas Karakatsanis, weaves a convoluted tale of cold and hot moments. The […]Read more "The Drop (2014)"
The first in a line of seven westerns Audie Murphy made with producer Gordon Kay, Hell Bent for Leather is fairly decent stuff. The 1960 film is directed by genre stalwart George Sherman, plus it features the lovely Felicity Farr and B-movie baddie Stephen McNally. It’s based on a book by Ray Hogan and features […]Read more "Western Wednesday: Hell Bent for Leather (1960)"
Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront is a classic of American cinema, a quintessential showcase of tremendous performances and a stunning portrait of the struggles of trying to do the right thing in a world gone wrong. This 1954 picture was a deeply personal project for Kazan and it came to be seen as a partial […]Read more "On the Waterfront (1954)"
Directed by Alfred L. Werker and Anthony Mann, He Walked by Night is an early example of the police procedural. This film noir features the impeccable cinematography of John Alton, whose balancing of dark and light provides the semi-documentary style with a certain beauty. Despite the straightforward punch of He Walked by Night, the night […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: He Walked by Night (1948)"