Friday, May 22, 2015

Woman in Gold (2015)

Directed by Simon Curtis
Written by Alexi Kaye Campbell

Cinema, as much as we may want to think of it in different terms, is in fact a business, with a bottom line to be met and money to be made. So while it is a nice thought that cinema may be this “thing” that allows for either self-expression or the depiction of some common human truth, at the end of the day that art, that creative expression can only be possible if it proves to make a dollar. I start with this sentiment only because Woman in Gold, a film with mostly positive critical response, has made a residence at my local independent art-house cinema, taking up one of only three screens in the building in favor of other very interesting films the theater could choose to go with. However, this choice makes sense, given the theater’s main demographic, proprietors, and benefactors. So I was not surprised, nearly a month into its stay at the theatre, to attend a screening with a good crowd.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tomorrowland (2015)

Directed by Brad Bird
Written by Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird

What is in store for us in the future? In whose hands does it lie? Well, of course we have all been told since birth that the children are the future, and of course they are. Walt Disney invested in the imagination of children and their vision of the future, of tomorrow land, for his entire career, going so far as to develop a whole region in his theme park called Tomorrowland, featuring the dreams of tomorrow, today. But, of course, as humans we are extremely flawed, doomed for doomsday, but when will it come? With the melting ice caps, the volatile military/crime state of the world, ever changing climate and weather events, tragic natural disasters, etc. it could be very soon.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Directed by George Miller
Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nico Lathouris

To even attempt to act like I know how to start this review would be insincere. To even pretend like I had seen the original three Mad Max films would be entirely insincere. To state that Mad Max: Fury Road was one of my most anticipated summer movies would not be an understatement, and to say that it delivered on all promises and even exceeded my heightened expectations would be entirely accurate and not altogether surprising, given the exceedingly positive reviews and responses from critics and audiences alike. Released just on the heels of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max will not supplant the super heroes for blockbuster of the summer, but it will certainly thrill and please those who do choose to see it this year on the big screen.

Monday, May 11, 2015

ESPN 30 for 30: I Hate Christian Laettner (2015)

Directed by Rory Karpf

I Hate Christian Laettner presents a bit of a conundrum for me in that it features a famed sports figure, whose limelight came before my time (I was alive, just too young to care/remember); explores an integral aspect to the sporting world, hate; and is directed by a filmmaker, Rory Karpf, whose output for this series with which I have yet to connect with. Taking this formula, you can somewhat accurately project my response to the film. While Karpf is exploring some essential aspects of sports, and what makes sports such an easy thing to root for, and against, he is also fumbling about with his own biases and in a time period/sports figure I really could care less about (which I admit is my own perspective shortcoming and not that of the film or the director).

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Maggie (2015)

Directed by Henry Hobson
Written by John Scott 3

At 67, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Hollywood bankability is perhaps behind him. No longer can he convince audiences that he is a badass capable of destruction, bedlam, and heroics deserving of high praise or truckloads of box office dollars. Sabotage and The Last Stand prove his ability to carry an action film by himself is no longer feasible. This is less a dig towards Schwarzenegger than it is a logical comment on his age. Schwarzenegger will always be remembered as a top action hero, worthy of a legacy of a long list of hits in the 80s and 90s. But perhaps it has come time to sunset Arnold’s tough guy, action hero persona. And if he still wishes to make an impact and be relevant in the film industry, perhaps it is time to work outside his comfort zone, much like he is doing here with the family/zombie drama Maggie.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Written & Directed by Joss Whedon

Summer is clearly here with the arrival of the first major blockbuster of the year. But this isn’t any old major blockbuster, this is likely the blockbuster of the year. The first Avengers film grossed $1.5 billion worldwide. That’s billion, with a “B”, and its sequel, Age of Ultron opened to the tone of $201 million overseas last week. If it wasn’t for the first new Star Wars film in a decade, I would say Age of Ultron easily takes the prize as highest grossing film of the year. But even with a new Star Wars, The Avengers brand is as bankable as any other in Hollywood right now, and for this reason fans will come out in droves to see this movie, probably multiple times, and they won’t be disappointed, as Joss Whedon and team deliver another superhero film worthy of its lofty status as defenders of the world.

Ex Machina (2015)

Written & Directed by Alex Garland

Technology supposedly doubles every two years or so, which means that before long, we’ll get to the point where the development of artificial intelligence is a very real possibility. Perhaps the person who will eventually transform the world with the invention of a sentient being created by man is already alive. With artificial intelligence comes great responsibility however, and seeing a movie like Ex Machina serves the purpose of reflection on not just AI specifically, but also technology generally and the concept of human, of thought, of the morality of humanity and where we may be going not just as a society or a culture, but as a global community with a constantly growing populace and constantly shrinking disconnection from one another. The heightened sense of connectivity in the technological age has brought us together in some ways while keeping us distinctly distant in others.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

ESPN Films: It's Not Crazy, It's Sports (2015)

Directed by Errol Morris

Building on the success of their documentary film series, 30 for 30, ESPN recently decided to call on a good friend and acclaimed documentarian to do a series of short films on the passion and craziness of sports. Errol Morris had previously directed a series of commercials for ESPN, called It’s Not Crazy, It’s Sports, that centered on the eccentricities of passionate sports fans. With this new series of short documentaries, Morris takes it one step further unfolding the strange obsessions and hobbies of some of the sports world’s most fascinating fans.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Beyond the Reach (2015)

Directed by Jean-Baptiste Leonetti
Written by Stephen Susco

Between making blockbuster hits, stars these days are often bolstering their resumes and acting chops by cutting their teeth either on the stage or by participating in low budget indie films that either go directly to DVD, or are only released on a minimal amount of screens nationwide. While I would no longer classify Michael Douglas as a star, his time has passed, he is still a big, recognizable name with many great titles to his name. Star power can often buoy films like Beyond the Reach at the box office, allowing the actor to deliver on the promise of a vehicle for their talents to shine. Every so often, the story and direction of a small time movie can make an impact as well, star power or not. But when the two are marries harmoniously in the creative landscape of independent filmmaking, something truly special happens.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

True Story (2015)

Directed by Rupert Goold
Written by Rupert Goold and David Kajganich

The James Franco and Jonah Hill combination has delivered plenty of hits and plenty of laughs throughout the past decade of movie making. Each has also had their time in the spotlight for dramatic performances; Jonah Hill for Moneyball, and James Franco for 127 Hours. However, True Story marks the first time these two Hollywood hits matchup in the same movie for the sake of drama instead of comedy. This alone creates an odd atmosphere of anticipation, leaving me wondering whether they will break out laughing eventually, with the joke on the audience. But for Rupert Goold, making his directorial debut, this film is no laughing matter. And for the real life people this film represents, True Story hits all too close to home.