The crimes we are investigating aren't crimes, they are ideas.
Back in 2004, Martin Scorcese released The Aviator, a biopic about a larger-than-life, but enigmatic 20th century figure, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Unfortunately, while that movie was handsomely produced and impeccably acted, it failed to get inside the head of Howard Hughes.
Seven years later, Clint Eastwood releases J. Edgar, a biopic about a larger-than-life, but enigmatic 20th century figure, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Unfortunately, while that movie was handsomely produced and impeccably acted, it failed to get inside the head of J. Edgar Hoover.
Seriously, when major directors are shooting biographical movies about major figures and failing to come to grips with their subject, it appears that their first instinct is to call DiCaprio’s agent.
Blogging is not writing. It's just graffiti with punctuation.
If this were a better film, it could do for the sales of hand sanitizer what Sideways did for Pinot Noir.
This is not a bad film. It’s well-produced, well-acted by a first-rate cast, and diligently convincing in its scientific details. Unfortunately, it maintains an emotional distance between the audience and its characters, and this serves to keep the film from being truly engrossing.
You know, we been doing some pretty smart stuff over the past day or so. How about we do something stupid?
After ten years, the only real impression left behind by Men in Black 2 was a vague sense of dread at the announcement of Men in Black 3. After such a badly misfired sequel, the third film in a franchise can do one of two things: either drag the series further down the rat hole, or like Die Hard: With a Vengeance, actually redeem the series. Chalk this one down for option B.
The original film prospered on the casting of Tommy Lee Jones as an anchor for Will Smith. Wouldn’t you know that the third film’s success is the result of an equally inspired bit of casting. More about this later.
Did anything about that seem odd to you?
The success of this movie, creatively as much as commercially, is down to a triumph of casting. Of course, they had Will Smith, fresh off his breakthrough role in Independence Day, but that coup carries some hazards. Smith’s high-energy presence can dominate and unbalance a movie if allowed, requiring an actor of equal weight and with a complementary presence to even the scales. Thus, pairing Smith with the deadpan Tommy Lee Jones is half the key to the success of Men in Black.
No pulse, no heartbeat. If condition does not change, this man is dead.
This is Neil Simon’s attempt to do a Mel Brooks number of the genre of detective fiction and it’s probably for the best that he tackle it, because I think that the director of Blazing Saddles and High Anxiety would have wielded too blunt an instrument to make it work. Even with Simon’s slightly more sophisticated touch, Murder by Death is comedy in broad strokes, but even if you’re not a fan of murder mysteries, enough jokes score to make it a diverting 90 minutes.
Remember, you're fighting for this woman's honour, which is probably more than she ever did.
I would offer up Duck Soup as the spiritual great-grandfather of movies like Blazing Saddles and Airplane!. Its plot seems to exist as an afterthought, unnecessary baggage that gets in the way of the movie’s true purpose: “four Jews trying to get a laugh,” as Groucho Marx would later confess.
It’s possible to view Duck Soup as a brilliant political farce, lacerating the bloated self-importance of world leaders, or you can just look to it for 68 minutes of pure post-Vaudevillian anarchy. It works both ways. This may not be the Marx Brothers at their most coherent, but it’s easily them at their funniest.
Three or four career meltdowns ago, Mel Gibson was still a fresh face on the scene when he went into a bar the night before his audition for a little film called Mad Max. The brawl that temporarily battered his youthful good looks actually helped land him the role that would launch his career. The first Mad Max was a hit worldwide but made a negligible impression in the States, partly due to a lousy dubbing job the studio inflicted on the film because the suits thought Yanks weren’t ready for a real Australian accent (This was a few years before Crocodile Dundee).
As a result, the sequel was called Mad Max 2 everywhere but the U.S., because you can’t have a sequel to a movie no one had heard of. Call it Mad Max 2 or The Road Warrior, it was like a jolt of adrenaline right into the eyeballs.
Push the button, Max.
This big-budget, globe-trotting comedy is almost exactly as old as I am and I’ve always held a warm place in my affections for it. It’s not quiet or subtle, but it is spirited, like a Clydesdale that thinks it’s a quarter horse.
Now don't take this the wrong way, but you're a terminator, right?
You have to hand it to James Cameron. He knows how to spend money. Not only did he spend $300 million on Avatar without blinking, but he was the first to sink $200 million into a picture, that being Titanic. Even before that, T2 was the movie to break Hollywood’s $100 million cherry. Considering the results, none of that money was wasted, but do we really want to keep encouraging this sort of behavior? What happened to the James Cameron who could make the first Terminator movie for less than the loose change he found in his sofa?
It’s hard to argue with the results when they look like this. Terminator 2 takes the lean, stripped-down muscle car that was the original and straps on a couple of booster rockets from the space shuttle. It’s sci-fi action filmmaking at such a level of relentless professionalism that it just wears you down and makes you hand over your skepticism like it was your lunch money.
I think someone learned the wrong lesson from the success of Iron Man. It’s either that or the movie studios need to implement drug testing before their pitch sessions.
“Hey, if Robert Downey, Jr. can be a comic book hero, what about that pudgy guy from the Judd Apatow movies?”
“Right… Here, fill this cup and give it to the nurse on your way out the door.”
It’s best not to think of The Green Hornet as a real comic book movie, but as a borderline “comedy” that somehow acquired the movie rights to the old radio show (presumably at gunpoint). That won’t actually make this movie “good,” per se, but it will at least keep expectations in line with reality and hold your disappointment to manageable levels.
Sergio Leone’s follow-up to the “Man With No Name” film trilogy was probably not what anyone expected, but international audiences seemed better able to cope with the surprise than their American counterparts. Once Upon a Time in the West initially bombed in the States despite being a smash hit overseas. Only in retrospect have we conferred upon this film its proper status as a unique classic, as different from the director’s previous work as it was from the more traditional Hollywood conventions it inverted at the same time it was playing homage to them.
The Sons of Katie Elder looks epic in the sweeping vistas of its Mexican locations and its large cast of characters, but it doesn’t feel epic in the scope of its story. Its two-hour length is more than enough to contain its narrative, with a solid twenty minutes to spare. It’s not a bad movie so much as a decent one that takes its sweet time getting to the point.