Friday, August 31, 2012

Weekend Preview 8/31-9/2/2012

Weekend Preview: 8/31-9/5/2012

There are NINE movies out this week in wide and limited release, including a comedy that is beginning to receive a good amount of attention, For a Good Time, Call..., a number of thrillers, a couple of docs, Paul Dano's third drama of the year, a martial arts movie, and an awful-looking kiddie dog movie.

Click "Read More" for trailers of The Ambassador, Doggie B, The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, For Ellen, For a Good Time, Call..., Girl Model, The Good Doctor, The Possession, and The Tall Man.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Battling Bootleggers

Review: Lawless

"Just the good ol' boys
Never meaning no harm
Beats all you ever saw
Been in trouble in the law
Since the day they was born."

Lawless is exactly what The Dukes of Hazzard would look like if, instead of being a family-friendly television show, it was an R-rated film.

The protagonists, the Bondurant brothers, are known for always being in trouble with the law. But they are certainly not good boys and definitely mean harm to any who get in their way.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Expendables Execute Weak Weekend

Weekend Recap: 8/24-26/2012

It was a SLOW weekend this past week. Out of all of the newly released films, the most successful of them debuted to only seventh place at the box office. This made the past few days a weekend of "leftovers," as audiences simply caught up on older movies they hadn't seen yet or perhaps wanted to see again.

Leading the slow-moving pack was The Expendables 2 (review here) in its second weekend, grossing $13.4 million. It is the first R-rated action film to have two back-to-back #1 weekends since the first Expendables came out in 2010. Made for approximately $100 million, the sequel is still trailing the original film (despite being much better!).

Monday, August 27, 2012

An AARP Love Story

Review: Hope Springs

The premise of the new film, Hope Springs, is nothing new or original: An older couple looks to fan the dwindling flames of a once fiery relationship by seeking counseling.

What has piqued the interest of several (usually older) movie-goers the past few weeks (to the tune of $45 million) are the stars cast to portray these geriatric protagonists: Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. Headlining films for decades, both are time-honored classics of their generation; living legends who usually live up to the legend.

Streep is, of course, the more recognized artist, with a variety of roles. From Doubt to The Devil Wears Prada, Streep is the most renowned actress alive today, and perhaps ever. The woman has been nominated for 14 Academy Awards, of which she has won 3 for goodness sake! So of course she does well yet again in Hope Springs, delivering a performance that may not be Oscar-worthy, or even one of her top ten, but is certainly believable as she constructs a character that is meeker than and not as extrovertly strong as her previous roles.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Weekend Preview 8/24-29/2012

Wow, 15 movies out this week!!! Thirteen out this weekend, including the controversial ComplianceSleepwalk with Me, a comedy that's been getting lots of attention recently, and one that's been pretty quiet, but still looks interesting, Robot & Frank. Then two on Wednesday, including the Prohibition movie, Lawless, with Shia LeBeouf and Tom Hardy set in good ol' Virginia!!!

Click "Read More" for trailers of The Apparition, Compliance, Lawless, Little White Lies, A Lonely Place for Dying, The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, Premium Rush, The Revenant, Robot & Frank, Samsara, Sleepwalk with Me, Thunderstruck, The Victim, Wild Horse Wild Ride, and 2016.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Expendables Conquer Box Office

Weekend Recap: 8/17-19/2012

With so many stars in The Expendables 2 (review here), its possible they all just brought their families to see the new movie to help the sequel top the box office this weekend. Regardless, The Expendables 2 grossed $28.6 million in first place, a bit less than the opening for the original film ($34.8).

The Bourne Legacy (review here) stayed strong with $17.1 million in second place. The sequel/spin-off has consistently performed somewhere between the first and second films of the franchise, making it a success, I would say, considering Jason Bourne wasn't even in it!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Retirees Can Still Rock

Review: The Expendables 2

What a difference two years makes.

Back in 2010, Sylvester Stallone (Rambo, Rocky) assembled an all-star cast of 80s action stars for what was promised to be a no-holds-barred, down-and-dirty, kick-ass action throwback to the hardcore blockbusters of an earlier decade, when heroes didn’t sparkle in the sunlight, but were manly men with bulging muscles who shot big guns, killed untold numbers of villains, saved damsels in distress, and offered up cheesy one-liners.

The Expendables turned out to be an exercise in unreached potential and false advertising. Yeah, it was a relatively fun action movie with some pretty cool parts, but it wasn’t as epic as it could have been and while Bruce Willis (Die Hard) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator) were featured prominently in the film’s trailers, their roles were but mere cameo appearances, good for some epilogue quips and then gone forever.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Weekend Preview 8/17-19/2012

There are 11 new movies being released this week in both wide and limited releases. The Expendables 2 will clearly have the most mindless fun, Side By Side looks really interesting if you like movies, ParaNorman 3D is a creepy kid's movie that's NOT by Tim Burton, Sparkle stars the late Whitney Houston, there are 2 new French movies, and after all those there are still 5 other movies coming out!

Click "Read More" for trailers of Beloved, Chicken With Plums, Cosmopolis, The Day, Death By China, The Expendables 2, ParaNorman 3D, Side By Side, Sparkle, Why Stop Now, and Hit and Run.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Bourne Sideshow

Review: The Bourne Legacy

“A Bourne movie without Jason Bourne? That’s weird.”

Such was everyone’s reaction to the trailers preceding this weekend’s newly released action blockbuster, The Bourne Legacy. The "how" of continuing a franchise without its titular star or director was a head-scratcher for sure.

The "why" is somewhat more obvious; the original star and director, Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass, did not feel as though any more stories about Bourne could be told, an excuse I find to be baseless considering that there are ten Bourne novels in print (three by Robert Ludlum, seven by Eric Van Lustbader).

Of course, the Bourne name has incredible marketing value, so it is not a property that Universal Pictures was willing to lay to rest. One option of course would be to remake the entire series with a new actor to play Jason Bourne. But it has only been ten years since the first film (although the recency of the original films didn’t stop The Amazing Spider-Man from finding moderate success).

Luckily, Tony Gilroy, a writer for the original Bourne trilogy and the director of The Bourne Legacy, came up with an interesting solution: Create a story which is catalyzed by, connected to, and occurs concurrently with the events which happened in the first three films. This allows a new actor to inherit the spotlight from Damon, a new story to be told, and perhaps provides enough originality to inspire Greengrass and Damon to return in a future film.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Spies & Politicians Take Down the Bat

Weekend Recap: 8/10-12/2012

After dominating the box office for weeks, The Dark Knight Rises (review here) finally took the backseat to the weekend's new releases as The Bourne Legacy (review coming soon) grossed $38.1 million for first place.

That places the Bourne sequel/reboot between the opening weekend earnings of The Bourne Identity ($27 million) and The Bourne Supremacy ($52.5 million).

The Campaign (review coming soon) landed in second place with $26.6 million, while The Dark Knight Rises brought in $19 million for third place. Rises has earned $389.6 million domestically, for a worldwide total of $834.9 million.

Opening on Wednesday, Hope Springs (review coming soon) also found success in fourth place, taking in $14.7 million over the weekend for a five-day total of $19.1 million (and a better theater average than Rises). Total Recall (review here) and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days each earned over $8 million for fifth and sixth place, respectively.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Beast of a Drama

Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Guest Review by Kyle Kuzemchak

Beasts of the Southern Wild is an American independent film that is the winner of the Grand Jury prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and was also a highlight of the Cannes Film Festival in France. Driven by outstanding characters and complex, underlying tones, the film makes up for its slow pace with beautiful cinematography, depth, and plenty of emotion.

Beasts tells the story of a young girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) and depicts her life at her home in a small river town called the Bathtub. The Bathtub is secluded from the rest of the world because of a blockade used to keep the water away from the cities. The town may be secluded, but the inhabitants love their homes and their tight community, and as Hushpuppy innocently explains, she likes it because they “have more holidays than all other places”. As the town is hit by a massive storm and Hushpuppy and her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), along with a select band of others remain to rebuild on top of the water, the sense of community shines.

The story strongly focuses on the relationship between Hushpuppy and Wink. Wink is shown as a strong, strict man, who yells at and hits his young daughter, yet there always seems to be more to him than his rough exterior, and it becomes obvious that his actions are out of love. Wink is only trying to help his daughter to survive in their harsh, changing world, and he constantly encourages her by telling her “she’s the man”. And this is where the strongest tone of the film is developed, as Wink gets sick and knows that Hushpuppy will soon be on her own. Hushpuppy must now learn as much as she can from her father in order to survive in her new world, developing a sense of pride and inner strength, while still realizing that she can fall back on the community.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thanks for the Memories

Review: Total Recall

Last week I posted an "Unscripted Profile" of the new(ish) film, Total Recall (a remake of the 1990 film, Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger), recapping the remake's origins and what we could look for in the new movie. That article helped win Ethan Unscripted a Liebster Award (more on that in the coming days) and you can read it here. The post basically said that the remake would attempt to ground the film in reality more than the 1990 movie and that those involved were still looking to prove themselves as summer blockbuster stars.

In my mind, the filmmakers succeeded. I found Total Recall to be an exhilarating ride, neatly balancing character and plot, while speeding through heart-pounding action sequences and spinning through the corkscrews of the "What is real?" paradox.

The movie follows Doug Quiad, a seemingly innocent factory worker in a futuristic society, who visits Rekall, a memory implanting company, only to discover that his real memories have been erased and that he is, in fact, a spy.

Obviously, such a revelation comes as quite the shock to poor Quaid, and this is where Colin Farrell (In Bruges) truly shines. Farrell constructs an empathetic persona in Quaid, an ordinary guy caught up in extraordinary circumstances. While he may not have the same magnetic screen presence as a bulked-up Arnold in his prime, Farrell more than makes up for it with superior acting ability.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Weekend Preview 8/3-5/2012


Assassin's Bullet: When an unknown vigilante begins killing high-priority terrorists from America's Most Wanted list in Europe, a former FBI field agent (Christian Slater) is brought in by the US Ambassador (Donald Sutherland) to discover the identity of the assassin.

The Babymakers: After failing to get his wife pregnant, a guy (Schneider) recruits his pals to steal the deposit he left at a sperm bank years ago.

Click "Read More" for trailers of Celeste and Jessie Forever, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Dreams of a Life, Soldiers of Fortune, Total Recall, You've Been Trumped, 360, Craigslist Joe, Hope Springs, and Nitro Circus.

Remaking Recall

Unscripted Profile: Total Recall

No, the sense of déjà vu you’re feeling is not due to implanted memories. That trailer looked familiar because you have seen this film before (well, kinda). The Total Recall of 2012 is a remake of 1990’s Total Recall. So why do a remake? What’s different this time around? Will it be worth it? Let’s take a look in my very first Unscripted Profile…

The Background

Just about every movie ever made starts with the same thing, an idea written down a piece of paper. This singular page eventually grows and evolves until its anywhere from 100 to 200 pages long. We call this a script, and it is arguably the most important part of any film. Total Recall, however, is a project that actually began as a literary short story from Philip K. Dick, titled “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.”

In the short story, published in 1966 in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Douglas Quail is an ordinary man unable to afford a trip to Mars, who visits a company, REKAL Incorporated, to have memories of being a secret agent on Mars implanted into his mind. The implant attempt reveals Quail actually is an undercover government assassin. Quail’s handlers try to have him killed, but he escapes and attempts to have his memories replaced so they can never be read. I won’t spoil the ending of the short story, but you should check it out, because it is very interesting.

This tale was loosely adapted in 1990, when Paul Verhoeven directed Arnold Schwarzeneggar in Total Recall. Having acquired the film rights prior to production, Schwarzeneggar had the character of the protagonist, now named Quaid instead of Quail, changed from a mild-mannered accountant-type to a muscular construction worker. This was done to obviously fit Schwarzeneggar’s physique, but also because he liked the contrast of having a physically powerful character with a vulnerable mind.