There's a moment in 'Happy Christmas' when Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey and Lena Dunham have a few cocktails in a basement converted to a tiki bar, and that moment quietly strikes gold. The scene – three woman jawing about the balance of work and life – doesn't gear up to be some big emotional breakthrough. It just happens au naturale, unladen with political pamphleteering or, quite frankly, even looking for any solutions. It is a great microcosm of Joe Swanberg's newest film. Insight does occasionally spring from this movie in what looks like an effortless fashion, but the movie as a whole looks like hardly any effort went into it.
Nobody shoots people through windows quite like Dutch photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn. After coming out of the gate with the splendid Ian Curtis biopic 'Control' and the gorgeous but muted 'The American,' his adaptation of John Le Carre's recent novel, 'A Most Wanted Man,' suffers from his intentional coldness and precision. Recollecting on the film reminds me that it is an interesting yarn, but while watching it I was unable to shake that it was so ... freaking ... slow.
There's nothing funny about schizophrenia. 'The Voices' understands this, and shows the horror of the disease. And then has you cracking up anyway. It's this diabolical blend of shock and candy-colored kitsch without mockery that makes this first English-language film from Marjane Satrapi ('Persepolis,' 'Chicken with Plums') so unique and, to be honest, something that will turn most people off.
When Mike Cahill took the stage after the world premiere of 'I Origins' at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival he spoke excitedly about how special speakers were installed in the theater to take advantage of the film's rich sound mix. Did they movie have a good sound mix? Yeah, I suppose it did. But, did it do anything to make up for the half-assed storytelling and dull performances in this desultory and frustrating film? Uh, no.
It's more than just “OK to be Takei.”
If you are one of the six million people who follow the internet meme-machine that is George Takei on social media, you know that this catchphrase was just one example of 'Star Trek''s original Mr. Sulu using his wry wit to promote marriage equality and normalize the gay lifestyle.
Mixing genres never works, especially surrealist comedy and character-based drama. Indie filmmakers often try it, and the seesaw of quirk and forced pathos is what makes people roll their eyes and wish for "a real movie." But once in a while it does work - and when it does, as with Lenny Abrahamson's 'Frank,' the result is something of a miracle.
'Frank,' co-written by Peter Straughan ('Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy') and Jon Ronson (the journalist/author of 'The Men Who Stare at Goats' and 'The Psychopath Test') and starring Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy and, wearing that ridiculous papier-mache head, Michael Fassbender, is a readymade cult classic.
In the late 1950s, American bodybuilder Steve Reeves somehow ended up in Italy and made a cheapo production of 'Hercules.' It spawned an avalanche of knockoff strongmen films -- some starring Reeves, some featuring a rather malleable new character named Maciste -- and are just wretched examples of boring cinema that, for whatever reason, I ended up seeing quite a bit of as a little kid. But to an 8-year-old back then, sub-Ray Harryhausen special effects and wafer-thin plots still managed to impress. Hey, it was a Sunday afternoon and a color TV.
It's easy to say “they don't make 'em like that anymore,” but the spirit of these garbage movies is alive and well in Renny Harlin's charmingly awful 'The Legend of Hercules.' Starring Kellan Lutz as a block of concrete that has to fake the classic British accent (even though Hercules is Greek), this is boring by-the-numbers dross from the artless Millennium Films, best known for 'The Expendables' films. It has maybe three good fight scenes and two moments that are so over-the-top bad you just have to laugh, and that makes for some undeniable entertainment. The best way to describe 'The Legend of Hercules' is as the fake movie that teenagers in movies go to see.
2013 is so very close to done. Just a few more minutes in the oven, but keep the fork ready.
Do we, the obsessed movie watchers of the ScreenCrush community, take a break? Heck no! January brings the Sundance Film Festival and then we dive right back into a big year of with some really big movies
Mr. DeNiro, there are other hobbies.
It's great that you like to keep busy, really. But gobbling film roles and saying “yes” to every single offer that comes to your door as if terrified there will never be another opportunity to go before the camera...this is no way to live. You were great once. You have occasional flashes of greatness still. I know opportunities dry up for older actors, but you must be selective.