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 Domnhall 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.
'The Wolf of Wall Street,' Martin Scorsese's most dynamic and spry film since 'GoodFellas,' is an up close and personal tour of a snarling den of unchecked depravity. Really, theaters should be handing out bottles of Purel with the tickets. What begins as jovial bad behavior spirals out into an excess and deviance rarely shown on the screen.
There are a handful of extremely funny, laugh-out-loud moments in 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.' One happens early – the reveal that David Koechner now runs a cut-rate fast-food joint that saves money by serving fried bats (or, as he calls it, “chicken of the cave"). Another is a retread from the first film – a battle royale of news teams from various networks, but this time even more extreme. There's also great humor in what I suppose passes for “the point” of this movie – that lowest common denominator attitudes like those of Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy are what inadvertently invented the cesspool of modern cable news.
Of course, what you will find funny is entirely dependent on your own taste, but these highlighted scenes (and several others, I must point out) really landed with me. It struck me later, as I was trying to piece together why the movie felt about six hours long, that these moments were all dependent on gags that could not have been ad-libbed. Ferrell, Koechner, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and the rest of the gang are deservedly respected for their quick-thinking comedy chops. When they get together and riff, few can top them. The problem is that 'Anchorman 2' relies on this far, far too much. It's like a a dessert plate where mounds of fluffy whipped cream obscures the fact that, underneath, there's only a tiny bite of pie.
It's that time of year again. The time that film critics dread all year round. The time to declare the Best Movies of 2013.
There comes a time when we must stop kidding ourselves. These 'Hobbit' films – with 'The Desolation of Smaug' representing the shank of the trilogy – are not real movies. These are exploitation films for Tolkien nuts, for enthusiasts of the original 'Lord of the Rings' movies and for audiences so hungry for high fantasy they'll gobble up whatever is served to them and ask for seconds.
As someone who has sympathy, but not empathy, for those who have such proclivities, I can get why someone might come away liking this picture. But that is more of an involuntary reaction to exposure to certain elements, not the summation of a film. Listen, there's a grey-bearded wizard who warns in low tones about a place that sounds like “Doggledoor.” And there's someone referred to as “Thorin son of Thrain son of Thror.” I love that geekorama stuff more than most. It's hilarious, and I'll probably refer to my cat as “Thorin son of Thrain son of Thror” for the next week. But this movie doesn't cohere – there's no forward momentum, no character development, no story happening. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a fibber.