Genius or madman, auteur or amateur, Tyler Perry is a fascinating artist. And while it shouldn’t earn him either new fans or detractors, 'Temptation' is his most polished showcase to date of the bizarre and utterly irresistible divide between his razor-sharp creativity and decidedly duller technical precision. The story of a bored therapist who gets involved with one of her clients, Perry’s film wields melodrama like a hatchet, wringing moralistic justice from a story that’s remarkably more complex than it’s being sold – and, in fact, than Perry probably realizes.
The Overlook Hotel does something to people. In Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining,' it drives caretaker Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) mad -- turning his writer's block into full-fledged, kill-your-family insanity. In Rodney Ascher's 'Room 237,' six different critics, historians and fans of Kubrick's horror classic share their own theories about -- and obsessions with -- 'The Shining.' All tell much the same story: they saw the movie once. They couldn't get it out of their minds. They watched it again and again. They couldn't stop. They developed elaborate theories to explain the film's mysteries and to uncover its hidden meanings. They were trapped in the Overlook, lost in its hedge maze, searching for some elusive truth. They still can't get out.
Quentin Dupieux, the mastermind behind last year's cult hit 'Rubber,' has returned with 'Wrong,' an absurdist follow-up in keeping with his debut. When Dolph awakens to find his beloved dog missing, it sends him on a journey that will affect the lives of a lonely pizza delivery operator, an eccentric zen master and his own landscaper. Filled with quirky characters, 'Wrong' embraces an even quirkier world that feels familiar but just out of reach -- much to its detriment.
In the weeks and months after 9/11, it was reported that the United States military was recruiting Hollywood screenwriters to help predict potential follow-up attacks. The new thriller 'Olympus Has Fallen' plays like the craziest, silliest entry from that post-9/11 doomsday scenario slush file -- a passionately loony blend of 'Die Hard' cliches and feverish right wing paranoia. If only the execution of this White House home invasion fantasy was half as entertaining as its conception.
Much like the characters within the film, my attitude toward 'The Croods' evolved.
The first 25 minutes or so are awful. The uninteresting, darn-near-ugly character designs, dumb jokes and frenetic, boisterous action in lieu of ingenuity or thrills in 'The Croods'' first act is a chore. I was stunned to check my watch and realize how much left I had in the movie. “Man,” I thought to myself, “it's amazing how wretched some of these kids' films can be compared to something like 'Rango.'”
Then the bottom fell out (in a surprisingly literal way) and 'The Croods' transformed. “Man,” I thought to myself, “this is the weirdest, most adventuresome and gorgeous kids' film I've seen since 'Rango.'”
Let's not kid ourselves about this. Part of consuming Hollywood entertainment is that, on some level, we like these people. It's strange, but I probably like Tina Fey and Paul Rudd more than actual live humans I've met and have to deal with on a regular basis. Yes, I recognize that I only know them through the characters they play (and that includes their "as themselves" appearances on Letterman's couch or the Golden Globes stage) but their finely sculpted personas of vibrant, clever, likable people automatically gives them lift in any project they choose. When they star together in 'Admission' - a romantic comedy that is just a little bit smarter than the other leading brands - and one where they find a degree of happiness together, well, this puts the movie far off the likability charts.
James Franco might not be the best actor working in movies today, but he's almost certainly the most fearless. His choices are as unpredictable as they are gutsy. He'll try just about anything: television dramas ('Freaks & Geeks'), soap operas ('General Hospital'), comedies ('Pineapple Express'), and big blockbusters ('Spider-Man,' 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'). His latest role, in Harmony Korine's 'Spring Breakers,' might be his craziest and most daring to date. He plays Alien -- pronounced "A-Leen" in Franco's South Florida drawl -- a drug dealer and aspiring rapper who likes to boast that he's from another planet. Franco's performance is suitably extraterrestrial: hilarious, disturbing, deranged, poignant and endlessly quotable. In an instant classic scene, Alien shows off all his prized possessions -- machine guns and money and nunchucks and 'Scarface' DVDs on constant repeat -- while screaming "Look at my s---!" Alien's orders are superfluous; any time Franco's onscreen, you can't take your eyes off him.
The 911 operator is an incredibly important but entirely marginal figure in American popular culture. This character facilitates countless movie and television plots -- connecting victims to police offers -- but receives almost none of their own. What does it take to do this job? How does it weigh on the people who perform it? When 'The Call' slows down from its breathless (and, ultimately, brainless) thriller pace, it asks some interesting questions.