Before he was George Lucas, the guy who changed blockbusters forever with ‘Star Wars,’ he was George Lucas, the guy who changed the way Hollywood used pop music with ‘American Graffiti.’ Though ‘Graffiti’ is maybe Lucas’ seventh most-famous movie, it was hugely influential in its day, and its massive grosses inspired so many imitators it essentially invented a new sub-genre: the radio-hit-scored ensemble coming-of-age movie. 40 years after creating that concept, Lucas returns to destroy it with ‘Strange Magic,’ a high-tech, low-brow update of that formula, with computer-generated fairies and bugs pining after one another over a soundtrack of classic pop songs.
Movie Reviews - Page 4
I wonder if Chris Kyle was a Clint Eastwood fan. ‘American Sniper’’s marketing materials describe Kyle as “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history,” but before his military career, Kyle was a cowboy. He wore a hat and boots, and even carried a six-shooter. Eventually, he gave up the cowboy life and decided to serve his country. He was a gifted marksman and trained to be a Navy SEAL. But even as a soldier, Kyle never lost that cowboy swagger—or that sense that someone has to venture out into the frontier and protect the American way of life. That’s what Kyle learned from his father—who raised him to be a “sheepdog,” a watchful protector in a world of sheep and wolves—and from watching violent Westerns like the ones that made Eastwood a major Hollywood star.
On the list of uncinematic activities, computer hacking has to rank near the top, somewhere between small-business accounting and taking a nap. It’s tedious, static, and solitary work, and what little’s interesting about it is largely incomprehensible to those without advanced degrees in computer science. In a lesser filmmaker's hands, a hacker movie like ‘Blackhat’ would be terminally boring. But ‘Blackhat’ is in the hands of Michael Mann, and that means it’s also stylish, moody, and punctuated by intense action scenes.
The former CIA operative turned full-time rescuer of his perpetually kidnapped family at the center of the ‘Taken’ series is famous for—as he put it to the men who took his daughter in the first film—a “particular set of skills” that make him “a nightmare” for bad guys. Here now is a partial list of the particular skills Bryan Mills—played by the 62-year-old Liam Neeson—displays in ‘Taken 3’:
In the fall of 2013, APCO Worldside surveyed 70,000 people about the world’s biggest brands. They measured their responses in eight different ways—“understanding, approachability, relevance, admiration, curiosity, identification, empowerment, and pride.” The number one most loved company out of 600 choices: Disney.
It’s kind of a strange thing to write about ‘The Interview’ now, right? Its place in culture will always be defined by the Sony hacks that preceded the movie’s release. Is any other film defined so sharply by events that were out of that movie’s control?
Chris Rock has made movies before, but ‘Top Five’ is the first great “Chris Rock movie,” the one that feels like the product of the best and most important stand-up comic of his generation. ‘Top Five’ is infused from top to bottom with Rock’s voice, his humor, and also his love of movies. Rock, a self-avowed cinephile, has borrowed liberally from some of his favorite films (including Richard Linklater’s ‘Before Sunset,’ Preston Sturges’ ‘Sullivans Travels,’ and Woody Allen’s ‘Stardust Memories’) in creating the story of a disillusioned stand-up comic turned sellout movie star on the cusp of becoming a “serious” actor. The way Rock digests his inspirations, filters them through his own unique perspective, and spits them back out on the screen as something wholly his own recalls the way Quentin Tarantino turns exploitation obscurities into prestigious arthouse fare.
It’s a weird thing, I can already tell that ‘Inherent Vice’ will grow on me after time. I can already tell I like it better as I type this than I did while watching it. People will compare ‘Inherent Vice’ to the Coen brothers’ 1998 movie ‘The Big Lebowski’ and that’s totally fair because I’m going to do just that right now. Both films feature protagonists – with an affinity for marijuana use – who experience a remarkable adventure while searching for something that doesn’t matter. Sixteen years later, Mickey Woolfman means about as much as the money for a urine-soaked rug. It matters to the character but it never really matters much to us and, in both of these cases, we wind up being right.
Having gone on an unexpected journey and endured the desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson’s bloated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ finally comes to ‘The Battle of the Five Armies,’ which is less of a climax to this trilogy than a distended epilogue. After spending two movies and 330 minutes building up the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) as the ultimate antagonist, he’s eliminated from the story completely in the first ten minutes. He’s literally gone before the title appears onscreen.
You could comfortably bake several loaves of bread—plus a cake or two—in the time it takes to get through ‘Exodus.’ This film does run an hour shorter than Cecil B. DeMille’s famous version of ‘The Ten Commandments’ from 1956, but at times it feels just as long; maybe longer.