Earlier this week, Buzzfeed’s Anne Helen Petersen wrote an essay called “The Shaming of Robert De Niro,” in which she criticized cinephiles who think De Niro should retire rather than continue to harm his legacy as one of his generation’s finest actors by appearing in subpar material. Such arguments, Petersen says, are “snobbery at best and thinly veiled ageism at worst.” Starring in films like The Bag Man, Red Lights, and Killing Season “might not be working with Scorsese for 10 years,” she adds, “but it’s not shameful.”
Movie Reviews - Page 5
Will Ferrell is at his best when he’s at his most outrageous. Give me Mugatu tossing hot coffee in his assistant’s face, a giddy adult elf, or a chubby ‘70s band mate banging the cowbell. But as a straight-laced, jazz-loving stepfather? No thanks.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, the subject of the new biopic Concussion, was the first man to publish a study linking head injuries suffered playing football to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and his pioneering work as a forensic pathologist deserves recognition and appreciation. But that pioneering work involved things like autopsies, painstaking research, and lots of paperwork — not exactly the stuff of blockbusters — combined with (at least in Concussion’s telling of the tale) a lot of scolding and righteously indignant speeches. This subject is hugely important, but as shaped by writer/director Peter Landesman, it’s not especially cinematic.
The original Star Wars was driven by nostalgia for pulp magazines, Saturday-morning serials, and a simpler era with clear-cut heroes and villains. The new Star Wars is driven by nostalgia for the original Star Wars, and a simpler era when that title evoked words like “adventure” and “excitement,” and not words like “the taxation of trade routes,” and “Jar Jar Binks.” The characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens are all searching for something of great importance to the galaxy far, far away. I won’t reveal what this MacGuffin is, but I will tell you what it represents: that old Star Wars magic. Can director J.J. Abrams and the rest of the saga’s new creators find it?
Quentin Tarantino is the master of the comeback. Throughout his career, he’s rediscovered and revitalized the careers of one faded star after another; John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, Pam Grier in Jackie Brown, David Carradine in Kill Bill. Tarantino’s latest, The Hateful Eight, is his boldest reclamation project yet, an attempt to rejuvenate not just a single actor’s fortunes, but an entire medium of storytelling.
There’s a gigantic sea monster! There’s Chris Hemsworth’s muscular and skeletal frame! There’s harpoons and storms and dolphins and waves and adventure! There’s even a British man (played by Ben Whishaw) narrating the story as told by another very talented actor (Brendan Gleeson). By the sounds of it, In the Heart of the Sea must be a whale of a tale. But sadly, Ron Howard’s latest falls very short of its epic endeavors.
It only takes Adam McKay about three minutes to prove he was the perfect guy to direct The Big Short.
Jennifer Lawrence was 24 when she shot Joy. Her character, Joy Mangano, was 34 when she invented the Miracle Mop and became one of the first stars of the QVC network. This fact remains inescapable throughout Joy. Lawrence remains watchable in Joy because, as one of our best young actors, she can’t help but be watchable. But she’s totally miscast as a divorced mother of two who’s been repeatedly beaten down by life’s disappointments. This part was meant for the Jennifer Lawrence of a 2025, not the one of 2015.
How good does a movie have to look to offset its other deficiencies? The Revenant is as beautiful a movie as has ever been made. The photography by master cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki is inconceivably gorgeous; sweeping wide shots that juxtapose tiny, insignificant men against the overwhelming grandeur of nature, close-ups so intimate they seem like invasions of the actors’ privacy, and action sequences of shocking violence.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through New York City, three actors starred in a holiday comedy that failed to be witty.