There is a sex scene in '300: Rise of an Empire' that is an all-timer. Put it right up there on the shelf next to 'Don't Look Now,' 'A History of Violence,' 'Blue is the Warmest Color,' '9 ½ Weeks' and any of the others that make those best-of lists. Actually, put next to that insanity in the pool from 'Showgirls' (you know, with the dolphin statue?), because there's a level of playful absurdity that changes it from a representation of love (or, more accurately, lust) to something of a Broadway choreographer's interpretation of a fight. Like a 'West Side Story' rumble, but with Eva Green moaning and bent over a table with maps and war figurines. A rise of an empire, indeed.
The opening shot of 'Non-Stop' has Liam Neeson pouring whiskey in a coffee cup and stirring it with a toothbrush. He then reaches out to a photo of a young girl to stroke it with his fingertips. After this the phone rings and the caller ID reads 555. In other words, three of the biggest movie cliches, all in about sixty seconds.
Wes Anderson has finally done it. He's gone and created his own country.
Zubrowka, the fictional town at the heart of 'The Grand Budapest Hotel,' is positioned on the farthest Eastern edge of Europe's great empire. It is a melange of stylistic flourishes and decorative signifiers from a make believe 20th Century - a memory of a memory, a fastidious, whimsical take on real horrors - a storybook samizdat that entices with madcap adventure then goes in for the kill with existential dread. It is an incredible place to visit.
Sometimes you have to wonder if writers are aware of just how much of their scripts inadvertently rip off or openly resemble other movies. For example, three writers are credited with ‘Pompeii’ – did it ever occur to any of them that their disaster film was ‘Titanic’ meets ‘Gladiator’ with a ‘Conan’ opening thrown in for good measure? Surely director Paul W.S. Anderson, the auteur responsible for the ‘Resident Evil’ film series, did, not that I imagine he cared.
The promise of '3 Days to Kill': If Kevin Costner can assassinate a laundry list of people in three days, he'll receive the antidote to his terminal illness. The reality of '3 Days to Kill': If Kevin Costner can assassinate an indeterminable amount of people over an indeterminable amount of time while juggling quality time with his estranged daughter, then he'll continue being given treatment to his terminal illness, which he has been receiving since the beginning of the movie. For those who thought 'Taken' needed more filler, this movie.
Relationships are hard. Love is challenging. Friendships are precious. Sometimes people have randomly and abnormally large bathtubs in the middle of their loft-styled bedrooms. Puppies solve everything. And a romantic comedy is not a romantic comedy without dicing in some classic clichés, but at least Steve Pink’s ‘About Last Night’ proves that a plucky cast and some raunchy wordplay can punch up even the most tired of cinematic endeavors.
Like many films about wholly misguided love affairs, consuming obsession, and criminal activity involving elephants, ‘Endless Love’ opens with a vaguely creepy voiceover. Apparently meant to be styled as the opening lines to some kind of modern fairy tale, David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer) uses the first few moments of Shana Feste’s adaptation to introduce us his very own tower-bound princess, young Jade Butterfield (Gabrielle Wilde), a sensitive enough soul entombed in our own grief (or something like that, it’s hard to tell over Pettyfer’s creepy staring). Set at the pair’s high school graduation, David and the camera both spy on Jade as he vows to do, well, something to get to know her. Charming.
'Winter's Tale' makes 'Safe Haven' look like 'The Godfather.' It is an absurd story adapted in the most dreary way possible, with lifeless performances, dull dialogue and laughable special effects. I need to cross-reference my files, but I think it is the worst major studio release with respected actors in five years. If any of us cared about our culture at all we'd be gathering our pitchforks and storming Hollywood now.
A few weeks back I was watching TV with friends who don't follow movies that closely. On came the ad for 'RoboCop.' They were baffled. “Who needs this?” they asked.
Forget that we were all old enough to remember the first one. This wasn't just defending our childhoods. If you want to step on a classic – and 'RoboCop' is something of a classic – you better come correct. What's this new one going to offer? The original's action and sly satire aren't dated. Who needs this?
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