Cusack to the future

•April 3, 2010 • 1 Comment

How to even begin to peel away and analyze all the complexities that coalesce into the slice of cinema that is Hot Tub Time Machine?

Delivering on its promise of providing both hot tubs and time machines, this raunchy throwback could have easily been a product of the era which it mocks, and it never truly compromises its dedication to debauchery.

It’s a simultaneous ode to and remake of star John Cusack’s minor-but-beloved Better Off Dead. In the 1985 comedy, Cusack plays Lane Myer, a depressed teen who hits the ski slopes to restore his relationship and dignity and unexpectedly falls for a new girl in town. Hot Tub has Cusack as a depressed adult who hits the ski slopes to restore relationships and dignity and unexpectedly ends up in 1986… where he falls for a new girl in town. Continue reading ‘Cusack to the future’

It is queasy being ‘Green’

•March 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I would like to start a collection to purchase Paul Greengrass, director of the last two Bourne films and now “The Green Zone,” a tripod, perhaps a dolly or two, and hell, even some ankle weights – anything that would keep him and his films stationary for a few seconds.

For while the epileptic style that was used so often in “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum” was tiring but effective, has now become his trademark, rendering him unable to film a complete scene without twirling, leaping and spinning around the action. The result is disorienting, to say the least. Continue reading ‘It is queasy being ‘Green’’

Quick pick: ‘The Descent: Part 2’

•March 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Sorry, Aimee Mann, but “2” is the loneliest number when it comes to cinema.

There is seldom hope for flicks that prominently display the squiggly little digit, especially in horror.

You can dress it in Roman garb, or simply add a subhead in its place, but there is little love for the sequel.

I felt the fear of a bargain-bin treatment of what I considered one of the best horror films of the last decade when it was announced that The Descent: Part 2 was in the works, especially without its original director Neil Marshall.

The film picks up moments after Sarah (played by Shauna Macdonald) exited the ground (in the U.S. release of the film) and is carted off to the hospital for evaluation. The flimsy premise has her returning to the cave with a new snack for the pasty-skinned under-dwellers.

It’s no surprise that she comes face-to-face with left-for-dead Juno (played by Natalie Jackson Mendoza) and the are all forced to fend for themselves again the barrage of albino bat people. Jump scares, night vision and troughs of blood all make up the bulk of the film, but with just enough style to make the film a worthy way to spend a creeped-out night in the dark.

Here is the trailer:

‘Alice’ doesn’t live here anymore

•March 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Since Lewis Carroll (actually Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) was a mathematician at heart and trade, let me put Tim Burton’s adaptation of his novels in more formulaic terms:

“Nightmare Before Christmas”> “Ed Wood”> “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” > “Alice in Wonderland> “Sleepy Hollow”> “Planet of the Apes.”

 Awash in color and ablaze in design, Alice is certainly one of the best-looking films on the auteur’s resume. Many of the Burton stalwarts are on-board, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar and muse Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter charismatically follow marching orders. Continue reading ‘‘Alice’ doesn’t live here anymore’

Policing ‘Academy’: Oscar picks 2010: UPDATED with WINNERS

•March 4, 2010 • 1 Comment

I am not above eating crow, so here is the updated list of winners, with my predictions directly underneath the selected categories.

Now in her 82nd year, she’s undergoing yet another facelift. As Hollywood  prepares for its big night of self love, it’s decided to make some alterations in hopes of bolstering its attractiveness to audiences. It certainly does not hurt that the most popular film of all time is in the running for nine trophies. This year, not one but two hosts will be hosting the festivities: Alec Baldwin will ride his rejuvenated comedic career alongside Steve Martin who will try to be funnier than he has been in his last 10 films released. And speaking of 10 films, that is another adjustment made, as the category of “Best Feature” has been expanded to widen the field.

Also, on Sunday, March 7, there is a good chance that history may be made, as there is a very good chance that a female director may (deservedly) walk home with one of the evening’s top honors.

 Below is a list of the top contenders, followed by, as usual, a guess for who should and who will stride up to the podium. Continue reading ‘Policing ‘Academy’: Oscar picks 2010: UPDATED with WINNERS’

‘Shutter.’ To think.

•February 22, 2010 • 1 Comment

Where you stand with the latest Martin Scorsese film “Shutter Island” will largely depend on what you make of its ending.

Having not read the Dennis Lehane book on which it is based (the author of “Mystic River” and “Gone Baby Gone,” as well as a contributor to the series “The Wire”), I cannot use that as a point of reference for the director’s actual intent.

So I will merely draw my own conclusion of its meaning and use that to throw my support behind the film, and I will fight any of my friends who dare say otherwise. Continue reading ‘‘Shutter.’ To think.’

‘Crazy Heart’: ‘Wrestler’ redux

•February 20, 2010 • 2 Comments

Did you miss ‘The Wrestler’ in time for the Academy Awards last year?

Fear not, as you can witness essentially the same film (with different names and a different title, mind you) with ‘Crazy Heart,’ currently the only film of award contenders receiving an attendence bump from its three Oscar nods.

Let me be forthright. I will watch Jeff Bridges take a nap. (I have, actually, but stupid “lawyers” do not allow me to elaborate.) And his Shaggy Dog Country Crooner named Bad Blake fits him like a pair or broken-in boots. Continue reading ‘‘Crazy Heart’: ‘Wrestler’ redux’