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O Holy Nightmare: "A Cadaver Christmas," May 29 at the Establishment Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Friday, 20 May 2011 11:00

Ben Hopkins, Hanlon Smith-Dorsey, Daniel Rairdin-Hale, Yosh Hayashi, Andrew Harvey, and Jessica Denney in A Cadaver ChristmasLast month, the locally produced zombie comedy A Cadaver Christmas was named Best Professional Feature at the Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival, and given its title, you’d rightly expect the movie to have its tongue stuck firmly in its cheek. Most likely, after being gnawed off and spit out by the groaning, lumbering undead.

 
Single Wiped Female: “Bridesmaids,” “Jumping the Broom,” and “Priest” PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 15 May 2011 18:07

Ellie Kemper, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Maya Rudolph, and Kristen Wiig in BridesmaidsBRIDESMAIDS

You wouldn’t necessarily think that exhaustion and depression would be fertile subjects for a big-screen slapstick – at least, for a big-screen slapstick that didn’t star Paul Giamatti. Yet in director Paul Feig’s buoyant and brainy Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig plays a sad, discouraged, frequently humiliated maid of honor with such inventiveness and style that she seems to be creating a new comic archetype right before your eyes. Hiding her misery behind a thinly veiled mask of courtesy and good cheer, and letting her anger and resentment spill out in sarcastic asides and messy, chaotic bursts, Wiig’s Annie – like many of the brilliantly talented performer’s most memorable characters – is a singular creation. And so, too, is Bridesmaids, a female-driven Judd Apatow comedy (he’s a co-producer) with the rare distinction of being smarter than it is funny, though it’s still plenty funny.

 
If He Had a Hammer ... : "Thor" and "Something Borrowed" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 08 May 2011 16:53

Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman in ThorTHOR

Prior to the film’s release, I wouldn’t have thought any director a worse candidate for helming the hugely budgeted comic-book adaptation Thor than Kenneth Branagh, that frequent interpreter of Shakespeare whose one foray into Hollywood-blockbuster(-wannabe) terrain was 1994’s monstrously terrible Frankenstein. In retrospect, I’m not sure any director would have proved a better choice. Two days after seeing Branagh’s grandly produced yet subtly frisky entertainment, I’m still a bit shocked at how strong the results are; against all logic, Thor’s director has successfully melded his movie’s wildly disparate elements into an action-packed thrill ride (in 3D!) that, incredibly, also manages to be emotionally satisfying, and oftentimes funny as hell.

 
McCarthyism ... the Good Kind: "Win Win," "Fast Five," and "Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 02 May 2011 07:33

Paul Giamatti and Alex Shaffer in Win WinWIN WIN

When I say that writer/director Tom McCarthy’s Win Win could easily serve as the inspiration for a long-running TV series, I don’t mean it in any way insultingly, partly because our current small-screen options are, in general, vastly superior to our big-screen ones. Mostly, though, it’s because this serious-minded comedy is so teeming with nuanced, empathetic characters and complicated yet wholly plausible situations and circumstances that you want to luxuriate in Win Win’s universe for far longer than the movie’s too-brief 100 minutes – like, for an hour a week over several seasons.

 
Cirque du Soulful: "Water for Elephants," "Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family," "Rio," and "African Cats" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 23 April 2011 22:27

Robert Pattinson in Water for ElephantsWATER FOR ELEPHANTS

After his where’s-my-paycheck? turn in The Green Hornet, I was mildly concerned that, following his Oscar-winning Inglourious Basterds portrayal, Christoph Waltz might be resigned to a career of forever playing Euro-trashy über-villains in Hollywood action dreck. With director Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants, though – a Depression-era romance based on Sara Gruen’s beloved novel – my fears have proved unfounded. As the egomaniacal, possibly sociopathic owner and ringleader of a second-tier traveling circus, enraged by the blossoming affections between his star-performer wife (Reese Witherspoon) and the troupe’s young veterinarian (Robert Pattinson), Waltz is every bit as mesmerizing – charming, unpredictable, terrifying – as he was in Quentin Tarantino’s World War II opus. Yet fantastic though he is, Waltz’s talents here aren’t a shock. The bigger surprise is that the movie itself is so bloody marvelous.

 
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