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Tickler, Failure, Soldiers, Spies – Notes on a Quadruple Feature: "Blackhat," "Paddington," "The Wedding Ringer," and "American Sniper" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 17 January 2015 19:22

Wei Tang and Chris Hemsworth in BlackhatFriday, January 16, 10:05 a.m.-ish: My first and final quadruple feature of 2015 (yeah, right) begins with the Michael Mann thriller Blackhat, which opens with the camera racing within a computer module and deeper and deeper into the internal workings of binary code, like a burrowing reverse of Robert Zemeckis’ introductory shot in Contact. At its climax, we discover that we’ve been watching the process by which a faraway cyber-terrorist sets off an explosion at a Chinese nuclear facility, and it’s a juicy, unsettling prelude – so good, and so promising, that it probably takes longer than it should to realize the movie is goofy as hell.

 
For King and Country: "Selma," "Inherent Vice," and "Taken 3" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 11 January 2015 18:27

David Oyelowo in SelmaSELMA

Movie violence is so prevalent – be it in horror films or action franchises (see Taken 3, if you must) or the PG-13 pummelings of every Marvel entertainment ever – that it’s shocking to see one whose brutal acts have the power to make you cry. But within the first minutes of the extraordinary Selma, director Ava DuVernay stages a literal explosion of historical violence so frightening, repellent, and emotionally overwhelming that, in the awestruck moments of silence that followed, it was absolutely no surprise to hear viewers sniffling.

 
Blitz Creep: "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death" and "The Gambler" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 04 January 2015 15:03

Phoebe Fox in The Woman in Black 2: Angel of DeathTHE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH

For those keeping track, the newly annual tradition of each film year opening with a horror sequel continues, thanks to the release of The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death. But I should mention that, beyond the presence of the titular ghost, director Tom Harper’s follow-up doesn’t share many traits with the original. There’s no Daniel Radcliffe, for one thing. And instead of taking place in the London outskirts of the Edwardian era, this one is set during World War II. And ... . Um ... . Wow. Does anyone recall anything else about the original?

 
True Defective: "Unbroken," "The Imitation Game," and "Big Eyes" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 28 December 2014 19:20

Jack O'Connell in UnbrokenUNBROKEN, THE IMITATION GAME, and BIG EYES

Among other titles, Christmas Day brought with it the area releases of Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, and Tim Burton’s Big Eyes. Each of them opens with a title-card variant on “This is a true story.” Each of them ends with a series of title cards informing us what happened to characters after the films’ narratives concluded. And each of them, for occasional better and more frequent worse, feels absolutely, 100-percent Hollywood.

 
Into the Weeds: "Into the Woods" and "The Homesman" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 28 December 2014 19:06

Emily Blunt and James Corden in Into the WoodsINTO THE WOODS

Do you know what you wish? Are you certain what you wish is what you want?” – lyrics from Into the Woods

 

Like a lot of stage-musical fans, I’ve been wishing – patiently but eagerly for more than 25 years now – for a film version of Stephen Sondheim’s modern classic Into the Woods. Now, thanks to Sondheim, original book and screenplay author James Lapine, director Rob Marshall, and the fairytale-happy folks at Disney, we have one.

So here’s the good news: Barring some minor changes, the movie is incredibly faithful to the show’s stage roots. But here’s the bad news: It’s so faithful that it’s under-imagined and kind of suffocating. And here’s the worst news: It isn’t much fun.

 
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