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Fasten Your Seat Belts. It’s Going to Be a Bumpy Ride.: "Ride Along 2" and "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of the Benghazi" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 16 January 2016 08:36

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube in Ride Along 2RIDE ALONG 2

It’s impossible not to notice that for roughly 75 percent of Ride Along 2, even when he’s indoors, Ice Cube is wearing dark sunglasses. I’m reasonably sure it’s because he was asleep. What other excuse could there be for Cube, as one of this action comedy’s producers, allowing the witless slapstick of Kevin Hart being accosted by a CGI alligator? Or the moment in which a recently shot man sits up, and panicky Hart is convinced he’s a zombie? Or the interminable foot chase in Miami underscored by (wait for it ... ) Miami Sound Machine’s “Conga”? I mean, really – “Conga”? Still?! It’s been more than 30 years since that single was released! I’m not laying all the blame for the song’s clichéd inclusion at Cube’s feet, but surely the rap legend could’ve put one of those feet down with a practiced “Aw, hell no!” and demanded wittier musical accompaniment.

Forest Gumption: "The Revenant" and "The Forest" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 10 January 2016 18:21

Leonardo DiCaprio in The RevenantTHE REVENANT

As you may have heard, The Revenant – given its bloody violence, grisly survival tactics, and almost complete lack of levity – is strong medicine. It also inspires the same reaction that strong medicine does; you’re glad it exists, but ugh, the taste. There are images and battle sequences in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s neo-Western that I didn’t think movies were even capable of, let alone capable of making transcendently beautiful and utterly horrifying in equal measure. Yet all that beauty and horror turn out to be in the service of a dispiritingly one-note, unduly protracted revenge saga that, miraculous visuals aside, could have easily starred Charles Bronson in his mid-1970s heyday. It’s Death Wish in fur coats – or, more accurately, The Passion of the Christ if Jesus survived his crucifixion and was determined to get even with that bastard who hammered the nails.

Romance Language: "Carol" and "The Masked Saint" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 10 January 2016 18:17

Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett in CarolCAROL

Carol is director Todd Haynes’ period drama about a passionate lesbian affair, and it’s a good thing the movie won’t be turning into any kind of mainstream hit, because otherwise it could have a truly dangerous effect. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, gazing at each other with urgent need, make the unhealthy and widely frowned-upon activity look so chic, sexy, and seductive that if the film became too popular, we might easily be seeing an entire generation of young women eager to be smokers.

Quentin Unchained: "The Hateful Eight" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 02 January 2016 19:38

Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful EightTHE HATEUL EIGHT

Its opening credits remind us that the vengeance-minded Western The Hateful Eight is “the 8th film by Quentin Tarantino.” That’s actually helpful. Because by the time the closing credits roll some two-and-three-quarter-hours later (the movie’s 70-millimeter “roadshow” version lasting some 20 minutes more), you’d swear it was at least the 28th film by Quentin Tarantino. I admire the man’s output to no end, and five of his seven previous features are firmly entrenched amidst my 10 favorites for their particular years. But despite its flashes of brilliance, I found myself as annoyed with The Hateful Eight as I was with 2012’s Django Unchained, and for much the same reason: Its auteur, by now, appears so immersed in the act of loving Quentin Tarantino that he leaves almost no room for us to love him, or his films, back.

Step-Daddy Issues: "Daddy’s Home," "Point Break," and "Youth" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 02 January 2016 19:30

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in Daddy's HomeDADDY’S HOME

I wasn’t terribly happy to sit through Daddy’s Home, given that director Sean Anders’ slapstick starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as über-competitive caretakers is a major comedown from the duo’s inspired pairing in 2010’s The Other Guys. But I was, at least, happy to have seen the movie during a well-populated screening with loads of grade-schoolers in attendance, as their frequent cackling clarified that the film was a family comedy, and therefore not designed to be as funny as, you know, a real comedy. I guess I was confused by the many jokes about Ferrell having to produce a sperm sample, and Bobby Cannavale manhandling Wahlberg’s prodigious package, and Ferrell’s stepdaughter (who appears to be about six) castigating him for “crying like a little bitch.” But what do I know? Bring the kids!

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