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Good Help Is So Hard To Find...: "Big Momma's House 2," "Nanny McPhee," "Underworld: Evolution," and "The Matador" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 31 January 2006 18:00

Martin Lawrence in Big Momma's House 2BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE 2

In the second season of TV’s Arrested Development, struggling wannabe actor Tobias, separated from his wife and daughter, devises a brilliant strategy for insinuating himself back into their lives: He dons a wig and a frumpy housedress, speaks in a high, quasi-British falsetto, and greets his family as Mrs. Featherbottom, hired by “the agency” to serve as housekeeper and nanny. (Tobias, as the narration points out, is giddily – and ridiculously – enacting the plot to Mrs. Doubtfire.) His family is, naturally, unconvinced by Tobias’ disguise, but they’re happy to let him continue the ruse anyway – the house never looked cleaner. This subplot was a typically, fiendishly clever one for the series; by finally addressing the “Are you kidding?” element of this comic staple – where seemingly smart characters are fooled by a touch of latex and rouge – it subverted expectation by making our “hero” the butt of his own joke. Tobias’ drag act made it impossible to ever again watch Mrs. Doubtfire – or even Tootsie or Some Like It Hot or Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night – in quite the same way.

Hoffman Dazzles in a Remarkable "Capote": Also, "Hoodwinked" and "The New World" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 24 January 2006 18:00

Philip Seymour Hoffman in CapoteCAPOTE

When I first saw Bennett Miller’s Capote back in November, I was so knocked out by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal that I fear I may have undervalued the movie itself; Hoffman’s channeling of this singular author was so extraordinary that, although the film itself wouldn’t fit anyone’s definition of “feel-good,” I’m not sure I stopped smiling once through its two-hour running length. (Performances of this quality have a way of putting me in a fantastic mood, regardless of a movie’s subject matter.) But on a return visit to Capote this past weekend, I was able to more fully luxuriate in the brilliance of its design and the strength of its presentation; what could have been a “mere” performance piece proves, in the hands of Miller and screenwriter Dan Futterman, to be a work of rare artistry and depth. Capote is so beautifully crafted – thematically rich, psychologically insightful, and mordantly funny – that you might be embarrassed by what a fine time you’re having at it.

The "Road" Always Traveled: "Glory Road," "Hostel," and "Casanova" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 17 January 2006 18:00

Josh Lucas in Glory RoadGLORY ROAD

Is it just a coincidence, or do you think there’s an annual meeting wherein Disney shareholders tell the studio’s executives, “Bring us this year’s feel-good, triumph-of-the-underdog sports flick, and if you can find one that’s more formulaic, clichéd, and shameless than last year’s, all the better!” A couple of years back, we endured Kurt Russell guiding a bunch of interchangeable skaters to Olympic victory in the hockey drama Miracle, and my head is still reeling from the moribund sentimentality – and beyond-obnoxious miniature caddie – of The Greatest Game Ever Played, which managed to make golf look about five times less exciting than the sport’s reputation would suggest.

Western Union: "Brokeback Mountain" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 10 January 2006 18:00

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback MountainBROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

In Ang Lee’s agonizingly fine romantic western Brokeback Mountain, two taciturn young men – Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) – are hired, in the summer of 1963, to tend flocks of sheep on a Wyoming expanse. During the early days of their tenure, the men barely speak. Yet as the months pass, they form a solid friendship, and on one particularly cold night atop the mountain, Ennis and Jack share a bottle of whiskey and a sleeping bag, and – experiencing wordless, nearly aggressive desire – have sex. Despite the inevitability of the encounter, the sheer, naked hunger of the scene is startling, but a greater surprise comes some 20 minutes (and four years of screen time) later, in a scene so powerfully, emotionally true that – like much of Lee’s transcendently moving work – it hits like a slap in the face.

"Grizzly Man" Explores Nature Versus Human Nature PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 03 January 2006 18:00

Timothy Treadwell in Grizzly ManGRIZZLY MAN

When March of the Penguins became a sleeper sensation this past summer, I was pretty thrilled, and not merely because the film itself is wonderful. Documentary hounds like myself often spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to convince people that, strictly as an entertainment option, a well-made doc can be preferable – more surprising, more emotionally engaging – than most Hollywood releases, and so the emergence of this little-penguins-that-could tale as a box-office bonanza was, for many of us, cause for celebration.My hope is that those who missed March of the Penguins during its summer run will now be catching up with the film on DVD, and may even be moved to seek out other docs they’d heard of yet were unable to see theatrically. (And if this applies to you – and I promise to stop pressing this issue soon – get your hands on Murderball as soon as humanly possible.)

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