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“Pines” Soul: "The Place Beyond the Pines" and "Oblivion" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 21 April 2013 21:15

Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes in The Place Beyond the PinesTHE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

You may not remember this if you’re 25 or younger, but between the mid-’70s and mid-’90s, we were sometimes treated to Very Special Episodes of long-running sitcoms. These episodes, which were usually twice as long as their shows’ 22-minute standard, found beloved characters momentarily wrestling with Weighty Themes and tackling Important Issues, and were frequently showered with critical praise and awards despite, or maybe because of, their general self-consciousness and bloat. (Michael J. Fox and Helen Hunt surely owe several of their Emmys to VSEs.) They’re mocked now, and they were kind of mocked then, and so it might seem like a particularly condescending insult to say that director Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines feels like nothing so much as a Very Special Episode of a gritty, edgy indie drama.

 
And Here's to You, Mr. Robinson: "42" and "Scary Movie 5" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 13 April 2013 14:58

Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman in 4242

42, writer/director Brian Helgeland’s dramatization of three years in the life of baseball trailblazer Jackie Robsinson, is an earnest, deliberately old-fashioned entertainment, an inspirational bio-pic made with professionalism and care but little in the way of emotional or thematic nuance – it’s the very definition of what-you-see-is-what-you-get filmmaking. In three specific scenes, though, this seemingly prototypical triumph-of-the-underdog sports flick also achieves a legitimate, rousing greatness, and it’s the sort of expansive and lingering greatness that makes you leave the picture feeling, with few reservations, that the movie as a whole was truly great.

 
Worst Intervention Ever: "Evil Dead," "Olympus Has Fallen," and "Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 07 April 2013 11:49

Jane Levy in Evil DeadEVIL DEAD

While I like the movie just fine, I’m not enough of a fanatic for Sam Raimi’s 1981 splatter classic The Evil Dead to get in a twist about the existence of director Fede Alvarez’s new, definite-article-free remake Evil Dead. (It’s when Hollywood inevitably remakes Raimi’s priceless horror sequel Evil Dead II that we’re gonna have problems.) But despite being mostly entertained by Alvarez’s beyond-bloody outing, especially during its second half, I do have to question the decision to make it, for so much of its length, so bloody serious. This is a film, after all, in which a demon is released by a supernatural incantation, nail guns and electric carving knives are the weapons of choice, and one character escapes a (more-)dreadful fate by enacting a speedier version of 127 Hours. How are we not asked to laugh at all this?

 
Gee, I Didn’t Hate "Joe": "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" and "The Host" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 01 April 2013 10:52

Dwayne Johnson in G.I. Joe: RetaliationG.I. JOE: RETALIATION

If you handed a box of crayons to a group of eight-year-olds with action figures, they’d probably come up with a more entertaining storyline for G.I. Joe: Retaliation than the one we’re stuck with, which is your standard blockbuster nonsense about a megalomaniac’s plan for world dominion and the crack team of well-armed, quip-ready hotshots attempting to thwart him. In a welcome surprise, though, director Jon M. Chu’s follow-up to 2009’s G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra is, unlike its forebear, quite a bit of zippy, throwaway fun, a fast-moving and happily unpretentious diversion with jokes, and good ones, obviously written specifically for viewers well over the age of eight.

 
Girls Gone Wilder: "Spring Breakers," "Application," and "The Croods" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 01 April 2013 10:47

Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Benson in Spring BreakersSPRING BREAKERS

At the screening of Spring Breakers that I attended, I counted eight viewers who walked out of the movie, and stayed out, well before the end credits rolled. In all honesty, I’m amazed the tally wasn’t higher than that. The movie being touted in print and in trailers promises a rowdy, randy romp in the sun with built-in audience-grabbers: Disney princesses acting nasty! James Franco with cornrows and grillz! But the movie that writer/director Harmony Korine has actually made – despite, indeed, its also being a rowdy, randy romp in the sun – bears so little relation to its cheeky, borderline-innocuous advertising campaign that patrons can be easily forgiven for feeling badly misled and deciding to bolt. It would be like going to see Dumbo and instead getting Gus Van Sant’s Elephant.

 
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