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Missing Inaction: “Prisoners” and “Battle of the Year” PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 21 September 2013 22:45

Jake Gyllenhaal in PrisonersPRISONERS

Prisoners, which features Jake Gyllenhaal as a feverishly driven detective, is the most exciting and emotional cop thriller we’ve been treated to since last fall’s End of Watch, which Gyllenhaal also starred in. Beyond that, director Denis Villeneuve’s effort is probably the most suspenseful, evocative, and disturbing procedural thriller since David Fincher’s 2007 Zodiac ... which also boasted Gyllenhaal in a leading role. I’m generally skeptical about the effectiveness of good-luck charms, but if the actor cared to accompany me the next time I buy a lottery ticket, you wouldn’t hear me complain.

 
Mob Mentality: "The Family" and "Insidious: Chapter 2" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 15 September 2013 08:04

Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer in The FamilyTHE FAMILY

Robert De Niro fans will likely want to catch director Luc Besson’s The Family, as it showcases one of the actor’s finest, most alert leading performances in years. Michelle Pfeiffer fans (and I’m a huge one) will definitely want to catch this new gangster comedy, as it gives the eternally radiant performer the closest she’s had to a fully fleshed-out character in over a decade, and Pfeiffer – returning to her mob-wife roots of the Scarface and Married to the Mob era – plays the role spectacularly well.

Yet there’s one demographic for whom The Family should be absolutely must-see viewing: anti-Francophiles. Though it has its problems, several of them major ones, I’m betting that most of its viewers will enjoy the film. But if you’re the sort who’s prone to make hostile remarks about the French with little or no provocation, or have ever referenced “freedom fries” completely without irony, this is, without question, the movie for you, which makes this latest effort by Parisian filmmaker Besson not just cheeky but downright subversive.

 
Objects of Riddickule: "Riddick" and "The Ultimate Life" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 09 September 2013 07:13

Vin Diesel in RiddickRIDDICK and THE ULTIMATE LIFE

A few weeks ago, before heading off to see Kick-Ass 2, a friend asked if I thought 2013 was, as he felt, the year of the completely unnecessary, unrequested sequel. As I had, by that point, already sat through The Smurfs 2, RED 2, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, The Last Exorcism: Part II, and Scary Movie V – to say nothing of The Hangover: Part III, Fast & Furious 6, and Grown Ups 2, all of which someone must have requested – I told him yes.

Had he asked the same question this past Friday, before my double-feature of Riddick and The Ultimate Life, I would have told him hell yes.

 
Labored Day Weekend: "Closed Circuit," "Instructions Not Included," "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," "One Direction: This Is Us," and "Getaway" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 01 September 2013 23:01

Eric Bana and Ciaran Hinds in Closed CircuitIt’s a commonly held belief, mostly because it’s generally true, that no worthwhile movies open on either the last weekend of August or Labor Day weekend. So I hope I wasn’t alone, among reviewers, in feeling trepidation about my most recent cineplex duties, given that this year, in a calendar rarity, those weekends were one and the same. (Would the films be twice as bad as usual? Would there be twice as many bad films to contend with?) But I’m pleased, and somewhat shocked, to report that my latest movie-going experiences weren’t relentlessly grim. They were just relentlessly weird, especially considering I had the best time at the weekend’s worst picture, and the lineup’s most professionally rendered offering made me fall dead asleep.

 
Darling, I Love You, but Give Me Park Avenue: "Blue Jasmine," "The World’s End," and "You’re Next" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 25 August 2013 17:41

Cate Blanchett in Blue JasmineBLUE JASMINE

Woody Allen’s new drama Blue Jasmine is modeled, both loosely and very specifically, on Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, and if you’re familiar with that stage classic – or, really, with Williams’ oeuvre in general – you can correctly presume that the movie will not end on a note of cheer. Yet for the life of me, I couldn’t convince my face of that, because Cate Blanchett’s almost impossibly fine performance in the writer/director’s latest left me smiling so contentedly you would’ve thought the screening came with an open bar and complimentary full-body massage. Catching up with me on the way out of the auditorium, a friend, regarding Blanchett’s portrayal, said, “I think I’m gonna be high for a week.” I’m pretty sure I vocalized my agreement but was feeling too high to be certain.

 
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