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Running, DUFFing, Tubbing: "McFarland USA," "The DUFF," and "Hot Tub Time Machine 2" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 23 February 2015 09:29

Kevin Coster and Ramiro Rodriguez in McFarland USAMCFARLAND USA

God, I hate Disney. Not all the time, of course, and in any case, “hate” is probably a strong word. But why does the studio have to keep releasing live-action movies that are inseparable from cartoons, with all of the potentially legitimate conflict inevitably dulled down and scrubbed squeaky-clean? And why does its succession of inspirational sports dramas never feature any actual coaching beyond bland and clichéd motivational speeches? And why do these damned things keep making me weep like a baby?

 
Forgotten, but Not Gone: "Still Alice" and "The Last Five Years" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 23 February 2015 09:23

Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore in Still AliceSTILL ALICE

In Still Alice, newly minted Oscar winner Julianne Moore plays Alice Howland, a 50-year-old recently diagnosed with a hereditary form of Alzheimer’s. At one point in the movie, after a series of not-bad days and pretty-awful ones, Alice and her family attend an off-Broadway production of The Three Sisters starring the youngest Howland daughter, Lydia (Kristen Stewart). We see Lydia enact Chekhov’s dialogue with appropriate, impressive anxiety and fortitude, and our view of Alice in the audience suggests that she sees it, too. After the play ends, the family goes backstage to congratulate Lydia, and Alice, with carefully chosen words, praises her daughter for her complex rendering of Chekhovian heart and humanity. Lydia smiles and blushes; this might be the most interest her mother has ever shown in her acting career. Then Alice asks what play Lydia is doing next, and whether she’ll be sticking around New York much longer. And in the reaction shot that follows, the heartbreak in Lydia’s eyes verifies what we immediately suspect: Alice, at this moment, has no idea who Lydia is.

 
Whip Lass: "Fifty Shades of Grey," "Old Fashioned," and "Kingsman: The Secret Service" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 15 February 2015 18:00

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades of GreyFIFTY SHADES OF GREY

Everyone knows that movies aren’t books. Yet it’s amazing how many people – critics, specifically – have chosen to forget that fact when discussing Fifty Shades of Grey, director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s and screenwriter Kelly Marcel’s adaptation of E.L. James’ pop-porn phenomenon.

 
He Swoops, He Scores: Predicting "Birdman" and the Other 2015 Oscar Winners PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 11:22

 

Michael Keaton in BirdmanA big Birdman night but nothing for Michael Keaton? A not-bad Boyhood night but nothing for Richard Linklater? A year in which every single Best Picture nominee will go home with at least one lovely, gold-plated parting gift? Yes, yes, and yes – so long as those “yes”es have asterisks behind them signifying “maybe.”

 
Blow It Out Uranus: "Jupiter Ascending," "Seventh Son," "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water," and "Two Days, One Night" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 08 February 2015 18:20

Mila Kunis in Jupiter AscendingJUPITER ASCENDING

After months of previews in the wake of its delayed release, the big-budget sci-fi spectacle Jupiter Ascending – originally scheduled for summer 2014 – finally landed this past weekend. And with its opening, a question can now be asked: Was there any point at which Warner Bros. executives seriously considered pulling the plug on writers/directors/siblings Andy and Lana Wachowski’s epic stinker? Maybe when Channing Tatum was cast as a human/wolf hybrid with a blond goatee and pointy ears? Or when an incensed Russian beat the hell out of his son with a throw pillow? Or when, for the performer’s first scene, the Wachowskis handed Mila Kunis an all-too-symbolic toilet brush?

 
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