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items tagged with action movies

Contract Highs: "Moneyball," "Killer Elite," and "Abduction"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-09-25 17:32:32

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in MoneyballMONEYBALL

On paper, the casting of Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane in Moneyball must have seemed inspired. On screen, it’s so, so much better than that. Pitt has, of course, given many wonderful performances over the past two decades (and just as many blandly acceptable or downright dreary ones). But to my mind, his Billy Beane – driven, hopeful, cocky, incensed, funny, tender, and smart as hell – is the actor’s first chance to employ all of his gifts in the service of an emotionally expansive, fully shaped character, and Pitt’s beautiful and generous work here is truly a sight to behold. Director Bennett Miller’s last feature film was his 2005 debut Capote, which netted Philip Seymour Hoffman a Best Actor Oscar. With Moneyball, Miller might find himself batting 2-for-2 for his stars in that category.


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Near-Perfect Getaway: “Drive,” “Straw Dogs,” and “I Don’t Know How She Does It”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-09-19 02:29:40

Ryan Gosling in DriveDRIVE

Drive is the first action thriller I’ve seen in ages in which the chases and threats and killings actually matter. Yet it’s also the first movie I’ve seen in ages, in any genre, in which a kiss actually matters, which is a far greater surprise. Directed by Danish helmer Nicolas Winding Refn, whose work here earned him Best Director laurels at this past spring’s Cannes Film Festival, the film is a sleek, exciting, and unexpectedly affecting tour de force of mood, like what you’d get if the Michael Mann of Manhunter and the David Lynch of Blue Velvet collaborated on a scrappy, grubby B-picture for drive-in audiences. I couldn’t possibly mean that as a higher compliment.


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Swap Meat: “The Change-Up” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-08-07 00:13:07

Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds in The Change-UpTHE CHANGE-UP

The Change-Up, in which Jason Bateman’s discontented husband and father magically swaps bodies with Ryan Reynolds’ perfectly contented slacker dumb-ass, is an appallingly smutty and juvenile slapstick. In the segment that finds Reynolds (in Bateman’s body) preparing a late-night feeding for his pal’s infant twins – with one tot seen playing with butcher knives and the other reaching into the blender and sticking his tongue into an electrical socket – it features one of the most painfully unfunny scenes in cinema history, and I’m not excluding any given scene in Sophie’s Choice or Schindler’s List.


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Bay’s in Toyland: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-06-30 17:57:35

Trassformers: Dark of the MoonTRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON

As long as Transformers: Dark of the Moon didn’t come off as the worst movie of the year – or rather, the worst movie of several years – it would stand as a notable improvement on 2009’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I’m greatly relieved, then, to say that Michael Bay’s latest, ultra-loud toy story is not the foul, nightmarish, jaw-dropping travesty that its predecessor was. Only half of it is.


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Single Wiped Female: “Bridesmaids,” “Jumping the Broom,” and “Priest”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-05-16 00:07:46

Ellie Kemper, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Maya Rudolph, and Kristen Wiig in BridesmaidsBRIDESMAIDS

You wouldn’t necessarily think that exhaustion and depression would be fertile subjects for a big-screen slapstick – at least, for a big-screen slapstick that didn’t star Paul Giamatti. Yet in director Paul Feig’s buoyant and brainy Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig plays a sad, discouraged, frequently humiliated maid of honor with such inventiveness and style that she seems to be creating a new comic archetype right before your eyes. Hiding her misery behind a thinly veiled mask of courtesy and good cheer, and letting her anger and resentment spill out in sarcastic asides and messy, chaotic bursts, Wiig’s Annie – like many of the brilliantly talented performer’s most memorable characters – is a singular creation. And so, too, is Bridesmaids, a female-driven Judd Apatow comedy (he’s a co-producer) with the rare distinction of being smarter than it is funny, though it’s still plenty funny.


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