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items tagged with dramas

Girls Gone Wilder: "Spring Breakers," "Application," and "The Croods"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-04-01 16:47:56

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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The Agony of the Ecstasy: "Snitch" and "Escape from Planet Earth"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-02-24 17:48:56

Barry Pepper, Susan Sarandon, and Dwayne Johnson in SnitchSNITCH

As a film star, Dwayne Johnson possesses a lot of gifts – or, at least, sufficiently impressive gifts for what his résumé has required. Though God knows he’s physically intimidating, Johnson is also our most thoroughly genial of ass-kickers, with even his most violent of big-screen endeavors leavened by a welcome lightness of touch and hint of amused self-mockery. And as he has proved in all those bland family entertainments over the years, Johnson still manages to appear game and committed in movies that don’t deserve his considerable charisma, often salvaging entire scenes through unexpectedly silly gestures or readings that show just how inventive a comedian he can be. (I was happy for 10 whole minutes following his brief channeling of co-star Michael Caine in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. They were about the only 10 minutes during the movie in which I was happy.)


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Eat and Greet: "Warm Bodies" and "Stand Up Guys"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-02-03 15:23:31

Rob Corddry and Nicholas Hoult in Warm BodiesWARM BODIES

See if this sounds familiar: A sweet, lonely, non-human – but decidedly male – being with a limited vocabulary toils through a portion of Earth all but completely devoid of life, performing the same mundane, regimented activities day after day. Occasionally, he augments the dreariness by collecting tchotchkes from more civilized days, which he stores in his makeshift home-slash-warehouse, and comforts himself by playing old music on a recognizably antiquated device. One day, a beautiful female enters his life, and although he’s initially nervous about making contact, he proceeds to woo her by offering safety and shelter, making her laugh, and subtly expressing his undying devotion. The female, however, soon leaves, but our protagonist doesn’t take her evacuation lying down. Instead, he follows his beloved, and subsequently sets into motion events that not only might reunite the pair, but might lead to the rejuvenation – indeed, the very survival – of the entire human race.

If you didn’t know the movie in question was titled Warm Bodies, and didn’t know it was a romantic comedy about a zombie who becomes enamored with a girl with a pulse, wouldn’t that description sound just a teensy bit reminiscent of WALL•E?


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It Takes a Vile Witch to Raise a Child: "Mama," "Broken City," and "The Last Stand"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-01-20 18:28:33

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jessica Chastain, Isabelle Nélisse, and Megan Charpentier in MamaMAMA

A new film titled Mama opened this past weekend, and it stars Jessica Chastain. Given the current Oscar nominee’s cinematic omnipresence over the past two years, you may be inclined to say, “Well, of course it does.” But I’m leading with that information because in addition to being almost insanely prolific, Chastain (whose recent résumé also boasts The Tree of Life, The Help, Take Shelter, and, of course, Zero Dark Thirty) is about as reliable an indicator of quality as this decade’s movies have provided. And against considerable odds, not the least being its unpromising January release date, director Andrés Muschietti’s outing is a supernatural fright flick of considerable quality – gripping and nerve-racking and sensationally well-made, and yet another showcase for Chastain’s stirring soulfulness and remarkable versatility.


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The Needle in the Haystack: "Zero Dark Thirty," "Gangster Squad," "A Haunted House," and "Hitchcock"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-01-14 18:45:03

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark ThirtyZERO DARK THIRTY

As an orchestrator of cinematic suspense, Kathryn Bigelow might currently be without peer in American movies. The sequences of Jeremy Renner dismantling explosives in the director’s Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker were miniature masterpieces of sustained excitement; despite our knowing, through much of the film, that it was too early for Renner’s Sergeant William James to be killed off, each masterfully shot and edited act of bomb disposal vibrated with legitimate threat. In Zero Dark Thirty – Bigelow’s and screenwriter Mark Boal’s fictionalized docu-drama about the decade-long search for Osama bin Laden – nearly every scene feels like a ticking time bomb. There is, of course, never any doubt about the narrative’s outcome, yet Bigelow’s gifts for composition and pacing ensure that you still watch the picture with rapt attention and dread. And blessedly, she’s also a spectacular entertainer. The movie is tough-minded and sometimes tough to watch, but even when Bigelow is fraying your nerves, she’s tickling your senses.


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