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items tagged with dramas

Darling, I Love You, but Give Me Park Avenue: "Blue Jasmine," "The World’s End," and "You’re Next"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-08-25 23:41:52

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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Serving in Silence: "Lee Daniels' The Butler," "Jobs," and "Kick-Ass 2"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-08-19 09:06:55

Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels' The ButlerLEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER

While raving to him about Lee Daniels’ The Butler – the glorious, heart-rending, hugely entertaining Civil Rights saga that may showcase the finest performance yet by star Forest Whitaker – a friend asked if it was the sort of movie that needed to be seen at the movies, or if it was something that could wait until home video. I replied that, as much as I think great films should always be seen first in as grandly scaled a format as possible, it was probably a work that wouldn’t lose much in the transition from big to smaller screen. Although director Daniels’ effort covers some 75 years of American history, with Whitaker portraying an eight-term White House servant over more than 50 of them, it’s still a rather intimate epic boasting a mostly understated visual style, and will no doubt play just fine in home-theater settings. (Actually, after the film’s “For Your Consideration” screeners are eventually sent out, I think it’s going to play awfully fine in the home-theater settings of Oscar voters. My first thought on the drive home was that even though it’s only August, this year’s Best Picture, Director, and Actor races were already all sewn up.)


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New Year’s Resolution: "Fruitvale Station" and "The Way Way Back"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-07-28 21:56:35

Michael B. Jordan and Melonie Diaz in Fruitvale StationFRUITVALE STATION

Marvel Studios’ recent spate of superhero movies has trained us – or tried to train us, at any rate – to stick around for at least the first few minutes of the end credits, offering the promise of a bonus scene designed to build excitement for comic-book adventures yet to come. (Not to give the details away, but Marvel’s new The Wolverine features a happy doozy of one promoting 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.) Yet while they couldn’t possibly have been expecting this same sort of credit cookie at the independent drama Fruitvale Station, the audience members with whom I saw the film stayed similarly glued to their seats, almost as though none of them was quite ready for the experience to be over. Given how haunting and emotionally overpowering writer/director Ryan Coogler’s debut feature is, it would be impossible to blame them.


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Out with the Old Sport, in with the New: "The Great Gatsby," "Mud," and "Peeples"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-05-12 22:34:37

Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great GatsbyTHE GREAT GATSBY

Although, in the end, the film wound up an engaging and surprisingly touching entertainment, and it’s visually spellbinding throughout, the first half hour of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby felt, to me, exactly like the first half hours of all Baz Luhrmann movies: annoying as hell.


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“Pines” Soul: "The Place Beyond the Pines" and "Oblivion"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-04-22 03:15:21

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.


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