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items tagged with dramas

Given Half a Chance: “50/50,” “What’s Your Number?”, “Dream House,” and “Dolphin Tale”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-10-02 19:17:46

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen in 50/5050/50

Director Jonathan Levine’s 50/50 casts Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young man afflicted with a rare form of spinal cancer, and Seth Rogen as his loud, loutish, perpetually stoned best friend. Consequently, I expected the film’s title and my chances of actually enjoying the movie to be one and the same. It’s always great seeing Gordon-Levitt onscreen, but is there anyone left who isn’t longing for a break from Rogen’s braying, one-note shtick, even if, as he is here, the man isn’t just presumably but damn near literally playing himself? (50/50’s script is loosely autobiographical, and Rogen and author Will Reiser are real-life pals and frequent writing partners.)


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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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The Cough Heard 'round the World: "Contagion" and "Warrior"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-09-12 18:11:20

Jude Law in ContagionCONTAGION

I’m presuming, and hoping, that a bunch of you spent your weekend’s cineplex allowances on Contagion, director Steven Soderbergh’s bleak, elegant, deeply disturbing thriller about the planet’s decimation by a new strain of flu-like virus. I’m also praying that none of you saw it while on a date, because I can barely imagine how awkward the drive home must’ve been. One cough or casual touch from your movie-going companion and you’d be frantically ransacking the car for hand sanitizer and a surgeon’s mask.


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Chum Change: “One Day” and “Fright Night”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-08-20 18:35:35

Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway in One DayONE DAY

When Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) first meet in director Lone Scherfig’s One Day, it’s the morning after their 1988 university graduation, and a few minutes before the happily drunken pair tumbles into Emma’s bed. They don’t wind up consummating their flirtation, but the young Brits – and best-friends-to-be – seem perfectly content to smile and snuggle while the sun rises, and Emma makes the observation that the new day, July 15, is the English near-holiday of St. Swithin’s Day. Or, as Scherfig’s comedy/drama/romance might cause me to think of it from now on, St. “Well, Isn’t That an Astounding Coincidence?” Day.


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Mississippi Yearning: "The Help" and "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-08-14 18:16:01

Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, and Viola Davis in The HelpTHE HELP

Based on Kathryn Stockett’s much-loved bestseller, The Help concerns the tenuous relationships between black domestic workers and their privileged white employers in early-’60s Mississippi, and it’s a fairly obvious movie, with director Tate Taylor opting for broad brushstrokes over subtlety, and the occasionally wrenching drama sitting, rather uncomfortably, alongside klutzy jokiness. Yet offhand, I can’t think of another popular entertainment whose flaws matter less than this film’s, because everything that’s lacking in the picture is more than made up for in the fearless, emotionally precise, and oftentimes devastating portrayals of Taylor’s cast. The Help is easy to complain about, but all it takes is one of the magnificent Viola Davis’ fierce, tearful stares – or a blast of Octavia Spencer’s anger, or a flash of Emma Stone’s heartbreak, or a burst of Jessica Chastain’s joy – to make your complaints feel positively moot.


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