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items tagged with Michael Pena

Ridley’s Believe It or Not: "The Martian" and "Sicario"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-10-03 22:01:02

Matt Damon in The MartianTHE MARTIAN

If you, too, are a devotee of Ridley Scott’s Alien, you’ll no doubt remember how its title came into view during the opening credits: as a series of vertical, diagonal, and horizontal white lines that slowly appeared, beginning with the “I,” one or two at a time until the capitalized “ALIEN” was wholly spelled out. Thirty-six years later, the title for Scott’s sci-fi tale The Martian is revealed in the exact opposite manner: as a full, capitalized “THE MARTIAN” that gradually fades away, one portion at a time, until only the “I” remains.

Obviously, that disappearing act is a decidedly minor touch, especially in a film that runs just shy of two-and-a-half hours. But it might also be Scott’s most quietly clever touch, and not merely because The Martian’s chief narrative concerns an “I” that winds up left all alone. By offering a literal reverse of his 1979 achievement’s opener, Scott seems to be suggesting, with an wink, that his new endeavor will be 180 degrees removed from the claustrophobic, stomach-bursting horror of Alien, and that proves decidedly to be the case. While this adaptation of Andy Weir’s bestseller (with its script by Drew Goddard) does share some of Alien’s themes, principally the life-and-death imperatives behind deep-space problem-solving, Scott’s latest is expansive instead of spare, chatty instead of terse, heartening instead of nihilistic. It’s also, far and away, and from beginning to end, the most sheerly likable movie Ridley Scott has yet made – an exciting, moving, and altogether glorious sci-fi bear hug that leaves you feeling almost ridiculously happy. Given a career that’s found him exploring every conceivable shade of dark, it turns out that Scott looks pretty great in the light.
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Monog-Amy: "Trainwreck" and "Ant-Man"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-07-18 18:07:02

Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in TrainwreckTRAINWRECK

Longtime admirers of Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer could easily be troubled by director Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck, considering that by its finale, the wickedly smart, subversive, hysterical Schumer has morphed into a pretty standard rom-com heroine. (The transformation may be particularly dispiriting knowing that Schumer wrote the script.) As for me, I came to the party late, not having seen the star’s sketch-series output until a few months ago, so I’m still living happily in the Amy Schumer afterglow, and was grateful for the oftentimes very funny Trainwreck at least being better than standard Hollywood rom-coms. Schumer’s more die-hard fans may well bristle, but hey – I barely know the woman.


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Tanks. A Lot.: "Fury"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2014-10-19 21:06:28

Brad Pitt in FuryFURY

Granted, I haven’t seen Birdman yet, but it’s hard to imagine any movie this year featuring a more kick-ass title character than the one in writer/director David Ayer’s Fury. A battered but still indomitable Sherman tank plowing through Nazi Germany at the tail end of World War II – its name imprinted, twice, on the tank’s cannon – Fury is both an amazing destructive force and a desperately needed safe haven for its five-man platoon. Our heroic tank also boasts more personality than any human on-screen, but in the case of this particular film, that’s relatively easy to forgive.


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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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“Stee-e-e-erike!”: "Trouble with the Curve," "End of Watch," and "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2012-09-24 03:27:30

Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood in Trouble with the CurveTROUBLE WITH THE CURVE

The latest movie to star Clint Eastwood, marking the icon’s first on-screen appearance since 2008’s Gran Torino, is director Robert Lorenz’s baseball drama Trouble with the Curve. That curve, by the way, is the least of this film’s troubles.


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