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items tagged with Penelope Cruz

Over the Hill, Under the Gun: "Bad Grandpa" and "The Counselor"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-10-27 17:24:54

Jackson Nicoll and Johnny Knoxville in Bad GrandpaBAD GRANDPA

This might surprise a grand total of none of you, but Bad Grandpa – which also goes by the more telling title Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – isn’t much of a movie. The first Jackass release to feature an actual narrative, and actual characters, in place of the usual parades of comically vile, violent challenges and stunts (though there are a few of those, too), director Jeff Tremaine’s road-trip slapstick is mostly shapeless and certainly obvious, and nowhere near as hilarious as you want it to be.

Yet it’s also a continually interesting and, in the end, rather sweet sociological experiment reminiscent of Borat, but a Borat without the mean-spiritedness. If Sacha Baron Cohen’s outing, with its Candid Camera-style employment of “real people” clearly not in on the joke, reveled in displaying how crass and ignorant Americans could be, Tremaine’s suggests just how tolerant and polite we can be – and given the circumstances presented here, that’s apparently mighty tolerant and polite indeed.


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Vacation Daze: "The Impossible," "Promised Land," and "Texas Chainsaw"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-01-09 19:25:48

Naomi Watts and Tom Holland in The ImpossibleTHE IMPOSSIBLE

Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible, based on one family’s experiences in the wake of 2004’s horrific Asia tsunami, is a supremely well-designed, emotionally draining disaster tale, and its opening minutes filled me with great dread. If only that dread were caused by the approaching tsunami.


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Viva Italia!: "To Rome with Love," "Savages," and "Katy Perry: Part of Me"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2012-07-09 17:50:33

Ellen Page and Jesse Eisenberg in To Rome with LoveTO ROME WITH LOVE

After Woody Allen’s rather staggering success with Midnight in Paris – personal-best box-office, the man’s first Academy Award in 25 years – I guess it was inevitable that critics, as a whole, would greet the filmmaker’s follow-up project with a collective “meh.” And that’s certainly happened with Woody’s new To Rome with Love. (Not that it matters, but the comedy is currently sitting with a “45-percent fresh” rating – i.e., “not fresh at all” – at the review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com.)

But I’d argue that the movie’s less generous critics have picked entirely the wrong picture to be indifferent toward, because the To Rome with Love that I saw was sensational – charming, hilarious, imaginative, and, in its offhanded way, enormously adventurous. As Woody’s latest is composed of a quartet of frothy comic vignettes set in the Eternal City, all of them reminiscent of the short fictions he occasionally writes for The New Yorker, it’s easy to see how the film is being perceived as slight. Yet that description, while somewhat accurate, doesn’t begin to suggest the masterly finesse and intelligence that Woody and his tremendous cast demonstrate here. If Midnight in Paris remains the writer/director’s finest achievement of the past two decades, To Rome with Love easily lands in the top five, and with more than 20 releases to choose from, that’s hardly something to sniff at.


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Privateerible: "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-05-22 18:15:09

Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger TidesPIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES

During the first hour of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the third sequel in Disney’s hugely successful franchise, characters are routinely told to beware of the mermaids – half-woman/half-fish beings who use their comely looks and tranquil siren songs to drag seafaring men to their deaths. Our adventurers take note of the warnings but pay them little mind, and really, why should they? Disney, after all, is the studio that gave us the benign cutie-pies of The Little Mermaid and (through its Touchstone Pictures label) Splash. Just how nasty can these things be?

We eventually find out, and as a result, I’ll likely never look at Ariel or Daryl Hannah the same way again.


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Manhattan-ite Transfer: “Sex & the City 2” and “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2010-05-30 19:03:51

Kim Cattrall, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis in Sex & the City 2SEX & THE CITY 2

Sex & the City 2 begins with a multi-million-dollar gay wedding at which Liza Minnelli serves as officiator and headliner, and somehow manages to grow even more over-the-top, garish, and belief-defying over its next two hours and 20 minutes. It should be said that writer/director Michael Patrick King's follow-up is only rarely dull, mainly because the act of repeatedly lifting your jaw up off the floor can't help but keep you awake. Yet S&TC2 is still an obscene and desperately unfunny ordeal, even if - maybe especially if - you derived occasional or continual pleasure from its six-season HBO forbear or King's 2008 big-screen offshoot.
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