GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2

Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God? —Tyler Durden, Fight Club When journalist Bill Moyers interviewed narratologist Joseph Campbell in 1988 he asked why hero stories could be found in every culture, every religion across the globe. Campbell’s reply was simply: “Because that’s what’s worth writing about.” There is another component to the universality of the hero’s journey, the one between fathers and sons. Sometimes the son must vanquish the father, or some facsimile, other times the son saves the father from himself. These tropes, which rear their heads … Continue reading GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2

WAR DOGS

Cinema feeds on cinema. No cinematic work is crafted in a vacuum and contemporary works refer back to previous ones. Sometimes in very inventive ways, other times for nothing more that pure derivation. They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, and it can be. But it can also be plain laziness. That laziness is what makes Todd Phillips’s latest, War Dogs, such a disappointment. Here are a story and a style, extremely familiar and highly derivative for all the wrong reasons. Based on the Rolling Stones article, “The Stoner Arms Dealers: How Two American Kids Became Big-Time … Continue reading WAR DOGS

JOY

David O. Russell’s latest, Joy, tells the story of Joy Mangano, an American inventor best known for her self-wringing Miracle Mop. Well, sort of. Joy is partly about how Joy Mangano became Joy Mangano, but it’s also about how family just likes to watch you fail, even if that means they have to lend failure a hand. Russell likes a squabbling family — Flirting With Disaster, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook — and the more squabbling the better, but with Joy, Russell takes his usual squabbling to an unbearably shrill level, sucking all the humor out of the room in … Continue reading JOY

SERENA

If names were enough to equal box office, Serena would be a bona-fide hit. “Serena! Starring Academy Award® Nominee Bradley Cooper and Academy Award® wining Jennifer Lawrence! Directed by Academy Award® wining director Susanna Bier! Two desperate souls lost in North Carolina’s Smokey Mountains. See it!” Alas, a movie is not comprised solely of stars, but story, character, aesthetic and movement. All of which, Serena lacks. In spades. Set in Depression Era North Carolina, Serena attempts to paint a picture of a rugged America and of rugged and hardened Americans. Attempts, but does not succeed. Cooper plays Pemberton, a tentative … Continue reading SERENA

Movie Beat – 8.01.14

The Almost Man – Some people are late bloomers and others will just never bloom. It’s still up in the air which one Henrik (Henrik Rafaelsen) will end up. 35 years old and still living with his mother (who treats him like the child he wants to be) when his girlfriend informs him that he is about to be a father. Henrik needs to make some drastic changes: a new job, a pre-fab duplex and responsibility are the name of the game. Sadly, these clothes don’t fit Henrik very well. Co-starring Janne Heltberg Haarseth, Tov Sletta, Per Kjærstad and Tore Sagen. … Continue reading Movie Beat – 8.01.14

Movie Beat – 12.13.13

American Hustle – It’s all about the con, not the con-artist, but the con. Every business, every transaction, every dream levied is a con in one way or another, and director David O. Russell is out to show everyone how deep the con goes. Christian Bale and Amy Adams are the con artist, Jennifer Lawrence is his ex-wife, Bradley Cooper is the FBI agent needing a little help, Jeremy Renner is the politician who is conning everyone, and Eric Singer and David O. Russell are the writers who concocted this whole shebang. Out in limited release from Sony Pictures.   … Continue reading Movie Beat – 12.13.13

Movie Beat – 05.24.13

3 Geezers –  If these geezers were in their twenties, they would audition for Jackass, if they were teenagers, they would be labeled ‘troubled youths’, and if they were in preschool, they would fit right in. J Kimball (J.K. Simmons) is researching a role for an upcoming movie and spends some time with these degenerates in a retirement home. When it becomes clear that he is in too deep, he calls on his Hollywood friends to put these old farts in their place. Makes perfect sense to me. Basil Hoffman, Lou Beatty Jr., Tim Allen, Scott Cann, Breckin Meyer, and … Continue reading Movie Beat – 05.24.13

Movie Beat – 03.29.13

Blancanieves – Snow White en español, re-telling of a  Grimm Fairy Tale in beautiful black and white photography by Kiko de la Rica and scored by Alfonso de Vilallonga. It was last year’s entry for the Foreign Film Oscar from Spain, but it will no doubt be called this year’s The Artist. Set in 1920s Spain, a young girl grows up with just a Father and learns his craft as a bullfighter. Hated and driven out by her evil stepmother, she joins a troop of traveling dwarves and becomes the most famous bullfighter in Spain.  Performances from Ángela Molina, Maribel … Continue reading Movie Beat – 03.29.13

Movie Beat – 11.16.12

Lincoln goes wide, Twilight finally comes to a close, and we’ve got ten new releases this weekend. Look out, here we go! 16 Acres – No trailer for this one, and only seeing a very limited release in one cinema this week in New York City, but still worth your attention once it comes to your city or to Netflix. It’s been over ten years since the attack on The World Trade Center, and the rebuilding of those 16 acres at Ground Zero have proven to be extremely complicated as political, financial, and emotional interests converge. The New York Time best summed … Continue reading Movie Beat – 11.16.12