BAYWATCH

When Baywatch debuted on NBC in 1989, it was already antiquated. Constructed around a group of lifeguards saving swimmers from drowning while occasionally tracking down serial killers was thin at best, but with a gaggle of good-looking actors who took themselves too seriously, the ridiculous plots the writers came up with turned into television gold. How then to make a 21st century feature film reboot of the franchise ever more absurd and ridiculous? Answer: Hire a bunch of impossibly busty models, a couple of ripped hunks, let them ad-lib as much as possible, and hope for comedy. The results are … Continue reading BAYWATCH

“I am spinning gold!” — A conversation with Adam Devine on MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES

Adam Devine is a clown, and a successful one at that. Whether he is chaos incarnate on the big screen in the his latest movie, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, or just an actor doing junket interviews in The Sink’s backroom, he’s going to bring the funny. Question: How much of the movie was improvised on set? Answer: “36% I would say,” Devine replies matter-of-factly. “If we’re talking improv, I got to give you stats.” The co-creator, writer and star of Comedy Central’s Workaholics has come into his own with a few big screen supporting roles under his belt … Continue reading “I am spinning gold!” — A conversation with Adam Devine on MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES

Starz Denver Film Festival: Day 10 – 12

From jean to shining jean Proper cinema doesn’t highlight the differences that separate us, but the things that connect us. Blue Gold is one of those documentaries it works hard to show us how tradition and culture can spread across the globe, all in a harmless, but somehow revolutionary pair of pants. Jeans were first known as Miner Pants, but then WWII came and the jeans went overseas. At first, the jeans were identified with cowboys, but thanks to Marlon Brando and James Dean, they became the symbols of counter-culture. Symbols that The Ramones and The Sex Pistols co-opted. Soon, these jeans were taken and marketed … Continue reading Starz Denver Film Festival: Day 10 – 12

Movie Beat – 05.09.14

Breastmilk – Breast milk is better for a child and produces a more intimate connection between mother and baby than formula does, but in this fast paced business world, it just takes too long. Too long to pump, too long to abstain from a cocktail, too long to feed the child. This is American and we want things now! Of course, raising a child requires time, and breastfeeding is just one of those activities that require time. Standing firmly on the side of breastfeeding, Breastmilk is a very blunt movie about the difficulties facing the modern mother. From director Dana … Continue reading Movie Beat – 05.09.14

Movie Beat – 01.31.14

12 O’clock Boys – They call them 12 O’clock boys because they ride their bikes straight up in the air. They are a gang of kids, running wild on the streets of Baltimore, where the police are hamstrung by a policy that won’t allow them to pursue a risky chase. Pug is a young boy enchanted with the 12 O’clock Boys and wants to ride with them, even if his mother, Coco, wants him to be a veterinarian. The Westside of Baltimore is a gritty and dangerous place, and director Lotfy Nathan brings a camera to an unsung way of … Continue reading Movie Beat – 01.31.14

2013: Another Year of Moviegoing

2013 was an excellent year at the movies, but I said the exact same thing about 2012. Film critic for The New Yorker, Richard Brody, chose to open his year-end summary with this quote, “The year 2013 has been an amazing one for movies, though maybe every year is an amazing year for movies if one is ready to be amazed by movies.” I am always ready to be amazed by movies, and 2013 did not disappoint. I was consistently surprised how many movies continue to develop and unfold in my mind days, weeks, and months after I saw them. They refused to leave and I … Continue reading 2013: Another Year of Moviegoing

Movie Beat – 10.04.13

A.C.O.D. – Adult Child of Divorce, a very common thing these days, “the least parented generation in history.” That might explain all the hang-ups. Or the parents might have just been basket cases to begin with and never should have had children in the first place. Adam Scott is the Adult Child in question who is dealing with his divorced parents played by Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara while his younger brother, played by Clark Duke, gets engaged. Jane Lynch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Amy Poehler, and Jessica Alba all join in on the fun. Ben Karlin and Stu Zicherman wrote … Continue reading Movie Beat – 10.04.13

AT ANY PRICE

SONY-AYOS-01-Onesheet2.25.2013_Layout 1

“Expand or die.” “Go big or get out.” These two mantras not only describe what motivates the modern-day farmer, they actually speak to the average American’s desire to conquer. They might actually resonate more than Danny Lugo’s mantra from Pain and Gain, “If I feel I deserve it, the universe will serve it.” Pain & Gain is still in theaters, as is Iron Man 3 where Tony Stark tells us in the opening voice over, that we create our own demons. Pay attention to the first five minutes of At Any Price, the groundwork is laid here. Why bring up these two movies in relation to Ramin Bahrani’s latest effort? If those two movies invoke what is distinctly American, At Any Price shows us who it really is. Not larger than life body builders, not billionaire comic book heroes, but one of the most quintessential and overlooked American figures, the farmer.

At Any Price is about Fathers and Sons and the gravity that relationship can take on. An often quoted Biblical saying goes that the children are punished for the sins of the father. There is truth to that, and this movie explores that, but At Any Price shows that it cuts both ways. Sometimes fathers must pay for the indiscretions of their children. Consider the scene in the cornfield toward the end of the second act, Henry staring good and hard at his son, Dean. That look is a “What are we going to do now?” look that a father will give his son in major situations. What a father does after he gives his son that look says more about who he is as a person and a father than anything else. It reveals the character underneath, and Henry Whipple is all out of character.

Continue reading “AT ANY PRICE”

Movie Beat – 04.26.13

Arthur Newman – Wallace (Colin Firth) is tired of his life and decides to start over again. This time with someone else’s identity, completely fabricated, a new man: Arthur Newman (a bit on the nose if you ask me). He meets Michaela, or Mike, (Emily Blunt) and they take off together, having all sorts of adventures and romps that poor old Wallace could only dream of. But when fiction becomes so desirable, there is a point where we must turn it into a fact. That means taking the crap along with the fun. Two characters in search of an identity, two great actors in search of a … Continue reading Movie Beat – 04.26.13

Movie Beat – 10.05.12

Butter – It was Julia Child’s favorite ingredient, it is the best thing to use when sauteing, and everyone is terrified of what it does to our arteries: butter. Here I was spreading it on my toast all this time! I had no idea that butter sculptures were a thing, but that is why we go to the movies, to learn something new. Butter is about a local butter sculpting contest, dominated by the local housewives, and a youngster who discovers her hidden talent. How wonderful it is to realize one’s true potential. Stars Jennifer Gardner, Ty Burrell, Oliva Wilde, … Continue reading Movie Beat – 10.05.12