Archive | movies RSS feed for this section

A Year with Hitchcock: Waltzes from Vienna, by Reed Lackey

18 Jun

Hitchcock called this the low point of his career. He later called Champagne his least favorite of his films, but maintained that this movie represented an odd sort of crossroads and not an entirely pleasant one. Rich and Strange had been a good film but a commercial failure. Number Seventeen had represented a sloppiness in both style and substance, as if crafted by a hopelessly amateur filmmaker. Then, came Waltzes from Vienna, a film so utterly removed both by narrative and genre from the remainder of Hitchcock’s work as to seem ridiculously anomalous.

[…]

A New Adventure, by Bob Connally

17 Jun

It seems hard to believe that 14 years have passed since Pixar released Brad Bird’s animated masterpiece The Incredibles. In fact, at least some showings of Incredibles 2 are preceded by a brief message from Bird and the main voice cast thanking the audience for their patience. It’s somewhat jarring then when the film picks up right where the first one left off, with the Parr family donning their costumes and masks to take on the Underminer (Pixar staple John Ratzenberger). Bird uses this immediate continuation of the story to his advantage giving this sequel a sense of instant momentum.

[…]

A Year with Hitchcock: Number Seventeen, by Reed Lackey

15 Jun

Hitchcock tackles another play, but this time, it’s a full-blown noir mystery thriller. Behind the scenes, the financial failure of Rich and Strange (aka East of Shanghai) had caused the production company to remove him from the project he really wanted to do and forced him to take on this one. As a result, his heart wasn’t in its creation and he later heavily derided it as one of his least favorable films (he called it a “disaster”).

[…]

A Year with Hitchcock: Rich and Strange, by Reed Lackey

12 Jun

Hitchcock lightens things up this time with an entry that drifts away from the smaller, domestic dramas and from his adaptations of plays to present a far more comical story about the allure of wealth and opulence. The result is a rather pleasant farcical adventure that Hitchcock himself liked quite a bit, and which you are likely to enjoy as well.

[…]

Recognition, by Bob Connally

3 Jun

“The brains of people are more interesting than the looks, I think.” – Hedy Lamarr, 1990

One of the fascinating aspects of loving movies from Hollywood’s “Golden Age” is noticing how certain stars of the past are widely remembered today while others go largely forgotten, even if they were huge in their time. Even people who have never seen a Katherine Hepburn movie could probably tell you she was a popular actress of the 20th century. It’s likely they’ll have at least heard of Bringing Up Baby or Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Throughout the 1940s, Hedy Lamarr was considered by a great many people to be “the most beautiful woman in the world.” However, films such as Algiers, Boom Town, Ziegfeld Girl, and Dishonored Lady are really only known today by the most dedicated classic film aficionados. Lamarr herself is no longer widely known as a classic film star. But based on Alexandra Dean’s new documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, the Austrian woman born Hedwig Kiesler would probably be delighted to know that she is now remembered for something far bigger. Something for which she was denied recognition during her lifetime.

[…]

By The Numbers, by Reed Lackey

25 May

Star Wars as a franchise seems to have a complicated relationship with telling the beginnings of stories. The highly divisive and frequently maligned prequels to the original trilogy remain the low bar by which all other entries in the franchise are measured. It’s even riskier, then, for the franchise to begin to tell even more “stories-before-the-stories” with their recent entry Rogue One, and the latest installment: Solo.

[…]

Maximum Effort, by Bob Connally

22 May

Two years ago much was made about the surprisingly massive success of Deadpool. Many attributed it to the film being a highly irreverent and decidedly R-rated superhero comedy that subverted expectations. This somewhat reductive view made me concerned that we would begin to be inundated with knockoffs made by people who didn’t really understand just what it was that made Deadpool work. I could practically hear studio heads saying, “A superhero who swears a lot and makes pop culture references?! That’s gold, baby! We gotta get us one of those!”

On top of that, Deadpool wasn’t even the first highly irreverent, decidedly R-rated superhero comedy that subverted expectations. It wasn’t even the first this decade. Both Kick-Ass and Super (which was directed by a pre-Guardians of the Galaxy James Gunn) had gone that route relatively recently. What made Deadpool special and such a wildly funny and entertaining movie was the passion and personality that star Ryan Reynolds brought to it.

[…]

At What Price Victory?, by John Viinalass

2 May

Woof.

I’m not one given to profanity, but at the end of Infinity War, I found an expletive to be the only concise way of reacting to the emotional gut-punch I had just experienced. As the first part of a climax to a decade-long cinematic journey, Avengers: Infinity War wields its dramatic heft with far greater grace than you would expect from a two-and-a-half-hour long long summer blockbuster.
Note: Spoilers after the jump.

[…]

Total Commitment, by Tyler Smith

25 Apr

Six years ago, at the end of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, the Marvel Cinematic Universe promised to become even bigger than it already was. By briefly teasing the eventual appearance of cosmic villain Thanos, they alluded to one of the biggest events in comic book history, The Infinity Gauntlet. Remembering the tragic events of that series, I found myself wondering just how far the MCU was willing to go. With Avengers: Infinity War, I finally have my answer. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, this film is every bit as enjoyable, daring, and vital as any superhero movie in history. It needed to take the genre to a new level of hopelessness, committing to genuine life and death stakes. And, while it may not feature the mass death of the comic book series, its fatalistic tone is everything that I was hoping for.

[…]

Next in Line, by Bob Connally

2 Apr

In March of 1953, the Soviet Union had been gripped by the Great Terror for two decades. With each new enemies list, Premier Joseph Stalin had more Soviet citizens exiled, arrested, or executed without trial. With even the most conservative estimates suggesting that Stalin was responsible for the deaths of 20 million people, there’s a sense that the opening sequence of Armando Iannucci’s new satire is not as outlandish as it may seem.

[…]