Review: 'The Neon Demon' offers sleek and sexy scares with a satirical twist
Credit: Broad Green Pictures
B+

Review: 'The Neon Demon' offers sleek and sexy scares with a satirical twist

The director of 'Drive' puts on his best De Palma and goes a little crazy

There are, in every generation of filmmakers, certain archetypes that repeat themselves over and over. For example, every generation has its playful prankster, the talented visual artists who are delighted by their own ability to take beautiful pictures of horrible things.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am drawn to filmmakers who use cinema as a way of pushing buttons, and I am a fan of the outrageous and the extreme. When I saw De Palma, the new documentary about Brian De Palma and his filmography, it sent me scrambling to watch a number of his older films again. They are so familiar at this point, so well-worn, that it surprised me to see how new they still feel when I took a step back. The next day, I went to a screening of the latest film from Nicolas Winding Refn, and the back-to-back timing of the two films made me laugh. More than anything, this feels like Refn working in the genre that De Palma had largely to himself in the late ’70s and early ’80s before getting relegated to mere late-night Cinemax fodder.

Read Full Post
Review: 'Hunt For The Wilderpeople' is a charming coming-of-age adventure story
Credit: The Orchard
A

Review: 'Hunt For The Wilderpeople' is a charming coming-of-age adventure story

Taika Waititi keeps getting better every time he makes a movie

Taika Waititi has been quietly building his body of work as a filmmaker with a distinctive comic voice and a deadpan absurdist shooting style. Eagle vs Shark was a sweet little romantic comedy with a real voice, and What We Do In The Shadows is a laugh-out-loud deflation of film vampires from every era. With his latest film, Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Waititi really comes into focus as a filmmaker, and he’s got an exceptional sense of control over some tricky material.

It helps that Sam Neill gives one of his very best performances as Hec, a grizzled old man who lives on a remote farm with Bella (Rima Te Wiata, who was delightful in Housebound). When the foster care system brings them a 12-year-old boy named Ricky (Julian Dennison), Bella is able to forge a connection to him. It’s not easy, but once Ricky starts to get comfortable, this sweet vulnerable side comes out, and Dennison does terrific work playing Ricky honestly. The film is broken into chapters, and by the start of chapter two (out of ten), Waititi has already devastated the audience and pushed Hec and Ricky together as a very unlikely duo on a big adventure.

Read Full Post
Can you smell what 'The Wolf Man' is cooking?
Credit: Universal Home Video

Can you smell what 'The Wolf Man' is cooking?

Universal's dreaming big if recent casting rumors are true

Dwayne Johnson as The Wolf Man?

Now I’m interested.

Of all the Universal monsters, The Wolf Man remains the most human, and while I don’t think Lon Chaney Jr. was a strong overall actor, he was perfectly matched with the character when he played Lawrence Talbot for Universal. The thing that made Chaney so right for the role was the air of sadness that he carried with him, that resigned fear of his own nature as each new full moon approached. He didn’t want to be a monster, and he fought against it as much as he could. He went out of his way to try to keep other people safe. And he was haunted by the knowledge that the only true release from his curse was death. The real Chaney seemed to have his own permanent dark cloud, so it’s hard to tell just how much of that was in the script and how much of it was informed by the casting. He was so good that even when he showed up in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, he managed to give the film a shot of pure heartbroken angst.

Read Full Post
Forest Whitaker's a familiar Star Wars character hiding in plain sight in 'Rogue One'
Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Forest Whitaker's a familiar Star Wars character hiding in plain sight in 'Rogue One'

So does this mean we'll see a live-action Ahsoka Tano?

In the past, I’ve been less than sensitive to the feelings of fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. When they learned that these books that were so important to them for over 20 years had just been wiped away completely, it must have hurt, especially because those fans are the ones who carried the torch at a time when Star Wars wasn’t considered an omnipresent pop culture force. There’s some degree of ownership those fans and frustration feel for these things they love, and those feelings were dismissed in favor of something new, something they may not love in the same way.

Many years ago, I got as close as I suspect I’ll ever get to working on a Star Wars project when my writing partner and I got into the room with the development guys behind the proposed live-action Star Wars series. It was a good meeting, but we never heard back from them, and at least part of the reason was because of the reporting I’d done on the prequels when I was at Ain’t It Cool News. When they described their vision of the show, it sounded terrific, and knowing they have a stack of scripts locked in a vault somewhere for this show drives me crazy.

Read Full Post
Tom Cruise is ready to hospitalize more bad guys in the 'Never Go Back' trailer
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise is ready to hospitalize more bad guys in the 'Never Go Back' trailer

Jack Reacher has some bones to break this October

It would be interesting to speak to the producers of the Jack Reacher films, including Tom Cruise, just to ask them why they seem dead-set against doing the books in chronological order. Not every single book in the series by Lee Child follows the one directly before it. He’s played with time a bit, jumping back to fill in some details about the character. However, for the most part, there is continuity in the series, and by making the movies in what feels like random order saps some of the fun of the way Child told the story.

The first film in the series, Jack Reacher, was adapted from One Shot, the ninth book in the series. In the fourteenth book in the series, Reacher begins an over-the-phone relationship with Major Susan Turner, and he began to work his way across the country to meet her. It was book eighteen, Never Go Back, where Reacher finally met her face-to-face, shocked to find her in custody when he arrives. In this new film, directed by Ed Zwick, Cobie Smulders plays Turner, and it looks like a fairly straightforward adaptation by Zwick and his longtime collaborator Marshall Herskovitz of the book. But without any legwork to set up the relationship between Turner and Reacher, the stakes are different for the characters.

Read Full Post
Review: Why can't we just smile and enjoy the 'Raiders' remake documentary?
Credit: Drafthouse Films
C

Review: Why can't we just smile and enjoy the 'Raiders' remake documentary?

Hubris, pure and simple

There are times where I don't want to write about a film because I know for a fact that publishing my review is going to end up making people I like angry at me, and this is one of those times. But even months after seeing it, I find myself struggling to make sense out of the film Raiders! The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made and the enthusiasm people have for it.

I think the film is revealing, certainly, but I wouldn't say I enjoyed it. I also wouldn't call it a celebration of anything. Whether they realize it or not, Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen have given us one of the most searing, ugly portraits of artistic hubris since Overnight. I spent a good portion of my screening at the Drafthouse feeling sick to my stomach, tied in knots by what I was watching instead of elated or moved, which is what I was sort of expecting.

Read Full Post
Did Warner Bros. change the conversation about 'Justice League' today?
Credit: Warner Bros

Did Warner Bros. change the conversation about 'Justice League' today?

That was certainly the goal, and they made a valiant attempt.

When the phone rang, I answered immediately. I knew Bebe Lerner, Zack Snyder’s personal publicist, was supposed to be calling me, but I wasn’t sure why. “Hi, Bebe,” I said. “Am I in trouble?”

It’s a fair question. After all, my relationship to Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice has been a difficult one, and my reportage this spring set off way more controversy than I would have guessed possible. At this point, anytime I start to write about any DC film, I have a moment of hesitation. “Is this worth the hassle it will inevitably become?” One of my least favorite things about all of this has been the way all communication with Zack and Deb Snyder ceased the moment my reporting set off a ripple of bad publicity. I’ve been talking to the Snyders about their work since they were in post-production on 300, and I genuinely like the two of them. In particular, I love the way they work together. I give Deb Snyder tons of credit for what she brings to that creative partnership. Zack Snyder is allowed to be Zack Snyder because of how hard Deb Snyder works to make that happen.

Read Full Post
'Spider-Man' and 'Ghostbusters' loom large in the plans of Sony Pictures Animation
Credit: Sony Pictures Animation

'Spider-Man' and 'Ghostbusters' loom large in the plans of Sony Pictures Animation

Lots of familiar titles here and not much innovation

Sony Pictures Animation has always been the red-headed stepchild of studio animation arms. They’ve had a few big hits, a few mid-sized hits, and they’ve done a very good job of squeezing every possible penny out of the direct-to-video market with sequels to some of their titles.

In the press release they sent out today, Sony made it clear that they’re doubling down on animation. Kristine Belson is the president of Sony Animation, answering directly to Tom Rothman, and she talked about letting artists drive the films they’re planning to make. It’s a pretty safe list overall, with an emphasis on pre-existing properties, and I have a hard time getting my head around how anyone is even remotely artistically moved by the idea of an Emoji movie.

Read Full Post
Eli Roth is ready to make a 'Death Wish' with Bruce Willis
Credit: MGM/UA Home Video

Eli Roth is ready to make a 'Death Wish' with Bruce Willis

The exploitation classic is set to get an update from a very apt director

Hollywood’s determined to remake Death Wish.

And why not? If anything, the property seems more timely than ever. Joe Carnahan was on board as writer/director for a while, and then it looked like Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado were set to direct it. Today, it’s being reported that Eli Roth is now set to direct from a script by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, working from Carnahan’s earlier drafts, with Bruce Willis still attached to star.

Read Full Post
Is anyone really surprised about where 'The Flash' is heading next season?
Credit: The CW

Is anyone really surprised about where 'The Flash' is heading next season?

Grant Gustin spilled the beans and he couldn't be more excited

This should go without saying, but there are major spoilers in this piece for the end of season two of The Flash as well as some speculation about the nature of season three.

One of the things that Twitter has done is profoundly alter the way we discover new information about various films and TV shows. This morning was a pretty great example of that. Grant Gustin, who stars as Barry Allen on CW’s The Flash, is gearing up for the start of production on the show’s third season, and he sent out a teasing Tweet this morning:

Read Full Post
Prev Page 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 463 464