Review: Michael Mann's stupid cyberthriller 'Blackhat' strands Chris Hemsworth utterly
Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: Michael Mann's stupid cyberthriller 'Blackhat' strands Chris Hemsworth utterly

HitFix
D
Readers
n/a
A baffling failure on a whole lot of levels

There are moments where a talented director makes a film so bad that you feel like you might need to go back to watch their earlier films just to make sure you weren't wrong when you liked them.

"Blackhat" is the worst film Michael Mann has made since "The Keep," and I think given the choice between the two, I would happily watch "The Keep" again first. I am baffled by almost every moment of "Blackhat," and I'm struggling to make sense of where something goes this wrong. I haven't read the spec that Morgan Davis Foehl sold to the studio, but I know that Mann felt strongly that he deserved a co-writing credit on the film, one that the WGAw denied him after an arbitration. I'm not sure who to blame for the truly unfathomable narrative choices throughout, but I have to give Mann the final credit for creating a 135 minute film that didn't feel a second less than five hours long.

Read Full Post
Film Nerd 2.0: Santa, 'Lawrence Of Arabia,' and the struggle with what's really real
Credit: Sony Pictures

Film Nerd 2.0: Santa, 'Lawrence Of Arabia,' and the struggle with what's really real

My favorite movie and my favorite people in one place? This sounds promising.

We didn't even get to the car until about midnight, and Allen was pretty much wiped out by that point. I put him in his seat, and he was asleep before I could make it into the driver's seat.

Toshi, though, was wide awake as we drove out of Hollywood, out the 101, all the way to Northridge. Even with no one else on the road, that's a solid forty-five minutes. Toshi was quiet, thinking, as I started the car.

"That's your favorite movie?"

"Yep."

"Out of all the movies, that's the one you like the most?"

"Yes."

Long pause again as he thought it over. "It's good. It's good." Another long pause. "I mean, it's not my favorite. But that's good for you."

Read Full Post

Slow start for 2015

I just realized how little I've posted here since January 1st, and it's sort of mortifying.

The thing is, I've been working. I'm writing a bunch of things that you'll see later, I'm working to set up interviews and contributions on projects that won't publish for a little while, and the net result is that it looks like nothing's going on.

Read Full Post
'Seven Samurai' to 'Anchorman': The greatest actor/director teams in movie history

'Seven Samurai' to 'Anchorman': The greatest actor/director teams in movie history

How has brought out the best in Joaquin Phoenix, Uma Thurman, Mel Brooks and Scorsese?

For many of you, "Inherent Vice" is opening this week after playing for the last month in limited release. The film, my personal favorite movie released last year, is the second film in a row for Paul Thomas Anderson and Joaquin Phoenix as director and actor, and part of what dazzled me about it is seeing just how different this is than "The Master."

One of the particular pleasures that I've always enjoyed about film is when we see the same people work together repeatedly, because it's fascinating to see what stays the same from film to film and what changes. There are relationships that last five or ten or even more films, and there are relationships that are defined in two or three movies. The best teams aren't just the ones who work together over and over… they're the ones who make each other better by collaboration.

Read Full Post
Viola Davis closing in on overall deal to play Amanda Waller in DC movie universe
Credit: Warner Bros Home Video

Viola Davis closing in on overall deal to play Amanda Waller in DC movie universe

If you've got to replace Angela Bassett, Viola Davis is a heck of a choice

If Viola Davis is going to be the Samuel L. Jackson of the DC movie universe, I am perfectly fine with that.

If you're not terribly familiar with Amanda Waller, the character she is in final negotiations to play in a number of different DC movies, let me recommend a recent DC animated film to you as a sort of crash course in both Waller and the Suicide Squad. "Batman: Assault on Arkham" will give you a pretty decent idea of what you can expect when David Ayer's "Suicide Squad" hits theaters in August of 2016.

Read Full Post
'Predestination' directors on Ethan Hawke and their gender-bending time travel trip
Credit: HitFix

'Predestination' directors on Ethan Hawke and their gender-bending time travel trip

The Spierigs are back after a five-year absence with a challenging new film

Ethan Hawke had a pretty great experience at SXSW this year. It marked the hometown premiere of Richard Linklater's "Boyhood," and he was also there with a new film from Michael and Peter Spierig. He starred in their last film, "Daybreakers," back in 2009, and having him onboard for "Predestination" was what allowed them to get it made.

The Spierigs fascinate me. Their first film, "Undead," was stylish and lovely, but I thought it was also dramatically inert, miscast in a critical role. Hollywood's been flirting with them since the moment they made that film, and "Daybreakers" looked like a big step forward, with recognizable movie stars like Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Neill. It didn't connect, though, and now five years later, they're back with a much smaller film, although no less ambitious than anything they've done so far.

Read Full Post
Review: Even Liam Neeson's massive body count can't liven up the dull 'Taken 3'
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review: Even Liam Neeson's massive body count can't liven up the dull 'Taken 3'

HitFix
C-
Readers
n/a
Lots of mayhem adds up to nothing at all

Hey, Warner Bros, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that someone finally cracked the way to remake "The Fugitive."

The bad news is that "Taken 3" is that movie, and it's for another studio.

Serial killer John Taken (Liam Neeson) is back in the swing of things as he kills his way through an ocean of anonymous mobsters because something something money something shaky-cam something something killed bare handed.

Read Full Post
A new column examines what might have been with Brad Pitt and 'To The White Sea'
Credit: Paramount Pictures

A new column examines what might have been with Brad Pitt and 'To The White Sea'

A mysterious theater gives us a look at a film that should have been made

THE CORNER SHOW #1
discovered and curated by Drew McWeeny

The following is the first installment in a new regular feature here at HitFix. People are fascinated by stories of films that were almost made, and we've certainly dug into that subject in the past. This is a new way of doing that in an ongoing format, and we hope you enjoy what is meant to be a game, a fun way of looking at an alternate movie history.

It is safe to say that I had a very challenging 2014. So maybe what happened was a complete break with reality. Who could blame me? There's only so much anyone can take, and I've certainly had my own limits tested recently.

So trust me.. at first, I considered forgetting all about what happened this past weekend and never writing a word about it. But it was so strange and so special that before I get underway with our regularly scheduled programming, I feel like I have to write this up and share it.

Let's be clear. You're not going to believe what I have to tell you today.

Read Full Post
'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' gets dangerous with addition of 'The Raid 2' stunt team
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' gets dangerous with addition of 'The Raid 2' stunt team

Oh, man, I hope they give that one dude laser knives

Even the staunchest haters of "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," will most likely admit a grudging respect for the way Ray Park brought Darth Maul to life. Casting a talented stunt performer who could also act was the smartest thing Lucas did in that whole film, because Park brought that physicality to everything he played in the film, even when he was just pacing.

When I recently posted my "Top Ten Of 2014" list, I had "The Raid 2" right there at #10 on the list. I think it's an incredibly made film, and a big part of that is because the stunt team on that movie is top-notch, unrelenting, and precise in a way that allows them to do things that look impossible. As you can see in the piece embedded at the top of this article, I spoke with Iko Uwais, the star of the film, at Sundance a year ago. I think these guys are crazy good at what they do.

Read Full Post
The curious case of Rotten Tomatoes and 'The Brass Teapot'
Credit: Magnolia Pictures

The curious case of Rotten Tomatoes and 'The Brass Teapot'

HitFix
B-
Readers
n/a
A look at a different aspect of the relationship between filmmakers and critics

A little over a week ago, I got an e-mail from Stuart Zakim, a publicist I've heard from a few times in the past, and I scanned it, as I try to scan everything that hits my e-mail box.

Here's where I'm going to give you a look at how the sausage gets made. For the most part, I write based on instinct and time and opportunity. I would like to write ten times the material I write at the moment, because there are that many things I'd like to share with you. There are that many things worth discussing. And every time I feel the moment to discuss something slip by, and I don't get a chance to write about something, it drives me crazy.

So one of the things I try not to get pulled into is what I like to call "other people's priorities." That sounds heartless, and there are moments where it feels heartless, but I have to have some rules about what I'll cover. There are things that are obviously very important to the people who are e-mailing me, and considering I get about 30 of those a day on slow days and sometimes many more than that, there's absolutely no way I can even begin to do that for all of them.

Read Full Post