Hometown hero (and long rumored homosexual—sorry, Jada) Will Smith returns to the big screen as a con man with a plan in Focus. The new film from writing/directing duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, responsible for the mildly amusing gay comedy I Love You Phillip Morris and the delightful Crazy, Stupid Love, mostly leaves comedy behind in favor of a muddled … romantic dramedy thriller? Regardless of the film’s lack of foc … cohesion, it is definitely a fun ride, at least for the first-half.
While many of us were gaga over Meryl Streep’s performance of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, that film did little to shine a critical light on the real-life Maggie. Her conservative clutches kept much of Great Britain in a state of crisis for years, something that came to a head during the U.K. miners strike of 1984 and 1985. For almost an entire year, hard-working British miners held strong with their union as they went on strike to protest the closing of twenty coal mines—and the doubling of the U.K.’s unemployment rate.
What’s so gay about that, you ask? Keep reading …
Armed with an unflappable understanding of justice and a haircut you can set your watch to, Jack Ryan was already a movie hero the second the late Tom Clancy committed him to paper. Given its easy appeal, the successful Clancy-inspired film franchise, inactive since 2002’s The Sum of All Fears, has been overdue for a reup. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit takes very few risks with the patriot and the formula, but its action serves as an ass-kicking reprieve from all that awards-season indigestion.
He’s reading local news in North Dakota. He’s interviewing Peyton Manning. He’s selling trucks. He’s sitting on a journalism panel at a (now slightly less) prestigious college. He’s…hosting a Canadian curling competition?! Dear God, Ron Burgundy is everywhere. I need to get some air. Wonder what the weather’s like outside…
I know I wasn’t the only cinephile disappointed that the Philadelphia Film Festival didn’t make IndieWire’s inaugural list of the 50 leading film festivals back in 2010. They haven’t released a new installment of the list since then, so you’d have to imagine that the PFF – under the stalwart leadership of executive director J. Andrew Greenblatt and artistic director Michael Lerman, who took the reigns back in 2008 – would most definitely make the cut now. Especially with the wealth of films they’ve amassed for this year’s edition, which begins this Thursday and runs through October 27th, and promises some 90-plus features for our viewing consumption. Forthwith, one critic’s picks for some of the most anticipated, must-see entries over the next 10 days, in alphabetical order.
It has been a disastrous summer for movies. Compared to last year, box office was down over 17 percent. (Much of this has been attributed to woefully under-performing clunkers The Lone Ranger, White House Down and After Earth.) But even of those films that did make money, few were actually any good. Instead, you had to go to a small theater to see most of the quality movies, like: The Way, Way Back, Fruitvale Station, Frances Ha, Before Midnight and Much Ado About Nothing. So here are my picks for the best and worst of 2013 … so far.
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The Conjuring — opening today — is based on the “true” story of two families: the Perrons who are being terrorized by the evil spirits in their new country house, and the Warrens, paranormal experts that the Perrons turned to for help. With great acting (especially Vera Farmiga as the clairvoyant Lorraine Warren), homages to class horror movies, and old-fashioned, door-slamming scares, Conjuring is one of the most enjoyable horror movies to be released in a long time. [My grade: B+]
Perhaps the tepid, if not vicious, reviews have not yet swayed you from seeing The Lone Ranger this weekend. Perhaps your sincere, stalkerish love of Johnny Depp makes you think that anything he is in is worth seeing. Perhaps you think that since it’s directed by Gore Verbinski (who helmed Rango and The Pirates of the Caribbean), this too will be fun and enjoyable. Well, you would be mistaken. The Lone Ranger is a bloated, random, weird, violent mess of a movie that would be best viewed as a rental (if at all). Here’s why:
For the most part, I am excited to see new movies (save for those in the Twilight series or anything starring Julia Stiles). But the movie that I have anticipated the most this year is Star Trek into Darkness. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a household where my dad and I watched The Next Generation every Monday night. (The best was when Captain Picard and the Enterprise had to fight the Borg or deal with Q. The holodeck episodes? Not so much.) Or perhaps it was due to J. J. Abrams’ killer 2009 reboot that was perfectly cast and perfectly fun. Either way, I’m pleased to say that Darkness lived up to my anticipation.
As I was reading through old reviews and writings of Roger Ebert last week, I stumbled across an interview he did for the Television Academy Foundation’s Archive of American Television. In it he talks about the importance of film criticism and his infamous disagreements with fellow critic and co-host of At the Movies, Gene Siskel. “As mad I was about him not liking Apocalypse Now, he couldn’t believe I could find fault with Full Metal Jacket by Kubrick.”