In September 2008, the month when Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games was first released, another young-adult series—featuring a certain milquetoast “heroine” and her sparkly vampire—still reigned supreme. But for those of us who never gave a flyin’ flip for Team Sparkly or Team Shirtless, and who still mourned the completion of Harry Potter, Hunger Games was the perfect antidote. It was shockingly brutal yet unbelievably (even compulsively) readable. It immediately became a bestseller — mostly driven by incredible word of mouth. So when it was announced that director Gary Ross (Pleansantville, Seabiscuit) was to direct the film adaptation, the intense scrutiny began. But fans, rest assured: the Hunger Games movie is a superbly made, tremendously faithful adaptation that is worth seeing again and again. Read more »
Here’s the sad truth: Many who go to see 21 Jump Street won’t have any clue that it’s actually based on a TV show. The phrase “I said jump, down on Jump Street” will mean absolutely nothing to them. (Nor incite an urge to shout “jump.”) The connection between this movie and Johnny Depp will be lost. They’ll be confused why some audience members cheer at the brief cameo of Holly Robinson (Peete). They will not know who Richard Grieco is. (To be fair, many of us have also forgotten.) But it doesn’t matter. Those women (and some men) who had the Johnny Depp poster up in their rooms—smoldering eyes, denim vest, and all—will appreciate the nostalgia; the rest will laugh at the dick jokes. Read more »
Last Days Here
Director Don Argott first came onto my radar in 2005 when he released Rock School, his Roger Ebert-approved documentary about the Paul Green School of Rock and its foul-mouthed namesake. After moving into the fine art world with Art of the Steal and nuclear fear mongering with The Atomic States of America, which screened at Sundance in January, he’s come back around to the glorious world of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll with Last Days Here—only in this documentary, that world isn’t so glorious. Read more »
Thus begins one of the most important movie weekends of the year. On Tuesday, Oscar ballots will be mailed out—nominations announced four weeks later (on January 24). So this will be the final weekend for wide release films to make an impression. While Hugo, The Descendants, and The Help have been talked about for weeks, this will be studios’ last chance to make an impact. So here are my reviews of the big name releases this week. Read more »
There are stupid movies and then there are stoopid movies. The stoopid movies are the ones that should be avoided at all costs — those of the Glitter or Gigli ilk — which after viewing make you feel like you’ve lost part of your youth. The stupid movies, on the other hand—as my friend so eloquently stated—are those that are rented on a rainy night when it’s just you and a box of wine. (Well, she said a glass of wine. But whatever). Like Death Becomes Her and National Treasure. They’re dumb, but that’s their charm. New Year’s Eve, Garry Marshall’s new holiday schlockfest starring every available actor who wasn’t in his craptastic Valentine’s Day, falls somewhere in between. Though probably closer to the stoopid end of the spectrum. Read more »
It’s Thanksgiving, which means it’s time to be together. Watch the parade together. Make food together. Eat together. Watch a few games together. Drink together. Fight together. Go see a movie together. (Thankfully, though technically together, seeing a movie together requires absolutely no talking.) And this is a great Thanksgiving for films, especially family friendly ones. Here are a few of my suggestions. Read more »
Twi-hards scare me. Gleeks and Beliebers scare me too, but it is the fervent fanaticism of the Twilight enthusiasts that’s frightening. (At a screening, a complete stranger asked me if I was a reviewer and whether I liked the other films. For my safety, I answered yes to both). Negative reviews bring swarms of angry Twi-moms to leave scathing comments that disparage the reviewer and claim the writer simply doesn’t get it. The fans see beyond the flaws of the books and the movies and only focus on the love story—which, between a century old, sparkly vampire and a teenage girl, is a little creepy.
Well fans, prepare for another negative review. Read more »
While most remember J. Edgar Hoover for little else than his leadership of the FBI—and perhaps his rumored homosexuality and alleged penchant for wearing dresses—he was a complex man. Obsessed with knowledge and power, he used both as tools (blackmail?) for the advancement of himself and the nascent bureau. His nearly 40-year career as FBI director spanned some of the messiest, tensest, and most trying times of our country’s history: the Lindbergh baby, gangsters, communists, civil rights, and a presidential assassination. So then with a subject matter so rife with drama, why does Clint Eastwood’s new film J. Edgar feel so sterile? Read more »
Tim Chambers, writer-director of the new women’s-basketball movie, The Mighty Macs, became an expert in fast breaks before he knew how to dribble. It was a biological imperative. As one of 12 kids growing up in a house with three bathrooms in Newtown Square, Chambers had no choice. He was number eight in the birth order.
“Sure, we fought over bathroom time,” Chambers, 48, says with a quick laugh. “The shower was never turned off. We just rotated in and out. Whoever got up late knew they would get a cold shower.”
Chambers expects a warmer reception for The Mighty Macs when it opens nationally on Friday. (The world premiere was held at the Kimmel Center last week. See photos from the red-carpet event here.) It tells the improbable story of the 1972 national championship women’s team from Immaculata College, an all-girls Catholic school in Chester County. Read more »
Let’s be honest: The original Footloose is not a great movie. A cheesy storyline, incredibly hammy acting, and a tractor chicken race—all ingredients for a movie disaster. Yet with the charismatic and swoonable Kevin Bacon, director Herbert Ross (Steel Magnolias), and the electrifying soundtrack featuring the eponymous Kenny Loggins’ single, the movie was greater than the sum of its parts. It became a box office smash and a classic. And for many, myself included, the movie still makes you feel nostalgic and kinda irritated that anyone would dare remake it. And after seeing the Footloose remake, you may still find yourself irritated.
Why? Because a remake should try to find something new in the material. It should look for a fresh perspective. It shouldn’t simply reset the story in a different time or place and change a few details. Unfortunately, the new Footloose does just that. It is the original film set in present-day Georgia, with a few plot changes, and a cast that apparently stepped right off the So You Think You Can Dance set. Read more »