Even before the internet, certain movies had reputations they didn’t quite live up to. Some, like Salo or 120 Days of Sodom, earn their mythical status as movies designed to make your skin crawl and your stomach clench. Others, like the Faces of Death series, while unpleasant to watch, were just empty, acting as a controversy delivery devices and nothing more. Others still, like William Friedkin’s Rampage, never courted outrage. But unlike those others, whatever reputation it earned before the public got a chance to see it didn’t much help. As a result, at least partially, it remains one of the more obscure releases in Friedkin’s filmography. Continue Reading →
Let's face it: At this point, you're either in for the overamped, Saturday-morning-cartoon lunacy of a Fast and Furious movie or you're not. Building from its humble roots as a 2001 street-racing Point Break riff to the gargantuan action tentpole it's after a whopping ten movies (eleven if you count Hobbs & Shaw), the series has built quite the convoluted lore over the decades. There are dead characters who come back to life (Sung Kang's Han), living characters who can never come back because their actors are no longer with us (see: Paul Walker's Brian), sworn enemies who join the familiar just one film later. It's dudebro soap opera, fueled by nitrous oxide and every weird, bonkers thing the filmmakers can think to do with a car. Continue Reading →
We’re officially in the third decade of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson being a movie star. The former WWE legend made his cinema debut in the forgettable sequel to The Mummy, where he’s introduced as the dreaded Scorpion King, one of the most infamous early CGI debacles. Special effects have since improved, along with Johnson’s abilities as an actor and charismatic leading man. However, it feels like now we’ve come full circle with DC’s Black Adam. Continue Reading →
DC League of Super-Pets
Being a pet owner can enrich your life and open your heart to certain movies you may otherwise ignore. If I had watched DC’s new animated children’s film, League of Super-Pets, before being a proud doggy dad, I would have rolled my eyes. I likely would’ve declared it a blatant cash grab that distracts kids with cute talking animals, loud explosions, mediocre animation, and plenty of needle drops that date the film quicker than Shrek. Continue Reading →
The phenomenon of Disney adapting its own theme park rides to the silver screen will never not be fascinating to me. It's the ultimate act of corporate synergy: watch Disney movies, come to Disneyland to experience them in real life, come ride our rides, then watch the movie based on the rides. What's even more fascinating are the ones that work: Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean pulled off a minor miracle in adapting a pretty groan-worthy theme park ride into a vibrant, Errol Flynn-like adventure. And in an attempt to recapture that kind of heat, we now have Jungle Cruise, which gets points for referencing the right things, even as it refuses to reinvent the wheel. Continue Reading →
Like any human being, I am predisposed to like Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock. The man is charisma incarnate, a shockingly charming person who has proven to have not just skill, but that ineffable something that true stars possess. So know I don’t take lightly what I am about to say. Continue Reading →
Watching the first cut of Richard Kelly’s ultra-ambitious Donnie Darko follow-up is like riding a wave of mutilation.
Southland Tales, director/writer Richard Kelly’s apocalyptic epic of a world gone berserk in the run-up to a paranoia-riven presidential election, is at long last a little closer to completion. Thanks to the fine folks at Arrow Films, the 158-minute cut of the picture that played at Cannes – as opposed to the 145-minute theatrical cut – is now widely available for the first time. Compared to the theatrical cut, The Cannes Cut lays out Kelly’s bigger picture more clearly and deepens the (famously odd) ensemble’s work.
For good and ill, The Cannes Cut is still Southland Tales. It’s one of the great whatsit movies of the early 21st century, an artifact of the mid-to-late Dubya years that captures the specific tenor of the United States’ anxieties and fears from that time in amber. It’s a kinky, surreal Armageddon wounded by its early-aughts-sour-bro treatment of its ensemble’s leading women. It is, in other words, an extremely 2006 movie. In its best moments, it describes and invokes the overwhelming sensation of being alive at a time when everyone and everything has come undone. Continue Reading →