The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Despite a challenging premise and an overlong runtime, the Hunger Games prequel makes the most of the hand it’s been dealt.
The character of Coriolanus Snow is an odd choice for a Hunger Games hero. In the original books and films, as played by screen giant Donald Sutherland, Snow was a cold-hearted, cruel dictator clearly meant to echo real world fascist leaders. Here, in the prequel story The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (say that five times fast), Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) is just a sensitive, emotional teen dreamboat whose main goal is to provide for his family in the wake of the violent revolution that tore apart Panem, the country formerly known as the United States of America. Continue Reading →
Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One
One of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One's earliest pieces of marketing was a trailer-by-way-of-behind-the-scenes featurette. In that clip, Tom Cruise, strapped to a motorcycle, rockets off the edge of a cliff in the Swiss Alps. He lets the bike drop away before popping his parachute and sailing into the horizon. It's one of the most death-defying sequences ever captured on film and, as we now know, it's one Cruise himself did again and again and again. The sequence, even devoid of context, sums up exactly what director Chris McQuarrie and Cruise (the two are also co-producers) hoped to achieve in Dead Reckoning: grade A movie spectacle. Continue Reading →
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
One of the things I enjoy most about the moviegoing experience is coming out of a film feeling as if I've actually learned something that I didn't know before, or had not even occurred to me in the first place. That's exactly the feeling that I got while watching Sam Pollard’s The League, a documentary about the history of Negro baseball leagues in America. Going in, I suppose I knew the basics about the subject and could name such key figures as Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige, but Pollard, who previously directed MLK/FBI, and executive producer Questlove delve much deeper, and the results are indeed fascinating. Continue Reading →