Short Takes: Amazing Spider-Man 2, Grand Budapest Hotel & more

906429 - The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2- Peter Parker is much more interesting than Spider-Man in this sequel to a reboot.  In fact, Parker (Andrew Garfield) and his on-again, off-again soul mate Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) seem to be acting out a completely different movie, a romance with genuine warmth and feeling.  The rest of the movie is a straightforward superhero mash-up, with generically assembled fight sequences and standard villain templates (maniacal corporate brat, vengeful outcast, Russian gangster).  It’s fairly easy to see where director Marc Webb’s heart was while making this mega-budget spectacle, but there are too many movies here trying to cram into one. Grade: C

Continue reading

Advertisements

BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: Django Unchained

url

Django Unchained
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino (screenplay)
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kerry Washington

Django, like the ‘D’ at the beginning of his name, is silent.  This is no small feat, given that he is the main character in a Quentin Tarantino movie, and should be stopping to yak at any given opportunity, preferably before a burst of ultra-violence.

Of course there is plenty of bloodshed in Django Unchained, so much in fact that it paints a white plantation red, mostly with the blood of its owner and his employees.  It is Tarantino’s second historical revenge fantasy in a row, following the revisionist WWII epic Inglourious Basterds.  Here, though, he crucially refuses to revise the horrors of American slavery, and depicts them in ways that are startling and horrific.  The blood from the shootouts may be gratuitous and expressionistic, but it’s the beating, dog mauling and whipping that feel brutally real even if the movie they are in is often highly stylized.

Continue reading

REVIEW: Django Unchained

Django Unchained movie still

Django Unchained
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino (screenplay)
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kerry Washington

Django, like the ‘D’ at the beginning of his name, is silent.  This is no small feat, given that he is the main character in a Quentin Tarantino movie, and should be stopping to yak at any given opportunity, preferably before a burst of ultra-violence.

Of course there is plenty of bloodshed in Django Unchained, so much in fact that it paints a white plantation red, mostly with the blood of its owner and his employees.  It is Tarantino’s second historical revenge fantasy in a row, following the revisionist WWII epic Inglourious Basterds.  Here, though, he crucially refuses to revise the horrors of American slavery, and depicts them in ways that are startling and horrific.  The blood from the shootouts may be gratuitous and expressionistic, but it’s the beating, dog mauling and whipping that feel brutally real even if the movie they are in is often highly stylized.

Continue reading

REVIEW: Due Date

Due Date
Directed by: Todd Phillips
Written by: Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel, & Todd Phillips
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakias, Michelle Monaghan, and Jamie Foxx

Watching Zach Galifianakias’ Ethan Tremblay, an aspiring actor, act out a scene given to him by Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.)with  amateurism and then turn it into an emotionally-charged turn reminded me of Mulholland Dr. The comparisons with that 2001 masterpiece and this forgettable buddy comedy should end there, but they don’t.  A lot of Todd Phillips’ latest is a hallucinatory road trip filled with drugs, car wrecks, and bizarre tonal changes.  Take my advice, stick with David Lynch.

Phillips could’ve done anything after he sailed away with the box office last summer with The Hangover.  Instead, he decided to recycle his use of Galifianakias as the awkward, sympathetic idiot and pair him with Robert Downey Jr for a road movie based on Plains, Trains and Automobiles.  It’s an appealing match-up ripe with potential, almost none of which is utilized.  The two actors at the center were almost given too much freedom to be themselves, letting their personalities fill in the (many) blanks the script left out both plot-wise and on the laughing front.

Continue reading