Darren Aronofsky’s controversial new movie Noah is an account of the famous story in which God decides to drown the world in a flood, leaving the responsibility of saving whatever possible to the titular character (Russell Crowe). The movie plays on some of Aronofsky’s visual strengths, but the script, co-written by Ari Handel, comes up empty where the characters are concerned.
Much like the recent Jason Bateman movie Bad Words, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee concerns itself with the competitors in the titular spell-off. Unlike its more cinematic counterpart, the stage musical develops it’s characters in a believable fashion, giving the event stakes that matter for everyone involved. Bad Words was not a bad movie, but the screenwriter would have done well to take a few more cues from Spelling Bee.
In 1965, Frank Herbert’s defining work, Dune, was released. Twenty-four years later, in 1989, I was born. Ten years after that I took it upon myself to read my first adult book in the form of Herbert’s novel. I failed. Miserably. But so began a love affair with the greatest work of science fiction of the 20th century. Alejandro Jodorowsky also failed to have that experience, in fact it does not seem as though he ever actually read the entire book. Regardless, he put a ton of work into an adaptation that never saw the light of day. His efforts are depicted in Frank Pavich’s new documentary, appropriately titled Jodorowsky’s Dune.
Apocalypse Now is the first film in Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies that I have already seen. Looking ahead in the table of contents I can see that this is not the only such film. Boy, that’s a relief. At the very least I can rest easy in the knowledge that Roger would not have been completely disappointed in my personal film history.
Look, I don’t know you (unless I do – in which case, forget about it), but if you are anything like me, you know that being a human being is hard. It is not just the fact that we have to work to make a living (do not get me started on that can of worms), but then you have to actually go through the trouble of talking to people. Can you say “exhausting?” Of course you can. That is like a fifth-grade word.
Marvel Comics has the upper hand these days when it comes to quality and creativity. Their main competitors at DC are mired in grit and gristle, more concerned with pandering to their established fanbase than seeking out new readership. Marvel was the same way for a long time; in an unexpected twist the great success of the Marvel Studios films has spurred them to try new things in search of new properties to turn into blockbuster films. Marvel’s old ways are still evident in some corners of their product line, particularly in their Ultimate universe. After a cataclysmic event in the Ultimate Universe (appropriately titled Cataclysm), Marvel is preparing to shake things up in that group of books, starting with the Survive! one-shot.
In 2011 writer/director Gareth Evans and actor Iko Uwais made their presence known to the martial arts film community with an Indonesian feature known in the US as The Raid: Redemption. The movie starred Uwais as Rama, one of 20 police officers charged with storming an tenement building with the express purpose of taking down crime boss Tama Riyadi (Ray Sahetapy). The picture plays out like a standard video game, complete with mini bosses and perfunctory cutscenes, but the fight scenes were so kinetic and exciting that The Raid instantly became one of the better entries in the genre. Evans and Uwais finally return on Friday with The Raid 2. I recommend watching the previous film first, so you can get a sense of what you are in for. And then get blown a-fucking-way by what you end up seeing in your local theater this weekend.
Dom Hemingway, the latest film from The Matador director Richard Shepard, opens with Jude Law, as the movie’s eponymous protagonist, nude, receiving oral sex from a fellow prison inmate, and monologizing on the wonders of his… manhood. The scene effectively sets the tone of Dom Hemingway, while clearly conveying that this Jude Law performance will be like nothing you have seen before. Contrasting sharply with the appealing charmer Law often plays, Dom is verbose and vulgar, often bloviating well beyond the point of no return. Dom is a man from another time, trying to find a place in the now.
Ten years pass as I follow Roger Ebert’s spirit down the The Great Movies rabbit hole and arrive in 1960 for Billy Wilder’s The Apartment.
After an extended stay in Germany courtesy of Herzog and Fassbinder, Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies-train pulls into ’50s era USA for All About Eve. Seeing release in 1950, All About Eve is the earliest film I’ve crossed paths with so far in following Ebert’s book. It also has the distinction of having the most engaging characters and sharpest writing.