A new film from Joel and Ethan Coen is always a big deal, and the marketing push for Hail, Caesar! juiced anticipation, at least among the cinephile community. A kidnapping comedy (whatever “comedy” means when the Coens are concerned) set in the studio-centric days of Old Hollywood starring George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, and more seems like the perfect recipe for a great movie.
I off-handedly mentioned all of the bad choices I’ve made recently the other day – well, I’ve made another one. Other critics (professional critics) have panned Dirty Grandpa: Glenn Kenny said the movie made him “[giggle]… for all of humanity,” Mike Ryan called it “the worst movie I’ve ever seen in a movie theater,” and Matt Singer wrote “I can’t believe how bad this movie is.” Despite the obviously negative message they hope to convey, these quotes only served to make me more curious about the picture – after all I watched and greatly enjoyed last year’s Zac Efron vehicle We Are Your Friends (and I won’t apologize for that), despite near-unanimous antipathy (it was self-aware and critical of the lifestyle it’s characters coveted). My embarrassment at asking for a ticket to Dirty Grandpa at the box office should have been an indicator though that I wasn’t in for a good time in any sense of the word.
This is the United States of America, and Hollywood has yet to meet a calamity that it isn’t willing to turn into a cash cow. So why would the 2012 Benghazi attack – during which local violent Libyan forces attacked two American compounds, resulting in deaths on both sides including that of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens – be any different? It wouldn’t, which is why the basic fact of the existence of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is not a shock. What is a bit of surprise, however, is the fact that Michael Bay was chosen as the steward best suited to deliver this story to the masses. The action auteur (I guess) isn’t exactly known for nuanced depictions of national distress; this is the man who brought Pearl Harbor to cinematic life. But why wait 60 years to tell such a story? Why even wait six? The story isn’t even close to being ripe, but Bay is going to tell it anyway. Maybe he’ll surprise us all.
Yeah, I know. You’re looking at the title of this review and you’re thinking to yourself, “why did he do it?” Why would I see Ride Along 2? Well there are a few reasons. One: I like seeing what I expect will be a bad movie every once in a while – keeps my opinions honest. Two: I was feeling really down on New Years Day and decided to watch a comedy to pick up my spirits. I chose the original Ride Along. I didn’t love it, but I had to see how the story continued. And three: I just wanted to see something this weekend (wait until you get a load of tomorrow’s review). So with those three incredibly valid explanations for my actions in mind, lets dig into Tim Story’s much anticipated sequel, shall we?
Hashtag Bowie Week continues unabated today with my thoughts on Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. I briefly considered taking a break last night to watch and review President Obama’s State of the Union address, before I realized that napping would be a more promising endeavor. I could think of no better future than the one in which I woke up from said slumber to a world of magical puppets and a freaky-deaky musician whose raw sexuality could not even be contained by what is ostensibly a family fantasy/adventure movie.
Pompeii doesn’t get mentioned once in this review – a tragedy
When I started this blog 363 days ago, my first post was my top ten movies of 2013. We’re at the end of another year, and I have seen more movies than ever before (according to my letterboxd summary I’ve watched over 1,000 hours of film – yikes!), so it’s about time for another roundup of the state of cinema.
There are few directors as prolific as one Mr. Clint Eastwood. Eastwood has become famous for his rapid shooting schedules, and his limited number of takes. It is difficult to say whether this is the best approach, as the method has already yielded the pretty lackluster Jersey Boys in 2014. But the good thing about Eastwood’s rapid filmmaking technique is that there is always another one around the corner. In this particular case, Eastwood’s end-of-year film is American Sniper, an adaptation of the memoir by the late Chris Kyle, the military man referred to in the title. Does American Sniper fare any better than the story of Frankie Valli and his crooning buddies?
Just two months ago I remarked on the ubiquity of World War II-as-setting in cinema. That was in my review of Fury, starring Brad Pitt. Well, now Brad’s wife Angelina Jolie is getting in on the action with her latest directorial effort: Unbroken, about the life of Olympic athlete and prisoner of war Louie Zamperini. Jolie is probably known more for her acting career than her directing, but she hopes to change that with Unbroken, a film that has been screaming “awards bait” at the top of its lungs since the first trailer dropped a while back.
Up until very recently it was not uncommon to hear the phrase “racism is dead in America.” It was never true – even with a black man in the Oval Office – but that fallacy is looking more and more ridiculous in light of the numerous murders of unarmed young black men across the country in the last several months. Segregation and lynchings may be relics of a tragic and infuriating part of our still-recent history, but racial tensions clearly remain an issue in the United States. Ava DuVernay’s Selma, about the 1965 protest march from Selma to Montgomery, could not be coming out at a more appropriate time. Perhaps a look into the past can yield a more considerate future.
Wow. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster. We’re all aware of the long, strange trip The Interview has taken on its journey to release; pushed back from its original October release date to Christmas Day, only to be cancelled indefinitely in the wake of threats of terrorism, and then rescheduled again at about 300 theaters across the country a week or so later. It is still unclear what the exact motive was behind the actions of hacker group Guardians of Peace, though the government and popular opinion count North Korea as the source of the problems for film studio Sony. Conspiracy theories declaring Sony themselves the culprit belong in the same garbage bin as 9/11 truthers and those still waiting to see Obama’s birth certificate, but Sony should be thanking whoever did do the deed, as it only raised interest in the latest ridiuclous comedy from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.