Moment of truth: I’ve never been the biggest Bryan Singer fan. Sorry X-Men enthusiasts, but not even the few moments of greatness in X2 can save what I consider to be a messy, character jammed superhero orgy. This description seems to sum up my biggest problem with Singer – he focuses on too many characters, making each one appealing but not necessarily desirable or memorable. Other Singer productions such as The Usual Suspects and Superman Returns suffer from similar issues, with characters being personalities and plot-movers when they should be our emotional connection to the events at hand, no matter how fantastical and unreal. It’s for this reason that Jack The Giant Slayer could’ve been a Singer game-changer – it’s a fairytale and, therefore, should have personality-defined characters that stay in their arch-types and move the story along, and yet Singer drops the ball, unable to figure out if he wants to make a family friendly romp or a PG-13 revisionist adventure.
Hitchcock famously said, “Film your murders like love scenes, and film your love scenes like murders,” and Stoker does this quite literally. During an intense moment that depicts a character coming to terms with an act of sexual violence, we see just how emotionally distraught the event has made her, only for the camera to slowly zoom out and reveal the character to be violently masturbating. It’s disturbing, sickening, and widely uncomfortable and the rest of Stoker plays exactly like this, with director Park Chan-wook subverting our emotional expectations and providing heavy dosses of psychological twistedness. In his first English language film, Chan-wook – who previously dazzled with 2003’s Oldboy – takes many tips from the Hitchcock handbook, crafting a spiraling thriller that’s part intriguing family drama and part wacked out horror. Is it good? Is it bad? I’m still not even sure I can answer that but, surprisingly, that may just be the point.
With the Oscars this past Sunday, it’s nice to look back on 2012’s year in film because it was one of the best in a while. This year, however, has been a completely different story. Although it’s a general rule that January and February are never the best months for movies, last year had some hits like The Grey and Chronicle, but 2013 has been especially awful so far. From comedies that miss the mark (Identity Thief and the abysmal Movie 43) to really disappointing sequels (A Good Day to Die Hard and Texas Chainsaw 3D), this year has already started off on a horrible note for movie fans. Phantom was a film that before a week or two ago I had no idea even existed. After doing some research, it actually looked like one of those rare sleeper films that actually could have been thrilling if executed well. Ed Harris and David Duchovny are pretty respectable actors and the plot looked interesting (it’s weird seeing the Cold War from the Russian side), so going into this movie I was actually pretty optimistic. Unfortunately, this movie follows the trend of January and February films that leave you nothing but greatly disappointed.
As I covered the 2012 awards season, I found it impossible to ignore the fact we were witnessing the birth of legendary actresses in the form of Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain. All season long, these two powerhouse females were in a neck-and-neck race to claim the Best Actress prize, with Lawrence sizzling in Silver Linings Playbook and Chastain internally boiling in Zero Dark Thirty. Though Lawrence prevailed, becoming the second youngest actress to ever win the award at age 22, the two are poised to meet again, and I would even argue that this is probably the first of many times we see Lawrence go up against Chastain for Best Actress. Why? Well, its simple, these two are modern legends – their beauty attracts us to the screen and their immense talents keep us glued and keep us talking for days, months, even years after we see them turn up in a role. I’ve often wondered when my generation would see the emergence of legends – actors people in the future will revere much like we do Gable, Stewart, Leigh, and Bergman – and I think I’ve finally arrived at some answers: Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain.
Seth MacFarlane, were you ever the right choice for the Oscars?
He said himself in an interview after his host announcement that he was not the right choice for this kind of show, and while many would say they agree, I know a few people – including myself – that would say otherwise. While I didn’t absolutely love him as a host, I thought he did a very acceptable job and channeled Hugh Jackman with his musical moments, which I thought were effective, entertaining, and really, really good. The guy has a voice, there’s no doubt about that, but his frat boy humor can be grating, especially when you think of the obscure pop culture references as jokes that got left underneath the table in the Family Guy writers’ room. He did a serviceable job and is far from the worst host ever, but should he really be asked back for round 2?
From first downs to first markers and high-intense action sports to hearing “Action” on set, numerous athletes throughout history have wet their feet in Hollywood after retiring from the sport they loved. While many have tried, only some have succeeded as legitimate actors in Hollywood, and right now no athlete is more successful of an actor than Dwayne Johnson, or more commonly known as ‘The Rock.’ Over the past decade, Johnson has combined his macho man looks with his rather humble personality and has delivered a handful of family films (The Game Plan, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) and action films (Fast and Furious 5) that have done extremely well at the box office. Though his latest Snitch may have not made a dent this weekend with only $13 million, the film still entertained and opened a lot higher than recent actioner duds that have plagued the box office. In honor of Snitch, as well as Johnson’s upcoming G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Pain and Gain, and Fast 6, we decided it would be a good idea to list ten athletes who also found success off the playing field and in the studio:
The awards season is always a funny thing. From September to the end of February, we spend day after day watching movies, speculating on what films and performances stand a chance, picking frontrunners, following critic and guild ceremonies, debating nominees, obsessing over snubs, arguing why certain films should win, and guessing which nominees will be honored with a prestigious award. Then the Oscars come and 3½ hours later, it’s all over. Plain. Simple. Done. This year, we were fortunate enough to have a pretty competitive season, jam packed with tons of ambitious films that not only entertained but that also pushed the boundaries and limits of filmmaking. At last night’s 85th Academy Awards, all eyes were on Argo – could it win Best Picture without a Best Director nomination? Of course it could and of course it did! While acting frontrunners Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, and Anne Hathaway also rode their months of buzz to victory, the night packed a ton of surprises, some great and some uncomfortable. Before we say goodbye to the 2012 awards season, here are some final thoughts on the Oscars: