“The East”

The East 2013 film poster.jpg“We are the East, and this is just the beginning.” 

Brit Marling seemingly materialized out of the blue. The beautiful, thirty-year-old actress has less than ten casting credits and yet she’s on a fast rise as one of this generation’s most mature actresses. Though she’s still indefinitely an up-and-comer, I have yet to see her nab a role that didn’t suit her or that she fumbled with when she embodied it on screen. 

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Critical Reaction: “The Hangover: Part III” (PODCAST)

In 2009, The Hangover went from sleeper hit to worldwide blockbuster, becoming the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time and jumpstarting the careers of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis. Crude, outrageous, and absurd, The Hangover was a breath of comedy fresh air. The Hangover: Part II, not so much. Trying to replicate the original’s success, Part II bombed hard critically in summer 2011 by being nothing but a “do-over” of its predecessor. While the film still managed to take in over $200 million at the domestic box office, Part II left a very, very bad taste in many fans’ mouths. Now here we are two years later and The Hangover: Part III, despite changing up the formula, has done the same thing and then some: it has tarnished the reputation of the Wolf Pack so severely we’re not even sure we can call the original such a milestone anymore. After fizzling out over Memorial Day Weekend with an underwhelming $50 million 4-day haul (Fast 6 grossed $120 by comparison), it seems many fans are also over the Wolf Pack. So what the hell happened? How did a breakthrough R-rated comedy become a cautionary tale of what not to do to a movie franchise? In our latest critical podcast, Zack Sharf and Mike Murphy debate the latest Hangover movie and the franchise’s legacy:

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“Before Midnight”

Before Midnight poster.jpgRaw, honest, tender, fearless, intimate, humorous, and heartbreaking, Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight is more than just the best film of 2013 thus far. Along with its equally-as-daring predecessors – 1995’s Before Sunrise and 2004’s Before Sunset Midnight makes for one of the most unique and emotionally startling cinematic experiences I’ve ever been apart of. Entirely composed of slow-burning conversations, these films depict the evolution of a couple, irresistibly played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, following them as they slowly open up to one another and climaxing in moments of catharsis that will have you questioning and confronting your own thoughts on life, love, regrets, and dreams. Not even the world’s most cold-hearted man will be able to keep his emotional guard up and his vulnerabilities suppressed, especially during this third installment, easily the best and most meditatively gut-wrenching entry in the series. In other words, Before Midnight is damn perfect. It’s also unshakeable too.

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“Fast & Furious 6”

FastandFurious6-teaserposter.jpgI often refer to the Fast & Furious franchise as the Citizen Kane of mindlessness and Fast & Furious 6, despite some initial disappointment, lives up to this title. In other words, Fast 6 is bat shit crazy – it’s super insane, super ridiculous, and, most importantly, super fun. Not every franchise lives through six films, but by embracing the meta age with each installment, the Fast movies have become makeshift blockbuster tentpoles, films that know just how absurd they are and relish in their macho-charged lunacies, leaving the audience with movies that do nothing but entertain on a steroid-injected level. What’s not to love? This “leave your brain at the door” mentality turned 2011’s Fast Five into a franchise milestone as it mixed elements of Bullitt with Ocean’s Eleven to create one wild cinematic ride, and while this sixth installment doesn’t quite reach the speed of its predecessor, Fast 6 is an outrageous summer ride nonetheless.

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“The Hangover: Part III”

The Hangover Part 3.JPG“You’re cold as ice.”

Trudging through a sudden downpour in the Fenway area of Boston, co-critic Zack Sharf and I practically swam to the Regal Fenway 13 movie theater in order to see a press screening of Todd Phillips’ The Hangover Part III. Until the rain began, it seemed like a ‘no worries’ kind of activity since it wasn’t conflicting with any school work or classes, like some of the screenings do throughout the year, nor was it going to cost me any money or alleviate me of anything valuable other than time. Well, I should have taken the heavy rain as a bad omen because not only is The Hangover Part III an inarguable waste of time, but it’s also a relentlessly vulgar and unfunny excuse for a comedy that lacks each and every thing that made the 2009 original so likable. It’s bland and empty, superiorly pointless, and so over-the-top offensive that, at times, I almost couldn’t believe I was watching a movie featuring three characters that, four years ago, I was praising as a comedic triumvirate of legendary status. Truthfully, you’d be hard pressed to find a more foul 100 minutes of film.

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“Star Trek Into Darkness”

SThe poster shows a flaming starship falling towards Earth, with smoke coming out. At the middle of the poster shows the title "Star Trek Into Darkness" in dark grey letters, while the production credits and the release date being at the bottom of the poster.trap in, set your fazers to full blast, and get ready to explore strange new worlds in one of the most highly anticipated films of Summer 2013, Star Trek Into Darkness. Since the release of the smash 2009 reboot, Trekkies and first timers alike have been yearning for another intergalactic mission into J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek universe and after four years at not-so-warp speed they have come to their destination. Obviously, there has been a lot of skepticism surrounding this film. Will it live up to the first? Can J.J. Abrams and screenwriters Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof stay true to the original? Can they bring something fresh to the franchise? Who the hell is Benedict Cumberbatch actually playing? There were a lot questions to be answered and a lot of fans to please. I even had high hopes going into the film and even though Into Darkness was an amazing, edge-of-your-seat, summer blockbuster, I couldn’t help but leave the theater with a shroud of disappointment hanging over me.

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“Star Trek”: A Trekkie’s Appreciation

I was raised on science fiction. My dad never saw much in it past Flash Gordon but my mom was quite the opposite. She saw, and still sees, science fiction as one of the most sophisticated and absolutely unbeatable genres in literature, television, and film. She brought me up on Star Wars and Back to the Future, introduced me to A Wrinkle in Time and the written works of Ray Bradbury, and she is quite possibly the only person who religiously watches programs on the Sy-Fy Channel and she’s currently churning her way through all ten seasons of the much beloved The X-Files. She’s a sci-fi geek through and through and continues to give me a strong education in the genre when she tackles something new (she was teaching The Hunger Games to her middle school students before the movie adaptation was even on the table) and enthusiastically embraces any new project within the sci-fi umbrella (she loved District 9 and is looking forward to Elysium).

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