Review: “Man Of Tai Chi”

Man of Tai Chi.jpgKeanu Reeves has had quite the roller coaster of a career. If you saw Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure in 1989, would it have crossed your mind that about 24 years later Reeves would direct a martial arts film mostly in Chinese? Probably not. But if you have followed his career  throughout the years, it would probably seem less and less a surprise. Just 2 years after Bill and Ted, Reeves starred as a gigolo in probably the most opposite film imaginable, Gus Van Sant’s complex indie-drama, My Own Private Idaho. At this point, Reeves was an established comedic/small-indie actor until 1994’s action classic Speed, which turned him and co-star Sandra Bullock into Hollywood A-list stars. Then about 5 years later he would star in his most successful film to date, the sci-fi blockbuster smash (and its two sequels) The Matrix. Easily, this was the peak of his career. The Matrix, is considered by many to be a masterpiece of the late 90s. The combination of the unbelievably choreographed martial art fighting scenes, game-changing visual effects, and a unique story made for a highly entertaining film. Throughout the next 14 years, Keanu Reeves A-list status would slowly deflate with starring roles in movies such as The Lake House (2006) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008). So naturally his next course of action would be to attempt a return of sorts to his most glorious days. And that is exactly what Man of Tai Chi is, only this time Reeves is behind the camera as well.

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Happy Halloween: “Creepshow” & “Creepshow 2”

CreepshowPoster.jpgHalloween is scary. It’s when the dead walk amongst the living, mischief fills the air, and when things go bump in the night. Halloween is also ridiculous, as drunken people bumble through the streets dressed in costumes, and candy makes sticky the face of every loud kid dressed as a pumpkin. Creepshow and Creepshow 2 represent the best of both worlds. The brainchild of horror master Stephen King and director George A. Romero (a horror pro in his own right, Night of the Living Dead), 1982’s Creepshow and 1987’s Creepshow 2 embody all things freakish, frightening, and campy in true Halloween fashion. Meant as an homage to the scare comics and B-movies of the late ‘40s and ‘50s, both films feature animated sequences, comic book panels, plots thin enough to see through, and enough blue and red lighting to let the audience know when something is supposed to be dramatic.

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Trailer Reaction: “X-Men: Days Of Future Past”

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past Prof-X poster.jpgI’m rarely one to condone the repetitive milking of the same money grubbing cow, but it appears that 20th Century Fox may have found some cream amidst their cash crop. Yesterday welcomed the first trailer for one of next summer’s biggest tentpoles, X-Men: Days of Future Past, a time-traveling mega-movie that intends on continuing both the original X-Men movie franchise and Matthew Vaughn’s prequel film, X-Men: First Class. Pulling from the comic source of the same name, placing X-Men and X2 director Bryan Singer back at the helm, and uniting a cast of brain-melting proportions, this surely sounds like the stuff dreams are made of. Excitingly, the first trailer provides a breathtaking look at this incredibly ambitious film, making me more excited for a comic book movie than I’ve been probably since my youth. My mind is rushing with thoughts and excitement, so I’ll let you go ahead and do the same. Check out the trailer below and scroll down to my notes afterward:
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Top 5: Novelists-Turned-Screenwriters

This weekend, The Counselor brought with it a cornucopia of prestigious talent. While director Ridley Scott and an impressive ensemble of Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, and Cameron Diaz were quite the tease, no talent behind the film was as intriguing as screenwriter Cormac McCarthy (pictured left), the famed novelist behind No Country For Old Men, All The Pretty Horses, The Road, and more. Marking his debut screenplay, The Counselor turned out to be a rare misstep for the crime writer as evidenced by the lackluster reviews and abysmal box office performance. While McCarthy’s screenwriting future remains in question, his transition from novelist to screenwriter follows a long list of writers who previously managed to breakthrough successfully in the movie industry. He may not be included on this list with The Counselor, but in spirit of Pulitzer Prize winning author Cormac McCarthy’s most recent screenwriting endeavor, here are the 5 Best Novelist-Turned-Screenwriters ever:

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“The Counselor”: How Did ‘Most Anticipated’ Become A ‘Catastrophic Mess’?

How did Ridley Scott’s The Counselor, featuring the first screenplay from acclaimed novelist Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men, The Road) and an all-star cast of Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, and Brad Pitt, debut to an abysmal $8 million this weekend? Sure, with Gravity and Captain Phillips holding on tremendously the adult-drama marketplace is a bit stuffed at the moment, but you’d think a movie with so much prestigious talent would at least attract over $10 million on its debut weekend. Instead, The Counselor bombed miserably, not just at the box office but also among critics; in fact, our 5/10 review sounds like faint praise compared to the critical beatings that make up the film’s 32% percent on RottenTomatoes. Even worse, audiences stamped the dark drama with a rare “D” CinemaScore, meaning the film has absolutely no chance of making back its relatively cheap $25 million budget, a total many thought the film would’ve easily grossed this weekend. So, what the hell happened? How did a film that ranked #10 on our most anticipated Fall Movies list (ahead of the far superior Captain Phillips and Prisoners) end up being the catastrophic mess of the year?

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EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Writer, Director, Star “Don Jon”)

The extremely talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt has conquered television (3rd Rock From The Sun), the indie scene (Brick, 500 Days of Summer), and the blockbuster genre (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Looper), but this Fall he finally achieved something truly special: status as an official triple threat. Thanks to the smart and humorous Don Jon, his writing and directing debut in which he also stars as the lead, Joseph Gordon-Levitt proved he has a unique cinematic voice and quite the clever outlook on Hollywood genres and stereotypes. For those of you who missed out when the film debuted in late September, the film follows the titular Don Jon (Gordon-Levitt), who only has a few priorities in life: his car, his flat, his family, his boys, his church, his girls. However, none of these can compete with his porn addiction, which will be a key factor in his relationships with the sexy Barbara (a vivacious, fire-cracker Scarlett Johansson) and the mature Esther (a strongly nuanced Julianne Moore). The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past January and received raves from many critics but could only muster up an average $23 million at the domestic box office, a fine return for a $6 million budget but hardly the final tally this clever little film deserves. If our pleads to go check out Don Jon aren’t enough to get you in the theater, maybe our sit down with the triple threat himself, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, will do the trick. After some hectic weeks of transcription issues, we can finally share out interview with JGL, writer, director, and star of Don Jon:

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Review: “12 Years A Slave”

12 Years a Slave film poster.jpgA man hangs from a tree. The rope around his neck strangles him. His tiptoed feet slide around on the muddy ground, they’re the only thing between him and death. The camera holds a wide shot, never cutting as other slaves slowly start their day, purposefully oblivious since aiding this man surely ends in similar punishment. A white woman emotionlessly watches the man suffocate from her balcony but she turns away to attend her children. A brave slave-woman runs up to the man to give him water but he can barely swallow as he asphyxiates. No score plays. The only sound is the man gasping for air. It’s a moment of helplessness I’ve never felt until that scene. And that’s what Steve McQueen’s astonishing 12 Years A Slave gets right in its depiction of slavery on film. Gone are the fairy tale romance of Gone With The Wind and the pulpy revenge of Django Unchained; in its place is the unflinching, unshakeable truth and this truth, a horror show of brutal physicality and nightmarish psychology, is more than enough to gut you whole. For this reason alone 12 Years A Slave is as vital as filmmaking gets.

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