Last year I saw a number of great films that never got the attention that they deserved. Chief among them was Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, and with the flick coming to Blu-Ray/DVD next week I decided to take this opportunity to re-visit it and talk a little more about why this is going to wind up somewhat of a classic, or something at least close to it, in the next few years. I’ve said the same thing about a few other movies before (notably Drive) and been on the money to one degree or another, so I like to think that I have a decent eye for what films have a bright future ahead of them. Yes, I also said something similar about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but no one’s perfect, right? In any event, I’m pretty confident that within the next decade this Brad Pitt starring flick will be revered in a way that it’s not currently. I spoke highly of it once when I reviewed it last year (found here) and I want to do that again now.
Read more on Killing Them Softly: A Future Appreciation…
As we close the book on our coverage of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, I’m speeding up the pace a bit by grouping together some of my remaining reviews. I’ll be doing short looks at a quartet of movies that I enjoyed when I was in Park City, though none of them blew me away. They each got a three star rating from me. I’ll be talking about ‘The Way, Way Back’, ‘S-VHS’, ‘Sightseers’, and ‘A.C.O.D.’ briefly here, but look for full length reviews later on this year when they hit theaters. ‘The Way, Way Back’ is the highest profile of the lot, so I’ll give that one a few more words that the others. Read more on SUNDANCE: ‘The Way Way Back’, ‘S-VHS’, ‘Sightseers’, and ‘A.C.O.D.’…
Categories: Festivals, Film Reviews
Tags: Allison Janney
, Amanda Peet
, Amy Poehler
, Catherine O'Hara
, Early Review
, festival round up
, Gareth Evans
, jane lynch
, Jessica Alba
, Jim Rash
, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
, Maya Rudolph
, Nat Faxon
, review round up
, Richard Jenkins
, Rob Corddry
, Sam Rockwell
, Steve Carell
, Sundance Film Festival
, The Way Way Back
, Toni Collette
Much like the title character, the film ‘Jack Reacher’ gets in, does its job, and gets out. Tom Cruise’s potential new franchise is a decidedly low tech detective story that offers audiences some old school entertainment. It’s hardly original, but I’m pretty sure that’s intentional on the part of Cruise and writer/director Christopher McQuarrie. They know the kind of movie this is, and in adapting Lee Child’s popular series of books about the title character, they seem to have effectively achieved their goals. Cruise is sufficiently charismatic and carries the movie from an acting standpoint, while McQuarrie plays around with the tone a little more than you’d expect. Paramount seems to be confident in this as a new franchise for Cruise (despite having a review embargo in place until opening day, normally the sign of a film with something to hide), and I think they’ve got a winning formula in place. I can see this flick playing on TV for the next decade, and I mean that as a compliment. It’s never revolutionary and does have its problems, but for pure entertainment this is a solid holiday outing at the movies. If you like action movies starring Cruise, this is another one to check out…
Read more on Jack Reacher (***)…
As angry as any film you’ll see this year, but also probably as entertaining at the same time, ‘Killing Them Softly’ is a movie that works on multiple levels. Some might only see an effective and enjoyable mob tale, and some filmmakers might have been content to stop there, but others will no doubt notice and likely appreciate the political commentary on display here by writer/director Andrew Dominik. Already with a growing following as a filmmaker, Dominik has made a much smaller flick in scale than his prior work ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’, but like that movie he’s crafted a visually stimulating and unique film. He’s also working again with Brad Pitt and makes the case that they should continue working together for the foreseeable future. Pitt is captivating in one of the crucial roles of what almost is an ensemble film. Dominik is doing a lot of things here, trying to get you to be angry, to be amused, and maybe even shocked, sometimes in the same scene, so it was essential to ground the work with solid acting, and he has that in spades. ‘Killing Them Softly’ doesn’t just want to take on mob warfare and justice, it wants to take on capitalism and politics in America. As Pitt’s character says at one point “I’m living in America, and in America you’re on your own. America’s not a country. It’s just a business”. That quote pretty much sums the movie up, and when the film opens, you’ll just how successful it is and hammering that point home.
Read more on Killing Them Softly (***½)…
Categories: Film Reviews
Tags: Andrew Dominik
, Ben Mendelsohn
, book adaptation
, Brad Pitt
, Cogan's Trade
, James Gandolfini
, Killing Them Softly
, Oscar hopeful
, Ray Liotta
, Richard Jenkins
, Sam Shepard
, Scoot McNairy
, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
, Vincent Curatola
Tom Cruise stars as the title character in Jack Reacher, an action film that on the surface appears to steal the best parts of Drive, the Bourne films, and Taken. The most attractive element of Christopher McQuarrie’s (The Usual Suspects) thriller (aside from Rosamund Pike co-starring) might be seeing legendary documentarian Werner Herzog as the villain. Robert Duvall and Richard Jenkins add to a pretty interesting cast, but I have my reservations on the film working after watching this trailer. Jack Reacher opens December 21st. Watch the trailer after the jump.
Read more on New Trailer for Tom Cruise Action Film ‘Jack Reacher’…
On Monday I was invited to take part in a series of interviews with writer/director/actor Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, and Richard Jenkins in honor of the impending release of Radnor’s sophomore feature ‘Liberal Arts’. It’s not any sort of secret that I loved the film (found here), so this was a Press Day to look forward to. I’d actually met Radnor once before, and I’ll tell that mildly amusing story a bit later, but it was nice to get to talk to him again. All three were very enjoyable to speak with, and in the case of Jenkins it was one of the most pleasant chats I’ve had in a long time. The man is a real sweetheart. I’ve got the highlights of the interviews to share with you below, and they’re split between a two person talk with Radnor and Olsen, as well as one with just Jenkins. The movie is a joy to talk about, so there was no shortage of discussion points, from literature to Kenyon College (the unnamed school the flick is set at which Radnor, along with most of my girlfriend’s family, attended). Enough preview though, let’s get into it and see the highlights I recorded during the ‘Liberal Arts’ Press Day with Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, and Richard Jenkins!
Read more on Getting a ‘Liberal Arts’ Degree from Josh Radnor and cast!…
Categories: Article, Interview
Tags: Andrew Dominik
, Elizabeth Olsen
, Josh Radnor
, Liberal Arts
, Richard Jenkins
, The Cabin in the Woods
, The Visitor
, Twitter Inc.
, Writer /Director
While I definitely enjoyed Josh Radnor’s first feature, I wasn’t prepared at all for the giant leap forward that he takes as a filmmaker with ‘Liberal Art’s, an absolute gift of a motion picture. Besides Radnor’s sublime writing and direction, he also turns in a fine lead performance, not to mention the outstanding work from Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, and Allison Janney. Even Zac Efron managed to impress me, so that lets you know how well this worked for me. The movie is a love letter to college, books (not just literature, but books themselves), and yes, even New York City again (though it’s not a fully New York set story like ‘HappyThankYouMorePlease’ was). Radnor easily avoids the sophomore slump and shows that he’s an actor who’s going to be known as much as anything for his filmmaking abilities. Few films this year have been as easily enjoyable and heartwarming as this one, which stands among the 10 finest things I’ve seen in 2012. I really can’t say enough about this flick, and even if it’s not necessarily going to be an Oscar player (though it’s certainly good enough), I really want to champion it. The movie comes out this week and you really owe it to yourself to see it. The film is really something special and deserves an audience. It gets one of the highest compliments that I can pay a film in that I actually wished that the story had gone on longer, I was enjoying myself so much…I literally didn’t want it to end!
Read more on Liberal Arts (***½)…
Last night, a Trailer we’ve been waiting a while for finally dropped into our laps. Andrew Dominik made a gem the last time out with ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ and now he’s back with the Brad Pitt crime flick ‘Killing Them Softly’. The Trailer can be seen after the jump, and it looks really good, if very different from Dominik’s last movie. This could be too gritty for Oscar (the Trailer doesn’t show it, but it’s supposedly very angry and even a little political), but I have a feeling that it’ll be very popular once it comes out…perhaps even this year’s ‘Drive’, if you will. Take a gander below and see what you think. For me, this one just shot up my anticipated films list!
Read more on Trailer for ‘Killing Them Softly’…
You really shouldn’t be reading my review of ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ right now. Honestly, you shouldn’t be reading any reviews of ‘The Cabin in the Woods’, you should just be making the time to see this masterpiece of a film. In fact, go now and see the movie…I’ll wait (and when you get back you’ll understand). For those still here, be warned that it’s almost impossible to review this movie and express just how magnificent it is without spoiling key parts of the flick. I’ll do my best, but be warned that it’s going to come down to taking my advice. What Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon have achieved here is nothing short of a cinematic miracle. Just as meta as ‘Scream’ but far more intelligent, this is a hybrid horror-comedy that can literally make you shriek, laugh, and frankly utter “what the fuck?” within the same scene (even at the same time during a few choice moments). I’m still in shock over how amazing this film is. Not only is it going to be a cult classic (hell, I’m willing to call it a modern classic right now), it’s easily the best thing I’ve seen in 2012 so far. It’s early, but I’d bet heavily that you’ll be seeing this on my year end Top Ten list, and not at the very bottom of it either.
Read more on The Cabin in the Woods (****)…
Directed by: Andrew Dominik
Written by: Andrew Dominik
Cast: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Sam Shepard, Garret Dillahunt, and Slaine
Synopsis (from Coming Soon): Adapted from George V. Higgins novel and set in New Orleans, “Cogan’s Trade” (now entitled Killing Them Softly) follows professional enforcer, Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt), who investigates a heist that occurs during a high stakes, mob-protected, poker game. The film also features Scoot McNairy (“Monsters”), Ben Mendelsohn (“Animal Kingdom”), Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins (“The Visitor”), with James Gandolfini, Vincent Curatola, Max Casella, Sam Shepard and Bella Heathcote among others.
Read more on Awards Profile: Killing Them Softly…
Shot on a shoestring budget in Spokane, Washington, “Norman” is a film which overcomes some of the traditional trappings of an independent drama, dusts itself off and begins to matter, until devolving into an unrealistic and hackneyed conclusion. Never in love with the film, I stayed with it and began to warm to the main characters a bit, until tried-and-true independent drama trapdoors began springing up everywhere. “Norman” does however retain just enough of an interesting story that if the mood strikes, the blanket is out, the pajamas are on, and coffee or cocoa are in hand, this might fill a nice void during a fall morning or afternoon.
Directed by Jonathan Segal and featuring a debut screenplay by Talton Wingate, Norman (Dan Byrd) is an introverted and shy high school senior. He sparks no real interest from girls and is fortunate to have a friend or two. Looking a little deeper however offers insight into why Norman is so withdrawn and mired in a malaise about the world around him.
Read more on Norman (**)…