Wednesday, July 6, 2016
by Tony Dayoub
Recent events in the (not so) United Kingdom have altered my perception of a couple of movies in which Britain serves as a faint backdrop. Each misses the mark in some surprising ways. Certainly, the American take on a fantasy England and its genial queen found in Steven Spielberg's The BFG makes the most obvious missteps. But The Legend of Tarzan, directed by the very British David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) isn't too far behind despite, save for its start and conclusion, largely avoiding Great Britain.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
I've been wracking my brain all week trying to figure out why I can't come up with a coherent review for this weekend's big hit, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It wasn't until I saw it again this weekend, in an obligatory revisit to take my two young boys, when I came to this conclusion. My thoughts are only as scattershot as the film itself tends to be. Dawn of Justice is Zack Snyder's attempt at jump-starting the DC Extended Universe or DCEU, the filmic counterpart to its rival Marvel's own cinematic franchise the MCU. It is reminiscent of those graphic samplers DC Comics puts out a month before they introduce a major storyline that will snake through its entire publishing lineup. The movie tries to whet the viewer's appetite for future installments, but fails to come up with a satisfying story that can stand on its own. So why not mirror the movie itself in presenting my own disjointed thoughts on the failures (and yes, some minor successes) of this schizoid superhero dirge.
Monday, December 7, 2015
From the Online Film Critics Society (of which I am a proud member):
The Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) - the oldest and most prominent society for online film critics in the world - recognized the year’s best films with nominations for their 19th annual awards.
Carol and Sicario led the race with six nominations each. Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian followed with five nominations apiece. The Revenant, Spotlight and Steve Jobs each received four nominations while Brooklyn, Ex Machina, Inside Out and Room each received three nods.
Friday, November 6, 2015
A bravura, single-take shot launches Spectre, the latest 007 film. Sam Mendes helms this follow-up to his brilliant Skyfall, with cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema stepping into Roger Deakins' big shoes. Van Hoytema certainly announces himself loudly with the shot that propels one of Bond's best opening sequences in some time. The camera snakes through Mexico City during a colorful Day of the Dead festival, first following a thug clad in a light colored suit, before switching over to a masked reveler dressed in a skeletal suit with a top hat whose distinctive walk soon makes it clear we are seeing Daniel Craig's superspy in medias res. Before long, Van Hoytema has taken us through a busy public square, up a palatial set of stairs, into and out of a cramped elevator, into a bedroom and out a window to a balcony where Bond sets up to assassinate the thug in question. For those brief minutes, Spectre soars higher than even Skyfall did. It all goes downhill from there sadly, with Spectre devolving into probably the most conventional of all the Craig flicks (yes, more so than even the unfairly maligned Quantum of Solace).
Friday, October 16, 2015
Director Steven Spielberg reunites with Tom Hanks for the cold war thriller Bridge of Spies. Based on fact, the film details the capture and arrest of Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), an otherwise unremarkable man who was passing on information to our enemies in the most nondescript way, as he painted landscapes in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is a formerly prominent attorney asked to take Abel on as his client in order to give the impression that Abel is getting the best defense there is. When Donovan begins to take his assignment more seriously than anticipated, saving his client from a death sentence, the CIA enlists him to negotiate the release of a downed U2 pilot standing trial in the Soviet Union. The kind of double-play Donovan then chases is a gambit that surprises everyone.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
There is a sense that Netflix is venturing into new territory with this week's release of Cary Joji Fukunaga's Beasts of No Nation. Fukunaga, whose greatest claim to fame so far is the much lauded first season of HBO's True Detective, trains his focus on the plight of African child soldiers, measuredly delivering his message by placing us in the shoes of Agu (Abraham Attah) as he comes of age in the war-torn jungle of some anonymous country. There he falls under the spell of the charismatic Commandant (Idris Elba), a nameless fighter who resembles pretty much every megalomaniac ever. And therein lies the problem with the film.