Friday, October 9, 2015
by Tony Dayoub
Two wildly different documentaries worth your time go into wide release today. One is Winter on Fire, a sober chronicle of the early days of the unrest in the Ukraine that bows exclusively on Netflix today. But first, let's take a look at the gonzo, stranger-than-fiction story recounted by the far more intimate Finders Keepers, now playing in theaters (including Atlanta's Landmark Midtown Art Cinema) nationwide and available on iTunes and On Demand.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
News this week that liquid water has been discovered on Mars and that actor Matt Damon has repeatedly lodged his foot in his mouth (discussing whether gay actors should come out of the closet or not) almost begs for some kind of bad joke about outfitting a spacecraft and exiling the actor to the red planet ASAP. At worst, the news kinda overshadows promotional efforts for Damon's latest, The Martian, based on the novel by Andy Weir. At best, the two soundbites—one overwhelmingly positive, the other decidedly not—cancel each other out and give way to more discussion about this unlikely crowd-pleaser. I'm hoping for the latter, because The Martian fully deserves to be appreciated as a front-runner among the top films of the year.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Spinning off from it's popular sister show, Arrow, The Flash largely succeeded from escaping Arrow's long shadow within just a couple of episodes. Where it took nearly its entire first season for Arrow to fully embrace its comic book origins and leave behind the teen soap conventions of its home network, the CW, The Flash arrived fully formed, as its creators confirm in the new blu-ray set's only audio commentary. It has done so by turning its back on the dark, brooding atmosphere popularized by the Dark Knight epics that Arrow emulates. Instead, The Flash feels sunny and optimistic, largely a credit to the enjoyable bumbling geekiness of its nice-guy star, Grant Gustin, and his interpretation of CSI tech Barry Allen. It's a show whose occasional X-Files creepiness never really exceeds Goosebumps-level frights, making it ideal for family viewing, a fact which I can personally attest to (my wife and kids love it as much as I do).
Sunday, September 20, 2015
The intrigue of a monarch marshaling his forces against an insurgent has been fodder for exciting movies stretching back for decades. When the soldiers are only an inch high and the battlefield is a chessboard the chances of eliciting the same thrills are much, much lower. Fascinating as it is, Edward Zwick's Pawn Sacrifice misses the mark often enough to keep it from being a full-on masterpiece. On occasion though, this spare biography of tormented chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) and the performances of its dynamic ensemble cast are riveting.
Sunday, August 9, 2015
I take no pleasure in piling on a bad movie, but a lot of us who grew up reading "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine," as Fantastic Four was sub-titled for many years, are mystified by the fact that not one of its movie iterations has been successful. It shouldn't take rocket science to re-calibrate the property to reflect what made the Marvel Comics' flagship title and a template for the superheroes that would follow. Take one look at director Josh Trank's version, though, and one starts to wonder if even the team's gifted scientist, Reed Richards (Miles Teller), could work out the formula needed to make Fantastic Four truly live up to its name. Here are four reasons Fantastic Four was anything but:
Friday, July 31, 2015
19 years after Tom Cruise first appeared as super-spy Ethan Hunt in the first entry of the series, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation gives us one of the first indications that the box office star is getting a little old for action films. It's not that Cruise isn't capable of pulling off the abundant stunts littered throughout the film, or at least appearing that he does. Five minutes in, Ethan Hunt is hanging off of the side of an Airbus as it takes off, and the camera is firmly planted on a real-life plane's wing, trained on Cruise dangling from the plane's doorway, not some stunt-man. But it's a silly scene, related to the plot in only the most tangential way, as are most of the other stunt setpieces in Rogue Nation.