Author Archives: nickwds

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Tucker & Dale vs Evil

If there has been one genre that Hollywood has been unable to really churn out lately it’s solid original comedy. This year it seemed the only comedy that was liked by both critics and mainstream audiences was Bridesmaids, other than that we’ve had a string of mildly amusing, but sadly forgettable films. Romantic comedies have also been big this year with Crazy, Stupid, Love and Friends with Benefits, but again not really general comedies. In unfortunately limited release comes a solid entry into the lacking comedy genre this weekend with first time writer-director Eli Craig and co-writer Morgan Jurgenson bringing us Tucker & Dale vs Evil and just in time for Halloween.

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Actor Spotlight: Elegy

Based on the novel The Dying Animal by American novelist Philip Roth Elegy, from director Isabel Coixet, Elegy stars  Ben Kingsley (Shindler’s List), Penélope Cruz (Pirates of the Caribbean, Blow) and Patricia Clarkson (Shutter Island).

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Melancholia

Melancholia is the newest film from director Lars von Trier  staring Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman), Charlotte Gainsbourg (21 Grams) and Kiefer Sutherland (24). I don’t see many art house films, mostly because they play in downtown Chicago which is a bit out-of-the-way for me. I do occasionally get to see a few before they hit DVD and am sometimes pleasantly surprised as was the case with Tree of Life. Tree of Life captivated me with its mix of visual scenes cut in between it’s story. Melancholia, while similar, engrosses the viewer in its story and visual style while also having a running narrative.

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Tucker & Dale vs Evil

If there has been one genre that Hollywood has been unable to really churn out lately it’s solid original comedy. This year it seemed the only comedy that was liked by both critics and mainstream audiences was Bridesmaids, other than that we’ve had a string of mildly amusing, but sadly forgettable films. Romantic comedies have also been big this year with Crazy, Stupid, Love and Friends with Benefits, but again not really general comedies. In unfortunately limited release comes a solid entry into the lacking comedy genre this weekend with first time writer-director Eli Craig and co-writer Morgan Jurgenson bringing us Tucker & Dale vs Evil and just in time for Halloween.

Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Hanna

If you happened to catch last year’s Dogtooth you understand what kind of affect raising a child in an extremely sheltered way can have. Director Joe Wright’snewest film Hanna is a movie that looks at this aspect but takes it in another direction, think more James Bond and less psychotic brainwashing. Saoirse Ronan plays Hanna, a teenager who grew up in a Finland forest along with her father Erik, played by Eric Bana. Hanna is taught to hunt, to survive on her own, and try to appear to be a normal 16-year-old to whomever she may run into, no matter what language they speak. The two aren’t living in the forest hunting wild game because they enjoy the taste of reindeer. Erik and Hanna are in training, training for an inevitable showdown with CIA agent Marissa played by Cate Blanchett. An electronic beacon is eventually triggered that tells the CIA where the two are hiding and the hunt is on. But who’s hunting who here?

Actor Spotlight: The Madness of King George

From Director Nicholas Hynter The Madness of King George is the 1994 adaption of the play by the same name. The film was also written by the same playwright, Alan Bennett and stars Nigel Hawthorne as King George III and Helen Mirren as Queen Charlotte, both of which were nominated for best actor and actress in 1995. The film is about George III and his fall from being the King of England during the 18th century.

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Devil’s DVD Disappointment: Priest

Looking at the cast list for Priest you start to notice a trend. The main character is called “Priest”, the villain “Black Hat”, and there are also characters called “Priestess” and “Salesman”. They all sound like generic background extras from other films, this should give you some insight on how this film turned out.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Source Code

Source Code is the latest film from Duncan Jones, the up-and-coming director who you may remember from 2009’s wonderful sci-fi thriller Moon. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Colter Stevens, a US Air force pilot who finds himself part of a military experiment that allows for transferring the mind of a living person into the mind of a deceased person. The process is limited though, it only allows the living person to experience the last eight minutes of the deceased’s life before death. Colter is tasked with experiencing the repeated last eight minutes of the life of a schoolteacher who died aboard a train headed to Chicago. I won’t attempt to explain the quantum physics aspect of the story but he essentially is allowed to freely act as this person in an alternate timeline but returns to the real world upon death. Along for the ride is co-worker Christina Warren, played by Michelle Monaghan. Colter’s mission is to find a bomber who was aboard the train in the past and is believed to be planning to detonate a large bomb in downtown Chicago in the real world close future. Confused? Well imagine if Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day was aware that he would be reliving Groundhog Day and was actually a soldier looking for a suspected terrorist bomber. Got it?

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Tree of Life

Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, this is why I love film. It is the gem in rough that you come across every few years which makes the hours of watching tripe worth it all. Moving, beautiful, and thought-provoking this film will stick with me for the rest of my life.

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Priest

Looking at the cast list for Priest you start to notice a trend. The main character is called “Priest”, the villain “Black Hat”, and there are also characters called “Priestess” and “Salesman”. They all sound like generic background extras from other films, this should give you some insight on how this film turned out.

Read the rest of this entry

Hanna

If you happened to catch last year’s Dogtooth you understand what kind of affect raising a child in an extremely sheltered way can have. Director Joe Wright’snewest film Hanna is a movie that looks at this aspect but takes it in another direction, think more James Bond and less psychotic brainwashing. Saoirse Ronan plays Hanna, a teenager who grew up in a Finland forest along with her father Erik, played by Eric Bana. Hanna is taught to hunt, to survive on her own, and try to appear to be a normal 16-year-old to whomever she may run into, no matter what language they speak. The two aren’t living in the forest hunting wild game because they enjoy the taste of reindeer. Erik and Hanna are in training, training for an inevitable showdown with CIA agent Marissa played by Cate Blanchett. An electronic beacon is eventually triggered that tells the CIA where the two are hiding and the hunt is on. But who’s hunting who here?

Source Code

Source Code is the latest film from Duncan Jones, the up-and-coming director who you may remember from 2009’s wonderful sci-fi thriller Moon. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Colter Stevens, a US Air force pilot who finds himself part of a military experiment that allows for transferring the mind of a living person into the mind of a deceased person. The process is limited though, it only allows the living person to experience the last eight minutes of the deceased’s life before death. Colter is tasked with experiencing the repeated last eight minutes of the life of a schoolteacher who died aboard a train headed to Chicago. I won’t attempt to explain the quantum physics aspect of the story but he essentially is allowed to freely act as this person in an alternate timeline but returns to the real world upon death. Along for the ride is co-worker Christina Warren, played by Michelle Monaghan. Colter’s mission is to find a bomber who was aboard the train in the past and is believed to be planning to detonate a large bomb in downtown Chicago in the real world close future. Confused? Well imagine if Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day was aware that he would be reliving Groundhog Day and was actually a soldier looking for a suspected terrorist bomber. Got it?

Read the rest of this entry

A Mad as Hell Op-Ed Piece: 3D Post Productions: The New Hollywood Remake?

With the growing popularity of streaming media and services like Netflix and Redbox it is well known that Hollywood is trying anything and everything it can to get people in seats. It’s an odd time for the film industry and studios have decided that it’s not shy about showing that it only cares about one thing, money. These days it’s all about ticket sales, with the endless stream of sequels and remakes it’s apparent that if a franchise made at least a small amount of money in the past, you bet they’ll revive it. This year we have reboots of both the X-Men and Spider-Man franchises being released, both of which are less than 5 years old.  Last year we learned that director James Cameron is working on a post processed conversion of his 1997 release Titanic. Now the Hollywood Reporter reports that a post converted 3D version of Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace will be released to theaters on February 10th, 2012, the next film in the series being released the year after. Read the rest of this entry