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Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday's Top 5... Tom Cruise Summer Popcorn Movies

#5: Mission: Impossible

When the first entry in the Mission: Impossible film series came out almost 20 years ago, I'm not sure anyone was expecting that four more films would follow. Given the length of time between some of those films (6 years between the second and third, 5 years between the third and fourth), it feels as if each film since the first has been made on the assumption that it would be the last. While M:Is II and III are a bit hit and miss (and Ghost Protocol is the lone entry not to see a summer release), the first film remains an awesome action spectacle.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Ten Years Later... Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore

Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka / the amazing chocolatier / Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka / everybody give a cheer / He's modest, clever, and so smart, he barely can restrain it / With so much generosity, there is no way to contain it / to contain it / to contain / to contain / to contain / Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka / he's the one that you're about to meet / Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka / he's the genius who just can't be beat / The magician and the chocolate whiz / The best darn guy who ever lived / Willy Wonka, here he is!

To all the people who will now find that song stuck in their head for an indeterminate amount of time, you are welcome. As of today, I have been living this nightmare, off and on, for ten years.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: Trainwreck (2015)

* * * 1/2

Director: Judd Apatow
Starring: Amy Schumer

The marketing push behind Trainwreck, which has worked to align the film with star Amy Schumer's ever growing in popularity TV show Inside Amy Schumer, centers on the idea that this film is a sort of anti-romantic comedy, something that turns the genre on its head and is more in tune with Schumer's sharp and sometimes envelope pushing show than with other romantic comedy films. This isn't really true, but that's okay. In terms of storytelling, Trainwreck hits a lot of the familiar genre beats, it just mixes it up a little bit with some slightly more foul-mouthed and overtly (and unapologetically) sexual humor than you might find in the typical romantic comedy. Trainwreck isn't revolutionary, but it is very, very funny and really, that's all it needs to be.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Not-Busters: Dick (1999)

Director: Andrew Flemming
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams
Domestic Gross: $6,262,878

Sometimes you can only scratch your head and wonder at box office results. Of all the summer bombs I've looked at for this series, Dick is one of the lowest grossing despite being a really good and really entertaining film. In a fair world, Dick would have been one of the highlights of the 1999 summer movie season, but instead it ended up with a box office gross a few hundred thousand dollars shy of even Gigli's take, a movie that was notorious for being awful even before it hit screens. Dick was one of the best comedies of 1999 and, seen today, it's still pretty damn funny, even though it's a bit odd now to see Michelle Williams in such a purely comedic role. Audiences in 1999 didn't know what they were missing.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Review: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2015)

* * *

Director: David Zellner
Starring: Rinko Kikuchi

If you're going to nurse an obsession with a film, you could do a lot worse than Fargo. Screenwriters David and Nathan Zellner (the former also directs and plays a supporting role) clearly have an obsession with the Coen brothers' 1996 masterpiece, albeit in a healthy enough way to have created such an affection tribute, and one which unfolds with the same kind of dark irony. Their protagonist, on the other hand, possesses an obsession of a less healthy variety - or, at least, a less discerning variety, as she takes the film's assertion that it is "based on a true story" at face value and won't be dissuaded from that position. At alternate times funny and heartbreaking, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is a unique piece of work and a solid companion piece to Fargo.