Author: Matthew

A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)

Outside of a few moments of kind of shocking violence — most of which is done to women, which is going to have a lot of people up in arms — there’s really nothing worth talking about when it comes to A Walk Among the Tombstones. Perhaps that’s why it’s easy to narrow in on the violence. Does that mean it’s done its job? Since we’re talking about the “shocking” part, it worked, right? I don’t know. Having a mundane private investigator movie to house the shock emphasizes the shock, sure, but it feels more like we’re talking about it because that’s all we’ve got, not because it’s so incredibly controversial. Based on the Lawrence Block novel, and brought to the screen by Scott Frank (he both wrote and directed), A Walk Among the Tombstones stars Liam Neeson as retired cop Matt Scudder, someone whose name I only remembered because I looked it up online afterward. He used to be a police officer who drank, but after an “incident,” he retired and now he does “favors” for people. In exchange for “gifts.” You see where I’m going with this, I’m sure. Matt’s hired by Kenny (Dan Stevens) to track down two men who took his wife. They killed her and chopped up her body. It turns out that there are other stories like this one. And once a young...

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This is Where I Leave You

Upon seeing the trailer for This is Where I Leave You, I found myself having flashbacks to Eulogy. A death in the family brings everyone together, during which they’ll fight, learn from each other, and grow? Sounds just like Eulogy. Well, it kind of is. It even has the same person dying (an elderly father) and a (requisite?) lesbian couple. But there’s one key difference. In this film, most of the drama comes from relationships they have outside of the family, not within it. It’s not sibling fighting sibling; it’s sibling whining about his or her partner not being the greatest. And it usually does feel like whining, by the way. So much of this movie falls into “oh woe is me” territory. It’s just whining and whining and whining, and then a dirty joke, followed by more whining. Eventually this all leads to revelations about how one should live his or her life, and how life is messy and complicated and stuff, but this isn’t new material, and it certainly doesn’t make for a very enjoyable watch. It feels like a slog, even though This is Where I Leave You only runs for just over 100 minutes. If we have a lead, it’s Judd (Jason Batemen), who opens the film on a happy day — it’s his wife’s (Abigail Spencer) birthday — and turns into a very upsetting...

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Adult World (2014)

Life following college can be hard, especially in this economy. Depending on the degree you pick, finding a job can be excruciatingly difficult. Moving back in with one’s parents is the only choice for many recent graduates. Adult World is a film that follows one such individual, and essentially becomes a coming-of-age film … for someone in her early twenties. Hey, not everyone comes of age when they’re a teenager like the movies often want you to believe. Our lead is Amy (Emma Roberts), who went to school to learn poetry and spends her days writing and submitting works that are never published. At the beginning of the film, her parents give her a limited amount of time to keep footing her bill. She needs to find a job and another place to live. The only job she can get is working at an … “adult” store, coincidentally called “Adult World.” It’s here she meets the manager, Alex (Evan Peters), with whom she strikes up a friendship, and Rubia (Armando Riseco), a drag queen. She also, eventually, meets her favorite poet in the whole world, Rat Billings (John Cusack), who, after much stalking and persuasion, lets her become his protégé. These are the pieces in play. Everyone else in the film is worldlier than Amy, so they’re going to teach her lessons over the film’s duration. She’ll grow as...

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The Hungover Games (2014)

If you haven’t read my reviews of the Hangover series — why are you here, first off? — I’ll summarize. I think that is the worst theatrically released trilogy in cinema history and apart from the Mike Tyson cameos they are completely lacking in humor from frame one to conclusion. I note this because The Hungover Games is a film spoofing both it, The Hunger Games, and a bunch of scenes from other movies. I’ll say this: I’ve seen worse. Here’s the premise. Four dudes, named after the real names of the actors in the Hangover films — Bradley (Ross Nathan), Ed (Ben Begley), Zach (Herbert Russell), and Doug (John Livingston) — have a night of heavy partying and wake up in the future that just so happens to be a version of the Hunger Games in which the participants are all from various movie franchises. I can think of way worse premises. This one’s at least kind of creative. Doug is missing but is presumed to be in the competition, so Bradley, Ed, Zach, and “Katnip” (Rita Volk) team up to try to find him while also killing all of the other participants. This premise allows the filmmakers to take pot-shots at how uncreative Hollywood is, let out their anger on individual characters or properties, and make a better Hangover movie than Todd Phillips did with a seemingly...

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Life of Crime (2014)

A kidnapping. A woman unsatisfied with her life is kidnapped by a couple of criminals. They want her husband to pay the ransom money; he’s off on vacation with his mistress, and has already sent in divorce papers. So we wait. What will come of this? Who will blink first? And why does one of the criminals seem to have a certain affection for the woman he kidnapped? Such is the premise of Life of Crime, which is a diversion of a film and nothing more. Try to remember much of it a day later and you’re going to struggle. The woman in question is Mickey Dawson (Jennifer Aniston), currently married to Frank (Tim Robbins), who is having an affair with Melanie (Isla Fisher). The criminals are Ordell (Yasiin “Mos Def” Bey) and Louis John Hawkes). So, now you have the primary players. The film is based on an Elmore Leonard novel called The Switch, which couldn’t serve as the title to our film because Aniston, arguably the film’s biggest name, already starred in a film with that name. And that would just get confusing. There’s a lot of talent on-screen in Life of Crime. Sometimes they’re wearing masks, but most of the time they’re just sitting around, waiting for something to happen. There’s a charm to the film at its outset when all we’re doing is being introduced...

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