Author: Matthew

The Longest Week (2014)

The Longest Week is the most Wes Anderson-y movie you’ll see that in no way, shape, or form has anything to do with Wes Anderson. From the opening scene to the last, you’ll be able to see the Anderson inspirations. There’s some Woody Allen thrown in here, too. I don’t think many people are going to accuse The Longest Week of being original. Its director, Peter Glanz, shows talent as an imitator. Now, if only he could have some of his own voice shine through. Our lead is a wealthy man named Conrad Valmont (Jason Bateman), who at the start of our film loses his entire fortune. He’s done nothing with his 40 years on our planet, except live in luxury. His parents divorced and as a result he lost his money. I’m not quite sure how that works, but I’ll accept it. He heads into the city to crash with his best friend, Dylan (Billy Crudup). On the subway, he meets Beatruce (Olivia Wilde), who gives him her number unprompted. Turns out, though, that Dylan wants to be with Beatrice. What happens? Well, Conrad isn’t a good person. He would tell you that to your face. So, he takes Beatrice and the two of them become an item. Yes, that quickly. That causes friction between Conrad and Dylan. Also, Conrad lies about having lost his wealth. He has...

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The Captive (2014)

Take a step back after you see The Captive — if you do, indeed, choose to watch it — and try to piece it all together. I’m not sure it’s possible. Whether through the editing process — during which scenes have been chronologically scrambled and some points have been cut altogether (or were never filmed) — or before the film was even being shot, there’s a definite lack of cohesion to Atom Egoyan’s newest film. In the moment it almost works, but looking at it afterward makes you ponder just what everyone was thinking. The subject at hand is a serious one. The Captive is about abducted children — or, more specifically, a single abducted child — and the way that the parents of the child react to the situation, even eight years after the abduction. The child is Cass (Alexia Fast), a figure skater who just wanted macaroni on her pie. Her father, Matthew (Ryan Reynolds), goes into the store to buy the pie (the macaroni is leftover) and when he returns to his truck his daughter is gone. A frantic but unsuccessful search is the first truly dramatic moment in the film. He heads to the police, represented by detectives named Nicole (Rosario Dawson) and Jeffrey (Scott Speedman). They think maybe he did it. Matthew’s wife, Tina (Mireille Enos), blames him, too. But we know he didn’t...

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Running Scared (2006)

Sure to someday be a cult favorite, Running Scared is a movie where everything goes wrong over the course of one night. You know those types of films, right? Where one event triggers a whole lot more, all spiraling downward and out of control? Running Scared‘s catalyst involves a child shooting his abusive father with a pistol he stole from a low-ranking criminal who was supposed to destroy it because it shot a cop but instead hid it in his basement. Wow. That’s a lot of stuff to cover and we’re only at the first incident. The pistol in question — I believe it was a .38, you gun nuts — becomes the story’s MacGuffin. Most of the film revolves around finding the gun before either the cops or the rest of the criminals do. The protagonist is Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker), and he has to both find this pistol and also figure out where the kid is so that he can make sure the kid doesn’t tell anyone where the gun was from. Or perhaps that it was a different gun. Just nothing that leads back to him, because he was supposed to get rid of the gun, not hide it in his basement where his own kid or his kid’s friend — the eventual shooter — could find it. The film is a race against time and...

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The Ides of March (2011)

There’s something captivating about seeing smart people in the movies. Perhaps it’s because movie characters are often less intelligent than one would hope, or maybe even because in reality it seems that there aren’t any smart people left. Regardless, watching well-spoken, thoughtful individuals in every role in a feature film is a good way to endear your product to someone like me. I’ll watch people like this in a movie do little more than talk, which is exactly what happens in The Ides of March. The film is a political drama about the dealings and double-crosses that can happen during a political race. Our star is Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), a junior campaign manager working for Mike Morris (George Clooney, who also directed the picture), who is a Governor and Democratic presidential candidate. Meyers’ job is to (1) do whatever it takes to get Morris elected and (2) do whatever his senior manager, Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hofman) tells him to do. Probably in that order, although obviously Zara doesn’t see it that way. I think the most surprising thing about The Ides of March, adapted from a play titled Farragut North written by Beau Willimon, is that nothing that happens in it is surprising. I don’t mean that in a narrative sense — there are twists and turns and a couple of good shocks to the system when...

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Rapture-Palooza (2013)

Whimsical takes on the end of the world are nothing new. Just in 2013 alone we have This is the End, The World’s End, and this film, Rapture-Palooza. But while the other two films are about surviving the destruction of the planet, Rapture-Palooza is more concerned with (1) a creepy romance between two of its characters and (2) living day-to-day life after everyone who believed in God was removed from the Earth’s surface. Oh, and surviving the fireballs of doom, random rainstorms of blood and bloodthirsty wraiths. The film’s lead and narrator is Anna Kendrick, here playing a teenage virgin named Lindsey. She, along with her boyfriend, Ben (John Francis Daley), were bowling one day when the Rapture occurred. No big deal, according to her description. One moment everyone was having a good time, while the next half the world’s population was in heaven. Those left on Earth had to deal with the aforementioned “inconveniences,” as well as the arrival of the Antichrist (Craig Robinson), who has dubbed himself “The Beast.” The “creepy romance” I mentioned above is in regard to the one that “develops” between The Beast and Lindsey. The Beast winds up laying eyes on her and decides to make her his object of desire. And because he’s the Antichrist, he gets what he wants. As the film moves along, almost anything that spews out of Robinson’s...

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