Month: May 2013

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Every scene has many gags, both visual and verbal, while many also have a lot of slapstick. You think you know how a certain moment is going to play out only to realize that you have no idea. How the filmmakers managed to jam this much creativity into a single film is astounding. It contains more laughs per minute than anything else I can think of, and most of those are of the laugh-out-loud variety. The basic idea here is that we have a cop, Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen), who is assigned to a case. His partner, Nordberg (O.J. Simpson), is left for dead, and he is tasked with finding out who is behind this. His instincts take him to the very rich Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban), and his assistant, Jane (Priscilla Presley), who serves as the love interest. It’s obvious from the get-go that Vincent isn’t as innocent as he appears, but, of course, this is a comedy, so Frank isn’t allowed to figure this out quite so early. The film moves by at a breakneck pace. Where other comedies are content to sit around after a big hitter, The Naked Gun continues to pour on the humor. Sometimes, comedies are content with a joke every few minutes, whereas this...

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Movie Review of ‘The Great Gatsby’ (2013)

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has acquired legendary status since its publication in 1925, becoming a staple of high school literature classes. It’s been translated to the big screen before, but none of the film adaptations have made as much of a lasting impact. Enter Australian director Baz Luhrmann, who filters Fitzgerald’s novel through his unique filmmaking lens, interpretingGatsby as a tale full of glorious visual excess. In typical Luhrmann style, 2013’s The Great Gatsby is a staggering visual creation, ablaze with colours and dazzling production values, and it’s all in 3D for good measure. And you know what? If you can roll with the punches and accept Luhrmann’s distinctive approach, Gatsby is a hell of a good motion picture, succeeding not just as a visual feast but also as a potent drama with a solid story at its core. Luhrmann’s vision is simply enthralling. Looking to conquer Wall Street in the summer of 1922, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) moves to New York, renting a home located next to an opulent mansion owned by enigmatic millionaire Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). Gatsby’s gaudy lifestyle intrigues Carraway, with frequent parties on a grand scale attended by hundreds. Drawn into Gatsby’s luxurious world, Carraway soon learns that his neighbour harbours feelings for Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), Carraway’s cousin and Gatsby’s former flame. Daisy lives across the water from Gatsby with her philandering husband Tom (rising Aussie star Joel...

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Now You See Me (2013)

The warning signs for Now You See Me began right at the beginning. Before doing anything — even introducing the names of some of its lead characters — we were shown the skill that they posses. One is good at mentalism, while another’s proficient at escaping from traps Houdini-style. A group of magicians is being assembled, although exactly why won’t be clear until very late into the film. That is the “hook,” which functions as nothing of the sort, and then we fast-forward one year. The very next scene involves a magic show at the MGM Grand. The “Four Horsemen,” as they are now called, wind up robbing a bank in France, despite their location pretty clearly being in Las Vegas. This catches the attention of an FBI Agent, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), who is teamed with an Interpol detective, Alma Vargas (Mélanie Laurent), in an attempt to bring the magicians to justice. Of course, there’s no evidence, so the Horsemen go free just to do a similar thing at their next show. From here, Now You See Me is basically just a film of people chasing other people, with magic shows occasionally popping up to maybe keep things interesting. So, yes, it’s a movie whose two main ideas, magic and thievery, are pushed to the sideline so that the “good guys” can be chased by the “bad guys,”...

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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook is the type of good, not necessarily great, movie that I’m almost a little bit tired of seeing. Yes, I liked it, but I kept thinking about the talent involved and how much better it probably could have been. With that said, I’m not about to suggest many ways that would have improved it, mostly because I’m not quite sure of them. David O. Russell probably made very close to the best film that he could based on this screenplay. Granted, because he wrote the screenplay, the end result is still his fault. There are really two parts to the film, which is why it feels very disjointed. It begins with a guy named Pat (Bradley Cooper) being released from a mental hospital, the visit to which was court-appointed. His wife was having an affair, he beat the other man half to death, plead mental illness and wound up in the hospital. He’s going to live with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver), as he tries to get his life back in order. The first thing he wants to do is win back the heart of his wife, despite her filing a restraining order against him. At a welcome back dinner hosted by one of his friends, he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), someone else who has fought with mental illness. Despite some tension, the...

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The Go-Getter (2007)

The Go-Getter is an indie road movie, perhaps one of the most full genres out there. It’s not so much that there are a great deal of independent road movie as it is that they almost all feel similar. You watch one, and you’ve basically seen them all. The themes are the same, the archetypal characters grow in the same ways — even many of the plot points and stops along the way don’t change a whole lot. If there’s one genre that’s almost completely stagnant, it’s this one. That holds true with The Go-Getter, which places 19-year-old Mercer (Lou Taylor Pucci) on the road with a stolen vehicle, which belongs to a woman named Kate (Zooey Deschanel). We know this because the car was equipped with a cell phone, and after the theft, she calls it every now and then. She’s not even mad that Mercer stole the car; she just wants to learn about the journey and hopes that Mercer will have fun. His quest is to locate his estranged and difficult to locate half-brother, Arlen (Jsu Garcia), and tell him that their mother recently passed away. Of course, along the way, he makes a lot of stops, most of which play out like this: Mercer stops somewhere, is told that his brother isn’t here and that his brother wasn’t a great person when he was here,...

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