Directed by John Madden
Screenplay by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman
Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Collin Firth, Ben Affleck, Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson
The essential question with Shakespeare in Love is this: By winning the Oscar for Best Picture, did it deprive, i.e. rob, Saving Private Ryan of it’s just reward? Yes, there are other questions we can ask, and other rabbit holes we can dive down – plot summary, anybody? But all of those other questions and discussions will pale in comparison to the big one.
Was Saving Private Ryan robbed?
The short answer? No. Continue reading
I know this is going to sound absurd, in the same way as saying that of all the mass murders in the world, one of them is not as bad as the others — because can any mass murderer truly be better or worse than another? — but seriously, Pain and Gain might just be the best movie Michael Bay ever directed.
In the past I’ve had a mixed relationship with Michael Bay — see this for proof — and I had good reason to feel the way I did. After all, of late he’s done nothing to really inspire me to change my mind. I mean, with three straight Transformers movies to his name, it was starting to look like he’d basically given up any shred of integrity he ever had. If he ever had any to begin with.
But with Pain and Gain, which I only saw because the tickets were basically free, I was pleasantly surprised — I guess that’s the advantages of lowered-expectations. Sure, it’s got all the usual over-the-top excess and fetishization of women and cops and guns his other movies have, but for once Bay’s style and the subject matter come together perfectly. And as much as I loved The Island, and as much as I liked Pearl Harbor — I’m not ashamed to admit I liked it, even if I might’ve been the only one — Pain and Gain might just be better than both. It’s energetic, it’s witty, it’s fast paced, has chemistry and charisma to spare, all held together by deliriously-unhinged and intensely-watchable performances from Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, and catchy supporting turns from Stanley Tucci and Rebel Wilson.
My only issue: it’s too long. Sordid excess has it’s limits and in this case, clipping out about ten minutes of the film wouldn’t have hurt it at all.
Directed by William Wellman
Written by Hope Loring and Louis Lighton, from a story by John Monk Saunders
Starring Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, Richard Arlen, Clara Bow and Gary Cooper
Some movies deserve the scorn heaped upon them. After all, they’ve been given every chance to succeed, been given all the money to succeed, and failed and deserve to whither on the vine and die. These would the pretentious, the superficially-important, and the later-career Michael Bay movies — in other words, films that could have — should have — been better, but just weren’t. Continue reading
Directed by Ridley Scott
Screenplay by David Franzoni, John Logan and William Nicholson
Starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Harris and Connie Nielsen
I am not a fan of Gladiator and never have been – there’s no point in burying the lead so there it is, right up front. Ever since I first saw the movie in theaters, after it was already on its way to being a massive box office success, I’ve been nothing but disappointed in it and it shouldn’t surprise anybody I’ve only seen it three total times in my life. The first was in the theater, where my opinion was formed. The second, when it first came out on video, when I watched it again to see if maybe I’d gotten it wrong – I hadn’t. The third was for this project. Continue reading
(Author’s note: This piece was originally a four part essay that has been joined together here as one)
It’s generally accepted that since the advent of motion pictures, movies have gotten longer the further we’ve gotten away from the first motion picture. However, pinpointing the exact reason for the increase may be impossible, probably because there is no one cause. Still, while it might be impossible to pinpoint exactly why, I’ve been curious to know just how the ‘auteur theory’of filmmaking might have played into the ballooning of run times, specifically, does the more revered a director becomes, either critically or financially, result in longer films? Continue reading
Every two years or so for the past-decade-and-a-half a movie appeared, like clockwork, right in the middle of summer. This movie promises to be the spectacle to end all spectacles and outdo every other film released that year. It comes populated by the young and the beautiful, the best and the brightest of the stars of tomorrow and promises more thrills, more laughs, more explosions and more sex appeal than anybody knows what to do with. In every way the movie is designed with but one purpose in mind: to separate the movie-going public from their hard-earned dollars, and if it seems that way it’s because that’s exactly what it’s designed to do. And more often than not it succeeds, no matter how juvenile or underwhelming the results may be.
You’re probably asking yourself just who the genius is behind these movies. Who’s the man that figured out how to get us to hand over our money time and again like a bunch of little lemmings? Who is the auteur of excess that entrances us year after year? Is it Spielberg? George Lucas? Robert Zemeckis? Maybe the great Cecil B. DeMille, risen from the grave? Of course not. Don’t be silly.