From his humble beginnings as a supporting player in the third (and arguably best) Wallace and Gromit short, A Close Shave, the Aardman Animations creation Shaun the Sheep has become his own stop-motion franchise, one that encompasses a TV series, a spin-off TV series (Timmy Time, starring Shaun’s wooly cousin, Timmy), a merchandising line and, now, a big-screen feature. Like his former canine co-star, Shaun is a silent creature, and the other characters in his first feature follow his example. That includes his sheep family (including young Timmy), as well as the farmer that tends to Shuan and his flock. That makes the boringly, but accurately, titled Shaun the Sheep Movie the rare contemporary kids’ movie that isn’t filled with celebrity voices delivering inspired and/or insipid laugh lines.
Fri 20 Mar 2015
I know that I saw Divergent, the first entry in what’s since been officially tagged as The Divergent Series, a year ago, but I could barely tell you a thing about it 12 months later. Carefully engineered to be the next YA blockbuster, the movie pieced together elements drawn from various other successful movie and book series (including Veronica Roth’s titular trilogy, which served as the base source material) and performed just well enough to merit this sequel, which fills that lull between Oscar season and the earlier-than-ever launch of summer blockbuster insanity. But don’t go in expecting a recap of the previous installment; Insurgent leaps right into the action without much exposition. And since exposition was the one thing that I do recall Divergent had in spades, I wasn’t particularly sad to cut to the chase, such as it is.
Fri 13 Mar 2015
Reviews of a live-action Cinderella and a son’s love letter to his father and the other members of The Wrecking Crew.
Fri 27 Feb 2015
A pair of documentaries are opening in theaters this week that represent two distinct non-fiction narrative forms. Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s The Hunting Ground is a journalistic piece that attacks a major news story from a myriad of angles. Liv Corfixen’s My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn is a personal essay that happens to be “written” with a camera. Both films have the individual strengths and weaknesses, but viewed alongside each other, they speak to the wide range of stories that exist to be told in the documentary genre, not to mention the different ways of telling them.
Wed 17 Dec 2014
Peter Jackson attempts to finish his second Middle-earth trilogy in grand style, but the result is minor at best. Plus, a quick review of the Cannes winner, Winter Sleep
Mon 27 Oct 2014
Lynn Shelton’s latest lags behind her other films. Plus, reviews of Force Majeure and the new-to-DVD Million Dollar Arm.
Thu 25 Sep 2014
I don’t remember watching full episodes of The Equalizer during its ’80s heyday, but I do have a dim memory of the ads that played between the shows I actually watched. As I recall, the generally featured lots of gunplay, the occasional explosion and the show’s gray-haired star, Edward Woodward, glowering into the camera. While I can’t accurately say if those “Next time on…” teasers accurately reflected the content of the show, they do more or less sum up what happens in the movie version, which offers two full hours of gunplay, explosions and Denzel Washington (taking over from Woodward) glowering into the camera. In that respect, The Equalizer could be considered an entirely faithful adaptation of its source material…or at least, the advertisements for its source material.
Wed 24 Sep 2014
The Iranian-born, London-based screenwriter Hossein Amini (his credits include Snow White and the Huntsman and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive) adds “director” to his resume with The Two Faces of January, a ’50s-era psychological thriller based on one of the lesser-known thrillers penned by Patricia Highsmith (author of The Talented Mr. Ripley among others). The movie, which is currently available on VOD and opens in theaters on Friday, stars Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst as a married couple who get in hot water while vacationing in Greece and Oscar Isaac as the low-level street criminal who lends them a hand…mainly so that he can cozy up to Dunst. I spoke with Amini before sitting down to talk with Mortensen for a Q&A that’s posted over on Yahoo Movies and you can read some excerpts from our conversation below.
Fri 19 Sep 2014
Liam Neeson takes aim at a brainier kind of action movie in A Walk Among the Tombstones.