Movie Review: "Ride Along" C- January 17, 2014
2014 will definitely see movies that are worse than "Ride Along" -- that prophecy will probably be fulfilled before the end of the month, actually -- but it's unlikely to produce any that are more formulaic and uninspired than this flat action comedy. ("Action comedy," of course, means that there's a lot of gunfire and exploding cars.)
Eric's Blog January 14, 2014
For the third year in a row, I have for some reason written and recorded a song in the style of Randy Newman and pretended it is the theme song from a current movie. First it was "We Need to Talk About Kevin," then "Skyfall," and now "12 Years a Slave."
Movie Review: "August: Osage County" B- January 13, 2014
The Westons of Osage County, Okla., where it is currently August, are the kind of family that movies have always thrived on: people you'd never, ever want to have any connection to in real life, but whose vicious squabbles are entertaining to watch from a safe distance. Furthermore, "August: Osage County" (both as a Pulitzer-winning play and now as a movie) is the sort of drama that actors love: a thick, dialogue-oriented piece of fiction that gives multiple performers many opportunities to ham it up. Jam-packed with snarking, lying, brawling, crying, drinking, and smoking, it lends itself easily to big, capital-A Acting, both comic and tragic.
Movie Review: "The Legend of Hercules" D January 10, 2014
With its inept performances, terrible dialogue, and chintzy CGI, Renny Harlin's "The Legend of Hercules" is somehow more cartoonish than Disney's version, which actually was a cartoon. It's more like a daytime soap opera, too. In this telling, Greek mythology's greatest strongman (played by model-turned-not-actor Kellan Lutz, wearing too much bronzer) battles his sniveling half-brother (Liam Garrigan), his jealous stepfather (Scott Adkins), a fake-looking lion and various armies, all while pursuing a forbidden romance with a Cretan princess (Gaia Weiss) and coming to terms with being the son of Zeus. Every action scene looks so much like a video game that you wonder if any real humans or objects were photographed, while every non-action scene is hampered by the cast's inability (or refusal) to inject life into the pitiful screenplay. Ye gods, what cheese.
Movie Review: "Inside Llewyn Davis" A January 9, 2014
There are two important things to know about the fictional 1961 folk singer at the center of Joel and Ethan Coen's "Inside Llewyn Davis." One, he's quite talented. Not brilliant, not the best of his generation, but well above average, with a clear, honeyed singing voice and an intensity of spirit. Two, he can be a real bastard sometimes, burdening his friends with his vagabond, couch-surfing ways, and ruining dinner parties with his outbursts.
Movie Review: "47 Ronin" D January 8, 2014
[CAPSULE] Based on a real Japanese legend stemming from actual events, "47 Ronin" is about a white samurai who helps his cohorts get revenge against a shape-shifting witch. (One suspects the story has been embellished.) I don't know enough about the tale to say whether it's offensive to insert Keanu Reeves as the star (probably yes?), but I know enough about movies to say that this banal, generic samurai epic is flatly uninteresting, tedious, and overlong.
Miscellaneous January 1, 2014
The rules are simple. I tell you, with an excruciating amount of exactness, what I watched and read this year, and you either read it because you are interested or you don’t because you aren’t. In other words, none of this will be on the midterm.
Miscellaneous December 31, 2013
There were some good movies in 2013. There were also some bad movies. In short, 2013 was like a lot of years: it had good things and bad things. Here are the top good things, in my estimation, according to me, based on my opinion. This list is final and authoritative and objectively accurate beyond dispute.
Eric's Blog December 31, 2013
My thanks to the outlets that employed me and the many fine editors who dealt with me this year!
Movie Review: "12 Years a Slave" A December 30, 2013
There are three devastating, longer-than-average shots in "12 Years a Slave" that encapsulate the film's greatness, both as a movie and as cultural commentary. Two of them, though they depict abject cruelty, may seem otherwise unremarkable at first glance, but they actually speak volumes about the movie's approach to the ghastly subject of American slavery. The third shot's notability is unmistakable, and it showcases director Steve McQueen's brilliance while underscoring his thematic intent.