Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Johnny Dangerously – Sneaky Bastages With .88 Magnums

Posted 30 Jun 2015 — by contributor
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Mike Shaeffer 

Johnny Dangerously is riddled with sight gags.Johnny Dangerously, USA, 1984

Directed by Amy Heckerling

“I’ve been fulfilling a lot of people’s prophecies about me; I’ve become a real scumbag.” –Danny Vermin (Joe Piscopo)

In 1984, director Amy Heckerling (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Clueless) gave us the comedy Johnny Dangerously, starring a dapper Michael Keaton, fresh off the success of Mr. Mom. Keaton’s performance in last year’s Birdman, which netted the Oscar for Best Picture, was one of his best. It was a delight revisiting his gangster persona to see just how well the actor and this gangster spoof have aged.

One of the first elements that establish this film as a gangster flick is the setting—the Lower East Side of New York City during the height of Prohibition. After a brief set-up introducing Keaton as our protagonist, we flash back to city streets filled with Studebakers, alleys ruled by an Irish mobster called Jocko Dundee, played with humor and charm by the late, great Peter Boyle (Young Frankenstein).  Read More

Maps To The Stars

Posted 24 Mar 2015 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead 

Maps to the Stars, Canada / Germany / France / USA, 2014

Directed by David Cronenberg

Maps to the Stars is gleefully disreputable and never less than entertaining. However, it lacks the narrative focus and thematic bite to rank among Cronenberg's best films. Maps to the StarsIf A Dangerous Method (the end of the Viggo Mortensen trilogy as I like to call it, the first two being A History of Violence and Eastern Promises) shows David Cronenberg at his most respectable, and Cosmopolis presents the Canadian director at his most unwatchable, his latest manages to avoid both of those traps. A sleazy, trashy, dark comedy about the amoral self-absorption of Hollywood, Maps to the Stars is gleefully disreputable and never less than entertaining. However, it lacks the narrative focus and thematic bite to rank among Cronenberg’s best films.

The most coherent and interesting thread to be found amongst the rather large, interconnected ensemble concerns an aging actress (Julianne Moore) angling for the part played by her now deceased mother in a remake of one of the latter’s classic films. She hires an assistant (Mia Wasikowska) who has been disfigured by burns in a house fire she herself started. The mentor-protégé relationship gradually sours to the point of a rather shocking conclusion, and an earlier scene in which the pair sing and dance in celebration of the tragic death of another actress’s small child is easily the funniest moment in the film.  Read More

Ezra’s Six Days Of Christmas Movies

Posted 23 Dec 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

A Muppet Christmas Carol is a delightful and remarkably faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic. Yes, I know this should be “12 Days of Christmas Movies.” Listen, it’s the holidays, guys; cut me some slack. Anyway, Christmas is far from my favorite holiday, as evidenced by my much more thorough Halloween article (over four times as many movies in that one, folks!), but I wanted to take some time this year to look at some rather off-the-beaten-path movies, as well as a couple I had seen before, but felt it was time to revisit. Here they are, in the order in which I watched them. Happy birthday, Jeebus!

THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL – a delightful and remarkably faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic, starring Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge (Ebenezer apparently went the way of Adolph as a first name choice), Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, and the Great Gonzo as Dickens himself. The biggest deviation from the source material is the casting of not one but two Jacob Marleys, in the form of crusty old hecklers Statler and Waldorf. Michael Caine gives a typically excellent performance, with far more emotional depth than you’d expect from a Muppet movie, and the film ends on a positive, Sesame Street-esque educational note: “If you’d like to know more, read the book.” ****  Read More

The Immortalists – Death Is A Disease Like Any Other…

Posted 04 Dec 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Immortalists, USA / UK / India

Directed by David Alvarado & Jason Sussberg

The Immortalists is one of those rare films that I honestly believe every human being should see. This new documentary from David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg tackles one of the most fascinating subjects a nonfiction film could possibly cover: it is about scientists on the hunt for a cure for aging. In other words, the subjects of this film are trying to make natural death a thing of the past. What makes the film even more special and memorable is the fact that it is just as interested in these scientists as people, giving equal time to both their extremely compelling goals and their personal biographies. In investigating the reasons for their obsessions, the film tells us a great deal about these people, as well as about ourselves.  Read More

Under The Skin – Pretty Pictures Signifying Nothing

Posted 05 Nov 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

Under the Skin, UK / USA / Switzerland

Directed by Jonathan Glazer

Under the Skin is all about atmosphere and striking imagery, at the expense of any real narrative or character development. Species is a 1995 sci-fi/horror/action thriller about a terrifying extraterrestrial monster that assumes the physical form of an attractive and notoriously easy earth girl, then uses this form to dupe horny earth men into going somewhere private with her/it. She then reveals her true form and eats them. Or uses them to incubate her eggs. Or something. Point is, the guys meet a messy demise; glorious ‘90s nudity and gore abound. How do you take that basic, very cool idea and make an intolerably tedious art film out of it? Ask Jonathan Glazer.  Read More

I, Frankenstein – We, Bored

Posted 20 Oct 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

I, Frankenstein, Australia / USA, 2014

Directed by Stuart Beattie

I, Frankenstein is a film that focuses to the point of obsession on every MacGuffin it can find, and it expects the audience to give a shit. The longer you watch I, Frankenstein, the harder it is to believe that it is an actual theatrical feature and not just a bad TV movie made for the Syfy channel. Despite big-name, reliably good actors like Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy and Miranda Otto, and special effects that, at their best, at least look like a really good video game, the entire project is bogged down by the bizarre combination of extreme silliness and relentless self-seriousness. Somehow, in making a movie in which Frankenstein’s monster (Eckhart) is reimagined as a modern-day superhero fighting against a legion of demons that want the secret to his immortality, no one managed to have any fun. The audience (such as it has been) is certainly no exception.  Read More

Horns – Don’t Ask Him About Hogwarts

Posted 15 Oct 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Horns, USA / Canada, 2013

Directed by Alexandre Aja

Horns is a solidly compelling midnight movie anchored by a strong lead performance from Radcliffe, who hasn’t really strayed too far from his most famous role by playing another conflicted hero with magical powers and a dark past. The least interesting thing about Horns is its central plot, a standard murder mystery potboiler that finds Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) on a quest to prove his innocence in the brutal slaying of his longtime girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple). Where the film adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel really excels is in the memorable sequences along the road of Ig’s private investigation. Once he begins to grow the titular horns, everyone he encounters feels the irrepressible need to unburden themselves of their darkest secrets and most antisocial urges to him. He also finds that they will do whatever he tells them, or permits them, to do, and this often leads to hilariously bizarre results, including a massive anchorman fight, which I never thought I’d see again outside of the first two movies to do it.  Read More