Saturday, August 31, 2013

I Declare War

Younger readers may not remember the days before cell phones and the internet when kids would regularly go outside and play for hours, often with nothing but their imaginations to entertain themselves. I Declare War hearkens back to those days, following a group of 13-year-olds as they enact an elaborate, ongoing game of war in the woods. Armed with sticks as guns and water balloons filled with red paint as grenades, two armies face off in an effort to capture the other team's flag. That's vaguely interesting on its own, but there's more: the filmmakers alternate showing footage of the kids walking through the woods with their stick weapons and footage of them carrying actual weapons. We're brought into the minds of the kids, seeing what they see and giving the game a greater sense of importance.

I Declare War
Co-directors: Jason Lapeyre, Robert Wilson
Starring: Gage Monroe, Siam Yu, Michael Friend


Friday, August 30, 2013

Getaway

In Getaway, Ethan Hawke plays Brent Magna, a former NASCAR driver who bailed from the pro circuit and dabbled in some shady dealings before going straight. He's settled down in a new country with his new wife, but when he comes home from work one day, he discovers she's been taken. His phone rings and a mysterious voice tells him to steal a Shelby Cobra parked in a nearby garage or his wife will die. So begins one of the worst car chase movies I've ever seen, and unquestionably one of the worst films of 2013.

Getaway
Director: Courtney Solomon
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Jon Voight



Friday, August 23, 2013

Drinking Buddies

Can men and women be close friends without complicating things with sex and love? Drinking Buddies takes this question - most famously asked (in pop culture terms, anyway) in When Harry Met Sally... - and strips away the Hollywood sheen, replacing it with a quiet, realistic take of two people who are crazy about each other. Even if they can be together, should they?

Drinking Buddies
Writer/Director: Joe Swanberg
Starring: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston



Thursday, August 22, 2013

The World's End

Everyone can relate to that feeling of going home and things not being the same as how they once were. Unlike many movies that tackle that topic, The World's End is not a slow, ponderous treatise on aging and a wistful attempt to recapture one's youth (check out Kristen Bell's The Lifeguard if that's your cup of tea). This is an Edgar Wright film, so the movie takes those notions and blows them up - literally, at one point - and adds robot aliens to keep things interesting. The World's End is the final piece in Wright's Cornetto Trilogy, but takes a tonally different approach than the first two entries into this spiritual series.

The World's End
Co-writer/Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kick-Ass 2

While some in the critical community dismissed Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass when it came out in 2010 and seem to think it's completely without merit, I actually found a lot to like about that movie. It briefly positioned itself as a serious attempt to explore what might really happen if a regular person became a costumed crime fighter in the real world, but quickly ditched that premise when its main character, Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), ended up in the hospital and had metal rods fused to his skeleton. Combine our hero's new kinda-sorta-superpowers with the introduction of Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) - the most badass 11-year-old you've ever seen - and the movie turned into more of a comic book crowd-pleaser than an insightful examination of real-world heroism.

Kick-Ass 2
Writer/Director: Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey


Friday, August 9, 2013

Elysium

Writer/director Neill Blomkamp's 2009 debut feature film District 9 was surprisingly successful both creatively and commercially; the $30 million independently produced sci-fi movie earned four Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture. The film was praised for its visual effects, thematic content (allusions to apartheid), and its impressive action sequences, and Blomkamp immediately became a person of interest to sci-fi fans. Now he's back with Elysium, another piece of social commentary wrapped in a science fiction package. But does it live up to the promise of his first feature?

Elysium
Writer/Director: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Matt Damon, Alice Braga, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley



Thursday, August 1, 2013

2 Guns

If the trailers never mentioned it, you'd probably never know 2 Guns is based on a comic book. The movie version of this crime story feels much more like Tango & Cash than anything produced by Marvel, but 2 Guns does share one aspect with the films of that superpower-fueled studio: it has genuine movie stars in the lead roles. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg banter and shoot their way through a twisty plot, and their chemistry is the glue that holds this movie together.

2 Guns
Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Starring: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton