Category: Features

Around the World in 11 Movies

School’s out, the days are getting longer, and that means two things: summer and VACATION! The Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower, and the Great Wall all beckon. Unless of course you’re too broke or too lazy (or both) to plan a trip any farther than your back yard. But never fear – you can travel the world vicariously through these travel movies, all without going on a frantic hunt for your passport. Bon voyage! Under the Tuscan Sun: Italy Ever dreamed of chucking your sad-sack life and buying a villa in Tuscany, taking an Italian lover, and eating fresh pasta every day? Then immerse yourself in a different pace of life with Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, and this cast of stereotypical (but charming) Italian characters. From the sunflowered fields of Cortona to the Positano coastline, you’ll see some of the most gorgeous parts of Italy, and your taste buds will tingle at the thought of all those fresh olives and tomatoes. Snuggle up with a bottle of Chianti and you might actually feel like you’re there. Eurotrip: European grand tour You know why the world hates American tourists? This. This is why. But if you dream of doing Europe the American way (i.e. 3 days, tops, in all the capitals, with a stylin’ money-belt and huge-ass camera) then this is the film for you! There’s even a nude beach,...

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Cool with Either Side of the Street: 22 Jump Street and Homophobia in Comedies

While most studio filmmaking is geared towards young men, it’s hard to deny that comedy in particular is overflowing with testosterone. Marketing materials for comedies will say “From The Guys Who Brought You…” indicating a bro-level familiarity and understanding with the audience. “We’re just a bunch of regular dudes,” these movies say. “We’re just like you, bro.” Unfortunately, “bro culture” is overrun with misogyny and homophobia, and that bigotry too often seeps into comedy. It’s not a new phenomenon, and this certainly isn’t a new complaint. Even as American culture ostensibly moves in a more tolerant direction, our mainstream...

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Watch This Instead! Overlooked Alternatives to Over-Celebrated Movies

Introduction Our reactionary, identity-obsessed culture loves consensus.  We get carried away with championing things.  Sometimes we’re too rushed and zealous to elevate cultural accomplishments as “the best,” and we lift those artifacts too high, casting a shadow that hides anything growing in proximity.  For instance, did you know that there are bands from the 1960s that weren’t The Beatles?  In spite of our reluctance to admit as much, Michael Jordan won’t always be the greatest basketball player ever and there are dozens of alternative rock bands from the 1990s that were of comparable quality to Nirvana, all with cutting...

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10 Movie Dads You Don’t Wanna Mess With

Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there who spend their days trying to ensure the safety of their entire family.  It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.  There’s not much in this world a dad won’t do for his children (in real life and in the movies), whether it’s teaching them right from wrong, making sure vacations and holidays are successful, or even saving their lives.  So in honor of  the amazing things fathers do for their kids every day we bring you 10 Movie Dads You Don’t Wanna Mess With.  In no particular order, because there are no losers here. John Quincy Archibald: John Q Nobody messes with a man and his family’s health care.  Although John Q is a lackluster movie that checks every box in your typical hostage situation playbook, Denzel Washington manages to portray a compelling  and desperate character.  He takes his wife’s words quite literally when she demands for him to “do something” as the hospital releases their son when they can’t manage to come up with the down payment to keep their son on the heart transplant list.  Taking over a hospital with a gun is not at all an overreaction, right? Daniel Hillard: Mrs. Doubtfire Although at first glance Daniel Hillard seems to be a carefree, sloppy, reckless father, as time goes on he proves he’ll go to any lengths to...

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Father’s Day Reflections: My Second Chance at a First Favorite Movie

So, we all like movies.  Where do you think that came from?  Did you watch (and become subsequently ruined by) the movie Bambi as a child?  Did your parents not allow viewing of movies or TV, leaving you to stumble upon Die Hard one weekend on network TV at your neighbor’s house and realize you were growing up in a cult?  Regardless of all the other brainwashing you received as a child, you were no doubt exposed to movies or television at some point during your childhood.  Unless you grew up in the very early 20th century, you had...

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Father’s Day Reflections: A Western Sunset

He owned two movies on four VHS tapes. A yard-sale purchase of Dances with Wolves and two blank tapes on which he’d recorded a network showing of Lonesome Dove. The tabs were broken on both so no one would tape over them. He watched each epic about once a month, and my God, how I dreaded the days when he held that boring monopoly over our single television. On Friday nights, my favorite night of the week, we went to the video store. I’d spend my two dollar allowance on whatever horror movie cover creeped me out the most....

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Father’s Day Reflections: A Funny Teacher

My father has a unique sense of humor. Perhaps unique isn’t the right word, actually. Perhaps a better term would be “old-fashioned.” He tends to gravitate more toward slapstick, shying away from many of today’s more raunchy comedic fare. Something else he has always loved, and which he has ingrained in me as a result, is animation. I wonder, to this day, if the combination of these components contributes to his love for Robert Zemeckis’ Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). I have many of my own reasons for loving this movie, the biggest of which is the simple fact that this...

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Monstrous Patience is a Virtue

Monster movies are not inherently action movies. While there may be action and destruction in a creature feature, specifically scenes of chaos and havoc in a populated area, this is not always the intended purpose. The prime function of a monster movie – as with any movie – depends on who is behind the camera and what message they want to share with the audience. Maybe Steven Spielberg wants to tell a tale of men playing God and how “life uh… finds a way” or, hell, maybe Ridley Scott just wants to explore the depths of the horror genre...

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Take My Breath Away: Tom Cruise’s Top 10 Movie Moments

This weekend marks the release of Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster and quite possibly one of the most entertaining movies of the summer.  30 years later and Cruise has barely slowed down in cranking out the hits.  Known for the intensity and enthusiasm he adds to his roles (and pretty much everything else…), Cruise’s extensive resume has left its mark on us with countless memorable moments.  Let’s take a look at 10 of the best: 10) Magnolia 1999 brings us Magnolia, a film that gives us a side of Cruise we’ve never seen before, and really only one time since (see...

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Belle

Overview: Dido Elizabeth Belle, daughter of a British Naval officer born out of wedlock, is raised by the noble Mansfield family as a dignified member of the household. Fox Searchlight Pictures. 2014. Rated PG. 104 Minutes. A Nod to My Childhood: As a Disney-raised child, when I hear the name “Belle” in film context, I immediately recall the bibliophile who falls for a beast. In some ways, this default comparison to the animated work The Beauty and the Beast is not a wasted one. From an early scene in which we first see Dido cradling a book in her...

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Big Budget Buffoonery: Who Wins When Directors Get the Boot?

Last week, news broke that Marvel Studios had split with Director Edgar Wright, and the director was removed from the Ant-Man project over creative differences (ahembullshitahem).  It has been speculated that Marvel (read Disney), tyrannical and hungry for more power and money, wanted Wright’s name and not his vision. We’ll never know for sure what movie we missed out on because of the auteur’s departure.  It hurts already to think about.  But it is not an incident without precedent. With that said I have decided to explore other examples of combatant directorial changes over the years to determine how, historically, this sort of break up pans out. Superman II – Richard Donner Vs. Ilya Salkinds The Story: On the backs of  the Salkind’s and Warner Bros. Production in 1977, Richard Donner began shooting two films at one time, Superman and Superman II (now more commonly known as “The Peter Jackson”). This proved to be too much to balance and production was halted on the second film. Well, after the first film was finished, Salkind, like a regular swindling villain, decided that, even though 85% of Superman II had already been shot, he would hand the reigns (and directing credit) over to Richard Lester. Lester then re-shot portions of the film to weight his credit. Salkind desired a film that was  “more campy” and I guess Donner was spending cash...

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Our Little Infinity: Why You Need to See The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars is days away from release, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve already watched the theatrical trailers countless times and felt every emotion on the spectrum – laughing, weeping, you name it. So. Many. Feelings. As one of Summer’s most anticipated movies, The Fault in Our Stars already boasts an established fanbase thanks to the intensely popular John Green novel that serves as the movie’s source material. The story focuses on Hazel, played by the up-and-comer Shailene Woodley, who faces the not-so-average teenage struggle of battling thyroid cancer. While in a cancer support group,...

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The Small Screen Growing: Is TV Catching Up With Film?

Sometimes, pairs of things that seem comparable are not.  The Harlem Globetrotters didn’t seem so astounding the year that the ’92 Dream Team was showcasing true basketball excellence.  You wouldn’t bother going to Q’doba if there was a Chipotle on the same block.  And, in a situation of emergency need, you’ll never see a cop confiscate a bicycle. Similarly, the comparison between television and cinema has never been one that required much debate.  While TV has certainly had its examples of narrative achievement (The Sopranos, The Wire), loyalty (The Simpsons), and massive audience (M*A*S*H), its model has never given...

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Filth

Overview: A maniacal, reckless, depraved, guilt-ridden, corrupt cop attempts to earn a promotion through solving a horrifying case.  Steel Mill Pictures, Logie Pictures, Altitude Film Entertainment; 2014; Rated R; 97 Minutes. Familiar Tones:  Trailers and posters for Filth  are eager to point out that its source material, the novel of the same name, was written by Irvine Welsh who also penned the novel from which Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting was adapted.  Normally, I am baffled by the advertised presentation of these connections.  By the logic of this perspective, Maximum Overdrive deserves the attention of all of the world’s Shawshank Redemption...

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Unhappily Ever After So Far: Live Action Fairy Tale Adaptations

This week marks the release of Maleficent, a retelling of the tale of Sleeping Beauty that focuses on the infamous villain and how she evolved into the evil sorceress who cursed one of Disney’s most beloved princesses.  A poster was recently revealed for next year’s Cinderella, and Disney has announced their plans to produce a new take on Beauty and the Beast.   It’s safe to say that Hollywood’s not going to be finished cranking out live action fairy tale films anytime soon.  Although the fairy tale movie, even the live action one, isn’t a new concept, the recent influx of the attempts at creating...

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