Eight Reasons to Celebrate Homefront This Thanksgivukkah

by Ethan Alter November 27, 2013 6:00 am
Eight Reasons to Celebrate <i>Homefront</i> This Thanksgivukkah

It's being dumped into theaters over Thanksgivukkah weekend with zero promotion and is guaranteed to be in Walmart's discount DVD bin before you finish this sentence, but here are eight reasons to celebrate the existence of the schlocky action picture Homefront this holiday season:

<i>Rise of the Planet of the Apes</i>: You Finally Made a Monkey out of Me

Full disclosure: I, like many of the people who will go to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes this weekend, have never actually seen an entire Apes film from start to finish. I have, however, watched the famous clips, know the plotlines and have all of the Simpsons references committed to memory. I tell you this because instead of going into this film as a fan of the franchise, I wanted to view it more as standalone summer blockbuster. I believe that even if I was a diehard Aper (that's what y'all are called, right?), I wouldn't feel a substantial amount of yearning to know the complete origin story of exactly how the apes came to take over earth by the year 3978 -- or, I suppose, 5021, if you're a Tim Burton fan . The premise makes sense and everything as a movie, but it can also just be summed up in two words: crazy science.

Nights in Rodanthe Is Exactly What You’d Expect, Plus Ponies!

by Lauren Gitlin September 25, 2008 11:09 am
<i>Nights in Rodanthe</i> Is Exactly What You’d Expect, Plus Ponies! Damn it all, Nicholas Sparks! I told myself if I cried at your eighteen-hanky tearjerk bonanza I would shoot myself in the face. Well consider me dead, mkah? The lesson I learned the hard way is that you don't go into a movie like Nights in Rodanthe expecting it to be anything other than what it is -- a sappy, sad-sack chick-flick that'll have you weeping by the time the credits roll. Writer Nicholas Sparks might very well be the master of this particular strain of movie, something I dubbed the SPOILER ALERT "bone-n-croak" because there's a love story, the requisite "romantic" love scene involving a painfully slow disrobing sequence and some sort of tragic(-ish) death. If you've seen of Sparks' other works (A Walk to [sob!] Remember, The Notebook), you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Express, for Men

by Zach Oat August 7, 2008 4:50 pm
<i>Express</i>, for Men

If you look closely at James Franco's T-shirt in Pineapple Express, you'll see that it's one of the most awesome T-shirt designs ever: a shark devouring a kitten. When asked about it in interviews, Franco always credits the design to Pineapple director David Gordon Green, but that apparently isn't the case. T-shirt designers WOWCH created an astoundingly similar design for Urban Outfitters back in 2005, which was apparently tweaked and flipped to create Franco's movie getup. Unless Franco's drug dealer character traded merchandise with the knock-off clothing manufacturer next door, there better be a good explanation for this.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, July 9, 2013

by Ethan Alter July 9, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Best Spring Break ever...

Spring Breakers: There’s Beauty in the Breakdown

by Ethan Alter March 15, 2013 6:02 am
<i>Spring Breakers</i>: There’s Beauty in the Breakdown

I've been trying to come up with a pithy way of describing the experience of watching Harmony Korine's much-hyped beachsploitation picture Spring Breakers and here's what I've come up with: If Terrence Malick and Sofia Coppola had a baby and that baby grew up to be Britney Spears who began every performance of "...Baby One More Time" by taking a gigantic hit of cocaine, that's Spring Breakers. Much of the pre-release hype has centered on the casting of former tween superstars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens as spring break-bound girls gone wild and that bit of stunt casting is obviously a publicity-friendly coup for a filmmaker who has mostly worked on the fringes of the industry. But the bigger coup that Korine pulls off is using those actresses and their rowdy "spring break forever" mantra as window dressing for a highly stylized art film that brutally (and, at times, brilliantly) sends up a society and (pop) culture that enables and enhances all the things it claims to bemoan, from the oversexualization of young women to glamorizing thug life. Spring Breakers doesn't pretend that it has any solutions to offer or that it's not, to a certain extent, part of the problem; like Natural Born Killers (another obvious stylistic inspiration), it's attempting to be both a critique and the thing its critiquing.

<i>Oz the Great and Powerful</i>: Because of the Wonderful Things He Does

There were many reasons to dislike Tim Burton's 3D-enhanced (but 1D-executed) version of Alice in Wonderland, but chief among them was the fact that it felt like a Tim Burton movie in name only. The production design and costumes had the familiar Burton touch, but the film itself was practically anonymous -- the personality bled out by the director and his backers at Walt Disney Studios to better ensure mass market appeal. (Of course, considering how poorly the more traditionally Burton-esque Dark Shadows turned out, maybe that wasn't such a terrible thing after all.) So whatever its problems, Disney's newest family blockbuster Oz the Great and Powerful trumps Alice in that it's recognizably a Sam Raimi picture. Granted, it's not exactly the same Raimi who made The Evil Dead back in the day, but his interests and particular set of skills still manage to stand out amidst the big-budget spectacle instead of getting swallowed up by it.

Prosthesis Envy

by Kasey McDonald August 14, 2008 1:54 pm
Prosthesis Envy

I fully admit that my inner twelve-year-old could not be suppressed when reading about James Franco and Sean Penn's new project Milk. I will even admit that the juvenile and annoying elementary school playground rhyme, "Milk, milk, lemonade, round the corner..." popped into my head at the end of the first sentence and it took me about fifteen seconds to regain my composure. That said, I dare you to remain a grown-up while reading this. I won't say it can't be done, but then, you're probably a better person than me. The news here seems to be not the project itself--a film about politician and activist Harvey Milk (Penn), who in 1977 was the first openly gay American man to be elected to office--but that Penn, who will play Milk, and Franco, who will play one of his lovers, will don prosthetic penises in all their nude scenes. Dude. I can't even type "penis" without tittering. I hope the make-up artist who had to apply the prosthesis has a lot more decorum than I.

Pineapple Express: Not Just For Stoners

by DeAnn Welker August 4, 2008 4:40 pm
<i>Pineapple Express</i>: Not Just For Stoners Pineapple Express sets you up to think of it as nothing more than a stoner comedy, from the trailer to the posters all the way to the movie's opening sequence -- in which Seth Rogen's character, Dale, calls in to a talk radio show and tells them that pot needs to be legal because it makes everything better, even "shitty movies." This early in the movie, it hasn't gotten funny yet, so your thought then might be, "Hey, at least they're honest enough to tell us we should be high to enjoy this."



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