Fast & Furious 6: As the Car Turns

by Ethan Alter May 24, 2013 6:08 am
<i>Fast & Furious 6</i>: As the Car Turns

The Fast and the Furious franchise's gradual transformation from action movie serial to full-blown TV soap opera (with occasional car chases) is at last complete with the release of the sixth installment, Fast & Furious 6. Think I'm kidding? Just watch the first ten minutes, which kick off with a few quick scenes that re-introduce us to central heroes Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker) and then flow directly into the opening credits sequence, a music-drenched montage of scenes from the previous films, followed by title cards and glamor shots of each individual member of the series' by-now large ensemble. The whole thing climaxes with a shot of the entire cast -- with bullet-headed Diesel front and center, natch -- walking directly at the camera in slow-motion as the title (which, for the record, is styled as Furious 6, despite being advertised as Fast & Furious 6 on all the ads) pops up onscreen. It's only an "Also Starring Jason Priestley" and "Executive Produced by Aaron Spelling" credit short of being a note-perfect recreation of the opening titles of any early '90s primetime soap.

Pain & Gain: Pump It Up

by Ethan Alter April 26, 2013 8:00 am
<i>Pain & Gain</i>: Pump It Up

As improbable as it might sound, Pain & Gain is Michael Bay's attempt a Coen Brothers picture -- his Fargo or Burn After Reading if you will. Like both of those films (which rank amongst my own personal favorite Coen-made movies), Pain & Gain is a dark comedy about a group of very dumb, very greedy, very selfish and all-around not very nice people who apply their distinct lack of smarts and skills to crime and wind up failing spectacularly. But where the Coens were only kidding about Fargo being based on a true story, Pain & Gain's claims to legitimacy aren't manufactured. The crime dramatized here really did go down in Miami in the mid-'90s and while details have almost certainly been altered to fit Bay's glossy, hedonistic vision, Pain & Gain is, funnily enough, probably more historically accurate than the director's recreation of Pearl Harbor.

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