Seven Psychopaths: Psycho Killers, Qu’est-ce Que C’est?

by Ethan Alter October 12, 2012 11:21 am
<i>Seven Psychopaths</i>: Psycho Killers, Qu’est-ce Que C’est?

Ever had that experience where you've seen a comedy that made you laugh an awful lot, but you leave the theater not certain how much you actually liked it? That's the reaction I had coming out of Seven Psychopaths, the sophomore feature from acclaimed Irish playwright and filmmaker, Martin McDonagh. It was a strange feeling, because I enjoyed McDonagh's first film, the Colin Farrell/Brendan Gleeson hitman picture In Bruges, unreservedly. It was wonderfully written, impeccably acted and precise to the last gunshot and profanity-laced one-liner. Seven Psychopaths, in contrast, is almost deliberately messier -- a sprawling, intensely self-aware movie that is constantly commenting on its own narrative gamesmanship and even, to a certain extent, its shortcomings. The movie's meta-ness is a reliable source of laughs, but it's also somewhat exhausting; after a while, you kind of wish that McDonagh and his band of gun-toting psychopaths would stop being so cheeky about everything and just shoot straight.

Hope Springs: Your Burning Questions Answered

by Ethan Alter August 8, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Hope Springs</i>: Your Burning Questions Answered

Who says the summer movie season is exclusively home to superheroes, super spies and talking teddy bears? As formidable as Jeremy Renner looks in this week's token action picture The Bourne Legacy, I'd put my money on the dynamic duo of Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, the stars of the new AARP-approved marital comedy Hope Springs, to take him out. (Actually, Streep could probably put him down entirely on her own. Have you ever seen The River Wild? That chick will mess you up.) I'm sure you have plenty of questions about the movie, so let's get right to it.

Hop: Seven Surprisingly Decent Things About The Movie

by Angel Cohn April 4, 2011 11:15 am
<I>Hop</I>: Seven Surprisingly Decent Things About The Movie

Hop was the top movie at the box office this weekend, and given the scores of people (mostly under the age of 10) packed into the theater where I saw it, that shouldn't have been much of a surprise. Having seen the horrifying the commercials are (the bunny poops jelly beans and Kaley Cuoco eats them), I went into this film with a sense of dread. But while I was expecting the worst, and it indeed did not really tread a lot of new ground or push the limits of animation, it was more tolerable than, say, Alvin and the Chipmunks with more than a few pleasant surprises tucked in for the grown ups who had to sit through it with their kids.

<I>Confessions of a Shopaholic</I>: Please Don’t Pay Money to See This

Making fun of movies like Confessions of a Shopaholic is admittedly pretty fish-in-a-barrel as far as making fun of movies goes, but still -- these things continue to be made and relentlessly advertised, and women continue to pay money to see them even though they're insulting in every way imaginable, and that's something I've never understood. I guess it's my pop culture blind spot, and there's clearly some kind of appeal these movies have that I just don't get. But no matter what that allure is, it doesn't negate the fact that movies like this get greenlit by a bunch of men sitting around agreeing that women are shallow and stupid enough to enjoy this crap, and that notion is then enforced by things like 27 Dresses and He's Just Not That Into You killing the box office almost every single time they're released, and I'm sitting here still confused. These movies are not just boring and harmless; they set us back. They make us stupider. They re-enforce gender roles. They're bad for everyone. And here are just a few of the many reasons why Confessions of a Shopaholic is no exception.

Indie Snapshot: Blue is the Warmest Color

by Ethan Alter October 25, 2013 5:55 am
Indie Snapshot: <i>Blue is the Warmest Color</i>

You can't get more art house than a Palme d'Or winning, three-hour long, sexually explicit French film chronicling the rise and fall of a lesbian love affair. (If Seinfeld were still on the air, that sounds like it would be the logline to the inevitable Rochelle, Rochelle sequel). But Blue Is the Warmest Color mostly defies such easy designations, telling an absorbing, relatable story while also achieving an intimacy and raw emotional power that has deservedly made it a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic… though not always for reasons stemming from the movie's quality. Ever since Blue's triumphant Cannes premiere in May, controversy has dogged the production, as the behind-the-scenes tensions between director Abdellatif Kechiche and stars Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux has spilled into the public arena. (As if that's not enough, the author of the graphic novel the movie is based on, Julie Maroh, has repeatedly expressed her dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the film.) As juicy as those stories are, try not to let it distract from the film itself, which succeeds (and, in some ways, fails) entirely on its own merits.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

by Ethan Alter January 29, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Time to figure out a different activity.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, December 4, 2012

by Ethan Alter December 4, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Watch as Bane does the dance of the broken bat.

Hitchcock: A Real Psycho Drama

by Ethan Alter November 23, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Hitchcock</i>: A Real <i>Psycho</I> Drama

So far Alfred Hitchcock biopics are batting 0-for-2 this year, with Fox Searchlight's anemic Hitchcock opening in limited theatrical release on the heels of HBO's crummy The Girl. Thanks largely to its skilled ensemble cast -- including Anthony Hopkins as Hitch, Helen Mirren as his wife Alma and Toni Collette as his long-suffering assistant, among others -- this film isn't quite as unpleasant and misguided as its small-screen predecessor, which strained to turn the Master of Suspense into one of the obsessive creeps that populated his movies. Hitchcock, which was directed by Sacha Gervasi (the guy who made that Anvil documentary a few years back), also deserves credit for paying more attention to its subject's formidable skills as a filmmaker, whereas The Girl seemed inordinately interested in his clumsy stalking of his leading ladies. Indeed, the narrative thrust of the movie concerns Hitchcock's own fears and doubts about his career as he seeks to reinvent himself in an industry that prefers the status quo. In a way, Hitchcock aspires to be another -- a self-aware portrait of an artist at a crossroads, unsure of which road to take next.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, October 9, 2012

by Ethan Alter October 9, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Maybe this crystal ball can answer all the questions I have about Prometheus."

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, July 10, 2012

by Ethan Alter July 10, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, July 10, 2012

With Comic-Con starting tomorrow night, Morgan Spurlock brings the convention to your living room.

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