American Hustle: Do the Hustle

by Ethan Alter December 13, 2013 9:31 am
<i>American Hustle</i>: Do the Hustle

Ever since his sophomore feature Flirting with Disaster, I've been rooting for David O. Russell to score a big, fat commercial hit. (I also enjoyed his debut, Spanking the Monkey, but a dark comedy about incest is never going to be Top 10 box office material.) But when the writer/director finally achieved that goal with last year's Silver Linings Playbook, I found myself in the odd position of feeling happy for him while also being disappointed that it wasn't for a better movie. (Granted, The Fighter earned a fistful of dollars as well, but it didn't join the same financial weight class as its successor.)

The Hunger Games – Catching Fire: Now This Is More Like It

by Ethan Alter November 21, 2013 11:55 pm
<i>The Hunger Games – Catching Fire</i>: Now <i>This</i> Is More Like It

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire instantly goes on the short list of sequels that not only surpass the original film, but the source material as well. (For the record, I'd also put the second James Bond outing From Russia with Love and Peter Jackson's thrilling distillation of The Two Towers in that rarefied air.)

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, April 30, 2013

by Ethan Alter April 30, 2013 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"So Jennifer... how much does an Oscar weigh, anyway?"

Silver Linings Playbook: Crazy For You

by Ethan Alter November 16, 2012 11:35 am
<i>Silver Linings Playbook</i>: Crazy For You

Eighteen years and five films into his career, writer/director David O. Russell has yet to make a bad movie, but in the first 15 minutes of his sixth completed feature Silver Linings Playbook (which is based on the book by Matthew Quick), he comes pretty damn close. The film begins with the not-so-triumphant homecoming of Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper), a Philly-based high-school history teacher recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. For the past eight months, Pat's been cooling his heels in an institution, where he was sentenced after beating the guy his wife was sleeping with to a pulp. Convinced that being in familiar surroundings would aid in his recovery, his mother Delores (Jacki Weaver) secures his release under the proviso that he'll move back in with her and his father Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro). It's a nice thought, but the Solatano household isn't what you'd call a stress-free atmosphere; Dad's got a gambling habit (and a touch of OCD) while Mom is mostly an enabler. Both also have a penchant for bellowing at the top of their lungs, a trait that their son shares. Indeed, the opening act of Silver Linings Playbook is filled with so much yelling and screaming and carrying-on, it's like being trapped at a particularly noxious Thanksgiving dinner... the kind that makes the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade seem like a model of peace and quiet.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, August 14, 2012

by Ethan Alter August 14, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Now that the Olympics are over, check out the deadliest sporting event out (future) Earth.

Trailers Without Pity: The Hunger Games

by Ethan Alter February 23, 2012 3:14 pm
Trailers Without Pity: <i>The Hunger Games</i>

It's T-minus one month until the March 23 release The Hunger Games, which you all named your most anticipated 2012 release in our Movies Without Pity Awards. And we like the way you think.

Five Thoughts About The Hunger Games Trailer

by Ethan Alter August 29, 2011 6:00 am
Five Thoughts About <i>The Hunger Games</i> Trailer

Leave it to The Girl on Fire to ignite an otherwise sparks-free awards show. Last night's Video Music Awards offered the usual mix of underwhelming live performances (Adele excepted), slumming movie stars shilling for their upcoming features (way to slip a Moneyball reference into your stage patter with Nicki Minaj, Jonah Hill!), forced acceptance speeches (could Katy and Kanye have looked more awkward?) and embarrassing attempts at comedy (go back to your day job Kevin Hart... whatever that is). But things finally started looking up towards the end of the night when Jennifer Lawrence appeared via videotape to introduce the first footage from The Hunger Games, the upcoming film version of Suzanne Collins' best-selling novel (the first in a trilogy) that's due in theaters on March 23, 2012.

The Hunger Games: Katniss Deserves Better

by Ethan Alter March 22, 2012 11:30 am
<i>The Hunger Games</i>: Katniss Deserves Better

If there's a single takeaway from The Hunger Games, the first of four planned movies based on the omnipresent YA book franchise by Suzanne Collins, it's that Jennifer Lawrence is a genuine, true blue, big time movie star. Coming off a deservedly acclaimed breakout performance in the indie drama Winter's Bone and a strong supporting turn in last summer's comic book blockbuster X-Men: First Class, the actress picks up the archer's bow wielded by Katniss Everdeen, the girl revolutionary at the center of the novels. On the page, Katniss functions as a kind of wish-fulfillment character for every teen reader -- girls and boys alike -- that has ever felt alienated and aggrieved by an unjust society. (And that's pretty much every teenager from the dawn of time.) The great accomplishment of Lawrence's performance is that she takes a person that every fan of the book has imagined themselves being and makes her completely her own. From the opening scenes, she's completely locked in to Katniss's headspace and vividly portrays her transformation from amateur hunter to battle-tested fighter. So yes, Lawrence is terrific. The movie itself, unfortunately, is a disappointment.

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