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The Counselor: The Jury’s Out

by Ethan Alter October 25, 2013 6:00 am
The Counselor: The Jury’s Out

As discerning fans of underrated crime films will immediately recognize, The Counselor is the Killing Them Softly of 2013: a stylish, mean-spirited picture about amoral people doing amoral things in an amoral criminal underworld that’s being quietly dumped into theaters by its studio because they don’t know what the hell else to do with such a flagrantly anti-commercial picture. (The fact that Brad Pitt appears in both as a very un-Pitt-like crook further unites the two movies.) Unfortunately, in terms of overall quality, The Counselor isn’t quite the dark-hearted delight that Killing Me Softly proved to be. That movie was a subversive home run whose reputation will hopefully grow over the years; this one is more of a ground rule double -- it puts its talented team in scoring position, but doesn’t ultimately bring them all home.

Alex Cross: Or, Tyler Perry’s Why Am I In This Movie?

If you were looking to fill the role of a forensic psychologist/homicide detective who is tasked with tracking down a ruthless serial killer, Tyler Perry probably wouldn't be the first name to spring to mind. Heck, he probably wouldn't be the 50th name to spring to mind. Yet there's the writer/director/actor/one-man movie industry on the poster for Alex Cross, the would-be launching pad for a new film franchise based on James Patterson's bestselling crime fiction series about the titular investigator, previously portrayed by Morgan Freeman in a pair of moderately successful movies from over a decade ago. Looking at the somber expression Perry wears both on the one-sheet and throughout the movie, one can't help but wonder what's going through his head. Is it, "Boy, I gotta catch this guy." Or, "Remember, you aren't Madea right now -- no smiling." Or maybe he's just thinking, "What the hell am I doing in this hot mess anyway?"

From Margaret to Mandy Lane: Long-Delayed Films That Were (and Weren’t) Worth the Wait

In the fall of 2005, celebrated writer/director Kenneth Lonergan started shooting his sophomore feature Margaret, a drama about the aftermath of a tragic bus accident featuring a cast that included Anna Paquin, Matt Damon and Mark Ruffalo. Six years later, the movie is finally being released in theaters. What exactly took so long? Well, it depends on who you ask. One version of events paints Lonergan as an indecisive perfectionist that was unable to deliver a cut he was satisfied with. Another version points the finger at one of the producers, claiming he attempted to encroach on the director's contractual "final cut" provision and didn't pay his share of the movie's budget. Either way, Margaret remained trapped in limbo until Lonergan finally came up with a cut that he and the studio were ready to release. The only question now is will it be worth the protracted wait? We'll have to see come Friday, but in the meantime, here's a scorecard of some of the other recent movies that have suffered similarly long delays before hitting U.S. screens.

Puncture: Captain America, Attorney-At-Law?

by Ethan Alter September 23, 2011 4:24 pm
Puncture: Captain America, Attorney-At-Law?

Filmed before his starring role in Captain America: The First Avenger, but getting a belated theatrical release after that summer blockbuster raised his profile, the legal drama Puncture gives Chris Evans a chance to prove he can play more than just 'roided-up action heroes or the dreamy guy in rom-coms like The Nanny Diaries and next week's What's Your Number. For his part, Evans seizes the opportunity and runs with it, making the most of the role of flamboyant lawyer, Mike Weiss, whose brilliance in court is matched only by his bad behavior outside of it. Never one to turn down a line of cocaine or casual sex with random strangers (a hobby that costs him his marriage), Mike is a walking disaster area, but the chaos that is his personal life only serves to fuel his sharp legal mind. That's really the only reason his friend and business partner Paul Danziger (Mark Kassen, who also co-directed the film with his brother, Adam Kassen) hasn't dropped him from their struggling firm -- he may be a deeply flawed human being, but Mike is simply too good a lawyer to kick to curb.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: More Legal Terms We’d Like to See Movies Of

If the title of the new courtroom drama starring Michael Douglas and Amber Tamblyn seems a little unwieldy, it's because the movie is a remake of a 1956 Fritz Lang film, and titles didn't have to fit onto a DVD cover back then. It's also a well-known legal term, one that has particular bearing on the movie's plot, which is all about circumstantial evidence and how it can be misleading. In fact, whenever a courtroom drama is looking for a title, the language of lawyers is always the first place to turn, as seen in such films as The Juror, Class Action, Hostile Witness, Trial by Jury, Presumed Innocent and Witness for the Prosecution. We put together a list of legalese words and phrases that we think would make great movies -- and not just in the plain-old legal thriller vein, either.

Sneak a Peek at the Watchmen Settlement

by Tippi Blevins January 16, 2009 11:33 am
Sneak a Peek at the Watchmen Settlement

Warner Brothers and Fox reached an agreement yesterday involving the release of the Watchmen movie. So now you have more to look forward to this March than getting hammered on green beer and nursing the ensuing hangover. Huzzah! Fox will not co-own or co-distribute the movie, but it will receive a nice chunk of change from the proceeds. Beyond that, "[t]erms of the agreement were not disclosed," but some crumpled-up napkins were found in the trash outside a Los Angeles-area Denny's restaurant that were either the ravings of a someone suffering from a Grand Slam overdose or some preliminary settlement ideas from Fox. I can't tell, but maybe you can.

How to Resolve the Watchmen Mess? Two Words: Slap Fight!

Lordy! This Watchmen mess between Fox and Warner Brothers just goes on and on, doesn't it? Back in September, it looked like everyone had been placated when Fox said they didn't want to tank the project and got Adam West's Batman in return. But no, the mess continued and Judge Gary Feess decided Fox does, indeed, have the right to distribute Warner Brothers' Watchmen. Now the latest scuffle has the producers and Feess trading letters and barbs on the Internet and beyond. I can't help but think this would be so much quicker (not to mention more amusing to watch) if everyone just got into the ring and took turns slapping the crap out of each other. Last person standing wins!

Watchmen Movie in Jeopardy; Meanwhile, Judge Dredd is Doing A-Okay

Call it "How the Grinch Stole Watchmen." After initially deciding that it would be impossible for him to make a ruling, Judge Gary Allen Feess (not a typo) has changed his mind and decided -- on Christmas Eve -- that Fox does have the right to distribute Warner Bros'. Watchmen movie. What the...? I'm willing to bet someone on the Warner Bros. legal team made fun of his name. Well, now Warner Bros. is going to have to pay out the nose to get it released, or actually give Fox the distribution rights, assuming Fox even wants either of those things.

Town of Batman Fights Crime by Suing Dark Knight Director

Oh my god, you guys. Did you know that there's a town in Turkey called Batman? If I'm ever in Turkey, I'm totally going to swing by and take my picture with the city limits sign if they have one. I'm sure everyone does. They probably have a statue in the town square of the Caped Crusader and sell T-shirts that say like, "I went to Batman and all I got was this lousy T-shirt." I bet they totally love the dark knight of Gotham! Wait a second... Huh. Turns out they don't. Turns out the mayor of Batman is suing Christopher Nolan and Warner Brothers for royalties from The Dark Knight. Damn. Now there's a different tack. I mean, come on, you don't see Metropolis, Illinois pulling that shit.

DreamWorks, Paramount split; Promise to Remain Friends

The divorce is final. The custody battle is over. They're both ready to move on. That's right: DreamWorks and Paramount finalized the details of their split over the weekend. They claim it's amicable and that they're going to remain friends and all of that, but we'll just see about that. As part of the deal, Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks will take the lead on 15-20 projects, and Paramount will have the option to co-finance. There are another 15-20 that Paramount will take the lead on, giving DreamWorks the option to co-finance. About 200 projects developed by DreamWorks will stay at Paramount, without DreamWorks financing or support.

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