Director Abel Ferrara may be the last of the mavericks. While his early movies — such as “The Driller Killer” and “Ms. 45” — screened in grindhouses on 42nd Street back when New York was dangerous, his latest, “4:44 Last Day on Earth,” is only his third film in 10 years to open in the Bay Area. Read More
Aside from being the best-selling author of 16 books, Nicholas Sparks has a hand in the hit movies based on his stories.Opening today, “The Lucky One” is the seventh in a string of cinematic romances that include “The Notebook,” “Dear John” and “The Last Song.” Though they haven’t received extensive critical acclaim, the financially successful movies continue to draw in passionate fans on DVD, cable and streaming. Read More
In Bobby and Peter Farrelly’s new movie “The Three Stooges,” opening today, Sean Hayes — Jack McFarland on the hit TV series “Will & Grace” for eight seasons — portrays Larry Fine, the balding stooge with poofy, curly clown’s hair.Jack was a lot of things — vain, flighty, self-obsessed, sex-obsessed, but not a fan of the Three Stooges. Yet the real-life Hayes, who began his career as a musician and a comedian, grew up on the three famous buffoons, Larry, Moe and Curly. Read More
Traditionally, horror movies have been measured by how effectively they thrill and chill audiences.But after film scholars including Robin Wood and Linda Williams began examining those visceral reactions on an intellectual level, a crop of new horror movies — films that deconstructed horror movies, from “Scream” to last year’s “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil”— emerged. Now, Joss Whedon’s genius “The Cabin in the Woods” takes this deconstruction to a new, cosmic level. Read More
While it’s not uncommon for independent filmmakers to be absent from the big screen for a long time as they get new projects off the ground, Whit Stillman is raising eyebrows with the huge 13-year gap between "The Last Days of Disco" and "Damsels in Distress,” opening Friday.
Happily, despite the lag, Stillman's themes and obsessions are still intact, and the two movies nicely go hand-in-hand.
"Damsels in Distress" takes place at an East Coast college where the boys are drunken idiots and a small group of girls try, in their polite, refined, educated way, to make things bett Read More
“Goon,” a new hockey comedy in the vein of “Slap Shot,” introduces a refreshing and hilarious character, Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott, at his very best), also known as “Thug.”Like many great comic characters, he’s a walking contradiction. He’s incredibly tough and extremely good at beating people up — but his actions come from a place of supreme peace.When he pummels someone into submission, there’s no hate, anger or vengeance. It’s just a skill he has mastered and performs with Zen-like concentration. Read More
The “American Pie” gang returns in “American Reunion.”In some ways, it doesn’t seem as though they have been gone so long. In others, it feels like they’ve been gone a very long time.Thirteen years ago, they were high school seniors. They returned in two sequels, and at least one cast member returned in four more direct-to-video offerings.When the first movie came out in the summer of 1999, it was a refreshing, irreverent new brand of comedy. Nowadays, it seems a bit too ... nice. Read More
What was the point of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm’s 1812 Snow White fairy tale? Possibly to teach kids "don't be vain" and "don't open the door to strangers."What is the point of Tarsem Singh's new movie "Mirror Mirror"? Probably something along the lines of "ooh... pretty!""Mirror Mirror" is fun, at least in its first half. Julia Roberts is top-billed as the wicked queen, who enters her magic mirror and transports to a weird hut in the ocean, where she converses with her reflection. Read More
Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, best known for his genre films — the thriller “Intacto” and post-apocalyptic “28 Weeks Later” — believes in a connection between the supernatural and human worlds.His new movie “Intruders,” opening today, mixes both realms, possibly to the dismay of hard-core horror fans.“From the very beginning, I thought this was going to be a controversial movie,” Fresnadillo said during a recent phone conversation. “You have to create a hybrid if you want to express many things.” Read More
Moviegoers eagerly awaiting a sequel to 2010’s “Clash of the Titans” may be pleased with “Wrath of the Titans,” but the more discerning majority of us will have to wait for something better.In this new, dull sequel to a terrible remake of an action-fantasy film, Sam Worthington returns as demigod Perseus, again hoping to live a peaceful life as a fisherman, this time with his son.But once again, the universe (or is it simply the Earth?) is threatened. Read More
Terence Davies has been called “arguably the most important British filmmaker of his generation.” His first feature film, “Distant Voices, Still Lives,” released in 1988, is regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.Opening Friday, his new movie is “The Deep Blue Sea.” The deeply felt romantic masterpiece is drenched in memory, has an austere, sublime style and features Rachel Weisz’s finest performance to date. Read More
Based on novelist Suzanne Collins’ wildly popular futuristic thriller for young adults, the film adaptation of “The Hunger Games” gets by chiefly on raw, sinister suspense.
For those who haven’t read the book — the first in a trilogy — it takes place during the 74th year of games that were established as a way to control the masses after an unsuccessful uprising.
A boy and a girl (“tributes”) chosen from each of 12 districts prepare for a battle from which just one person will emerge alive. The competition is broadcast and commented upon in hideous reality TV style. Read More
The first on-screen pairing of Jason Segel and Ed Helms in “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” might seem like a formula for a laugh-out-loud, gross-out bromance comedy.
Yet the movie is by brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, independent filmmakers mostly associated with the “mumblecore” movement — low-budget films with low-key, naturalistic dialogue.
Even though Segel and Helms definitely earn laughs in “Jeff,” the movie focuses as much on thoughtful themes as it does on silliness. Read More
Based on the late-1980s TV show that starred a young Johnny Depp, the movie “21 Jump Street” could have been yet another example of Hollywood avoiding new ideas and lazily recycling old ones.
Fortunately, the film’s creators are well-aware of the trend, and it’s reflected in an early line of dialogue; the small gesture is enough to raise the movie to a level of credibility. Read More
Many years after his successful, Oscar-nominated 2004 feature debut, “Maria Full of Grace,” Los Angeles filmmaker Joshua Marston found himself in Albania making his second film.Powerful and intelligent, “The Forgiveness of Blood,” which won a best screenplay award at the Berlin Film Festival and opens today, is about blood feuds. In Albania, conflicts over land and/or money often result in a blood feud — a situation wherein members of all families involved must stay sequestered in their homes until a truce is reached. Read More