John Carter — an intrepid explorer of other planets, born from the pen of Edgar Rice Burroughs, who also created Tarzan — finally has hit the big screen. The character first appeared in a 1912 pulp magazine serial, which later was published in novel form as “A Princess of Mars.” Tarzan debuted the same year to far greater success, quickly making the jump to movies, which ranged from Johnny Weissmuller adventures to trashy Bo Derek movies, Oscar-nominated dramas and Disney cartoons. Read More
Ewan McGregor is not your typical movie star. He impressed local audiences last year when, even though his plane was late, he made it to the Castro Theatre in time for the question-and-answer session after the screening of “Beginners,” the opening movie of the San Francisco International Film Festival (in which he starred).Even though he could have easily, and understandably, blown off the evening, he grabbed a cab — all by himself, with no handlers or assistants — and made it to the event. Read More
In the first all-night party movie, arguably George Lucas' "American Graffiti," the focus was on characters learning a lesson over the course of the night.As the genre became more common, the parties got more and more raucous – as in "Sixteen Candles," "Superbad," "The Hangover" and "Take Me Home Tonight" – but the focus was still on characters learning things and becoming better people.But "Project X" advances the genre to an entirely new level. Screen time once devoted to nurturing characters has been set aside to make room for more chaos and destruction. Read More
The all-night party movie, a special genre that includes "American Graffiti," "Sixteen Candles," "Superbad" and "The Hangover," reaches new heights with "Project X."
Its nightmarish chaos is over the top, but the movie does have an extraordinary purity and primal energy.
Still, “Project X’s” twentysomething actors Thomas Mann, Oliver J. Cooper and Jonathan Daniel Brown say that having to pretend to be at a party for five weeks wasn’t as much fun as it might seem to viewers. Read More
The new movie “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,” based on the 1971 book, is a happy success.For decades, popular children’s books by Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) have been adapted to cartoons, short films and TV specials; yet their size and rhythm seemed to resist the long form.With the exception of the original feature screenplay written by Seuss, 1953’s “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T,” the first attempt to bring one of his stories to the big screen was 2000’s soulless “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Read More
Who is Mikhail Khodorkovsky?
At one point in the past decade, he was the world’s richest man under 40. Today, he resides in a Siberian prison. Americans ought to know who he is, because he reflects who we are, and the way we do business.
In his new documentary, German filmmaker Cyril Tuschi aims to shed light on this enigmatic man, though he begins with a distinct disadvantage: He can’t film near the prison where Khodorkovsky is held, much less the man himself. Read More
Though it features real-life U.S. Navy SEALs as the lead characters, “Act of Valor" is actually a new Hollywood action movie – not a documentary.
In a filmed introductory statement, co-directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh said research influenced their decision to use the real-life guys rather than actors, who could not possibly understand the daily lives of SEALs.
On one level, their choice was good. Trained SEALs perform precision tasks with speed and authority in a way that actors cannot duplicate. Read More
It's Oscar time, time to reward the most celebrated, if not the best, movies of 2011, a year yielding little agreement among critics and no clear masterpieces. "The Help" was too lowbrow, "The Tree of Life" too highbrow, "Moneyball" too fictional, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" too confusing and "The Artist" too ... quiet. Here are our predictions and preferences in the major categories.Best PictureWill win: "The Artist"Should win: "The Tree of Life"Write-in: "Drive" Read More
Hollywood usually designs its love triangles more along the lines of isosceles than equilateral. It must be absolutely clear which two partners the audience is supposed to root for, and the third is usually painted as slimy or annoying.If the partners are equal, as they are in the new “This Means War,” it’s problematic. The movie therefore strives to solve problems of script rather than of character. Even worse, the middle character — in this case product tester Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) — comes across like an indecisive idiot. Read More
It’s all about the ladybugs.Animators at Japan’s Studio Ghibli, making children’s movies since the 1980s, have earned the adoration of young and old, worldwide. They have done it not by making breakneck-paced, slapstick-ridden movies full of fart jokes, but by focusing on the flow of life. The movies actually take the time, once a scene is over, to linger in the moment and focus on a ladybug crawling across a leaf and taking to the sky. Read More
Israeli-born director Oren Moverman, whose new film is “Rampart,” opening Friday, worked as a journalist before turning to screenwriting — though his journalism skills still come in handy.He broke out helping adapt Denis Johnson’s “Jesus’ Son” into a 1999 movie. Later, he co-wrote “Married Life,” starring Pierce Brosnan and Rachel McAdams, and 2007’s “I’m Not There,” a kind of analytical biopic about Bob Dylan. Read More
Back in 1988, “Midnight Run” proved the old “odd couple” formula — the pairing of a vulgar, vice-ridden slob and a fastidious, nervous type — could be adapted to action as well as comedy, and often both.
But the odd couple in “Safe House” comes more from life: Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is seasoned and cynical, and Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is young and optimistic. Read More
In some ways, Rachel McAdams is a classical movie star. She can play romantic leads like nobody’s business in hits such as “The Notebook” and “The Time Traveler’s Wife.”
She can also switch from serious to comedy, as in “Wedding Crashers” and last year’s “Midnight in Paris.”
But she’s also a modern movie tough girl, backstabbing in “Mean Girls,” thwarting terrorists in “Red Eye” and kicking behinds in “Sherlock Holmes.” Read More
In the new 3-D sequel to 2008’s fun “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” Josh Hutcherson again plays teen adventurer Sean Anderson.
No other cast member, writer or director showed up for this one, and it’s fairly clear why: “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” is as clumsy and clunky as its title, a slapdash effort that feels forced. Read More
Many horror movies today seem to be marketed solely for financial return. But writer-director Ti West wants to turn the genre back into an art form for personal expression.His new movie, “The Innkeepers,” is an extraordinary work of horror that defies viewers’ expectations and serves up plenty of tingles.It tells the story of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, about to shut its doors for good. Two hotel workers, played by Sara Paxton and Pat Healy, agree to spend their final shifts on the premises. Read More