Browsing Tag


by Matt Lynch Current Film

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back | Edward Zwick

October 21, 2016

2012’s Jack Reacher was, at its best, an amusingly bare-bones action movie with a level of simplicity that may have felt a bit like a gritty ’70s throwback to some, but that more realistically resembled a made-for-cable movie circa the early ’90s. Never Go Back doubles down on the latter vibe and the result is virtually indistinguishable from something you might have watched on TNT in 1993 starring Michael Pare or James Remar Continue Reading

by Matt Lynch Current Film

10 Cloverfield Lane | Dan Trachtenberg

March 11, 2016
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

When Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up chained to the wall in an underground doomsday bunker after a car accident, she finds herself the captive of obvious lunatic Howard (John Goodman), a conspiracy nut who, along with his other “guest,” Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) tries to convince her that he is not a serial murderer but in fact her rescuer. Supposedly there’s been some sort of catastrophic attack, and the poisoned air will liquefy anyone unlucky enough to still be outside. Like a classic Twilight Zone installment, 10 Cloverfield Lane is simultaneously tersely Continue Reading

by Matt Lynch Current Film

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi | Michael Bay

January 15, 2016

Despite admonitions in the press materials and interviews with the principals, Michael Bay’s (maybe appropriately) dreaded Benghazi movie can’t possibly read as completely apolitical. Non-partisan, sure, fine: President Obama’s voice is only heard briefly, Secretary Clinton isn’t even mentioned. But no American film about military power in the last decade-plus has been able to ween itself away from depictions of groups of Arabs as either dangerous mobs or encroaching hordes, and it may Continue Reading

by Matt Lynch Current Film

The Big Short | Adam McKay

December 17, 2015
The Big Short (2015)

News to absolutely nobody: in 2008 a mounting, toxic combination of sheer cluelessness and outright lawbreaking caused the US housing market to collapse, leading to a massive taxpayer-funded government bailout of several enormous financial institutions. In the wake of this, very little new legislation was presented to avoid a similar future problem, virtually nobody was punished (except for, you know, the average citizen who lost a job or home or saw their savings decimated), and everyone went back to business as usual. Pretty infuriating, right? There, you’ve just seen The Big Short. Adam McKay’s film of Michael Lewis’ non-fiction book tracks a loose group of traders, hedge fund managers, and other financial experts who saw the collapse coming, bet against the housing market (and institutional intuition), and turn a tidy profit. It is a very funny movie, because McKay is a veteran comic filmmaker (he also made stuff like Anchorman), and because he has filled The Big Short with gifted performers like Steve Carell, Christian Bale, and Ryan Gosling, all of whom are allowed to freely improvise and generally act like assholes. This is fun because watching smart people be dicks to dumb people is a cornerstone of American comedy. And unlike other McKay films, it doesn’t look entirely like crap. Normally he just sort of plunks the camera down and lets the actors fire away; here, for better or worse, he applies a sort of faux-documentary style (if it were an action film you would liken it to the Bourne movies). Lots of shaky handheld, lots of cuts—it’s ‘realistic,’ which for some reason also entails a lot of blurry shots of computer monitors or fidgety hands. It’s exciting and propulsive in the moment, but shallowly motivated at best. The film attempts to articulate how this financial crisis was brought about—outlining an insanely complicated process that very few people will grasp immediately—by having celebrities (say, Selena Gomez or Anthony Bourdain) show up as themselves and explain arcane terms like “Credit Default Swap.”Amusing, but, like almost everything else that happens, absolutely meaningless dramatically. It makes no difference whatsoever why this mess happened, only that it did. Understanding the technicalities does not make it more or less of a crime, nor the lack of consequences for those responsible more or less egregious. What it does do is take up space that might have otherwise been devoted to more interesting ideas, like just whatever it was these profiteers planned to do with their ill-won loot (one of them invests it in water futures…brilliant, but also kind of evil), or maybe why they didn’t just go to the press in the first place. McKay merely seems interested in complaining that you aren’t as mad as he is. If you really wanted or needed the details of this calamitous fraud, you could simply read Lewis’s book, but McKay seems pretty certain you can’t or won’t. From the top down this film is about how annoying it is to be smarter than everyone.

by Matt Lynch Current Film

Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation | Christopher McQuarrie

July 30, 2015
Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation (2015)

Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, the fifth installment in this franchise, finds hero superspy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, but you knew that) battling a sinister organization of ex-operatives called The Syndicate in a relentlessly convoluted plot of double-agents and double-crosses so cloudy that the villains’ goal is only vaguely articulated at the very end. And yet that doesn’t matter one bit, because the spectacle on hand is at once classical and modern, complicated and totally simple Continue Reading

by Matt Lynch Current Film

Terminator Genisys | Alan Taylor

July 1, 2015
Terminator Genisys (2015)

Terminator Genisys (don’t ask about the spelling) is, by most counts, the third attempt to kickstart a new trilogy of movies in this franchise. Let’s hope it’s the last. The fifth film in this series (which is seemingly as unkillable as its eponymous cyborg) begins with a character who has now been played by three different actors reciting, in voiceover, the details of the previous movies’ backstory. The imagery is equally rehashed. Sunny playgrounds and busy cities suddenly decimated Continue Reading

by Veronika Ferdman Current Film

The Gambler | Rupert Wyatt

December 23, 2014
EXCLUSIVE FOR FIRST USE WITH USA TODAY SNEAK PEEK ON 10/08/14 0R 10/09/14. MUST APPEAR IN PRINT FOR ONLINE USE Mark Wahlberg as Jim Bennett and Jessica Lange as Roberta in a scene from the motion picture "The gambler." CREDIT: Claire Folger, Paramount Pictures.  [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

If you haven’t seen Karel Reisz’s 1974 The Gambler before seeing Rupert Wyatt’s new Mark Wahlberg-starring remake, don’t watch it in close proximity to the new version. Here is yet another classic case of an original that makes the flaws of the remake seem that much harsher. There’s some wonderful mise-en-abyme surrounding Reisz’s original. James Toback wrote the heavily autobiographical script about a Jewish college English professor with a deeply self-destructive gambling problem Continue Reading

by Matt Lynch Current Film

Interstellar | Christopher Nolan

November 5, 2014

The self-consciously “epic” epic Interstellar is wildly ambitious, massive in scope, gorgeous to look at, often clumsily sentimental, very serious, and frequently overly expository. In other words, it’s the usual from director Christopher Nolan. The film follows Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a one-time pilot, now farmer, living in a near future amid Continue Reading

Drew Hunt Current Film

Men, Women & Children | Jason Reitman

October 3, 2014

Jason Reitman’s latest Oscar shill, the formally inert and thematically overconfident Men, Women & Children, aspires to illustrate how humans — horny high school students and their horny parents, specifically — interact in this new technological world of ours. The characters are all but glued to the computers and handheld devices they use to text, tweet, and instant-message each other all the sordid, depraved and depressing things they don’t dare speak aloud. Digitally composed text fields — basically the 21st-century equivalent Continue Reading

by Steve Carlson Current Film

How to Train Your Dragon | Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois

April 20, 2010
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

How to Train Your Dragon is warm and winning—a real charmer of a family film. Given that it’s a product of Dreamworks Studios, who are more apt to churn out cynical and lazy product replete with lousy pop-culture jokes, this comes as a surprise. But then, they also released Kung Fu Panda, so maybe they’re just trying harder now. The formula for success used by Panda, in fact, is more or less the same that works for Dragon: take some well-worn life lessons for the kids, wrap them in appealing visuals and snappy dialogue Continue Reading