The Croods

Croods posterDreamWorks (2013) 98 min. PG

Director: Kirk De Micco & Chris Sanders     

Screenplay: Kirk De Micco & Chris Sanders; Story: John Cleese, Kirk De Micco & Chris Sanders

Cinematography: Yong Duk Jhun; Editing: Darren T. Holmes

Production Design: Christophe Lautrette; Art Decoration: Paul Duncan & Dominique Louis

Score: Alan Silvestri

Stars: Nicholas Cage (Grug), Emma Stone (Eep), Ryan Reynolds (Guy), Catherine Keener (Ugga), Cloris Leachman (Gran), Clark Duke (Thunk), Chris Sanders (Belt), Randy Thom (Sandy)

Whenever I hear a familiar voice I can’t put a face to booming out from an animated film, it nags at me no end. Names are never given at the beginning of these pictures, like we’re used to seeing pursuant to the billing dictates of most star contracts. And the figures we hear these voices eerily emanating from are so unlike the faces we’ve associated them with, it triggers a short-term form of dissociative disorder. Such was the case with The Croods. The entire movie long I was waiting to find out who that gnawingly familiar voice behind Grug, the movie’s caveman father, belonged to, making it difficult to concentrate on anything else. Continue reading

The Sign of the Cross

SotC

Paramount (1914) 67 min. NR

Director: Frederick A. Thomson

Assistant Director: Harry Jay Smith

Screenplay: adapted from play by Wilson Barrett

Cinematography: Herbert J. Siddons

Stars: William Farnum (Marcus Superbus), Rosina Henley (Mercia), Sheridan Block (Nero), Ethel Gray Terry (Berenice), Lila Barclay (Poppaea), Morgan Thorpe (Favius), George Majeroni (Tigellinus), Ogden Child (Stephanus), Ethel Phillips (Dacia), Charles E. Vernon (Glabrio), Rienzi De Cordova (Philodemus), Madge Evans (Little Christian girl in arena), Kittens Reichert (uncredited child)

The Sign of the Cross represents one of the many attempts by early American cinema to compete with the stupendous epics issuing from Italy in the years preceding the first World War. Titles such as Antony and Cleopatra, Spartacus, Julius Caesar and The Last Days of Pompeii give some suggestion of their dimension. Only the efforts of The Sign of the Cross to emulate them is more blatantly derivative than most.

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White House Down

WHD posterColumbia (2013) 131 min. PG-13

Director: Roland Emmerich

Screenplay: James Vanderbilt

Cinematography: Anna Foerster; Editing: Adam Wolfe

Production Design: Kirk M. Petruccelli; Set Decoration: Marie-Soleil Dénommé & Paul Hotte

Costumes: Melissa Bruning; Score: Michael Giacchino

Stars: Channing Tatum (John Cale), Jamie Foxx (President James Sawyer), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Carol Finnerty), James Woods (Martin Walker), Richard Jenkins (Eli Raphelson), Jason Clarke (Emil Stenz), Joey King (Emily Cale), Nicholas Wright (Donnie the Tour Guide)

In White House Down, Jamie Foxx has become president of the United States. Understandably outraged at this fact, an organized troop of home-grown terrorists comprised in equal measure of disgruntled War on Terror vets and white supremacists infiltrate the capital building, intent on extorting government funds while simultaneously launching a nuclear missile attack that will obliterate the Middle East. When they take the president hostage, a Capital policeman rejected as unfit for Secret Service played by Channing Tatum, must emancipate him. The fate of the Western world rests on his broad shoulders. Heaven help us all. Continue reading