Foxcatcher

fcSony Classics (2014) 134 min. R

Director: Bennett Miller

Screenplay: E. Max Frye & Dan Futterman

Cinematography: Greig Fraser; Editing: Jay Cassidy, Stuart Levy & Conor O’Neill

Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas

Costumes: Kasia Walicka-Maimone

Score: Rob Simonsen

Stars: Steve Carell (John E. du Pont), Channing Tatum (Mark Schultz), Mark Ruffalo (Dave Schultz), Vanessa Redgrave (Jean du Pont), Sienna Miller (Nancy Schultz), Anthony Michael Hall (Jack), Guy Boyd (Henry Beck), Brett Rice (Fred Cole)

Maybe I’ve watched one too many paranormal programs but I find it nearly impossible to separate in my mind the horrors said to haunt Fox Hollow Farm from what lies in store for the unsuspecting young men lured to Foxcatcher Farms, the du Pont family estate in director Bennett Miller’s new movie. Both true life stories seem subliminally intended to point up near identical morals regarding the fate that invariably befalls the sinful who are tempted into a life of drugs and sexual promiscuity.

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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

Side Effects

Side Effects posterEndgame Ent./Open Road (2013) 106 min. R

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Screenplay: Scott Z. Burns

Cinematography: Peter Andrews

Editing: Mary Ann Bernard

Production Design: Howard Cummings; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo

Costumes: Susan Lyall

Score: Thomas Newman

Stars: Jude Law (Dr. Jonathan Banks), Rooney Mara (Emily Taylor), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Dr. Victoria Siebert), Channing Tatum (Martin Taylor), Vinessa Shaw (Dierdre Banks), Ann Dowd (Martin’s Mother) 

The buzz around Side Effects, Steven Soderbergh’s latest, centered on its being announced as his last movie before leaving the industry to answer the call of the higher arts. It was an ingenious marketing gimmick. Advertising Side Effects as his endgame raised its appraisal value exponentially. Viewers were made to feel as though this were their final chance to seek out a Soderbergh film on the big screen, at least until his earlier work is re-released in 3D. The canny director is already exercising the most salient aspect of selling art, by exploiting the fact that a master’s work always increases in value after he passes. Soderbergh is no fool; like his onscreen characters he knows how to manipulate the market. Continue reading

The Eagle

Focus Features (2011) 114 min. PG-13

Director: Kevin Macdonald

Screenplay: Jeremy Brock; based on The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle; Editing: Justine Wright

Production Design: Michael Carlin; Set Decoration: Rebecca Alleway

Costumes: Michael O’Connor

Score: Atli Örvarsson

Stars: Channing Tatum (Marcus Flavius Aquila), Jamie Bell (Esca), Donald Sutherland (Uncle Aquila), Mark Strong (Guern), Tahar Rahim (Seal Prince), Denis O’Hare (Lutorius), Aladár Laklóth (Flavius Aquila)

The Eagle is well crafted, perfectly respectable popcorn entertainment. The majority of the movie was taken on location in Scotland (Glasgow, Loch Lomond, Summer Isles, Achnahaird Bay, etc.) by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, the Oscar-winning cameraman who also shot director Kevin Macdonald’s previous The Last King of Scotland. For The Eagle Mantle has photographed a beautiful expanse of the country, offering a wide variety of scenery, from grassy glens to the snowy Highlands. The result is a variety of gloriously breathtaking vistas. Continue reading

21 Jump Street


21JS posterColumbia/MGM (2012) 109 min. R

Directors: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Screenplay: Michael Bacall; Story: Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill; based on 21 Jump Street (TV) created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell

Cinematography: Barry Peterson; Editing: Joel Negron

Production Design: Peter Wenham; Set Decoration: Bob Kensinger

Costumes; Leah Katznelson; Score: Mark Mothersbaugh

Stars: Jonah Hill (Morton Schmidt), Channing Tatum (Greg Jenko), Ice Cube (Cpt. Dickson), Brie Larson (Molly), Dave Franco (Eric), Ellie Kemper (Ms. Griggs), Rob Riggle (Mr. Walters)

Nostalgia seems to come in generational waves. In the self-indulgent 70’s, out of it audiences were nostalgic for the more straight-laced 50’s, with Grease lubricating box office coffers and Happy Days making viewers feel all warm and fuzzy toward The Fonze on TV. In the 90’s it was the 70’s (The Brady Bunch, Charlie’s Angels, Starsky and Hutch), and in the second decade of this brave new century we seem to have worked our way straight through the outer edges of the 80’s and to be standing on the cusp of a renaissance of interest in the early 90’s. 21 Jump Street joins the ranks of other big screen adaptations of 80’s ratings hits like The Dukes of Hazzard, Miami Vice and The A-Team and since it’s the only one of those mentioned whose series run bridged two decades, it may very well be in the vanguard of the next made-from-TV wave. Big screen parodies of TGIF titles for the Y2K generation seem imminent and inevitable. Continue reading