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Out in Theaters: ‘THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN’

It certainly won’t work to The Girl on the Train’s advantage to be compared to David Fincher’s Gone Girl but the proximity of the two properties – both feature strong female leads, are based on best selling novels and center on soapy surburian murder mysteries – make such comparisons as unavoidable as they may be unfavorable for director Tate Taylor. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE HUNSTMAN: WINTER’S WAR’

The Huntsman: Winter’s War suffers from colon-movie spina bifida. Its curvy backbone veers near and far to collect the disparate parts necessary in making this part of a larger cinematic universe. In this case, that universe is Universal Picture’s Snow White, a bleak fairy tale retold with undeniable visual style and largely charmless aplomb in 2012 with an aggressively apathetic Kristen Stewart at the forefront and a scenery-smacking, mean-mugging Chris Hemsworth as her side piece. Putting his considerable beef to good use as the movie’s romantic tine/battle-weary whetting stone to slide K-Stew’s frosty edge against, Hemsworth proved a fleeting flash of joy in an otherwise grim and grimly serious saga. His burly Eric however hardly seemed an intriguing (or popular) enough character to stage a spin-off upon but if The Huntsman is proof of anything, it’s that adding a hefty scoop of Jessica Chastain, a dollop of dwarves and a much more tongue-in-cheek approach to this whole fairy tale thing may be just the spoonful of medicine the script doctor called for. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘SICARIO’

Amongst the best in its entire run, episode seven, season two of Breaking Bad, “Negro y Azul” sees decorated DEA agent Hank Schrader’s fated run-in with a Cartel informant known only as Tortuga (a perfect in the role Danny Trejo). The syndicate snitch assembles a wish list of “thank you” gifts from a SkyMall mag – the going rate for Cartel rats. Hank butts in, jeering Tortuga to hurry it along and dispense with the bullshittery, awaiting the familiar nods of approval he’s used to as big dog back in Albuquerque. A tidal wave of censure bears down on him like a face full of hot Champurrado; sodden scorn pours from the eyes of colleagues and the turtle-titled turncoat alike. Taken aback, Hank swallows the salty-but-sure fact that what may soar in the Northern-most stretch of American border comes to die here in the infertile Mexican desert. He’s a bald eagle, snatched up and spanked by the very red, white and blue claws that feeds him. Read More

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Out in Theaters: INTO THE WOODS

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Last year, Telltale Games released a video game called “The Wolf Among Us.” The interactive story re-imagined fairy tales of lore – from Snow White to Georgie Porgie – as a community of troubled New Yorkers caught up in a multiple homicide investigation. You play as Bigby Wolf, a detective with a past as coarse as his beard hair, now a man doing his best to pay penance for the huffing and puffing of his past.

Rob Marshall‘s Into the Woods has its own Big, Bad Wolf – Johnny Depp with a crumpled mustache and a rapey solo track. He bays at the moon while singing about how badly he wants to gobble up Red Riding Hood. It’s weird, off-putting and noxious – essential Depp 101. Where Telltale was able to take familiar characters and weave a story around them that benefits from our understanding of their respective fables, Into the Woods relies entirely on mimicking the collective conscious of lore, spoon-feeding  back a narrative that’s more anecdotal smorgasbord than anything refined and singular. It’s one big inside joke that’s sure to tickle musical fans pink while leaving those on the other side of the fence howling for respite.

The story starts out in precious sing-song with a baker and his wife wailing their woes of a womb left barren, a pernicious Little Red (Lilla Crawford) embarking to grandma’s with a basket brimming with baked goods, Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) unwittingly off to trade his milky white cow for some magic beans and a spindly witch played by Meryl Streep hemming and hawing about an aged curse and popping in and out of frames in daffy gusts of smoke. Their paths, for one reason or another, have all been pointed into the woods. And so we embark with ballad after ballad, lungs brimming with gusto.

It’s within said woods that The Baker (James Corden) and his Wife (Emily Blunt) must gather a cow as white as milk, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as gold as…gold? in order to break the curse that Steep’s witch placed on their house many years ago. Many songs follow.

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For those turned off by musical numbers, Into the Woods is an auditory onslaught that fails to break from the repertoire of singing, singing and more singing long enough to develop a story beyond the patchwork of colliding fairy tales. Chris Pine steals the show with in-film brother Billy Magnussen in a number called “Agony” but clever moments of tongue-in-cheek nods to the adults in the audience like this are woefully sparse.

The cast is admittedly stellar – Anna Kendrick, Corden, Blunt, Pine and, to a lesser degree, Streep all own their numbers, even if I personally found some of those numbers grating. But such is the nature of the musical. You’re either in it or you aren’t. It’s just not my cup of tea. What I completely fail to understand is any Oscar buzz surrounding the film as the mere idea of Streep with a nomination frustrates me beyond belief (in a year stuffed with excellent, unsung female performances.) She’s played the Academy Darling card too many times recently, earning a nod nearly every time she puts her face to celluoid. The Iron Lady doth protest too much, methinks.

C

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Mech Suit Tom Cruise Groundhog Daying It in EDGE OF TOMORROW Trailer

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If Groundhog Day was a sci-fi action flick, it would look something like the newly released trailer for Bourne director Doug Liman’s film Edge of Tomorrow. Tom Cruise will find himself living the same day over and over again, amidst some sort of alien war, increasing his skills a little bit at a time. The basic premise is nothing new as four or five Star Trek episodes come immediately to mind. But depending on how Liman approaches the subject matter, this looks to have great potential.

 

The trailer calls back a newly re-popularized Blomkampesque aesthetic, which creates a sort of gritty, dystopian feel, similar to the original Terminator. Instead of being attacked, it seems that the humans are the invaders. Having only a small glimpse of the aliens in the trailer, leads us to think that either Liman is saving it all for the big screen, or trying to deliberately draw attention to the propagandic dehumanization of the aliens, similar to Starship Troopers.  

No matter what point the film tries to make, this plot is nothing new. Tom Cruise will live this day repeatedly, until he kicks ass. Hopefully, the film draws out some social commentary and doesn’t just turn into a dumb action movie. But until it’s release on June 6, 2014, we can only guess. 

Edge of Tomorrow is directed by Doug Liman and stars Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, and Bill Paxton. It hits theaters June 6, 2014.