Boaz Yakin’s “Safe” is high-octane silliness, a movie whose individual parts are greater than their sum.
The plot, in a script Yakin wrote, pulls in strands of everything from cage fighting to the Russian mob. And then it sets Jason Statham loose in a world where he is the bowling ball and almost everyone else is a pin. (More…)
“The Five-Year Engagement” wrings a slightly different change on the old boy-meets-girl formula – and finds enough big laughs to make the whole thing enjoyable, even if it’s never particularly fresh.
Written by Jason Segel and Nick Stoller (who also directed), “Engagement” brings together the same mix of the romantic, the painful and the humiliating to create a solid comedy (though one that could afford to lose 20 minutes; ahh, the Judd Apatow influence). (More…)
Richard Linklater has made a career of defying expectations, making everything from “The Bad News Bears” and “School of Rock” to “A Scanner Darkly” and now “Bernie.”
“Bernie” might be his most unexpected film yet. Based on a true story about events and people in a small Texas town in the mid-1990s, “Bernie” is a dark joke with a straight face – and the surprising deadpan in this movie belongs to Jack Black. (More…)
Bob Marley was a seminal figure in popular music in the post-Beatles era: not the first person to introduce reggae to the radio but the first reggae superstar – and one of the first superstars to emerge from the Third World.
So “Marley” is a welcome documentary, one that celebrates his spirit, his creativity, his genius and his influence. If it errs on the side of hagiography, well, at least it gives us glimpses of previously unseen (and unheard) Marley performances, and as much interview footage as filmmaker Kevin Macdonald could collect. (More…)
It says something about the state of romantic comedies today that the ideas in a movie like “Think Like a Man” – or in books like Steve Harvey’s “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” on which it’s based – will come as news to anyone.
Not that rom-coms accurately portray the state of male-female relationships, beyond a certain point. But then, neither do fairy tales – and there are still an awful lot of people hoping for a happily ever after. (More…)
“To the Arctic,” like the cable series “Frozen Planet” and other films of their type, provides a precious historical record. (More…)
A film that took more than four years and an extravagant amount of luck to make, “Chimpanzee” is an exceptional wildlife movie that should hold the interest of viewers from youngest to oldest. (More…)
What can we learn from “Fightville,” a documentary from the team that made “Gunners Palace” about a minor-league circuit of professional mixed-martial arts fighting?
The obvious takeaway from this film by Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker is that life within this sport of violence has tamed the beast within a one-time small-time juvie thug named Dustin Poirier. Once a hoodlum headed for a life of prison and small-time crime, Poirier instead embraced a brutal workout ethic and a tough mental approach to fighting – and has become a rising star in the MMA world. (More…)
There’s something comfortably enjoyable about Lawrence Kasdan’s “Darling Companion,” something almost soothing.
Too few movies these days take the time to explore personal interaction and the way we communicate – or think we communicate – with the people who are closest to us. Kasdan is a master at this sort of thing (along with his wife, Meg, with whom he made the unjustly overlooked “Grand Canyon”).
Which is fine as far as it goes. Still, “Darling Companion” seems disappointingly without sharp edges. (More…)
There haven’t been many movies based on the books by Nicholas Sparks that are much easier to swallow than Sparks’ prose.
But a good director with a creative screenwriter can distill a touching romance out of even Sparks’ overblown best-sellers. Indeed, I’m sure there are those who will be shocked that I not only enjoyed a lot of “The Lucky One,” but that I think Zac Efron’s performance is a break-out moment – the announcement that a teen dream has made the transition to adult dramatic actor. (More…)