Vegas Seven

Movie Review

  • Movie Review

    Billionaire’s Blues

    By Michael Phillips, Tribune Media Services

    It’s an unseemly request by a movie, to ask us to root for the lying, scrambling but extremely well-coiffed hedge fund billionaire weasel played by Richard Gere in the new film Arbitrage. But there it is. The movie does ask, and to varying degrees, we comply. The website Investopedia defines “arbitrage” this way: “The simultaneous purchase and sale of an asset in order to profit from a difference in the price. It is a trade that profits by exploiting price differences of identical or similar financial instruments, on different markets or in different forms.”

  • Movie Review

    Rising Darkness

    By Michael Phillips, Tribune Media Services

    Eight years after the camp frippery of Batman & Robin (1997), director/co-writer Christopher Nolan brought to the screen the origin story of Bruce Wayne and his alter ego. Stately and just serious enough, Batman Begins was trumped by Nolan’s 2008 sequel, The Dark Knight, which channeled post-9/11 panic and pitted Christian Bale’s masked vigilante against Heath Ledger’s merry psycho.

  • Movie Review

    No Easy Answers

    By Michael Phillips, Tribune Media Services

    Five years into their marriage, the freelance Toronto writers played by Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen in Take This Waltz have drifted, rudderless, into a harbor that is anything but safe. They’re cute together, but the act has begun to curdle: The reflexive baby talk for laughs, the weirdly hostile banter (“I love you so much I’m gonna inject your face with a curious combination of swine flu and ebola”) and a troubling lack of easy intimacy all spell trouble.

  • Movie Review

    Just Melt Already

    By Michael Phillips, Tribune Media Services

    First came the God particle, the Higgs boson. Then came Ice Age (2002). Then, Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006). Then Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009). And now arrives Ice Age: Continental Drift, informally known as Ice Age 4, also known as a paycheck and a likely haul for all involved at Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox.

  • Movie Review

    Savages

    By Tribune Media Services

    Oliver Stone’s return to the big screen proves that marijuana cultivation, sales and distribution are the right way to live large and menage-a-trois it through endless summer days. Chon (Taylor Kitsch) is an ex-Navy SEAL who, along with his bro-pal Ben (Aaron Johnson), starts a wildly successful marijuana endeavor. Business booms, and Salma Hayek’s Mexican cartel takes notice, which leads to kidnapping of the bros’ best girl (Blake Lively), and masterful turn by Benicio del Toro as Hayek’s henchman.

  • Movie Review

    The Amazing Spider-Man

    By Tribune Media Services

    Director Marc Webb reboots the classic comic book superhero (not that we needed it), and Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker) makes it work. Garfield captures the character’s duality, and the clean script clears away clutter and makes us think we’re seeing this for the first time. Peter squares off with the genetic expert (Rhys Ifans), who transforms into the Lizard, and hangs out with another girl he loves (Emma Stone). This reboot works.

  • Movie Review

    ‘Brake’ Time

    By Rex Reed, The New York Observer

    Brake is both the title of a new thriller that will leave you breathless, and the one thing you’ll be yelling for to survive it. Directed at breakneck speed by Gabe Torres, it’s a movie so original and terrifying that to even attempt to tell you what it’s about would ruin the fun of discovering it for yourself. Suffice it to say, you will not be bored.

  • Movie Review

    Cruel to Be Kind

    By Rex Reed, The New York Observer

    Bully is a moving, vital and responsible must-see documentary directed by Lee Hirsch that serves as an allegedly “controversial” wake-up call for responsible human beings to address the heartbreaking headline issue of schoolyard bullying. “Controversial” for only one reason: it has been stupidly assigned an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America, denying access to the teen audiences who are both victims and perpetrators of bullying—the very demographic that can best be served, educated, informed and ameliorated by the civic values it teaches.

  • Movie Review

    ‘Seeking Justice’ in Cajun Country

    By Rex Reed, The New York Observer

    Nicolas Cage might sleepwalk through much of his career, but if you think he can’t act, take another look at his staggering work in Leaving Las Vegas, or catch up with his cathartic, above-average performance in the new urban crime thriller Seeking Justice. It’s a welcome surprise.

  • Movie Review

    21 Jump Street

    By Tribune Media Services

    21 Jump Street (R) ★★★☆☆ Heartily raunchy and rather sweet, this remake of the old Fox TV show, which starred a young Johnny Depp, actually brings the laughs. Real ones. In it, odd couple cops, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), go undercover as high school students to bring down a drug ring. But high school’s changed since the duo’s teenage days, and they struggle to relate to the modern cliques. The directors don’t try too much, and the script is clever and funny. Worth the ride.

  • Movie Review

    The Hunger Games

    By Tribune Media Services

    The Hunger Games (PG-13) ★★★☆☆ This long-awaited adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ YA novel series doesn’t disappoint. A century or so from now, North America is ruled by a totalitarian government and divided into 12 neglected districts. For the annual Hunger Games, two children from each district are chosen to compete to the death, while the nation watches on TV. Amazingly enough, director/co-writer Gary Ross handles the inherent violence and fight for survival with a deft hand.

  • Movie Review

    ‘Fishing’ for Laughs

    When Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a loopy satire about England’s efforts to bring salmon fishing to the Middle East for political reasons, was unveiled last year at the Toronto International Film Festival, initial reviews used the words “broad,” “uneven,” “undemanding,” “syrupy” and “contrived.” But as comedy sinks lower by the day, this charming little film by polished director Lasse Hallstrom looks better all the time.

  • Movie Review

    Friends Has Benefits

    They say if the hope for a distinguished movie career becomes a steep climb in this age of hack directors, lousy scripts and formulaic trash, then do it all yourself. A lovely triple-threat named Jennifer Westfeldt is putting this theory into fast-lane action. The co-writer and star of the independent film Kissing Jessica Stein now returns as producer, actress, sole scriptwriter and director of Friends With Kids. (OK, Westfeldt is a quadruple threat.) It’s a snappy and warmly observed film about the contemporary mores of dating hell, marriage and parenthood.

  • Movie Review

    The Odds Are Ever in Its Favor

    Sci-fi adventure The Hunger Games relies heavily on CGI effects in a variety of visual formats—2-D, 3-D and 3-D IMAX. As a wearer of distance glasses, I loathe the revival of 3-D, a silly gimmick for kids from the 1950s. So I chose a simpler way to watch The Hunger Games without the discomfort of two pairs of glasses, and don’t feel like I missed a thing. I can live without another flying spear.

  • Movie Review

    Don’t ‘Jump’ to Conclusions

    By Michael Phillips, Tribune Media Services

    Most of the big laughs in 21 Jump Street arrive in the first half, but take a moment to consider that phrase “big laughs.” What was the last stupid Hollywood comedy—good-stupid, not stupid-stupid—to offer actual, audible, verifiable big laughs? Heartily raunchy and rather sweet, 21 Jump Street comes from the 1987-1991 Fox TV show, in which Johnny Depp led an ensemble of barely legal police officers posing as high school students. The movie features Jonah Hill of Moneyball (for which he was Oscar-nominated) co-starring with Channing Tatum.

X
X