CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
CHICAGO – When traveling on a Nicolas Cage trip, it’s best to buckle up. Director David Gordon Green collaborated with Cage on the new film, “Joe,” and actor Tye Sheridan (“Tree of Life,” “Mud”) was Cage’s teenage co-star. Cage portrays the title character, a reformed hellraiser who can’t help but have sympathy for a lost soul.
CHICAGO – With the larger-than-life acting tics that have invaded most of Al Pacino’s performances in the last twenty years, it seemed inevitable that the actor was the only person who could possibly play a notable loon like Phil Spector. In tonight’s HBO movie named after the legendary producer, Pacino chews the scenery as one would expect but it’s Helen Mirren who steals the piece from the Oscar winner.
CHICAGO – There are still a stunning number of films from the ’90s and ’00s not on Blu-ray but BVHE recently corrected one of those oversights by releasing the stellar “The Insider,” one of the best films of arguably the best year for cinema in the last two decades — 1999.
CHICAGO – Three actors, with three Oscars and an astounding 14 nominations between them, obviously have lost the ability to read a script late in their careers. That or the producers had dirt on them. There is no other reason why Al Pacino, Alan Arkin and Christopher Walken would be the “Stand Up Guys.”
CHICAGO – I wonder when Brian De Palma and Al Pacino were making “Scarface” if they had any idea how much of a phenomenon they were about to unleash on the world. “Scarface” is no mere movie. It has had more of a shelf life than most of the superhero, fantasy, and typically fan-centric films of its day.
CHICAGO – Adam Sandler has become such a lazy filmmaker that he’s now just building films around his personal vacation schedule. He wanted to take an outdoors-y vacation with his friends and the result was “Grown Ups.” He wanted to go to Hawaii and the result was “Just Go With It.” He wanted to take a cruise and we have to sit through “Jack and Jill.”
CHICAGO – With the right role and the right director, Channing Tatum manages to convince me that he is in fact a decent actor. He’s delivered enough solid work to illustrate that he’s more than just empty eye candy (in other words, he’s no Taylor Lautner). So why does Tatum continue to forge collaborations with Dito Montiel, a director who has a knack for making him look like an amateur?
CHICAGO – No one will ever accuse Adam Sandler of not knowing his audience and the reason they keep coming back to his “Happy Madison” genre of films – he delivers the oddball characters, lots of bodily fluids/sounds, physical beatings and the know-it-all straight man. Add the gooey sentiment and out spews the latest, “Jack and Jill.”
CHICAGO – Director Dito Montiel and star Channing Tatum were once tagged with the label of the hot new debut artistic partnership. 2006’s great “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” introduced both men to the world and it felt like it could be the calling card for a creative team to someday rival Scorsese & De Niro. Tatum reunited with Montiel on the disappointing “Fighting” and their latest venture, “The Son of No One,” while an improvement on Montiel’s sophomore slump, is nonetheless another misfire.