Something always felt a bit out of place for me in Martin Scorsese’s brilliant “The King of Comedy”, just released on Blu-ray for the first time. I couldn’t put my finger on it but chalked it up to it being thematically ahead of its time in its investigation of the cult of personality that defines modern entertainment.
CHICAGO – “Inside Llewyn Davis” shows the strength of the Coen brothers’ authorship, and the vitality their vision gives to different time periods, locations, and life experiences. This freewheelin’ bildungsroman of destiny? coincidence? trails a scraggly singer/songwriter (Oscar Isaac as the title character), daring to spread olden tunes in a period of American artistry that is pre-Dylan.
George Clooney’s “The Monuments Men” is processed cheese. It is a film that has been rewritten, edited, and refined until it has lost all sense of purpose or identity. There’s no flavor left. It is a film that defies genre; not quirky enough to have a comedic personality despite a cast that almost always supplies edge and not engaging enough to work as drama or thriller.
Films about musicians are remarkably common. Artists from one medium have always loved to put themselves in the well-worn shoes of craftsmen from another. Most of them are stories of an underrated talent rising to the top of his profession, designed for both audience and filmmaker to live vicariously through the protagonist’s success.
CHICAGO – One of more memorable performances of 2013 is from an actor who has been a bit under the radar – Oscar Isaac. After character parts in several familiar films, like “The Nativity Story,” “Sucker Punch” and “The Bourne Legacy,” Isaac steps out as the lead in the new Coen Brothers film, “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
CHICAGO – In an incredibly weak time for feature animation (since the glory of 2010, it’s been pretty dark out there), Pixar’s “Monsters University” has enough personality and genuine humor to stand out from its generic competition. It also helps the film’s quest for another Pixar Oscar for Best Animated Film that the recently-released Blu-ray is a gem, loaded with special features and including a spectacula HD transfer. It falls between the amazing “Toy Story 3” and the awful “Cars 2” on the Pixar spectrum but it’s still a good time and will make a lovely holiday season gift.
CHICAGO – Let’s everybody say it together, “the key to great animation is a great story.” This has to be the motto for Pixar Animation – now part of Disney. Their latest, “Monsters University,” is a prequel with a heart, soul and attention to what makes this type of entertainment work.
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 50 pairs of movie passes up for grabs to the advance screening of the highly anticipated new comedy “The Internship” starring Vince Vaughn!
CHICAGO – With a lazy, over-plotted story, and a cast that are desperately going through the motions, “The Hangover Part III” is the latest example of a contract obligation disguising itself as a movie. Writer/director Todd Phillips sluggishly pounds out another one, with simply no originality.
CHICAGO – Ben Affleck’s stellar “Argo” won three Oscars last night, including Best Picture of 2012, and Warner Bros. very purposefully timed the Blu-ray and DVD release to capitalize on the film’s wave of success. But they didn’t cut corners to do so. This is one of the best Blu-ray releases in some time, with a stellar collection of special features that don’t just enlighten viewers on the art of filmmaking but offer detailed histories of the true story that just won the Best Picture Academy Award.
CHICAGO – Robert Zemeckis’ brilliant “Flight” has garnered some interesting responses from my friends in that they seem to not like the film because they don’t like Whip Whitaker, Denzel Washington’s alcoholic asshole of a lead character that earned him an Oscar nomination. The fact that Whitaker doesn’t beg to be liked and allows for such a morally gray performance is why I love the film. It’s complex, character-driven storytelling that is becoming increasingly rare in cinema.