Tag: Action

October 1, 2007 / / Film Notes

 

In trying to pinpoint the appeal of the 2007 comedy Hot Fuzz, critics and fans are likely to come up with the phrase “British humor” to encapsulate it, but that catch-all term (like “alternative rock” or “ethnic food”) is so broad as to have hardly any meaning at all. When “British humor” can stretch to accommodate everything from feel-good exports like The Full Monty and Saving Grace to subversive comic firecrackers like Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the terrifying, short-lived TV sketch show Jam, something is probably amiss. So if we can’t cite “British humor” as an endorsement of Hot Fuzz, how can we describe its appeal? 

October 1, 2007 / / Film Notes

 

2004’s Shaun of the Dead, the superior British horror-comedy that broke stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in America, is clearly proud to take its cues from George Romero’s hugely influential zombie films. (Its title is an obvious pun on Romero’s 1978 horror touchstone Dawn of the Dead.) Zombies are fast-moving and ferocious in several recent movies, but Wright and Pegg (who also co-wrote Shaun‘s screenplay) choose to mine Romero’s traditionally slow-moving, moaning flesh-eaters for scares and laughs. More importantly, they know that what makes Romero’s zombies timeless is that they are never just zombies; Romero uses his monsters as vehicles for social critique, whether covertly satirizing mindless consumerism (in the original Dawn of the Dead) or class injustice (in the recent Land of the Dead). The same may be said of the shambling undead who populate Shaun, though the concerns of its filmmakers are more intimate than they are sweeping. Pegg has described Shaun as a film about turning thirty; it offers a particularly apocalyptic vision of the end of a prolonged adolescence. 

April 23, 2007 / / Film Notes

By Robert Farley

In a March 3 American Prospect article, Charles Taylor did a fine job of debunking the myth of Clint Eastwood. While Eastwood is a talented filmmaker, his catalogue is uneven, and the worst work nearly unwatchable. Unfortunately, in the process of criticizing Eastwood, Taylor gets his latest work, Letters from Iwo Jima, badly wrong.

April 4, 2007 / / Film Notes

 

By Rachel Thibault

More than any other genre in the ’80s, the fantasy/adventure film dominated. Broadly defined, these films ranged from the glossy blockbuster films of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, E.T, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) to mainstream, postmodern comedies with sequels (BACK TO THE FUTURE, GHOSTBUSTERS), to the creature-features aimed at children (GOONIES, GREMLINS) and beyond to the absurd, futuristic, and often unclassifiable (BRAZIL, ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BONZAI). Although many fantasy films of the ’80s were marketed to young people between the ages of twelve and twenty-nine, a demographic that made up 75% of the movie-going audience, many films appealed to both children and adults, hoping to find the “kid in all of us.” 

April 4, 2007 / / Film Notes

When Western critics and audiences first made their acquaintance with Woo, the prevailing sentiment was that what they were witnessing was nothing less than the reinvention of the action film. – Manohla Dargis

September 22, 2006 / / Film Notes

Written by Kristoffer Tronerud

USA, 1982. 129 min. UA/ Dino De Laurentiis Pictures. Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow, Sandahl Bergman, Mako; Music: Basil Poledouris; Cinematography: Duke Callaghan; Production Design: Ron Cobb; Based on Stories by: Robert Howard; Screenplay: Oliver Stone, John Milius; Directed by: Milius

“I’m a Zen Fascist” John Milius once famously remarked, and, while his tongue was firmly planted in cheek, that description goes a long way in explaining the unique appeal of this very talented and likable rogue artist. While it may take courage to be left of center in the country at large, in Hollywood, the conservative is the true maverick, and, as a director and screenwriter, Milius has paid a price for his cheerful unwillingness to toe a politically correct line for Tinseltown convenience. Still, it is a big mistake to paint Milius with the broad brush of the political simplemindedness of, say, a John Wayne or a Jack Webb. From the start of his career, Milius’s projects have evidenced a complexity and thoughtfulness that make such easy classification impossible. His work embraces the reality that men and women are different and that courage and violence are sometimes unavoidable and necessary, in a way that makes knee-jerk liberals uncomfortable, but his work also betrays a tenderness and respect for women and a keen sense of the limits of the macho ideal that give lie to the stereotype that generally accompanies any discussion of his oeuvre.

June 26, 2006 / / Film Notes

US, 2005. Rated R. 102 min. Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bensen; Music: Scott Hardkiss, John Ottman, Lior Rosner; Cinematography: Michael Barrett; Written by Brett Halliday and Shane Black; Directed by Shane Black.

Shane Black, the writer and director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, was the original Hollywood screenwriting fairy tale. At the age of 24, in 1985, he sold his first screenplay for a quarter of a million dollars and in the process invented a certain kind of action film that defined Hollywood in the late 80s and early 90s.