Every Single Article Written by Russell - All 140
A Civil War veteran finds himself transported to Mars where he proceeds to involve himself in a planetary war. He becomes a warrior chief, falls in love with a princess, and goes on adventures. How the fuck can you possibly make that boring? Well, watch Disney’s John Carter and you’ll find out.
Pedro Almodovar builds a queasy, unsettling thriller with equal parts melodrama and horror in this modern day mad scientist flick starring Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya. The Skin I Live In holds the distinction of being one of the few movies I’ve seen that is genuinely repulsive while not relying on an excess of gore or freely flowing bodily fluids. And I kinda dig it.
Watching Project X is like being the designated driver at a kick ass college party. You’ll get to watch people having fun, getting stoned, and getting laid, but you’re not going to experience any of that. You’re just going to sit there stone cold sober and un-laid – like an asshole – while constantly checking your watch or cell phone to see how much longer this damn thing is going to continue.
A married couple working through a personal tragedy fall victim to a deranged house guest in Retreat, starring Thandie Newton, Cillian Murphy, and Jamie Bell. The film is well acted, well directed, and contains a couple of surprises, but ultimately ends up being fairly boring. This general premise has been done many times before and done better.
Two self absorbed yuppies drift through a sea of grotesquerie in this mess of a rom com from director David Wain. Arguments abound, life lessons are learned, and dicks flap freely in the wind in a hippie commune. Humor never makes an appearance. Complete fucking bullshit.
The Navy’s experiment in action filmmaking combined with propaganda yields surprisingly decent results in Act of Valor, a movie holding the distinction of featuring active duty Navy Seals in principal roles and utilizing live ammo during several of its firefight sequences. The movie is frequently dry and flat when it comes to human drama, but competently crafted and engaging when the bullets start flying. For action junkies, Act of Valor may end up being one of the better movies of the year.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is mostly an unholy mess of a movie that just narrowly misses falling into so-bad-it’s-good territory. Nic Cage returns as the demonic anti-hero and Johnny Whitworth plays Kurt Russell in the Neveldine/Taylor duo’s attempt to grittily reboot the Ghost Rider franchise.
Michael Shannon plays a family man plagued by apocalyptic visions in director Jeff Nichols’ latest drama. Jeff Nichols made his debut as a director with the terrific Shotgun Stories back in 2007. That film accomplished a lot with very little, providing a combination of elegant filmmaking and raw emotion that would please Kurosawa. Here, he again tackles the subject of family tragedy in Middle America and achieves results that are just as impressive.
Neither bold and fresh nor offensively incompetent, Safe House serves as another example of a by-the-numbers spy thriller swimming in the wake of the colossal Bourne franchise. Director Daniel Espinosa creates a polished Bourne clone featuring solid performances from Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, but ultimately hindered by a cliché riddled screenplay.
Hammer Films re-emerges with a picture reminiscent of the studio’s own glory days and classic Universal horror films of the 1930’s but carrying a few nasty habits gleaned from contemporary Hollywood productions. On the whole, director James Watkins and screenwriter Jane Goldman have forged an effective, traditional haunted house movie replete with gloomy atmosphere and spine-tingling chills. The Woman in Black may not break any new ground in the genre, but it accomplishes what it sets out to do.