The Fifth Estate, which sadly is not related to The Fifth Element, is a journalistic thriller about Wikileaks and the ivory-haired Aussie activist behind it, Julian Assange. (For those keeping track of estates, that’s:  clergy,  nobility,  commoners, and  press; and  blogs, or to focus on a particular site with a slightly more lofty goal than click-bait headlines and animated GIFs, Wikileaks.)
In case you’ve just come to from a three-year hibernation, Wikileaks is a site designed to provide anonymity to whistleblowers — a rag-tag, barebones website bent on speaking truth to power through the release of unedited documents damning the corrupt. The release of unedited documents is the main focus of the drama here.
And that unedited bit is important. After all, “editing is a form of bias,” Benedict Cumberbatch’s Assange reminds us, and the idea of complete objectivity in reporting without it is a myth — which is why the rest of this setence has not been edittidd for speling. Truff.
Game of Thrones, the late, great Cousin Matthew, Jason Bourne and more after the jump!
Here’s something I never thought I’d say after 1998: “Huh, I don’t want to get up and leave the theater when Jim Carrey is on the screen.”Other than the few and far between reminders that Carrey might not be completely content phoning it in all the way to the bank (2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
and 2008’s I Love You Phillip Morris
), the ’00s were rough for those who excitedly watched Carrey evolve from Fire Marshall Bill
to Lloyd Christmas
in their younger years.
And Carrey, while not the lead in Kick-Ass 2
is inevitably the focal point of discussion around this film for so many. The uninitiated will probably only know Kick-Ass 2
as the film Carrey made news for not wanting to do publicity for — saying he couldn’t in good conscience promote following the Sandy Hook tragedy.
Fair enough. There is violence here — we’re not talking a Django
-level body count, but it’s enough to make the faint at heart turn away. Bodies are crushed like half-full soda cans under cars and cops are cut down by a yard tool. But, if you’re the type who can find humor in over-the-top comic book violence, there are definitely a few scenes in Kick-Ass 2 that will leave your mouth open — either in laughter or shock. A great deal of these scenes revolve around a jacked ex-KGB agent who takes the villainess name of Mother Russia. (Think: Zangief
with boobs and an eye patch.)
Part 2 takes up shortly after the first
. High schooler-turned-vigilante Kick-Ass’ (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) work has inspired others to take up costumed justice calling — like The Dark Knight
but with the good guys being totally cool with maiming and murdering the bad guys. (Batman am disappoint
Carrey, with a Mickey Rourke impression and some sort of facial prosthetic, plays Colonel Stars and Stripes, a square-jawed lovable sociopath hell bent on vigilante justice with a penis-eating German Shepherd. The Colonel leads a ragtag team of would-be superheroes, a poor man’s Justice League, that takes in Kick-Ass after Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), his partner in anti-crime, takes an oath to hang her costume up for good. This leads to a Mean Girls side story for Hit-Girl that wraps up not so unlike (speaking of Carrey) Dumb and Dumber's
infamous bathroom scene.
This paternal “superhero” role gives Carrey even less screentime than Nic Cage got in the original Kick-Ass
, which is too bad, because if anyone could ever attempt to halfway fill those weird-ass shoes, it’s Carrey, who steals the scenes he’s in. Among the other pleasant surprises is John Leguizamo, who delivers some solid laughs as the Alfred to Red Mist’s — now the “Mother Fucker” (Christopher Mintz-Plasse aka McLovin) — Batman.
co-writer/director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, X-men: First Class
) passes the directorial torch to Jeff Wadlow, who — as you may have ascertained from reading this sentence — is not Matthew Vaughn. Perhaps Vaughn passed because he knew that like the heroes that Kick-Ass inspires, it’s difficult for what comes after to ever match the original object.Kick-Ass 2
is juvenile, which isn’t necessarily bad, but fails to live up to the first, which balanced shock, intense action and superhero fantasy into a frenetic entertaining mix in a vibrant, over-saturated romp. Still, there are some laugh-out-loud moments and few scenes of eyebrow-raising gratuitous violence that warrant giving Kick-Ass 2
a chance if you go in with realistic expectations.
There are a couple of things that might lead a skeptical viewer or anyone over the age of 12 to suspect Monsters University is going to be stinker.
First, Pixar’s track record with sequels is hit or miss. Yes, they’re responsible for Toy Story 3, but they’re also to blame for Cars 2 — a movie that seemed to exist solely to sell tikes on toys, toothpaste, underwear and yogurt in a tube. And secondly... Wait. This is a prequel not a sequel? Yikes. Why did I agree to go see this?
Ah, yes. Because: Pixar tends to make the grade with even its more meh movies being passable efforts at the whole post-musical family-friendly animated feature craze they kicked off back in 1995. Monsters University is no exception.
Set about 10 years before the events of Monsters Inc., here we get a look at how the charismatic one-eyed monster Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) first got interested in the scaring business. Monsters University follows Mike’s college years and shows how he meets up with the big blue guy, James Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman) and the slithery Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi).
In the Monsters universe, everything runs on scream energy, and the best and beastliest of creatures are trained to get the biggest screams from children to keep their world powered. The members of this scream team are idolized like sports heros or rock stars, so of course, young Mike wants in — even if he falls somewhere between Humpty Dumpty and Yoda on the scares scale.
This is well-tread territory that owes a lot to Revenge of the Nerds, Animal House, PCU and the like, but it's done in a G-rated heart-warming Pixar manner. And, like most Pixar movies, it's miles above the brain-numbing crap of other kid-friendly fare. It may not go down as cherished as Toy Story 3, but it works in a similar way — touching on those simple themes that children and adults can relate to.
Perhaps you’ve had the conversation: “What’s the last really funny movie you saw?” My mind goes blank. I “hmm” and “umm” and struggle to grasp something from the gray — a funny movie that has knocked me on my ass laughing anytime in the past few years. The delay of my response goes from awkward to frustrating. “Man, maybe I don’t like comedy. Do I hate laughing? What kind of soulless monster am I?”
Today, I have an answer. If the measure of funny is in laughs per minute, I can’t remember the last thing I’ve seen as funny as This Is The End.
In This Is The End, buddies and frequent co-stars Seth Rogen (played by Seth Rogen) and Jay Baruchel (played by Jay Baruchel) find their friendship and laughable survival skills tested by the apocalypse. Jay arrives in L.A. with less than 24 hours left before things will go to hell. He’s planning on low-key high-times for the weekend with Seth, who has mapped out a marijuana-fueled weekend of junk food and Xbox binging.
But Jay and Seth’s bromance has hit a bumpy patch as of late. Jay’s tired of rubbing elbows and pretending to be chummy with Seth’s fake Hollywood friends — particularly the oh-so-punchable Jonah Hill (Moneyball). But Seth urges him to give the gang more of a chance and proposes a break from gaming and ganja to stop by James Franco’s swanky new pad for a housewarming party packed with beloved C-listers: Danny McBride (Eastbound and Down), Craig Robinson (The Office, Hot Tub Time Machine), Emma Watson (the Harry Potter films), Michael Cera (Arrested Development), Aziz Ansari (Parks and Recreation), Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and a few other familiar faces and surprise cameos I won't spoil here.
As the party is hitting its peak, things outside are hitting the fan. The world has become a fiery hellscape, and Seth, Jay, James, Danny, Craig and Jonah may be the sole survivors. Fortunately, Franco has plenty of provisions (bottled water, booze, cereal, a candy bar, weed, a porno mag and a pistol) to ride out this mess until someone can show up to rescue them. After all, since they’re important actors, they’re obviously going to be top of the military’s to-rescue list.
What follows is Superbad meets Shaun of the Dead with Extras’ celebs playing hyperbolic versions of themselves. This might not be much of a stretch; Rogen and McBride are no strangers to playing the same role time and time again. But, in the meta magic of This Is The End, Rogen as Rogen and McBride as McBride produce the biggest funny moments I’ve seen from either of them.
As you might expect from the cast, it’s mostly weed and weiner jokes, but these are the crème de la crème of weed and weiner jokes by a group who seems well read on both subjects. It’s a wonderful R-Rated romp. Yes, it’s a juvenile stoner comedy with gore and end of times–related gross-out gags, but it’s one that never gets into the too-stupid territory of “here’s a fart sound — now laugh” that so many adult comedies seem content with.
I’d hate to mention too much more for fear of robbing the experience of its shock value, but the dick joke centerpiece of the film —a gut-busting exchange between Franco and McBride on... etiquette matters related to self-pleasuring — alone warrants the price of admission.
This Is The End is in theaters today.
There’s this loud-mouth kid fresh out of college within earshot of my desk who drops hoity-toity nuggets like, “There’s no movie with The Rock in it worth seeing” or “You guys should really be watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s awesome TV.” Oh, how wrong you are, young sir.
We won’t talk more about hockey (no one else is). Instead, let’s focus on the sixth film in the re-tuned Fast & Furious
series, called Furious 6
if you trust the title card. Like its predecessor, Fast Five
— an Ocean’s 11
heist flick with a Blues Brothers
-like adherence to physics — the underground street race culture has been traded in for a new model, a high-octane game of cat and mouse.
This go round, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his familial ensemble of millionaire motorhead misfits are on the good side of the law. After being deputized by Hobbs (played triumphantly once more by gym enthusiast Mr. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), they’re tasked with tracking down their shadows selves — a rival gang of expert wheelmen out to build some sort of EMP
(I think... it doesn’t really matter) and figure out why Toretto’s dead girlfriend, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), ain’t as dead as she used to be.
What follows is an orgy of car stunts and fist fights. It’s an aerial ballet of crashing, crumbling cars raining glass and metal, featuring a trio of red, white and blue American muscle cars facing off against a tank, one of the more brutal on-screen lady fights you’ve ever seen, and a seemingly unlimited supply of grappling hook guns.
You could call F6
a guilty pleasure, but you shouldn’t. There is nothing guilty about this pleasure.
Uncalled-for fact checkers and fun-ruiners may whine about things like the lack of realism — be it the “physics” or “pardons being granted for subordinate actions taken by government personnel that would be met with the death penalty.” But mentioning a disregard for the laws of physics as a reason for disliking F6
is like mentioning a disregard for the laws of physics as a reason for disliking Looney Tunes
. This is the sixth movie in a series of PG-13 car race/crash porn, and you feel the need to remind that it’s not the type of film we’d rocket into space as proof to other lifeforms of all that humanity is capable of?
This is two hours of: If there’s a vehicle moving at dangerous speeds, someone is about to jump off it. Everything’s bigger — the stunt pieces, the fight scenes, The Rock’s neck — and it’s an entertaining angst-free joyride.
My only major gripe is the 15 minutes or so of establishing exposition before we get to the real car action. But once we get to the first chase, it’s a redline race to the end. The final climactic chase, which is actually more like climax four or five, lasts for nearly 20 minutes and is akin to a non-stop roller coaster loop with speed metal blaring.Furious 6
’s attempts to be as batshit crazy as possible, and it succeeds. This success outweighs any failed attempts to pull the heartstrings or make me like Ludacris.
This is what you want to go see on a three-day weekend. This is the summertime cinema escapism we’ve been missing with the self-serious, blah blockbusters of sunny months past. True, hockey fan, you won’t leave the theater with more insight into what it is to be human. But, you may be tempted to speed a bit on the way home. (There’s a disclaimer at the end advising against this, but that’s like telling a kid to chill out after they’ve just slammed a glass of Kool-Aid.)
Sometimes you just need to be washed clean by the blissful absurdity of over-the-top car fantasy. After all, it’s been a pretty crappy spring, and we could all use a little escape.A mostly spoiler-free note on the pre-credit's scene:
If you’ve been keeping up with Fast & Furious
canon — and who hasn’t — you’re probably aware of the fact that Han Seoul-Oh’s story comes to an end in the third part of the series (Tokyo Drift
) though he appears in 4, 5 and 6. Well, that’s because films 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 all take place before 3 — the first directed by Justin Lin. I wouldn't dare spoil how this is cleared up, but you might watch this
scene from Tokyo Drift
to better understand how the two films collide.
What are the rules for spoilers when talking about a movie based off an 88-year-old book that was required reading for the vast majority of high-schoolers? Well, just in case you didn't pay attention in English class (or forgot the gory details), I'll try and avoid anything past Chapter 1 territory.The Great Gatsby is kind of a big deal — I mean, you know — for a book or whatever. (Reading, smh-eading, right?) But, people I suppose are qualified to do such considering widely consider it one of the greatest American novels ever penned. The Great Gatsby is, on the surface, about the Roaring Twenties, a wealthy fellow who goes by the name Gatsby and a long-lost love. We find out why Gatsby is (and isn't) so great in a tale of excess, the American dream, and why rich people and the East Coast kind of sucked in the summer of 1922. The ol' GG has been re-imagined as a film multiple times in the past, but this version comes care of Mr. Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge), counts Jay-Z as a producer and stars Leonardo DiCaprio.How does it compare to the novel? I don’t consider faithfulness to the source material too important when talking about a film adaptation — the film vs. book debate seems apples vs. oranges to me — but there are moments that feel almost perfectly pulled from the page, with dialog and details spot on. There are also parts stretched, cut or exaggerated and a few
liberties taken. (For example, the whole story is being recounted by narrator Nick Carraway [Tobey Maguire] to a therapist.) But faithful or re-imagined, the tale is always told through that colorful Baz lens, which goes from silly (e.g., the introduction of a lounging Daisy [Carey Mulligan
] and Jordan [
Elizabeth Debicki]) to tense (e.g., the climactic day in the city on the hottest day of the summer).How Baz is it, doc? He really turns the Baz on and off at times. There are some scenes — like the apartment party where Nick gets hammered for the second time in his life (one of the visual highlights of the film), or on a manufactured meeting over tea where Gatsby goes overboard on the flowers, or watching hundreds of guests get rowdy at Gatsby's glitzy ragers — that are a treat for the eyes. There are other sights and sounds I wasn't so wowed by. The abundance of CG in the first few minutes started things off on the wrong foot. Sure, Baz’s look would rarely be described as ultra-realistic and there aren't many other options for showing ‘20s-era NYC, but the visuals feel inconsistent — jumping from entirely green-screened sets early on to on-location shoots in ostentatious mansions later in the film. The second half of the film feels so different at times than the first that I forgot during some scenes this was a Baz Luhrmann movie. Should I see it? Go for it.
Baz's take of GG
is plenty enjoyable and over the top and subdued as needed. Leo D. keeps the decade-long hot streak going of being the highlight of nearly everything he's in. No actor could get away with saying "old sport" this much without deserving a punch in the face. In some ways, his performance reminds of Catch Me If You Can; Gatsby has a mysterious past — the source of wealth is the stuff of late-night whispers — and as he talks about being an Oxford man
and his family's fortune, there's something in his voice that makes us think he might be holding back
.What does it taste like? That's a weird question
. I guess... peppermint ice cream and hot tea. But how about what I liked most about the film? That's an easier question. It's
the cast: Leo’s Gatsby is a treat, as are Mulligan as Daisy and Joel Edgerton as her husband, old-money d-bag and polo player Tom Buchanan.What's not so great?
- Baz is hyperactive with the zoom to a point that annoys. This constant moving in and moving out mixed with some scenes wrought with quick cuts gets irritating at times — particularly during the first half.
- Tobey Maguire is OK, but, God he's so Tobey Maguire-y — stoned looking, mousy and mostly forgettable.
- The 3D has it’s moments, but why would we voluntarily darken Baz's vivid visuals just to see a few panes of 3D glass and party streamers pop?
-- Eric Pulsifer
- Last among my gripes, the music — mainly Jay-Z's contributions. I know it's Baz's game to throw modern music in, but when it's Jay-Z and Kanye songs that we've heard on the radio a million times before, it doesn't have the same punch as, say, Radiohead's chilly "Talk Show Host" in Romeo + Juliet. I suspect that Jay-Z fancies himself a bit of an F. Scott Fitzgerald and Watch the Throne as a critique on excess and America's love affair with material things, so it makes sense he'd want to be a part of this movie. But, I think that might just be in his head, as I'm not sure that's the message we're getting here.
In journalism, the source is god. Good journalism — the stuff that gets closer to "real" journalism (as I brand it, at least) and away from just fly-on-the-wall meeting reporting — is built on a foundation of understanding context and research, but much faith is inevitably placed in the source. If the source says something and the author quotes it, the reader assumes (and the author hopes) this information to be fact. But, there may not be a whiz-bang team of veteran fact-checkers making sure the source isn't spouting nonsense. This unfiltered information may
be true, or the only thing true about the quote may be that the source said it. The reader may forget, in many instances, what they're reading on the page is just a game of telephone.
This might only seem relevant to those brave, financially reckless souls currently pursuing a journalism degree, but it's also at the heart of one of the biggest (and mostly unnecessary) controversies about Zero Dark Thirty
: Does the movie imply that without torture, U.S. soldiers and operatives would never have been able to locate and kill the most wanted man in the world?
Go ahead and Google Zero Dark Thirty
if you've somehow missed the parade of congressmen and click-hungry bloggers shaking their fingers at director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Point Break
) and writer Mark Boal for how inaccurate or dangerous this idea is — an idea they see as being perpetuated by ZDT
. (Though, it should be noted, in the movie the useful bits of info gained from interrogations come when agents are using the carrot rather than the stick, even if they've used the stick before.) There have also been some
pieces written about how, disturbing or not, this may very well be accurate — that Americans on the front lines may have committed war crimes in their quest to track down Osama bin Laden.
But the thing that both sides of this debate seem to overlook is that it doesn't matter in the case of ZDT
. And not because "it's just a movie."
In case you don’t read past this first sentence, I’ll get this message out up front: Don’t go see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
in HFR3D. (More on what that is and why it sucks in a sec). The Hobbit
takes place 60 years before the events of The Lord of the Rings
. It follows a group of outcast dwarves on a quest to reclaim their kingdom from a dragon, an adventure that, in the film version of the children’s tale, feels more like it’s really about tying a new trilogy into LOTR
. After a lengthy setup, this gang of shorties and wizard Gandalf (played once more by charming old dude Ian McKellen) embark on a hike that frames the events that lead a young Bilbo Baggins (played by the ridiculously likable Martin Freeman, a.k.a. Dr. Watson from the BBC’s Sherlock
— which, if you haven’t seen, you should probably just stop reading, skip The Hobbit
and marathon immediately on Netflix like your friends have been telling you for months — a.k.a. Tim, the British Office
’s much cooler version of the U.S. Office
’s goodie-two-shoes Jim) to come to possess that "precious" One Ring.
The plot is a tad simpler than the LOTR
trilogy, though it amounts to about the same: three hours of walking
. But, then of course there’s that rich and wonderful world of Tolkien that all the fantasy fans go so bonkers for. (And, of course, walking is hella good
for you, which could explain why Gandalf looks younger 60 years in the future than he does in The Hobbit
.) It also tries harder to be more light-hearted and funny than the LOTR
films, though there's still plenty of sword clashing, snarling nightmare beasts, and a decent villain in the form of a one-armed white orc named Azog the Defiler.
So, should you go see it? The answer to this question, trolls, disembowelment and HFR after the jump!
After falling head over heels for Daniel Craig's steely, sociopathic Bond in the white-knuckle opening chase scene of Casino Royale
only to be thoroughly bored and confused by the choppy quick cuts of Quantum of Solace
, I wasn't sure what to expect with Bond 23, Skyfall
Like me, you've probably heard people gushing about it — calling Skyfall
one of, nay, the best 007 movie to date. Could it be?
Not hurting its chances for success is the knowledge that they've brought in a decent director, Sam Mendes of American Beauty, Road to Perdition
and Revolutionary Road
fame. You've also got the return of Daniel Craig, the most believable if not best Bond of my generation.Skyfall
continues on the track of bringing James Bond into a more realistic world, a world without jetpacks or invisible cars or good guys who seems ever protected from the sea of bullets blasting their way.
Here, Craig is still the chiseled Jason Bourne-style badass from Casino Royale,
but he's much more human than we've ever seen Bond before. After a close brush with death, Bond returns to MI6 in rough shape. He's been seriously injured, his aim is off, and he's been reduced to drinking Heineken. What's worse, he's troubled by the realization that, if needed, he's dispensable as far as his country is concerned. Bond is vulnerable. He gets hurt, gasps for breath, and as much as he's firing guns on screen, he's seen reloading them.
But the added realism doesn't weigh things down. The script injects some much-needed humor into the series, poking fun at the classic archetypes of the Bond universe and the absurdity of a run-and-gun super spy.
This is all portrayed through some dazzling bits of camerawork On more than one occasion we get brief first-person views through Bond's eyes and then there's a gorgeous scene of close quarters combat as Bond and a bad guy's battling silhouettes are back-lit by neon light.
What really sets Skyfall
apart from any Bond in recent memory is the antagonist, played brilliantly by Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men
). To say much at all about his character would take some of the fun away, but from his introductory monologue — a tense, long single shot — to his humorous interactions with Bond, every scene Bardem's madman villain is in is a highlight.
The talk is true; Skyfall
is the best Bond film to date — though your results may vary depending on how rose-colored your recollection of 007's earlier outings is. With a perfectly shaken cocktail of over-the-top action, comedy and realism, it'll leave Bond fans foaming at the mouth for where the series will go next
could have been something special. Once you get past a few of the kings of non-comedy — Adam Sandler, Kevin James and David Spade — being involved, Hotel Transylvania
sounds devilishly delightful on paper.
It's directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, the creator of Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack
, and the ridiculously good Star Wars: Clone Wars
mini-series. The music is handled by Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo (and Yo Gabba Gabba!
), while Robert Smigel, of SNL
’s TV Funhouse
and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, had a hand in the screenplay.
That’s not to say that Hotel Transylvania
is bad — it’s not. It’s just billed as a comedy — and, it’s not.Looney Tunes, Cee Lo Green and invisible butts after the jump!