I wonder if Chris Kyle was a Clint Eastwood fan. ‘American Sniper’’s marketing materials describe Kyle as “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history,” but before his military career, Kyle was a cowboy. He wore a hat and boots, and even carried a six-shooter. Eventually, he gave up the cowboy life and decided to serve his country. He was a gifted marksman and trained to be a Navy SEAL. But even as a soldier, Kyle never lost that cowboy swagger—or that sense that someone has to venture out into the frontier and protect the American way of life. That’s what Kyle learned from his father—who raised him to be a “sheepdog,” a watchful protector in a world of sheep and wolves—and from watching violent Westerns like the ones that made Eastwood a major Hollywood star.
Google “Gone Girl” and “Hitchcockian” and you get 37,400 results. (37,401, once this piece goes up.) Critics and viewers hailed David Fincher’s adaptation of author (and screenwriter) Gillian Flynn’s domestic drama as a superb modern version of an old-school thriller by the Master of Suspense. Whether that was Fincher and Flynn’s goal all along, or simply an interesting byproduct of their work, it’s interesting in light of today’s news that Fincher and Flynn are looking to reteam—along with their ‘Gone Girl’ star, Ben Affleck—on a remake of one of Hitchcock’s most beloved films, 1951’s ‘Strangers on a Train.’
It’s been one heck of a journey for Richard Linklater and his movie ‘Boyhood.’ Shooting on the film began over a dozen years ago; each and every year since, he and his cast and crew would reunited to add a new chapter to the story of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family. Imagine the kind of dedication and commitment that sort of project takes. I had a hard time focusing for the 30 straight minutes it took to write this blog post.
The former CIA operative turned full-time rescuer of his perpetually kidnapped family at the center of the ‘Taken’ series is famous for—as he put it to the men who took his daughter in the first film—a “particular set of skills” that make him “a nightmare” for bad guys. Here now is a partial list of the particular skills Bryan Mills—played by the 62-year-old Liam Neeson—displays in ‘Taken 3’:
As ‘Batman’ goes, so goes comic-book movies. When Tim Burton turned the Dark Knight into a retro-gothic hero, Hollywood followed suit with a slew of heavily stylized pulp throwbacks. (See: ‘Dick Tracy,’ ‘The Phantom,’ ‘The Shadow,’ etc.) And when Christopher Nolan turned the Dark Knight into, well, ‘The Dark Knight,’ it sparked a wave of “grim and gritty” movies, with serious superheroes doing and saying serious things in outrageous spandex costumes that had been reimagined as biker gear or body armor. (See: ‘Man of Steel’ [Or maybe don’t.]) There’s been some pushback, but we’re really only now coming out of the trend toward ultra-serious, uber-dark comic-book movies.
In the fall of 2013, APCO Worldside surveyed 70,000 people about the world’s biggest brands. They measured their responses in eight different ways—“understanding, approachability, relevance, admiration, curiosity, identification, empowerment, and pride.” The number one most loved company out of 600 choices: Disney.
I know one reaction I’ve had to the (allegedly) North Korean hackers and their attack on Sony and their movie ‘The Interview’ is “Why now?” Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are not the first American filmmakers to make fun of North Korea, or even its real-life leaders. ‘Team America: World Police,’ for example, featured a marionette-version of late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, who wants to destroy Western Civilization (but is also very lonely); the 2012 ‘Red Dawn’ remake actually changed its Asian invaders from Chinese to North Koreans in post-production because at the time that seemed like the more politically and financially safe choice. That’s not going to happen again anytime soon.
Having gone on an unexpected journey and endured the desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson’s bloated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ finally comes to ‘The Battle of the Five Armies,’ which is less of a climax to this trilogy than a distended epilogue. After spending two movies and 330 minutes building up the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) as the ultimate antagonist, he’s eliminated from the story completely in the first ten minutes. He’s literally gone before the title appears onscreen.
Trailers are a huge part of the fabric of movies. They play before every film shown in theaters, and on every movie website around the world. They’re commercials, obviously, but they’re also more than that; miniature works of art that utilize the core elements of cinema—image, sound, music, action, editing—at their most pure and refined. And today at ScreenCrush we’re celebrating movie trailers by saluting the best sneak previews of 2014.
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