The story is the time-honored trope of the martial artist who must decide between selling his abilities for money or using them to pursue spiritual goals. Can he find his way back to his own values once he's gone over to the dark side of raw capitalism?
I heard a lot of critics sniff at the inclusion of Richard Curtis' About Time in this year's New York Film Festival. The same cadre, no doubt, uses Curtis' Love, Actually as an example of what's wrong with romantic comedy.
You could think of Aftermath as a Polish version of 12 Years a Slave: a film that exhumes a shameful chapter in its nation's history which some people would just as soon leave buried, rather than confront.
What's next? Chaise lounges in Carnegie Hall? Beds on Broadway? I couldn't help thinking, as I glanced around the darkened theater after the heart-pounding, climactic scene of Captain Phillips: Isn't this what it looked like right before the fall of the Roman Empire?
Despite the fact that it's an over three-hour-long intimate epic based on a graphic novel that features one of the year's most mesmerizing performances (by a 19-year-old, to boot), all the media wants to talk about is the film's minutes-long, explicit love scene between the film's two stars.
Ridley Scott is one of those overrated directors who, every once in a while, puts together a hard-edged, lean little film that just delivers the goods. The Counselor, unfortunately, isn't one of those efforts.
Carrie has been remade, prompting many to ask why anyone would bother remaking a film that's still referenced today and is widely considered to be a horror classic. But here's the thing -- I don't really care about that since I've never seen the original Carrie.
Did we really need figurative fires, shattered screens and desks, boy-girl tensions, and yet another battle of keyboards that was done so well a long time ago by Harrison Ford in a Tom Clancy film? The story is dense and takes careful telling. But it is monumental story that could stand on its own.
Is Captain Phillips a case where bigger, louder -- and since it's Paul Greengrass, shakier -- is actually better? And do the film's pirates rise above being caricatured villains to represent the real Somalian men who turn to this high risk/high reward way of life?
Why did Max, and so many others, leave teaching for other careers? It was not from lack of passion, hard work or commitment, his dad can say, and I think he would agree. But when results are not forthcoming, then these virtues are hard to sustain.
Machete, which turned veteran character actor Danny Trejo into a leading man, was a wild and wildly violent action-comedy, a spoof of exploitation films of the 1970s. So, obviously, is Machete Kills. How much of a spoof?
Based on the title character's book recalling the 2009 incident -- in which an American cargo vessel in the Indian Ocean was captured by four Somali pirates -- Captain Phillips puts you right in the middle of the action and never lets you go.