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Posts Tagged ‘Channing Tatum’

George Clooney

George Clooney

“HAIL, CAESAR!” My rating: C+ (Opens wide on Feb. 5)

106 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The Coen Brothers’ “Hail, Caesar!” isn’t much of a movie, but as an affectionate (mostly) valentine to the Golden Age of Hollywood filmmaking, it’s a generally enjoyable goof.

The threadbare plot devised by Joel and Ethan Coen provides the siblings with multiple opportunities to go behind the scenes at the massive (and fictional) Capitol Movies studio in Los Angeles in the late 1940s.

We get to watch as America’s fantasies are brought to life. But as with sausages and laws, sometimes it’s best not to know how they’re made.

Kicking the yarn into motion is the kidnapping of stiffly handsome matinee idol Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), whose current assignment is to play a Roman centurion in the biblical epic “Hail, Caesar!”

Scarlett Johannson

Scarlett Johannson

The studio’s production chief, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) gets to work recovering his ransomed movie star.

That’s about it for story.

The pleasures of “Hail, Caesar!” (the Cohen Brothers movie, not the “tale of the Christ” being filmed on the Capitol lot) are to be found in its satire/celebration of iconic Hollywood personalities and situations.

Early on Eddie must convene a meeting of faith leaders who have been asked to comment on the screenplay for “Hail, Caesar!” — it’s the movie’s funniest scene and a wickedly barbed sendup of institutionalized religion.

Channing Tatum

Channing Tatum

Eddie must contend with the potty-mouthed Esther Williams-type star of aquatic musicals (Scarlett Johansson) whose mermaid outfit now won’t fit because of pregnancy (she’s unmarried).

He drops off the ransom money on a soundstage where a Gene Kelly-ish song and dance man (Channing Tatum) is shooting a big production number about a crew of sailors dismayed at the prospect of eight months at sea without women.  Not only are Tatum’s acrobatic musical comedy skills first rate, but the slyly homoerotic elements of the dance routine suggests that these Navy swabs will find ways to let off steam during their voyage.

TO READ THE REST OF THIS REVIEW VISIT THE KANSAS CITY STAR WEBSITE AT http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/movies-news-reviews/article58205943.html

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Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson

Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson

 

 “THE HATEFUL EIGHT” My rating: C

168 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Quentin Tarantino’s films rarely have much to say.

It’s the masterful style with which he doesn’t say anything that accounts for the filmmaker’s critical and popular success.

“The Hateful Eight” suggests that approach is wearing thin.

Absurdly violent yet overly talky, queasily looking for laughs in racism and sexism, and essentially devoid of meaning (unless you find meaning in nihilism), this Western arrives in a blast of near-comical self importance.

Walton Goggins

Walton Goggins

Shot on 70mm film (at least in the version opening Christmas Day at the AMC Town Center; it begins a run in conventional digital a week later) and featuring a 3-hour running time that includes both an overture and intermission, “The Hateful Eight” harkens back to the long-ago days of road-show movie exhibition.

Except, again, it’s not actually about anything.

The film begins with astonishing widescreen vistas of a stagecoach working its way across blinding mountainside snowfields. But, perversely enough,  it spends most of its time claustrophobically sealed in a one-room stagecoach station. Which makes Tarantino’s use of 70mm film seem like a case of using an elephant gun to get rid of a housefly.

John Ruth (Kurt Russell ), a shaggy bounty hunter with Yosemite Sam facial hair, and his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) are the only passengers on a stagecoach bound for Red Rocks, the town where Ruth will deliver Daisy for hanging.

They’re stopped in the middle of nowhere by yet another bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a former officer in the Union Army who still wears his flamboyant blue-and-gold military greatcoat.  Warren’s horses have died in a blizzard and he needs a lift for himself and the corpses of the two criminals he has gunned down.

Ruth is immediately suspicious, concerned that he may be robbed of his prisoner before he can collect the bounty. But he allows Warren and the two stiffs to come aboard, and soon they have arrived at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a sort of middle-of-nowhere Quik-Trip for the frontier set.

Minnie and the way station regulars are off attending to family business, according to Bob (Demian Bichir), the Mexican hand who helps stable the horses from an oncoming blizzard.

Tim Roth

Tim Roth

Inside the station are several stranded travelers.

There’s Smithers (Bruce Dern), a former Confederate general who still wears his uniform. Mannix (Walton Goggins) is on his way to Red Rocks to start his new job as sheriff.  The British Mobray (Tim Roth) identifies himself as the territorial hangman — he’ll be stretching Daisy’s neck pretty soon.

Joe (Michael Madsen) is a quietly intimidating cowhand. Rounding out the gathering is Ruth’s stagecoach driver, the inoffensive O.B. (James Parks).

There is much macho posturing as these various personalities determine the pecking order. (It may be intended as comic, but I rarely laughed.)

And there’s lots of race baiting. Here we’ve got a black man who insists on the deference accorded everyone else…that’s sure to stir up negative sentiments, especially from the former Confederate general. (BTW…am I the only one offended by Tarantino’s overreliance on the “n” word?)

There’s a sort of Agatha Christie drawing room mystery to the first half of the film. Snowed in and forced to confront one another, some of these he-men drop hints that maybe they aren’t who they say they are. Mind games are played.

And who the hell poisoned the coffee?

Throughout the slatternly Daisy makes wise-ass comments and gets knocked around by her captor.  Leigh doesn’t have to do much acting and when she does it’s through a mask of dried blood.

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Mila Kunis...saving Earth

Mila Kunis…saving Earth

 

“JUPITER ASCENDING” My rating: D+

127 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Fate does no favors for filmmakers by giving them early artistic or commercial success.

Two words:  Orson Welles.

Two more words: The Wachowskis.

Their latest, “Jupiter Ascending,” is borderline unwatchable.

Siblings Andy and  Larry (now Lana) Wachowski hit the big time in a big way in 1999 with “The Matrix,” which was hailed as both terrifically popular entertainment and hugely savvy moviemaking.

It’s pretty much been downhill since then: Two “Matrix” sequels of rapidly deteriorating quality, the flawed “V  for Vendetta,” the awful “Speed Racer,” the ambitious but muddled “Cloud Atlas.”

Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne

“Jupiter Ascending” throws together a bunch of ideas cobbled together from pop culture and science fiction sources, revs them up with an assault of noise and visuals, and makes some pretty good actors look like amateurs.

It begins way out in space where the three immortal Abrasax siblings — the imperiously evil Balem (Eddie Redmayne), the scheming-but-charming Titus (Douglas Booth) and the seemingly empathetic Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) — are arguing over the inheritance left by their late mother.

Among her holdings is a planet called Earth, whose residents are unaware that they soon will be harvested for the essential juice that allows the Abrasax to retain their youths indefinately.

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Channing Tatum, Steve Carrell

Channing Tatum, Steve Carrell

“FOXCATCHER” My rating: B

129 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Funny guy Steve Carell dons prosthetic teeth and nose for “Foxcatcher,” transforming himself into the fabulously wealthy and seriously unhinged John du Pont,  a convicted murderer who died in prison in 2010.

He’s flanked in the film by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, both of whom give career-high performances.

Yet despite this terrific acting (or because of it), “Foxcatcher” is a squirm-worthy experience. We know going in that it will end badly, but Carell — with director Bennett Miller (“Capote,” “Moneyball”) and writers E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman — ups the ante by creating a mood of queasy uneasiness that slowly builds in intensity until you want to jump out of your skin.

Which puts this critic in the weird position of subtracting points because the movie was too effective. At the risk of seeming a philistine, it is difficult to wholly recommend a movie that makes one feel so uncomfortable for two hours-plus.

The story begins in the mid-’80s with wrestler Mark Schultz (Tatum), who with his older brother Dave (Ruffalo) was a big winner at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

While Dave is a family man with a decent gig teaching and coaching at a university, the unmarried, solitary Mark seems to be circling the drain, a not-terribly-bright jock whose glory days are behind him. He’s reduced to donning his gold medal to give talks to elementary school kids for a few bucks.

Enter the mysterious John du Pont, a ferret-like individual who invites Mark to become part of his Team Foxcatcher, a privately funded wrestling community the multimillionaire maintains on his vast estate.

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Rooney Mara...depressed

Rooney Mara…depressed

“SIDE EFFECTS” My rating: B (Opening wide on Feb. 8)

105 minutes | MPAA rating: R

For more than half its running time, Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects” keeps us guessing as to just what sort of movie it is.

It begins with a handsome young man, Martin (current “it” guy Channing Tatum), being released from prison.

So maybe it’s a gritty film about Martin trying to rebuild his life after years in stir?

But then we get to know his wife, Emily (the marvelous Rooney Mara, late of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”),  an emotionally fragile individual coming apart at the seams. No sooner is her husband back home than she attempts suicide by driving her car into a wall.

So maybe it’s a hard-hitting film about depression?

Emily and Martin visit a shrink, Dr. Banks (Jude Law), who puts her on a powerful new antidepressant (he’s also a paid consultant for the drug’s manufacturer). Then Emily begins having bizarre sleepwalking episodes and does something really horrible and criminal.

So maybe it’s a socially-conscious film about our prevalent drug culture and an industry that tries to peddle dangerous side effects-heavy pharmaceuticals as if they were soda pop?

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