Ahwatukee Foothills News: Movies

Movies

Tuesday 10/28/2014
Keaton given leading role he was destined to play in ‘Birdman’
Posted: October 28, 2014

Michael Keaton established early on in his film career that he’s an actor of great range. For whatever reason, though, he faded into obscurity during the late ’90s and early 2000s. Some might say that’s because he walked away from the “Batman” franchise to do movies like “Jack Frost,” “White Noise,” “First Daughter,” and “Herbie Fully Loaded.” Then again, it’s not like starring in “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin” would have done Keaton any favors either. It’s great that Keaton has been slowly resurfacing in recent years with memorable supporting work in “Toy Story 3” and “The Other Guys.” In “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” Keaton is given a leading role he was destined to play.

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Friday 10/24/2014
‘Whiplash’ is an all around great film
Updated: October 28, 2014 - 2:24 pm

Band is hell. Oh sure, the “American Pie” movies might have you believe it’s nothing but fun and games. Anyone who majored in music or even took band class in high school, however, knows that it’s like prepping for war. The hours are brutal, your teachers push you to be the best, and it’s literally the end of your world if you fail. You might think I’m exaggerating and to some extent maybe I am. After all, not every band instructor on the planet can be a ruthless slave driver. The instructor in “Whiplash” on the other hand most certainly is.

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Tuesday 10/21/2014
‘The Book of Life’ has just enough substance to check out
Updated: October 28, 2014 - 2:24 pm

“The Book of Life” has most of the same pros and cons as “The Boxtrolls” from a couple weeks ago. Both films are absolute joys to watch for their delightful characters, unique worlds, and dazzling animation. As creative as they are in terms of presentation, neither film is all that original when it comes to storytelling. “The Book of Life” isn’t just a familiar story like “The Boxtrolls,” through. It’s also a very overstuffed and awkwardly paced one too. So exactly how problematic is the story? Well, read the synopsis below and find out for yourself.

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‘Men, Women & Children’ connects several stories about communicating in the digital era
Updated: October 28, 2014 - 2:24 pm

With “Thank You For Smoking,” “Juno,” and “Up in the Air,” few modern directors have done a more authentic job at capturing the age we live in better than Jason Reitman. It’s actually pretty surprising that it’s taken him this long to make a movie concerning digital media’s effect on culture. What’s even more shocking is the fact that some of these innovations are barely a decade old. On top of all that, it’s only been 13 years since the 9/11 attacks, which instigated the need for every man, woman, and child to have a cell phone. We might have gotten by fine without them for years, but now it’s impossible to imagine life without any mobile devices or social networking.

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Monday 10/20/2014
‘Fury’ is typical wartime drama
Updated: October 28, 2014 - 2:24 pm

‘Fury” is a good wartime drama that might have been considered great had it come out anywhere in between 1930 and 1998. In the year 2014, however, the film might come off as too familiar to those who have seen classics like “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Platoon,” and “Saving Private Ryan.” That’s not to say “Fury” is too little too late. On the contrary, the film is exceptionally made, wonderfully acted, and effectively portrays the horrors of war. It’s just hard to totally give yourself to a movie when you can tell who’s going to live, who’s going to die, and what’s going to be learned 10 minutes in.

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Friday 10/10/2014
‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’ is just OK
Updated: October 28, 2014 - 2:24 pm

A live-action, feature-length version of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” produced by Disney? That’s got to be the most unpromising synopsis for a kid’s movie since Warner Bros. made an entire film about LEGOs. Then again, “The LEGO Movie” ended up being awesome. Maybe this adaptation of the classic picture book from Judith Viorst will be a pleasant surprise too, right? Well, the film isn’t terrible, horrible, no good, or very bad. It’s not exactly great either. It’s just OK, which is still at least better than expected.

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‘Dracula Untold’ should have remained that way
Updated: October 24, 2014 - 11:31 am

You’d think this past decade’s vampire fad would have brought us a number of movies starring Dracula. Strangely enough, however, everyone’s favorite public domain vampire has been missing in action as of late. That’s what happens when you choose to do films like “Dracula 2000,” “Van Helsing,” and “Blade: Trinity.” Dracula should stay cozy in his coffin because “Dracula Untold” isn’t going to reboot his film career. As badly as he needs a comeback, this is one Dracula story that should have remained untold.

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Friday 09/26/2014
No equaling Washington’s performance, skills in ‘The Equalizer’
Updated: October 21, 2014 - 3:00 pm

“The Equalizer” is a superhero movie without an actual superhero. Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, a kindly man who spends his days greeting people with a smile at a home improvement store. By night, he roams the streets beating up/killing crooked cops, thugs, pimps and mob bosses. He might not have Batman’s costume, gadgets, car or money, but he just as easily could have tracked down the Joker and vanquished Bane in about a day. With his skill set, he’s basically Dexter, Sherlock Holmes, MacGyver and Liam Neeson in “Taken” rolled into one.

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‘The Skeleton Twins’ gets complex bond of siblings just right
Updated: October 21, 2014 - 9:47 am

It’s great that we’ve been getting so many stories these days that intelligently address dynamics between siblings. The best recent examples include Richard Linklater’s all-too-authentic “Boyhood,” Disney’s beloved “Frozen,” and the brilliant animated series “Gravity Falls.” “The Skeleton Twins” is another strong look at the relationship between a brother and sister.

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Familiar story doesn’t hurt creepy charm of ‘Boxtrolls’
Updated: October 20, 2014 - 9:27 am

Drawing inspiration from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” the talented animators at Laika have done a wonderful job at bringing the strange and grotesque back to animated features in an age of more welcoming digitally animated fair. Their last two films, “Coraline” and “Paranorman,” were some of the most charmingly creepy of this recent resonance of diverse animation. “The Boxtrolls” keeps in the tradition of those movies, being a weird, visually splendid escapade of stop-motion animation. It’s all good fun, although the familiar story often holds it back from ever being a masterpiece.

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