Hollywood

‘Transformers,’ ‘Chef’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

In recent years, Michael Bay has focused nearly all his directorial energy on the “Transformers” franchise, reinforcing his reputation as the go-to guy for effects-driven spectacles. Bay may not be Hollywood’s best storyteller, but he knows how to blow things up, and he has an uncanny knack for seamlessly blending practical footage with breathtaking digital imagery. These skills are put to good use in “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the fourth film in a series that’s made oodles of money despite an astonishing lack of imagination. 

Remembering Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius of Silent Comedy

Benjamin Wright

Harold Lloyd lacked the vaudeville training and natural comedy of Chaplin and Keaton, yet he could make us laugh as hard as we did when watching Chaplin, and could elicit as much sympathy and suspense as Keaton, but he had to work harder at being funny. And work he did, churning out more pictures over the course of his very prolific film career than Chaplin and Keaton combined.

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Arrives on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was the first of the four flicks to enter theaters, and it built high expectations with a smart script, strong acting and an abundance of beautifully executed action sequences. In short, the movie is a first-tier superhero picture that improves on the franchise’s already solid debut, “Captain America: The First Avenger.”  “The Winter Soldier” is set two years after events depicted in “The Avengers,” and Captain America, a.k.a. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), is settling into life in the 21st century. 

‘Life of Crime’ Boasts a Splendid Cast, But Slow-Paced Plot

Angelo Franco

In a timely fashion, Life of Crime opens to pay homage to Elmore Leonard’s vast collection of crime fiction and the many adaptations they have spawned.  The film, which first screened at last year’s Toronto Film Festival days after Leonard’s death, relies on a fitting cast and a script that rarely deviates from Leonard’s original dialogue.  Perhaps the truest adaptation to one of the author’s novels, Life of Crime starts off sardonic but pleasing and gets you hooked right away.  But then it dozes off for most of its hour and half runtime before it wraps itself nicely with a bow on top. 

The Problem of the Latina Sex Symbol in Hollywood

Sabrina Vourvoulias

A recent study from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism of the University of Southern California gives cause for more than just pause. One of the findings in a study on race and ethnicity in 600 popular films conducted by Stacey Smith, Katherine Pieper and Mark Choueiti is that while Latinas were more likely to be featured in popular films than any other race or ethnicity, no other race/ethnicity is more sexualized.

Remembering the Genius of Robin Williams

Andrew Lam

Robin Williams once joked that death is “nature’s way to let you know that your table is ready.” It’s not funny now that the comedian overrode nature by grabbing the table without waiting for the maître d’. But if his suicide has any silver lining, it’s that depression and mental illness are now being talked about more openly. In far-flung India, China and Vietnam, where mental illness, especially depression, is a taboo subject, it is now on the front pages of newspapers and TV programs reporting on Williams’ suicide. 

The Legend of Lauren Bacall

Bill Trott

She appeared in more than 30 other movies, including "Young Man With a Horn" (1950), "How to Marry a Millionaire" (1953) and "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974). Still, Bacall's movie career was rocky. In such films as "Confidential Agent" (1945) and "Bright Leaf" (1950), she essentially played the same role as in "To Have and Have Not." A comic turn in "How to Marry a Millionaire" earned applause but few of her other films were memorable and she became the self-proclaimed "den mother" to her two children.

‘Divergent,’ ‘Oculus’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

The plotting of the book and movie centers on Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley), a teenager who must choose her place in society. In her world, it is customary for youth to be tested for various personality traits, then asked to devote themselves to one of five related factions. When Tris’ test indicates that she could fit into several of these groupings, she is warned to keep quiet. 

‘Grand Budapest Hotel,’ ‘Lego Movie’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Although there are many great writers and directors working in cinema today, few have voices as distinct and pleasurable as Wes Anderson’s. With films ranging from “Bottle Rocket” (1996) to “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012), Anderson has introduced moviegoers to unusual worlds, fantastical characters and bizarre settings that entertain while provoking thought. He is a manufacturer of fairytales for our modern age and, as such, his projects should be widely celebrated. 

Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche Wage an Artistic War in ‘Words and Pictures’

Tara Taghizadeh

While the tug-of-war between art versus language serves as a backdrop for the film, the real story is Jack’s tenure as teacher and the danger he faces from the board for losing his job. There are teachers and administrators who side with him and praise his teaching skills, and those who would rather see him go. In the midst of his midlife crisis and his continuous efforts to combat alcoholism, we witness a budding (and surprising) romance between him and Dina.

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