Hollywood

‘Whiplash,’ ‘Big Hero 6’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

In “Whiplash,” J.K. Simmons plays Terrence Fletcher, a college music professor so brutal and intense that he is literally capable of making students ill. It’s a role Simmons inhabits completely, and it has, quite correctly, become one of the most celebrated performances of the movie awards season. Fletcher is, in the simplest sense, a monster. But he is also capable of inspiring his students to greatness.

‘Magic in the Moonlight,’ ‘This Is Where I Leave You’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Bateman, Fey, Fonda and Rose Byrne (in a supporting role) give the film energy and star power, and their lesser-known co-stars are just as solid. The primary failing of “This Is Where I Leave You” is the fact that there’s so much going on. While all families have drama, Levy’s film piles one unlikely scenario atop another until viewers are left with a teetering monster that strains all credibility. Viewers who can suspend disbelief and enjoy the craziness will have a good time, but those expecting subtlety will be disappointed.  

Why Anne Rice’s Vampirical World Is the Next New Hollywood Trend

Megan Walsh

Anne Rice's popular vampire series, known collectively as The Vampire Chronicles, was recently acquired by Universal Pictures with the intention of relaunching the series as a new film franchise. Following on the heels of that announcement was the news that Televisia USA acquired another of Rice's series, the (questionably) erotic Sleeping Beauty trilogy, with plans to bring it to television. In many ways, this sudden return of Anne Rice to current pop culture comes as no surprise. 

‘Edge of Tomorrow,’ ‘Million Dollar Arm’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Time travel movies are tricky, but director Doug Liman has delivered a science-fiction gem with “Edge of Tomorrow,” a fast-paced, action-heavy affair that plays like a mash up of “Groundhog Day” and “War of the Worlds.”  The picture is set in a near future where frightening, tentacular creatures have launched an all-out assault on Earth. Just when it looks like the alien beings are invincible, Sgt. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) leads humanity to an impressive victory using a heavily armed exoskeleton.  

‘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. 

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