Sean Penn is a sniper working for a mercenary group in Africa. He assassinates a government official and must go into hiding, leaving behind his girlfriend (Jasmine Trinca) to be scooped up by fellow merc Javier Bardem. Years later, he’s back in Africa under a different name working for a humanitarian organization when a handful of assassins try to take him down. He investigates the source, meets up with the shady fellows from his past, and tries to reconnect with his former love.
This isn’t anything new – it’s okay action, your standard plot, lots of buffed-up Sean Penn showing he’s a killer who cares, and exotic locations. There’s little humor, not much suspense, a non-sequitur role for Bardem, but there’s also not much of a ham-fisted political message either. Nor is it on the level of director Pierre Morel’s earlier film Taken; it’s a hardy helping of American-cheese slices on semi-stale crackers – not an extravagant hors d’oeuvres, the cheese could be better, even generic sharp cheddar, and the crackers aren’t buttered, but it’s not spray cheese and wafers either. As a light snack before the real action movies arrive in a few months, it’s palatable.
I wasn’t holding out much hope for this one. Like anyone with a brain and a distinct fear of transforming from an adventurous roustabout into an office drone, I have a deep appreciation for the work of James Thurber (not to mention Danny Kaye, who starred in the original adaptation), and when the trailer hit, it looked like Ben Stiller’s take would be much more of a saga instead of a few simple flights from banality.
And while Stiller’s Walter Mitty departs halfway from flights of fancy, the first half is a delight. Mitty is a negative assets manager at Life Magazine – negative assets as in he’s the guy who handles photo negatives, and Life Magazine as in the periodical that Gestapo agents read when they’re tailing Indiana Jones and which, specifically in this flick, is in the process of becoming a purely online publication.
Mitty’s tasked with developing the final cover’s image, which has been misplaced, and which causes the sleazy consultant handling the transition (Adam Scott, in a wickedly dorky beard) to breathe stertorously down his neck.
In addition to that, Mitty’s currently engaged in setting up his eHarmony profile despite having gone nowhere and done nothing, diminishing his chances of attracting the pretty new hire (Kirsten Wiig). Helping him is Todd (a voice that may be recognizable, but whose identity is one of the best reveals, jokes, and sequences in the film), an overly dedicated eHarmony assistant.
The film has a fantastic start, as all the major performers – Stiller, Wiig, and Scott – come from the background of exploiting social awkwardness and revel in creating a facade of meekness in their characters, a meekness that barely veils the passions behind it. Scott in particular, is so good at each little passive-aggressive dig (I especially liked the progression of how he says “guy”: first cloying, then annoyed, then furious). And, thankfully, not all of Mitty’s daydreams are treated as immature revenge fantasies or love-struck dalliances. One sequence in particular gets very creative as Stiller and Scott battle over a Stretch Armstrong doll throughout the streets of New York, using the roads as skis and whatever else as improvised weapons.
Even though the movie opens in January, traditionally a time when studios dump the movies they’re less enthusiastic about, we’ve still got a bit of hope for Gangster Squad. But then there’s that rather lame title too. Maybe if it was called Gangnam Squad instead, then they might have something.
Anyway, we know, the studio changed the release date for other reasons, not because the movie sucks. Still, you always have to wonder . . . if only a little bit. Good thing the new trailer looks pretty good, otherwise it would probably be curtains for Gangster Squad — at least in our eyes.
Look for Gangster Squad, with Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn, to arrive January 11. Check out the trailer below and let us know what you think.
One of the many considerations to be made in the wake of a horrible tragedy is how do certain studios remain respectful to the situation without knee jerk reacting to heightened public outrage. It is a fine line that Warner Bros. now has to walk in the aftermath of the Aurora Colorado shootings.
Gangster Squad is a film that was supposed to have a trailer play in front of The Dark Knight Rises. However, due to a specific scene in the trailer of gangsters shooting up a movie theater it was rightfully pulled. Now Warner Bros is taking things one step further and are scrambling to re-shoot the scenes involving the theater shooting altogether.
One date the studio is looking at is Jan. 11. Before making a final decision, though, the studio is currently looking at several factors, according to sources, such as how quickly the cast can be reassembled for the reshoot, concerns about cast availibility to do press in January and the competition on the calendar.
Here is the fine line for Warner Bros, moving the release date is respectful, re-shooting a climactic scene that parallels the tragedy might be going to far. It is hard to say sight unseen, but hopefully the integrity of what seems like a good movie remains intact.
Stay tuned to The Flickcast as news on Gangster Squad solidifies we will keep you informed.
We haven’t seen too much so far about Gangster Squad, the upcoming Warner Bros movie yet to have a release data. All we know is that the cast is pretty impressive and so is the new trailer.
Speaking of the cast, the movie, which tells the story of the LAPD’s battle with gangster Micky Cohen for control of LA, features Sean Penn (as Cohen), Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Mireille Enos, Anthony Mackie, Nick Nolte, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi and many more.
The movie is based on the book by Paul Liberman with a screenplay by Will Beall, whose also writing the Justice League movie for the studio. That is, if that ever really gets off the ground.
In what will surely come as a surprise to many people who don’t follow the Internets (also, most likely to mainstream audiences), Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life was the top film at the 15h annual Online Film Critics Society Awards. The awards are given out by the Online Film Critics Society, an organization made up of film reviewers, journalists and scholars based in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Asia/Pacific Rim region.
Malick’s film took the top prize for best picture as well as director, supporting actress (Jessica Chastain), editing and cinematography. No other film won more than one award.
Michael Fassbender took best actor for Shame and Tilda Swinton was best actress for We Need To Talk About Kevin. Best supporting actor went to Christopher Plummer for Beginners.
How do you even begin to describe a film like Tree of Life? Words such as “art-house film,” “sweeping,” and “transcendent” are accurate, but misleading in their connotation. Typically they evoke the image of a self-important, storyless mess, mired in ambiguity and bereft of substance.
In its defense, the tone is humble. The story is of a son recalling childhood memories of his father and reconciling the differences between them. The clarity is in the simplicity and beauty of its scenes. And the substance is in the detailed moments it creates to evoke our own similar experiences.
With an opening shot of the universe itself, director Terence Malick (Badlands, The Thin Red Line) implies mammoth importance, but he avoids pretension by never forcing a message. This shot and others show an awe and respect (to say nothing of their magnificence) for the subject matter that ask us to appreciate rather than tell us what to think.
Similarly, Tree of Life has a message, but it doesn’t preclude the audience from appreciating its scenes on their own terms. A small sequence accompanied by Gorecki’s Symphony number 3 had a very deep impact on me. Other audience members laughed and were then were quiet when one of the boys tries to accompany his father on the guitar.
I can see why this film got mixed reactions at the Cannes Film Festival this year, yet still managed to win the Palm d’Or, the most prestigious award of the festival. To some, this film might seem a bit melodramatic and abstract for their taste. But to others, like myself, I found Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life to have a rare and honest beauty to it that can only be described as fine art.
What you have to realize going in is that this feels more like a visual poem than a film. A cinematic ballet that brings together stunning imagery with powerful storytelling. Writer and director Terrence Malick is only one of the few remaining auteurs left in filmmaking, meaning that all his films consistently reflect his personal creative vision.
Sure, some could argue that a little more dialogue added to the film could have made it more relatable to a wider audience, but that is not the film Malick wanted to make. His film is elegant and sophisticated, told both with expertise and creativity.
Normally we would spend some time setting up a trailer or otherwise telling you what the relevant parts of it are. Or, we might tell you that the trailer helps you understand the film and provides insight into its story or characters.
Sometimes, however, you get a trailer for a film that just makes you stop and say “Wow.” This new trailer for Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is one of those.
It’s almost impossible to describe it so really, I won’t even bother to try. It’s better if you just take a look. You can do so after the jump.
The Tree of Life, featuring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Joanna Going and Fiona Shaw, is written and Directed by Terrence Malick. His previous films include The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven and Badlands — which are all worth checking out.
It hits theaters next May. See this movie, you won’t be sorry.
In 2003, Valerie Plame looked the part of any successful working mother. She ran a household, reared a set of twins, and had a typical office job. Or so it would seem. In reality, she was a covert CIA operative who was in charge of various operations overseas.
After years of cultivating contacts and relationships, her entire life was exposed when Washington Post scribe Robert Novak outed her as a CIA operative in an article in the publication. The incident was thought to be a retaliatory action against her family after her husband, ex-diplomat Joe Wilson, wrote a series of scathing op-ed pieces indicting the Bush administration and their assertion that Iraq had acquired uranium from Niger. Wilson maintained that the administration was manipulating the evidence to justify the Iraq invasion.
Ultimately, White House aide Scooter Libby was revealed as the source for Novak’s piece. He was tried and found guilty of obstruction of justice, making false statements, and perjury. His sentence was commuted by George Bush in 2007.
Fair Game brings to life a fictionalized account of the story behind the story. If you are a newshound, you already know the details of the case, but what the movie does a great job of is illuminating the far reaching consequences of the administration’s decision to out her.
It wasn’t just Plame and her family who suffered, the administration has the blood of foreigners on their hands as well. Many of Plame’s contacts suffered or died as a direct result of her being outed. That makes the whole ugly mess more difficult to swallow.