110711-dark-knight-nyc

2012: The Movies of the Year

The late Gene Siskel once described the job of being a film critic as “covering the national dream beat.” What he meant is that the movies document our collective unconscious. We may go to the movies to escape, but because the movies trade on our fantasies and not our conscious fears and desires, they often…

Djngo

Justice is Simple in “Django Unchained”

There is a scene early on in Django Unchained in which bounty hunter King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) offers a deal to Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave whom he has just bought. Schlutz, a foreigner, is opposed to slavery, but he needs Django to help him track and kill three men for whom a large bounty…

Jack Reacher

Tom Cruise is “Jack Reacher”

Do not bother to care about Jack Reacher because he doesn’t care about you. This is not the modern-day action hero; the Jason Bourne, the Bruce Wayne, even the Iron Man. Reacher is not here to protect you, and he is not looking for redemption. Reacher is here to punish the bad guys, and he…

django_8

Newtown, Django Unchained, and Jack Reacher

Yesterday in The Independent, Robert Zak wrote about the movie studios’ decision to cancel red-carpet premieres of two upcoming violent movies – Django Unchained and Jack Reacher – in the wake of the shooting in Newtown. Here are his words: [S]uch actions are more than just harmless or pointless gestures that answer to prim ideas…

apatow_mann1

“This is 40″ Gets Too Personal

It’s starting to get weird with Judd Apatow. It was acceptable (and quite cute) for him to cast his lovely and talented wife Leslie Mann as a drunk party girl in the writer/director’s debut feature, The 40 Year Old Virgin. We didn’t even mind when he brought in his kids and recast his wife for…

The Campaign

2012: The Love/Hate List

In 1988’s Bull Durham, Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) famously said that “fastballs are boring, and besides that, they’re fascist.” Well, that’s how I feel about Top Ten Movies of 2012 lists. It is that time of year in when critics of every stripe release their own personal Best Of lists. Not me. It is presumptive…

promised-land-movie-damon

“Promised Land” Barely Cracks the Surface

Promised Land, the new environmental drama from eco-buddies Matt Damon and John Krasinski, tries really hard to be an important film – and that is precisely why it fails. This is a message movie: its only reason to exist is to educate the public about the environmental dangers of natural gas extraction. But in these…