Nov
21

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Foxcatcher tries to use great acting to hide a weak movie

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‘Foxcatcher’ deserves the accolades it’s getting for the acting, but the movie is ultimately quite disappointing.

 

Biopics, my old foe. Why do you always try to hurt me like this? I want to like you, I want to know more about the interesting people of history. But then you go and make me all … yawn.

It is funny how envy works. A person can seemingly have a great life but be envious of one particular thing about someone else. Maybe it’s their job, or their family, or their face, or even their personality. Looking in from the outside, you may never understand it. Of course, an exception must be made for the mentally disturbed, because their behavior is not understable except by the mental health professionals, and perhaps not even them. I’m going somewhere with this, trust me.

Foxcatcher is based on a true story, where down on his luck Olympic wrestling champion Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is asked by the odd but obscenely wealthy John du Pont (Steve Carell) to lead a team for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Mark is certainly talented, but he wasn’t doing well despite his gold medal win; all he really had was the support of his kind but older brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo — it’s a bit confusing, but Mark doesn’t play Mark here). Dave basically raised Mark and is a Gold Medalist himself, and is doing very well in life, getting great job offers and has a loving wife and kids. So Mark is craving to make something of himself, to be his own man and win the championship again, to prove he wasn’t just a flash in the pan. But John du Pont is a very odd person, obsessive and mercurial, supportive at times, creepy at others, and legitimately abusive still others. It’s clear that John suffers from dealing with his overbearing mother (Vanessa Redgrave), who hates the sport of wrestling and thinks of it as a “common” sport.

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Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
Nov
21

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Jennifer Lawrence is superbly engaging in the fun but flawed Mockingjay, Part 1

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‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1′ is enjoyable, even if it seems far too much of a “part one” and not enough its own movie.

 

There’s been an interesting trend lately with art describing itself. Sometimes a movie, TV show, or book is obvious about it; this is when you have a character that is clearly either an author insert or mouthpiece. Or perhaps it’s the opposite, a straw man character meant to suffer the attacks of unsubtle jabs to provide a suitable target for the artist’s rage or frustration. I don’t always think it’s necessarily a bad thing; it’s problematic when it becomes pretentious or dreary. The worst offense is to be obvious, but that isn’t so common. So when you have a movie about a young girl torn between wanting to be herself and being influenced into becoming a media sensation to push a message, it’s not the craziest idea to think that maybe there’s something there. Except of course, that the original material wasn’t about that — or was it?

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 is the third in a series of four Hunger Games movies, with the final Part 2 out next year. The final book, as we saw with Harry Potter and Twilight, is being split into two movies. I haven’t read Mockingjay, but Twilight didn’t have the material for one movie, let alone two, and I think Harry Potter would’ve worked better as few short British-style seasons of television instead of movies. The material for this movie is mostly paced well, with only a few obviously padded scenes. The story is simple, continuing on from the fallout of the last Hunger Games movie. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, of course) destroyed the gaming arena in the last movie, escaping from the clutches of the evil Capitol with fellow tributes Finnick (Sam Claflin) and Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), but also, incidentally, an accidental friend and ally in Elizabeth Banks’ bizarre Effie Trinket. And also the home of Katniss, District 12 has been brutally bombed, but her old friend/boyfriend/ex-boyfriend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) managed to survive with her mother and sister Primrose. Yes, the names aren’t much better this time either.

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Photo Credit: Lionsgate
Nov
20

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The paradox that is Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom

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Aaron Sorkin’s ‘The Newsroom’ is anything but subtle, but can he fix the show in time to make the final season as great as his past shows?

 

Written by Guest Clacker Brandon Coulson

The Newsroom’s second episode of its third and final season is entitled “Run,” though a more appropriate title might be something along the lines of “the ethical ethics of morality or how we’re so much better than you.” The show continues to be a paradox for me. I find myself loving and hating it from moment to moment, and this episode is a perfect example why. All of the tropes I love from Aaron Sorkin’s past works are here but they feel forced. It’s like he’s doing a bad cover of his own greatest hits, and while I still love the song, the performance leaves much to be desired.

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Photo Credit: HBO
Nov
20

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Hercules on Blu-ray is a feast for the eyes and ears

HERCULES

The movie may not have been a big hit with critics, but is Dwayne Johnson’s ‘Hercules’ isn’t as bad as some may have you believe. And it’s even better on Blu-ray.

 

I’ve seen one Hercules movie this year, the Kellan Lutz starrer The Legend of Hercules, so I wasn’t really sure if I was ready for another one. The earlier one was a bit of a chore to sit through, leaning more to the juvenile spectrum than even the 1950s versions that are seen as pure camp today (granted, most US audiences have never seen the original versions of those Italian sword and sandal epics, just choppily edited versions). Lutz looked the part, to be sure, but he really had nothing to work with.

But we knew then that there was another take on the legend coming, this time starring Dwayne Johnson and simply titled Hercules. The only real drawback at the time was that the film was being directed by the almost universally reviled Brett Ratner, who hasn’t made a good film in about as long as the other Herc movie’s director Renny Harlin has. But Johnson oozes enough charm out of every pore to make audiences like just about anything he’s in. Could he actually save this Hercules?

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Photo Credit: Paramount/MGM
Nov
18

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22 Jump Street, Sin City 2 and a Frozen Sing-Along lead home video releases

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Movies on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD November 18 include ’22 Jump Street,’ ‘Sin City: A Dame To Kill For,’ ‘Into the Storm,’ ‘And So It Goes,’ ‘As Above/So Below,’ ‘Christmas Evil,’ ‘If I Stay,’ ‘The Dark Half,’ and much more!

 

Big movies past and present make their appearances on various home video formats this week, although the biggest title of them all — Guardians of the Galaxy — is an advance Digital HD edition with the DVD and Blu-ray versions yet to come. The bigger titles this week include 22 Jump Street, Frank Miller’ Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, And So It Goes and Into the Storm. Disney’s Frozen is getting another release for the holidays in a Sing-Along edition. Older titles getting the Blu-ray treatment include The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (4K Restoration), Christmas Evil, The Dark Half, Monkey Shines, It Happened One Night (from Criterion) and an early 3D film, The Bubble. These titles and more are available November 18, and you can see all of the week’s highlights in our alphabetical shopper’s guide after the jump. Click on any link to make a purchase or to get more information. You purchase at Amazon.com through our links helps support CliqueClack.

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Photo Credit: Sony Pictures
Nov
18

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Free American Sniper screening tonight with Sienna Miller in Boston

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Read on to find out how to download your free passes to tonight’s screening!

 

CliqueClack has partnered with Warner Brothers Pictures to offer readers in Boston a chance to attend a special advance screening of the new film American Sniper TONIGHT. The screening will take place at AMC Boston Common at 7:00 PM. The film stars Bradley Cooper as US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and Sienna Miller as his wife Taya. Sienna Miller will be attending the screening to participate in a Q & A afterwards. You can download free passes at GoFoBo.com. Use code CLIQiot4i9 to get your free passes!

American Sniper poster Free American Sniper screening tonight with Sienna Miller in Boston

Photo Credit: EmpireOnline.com
Nov
17

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Download free passes for Penguins of Madagascar in Baltimore, DC or Virginia Beach

THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR

The ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ are back in their own movie, and you and your family can be among the first to see them. Find out how you can download passes to the special advance screening.

 

CliqueClack has partnered with DreamWorks Animation to offer readers in Baltimore, DC and Virginia Beach an opportunity to attend an advance screening of the new animated family film Penguins of Madagascar with the voices of Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knight, Ken Jeong, Peter Stormare, John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Super spy teams aren’t born—they’re hatched. Discover the secrets of the greatest and most hilarious covert birds in the global espionage biz: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. These elitists of the elite are joining forces with a chic undercover organization, The North Wind, led by handsome and husky Agent Classified (we could tell you his name, but then—you know), voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Together, they must stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine, voiced by John Malkovich, from destroying the world as we know it.

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Photo Credit: DreamWorks Animation
Nov
14

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Rosewater is a mesmerizing look at the horrors of an oppressive regime

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‘Rosewater’ is the terrifying true story of an Iranian reporter held hostage for 118 days for revealing the truth about political protests, but Jon Stewart’s skills at writing and directing make the film gripping and thought-provoking.

 

Rosewater is the true story of resilience. It is about a little boy who grows up in Iran, a world filled with love of family, strength of character and danger. Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal) grows up in a family of activists. At the early age of nine, he witnesses first-hand the atrocities one must endure when one wishes to be free and to have their voice heard. His father, Baba Akbar (Haluk Bilginer ), and sister Maryam (Golshifteh Farahani) were both imprisoned and tortured for speaking against the government of Iran and the “Supreme Ruler.” As a man, he stands on the precipice of a new world where 75% of the people of Iran are under the age of 35 and knowledgeable of the freedoms of the world thanks to cell phones, the internet and mass media. They are ready for change.

Bahari, the reporter from Newsweek, covers the elections of 2009 between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hossein Mousavi. He objectively films both sides in the election. The election appears to be rigged when he receives a call from Ahmadinejad’s headquarters claiming victory way before the polls are closed. He knows there will be trouble, and he is supposed to go back home to his pregnant wife, but he decides to stay. Maziar covers the protests and witnesses the shooting of several protesters, both men and women. He releases the tapes to Newsweek and naïvely thinks he will be okay. The next day he is awakened by two men who arrest him and take him away. Will Mazair Bahari make it out of captivity alive or will he meet the same fate as his father and sister — an early death?

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Photo Credit: Open Road
Nov
14

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Beside Still Waters is an eminently watchable indie film about regular, damaged people

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‘Beside Still Waters’ is a new take on the classic reunion story, with influences both classic and modern and a cast of interesting characters.

 

Do you still have friends from your childhood? How about your college days? The answer may depend on how old you are, or perhaps it may not. Some people retain such friends for years, but that also doesn’t mean that they are friends past the updates on Facebook. This is why high school reunions are fascinating and confusing; you never know what to expect. Will your thin, gawky friend become a record breaking weight lifter? How many children will everyone bring? Are people still holding grudges or crushes long past? And will there be any fighting or drunkenness? I suppose it depends on your high school. My reunion was dull. But I haven’t thought of making it into a movie.

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Photo Credit: Tribeca Film
Nov
14

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Beyond the Lights is a modern, edgy love story

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On the surface, ‘Beyond the Lights’ may seem like any other musical love story, but an excellent cast and killer soundtrack give it a raw, modern spin.

 

At first, I avoided seeing Beyond the Lights because I thought that it would be like all the other love stories: The Way We Were, A Star is Born, and The Bodyguard. Been there done that! You know the cliché kind of love that’s not meant to be: two people from different worlds that somehow come together but don’t work out in the end kind of love. Boy was I wrong, dead wrong! All these love stories were popular in their own right in the past. I wasn’t interested in another sad, melancholy story that’s been told so many times before. Beyond The Lights was completely different. Writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood and her talented cast elevated the film and gave it more of a modern, edgy, in your face tone that will have you cheering at the end! It was new, it was edgy, it was passionate, and it was funny!

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Photo Credit: Relativity Media