Pin It
Submit to Reddit

Film Clips 

Current Releases

BAD NEWS BEARS Hollywood's penchant for recycling continues with this update of the 1976 film about a beer-guzzling guy (Walter Matthau) who turns a team of Little League misfits into contenders. The original Bears was notable for milking the underdog formula for all it was worth and sweetening the pot with its decidedly non-PC aspects (such as small kids swearing). Alas, the underdog angle has since suffered from overexposure, and in today's anything-goes society, the sight of 12-year-olds cussing like sailors no longer carries any novelty (if anything, the incessant scatological humor in this new take proves annoying). Billy Bob Thornton (in Bad Santa mode) is funny as the uncouth coach, though his character -- harsher than Matthau's -- seems out of place in a movie that's being positioned as a family film. HH

BATMAN BEGINS One of the finest superhero films ever made, Batman Begins marks the beginning of a beautiful friendship -- between the creative forces who have resurrected a popular franchise and the fans who felt betrayed when that same franchise went belly up during the late 90s. Never afraid to peer into the darkest recesses of the mind, director Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia) has created a brooding picture that has as much in common with his previous works as it does with the storied saga of the Caped Crusader. To dismiss this as escapist fare would be to ignore the myriad adult themes that bulk up the picture, issues ranging from the duality of man to the politics of fear. Christian Bale leads a sterling cast that also includes Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson; their committed performances help make this that rare summer movie in which thought often speaks louder than either action or words. HHH 1/2

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY Tim Burton helms the second screen version of Roald Dahl's 41-year-old novel about an eccentric candymaker (Johnny Depp) who takes five children on a tour through his gargantuan factory. In most respects, this surpasses the previous screen incarnation, 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: It's funnier, faster and more visually stimulating. But Burton, who tends to fluctuate between enfant terrible and rank sentimentalist, allows his maudlin streak to get the best of him via a needless back story that explains Wonka's affinity for candy, and this plot strand leads to a soggy finale that's easily bested by the final act of the '71 model. Depp delivers an engaging surface performance, though I prefer the more measured madness of Gene Wilder's interpretation. HHH

THE DUKES OF HAZZARD Airing from 1979 to 1985, the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard was created for people who had trouble following the plotlines of Three's Company. Inspired by the glut of so-called "hick flicks" that dominated drive-ins throughout the 1970s, the program was primarily an excuse to showcase good ol' boy shenanigans and plenty of car collisions. This film version follows suit, with cousins Bo, Luke and Daisy Duke (Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott and Jessica Simpson) trying to prevent corrupt Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds) from running Hazzard County into the ground. A sequence in which Bo and Luke drive through Atlanta suggests that the film could have worked as a clever reimagining in which the coarseness of the Old South repeatedly bumps up against the sensibilities of the New South, but this promise quickly dissipates to allow more room for the usual mix of lame slapstick and smash'n'crash auto theatrics. H 1/2

FANTASTIC FOUR Assign acclaimed directors to superhero flicks and you get the likes of the Spider-Man pair, the X-Men duo and Batman Begins. Assign any Tom, Hack or Harry and you get flaccid duds like Elektra, The Punisher and now Fantastic Four. It's shocking that 20th Century Fox didn't treat this with the same care as their classy (and successful) X-Men franchise; instead, they handed the directorial reins to Tim Story (Barbershop and the Jimmy Fallon bomb Taxi), resulting in a half-assed cheeseball confection. Among the heroes, Michael Chiklis fares best as the tortured Thing, but Julian McMahon makes a pitiable Dr. Doom, a towering comic book villain (think of him as the forerunner to Darth Vader) reduced to a wimpy matinee crook. The engaging special effects help. HH

HUSTLE & FLOW This earned the Audience Award at Sundance, and it's easy to see why: When a filmmaker is bold enough to make a pimp his film's protagonist and -- more surprisingly -- gently coerces his viewers into caring about this morally dubious character's fate, it's apparent that there's real talent in play. Writer-director Craig Brewer, a longtime Memphis resident, drew upon his surroundings to add flavor to his tale about a street hustler (Terrence Howard) who tries to make it as a rapper. Hollywood convention occasionally bumps up against the movie's more raw aspects, but for the most part, this rarely takes a false step as it details the efforts of its characters to find purpose in their lives. Howard is commanding as the lead, though the film's heart and soul rest in the superlative turns by Taryn Manning and Taraji P. Henson as hookers who never allow circumstances to deflate their inner benevolence. HHH 1/2

Pin It
Submit to Reddit


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Search Events
items in Creative Loafing Charlotte More in Creative Loafing Charlotte pool

© 2018 Womack Digital, LLC
Powered by Foundation