In the opening scene of Rampart, we see LAPD officer Dave Brown behaving rather typically for a character in a corrupt cop movie.  If the genre feels like it’s been overdone, and not necessarily done very memorably since the Sidney Lumet films of the ’70s and ’80s, that’s probably because it has.  Fortunately, much changes … Continue reading

The Innkeepers

Loud noises and jump scares aren’t scary.  They’re just surprising.  Gruesome kills and torture scenes aren’t scary.  They’re shocking.  Even though he’s also responsible for direct-to-DVD dreck like <i>Cabin Fever 2:  Spring Fever</i>, 2009’s <i>The House of the Devil</i> landed writer/director Ti West a permanent spot on my radar.  The truly scary (and fun) ’80s … Continue reading


Haywire is definitely a spy thriller, just one that leans a little closer to the restrained Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy than the Salt-y adrenaline-pumping variety the advertising might lead you to believe.  Sure, it has plenty of hand-to-hand combat and car chases, it’s just done in a way that brings more focus to authenticity than … Continue reading

Contraband Movie Review

Although I’ve always preferred him in dramas like The Departed and Boogie Nights or comedies like The Other Guys and Date Night, Mark Wahlberg has always viewed himself, first and foremost, as a tough-guy action hero.  His latest foray into the genre is a grittier than average heist thriller that earns bonus points for some … Continue reading

This horse went to war.

“Some pig.”  Remember when Charlotte wove that web?  Well, replace “pig” with “horse” and you’ve got the reaction director Steven Spielberg aims to get out of his audience following each and every scene in War Horse, which features about a dozen climaxes, each signaled by a massive crescendo in the romantic score by Spielberg’s longtime … Continue reading

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is unmistakably the second film in director Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes franchise.  I suppose it’s hard to fault it on that level, but that’s also the reason it took me so long to see the movie.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked the first Sherlock Holmes.  It’s just hard … Continue reading

Horrible Bosses, Hilarious Movie

Horrible Bosses plays like a more broad, mainstream Coen Brothers movie.  And that’s just fine with me. In classic film noir fashion, we see a scatterbrained plan from three knuckleheads (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis) quickly spiral out of control before they realize they’re in way over their heads.  And as with any … Continue reading

Midnight in Paris

Even though he only bats about .300 these days (good in baseball, not so good in Hollywood), what continues to amaze me most about Allen is his ability to churn out story after story, year after year, without any of them feeling like a rehash of his past successes.  Midnight in Paris feels like classic … Continue reading

Source Code

An understandably confused Jake Gyllenhaal wakes up in the body of another man (there’s no way to say that without it sounding dirty) on an inbound Chicago Metra train with far more plush-looking seats than any train I’ve ever been on.  And so begins Source Code, the sophomore effort from Moon director Duncan Jones. The … Continue reading

Sucker Punch

I loved Watchmen and didn’t care for 300.  That seems to be the opposite of the general consensus regarding Zack Snyder’s work.  But either way, he’s one of the few visually-minded directors who consistently amazes me.  His imagination in these effects-laden fantasies is miles ahead of the likes of Michael “Transformers” Bay and Roland “2012″ … Continue reading