The Heat

heat_posterAs we all know, a thank you note must always be hand written, preferably on a lovely creme-colored stock in indigo ink from a heavy fountain pen that allows the words of gratitude to flow smoothly from its nib. This is why cursive must not be allowed to disappear from our public schools, because a heartfelt message inscribed with your own hand is really the only way to convey the depths of your thanks. “TY GRAM 4 the $$!” will simply not cut it.

So I must apologize for doing this in an electronic format. While it goes against every fiber of my being, I simply do not have time to send a stamped envelope to everyone in Hollywood, so I must resort to the internet, as we so often do. Please imagine this as lovingly crafted note, full of flourish and proper punctuation. As you would expect, my penmanship is excellent.

Dear Twentieth Century Fox,
Thank you so much for distributing the new buddy film, The Heat. In a summer where the term “sausage fest” would not be hyperbole, having a movie that stars two women was a like an icy, delicious treat for our parched throats. I saw it the first weekend it opened; so did just about everyone else I know, some who even happened to be men. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the guys in tights and exploding robots that are always there; it’s just that occasionally (maybe more than once every three years?), it’s fun to go see the cinematic equivalent of coming home and taking off your bra. It’s relaxing and liberating! Continue reading

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Star Trek: Into Darkness

startrek2posterThere is an unspoken rule among movie critics that you do not spoil a movie’s ending. This speaks to the respect that grows between an audience and a trusted reviewer who realizes that when a person invests hard-earned cash in an evening of entertainment, they deserve the right to approach the film with a child’s innocence and sense of wonder. Of course, that rule only applies to critics who are actually paid. The rest of us are just hacks working out of our basements so we can say anything we damn well please. And frankly, if you spend any time on the internet at all, there is no way you have made it this far without knowing about this ending.

But just in case you are one of those darling naive movie patrons, let me switch to all caps and declare a SPOILER ALERT. This review is so spoiled that if you drank it out of a carton in front of an unplugged refrigerator, it would cause you to puke up every taco you have eaten in the past twenty-four hours (just keeping with the theme of the site!). Continue reading

The Great Gatsby

great-gatsby“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

As the final words of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby floated across the screen in the latest film interpretation, I was transported back to a classroom in 1971 where a group of bored teenagers were forced to read this classic aloud. As a pimply, mush-mouthed boy attempted to wrap his Appalachian accent around the final sentence of the book, he unfortunately misread the closing phrase as, “So we beat off…” The classroom erupted with hoots and hollers, and since then the poetry of this ending has always brought a little smirk to my face. Continue reading

Ironman 3

ironman posterI like my action heroes with a little angst. I have to believe that if you’re going to blow up buildings and take out innocent civilians while attempting to save the world, you’re going to earn a little PTSD along with all the kudos. It shows you have a heart, or in the case of Ironman’s Tony Stark, at least an electromagnetic cup with a bunch of shrapnel in it.

Ironman 3 came roaring into theatres last weekend, setting off a chain reaction of summer flicks that will continue well into cicada season. Last summer we had The Avengers, where Ironman joined up with Thor, Captain America, the Hulk and a few other superhero types in really tight outfits. The big climax culminated in an all out battle to save the world from aliens and other Loki-driven demons that happened over the skies of NYC. Although the day was saved, the experience was traumatic enough for Tony Stark that he starts twitching if anyone even mentions the words “New York.” Continue reading

Roger Ebert: 1942-2013

Shakeflicksthatmakemesick has been offline for a few weeks while I focus on some Real Life Stuff that can’t be ignored no matter how much I try. But I wanted to come back for a brief moment and pay tribute to Roger Ebert, one of the all time great Chicago writers.

I often disagreed with Roger’s movie reviews. All the way back to Sneak Previews, I was far more likely to nod my head at Gene Siskel’s assessment than Roger’s critique. But I kept on reading his stuff and watching his program and realized that even though my opinion frequently veered in a different direction than his, his writing was still very interesing. You had to admire his emotional investment in every movie he watched and his unabashed cheerleading for the practice of filmmaking in general. Continue reading

Flight/Life of Pi

flight-poster-domesticNow that the year of the snake is upon us, I feel that it is timely to turn to the zodiac to answer all our questions about the remaining nominated films before the Academy Awards are presented. (Also, I watched Anaconda this weekend – best snake movie ever!)

The four elements that organize the zodiac signs are Air, Fire, Earth and Water. We will combine the first two, Air and Fire, because that is essentially what the movie Flight is about – the plane starts out in the Air and ends up in a field on Fire (hey, I guess that covers Earth, too!) The crash sequence guarantees that this film will not be shown on your next United cross-country trip. This is what an emergency landing looks like in your nightmares. All but six people survive, and that is due to the skill and grace under pressure of the pilot, the fabulous Whip Whitaker. Continue reading

Django Unchained

djangoIt’s not like I didn’t know what to expect.

Just the name Tarantino is usually enough to let you know what you’re in for. His name has practically become an adjective. (“The tarantino effect was in full force as the spatters of red wine reached every corner of the kitchen.”) Since he burst onto the scene in 1992 with the extremely bloody Reservoir Dogs, his films have become synonymous with over-the-top violence. He stays pretty true to form in his latest, Django Unchained.

The movie follows the adventures of a bounty hunter named King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) who teams up with a slave (Jamie Foxx). King buys Django and frees him, and together they hunt down a variety of criminals, all the while looking for Django’s wife, Broomhilde, who was sold to another plantation. Tarantino likes to mix up his styles, so the film pays homage to spaghetti westerns with a number of anachronistic, contemporary touches thrown in as well. I’m not sure if “homage” is the right word here, because to me if seemed like a really violent remake of Blazing Saddles. With the duo of Foxx/Waltz as a stand-in for Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder, the mixed race duo encounter overt racism and over-the-top bad guys. Even the comedy is slapstick, as a group of KKK members ride to lynch Django but have to abort the mission because they can’t see out of the eye holes of their hoods. I would have sworn that the voice coming out of one of the masked Klansman was Slim Pickens, who was in Blazing Saddles but died about 30 years ago. Broomhilde even speaks German, a plot point that figures into her rescue, although at no point is she as tired as Madeline Kahn. Continue reading