Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz

Rising starlet (or, in this case, “starlette” might be more appropriate – like a little tiny star, just beginning to shine) Chloe Grace Moretz hasn’t always made the most traditional of choices in her film career, though that’s not to say they’ve been bad choices. Yet the next segment of Mortez’s career, one that is now set to include starring in a multi-film YA adaptation about a girl in some terrible futuristic settings and situations, looks to be going in a direction that’s not just traditional – it’s expected – and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Moretz certainly started off in an expected enough way, as her younger years were spent with small appearances on television shows and a series of horror films (including The Amityville Horror and Wicked Little Things), before turning her charms on for something a little offbeat. Moretz co-starred as the sassy younger sister in (500) Days of Summer, but the romantic comedy really took that sass to a new level – Mortez’s Rachel was a wise-beyond-her-years tween who served as the central voice of reason. Sure, “sassy younger sister” sounds standard, but the role of Rachel was not. From there, Moretz started making some bold (and, frankly, brave) choices.

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review carrie 2013

2013′s Carrie opens with the title character’s birth. It’s an effective scene, conspicuously absent umbilical cord aside, that immediately makes two things clear. First, Carrie’s mother, Margaret White (Julianne Moore), is a dangerous fundamentalist highly displeased with the “cancer” that just spilled from between her legs. And second, director Kimberly Pierce‘s reboot/remake/re-imagining of Stephen King‘s novel is aiming to be more than just a rehash of Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation. Unfortunately it’s only the wacky religious nut that lands intact, as other than a new opening and ending, some updated dialogue, and an ill-fitting actress in the lead role, this is quite clearly the same old Carrie.

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trailer carrie2

Well, if you had never seen the 1976 original, read the Stephen King novel or heard someone describe Carrie offhandedly, then you’re going to be absolutely shocked by this trailer for Kimberly Peirce‘s 2013 remake, which basically spells out the entire movie. Just in case though, here’s the drill: Carrie White (Chloe Moretz) is different. Saddled with an uber-religious, insane mother (Julianne Moore) who believes that women are all dirty, she dresses frumpy, doesn’t have friends, and is the butt of ridicule from the mean girls at school. Carrie soon discovers she has telekinetic powers, which really come in handy when those mean girls trick her into attending prom and humiliating her in front of the whole school. Jokes on them, right? Check out the new trailer below.

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Kick_Ass_2_13631944408678

If there’s any lingering doubt that The Bechdel Test is hopelessly out of date and no longer the standard by which films with even the slightest feminist lean (or, at the very least, films with a basic respect for the complexities of female characters) should be judged, Jeff Wadlow’s Kick-Ass 2 handily puts the final nail in that critical coffin. This week’s follow-up to Matthew Vaughn’s 2010 adaptation of the Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. comic book series is violent, vile, and ugly on its own, but the application of the so-called Bechdel test has the reverse effect that it should – the film passes, and it’s instantly even more violent, vile, and ugly. If you’re unfamiliar with the test, it’s simple enough to break down. First attributed to American cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985 via a character in her strip “Dykes to Watch Out For,” the Bechdel test originally had just three rules to determine whether or not a film (at the time, the test was only applied to the cinematic arts, though that’s changed over time) portrayed women in a diverse enough manner and didn’t possess a gender bias (which has often been interpreted as a test to see if a film has a feminist lean to it, though that was never its intent). Those rules are as such:  It has to have at least two women in it,  who talk to each other,  about something besides a man. The test now also regularly includes a fourth […]

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Kick Ass 2

After years of chatter and back and forth, Kick-Ass 2 is finally hitting screens later this summer, and Universal has unveiled a foul-mouthed (in the best way), bloody, and biting (no, truly biting, stick around for that one) red band trailer to show off their new sequel. What are we in for with this outing? Well, it’s clearly Hit-Girl’s (Chloe Grace Moretz) world, and we’re all just living in it (including Aaron Taylor-Johnson‘s eponymous Kick-Ass), even as Christopher Mintz-Plasse reveals his new persona as “The Motherfucker” and Jim Carrey stomps and chomps his way across the screen as Colonel Stars and Stripes. Put on your favorite superhero mask (don’t forget to align those eyeholes) and watch the new red band trailer for Kick-Ass 2 after the break.

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Drinking Games

Fans of the original Dark Shadows television series may not have been wild about the Tim Burton big-screen adaptation of the story, but those who like Burton’s many collaborations with Johnny Depp should be interested. Depp plays the legendary Barnabas Collins, who was turned into a vampire by a scorned witch. After returning home to his family home of Collinwood after being asleep for almost 200 years, he faces a new world of 1972 and his old adversary… in color! This vampire comedy hits Blu-ray and DVD this week, so you can check it out for better or for worse. At least you’ll be seeing it in the appropriately-themed month of October, rather than when it hit theaters in May.

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It’s hard to overstate just how amazing it is to consider a big-budget, major studio-produced 3D family adventure centered on Georges Méliès. Before now, the work of the early cinematic innovator, whose movies (most famously 1903’s A Trip to the Moon) revolutionized and advanced special effects, has been relegated to film history texts and brief snippets of televised specials. If there’s one filmmaker to make Méliès matter again, to introduce him to a mass audience, it’s Martin Scorsese. After all, the Oscar-winning legend is not just one of the foremost cinematic masters, as a noted film preservationist, he’s among the chief protectors of the long, glorious and frequently threatened legacy of the motion picture. In Hugo, Scorsese transforms the trappings of a 3D holiday picture into a loving tribute to Méliès and the earliest masters of the cinematic dream factory. From the structure of its narrative, to the details of its plot, and the industrialized nature of its majestic visuals, this is a film infused with the joy and wonder of movies. Set amid the glittering magic of Paris in the early 1930s, the film follows 12-year-old orphan Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), who secretly lives in a train station. Hugo, who winds the station’s clocks, dwells inside a labyrinthine interior comprised of enormous grinding gears, rising steam currents, and other elaborate metallic concoctions. Among the latter is a non-functioning automaton brought home by Hugo’s late father (Jude Law), which the young man works on incessantly in the hope that he can bring […]

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If you knew nothing about filmmaker Ami Canaan Mann going into Texas Killing Fields, her second feature directorial effort, you’d immediately pinpoint Michael Mann as a major influence. After all, the film is an atmospheric crime story rendered with rich cinematography and featuring characters with muddled motives. That the two are actually father-daughter hardly lessens the impact of the younger Mann’s work in creating this assured, moody police procedural. With a memorable Jeffrey Dean Morgan performance at its center, Texas Killing Fields boasts a human dimension that enhances the impact of its strong noir craft. The blackness engulfing the picture’s Texas City setting mirrors the tormented souls of detectives Brian Heigh (Morgan), a New York transplant, and hotheaded local boy Mike Sounder (Sam Worthington). The men are investigating a string of unsolved murders that have culminated in the bodies of teenage female victims being found in an oil field outside of town, which the locals have nicknamed the “killing fields.”

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Ani Canaan Mann’s second feature film, Texas Killing Fields, has had a somewhat long journey to the screen, and has gone through some slightly different incarnations, from involvement with other behind-the-camera talent (namely Danny Boyle) to the shorter, gentler title of The Fields. But with the film showing in competition at Venice, it looks like it may be smooth sailing from here on out. Despite a pretty standard true crime plotline, there’s something about Texas Killing Fields that has kept me intrigued for many months. Maybe it’s that the film’s cast is almost murderously good, as it includes Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sam Worthington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jessica Chastain, Stephen Graham, Jason Clarke, and Annabeth Gish. That’s got to be it.

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It’s fascinating that the director of Taxi Driver is the man who put this together. Martin Scorsese once again shows his versatility by tackling Hugo, an adaptation of the popular children’s novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” Interestingly, it look like he’s channeling Chris Columbus here with a healthy dose of Lemony Snicket. Yes, it looks fun and silly, but this trailer makes it look a bit too childish (and features far, far too much of Sacha Baron Cohen falling down and smashing into things Kevin James-style).

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published: 04.19.2014
A-
published: 04.19.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
C-
published: 04.18.2014
C

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