James Cromwell

Sylvester Stallone’s upcoming all-star action extravaganza The Expendables 2 is currently in the midst of a mass scale marketing blitz that recently motored on with the release of its final official poster over at Yahoo! Movies (check out a larger version after the break). Just look at all those big names standing next to each other and try to tell me that it doesn’t get you excited for the possibility of seeing them kick ass on the same screen. These guys are the biggest badasses in movie history, without question, and just the idea of seeing JCVD finally going toe-to-toe with Chuck Norris is enough to make one salivate. But what’s with the name of this franchise? The Expendables? Hardly. These rich old men are anything but, as their films have basically made all the money the action genre has brought in over the last three decades. To paint them as some sort of rag-tag team of underdogs is just downright disingenuous. If rooting for the little guy is your cup of tea, however, then boy do I have an appealing B-team of action badasses for you. Meet the Soldiers of Fortune:

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The aptly titled Hide Away (previously titled A Year In Mooring) is a quiet film that lives up to its name and premiered at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival where I called it a “meditation, intended to be slow and dwell in the melancholy.” Telling the story of an unnamed man (Josh Lucas) who hopes working to rebuild a rundown sailboat will also work to rebuild his own life, the film takes hold of you slowly, almost like grief itself. Plagued by a serious loss and struggling through that frustrating and undefined mourning period, Lucas truly embodies a man who has seemingly lost everything, but is still working to find his way back. I have long championed the talents of Lucas and this exclusive clip features his natural ability to take a simple scene and imbue it with a sense of heart and charm despite the pain his character is clearly carrying on his shoulders. Paired with accomplished actor James Cromwell, featured here as a more weathered mariner, Lucas steps up to the plate and it is their scenes together (and their shared sense of mourning) that were some of my favorites in the film.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr pulls out his screening schedule, which looks like a gambling addict’s racing form. He bounces from huge, mainstream releases to minor indie award contenders. Facing motion-capture CGI, tattooed bisexual investigators, cross-dressing waiters, silent film actors, and a lead star who is literally hung like a horse, Kevin tries to make sense of the seemingly countless releases this holiday week. Exhaustion from this process makes it impossible to buy a zoo or face the 3D end of the world, but his movie stocking is full, nonetheless.

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Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist is not only a throw back to the days before people spoke in films; it almost makes you wonder why we ever added sound in the first place. Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo shine as the film’s two leads able to say more with a look or a soft shoe than most of us can in 140 characters. Filmed in stunning black-and-white, The Artist takes us back to a time when men wore suits, women wore hats and a simple dance could lead to love. The movie tells the story of silent film star George Valentin (Dujardin) and how his world and career are threatened when sound and talking are introduced into art form. At the same time, aspiring actress Peppy Miller (Bejo) finds herself the sudden face of this new style of filmmaking with her star rising as George’s falls. After a chance encounter at one of George’s film premieres, Peppy wins a role as an extra on his next film (much to George’s surprise and delight). It is clear Peppy is a natural star from the start with a contagious personality and bright eyes that play right to the camera. Audiences quickly fall in love with the new starlet, and they are clearly not the only ones.

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It feels like every year when The Weinsteins are pushing, shoving, and clambering for Oscars, everyone responds, “Really? That movie? It was good, but… really?” This year, that will not be the case. If a viewer doesn’t get a goofy smile planted on their face during Michel Hazanavicius‘ The Artist, then something is probably wrong with them. Their brains must not be ticking right, they could very well be part monster, or perhaps their hearts are missing up their cynical *expletives*. Why would that be? Because The Artist oozes with undeniable charm.

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On paper, Michel Hazanavicius‘s The Artist looks a fairly difficult sell. Tell anyone you’re off to see a black and white, silent movie that runs over 90 minutes long and they might look at you with a mix of pity and downright confusion, and it will probably take a Herculean effort by Warner Brothers and The Weinstein Company to convince audiences to come out to see it. But make no mistake, the film is as good as any cinematic experience gets, and will have a far more lasting effect on the world of film than any bloated 3D “epic” that screens out here. The Artist is an infinitely charming, and incredibly clever homage to the Golden Age of silent film: as authentic and believable as if it were made circa 1927, right from the opening credits which are so subtly unquestionable that you’re immediately gripped by the glamour and romance of the era, before we’ve even met a character. When we do, it’s Jean Dujardin’s George Valentin, an intoxicatingly charming mega-star of the silent period, who has the whole Hollywood world on their knees before him – the film subsequently charts his peek, before the advent of the talkies arrives, and he finds himself cast out overnight in favor of the new breed of speaking stars. Along the way he meets Berenice Bejo’s Peppy Miller, a wannabe who miraculously finds her way to stardom when she bumps into George during a photo shoot, and takes her fate in her own hands to […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr horses around this week with the legendary racehorse from the 1970s, hoping he too can go home with Diane Lane. After racing out to see Secretariat, he wonders if Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel would be anything more than a pretty couple. Then he gets down on his knees and prays: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I beg you skip My Soul to Take.”.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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