Pearl Harbor

Michael Bay

When a Transformers film or Bad Boys II washes over its audience with gigantic, thunderous popcorn-scented waves, they know the man behind those tsunamis. No, it isn’t Poseidon, but someone even more mythic and powerful: director Michael Bay. He is one of the most successful auteurs working today, and mass audiences love visiting the worlds he presents to them through the colorful, bombastic prism of Awesome. They connect to his movies, but maybe not for the obvious reasons. A Michael Bay picture is many, many things. The global showman has made his career off shiny money shots, a broad sense of humor, solid on-screen pairings, well-orchestrated chaos, and much more. We all know a Bay creation when we see it, and much of that comes from the mind’s more subconscious, inner workings. Bay doesn’t necessarily repeat himself, but there are reoccurring details which appear in most his movies, all of which further his status as an auteur. Since an auteur is generally labeled as a filmmaker with a “strong personal style,” even Bay’s harshest critics should admit he has personality and a well-established brand, whether they like his particular brand or not. The director’s newest movie, the abrasively entertaining Pain & Gain, carries on those trademark signatures in many ways. It’s not the explosions which make him an auteur, it’s the little things that make his human stories more meaningful than what we see from most blockbuster directors. Michael Bay a true visionary auteur, and here’s why:

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the rock shower massacre

Given all the positive buzz we’re hearing for Pain & Gain, Michael Bay could very well have his first critical hit since 1996 when the movie opens this Friday. And it might just be an even fresher tomato than the lonely red orb affixed to The Rock seen here. Interestingly enough, this new release stars someone named The Rock, further proving that Dwayne Johnson isn’t just franchise viagra but also a kind of Hollywood miracle in general these days. Not that Bay has been struggling as far as the industry is concerned. At all. It’s not important for us to defend the quality of Bay’s movies. They are what they are. Some are more entertaining than others. Most fulfill a certain demand by audiences for action, broad humor and flag-waving. And occasionally they do surprise us, especially in times when our expectations are at their lowest — or simply on that horizon to which we anticipate his work, neither high nor low, just there. We do enjoy some of it. Maybe not even whole films but individual bits. So, this week’s Scenes We Love highlights six favorite moments. And as usual we invite you to share your own picks.

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The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  There are two films in particular that I thought about while watching Hyde Park on Hudson, the new historical film about an alleged love affair between President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Murray) and distant cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley (Laura Linney). Three films if you count Rushmore, due to the reunion of Murray and Olivia Williams, who plays First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and the much-talked-about scene depicting a handjob in a car (not a bloody Jaguar, unfortunately), but I don’t consider this one to be an ingredient in the same way. The two that I do think of as more content-based precursors are Dave and The King’s Speech. Regarding the former, I’m surely highlighting the wrong film as an earlier instance of a leader and his wife who are all but legally separated behind closed doors, the wife fully aware of the husband’s mistresses. But Dave does involve the POTUS and First Lady, and Williams’s Eleanor did remind me at times of Sigourney Weaver’s character in the 1993 doppelganger comedy. There are very likely other dramas of adulterous true stories that relate more to the overall plot of Hyde Park. I haven’t seen the JFK-mistress movie An American Affair, which might more closely fit. But given that I really despised every moment […]

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ActorsAvoidList

With Bill Nighy’s claim that he doesn’t like watching himself in movies, I figured I’d take the opportunity to suggest the practice to a few other actors. But it’s not exactly what you think.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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