24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Patrick Kevin Day

Will the world end on May 21? Not according to 'The Terminator'

May 20, 2011 |  1:48 pm

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People seemingly everywhere are a little curious to see what will happen on May 21, the day when Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping says the end of the world will begin.

Knowing-promo Some are preparing for the worst. But if you're a student of pop culture, you can rest easy, knowing that May 21 isn't the real end of the world. That's coming Dec. 21, 2012, according to the great prophet Roland Emmerich. Or perhaps it's March 24, 1982, as foreseen in "The Omen" movies. But that date has already passed, so how could that be? And let's not even get started on the "Terminator" films, which have predicted the end of the world on no less than three different dates.

As you can see from this gallery of Hollywood doomsday hits, it's always best to say the end of the world is coming "soon."

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--Patrick Kevin Day

 Photo: Scene from "Terminator Salvation." Credit: Warner Bros.


'Titanic' 3-D gets an April 2012 release date; what's the next film classic to make the 3-D leap? [Poll]

May 19, 2011 | 12:57 pm

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James Cameron's 3-D overhaul of his recently dethroned box-office record-holder "Titanic" now has a release date -- one that will resonate nicely with fans of sunken luxury liners. The film will be back in theaters on April 6 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Titanic's maiden (and only) voyage that left England on April 10, 1912.

Cameron's 1997 big-boat romance was the highest-grossing film until he topped himself in 2010 with "Avatar." "Titanic" will have to gross another $1 billion worldwide to reclaim the crown from "Avatar," but to sweeten the experience for fans, Cameron and his team have completely reworked the film using the same 3-D technology they used on "Avatar."

The 3-D "Titanic" will come two months after release of the 3-D overhaul of the first of the "Star Wars" films, "The Phantom Menace," on Feb. 10.

Now the only question remains: How long before we get "The Godfather" in glorious 3-D?

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--Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: A lifeboat escapes from the sinking Titanic in a scene from "Titanic." Credit: Paramount


Critical Mass: 'Bridesmaids' gets to one-up the bride

May 13, 2011 |  4:07 pm

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This may be touted as the summer of superheroes, but it appears the female-centric "Bridesmaids" is about to dominate the season's opening.

One year ago this month brought us the release of "Sex and the City 2" and a firestorm of critics tearing down the iconic images of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda and lamenting the perceived death of the female-driven comedy as summer tentpole.

This year, we get "Bridesmaids," a wedding comedy that's more likely to bow at the porcelain altar than the altar of Manolo Blahnik. And judging by critical reaction, it's a ride into potty humor that critics are more than ready to take.

The Times' Betsy Sharkey rejoices at the idea of an R-rated comedy from the female perspective:  "For the Mars crowd, that means real people in real relationships, real raunchy, real funny. Thank you, Kristen Wiig, for every single one of those old-school Rs."

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Critical Mass: 'Thor' swings his hammer and the critics scream

May 6, 2011 |  2:55 pm

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Bridges are the key theme of this weekend's "Thor," a film that bridges us from the doldrums of spring releases to the flashier, if not better, world of summer blockbusters. It also serves as another step in the bridge from the first "Iron Man" in 2008 to next summer's superhero all-star jam, "The Avengers." And within the film itself, a superhero actioner about the Norse god of thunder and his adventures in his home of Asgard and on Earth, a rainbow bridge connects the well-regarded Asgard sections of the film with the less successful Earth sections, set in Puente Antiguo, N.M. (which means "Old Bridge").

According to Times critic Kenneth Turan, the film also attempts to bridge director Kenneth Branagh's high-minded Shakespearean intentions with Marvel Entertainment's bottom-line-oriented need to crank out entertainment product. However, Turan doesn't exactly see it as a bridge: "Think of 'Thor' as the ultimate Superhero Smackdown." Surprisingly, he finds no winner. Both titanic forces fight to a draw in his estimation. He writes, " 'Thor' has its strengths, but it is finally something of a mishmash with designs on being more interesting than it manages to be."

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Critical Mass: 'Water for Elephants' fails to please all of the critics, all of the time

April 22, 2011 |  1:22 pm

Water-elephants1 "Old-fashioned" is the phrase critics are using most often to describe "Water for Elephants," the big-screen adaptation of Sara Gruen's bestselling novel starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. Because film critics are notorious for constantly bemoaning the current state of cinema, you'd think this would mean they'd be lapping up this "Water" like a herd of thirsty elephants. Instead, they're lukewarm about the adult romance and are even more skeptical about heartthrob Pattinson's chops outside his "Twilight" vampire franchise machine.

The Times' Kenneth Turan, who helpfully spells out the changes between the novel and the film adaptation, was particularly enchanted by the setting. He writes, "The romance of the carnival is strong in this film, and it's not too much to say that it's the element viewers will come away remembering most." He takes a less starry-eyed view of the supposed romance at the heart of the movie: "Director Francis Lawrence, who works in music videos as well as features, has an unmistakable gift for bravura spectacle, but the absence of convincing romantic chemistry means that the emotional connection that should be this film's birthright is not really there."

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Critical Mass: 'Arthur' stumbles, but not because he's drunk

April 8, 2011 |  2:31 pm

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The critics are not being kind to "Arthur," the remake of the 1980s comedy starring Dudley Moore as a lovable New York City millionaire and bumbling drunk. The new film stars Mr. Katy Perry himself, Russell Brand, as the bumbling drunk and changes the gender of his butler to a woman (Sir John Gielgud in the original; Dame Helen Mirren in the remake), but despite this crucial bit of recasting, it's the changes in our views toward alcoholism over the years that are really getting the critics going.

Times critic Betsy Sharkey thinks the script for the "Arthur" remake has been too cleaned up. Which is shocking, considering that it was written by one of the guys behind the very politically incorrect "Borat" in 2006. Even so, Sharkey writes, "The sanitizing is handled so artlessly it seems driven by fear of offending rather than by any true cultural sensitivity. So, for the addiction crowd there's a new AA story line."

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'Insidious' becomes a scary hit for the 'Saw' guys

April 4, 2011 |  2:30 pm

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Australian filmmaker James Wan and his collaborator, screenwriter and actor Leigh Whannell, were flying high back in 2004, when their low-budget horror flick "Saw" become a box office sensation and began spawning annual entries into the horror-torture film derby. Unfortunately, their big studio follow-up, "Dead Silence," proved a dud commercially and critically.

This weekend, the duo came roaring back with the success of their ghostly thriller "Insidious," which returned them to their low-budget roots (it cost roughly $1.5 million to produce) and raked in more than $13 million at the box office in its first weekend. So will we be seeing "Insidious" sequels every year? It's too soon to say, but Wan and Whannell did talk about the origins of this film in a Q&A on Hero Complex. The team discussed everything from their ghostly actor in drag to their red-faced demon who likes to wear lipstick. For those who haven't seen "Insidious" yet, beware: There are a few minor spoilers there.

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— Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: One of the many ghostly visions from "Insidious." Photo credit: FilmDistrict.


Critical Mass: 'Source Code' pleases almost everyone

April 1, 2011 |  6:17 pm

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Finally, after what's seemed like months of real stinkers or movies with mixed receptions, we have something (nearly) everyone can agree is worth seeing: Duncan Jones' science-fiction thriller "Source Code."

The British director's follow-up to his debut science-fiction feature, "Moon," sends a U.S. Army captain, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, into the final eight minutes in the life of a train bombing victim over and over again on a mission to discover who planted the bomb.

The Times' Kenneth Turan seemed dubious of the premise, calling it the sci-fi thriller version of "Groundhog Day," but he winds up spreading the praise all around. "It may sound like a version of hell for moviegoers to have those eight minutes on a train replayed over and over and over again, half a dozen times at least, but the film has come up with a surprising number of variations on that theme," he writes. "Far from making 'Source Code' dull, those repetitions add to the tension as we wonder what Stevens will do next and how that choice will play out."

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Exclusive clip: Kim Cattrall brings sex to the trailer park in 'Meet Monica Velour'

March 28, 2011 |  5:20 pm

We've grown so accustomed to seeing Kim Cattrall tarted up in the New York fashion world's latest as Samantha in the "Sex and the City" movies that it's a bit of a shock to see her dressed like a normal person. But that's exactly how she appears in this clip from the upcoming comedy "Meet Monica Velour," opening April 8.

Cattrall plays Monica Velour, '80s-era porn star turned trailer park single mom, who has been reduced to stripping in grimy clubs across America's heartland to make ends meet. But that kind of tough reality doesn't mean much to geeky Tobe, played by Dustin Ingram, who seeks her out and eventually befriends her.

The film has been playing the film festival circuit since premiering at the Tribeca Film Fest last spring, where it recieved better than average reviews.

In this exclusive clip, young Tobe gets to see a bit of the salty reality by behind his adolescent fantasies.

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-- Patrick Kevin Day


Critical Mass: 'The Lincoln Lawyer' keeps his shirt on (mostly)

March 18, 2011 | 12:53 pm

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OK, first the bad news: Matthew McConaughey keeps his shirt on for most of "The Lincoln Lawyer's" running time. (There is a brief bit of shirtlessness, but it's certainly not as notable as the actor's previous efforts.) Now, the good news: After a long run in the cinematic romantic comedy wasteland of "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" and "Fool's Gold," McConaughey has decided to star in a real movie and is getting some of the best reviews he's seen in years. In fact, based on the reviews of this film, it seems Matthew McConaughey is nigh invincible.

The Times' Betsy Sharkey had her problems with the film overall, but she lays those problems at the feet of screenwriter John Romano, who adapted mystery writer Michael Connelly's novel about a Los Angeles attorney who prefers to work out of the back of his chauffeured Lincoln Town Car. As for McConaughey, she has nothing but praise: " 'Lincoln's' saving grace is the way McConaughey manages to be magnetic against all odds. In Mick, there is a maturity not seen in his other work, a more nuanced performance as the actor exposes the uncertainty inside the smooth sarcasm, the decency behind the grifter's smile. If only we could have seen more of that, even with his shirt on."

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