Best of 2013

Oh What a Rush

by Alan Rapp on September 27, 2013

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Rush
  • IMDB: link

RushEven more than winners and losers, championship runs and crushing defeats, sports are defined by rivalries. In Rush, director Ron Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, Hereafter, The Queen) turn their attention to Formula One and the mid-1970s rivalry between two upstarts whose competition eventually would make them both world champions.

The stark contrast in the two characters and the drama of the season screams Hollywood sports film, and I’m a little surprised it has taken this long for their story to find its way to the big screen. Without the backing of his family Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) bought his way into Formula One with a prickly personality and an unparalleled knowledge of getting the best out of his car. Lauda’s main competition came from the charming but flighty James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) who despite lacking Lauda’s single-mindedness made up for it in his own self-absorbed recklessness and resolve to prove he could beat anyone on a race track.

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The Bling Ring

by Alan Rapp on June 21, 2013

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Bling Ring
  • IMDb: link

The Bling RingBased on real events in late 2008 and through most of 2009, writer/director Sofia Coppola‘s latest film takes a look at a group of teenagers from Calabasas, California who burglarized several Hollywood celebrities with the help of tabloid and gossip blogs (which told the gang when the celebrities would be out of town) and the stars themselves (as many left their homes defenseless, not even bothering to lock doors and windows). The group would come to be known as the Hollywood Hills Burglars or The Bling Ring.

Although the film spends time with all the members of the group, the primary focus is on Rebecca (Katie Chang), the instigator of the robberies, and her best friend Marc (Israel Broussard), a shy gay teen willing to do nearly anything for his first real best friend. The group also includes Chloe (Claire Julien), a friend with the criminal connections to help the Bling Ring fence some of their stolen merchandise, and the homeschooled threesome of Nicki (Emma Watson), her younger sister Emily (Georgia Rock), and her adopted sister Sam (Taissa Farmiga).

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Before Midnight

by Alan Rapp on June 14, 2013

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Before Midnight
  • IMDB: link

Before MidnightIn 1995 Richard Linklater and stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy collaborated on a small independent film which centered around a burgeoning romance between an American man and French woman on the final day of his European vacation before flying home the next morning. Set against the backdrop of Vienna, Before Sunrise is the kind of movie romance, centered on two people meeting and falling love and honestly discussing their feelings, beliefs, and desires, that Hollywood has long since given up trying to make in favor of the type of contrived romantic comedies Katherine Heigl and Kate Hudson are known for. It’s also the beginning of one of the least probable movie franchises ever conceived.

Nine years after making the original film, which ended with Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) parting ways with plans to reconnect in the near future, Linklater reconnected with his two stars and put out a sequel set in real time as the two star-crossed lovers reconnected for an afternoon on the streets of Paris in Before Sunset before Jesse was scheduled to fly back home that night.

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Spring Breakers

by Alan Rapp on March 22, 2013

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Spring Breakers
  • IMDB: link

Spring BreakersHarmony Korine is a divisive filmmaker whose themes and characters are often are far more complicated then they initially appear but whose detractors often point to his limitless self-indulgence and gleeful exploration of his young stars; you shouldn’t expect anything less from the writer/director’s latest, Spring Breakers.

Korine knew exactly what he was doing in casting three attractive young Disney and ABC Family actresses (Selena GomezVanessa HudgensAshley Benson) to star along with his wife (Rachel Korine) in this tale of four thrill-seeking college students and their week of danger and debauchery over spring break.

The director is certainly exploiting each of the young women’s good-girl image to make the movie more titillating (which, despite the four young leads spending nearly the entire time in bikinis, it’s really not) while allowing each actress a chance to push outside the limits of kinds of roles they are usually known for.

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