Scarlett Johansson

Film Review: Hail, Caesar!

by Chad Liffmann on February 5, 2016

A silly, subversive, colorful day in the life of a 1950s Hollywood studio fixer — as only the Coens can envision.

Channing Tatum the singing, dancing sailor.

Channing Tatum the singing, dancing sailor.

Expectations were high for Hail, Caesar! the new film from the modern great American filmmakers, Joel and Ethan Coen. Three years after their award-winning triple play of 2009’s A Serious Man, 2010’s True Grit, and 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis, the sparkling musical trailers for Hail, Caesar! began hitting the web, and suddenly Coen fever began spreading again. However, unlike the washed-out colors and quiet dramatic quality of the former titles, Hail, Caesar! seemed to promise bright colors, outlandish musical numbers, and an unbridled sense of fun. The question I found myself asking was — would Hail, Caesar! embrace the darkly comic bizarreness of early Coen films such as Raising Arizona and The Hudsucker Proxy, or the cynical chastisement of Hollywood in Barton Fink? Well, the answer is really ‘no’ to both. The most wonderful thing about Hail, Caesar! is that it has its own new brand of Coen humor, one of PG-13 lightweight, sarcastic and playful tones, but still filled to the brim with the filmmakers’ unparalleled attention to detail and love of subtle and not-so-subtle references.

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Not so much a movie as it is an issue of a comic book series drawn by a great artist.

Just one of the impressive splash pages from Age of Ultron

You’ve already decided if you’re seeing Avengers Age of Ultron. You are. Of course you are. Everybody who sees movies on a regular basis is seeing this movie, and you’re not making a bad decision. You’ll see things on screen that can only exist in the world of modern big budget comic book cinema. This means you’ll get the good with the bad. You’ll get some action scenes that are truly fun to look at, displaying true artistry from the stunt team, choreographers, and effects house. What you won’t get are the stakes that will make you truly feel these scenes.

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Film Review: Chef

Review by Gordon Elgart

This is one food truck you don't want to miss.

This is one food truck you don’t want to miss.

Jon Favreau writes, directs and stars in Chef, which is clearly a passion project about the passions of others. HIs main character, Chef Carl Casper, is a genius chef who’s been working for ten years in the restaurant of a man who does not appreciate genius chefs. One big night, a reviewer is coming to the restaurant to see what Chef Carl is making these days, and writes a scathing review which starts the events of the movie in motion. Chef Carl needs to put his life back together while balancing the relationship he has with his son, a child of his divorce.

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Captain America is in a post-Avengers world.

New suit.  New foe.  Same tude.

New suit. New foe. Same tude.

The surprise 2011 hit, Captain America: The First Avenger, succeeded because the iconic yet campy superhero received a modern injection of cinematic energy and solid storytelling.  The main reason for the Captain’s successful re-emergence into mainstream pop culture was the charisma and multi-generational appeal of actor Chris Evans.  Evans returns in his third stint as the star-spangled rescuer in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a film with another solid plot extracted from the Marvel universe, a fantastic grip on character arcs and relationships, and an epic sense of scale that, obviously, takes place in a post-Avengers universe.

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Film Review: Her

by Chad Liffmann on December 25, 2013

Cyber love is a many-splendored thing!

A future where someone looking like this (above) isn't creepy.

A future where someone looking like this (above) isn’t creepy.

Spike Jonze has delivered a cinematic gem once again, this time in the form of the incredibly touching, heartfelt, and honest, Her.  Her marks the first time Jonze has been the sole writer of one of his directorial efforts, and his remarkable talent is on full display.  There’s a lot of perspective and emotions to be gained from this simple story about the romantic relationship developed between a lonely writer and an operating system.  There are a lot of things that could’ve gone wrong, too, but all are avoided.  First and foremost, the glue that manages to bind all the odd and challenging (and borderline creepy) pieces together is its believability.  Thanks to Jonze’s poignant script and memorable performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson, Her bridges the gap between what we fear technology may become and an ideal version of what technology could accomplish, presented in the form of a romance more sincere than most romances dare to be.

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Film Review: Don Jon

by Chad Liffmann on September 27, 2013

A modern day romance with expectations to dash expectations.

Do Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson see eye to eye in 'Don Jon'?

Do Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson see eye to eye in ‘Don Jon’?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been acting for over twenty-five years.  It should come as no surprise that he’s finally decided to write and direct, and with his debut, Don Jon, it’s a shame he didn’t start sooner.  Hopefully this is just the first of many.  In our roundtable interview, Gordon-Levitt stated that his hopes were to capture a relationship that involved two people that “have these unrealistic expectations and keep missing each other.”  With his experience, Gordon-Levitt was no stranger to the expectations and unrealistic images that pop culture (specifically movies, television, and commercials) thrust upon young minds.  Using a very tight and clever script, and with pitch perfect performances from all involved, his goal is accomplished.  Don Jon is a brave and unique modern day romance.

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Spinning Platters Interview: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

September 24, 2013

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has exactly the air about him that you’d expect — polite, well-dressed, and charming as heck.  His latest film, Don Jon, which marks his debut as a writer and director, also stars Gordon-Levitt as a womanizing, body building, porn addict who begins a romantic relationship with a romantic, traditional, sexy young woman played by Scarlett […]

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Film Review: “The Avengers”

May 3, 2012

starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow written by: Joss Whedon (story and screenplay), Zak Penn (story) directed by: Joss Whedon MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a […]

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Film Review: “We Bought A Zoo”

December 23, 2011

starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning, Patrick Fugit, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, John Michael Higgins, J.B. Smoove written by: Cameron Crowe and Aline Brosh McKenna directed by: Cameron Crowe MPAA: Rated PG for language and some thematic elements.

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Spinning Platters Podcast: Episode 4 – Outside Lands Festival

August 27, 2009

Episode 4 of the Spinning Platters podcast is now available below, and in iTunes.  Dakin, Gordon and D.P. are joined on this episode by Carlos Rodela of Mevio.  You can see him weekly on Rad on the Web and Press Pause, or hear him below.  This week’s topics are: What we’ve been listening to Outside […]

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