“Live long and prosper” is the least that one could say about the Star Trek franchise. Over four decades have passed since the first incarnation of Gene Roddenberry’s brainchild. The original series, known for it’s cheese and moral pomp, ran a mere three seasons, but nonetheless inspired eleven movies, five television series, countless books, toys, videogames and, above all, generations of space enthusaists and geeks. Daunting, then, is the task of re-introducing the classic characters onto the big screen. Thankfully, director and television impresario J.J. Abrams rises to the occasion to make Star Trek (it’s actually the first film to bear that name alone) not only a welcome addition, but an inspired thrill-ride which really kicks summer 2009 into gear.
Unlike some other 2009 blockbuster, screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have crafted a legitimate origin story for the franchise. The film opens with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock as children on their respective planets showing a distinct promise of greatness. Over the years, the Star Trek galaxy has become so vast that the characters within it seem to have shrunk in stature, considered more to be model citizens of the Federation than anything more. By focusing on the early years of these two shipmates, Mr. Abrams is emphasizing that Kirk, Spock and their cohorts are not the norm; they are extraordinary; they are superheroes. Continue reading at the candler blog.
Drugs, guns, vulgarity and rims are just the tip of the pigeonholed iceberg that is Benny Boom’s feature debut, Next Day Air; but what this little caper has that so many other films of a similar ilk lack is heart, and lots of it.
The improbable story follows ten bricks of cocaine from a formidable drug dealer in Calexico, California to his dispatcher in Philadelphia by way of an overnight delivery service, Next Day Air. Donald Faison, of Scrubs fame, plays Leo Jackson, a chronically stoned delivery man for the fictitious company, whose mind is so clouded on the job that he delivers the coke to apartment 302 instead of 303, setting events in motion. The drugs end up in the hands of fledgling criminals Guch, Brody and Hassie instead of the diminutive yet feisty Jesus, who prefers to be called “Gee-sus” rather than “Hay-zoos”. While Hassie is sleeping on the couch, as he is for the most of the film, Guch and Brody, played with an incredible balance of humor and charisma by Wood Harris and Mike Epps, respectively, hatch a plan to sell the dope to Brody’s cousin, Shavoo, before the rightful owners get wise to the mistake. Think of it like True Romance but without white people and set in Philly. Continue reading at the candler blog.
Sitting down to consider an entire series of X-Men (X-People?) Origins films, I am reminded of Chaucer, the Middle English scribe whose death kept him from completing nearly 100 promised stories in The Canterbury Tales. With any luck, I’ll be long dead before anyone tries to make another installment in this franchise with the same foolhardy bravado that director Gavin Hood and his team have brought to X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
The film opens with a hint of promise in northwestern Canada in 1845. A sickly young James Logan, who is to become our Wolverine, accidentally kills his biological father (who had just killed his adopted father!) with his newly discovered retractable bone claws and runs off to the woods. There, another boy, Victor, who we just learned is in fact James’s brother, is waiting. They run off together, promising never to separate and to never go back.
As it turns out, Victor is a mutant just like James. He will grow up to become who X-heads will recognize as Sabretooth, though filmgoers will never know that as he is never bestowed a fabulous nom de guerre as our hunky Logan is (Wolverine, rawr). Since their main power is the ability to cheat death, they live on through history, though oddly, United States history. For whatever reason, these two mutant Canucks fight in every major U.S. war of the last two centuries. This confusion is compounded by the question: if they are immortal, why did they choose to stay thirty-five forever? Normally I might gloss over these niggles, but this is an origin story after all; these are the questions we need answers to. Continue reading at the candler blog.
A solid if unoriginal indie flick with moving performances and a tight, quirky script is what I had hoped to see at the movies. Instead, I saw Sunshine Cleaning, which plays like an idea trying desperately hard to find a story.
The film follows Rose Lorkowski, played by Amy Adams, a down on her luck single mother in Albuquerque who makes ends meat by cleaning houses. Rose’s sister, Norah, is a former punk-kid who never grew up, can’t hold down a job, and lives with their idiosyncratic father, played with respectable charm by Alan Arkin. When Rose’s police officer boyfriend, who is married, tells her how much money there is to be made in cleaning up messy crime scenes, a lightbulb goes off and the tiny glint of a plot begins to form. Of course, the two sisters start a business cleaning up crime scenes while dealing with their own emotional hangups.
Duplicity opens quietly at an embassy soirée in Dubai. Clive Owen barely approaches Julia Roberts at the margherita table when we are thrust into this svelte little caper. Director Tony Gilroy, still glowing from the success of Michael Clayton, returns with his crack team (we’ll get to them) to create what this humble critic believes is the best major release of 2009 so far.
Mr. Owen and Ms. Roberts play Ray Koval and Claire Stenwick, two former state spies who take corporate intel positions at competing household products firms, Equikrom and Burkett & Randle (B & R). When B & R leaks the existence of a top secret project, the game is on to see who can get to the spoils first. That is really all I can put down here to keep the film interesting for you, so let’s dive into the meat of it. Keep Reading at the candler blog.