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2015 NBCUNIVERSAL PRESS TOUR

Noah Bean, Emily Hampshire, Amanda Schull, Barbara Sukowa and Aaron Stanford - 2015 NBCUNIVERSAL PRESS TOUR at The Langham Huntington Hotel - Pasadena, California, United States - Thursday 15th January 2015

Emily Hampshire
Emily Hampshire
Emily Hampshire
Emily Hampshire
Emily Hampshire

Celebrities attend NBCUniversal's 2014 Summer TCA Tour - Day 2 - Arrivals

Aaron Stanford - Celebrities attend NBCUniversal's 2014 Summer TCA Tour - Day 2 - Arrivals at THE Beverly Hilton Hotel. - Beverly Hills, California, United States - Monday 14th July 2014

Aaron Stanford

Picture - Aaron Stanford Burbank, California, Saturday 10th September 2011

Aaron Stanford Saturday 10th September 2011 The CW's Premiere Party held at Warner Bros. Studios Lot Burbank, California

The Cake Eaters Review


Grim
The Cake Eaters reminds me of what an IFC Original Soap Opera might look like. All of the characters are loosely interconnected in some non-specific small-town setting, and the individual stories so deliberately exist on separate planes that the film can never possibly attain coherence. It is episodic, melodramatic, and oddly tepid -- all of the emotions seem propelled by the disingenuous desire to make an Enlightening Indie Drama. Surely the film wants to be a thoughtful, profound emo-weepie, but it contains all the insight of a Hallmark Movie of the Week.

The film tells the very simple story of how three generations of men deal with the death of one woman, their mother (for two) and wife (for one). Aaron Stanford is the twentysomething slacker who works in a high school cafeteria and is very protective of his deceased mom. Bruce Dern plays the aging father who carries on a long-term affair with a local shopkeeper (Elizabeth Ashley). Jayce Bartok is the elder son, a struggling musician who returns home when he hears the sad news, apparently just to look morose as he walks around town.

Continue reading: The Cake Eaters Review

Live Free or Die Review


Weak
It never occurred to me that the state motto of New Hampshire might be used as the title of a black comedy, and sure enough this wryly dark flick (tagline: "From 2 of the writers of Seinfeld") is a hit-and-miss proposition.

With the distinct aura of a plot that might have been dreamed up over bong hits, writer/directors Gregg Kavet and Andy Robin cobble together a seriously strange and only ocassionally compelling look at the hero myth, updated for COPS era. Said hero is John "Rugged" Rudgate (Aaron Stanford, best known as Pyro in X-Men 2 and 3), an utter loser whose primary source of income is scraping UPC labels from bottles of gin at the local liquor store and mailing them in for rebates. He fashions himself an outlaw and a gangster, but even his plan to sell trucking school diplomas can't earn much more than beer money. With a wreck of a van and various scams costing more than they bring in, he tries to weasel into the U-Lock storage shed business of old friend Lagrand (Paul Schneider), fashioning himself as an elite security guard.

Continue reading: Live Free or Die Review

Winter Solstice Review


Grim
The plot in Winter Solstice is more of a subplot, never mind a feature length movie. And that's one of the many problems in writer/director Josh Sternfeld's sluggish account of a New Jersey family under stress.

Anthony LaPaglia plays Jim Winters, a widower living with his two sons, Gabe (Aaron Stanford), a hard-working young man; and Pete (Mark Webber), a teenager who can't get his act together. The three are a tight unit, but the bond between them strains when Gabe suddenly announces he's moving to Florida and Pete faces yet another stint at summer school.

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The Hills Have Eyes (2006) Review


Good
The Hills Have Eyes is a truly American horror film. Like Manifest Destiny gone horribly awry, the film reflects our obsession with the danger of the West: Its forbidden, desolate landscapes, the rugged masochism it inspires. For Americans, the West is a place where anything can and does happen. And in The Hills Have Eyes our nastiest nightmares are bloodily realized.

Wes Craven's brutal 1977 micro-budgeted The Hills Have Eyes was a post-hippie scream of horror, both at the collapse of the youth-led revolution and the dreadfulness of the Vietnam War. Craven turned his eye to home, to the desolate stretches of vast American desert where he could posit a family of bloodthirsty mutants preying on those who stumble onto their fallout abode, and it could almost (almost) seem plausible. With a world of misery at large, how strange would it be to find murderous maniacs in our own backyard? Sure, the original film suffers from some notably outré moments and jagged pacing, but Craven succeeded in bringing a grimly gleeful sense of humor to what was essentially a Texas Chainsaw Massacre riff.

Continue reading: The Hills Have Eyes (2006) Review

Rick Review


OK
An update of Rigoletto as seen through the pen of the author of the Lemony Snicket books, Rick is mean-spirited and cruel, and borderline delicious. Bill Pullman is on target as the title character, a widower who plays a fierce game in the business world but who is really just a lackey for his even-bigger prick of a boss, Buck. But the real revelation here is Agnes Bruckner, turning in a nuanced performance as Buck's undersexed yet amazingly hot daughter, worlds away from her dormouse role in Blue Car, seen just a year earlier.

Winter Solstice Review


Grim
The plot in Winter Solstice is more of a subplot, never mind a feature length movie. And that's one of the many problems in writer/director Josh Sternfeld's sluggish account of a New Jersey family under stress.

Anthony LaPaglia plays Jim Winters, a widower living with his two sons, Gabe (Aaron Stanford), a hard-working young man; and Pete (Mark Webber), a teenager who can't get his act together. The three are a tight unit, but the bond between them strains when Gabe suddenly announces he's moving to Florida and Pete faces yet another stint at summer school.

Continue reading: Winter Solstice Review

Spartan Review


Extraordinary
What is the man behind such parlor-room films as The Winslow Boy and House of Games doing directing an explosive military thriller, complete with airdrops and sniper rifles? And starring Val Kilmer? Trust me: Give Spartan ten minutes, and you'll stop asking such stupid questions.

David Mamet's latest project is far from conventional fare, and ultimately that works in his favor. From the opening scene, where two soldiers pursue each other through a jungle, Mamet keeps us guessing. What kind of movie are we watching? Within about 10 minutes, the bones of the story are made clear: the president's daughter (Kristen Bell) has been kidnapped from her dorm room, and the Secret Service pulls out all the stops to get her back. That includes recruiting special operations soldier Robert Scott (Val Kilmer), an uncannily capable military man who's as intuitive with people and motives as he is skilled with weapons.

Continue reading: Spartan Review

X2: X-Men United Review


Good
The mutants are back in town in the first big sequel of 2003 -- a year that promises at least a half-dozen Brand Name Sequels (nearly all of which, surprisingly, I'm anxious to see). X2 probably won't be the best of the bunch, but it certainly isn't the worst. Like the original X-Men, the sequel is a lot of good, clean fun, full of vibrancy and memorable comic book antics, but ultimately it's a bit of a letdown due to too many squandered opportunities and an exhausting running time.

X2 picks up an indeterminate amount of time after the original ended. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, looking strangely clean cut) is still trying to figure out his past. Magneto (Ian McKellan) is trapped in his plastic prison. And Jean Gray (Famke Janssen) is having bad dreams about something wicked coming on the horizon.

Continue reading: X2: X-Men United Review

Tadpole Review


Excellent
When you're young, it seems all you want is to be older - whether it's finally to be allowed to stay up late, to go out to a bar, or just to be taken seriously. In Oscar's case, it's just to be desirable.

All of Oscar Grubman's (Aaron Stanford) prep school friends - including best friend Charlie (Robert Iler of Sopranos fame) - tell him that he's a 40-year-old trapped in a 15-year-old's body. Instead of feeding on pop culture and pop music, Oscar spends his time quoting Voltaire and listening to opera. Think of him as a Max Fisher minus the bullshit. He strives to be cultured and sophisticated well beyond his years, and girls his age just don't cut the gouda.

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Spartan Review


OK

David Mamet's "Spartan" is Tom Clancy without the pop-literature pretense. It's "24" for those who like more of a cerebral challenge -- a tense, tightly paced political action-thriller with provocatively elusive twists that don't feel contrived for shock value.

It's a movie in which intellect trumps exposition to the point that most of the characters aren't clearly identified, making all of them seem more shadowy and dangerous. The story counts on your ability to think for yourself and draw your own conclusions about evidence trails, incidents, alibis, motives and intentions -- then pulls those conclusions out from under you more than once with substantial surprises that make you think even harder. And it has a palpable atmosphere of pressure-cooker urgency, kept doggedly in check by government agents for whom eye-on-the-prize callousness is compulsory.

Val Kilmer stars as a terse military espionage operative called in by the Secret Service to work with a clandestine team searching for a missing -- likely abducted -- First Daughter before the headline-hungry press gets wind of the notoriously rebellious girl's disappearance.

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Rick Review


OK

Demonstrating that his unique creativity as a writer extends beyond darkly humorous kids' books, in "Rick," Daniel Handler of "Lemony Snicket" fame delves into something more dastardly and grown-up -- an extremely dark comedy adapted from Giuseppe Verdi's tragic opera "Rigoletto" and set in an almost surreal, cut-throat corporate world.

Bill Pullman, who always makes interesting choices when he makes independent films, stars as Rick O'Lette, an aging, career-stalled middle manager who "used to be a nice guy." Now a callous, seething sycophant -- whose own brashness is subservient to a cocky, serpentine young-gun executive (succulently sleazy Aaron Stanford) -- Rick is lured into a murder plot, designed to clear his path to a corner office. A mysteriously au fait old college classmate (charming, matter-of-factly malevolent Dylan Baker) approaches him in some tecnho-Orwellian bar and hints that he makes a seemingly respectable living (with business cards and everything) in the snuff trade and takes advantage of Rick's animosity and ambition.

Director Curtiss Clayton (an acclaimed editor making his helming debut) puts the weight of this strange world on Rick's shoulders, with the mahogany walls of his baroque office closing in on him, and long-dead bigwigs glaring down from musty oil paintings which now hang over desk cubicles and flat-screen computers. And yet Clayton has an ironically light touch with Handler's very black wit, giving the film an alluring pitch of unsettling laughs throughout the ill-fated events that soon unfold.

Continue reading: Rick Review

Tadpole Review


OK

Home from boarding school for Thanksgiving holiday with unruly hormones and a festering Oedipal jones for his 40-something stepmom, idiosyncratic 15-year-old Manhattan sophisticate Oscar Grubman is having a hard time coping with life.

Versed in the classics, a voracious reader of Voltaire, fluent in French and tortured by his own high expectations, he doesn't have much use for girls his own age -- even the ones that like him. But as he waits impatiently for some elusive perfect moment to reveal his desires to Dad's wife (Sigounrey Weaver), Oscar gets a little drunk one night and goes to bed with her lusty best friend (Bebe Neuwirth) instead.

Such is the framework for "Tadpole," the enticingly tart, oddball coming-of-age comedy that won helmer Gary Winick the Director's Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Continue reading: Tadpole Review

Aaron Stanford

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