When you need someone to break into a place and steal something, a career cat burglar is your best bet. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is in jail, which isn't the best start, but when Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) needs a thief, Lang is still his man. Pym was once a miniature superhero known as Ant-Man, yet when Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) takes over his company and tries to mass-market the powerful Ant-Man suits, Pym hires Lang to break in and steal the suit back. From there, he must become the Ant-Man - no matter how much he hates the name.
Continue: Ant-Man Trailer
An awful lot has happened in the world - A Second World War super soldier has risen from the dead, a billionaire playboy has revealed himself as a costumed superhero, and the Norse God of thunder himself has come to earth on four occasions. So for Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a petty criminal entrusted with the secret of his mentor's super-secret substance designed to shrink a person, it should be seen as just another day in the life for a person of planet Earth. Now, with the ability to shrink his down to a minuscule size while increasing his strength, Ant-Man is born.
What starts out as a smart, sassy comedy about infertility gets bogged down in its own potty humour, ultimately becoming a dull caper romp that's impossible to care about. This is a real shame since the cast is clearly up for something more sophisticated and knowing, and the filmmakers seem to have some amusing ideas up their sleeves.
The film opens as Audrey and Tommy (Munn and Schneider) are celebrating their third anniversary and decide to start a family. When Audrey doesn't get pregnant, tests show that Tommy's low sperm count is to blame, due presumably to too many groin injuries while goofing around with his chucklehead pals (Heffernan and Faxon). But since he had donated to a sperm bank years earlier, he decides to make a withdrawal, only to discover that the last batch has already been sold. So he and his friends hire a crazy-eyed Indian criminal (Chandrasekhar) to orchestrate a heist.
Munn and Schneider are gifted actors who create an engaging sense of chemistry in the feisty first act, grounding the comedy in real marital issues that are riotously funny because of the unexpected frankness of their discussions about sex. But as this starts to drift into a series of one-note gags about semen and genitals, our patience wavers. And then the caper kicks in, and it's so contrived and stupid that we lose all interest in the film and the characters. We may still care about Audrey and Tommy, but the situation they get into is just as idiotic as the people around them.
Continue reading: The Babymakers Review
It's the not-so-distant future, and 800 million people are crammed into the only remaining inhabitable area in North America, a mega-city that covers the East Coast. With so many people, crime is out of control, so cops and lawyers have been replaced with judges who arrest, try and execute criminals on the spot. Dredd (Urban) is a particularly efficient judge, assigned one day to take trainee Anderson (Thirlby) with him for evaluation. But they walk into a nasty gang war in a 200-storey tower block, where snarling gang boss Ma-Ma (Headey) locks them in and starts hunting them down. And while Dredd and Anderson have to be careful not to kill the block's innocent residents, Ma-ma doesn't care how many people die.
Continue reading: Dredd Review
There comes a time in a relationship when baby talk must be had. When Audrey brings the subject up with husband Tommy, he doesn't think sowing the seeds of nature would be a problem - especially since he sold a sample of his sperm to the local sperm bank some years ago. However, after being unsuccessful at getting his wife pregnant several times, they go to a doctor who informs him of his extremely low sperm count. Feeling slightly emasculated, he suggests that there could be a problem, perhaps, with Audrey's body, but the doctor dismisses the idea as her ovaries are in perfect shape. Remembering when he sold his sperm sample, he revisits the sperm bank and requests it back in a last bid to have a baby. When the man at the clinic tells him it has already been sold, Tommy offers twice the amount of money they did in order to win it back. He is refused but his friends persuade him that he has the right to steal it back and so they set out on a scheme to retrieve his last chance at fatherhood.
Continue: The Babymakers Trailer
Nicole Ari Parker, Blair Underwood, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Wood Harris - Nicole Ari Parker, Wood Harris, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Blair Underwood Sunday 22nd April 2012 Broadway opening night afterparty for 'A Streetcar Named Desire', held at the Copacabana night club.
Daphne Rubin-Vega, Blair Underwood, Mann, Nicole Ari Parker and Wood Harris - Daphne Rubin-Vega, Wood Harris, Emily Mann, Nicole Ari Parker and Blair Underwood Sunday 22nd April 2012 Broadway opening night afterparty for 'A Streetcar Named Desire', held at the Copacabana night club.
Daphne Rubin-Vega, Blair Underwood, Mann, Nicole Ari Parker and Wood Harris - Daphne Rubin-Vega, Blair Underwood, Emily Mann, Nicole Ari Parker and Wood Harris Sunday 22nd April 2012 Broadway opening night of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' at the Broadhurst Theatre Curtain Call
Donald Faison, I assume, was on hiatus from his steady television gig on Scrubs and needed a project to bridge the gap. He ambles his way through this laughless dud as Leo, a marijuana-addicted employee of Next Day Air who mistakenly delivers a cardboard box filled with cocaine to the inept bank robbers in apartment 302 instead of the waiting drug dealers in 303. That's a tough floor.
Continue reading: Next Day Air Review
Homicide and The Corner, in their concern for covering multiple aspects of race, class, and authority in an American city, made for some of the best television of '90s. The Wire, Simon's series about the intersection of police and the drug trade, ranks among the most nuanced television series in history; it is easily the best police-procedural show that's ever aired. That's in part because the show's writers stubbornly refuse to fall into the clichés of the usual police procedural. The bad guys -- in this case, the men who run the drug trade around Baltimore's housing projects -- are often as shrewd and smart as the cops, with characters just as layered as anybody else. The star of season one, to the extent there is one, is Larry Gilliard Jr., who plays D'Angelo Barksdale, nephew of Avon (Wood Harris), who runs the business out of an office above a strip club. (The show pretty much annihilates the notion of drug dealers living high-class lives in tony neighborhoods. The money's good, but you're always nervous about it, and you're still in the thick of the projects.) A tough-nosed but naïve adolescent, D'Angelo balances the day-to-day work of dealing with handling his friendships, girls, and his future -- to the extent he ponders something that abstract. Nothing in the formal structure of the show -- music, plotting, dialogue -- casts falsely melodramatic judgment on D'Angelo. He is what he is.
Continue reading: The Wire: Season One Review
The second season is no different. It's riveting television that pulses with realism, intelligence, and harrowing drama. If by chance you've stumbled upon this review without having watched the first season, update your Netflix queue immediately, with The Wire: Season One at the top. Like nearly all of today's best hour-long dramas, its multilayered storytelling technique demands a great deal of attention to detail from the viewer. The show can't be fully appreciated without understanding each character's nuanced backstory and the history of interactions and conflicts everyone has with one another. So start at the beginning and enjoy.
Continue reading: The Wire: Season Two Review
Sadly, the most passionate and persuasive argument in recent years against the current disposition of the government's stance in the so-called "War on Drugs" came not from a think tank armed with stats and big ideas or a celebrity eager for a cause, but from a TV show. The third season of The Wire, which aired on HBO in late 2004, continued its sprawling and justifiably lauded Dickensian crawl through its web of stories centering on the inner Baltimore drug trade -- following, with an unusual focus to detail and character, both the gangs fighting for territory and the cops of a major case unit assigned to busting up their organizations. But where the show became more than just an abnormally well-made, balanced, and realistic law and order drama (and there's no need here to heap more praise on the show than already has been done), and became something entirely different, was in the fourth episode, "Amsterdam."
Police major "Bunny" Colvin (previously a supporting player on the show), desperate to see some improvement in his crime-ridden West Baltimore district and tired of watching his cops waste all their time busting street corner dealers to no larger effect, institutes a new policy: If all drug dealers move to three designated zones in the district and sell there, they will not be arrested. In effect, he legalizes the drug trade in a large part of an American city. The cops don't get it, the drug-dealing kids don't either, as it throws into question the entire reality of their limited universe where the kids sell drugs, occasionally they get hassled or arrested, but everything goes on without change; as one of the dealers says, "Why you got to go and fuck with the program?"
The point being made here by the two creative forces behind The Wire -- investigative reporter David Simon and veteran detective Ed Burns, both of whom know this territory better than almost anyone -- is quite simple: the drug trade has atomized vast and forgotten swaths of American cities, like West Baltimore, and decades of simplistic, head-knocking, "tough on crime" enforcement has made zero difference. So, take a page out of Amsterdam's book, where a blind eye is turned to the drug traffic in certain designated areas, and see if you can at least make some poor neighborhoods normal again by ridding them of turf-battling drug gangs.
Colvin -- a strange kind of revolutionary -- gives a speech using the "brown paper bag" analogy Simon introduced in his book The Corner: Men drinking on the street will carry their liquor in a brown paper bag -- the cops know it's liquor but don't arrest them for public drinking because the men are at least making an attempt at hiding the bottle. It's the same with pushing drug dealing to what Colvin calls the "free zones"; it's a civil truce. Call it legalization, call it a truce, call it dealing with reality, Simon's point is that drugs will be dealt, and the more you can keep the trade itself from ruining the social fabric of already distressed neighborhoods, the better. And if you can weave this message into a thrilling hour-long crime drama, all the better.
As for what the remainder of this season dealt with, it would be futile to go into much discussion of that, since The Wire's storylines rival Tolstoy's in their complexity. Suffice it to say that one must watch the show as one reads a book, starting at the beginning of season three -- even with that "previously, on The Wire" intro which HBO prefaces its shows with -- is next to useless. For those who have already been watching, of primary importance is that the show's quality remains undimmed. Simon's writing staff has been beefed up by the addition of top-shelf novelists like Richard Price (Clockers) and George Pelecanos (The Night Gardener), who bring some welcome flourishes of both character-driven realism and pulp crime drama to the proceedings. A few of the show's more central characters get their arcs reversed, with the classically rogueish cop McNulty (a wonderfully snarky Dominic West) coming to a crisis of self-destruction, and striving criminal mastermind Stringer Bell (the iconic and contemplative Idris Elba) finding himself stuck between worlds, too street for the business world and too thoughtful for the street. And although several long-running characters continue to pop up -- like free-range gunslingers Omar (Michael K. Williams) and Brother Mouzone (Michael Potts), and Bubbles (Andre Royo), the junkie who serves as the closest thing The Wire has to a chorus -- story is always sublimated to the overarching themes, with the focus never straying far from Simon's central conceit of the American city in crisis, and what to do about it.
The Wire has cast a sardonic eye on the efficacy of current drug law enforcement since the beginning. In the very first episode, a detective who just used the term "War on Drugs" gets a quick schooling from another detective on why the term just doesn't apply, with the world-wearied quip, "Wars end." By presenting an idea for how one might, if not win a war that has done so much damage to American cities and the economically disadvantaged, then at least call an honorable truce, the show became not just the best show currently on television, but also possibly the most important.
Anyone else see Charlie Brown's shirt?
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