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Review: Morning Glory

Written by Meg Walter on . Posted in Film

I don’t know that I’ve ever found a soundtrack as distracting as the soundtrack in Morning Glory. There are soundtracks that are dated and soundtracks that are quirky, but they usually fit the movie. Morning Glory was a rom-com at best, yet it had the score of an award-winning World War II film. The orchestra swelled at the strangest moments. Rachel McAdams walks into a staff meeting and the music suggests Germany just surrendered.

And speaking of Rachel McAdams, remember how fabulous she was as Regina George in Mean Girls? She was fabulous. One of the greatest villains of film history. But that was over six years ago. Every role since then has been disappointing, seeming to rely on McAdam’s charming looks, and her charming looks alone. Morning Glory is no different.  Our dear Rachel ran around for an hour and a half muttering about how busy her job is, how unlikely she is to have a boyfriend, and how she is taking on the world with her morning show. She kept telling us these things, but she never really showed us.

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Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Written by Jordan Petersen on . Posted in Film

This is not a DVD review. I don’t do those, although I probably should. I wish I was one of those people who watches all the special features on the DVDs. It would make me a better film scholar and filmmaker. But I’m not. Maybe I will be one day.

Anyway.

This is about the three times I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World in theaters. I figured now would be a good time to say something, since the DVD did, in fact, come out a little over a week ago. And you should go buy it. It is one of the Five-Rhombi (out of five Rhombi) films of the year.

After being fantastically entertained and dazzled the first time through, I remarked to one of my film buddies that films like this don’t come along very often. He responded, “Yeah man. That Edgar Wright. He really puts a lot of time into his films to get them right.” And I realized that was it. Edgar Wright’s name as director had been my primary motivation for seeing the film in the first place, but even so, I was unprepared for his latest work. Films like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz hint at what he’s capable of, but Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was a miracle of a film.

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Review: The Social Network

Written by Jordan Petersen on . Posted in Film

Most people don’t pay much attention to screenwriters. I don’t know why. There is no better indication of whether you’ll love or hate a film than who wrote it. It’s not foolproof, of course, since maybe it’s the writer’s first feature. And sometimes a good writer can write a not-so-good script. Even so, everyone ought to spend more time looking into writers, because here’s a fact: you can’t make a good movie out of a bad script. And almost as fundamental is the notion that a good script almost never gets made into a really bad film.

Why is all this important? It’s probably obvious I’m about to tell you that Aaron Sorkin is one of the finest screenwriters alive. He has a knack for bone-breakingly brilliant dialog and dizzyingly complex characters. His previous work is spare but indisputably significant. You’ve certainly heard of A Few Good Men (“You can’t handle the truth!”), and perhaps you’re at least somewhat familiar with the critical sycophancy that followed all seven seasons of The West Wing. This man can write in a way that few mortals can.

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Review: Salt

Written by Jordan Petersen on . Posted in Film

Everyone in the world knows how hot Angelina Jolie is. Barack Obama is the United States’ first black president, Iran is making atomic weapons, and Angelina Jolie looks really good in tight clothing. It’s just one of the facts had by the entire international community.

And it is the fact that saved both Tomb Raider movies from ending up in a compost heap right after a direct-to-DVD release. Philip Noyce — who has in the past helmed Tom Clancy adaptations such as Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, as well as films like Bone Collector and Rabbit Proof Fence — seemed to have intrinsically understood that the world needed no further proof of Angelina’s iconic sex appeal. What she needed was a legitimate role as a kick-butt action-spy-hero. Tom Cruise has had it, as has Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, and pretty much every other contestant for People Magazine’s ever-popular (and ambiguously relevant) Sexiest Man Alive.

So why not give one of the sexiest women alive a shot?
For those of you who are not nearly as obsessively tuned-in to the (film) industry, let me inform you that Salt was a first. The studio that gave it the green-light wanted to see whether a female actress could carry this kind of film — one which would be sold primarily upon its merits as an action thriller, and not on the thighs, hips, breasts or lips of the female protagonist. Believe it or not, this has never been done before. It almost didn’t happen this time either — Tom Cruise was actually on board before the script was re-written for Jolie.

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Christopher Nolan: Savior of the Summer Blockbuster

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Film

It’s July and, frankly, the summer blockbuster season has been a bit of a disappointment. Sure, Toy Story 3 was a tear-jerker. A-Team was loads of fun. And Iron Man 2 let us watch Robert Downey Jr. be Robert Downey Jr. for a few hours (always worth the price of admission).

All that being said, are any of these films remotely memorable? In 20 years will we look back and say, “It was a glorious time for cinema — Rampage Jackson resurrected the A-Team, Jackie Chan brought back karate kid, and that pale whiny bitch picked Cedric Diggory over that Native American kid who looked awesome with his shirt off”? For those of you who don’t understand the concept of a rhetorical question, the answer is “No.”

Then along comes Inception. The early reviews surrounding superstar director Christopher Nolan’s latest film were overwhelmingly positive, which of course was followed by the inevitable backlash to the frontlash (which will soon be followed by the backlash to the backlash of the frontlash). The buzz around the film has been incredible (every other tweet or Facebook status seems to be Inception related). I went into the film with incredibly high expectations — in fact, my expectations were so high I couldn’t imagine the film being as good as everyone was saying. To be honest, it wasn’t. It was better. Exponentially better.

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Review: Inception

Written by Jordan Petersen on . Posted in Film

“What did you think?”

I’ve never heard the question asked with such sincerity so often. People know I love movies more than almost anything. Also, I’ve been talking about this one for almost a full year. My anticipation for this film has been higher than it has since Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Return of the King.

The reason is Christopher Nolan. His record is perfect and inhumanly impressive: Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight. That lineup of films is an impressive life’s work, and he’s 40. It’s absurd. It’s also the only reason Inception had a chance.

This is the kind of movie that almost never gets made. Nolan worked on the script for 10 years and honed it into something that no studio would ever dream of adequately funding. It’s cerebral, complex and dauntingly unique. It’s not part of a franchise, or a remake, or anything else comfortingly familiar or easy to sell. And to produce it properly required hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Podcast: The Bachelorette, Eclipse, Isaac Russell and More

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Film, Music, TV

It’s with great pleasure that Rhombus introduces its third podcast — the Rhombus Roundtable. Featuring a variety of opinions on politics, pop culture, and everything in between, the Roundtable will serve as a regular series of discussions on the world’s latest happenings — all with that distinctive Rhombus slant.

This week, the magazine’s editor Steve Pierce and resident armchair economist Daniel Anderson contemplate the reigning hot topics of the day — including the most recent (and totally unexpected!) Bachelorette trainwreck, Eclipse‘s total dominance at the box office, local favorite Isaac Russell’s new major-label EP, and the greatest (and worst) American presidents. Enjoy!

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Review: Splice

Written by Jon Schwarzmann on . Posted in Film

When Splice, which opens in theaters everywhere this Friday, first screened at January’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, two of our very own writers had the dubious honor of taking it all in.

Now, six months later and with the film’s distributor ramping up a massive ad blitz, we thought it would be as good a time as any to post their initial reactions to that original cut. For those of you planning to see the film, Kristin Clift’s spoiler-free version is directly below. For those of you who couldn’t care less, scroll down for Jon Schwarzmann’s spoiler-heavy review.

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Weekends Are For Movies: June 4-6

Written by Jordan Petersen on . Posted in Film

First, an apology for my inconsistency. Probably no one went to see Iron Man 2, because I failed to write about it. (You love me because I’m funny.)

This weekend, you have no excuse not to go see a movie in theaters. I’m not saying all of them are winners, but… anyway, just read.

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Review: Iron Man 2

Written by Jordan Petersen on . Posted in Film

The summer blockbuster season officially starts the first weekend of May, and this summer we got a bit of a nostalgic trip back to 2008, when the first Iron Man blew everyone away on that very weekend.

This year, Iron Man 2 rolled in with even higher anticipation because people had been left with sort of absurdly high expectations. The first one was just so darn good and the second, after all, had all the same people on board (except for our poor friend Terrence Howard, but… oh well) — same director, same actors and everything.

Even the critics seemed to like it quite a bit. Not as much as the first, but still quite a lot. And guess what? It was awesome. You forget, after a while, what it’s like to have a blast-and-a-half in the comfortable confines of a theater bucket seat, but man, did that film remind me. It was everything an Iron Man movie should be — exciting, hilarious, and generally awesome. I left the theater feeling like I’d gotten exactly what I hoped for: more of what I loved so much the first time around. Plus Scarlett Johansson. (Ahem.) ALSO Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, and Don Cheadle (sorry, Terrence) — all with efficient, clever dialogue.

I actually left declaring that the second might have been better than the first. Those were the words escaping my smiling face, and I kept saying it for days.