Archive for February, 2014

RoboCop: Some Assembly Required

Joel Kinnaman stars in Columbia Pictures' "Robocop."

Joel Kinnaman stars in Columbia Pictures’ “Robocop.”

As a child of the 80s, RoboCop holds a special place in my heart. Growing up, the popular culture that I ravenously consumed was full of hot-shot police officers disobeying strict police lieutenants, being forced to turn in their badges, and yet still finding a way to track down the bad guys before the credits rolled. The 80s also brought a technology boom that popularized the concept of robots, androids, and cyborgs in science fiction cartoons. The inevitable blending of the two trends gave me not only 1987’s RoboCop movie, but also the Saturday morning cartoon and action figure line that followed. I still remember lazy childhood days where RoboCop, the Karate Kid, Chuck Norris, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles teamed up in my bedroom to face army after army of generic plastic villains and hoodlums.

Like many children of the 80s, I’ve seen my beloved childhood memories hauled out of antiquity, dusted off, and re-imagined in reboot after reboot in recent years, often with disappointing results. So, when the inevitably RoboCop remake was announced, I vividly remember dueling emotions, the unbridled, giddy joy of my inner child clashing with the cynical disdain of my inner man-child. No remake could ever replace the 1987 film that played such a pivotal role in my childhood, or match the often satirical tone that I’ve come to appreciate as an adult. I say all of this as a disclaimer, not only for the review that follows, but as a reflection of what I expect to be the the views of audiences as a whole. As much as I plan on divorcing the remake from my views on the original as I craft my review, I know that many movie-goers will not be able to make the same distinction. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gloria, and the Desire to be Wanted

Gloria

It doesn’t take a third-rate film reviewer to make this claim, but please humor me as I do so anyways: relationships are tricky, complicated animals. Often, we are willing to sacrifice our core beliefs, and even our own dignity, in pursuit of the adoration or approval of others.

In Sebastián Lelio’s Gloria, the titular lead is a 58-year-old divorcée who spends many an evening at singles mixers in search of a cure for her loneliness, usually in the form of a one night stand or a fleeting moment of joy on the dance floor. On one such evening, she runs across the pleasant Rodolfo, a former naval officer who has begun a physical and emotional transformation of his own, and the two begin to explore the possibility of a meaningful relationship with one another. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Monuments Men: Some Art Can’t Be Saved

The Monuments Men

It has been said that art is the cornerstone of civilization, an integral thread in the tapestry that makes up our cultural heritage, a defining piece of the puzzle that defines not only society, but also humanity at large. As I reflect on The Monuments Men, a film about the preservation of art during the second World War, I’m reminded of a George Bernard Shaw quote: ‘Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.’ World War II was a horrific affair, bringing to life the harsh reality that truly does make the world unbearable at times, and the idea of art as a safeguard against the often ugly nature of the world rings true. With The Monuments Men, director George Clooney attempts to instill in the viewer a sense of wonder about the ‘old masters’ of art, and a belief that the preservation of art, and thus the preservation of culture and civilization, is paramount even to the value of human life. Thought gifted with a brilliant premise and a cast that looks encouraging on paper, Clooney’s vision never quite takes off. Sadly, we’re instead left with a film that is dead on arrival. Read the rest of this entry »

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