Friday, April 18, 2014

Interview: 'Step Up' Writer Duane Adler Talks Directing 'Make Your Move' and What Inspires His Writing

You've probably heard Duane Adler's name come up every once in awhile, most probably you've seen one of the movies he's written. The man is a dance king, so to speak, having penned much beloved films such as Save the Last Dance, Make it Happen, and all of the Step Up movies. This time around, he's taken a new seat in the director's chair and took the time out to talk to me about his experience directing, working with professional dancer Derek Hough and Korean pop sensation BoA, and what inspires his writing. 

You can read the entire interview below. 

Review: 'Make Your Move', Starring Derek Hough and BoA

Release Date: April 18, 2014
Director: Duane Adler
Screenwriter: Duane Adler
Cast: Derek Hough, BoA, Wesley Jonathan, Will Yun Lee, Jefferson Brown, Miki Ishikawa
Genre: Dance
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, including sexual references and brief violence
Movie Score: 

If Duane Adler is famous for anything, it's his classic dance movies. Responsible for writing Saving the Last Dance and the Step Up movies, Adler has a penchant for underdog dance films that has left an imprint on our popular culture and made him a household name. Adler gets behind the camera as a director for his newest dance film, Make Your Move, but without the classic results of his past dance flicks. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: 'Alan Partridge', Starring Steve Coogan

Release Date: April 18, 2014
Director: Declan Lowney
Screenwriters: Peter Baynham, Steve Coogan, Neil Gibbons, Ron Gibbons
Cast: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Tim Key, Felicity Montagu, Karl Theobald, Monica Dolan, Anna Maxwell Martin
Genre: Comedy
MPAA Rating: R for language, brief violence, and nudity
Movie Score: ½

Last year, we saw Steve Coogan's more dramatic side in Philomena, a Best Picture nominee that he helped co-write, but now that he's back in the comedic chair, the first thing we see him in is his BBC character Alan Partridge, in the movie titled... you guessed it: Alan Partridge. Now I'll immediately start off by saying that I haven't seen the series the movie is based off of, but it is safe to say that the film is enjoyable and funny regardless of your level of Alan Partridge knowledge. 

Alan Partridge (Coogan) is as annoying as ever. A DJ who is immensely aware of his own popularity and image, he cares about nothing and no one but himself. If there's a way to save his own hide, he'll stoop low enough to make sure that his job, and more importantly his large ego, stay intact. Partridge is definitely the kind of guy who follows the motto that as long as someone's talking about you, then there's no such thing as bad publicity. 

Everything gets a little complicated when Alan's radio station is bought by a new company and changes their image to a more modern taste and a different sound. Which means that they're looking to fire someone and only two possible people are on the list: Alan and Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney). When Alan convinces (or rather begs) the station to fire Pat and keep him (in a display of humorous desperation), Pat eventually goes off the deep end and holds the station's employees hostage, forcing Alan to be the middle man between Pat and the police. And the whole time, poor Pat still thinks that Alan has his best interest at heart. 

British comedy is always less subtle than American comedy. It's a little more fast-paced and either you get the jokes and humor off the bat or you don't. There's no pause button that gives you a cue of when to laugh. And that's exactly what Alan Partridge feeds off of. Many fans liked the first series of the show better than the second and third, and some may be split on whether the film still holds a candle to the show, but there's no denying that this film has a spark. 

It starts off slow and the laughs are few and further between, but as the film progresses, so does its comedy. Steve Coogan is as awkwardly funny as ever. His character's annoying but never so much so that it's obnoxious, and yet when he is being slightly irritating, that's when the laughs are the most. The supporting cast gets enough to do that they're not just extras, and some of the funniest scenes are between Coogan and Meaney, both awkward and slightly strange in different ways. 

Alan Partridge is exactly the kind of person who society looks up to and hates at the same time. He's a fame whore who's only concerned with being talked about and popular, doesn't care about hurting other people to get what he wants, and is rude and demeaning a lot of the time. Yet, somehow the people love him, though it's unclear whether it's because of his attempt at being charming and charismatic or because he's an entertaining DJ. It's a really interesting point of discussion about the desperation for fame and the meaning of having some kind of moral code. Partridge even uses the hostage situation for press, trying to gain as much news coverage as possible, even continuing radio hosting with Pat while under lockdown. 

Perhaps this is reading too much into the Alan Partridge character and what he stands for. Ultimately, the film is pretty entertaining with some laugh-out-loud moments from around halfway through until the end. Steve Coogan's comedy is sometimes hit or miss with some people, but he's pretty humorous in a role he's been playing for awhile. You don't need to be a fan of the show to find enjoyment out of this movie, which is endearing regardless of its overly simple plot and sometimes asinine sense of humor. Just wait for the scene where the cast makes up a new jingle for Pat's radio show while under threat of being shot and you'll know this is worthy of a laugh. 

Review: 'The Railway Man', Starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman

Release Date: April 18, 2014
Director: Jonathan Teplitzky
Screenwriters: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Andy Paterson
Cast: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard, Hiroyuki Sanada, Jeremy Irvine, Sam Reid, Tanroh Ishida
Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing prisoner of war violence
Movie Score: ½

There are some stories, in the right hands, that flourish on film. But probably one of the hardest things is translating a story based on true events onto the screen. The story behind the work may be fascinating, but how it translates onscreen is what separates it from being an interesting one in verbal form to a well-realized visual masterpiece. The Railway Man is such a film that sounds unique on paper, but doesn't translate well on film, mostly due to director Jonathan Teplitzky's dull storytelling tactics. 

Review: 'Transcendence', Starring Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall

Release Date: April 18, 2014
Director: Wally Pfister
Screenwriter: Jack Paglen
Cast: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy
Genre: Sci-fi, Drama
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, some brief strong language, and sensuality 
Movie Score: ½

Transcendence could have been a lot of things, but it ultimately turns into one of these sci-fi films that kind of fly right over the person's head, sometimes make no sense, and is just a bit extreme in the message its trying to send, which is, in its most simple form: too much technology is bad, run. Though it is a bit more complicated than that, the film comes full circle with its characters and its storyline, but the path which it takes is filled with potholes and a lot of skidding along. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New on DVD & Blu-Ray: 'Ride Along', 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty', 'Philomena'

Ride Along - James Payton is in love and wants to ask his girlfriend to marry him. But her brother Ben can't stand James and doesn't take him seriously to even consider him good enough for his little sister. James has also applied to the police academy, so Ben gets convinced to take James on a ride along during police hours in order for the two to bond, but Ben has other ideas that he hopes will drive James far, far away from him and his sister. The film stars Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburne, Tika Sumpter, and John Leguizamo. 


Friday, April 11, 2014

Review: 'Don Hemingway', Starring Jude Law, Richard E. Grant , and Demian Bichir

Release Date: April 11, 2014
Director: Richard Shepard
Screenwriter: Richard Shepard
Cast: Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir, Emilia Clarke, Madalina Ghenea, Kerry Condon, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
Genre: Comedy
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, some violence, and drug use. 
Movie Score: 

"12 years is a long time," declares director Richard Shepard at the very beginning of Dom Hemingway. It really is. There are things you miss out on while being locked away, so much so that leaving prison and reentering society almost feels like a culture shock. But this is exactly what happens to Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) after finally getting out of prison. It's almost as though everything around him has changed except him and getting back to his old habits proves to be something difficult transition for him. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New on DVD & Blu-ray: 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug', 'August: Osage County', 'Grudge Match'

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - The saga continues as the dwarves and Bilbo Baggins continue through their journey to reclaim the lost dwarf mountain. Along the way, they come across the elves and familiar faces to Lord of the Rings fans. New characters are introduces and the stakes get higher for the dwarves while Bilbo is being tempted by the power of the ring. The film stars Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, William Kircher, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen, Peter Hambleton, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, and Evangeline Lilly. 


DVD Review: Jia Zhangke's 'A Touch of Sin', Starring Zhao Tao and Jiang Wu

Release Date: April 8, 2014
Director: Jia Zhangke
Screenwriter: Jia Zhangke
Cast: Jiang Wu, Luo Lanshan, Meng Li, Zhao Tao, Wang Baoqiang, Jia-yi Zhang
Genre: Crime, Drama
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Movie Score:  

Violence is always an interesting topic of conversation. It has the ability to shatter lives, save them in certain circumstances, and is a heavy subject in social commentary. Should guns be banned? Do the ends justify the means? Why are some people who kill regarded as heroes and others as criminals? These are questions that have been asked in regards to this exceedingly talked about subject matter. Violence itself is heavily prevalent in our popular culture, gun-toting and bloodshed appearing in most of today's movies and video games, but director Jia Zhangke approaches the topic from a different perspective: from that of those who are driven to it, who have never committed the act before in his thought-provoking film A Touch of Sin

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review: 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier', Starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johnasson, and Robert Redford

Release Date: April 4, 2014
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Screenwriters: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Cast: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell
Genre: Action
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, gunplay, and action throughout
Review Score: 

Captain America: The First Avenger set up a lot of things well, but there was something missing. It didn't pack enough punch and fell a tad on the boring side in comparison to the other first films launched for the other Avengers. So after seeing the trailers for its sequel, it's obvious that the filmmakers clearly stepped up their game. The only question that remains is if the actual film can live up to all its hype. The answer? Most definitely!