The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) -vs- Spider-Man (2002)

June 29, 2012 Bryce Zabel

What a difference a decade makes. Why, in that period of time, it’s possible to forget you’ve ever seen a specific movie, almost like it never existed.

Well, no, it’s not like that all, of course. Those of us over the age of thirteen do clearly remember the blockbuster films we saw just ten years ago. The question Columbia Pictures seems to be asking with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man is whether or not it matters. […]

The Monkees: Image -vs- Reality

March 7, 2012 Brad Markowitz

But then again, maybe there’s another way to view The Monkees phenomenon — as a clever, self-referential parody that may have been as much of a road map to “Spinal Tap” and Sascha Baron Cohen as “A Hard Day’s Night” was to The Monkees. After all, it wasn’t just a show about a rock band. It was a show about a rock band trying to make it as a rock band. If you look closely enough, you can see little, veiled digs at the music industry’s shallowness, the glam world of Hollywood, and the hypocrisy of society — all artfully buried in the silly, comedic plots. […]

In Praise of… 50/50

January 11, 2012 Bryce Zabel

50/50 deserves every bit as much Oscar love as The Descendants which is going to get its share. Both films are about dealing with terrible news and living through those stages of grief and 50/50 more than holds its own in that comparison.

Instead Academy members will probably see 50/50 as a diversion for people in their 20s, as light and comedic, and as another Seth Rogen getting stoned kind of movie. Well, it is actually those things within its frames, but it is so much more. […]

Get Him To The Greek (2010) -vs- Almost Famous (2000)

June 6, 2010 Sherry Coben

The world is getting worse. I realize that my perception is colored by my advancing age and my own inevitable glorification of the halcyon days past, but I think it’s also true. The world is less civilized, less kind, less gentle, and the vulgarization of popular taste is either an unhappy result or partial cause of the precipitous downslide. Judd Apatow’s films capture something in the culture that grates on me; they have heart, but they also try to deliver on a boyish crudeness, an acceptance of careless behavior with little to no consequence. It’s the having it both ways that rankles so much; I would pay no attention to these films at all if they didn’t try so hard to be sweet. But the sweetness is buried in so much profanity and offensiveness; not liking these films makes me feel like a prude, and that’s not a feeling I enjoy. I don’t think I’m being a prude when I object to portraying heroin use and trafficking as a comic convention; there’s nothing funny about forcing an employee to shove a baggie of heroin up his ass while in line at an airport. I’m sorry. That’s not okay with me. The fact that the movie makes that incident not just okay but just another story beat in its salacious, bawdy, saucy naughtiness concerns me. Forcing that same someone to use a cocktail of drugs including meth and heroin strikes me as even more appalling. Making light of such drug abuse is just plain wrong.
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The Hangover (2009) -vs- American Pie (1999)

February 19, 2010 Rodney Twelftree

Boobs. Booze. Swearing. Got your attention? Sweet. It’s the return of the classic sub-genre, the Beer & Pizza Movie. That is, a movie you can only really enjoy with a group of mates, some beer, pizza, and a desire to be amused in an “adult” manner. Unapologetically wallowing in gratuitous nudity/swearing/adult themes, and generally politically incorrect, Beer & Pizza Movies are often lowbrow, tasteless cinematic buffoonery dressed up as social satire.So it is we take a long, hard look at a couple of “classic” Beer & Pizza movies, each containing their fair share of the aforementioned unmentionables. Hard to believe it’s been over a decade since Stifler drank that modified cup of beer! Both films were critical and commercial successes, but which one tops the bill as the ultimate Boys Flick? Grab a slice of day-old pizza, zip up your trousers, and read on to find out which of our combatants would win in a boozy brawl!
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An Education (2009) -vs- A Single Man (2009)

January 28, 2010 Sherry Coben

It’s 1962, stylishly retro and way cool. TV’s Mad Men have paved the cultural way for two more stellar entries in the Sex And The Sixties pantheon. With the swinging sixties looming right on the horizon, Los Angeles college literature professor George (Colin Firth) and sixteen year old suburban London student Jenny (Carey Mulligan) fumble their un-merry ways through the rough-and-tumble terrain of love, loss, secrets, and sexual experience. Both lead performances have stirred up considerable Academy Award buzz, but they’re unlikely to compete head to head anywhere but right here. Dewy Maiden with Distinct Audrey Hepburn Echoes takes on World-Weary Confirmed Bachelor with a Not-So-Secret Secret. The winner? A grateful arthouse (and beyond) audience.
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Leap Year (2010) -vs- Youth in Revolt (2010)

January 20, 2010 Sherry Coben

Cookie cutter romantic comedy satisfies a too-easily edified audience. No matter how formulaic and tepid the sausage, the factories grind out more product to feed the gaping maw; indie films usually attract a more marginal fringe-ier crew, on the hunt for the original, the untold (or even oft-told) story told in fresh new ways. Pitting a humble little indie versus a major studio wide release makes for an inherently unfair fight and one with a foregone conclusion at the box office, but ticket sales won’t sway this Smackdown. As “Leap Year” bounds onto virtually every available screen and Quirky Indie-That-Could “Youth In Revolt” limps onto a fraction of that number, ask yourself: Is bigger necessarily better? Does conventional beat quirky?
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