Prison movies have a long and proud history in Hollywood, keeping us in rapt attention to the plight of the modern-day inmate. While Hollywoods idealized prisoner is traditionally the wrongly accused, or the murderer with a heart of gold, there are some films so perfectly realized by a filmmaker that they transcend the genre and become classics in their own right. We have two to put in the ring together that share more than a screen setting. Both 1999s “The Green Mile” and 1994’s “The Shawshank Redemption” sprang from the original imagination of Stephen King and were brought to cinematic life by director Frank Darabont. As we approach the ten-year anniversary of “The Green Mile,” it’s probably time to ask if either film deserves our critical version of a lethal injection? Take our advice: order up what would be your perfect last meal and kick back for a double-header of life behind bars!
In the last two years, two high-profile directors, Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee, each gave a shot at putting their own brand on a World War II movie, no doubt because of the lure of working with badass villains and ass-kicking good guys, even though the risk for both was they had to operate under the suppressing fire of Steven Spielberg… incoming…
Childhood friendships can last a lifetime and have profound consequences. Both Slumdog Millionaire and The Kite Runner tell sweeping stories in the lives of two boys — a set of brothers in the former and a set of friends who act like brothers in the latter. They use narratives that cut back-and-forth across time, forcing them to use multiple sets of actors to portray their characters as boys turn to men. The contemporary story lines are deepened by the children’s experiences we see in flashback. Both films started as novels, force viewers (English-speaking ones anyway) to read a few subtitles and share settings — India and Afghanistan — that have been scarred by terrorism as deeply as the United States. And even though Slumdog Millionaire is assured of a “Best Picture” Oscar nomination this year (and currently, is the odds-on favorite to win), it’s still going to have to hold off The Kite Runner to win this Smackdown… […]
Both the hotly-promoted “The Bucket List” and the below-the-radar “Bubba Ho-Tep” feature a pair of geriatric geezers (one white, one black) undertaking adventure in the twilight of their lives in a search to give meaning to what went before. Both films are entertaining, but can the big budget, major studio offering with an “A List” cast and a big name director trump a small, independently-made gem based on a Bram Stoker Award nominated short story? Can Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman best Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis? Is gallimaufry globetrotting more poignant than fighting giant roaches in Nacogdoches? Will the Hollywood-based screenwriter from NYU’s film school hold his own against the Mojo Storyteller from the Big Thicket in East Texas? In short, will “The Bucket List” command as fervent and as loyal a following as “Bubba Ho-Tep?” Will the questions ever stop…