Lincoln (2012) vs. Thirteen Days (2000)

November 8, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

You’ve heard about all the Kennedy/Lincoln coincidences by now. Some of them are even true. But did you know that Kennedy and Lincoln both have had movies made about pivotal moments in their presidencies? Yeah, I guess you probably did know that. The long list of movie Lincolns includes such notable stars as Henry Fonda, Walter Huston and now, in Steven Spielberg’s new film, Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis, while Kennedy has been assayed by, among others, Cliff Robertson, James Franciscus and Bruce Greenwood, who played our youngest President in the true-to-life political thriller, Thirteen Days.

But did you know that I just happened to watch both Lincoln and Thirteen Days in the same week? […]

Argo (2012) vs. The Last Shot (2004)

October 11, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

So let’s talk about movie movies.

First, you’ve got your movies about movies, which range from the beloved classics (Sunset Blvd., Singin’ in the Rain) to the cult oddities (Barton Fink, The Stunt Man) to the amusing trifles (Bowfinger) to the less-said-the-better (Hollywood Ending).

Then you’ve got your movies that sort of know they’re movies, i.e., meta-movies, a diverse genre that includes such intriguing experiments as Adaptation and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.

Then there’s the movie-within-movie movies, notable entries being Kiss of the Spider Woman, The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Almodovar’s Bad Education. […]

Taken 2 (2012) -vs- Taken (2008)

October 4, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

So I mean, if it were me, and I’d just gone on my first vacation to Europe and gotten targeted by the first person I met in France and subsequently kidnapped by sex slave-traders and basically had the most harrowing experience of my life, I probably wouldn’t be going back to Europe any time soon. I don’t care how bad-ass my dad is, or even that he’s played by Liam Neeson. But then, I’m not perky teenager Kim Mills, nor am I Maggie Grace, who has now co-starred as Kim Mills in two movies, despite being more than ten years the character’s senior, so what do I know? […]

Looper (2012) -vs- Source Code (2011)

September 27, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

Let’s face facts: If “traveling back in time to change the past” movies stuck rigidly to actual logic, there would be no such movies. As far as I can tell, there’s just no getting around the paradox that if you travel back in time and change the past, you alter history in such a way that you no longer have a reason, in the new timeline you’ve created, to get in a time machine and go back and change the past. For starters.

Fortunately, the best examples of the genre wisely choose to ignore this little snag and do the next best thing: Pour their energy into making it so entertaining and zanily convoluted that it doesn’t even occur to you to mind until you’re on your way home. The last decade, in fact, has seen a wealth of intriguing time-travel flicks that do exactly that, largely thanks to the fact that time travel doesn’t always require expensive special effects and thus can be done independently; all you need is a convincing-looking time machine prop and a lot of ingenuity, and presto, you got yourself a “high concept indie,” be it the soft-spoken, cerebral Primer (2004), the ruthless Mexican mind-bender Timecrimes (2007), or the diabolically clever Triangle (2009) (which doesn’t actually involve a time machine at all, but otherwise fits the category). […]

The Master (2012) vs. Hard Eight (1996)

September 15, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

A seemingly wise, benevolent middle-aged figure adopts a temperamental loser as a surrogate son of sorts, resulting in a lengthy, complicated and volatile relationship. This is the main basic storyline for at least two of writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s six features, including his debut Hard Eight (1996) and his latest release, The Master, not to mention one of the dozen or so plot threads in his cult-classic porn epic, Boogie Nights (1997). Father-son relationships also dominate his one-day-in-the-Valley omnibus, Magnolia (1999), and his previous effort, the one-of-a-kind oil saga, There Will Be Blood (2007).

What we’re getting at here, then, is that however much he’s advanced as a filmmaker over the years, the dude’s evidently still got some daddy issues. But how much has he advanced as a filmmaker? It’s a first-vs.-last Smackdown today as we reach all the way back to the mid-90’s to find a movie brave enough to face down this highly anticipated newcomer. […]

Premium Rush (2012) -vs- Quicksilver (1986)

August 23, 2012 Eric Volkman

In honor of the recently completed Olympics, the Smack has expanded its competition facilities. That’s because today’s contest is better suited to the track than the ring; the two opposing films feature professional bicycle riders as lead characters.

In Lane 1 we have Premium Rush, an action/thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an intense bike messenger racing through Manhattan to thwart the machinations of a corrupt cop. In Lane 2 is Quicksilver, starring Kevin Bacon as an intense bike messenger racing through San Francisco in a drama that sees him get mixed up with a troubled young female colleague, a fellow messenger with financial problems, and a homicidal customer.

These bikes look awfully similar at first glance, so watch our contestants closely. Racers, take your marks… […]

The Bourne Legacy (2012) -vs- The Bourne Identity (2002)

August 9, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

Rumpled bureaucrats stand around a cramped room, surrounded by state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, barking orders at the underlings and whispering tensely among themselves as they watch a muscular super-agent and his female companion out-gun, out-run, out-fight and out-think them at every turn.

Where else could we be but Bourne again? (Sorry.)

Yes, that’s right, the lucrative franchise, loosely adapted from Robert Ludlum’s novels, that closed out its initial trilogy with (the now inappropriately titled) Bourne Ultimatum (2006) is back. The hooks for The Bourne Legacy are a mostly new cast, including lead actor, the screenwriter of all four taking over directing chores as well, and that other than the occasional photo, there’s not an actual Bourne in sight. […]

Savages (2012) -vs- Scarface (1983)

July 6, 2012 Ben Silverio

Drugs are a dangerous game, and it seems like Oliver Stone knows this fairly well. In the 1983 cult classic Scarface, which he wrote for Brian De Palma, and his new release Savages, which he co-wrote with Shane Salerno and novelist Don Winslow, as well as directed, he shares stories of young guys who start small in the drug game and climb to a whole new level they’re not prepared for.

Iconic gangster Tony Montana and the duo of modern-day marijuana moguls Ben and Chon hold their own (to a point) when the big boys come to play in their respective movies, but how will they fare when they go up against each other? […]

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) -vs- Psycho (1960)

June 25, 2012 Jonathan Freund

The horror, the horror. It’s Hannibal the Cannibal and Not-Yet-Agent Starling from the Oscar-sweeping Silence of the Lambs vs. Norman Bates and the Crane Sisters in the Hitchcock masterpiece that put the word Psycho into the pop vernacular.

In addition to their enduring popularity in film schools and on screens of all sizes, these two classics of high-end terror have an astonishing amount in common. One has creepy taxidermy, while the other has creepy butterflies. Both borrow elements from the crimes of real-life serial killer Ed Gein; both, based on popular novels, were departures of sorts for their directors; both feature female protagonists who become objects of judgmental and voyeuristic males. Both films deal with disturbing memories of a dead parent. Both set their climax in a killer’s cobwebbed basement. And both feature immortal villains played by actors named Anthony ___kins in unforgettable big-screen performances. […]

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