Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Best “Worst” Movies of 2013

Best_Worst_Movies_MainWhile everyone’s talking Gravity12 Years a Slave,American HustleNebraska and all the other potential contenders this awards season, we’re pulling back to take a look at a particularly underappreciated breed of film – the best “worst” movie. Sometimes it can’t be about by-the-book quality and you’ve got to assess a film based on its entertainment value alone. After all, isn’t that the main reason we go see movies anyway?

Check out our list of big screen rule-breakers that still deserve some serious love and be sure to tell us what some of your favorite best worst movies of 2013 are in the comment section below.

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Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The_Hunger_Games_Catching_Fire_PosterBetween the prime source material, built-in fan base, epic star power and increased budget, Francis Lawrence’s adaptation of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” had all the potential in the world, but that also shrouded it in an exorbitant amount of pressure and expectation, so it’s a good thing Lawrence rose to the occasion.

The second installment picks up shortly after the events of the first. Katniss and Peeta (Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson) are home sweet home in District 12, but still suffer from the repercussions of surviving the Hunger Games, one of which is participating in the Victory Tour. Even though the Capitol’s beloved star-crossed lovers travel from district to district professing their devotion to Panem, there’s no stopping what they started. With a rebellion on the horizon, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) opts to hit the districts where it hurts, targeting their resources, safety, and their Hunger Games victors.

Scoff at the “Hunger Games” craze all you want; this is a franchise that earns every ounce of attention, press and profits. Not only did Gary Ross’ film do the pre-release hype justice by kicking off the series with a riveting, well-composed and highly effective adaptation, but now Francis Lawrence and writers Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt build upon Ross’ success by taking the budget boost and funneling it into quality talent, stunning visuals and creating an all-consuming experience.

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Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

Wolf_of_Wall_Street_Poster“The Wolf of Wall Street” lets you relish in unparalleled no holds barred debauchery while increasingly disillusioning the fun and games with the nasty reality of the situation along the way.

The film is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a guy who kicked off his career on Wall Street with the best intentions, but threw all of his morals out the window in exchange for money, women and drugs. Jordan founded Stratton Oakmont and reveled in the lucrative business of selling fraudulent stocks at his costumers’ expense, but there was just so long he could carry on making scenes, crashing cars and drowning himself in Quaaludes before the FBI caught on.

Having read the real Belfort’s memoir, I walked into Martin Scorsese’s feature adaptation knowing what the character is capable of, but apparently I wasn’t capable of imagining the true extent of Belfort’s antics while reading the book because on screen, the behavior is above and beyond. There’s no reason to like the guy. He cheats on his wives, robs innocent people of their hard-earned money and is absolutely wasted the large majority of the movie, but at the same time, it’s so easy to understand why he gets away with it for so long. He’s a total charmer and an absolute blast to hang out with.

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Perri’s Top 10 Movies of 2013

Top_Ten_of_2013-176x3002013 marks my fifth year working as a film critic and reporter and I’m proud and very thankful to say it was the best yet. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work alongside some fiercely talented friends and colleagues, interview some of the most esteemed talent in the industry, attend events like SXSW, San Diego Comic Con and Cinema Con, and, perhaps most importantly, see a number of films that I’ll carry with me well beyond 2013.

I am endlessly grateful to spend each and every day doing what I love and am thrilled to celebrate cinematic achievements like these …

10. VHS 2

VHS” put the horror anthology format back on the map, but “VHS 2” solidifies it as a feature structure that can rival traditional narratives. The wraparound component still isn’t quite there, but all four shorts in the sequel are highly creative, entertaining and memorable. Adam Wingard delivers a typical haunted house scenario but within a new, intriguing framework, Gregg Hale and Eduardo Sanchez put an entirely fresh spin on the zombie genre and Jason Eisener offers up a stunningly stylized alien invasion that rocks some of the feature’s most unforgettable sounds and visuals, but the best of the bunch is definitely Gareth Evans and Timo Tjahjanto’s “Safe Haven.” You think you’ve seen it all? Evans and Tjahjanto put the large majority of third act massacres to shame. “Safe Haven” is the one that will blow your mind, but all four short films are impeccably structured and loaded with remarkably unique plot points, turning the full feature into a beautifully sick and twisted film that’ll give you a good scare and/or having you shouting something to the effect of, “No way!,” the entire way through.

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Movie Tips: What Not to Bring to a New Year’s Party

Project_XNew Year’s Eve prep should be as simple as keeping good company and having enough champagne and food to carry you through the night, but bringing the wrong person or thing could turn the night into one you’d rather forget. Take a cue from these movies and you should be home free as you make your way into 2014.

Project X – Video Camera

Of course you hope that every night out will be the night of your life and there are good reasons to want to remember it, but when that night involves an excessive amount of illegal activity, booze and destruction like in Project X, you’re better off holding onto your memories rather than hard evidence.

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Interview: Lone Survivor’s Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch & Eric Bana

Lone_SurvivorIt’s tough enough to perform in a film loaded with heart, military logistics, and action, but in Lone SurvivorMark WahlbergTaylor KitschEmile Hirsch and Eric Bana were also tasked with delivering an authentic and admirable representation of real Navy SEALs who lost their lives in the hills of Afghanistan during a devastating mid-mission attack.

With the film now playing in limited release and its January 10th nationwide expansion approaching, all four actors sat down for a press conference in New York City to talk about working with the sole survivor of the real-life ambush, Marcus Luttrell, the connections they built with members of the SEAL community, the pressure to honor their sacrifice, and more.

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Review: Her

Her_PosterI wouldn’t mind living in Spike Jonez’s version of the future, but for now I’m happy to just keep watching “Her” over and over again.

“Her” takes place in a future version of Los Angeles and hones in on Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore Twombly, a soon-to-be divorced man who writes other peoples’ love letters for a living. One day, Theodore opts to purchase the hottest new piece of technology on the market, OS 1, the first artificially intelligent operating system. Soon thereafter, he creates Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), a digital secretary of sorts who’ll clean out his inbox, organize his writing and also be his friend.

If we’re heading towards Jonze’s version of the future, we might be better off. There are no hulking robots, deep space transports or overabundance of ultramodern technology, but rather mildly modified elements of the present that have clearly been changed to facilitate a more serene lifestyle. Computers are voice activated, clothing trends are practical, the streets are clean and not a single person raises his or her voice. “Her” features some heated discussions, but they’re genuine discussions, not thoughtless outbursts.

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