Hello, everyone. Thank you very much for reading CinemaSlants these few years. I have moved my writing over to a new blog: The Screen Addict. You can find it here: http://thescreenaddict.com/.

I hope you follow me to my new location! You can find an explanation for the move on that site now or on the CinemaSlants Facebook page.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Noah (2014)

Controversy isn’t exactly a new phenomenon when it comes to biblical movies, and it often turns out that the most controversial films often are the best. A fine example is Martin Scorsese’s terrific The Last Temptation of Christ, which was violently smeared by Christians when it was released back in 1988. Unfortunately, such protests suggest that these crowds like their Bible-based movies to be entirely faithful and uncritical of the stories and characters they depict. This may make for fine group experiences, but from a cinematic perspective they aren't particularly interesting. The Last Temptation of Christ instead was a film that took the story of Jesus as seriously as humanly possible; spending every second exploring the struggles and temptations that would come along with being the Messiah. The ending of the film is actually profoundly spiritual, but too many were blinded by the occasionally “controversial” material that preceded it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Only Oscar Preview That Matters: I'm Still Here Edition

I’d like to begin by thanking you all for your patience over the course of the last couple weeks. Preparing for this move has obviously taken up a lot of my time, but now that I have a little bit of free time I’ve decided that I’d whip out my usual list of Oscar predictions for the ceremony tomorrow. Of course, you should know to never listen to my predictions in a normal year, but this year could be really special in that all my travel/new job-related stuff has forced me to pay almost zero attention to all the usual pre-Oscar chatter. Normally by now I have a pretty good idea of who is going to win the major categories. This year, I’m a bit lost in the woods. So obviously you should keep reading! (Note to self: this may not have been the best way to sell this post.)

Anyway, now it is time to get down to the business at hand: beginning the fourth annual Only Oscar Preview That Matters. Whatever you do, don’t listen to me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Life Announcement of Some Import

So, a good thing happened. Earlier today I accepted an offer to become an editorial assistant at Electrical Contractor Magazine in Bethesda, Maryland. As you might imagine, this means I'm going to spend the next few weeks devoting a lot of my time to the moving process and all the usual nonsense that goes into such a transition. What does this mean for the blog? Unfortunately, it's probably going to be slow going for a little while longer. I fully intend to keep writing, so don't expect this site to go completely dead.

Also, if you haven't heard, I'm doing some freelance work these days for the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. I plan on still doing that as long as they let me, and perhaps that will lead to even more freelance writing down the line. We shall see.

That's all there really is to know right now. Thank you all again for reading despite the lack of updates recently. It's probably going to stay that way for a little bit, but now that things are going in the right direction I plan on starting to work it back into my regular schedule.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Winter's Tale (2014)

People who write about movies throw around the word “miscalculation” a lot, but rare is the film that truly earns that description right from the title card all the way to the end credits. Winter’s Tale, an adaptation of Mark Helprin’s 1983 novel written and directed by Akiva Goldsman, is one such movie. I have some idea of what this film was trying to be, and it clearly wants to say really powerful things about love and “the universe,” but it falls absolutely flat at every turn. A work of magical realism that has no idea how to properly integrate the magic and the realism, Winter’s Tale doesn’t stir the soul as much as it incites unintentional laughter. This was always going to be a difficult movie to do right, but Goldsman’s version gets just about everything wrong.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

RoboCop (2014)

Even in the best of circumstances, a PG-13 remake of Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi classic RoboCop is, to put it lightly, a horrible idea. All things considered, the circumstances surrounding José Padilha’s new take on the character aren’t all that bad. This is a film with a fantastic supporting cast that includes Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson and more, and it has a script from Joshua Zetumer that actually attempts to tackle interesting ideas about living in the drone age. At the very least, this new film makes a fine argument for RoboCop’s relevance in the 21st century, but Zetumer and Padilha are ultimately trapped by the expectations of making a mainstream action film. It’s not a bad mainstream action film by any means, but it’s hard to look past the unrealized potential.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Best Films of 2013

As much fun as it is to make my annual lists of worsts and rejects, it pales in comparison to the wonderful ordeal that is coming up with my annual selections for the best films of the year. After all, good movies are a whole lot more fun to watch than bad movies, and as such writing about good movies winds up being a whole lot more rewarding. (Usually. There are exceptions, of course.) This year, making this list was particularly thrilling, and particularly difficult. As I mentioned the other day, this was my first list-making year where I had considerable trouble choosing a number one. Normally that is one of the first things I’m able to come up with. That only speaks to how many great films came out this year, and now I’m excited to share my picks for the best cinema had to offer in 2013. Let's do it.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Worst Films of 2013

After a rough start, 2013 turned into a terrific year for movies. My top ten list will go up around Friday, and it probably will not be finalized until seconds before it posts. Normally by this point I've decided on a rock solid number one, but this year I'll probably end up flipping a coin to decide between three fantastic choices. My life is hard, guys. Much less stressful has been creating my annual list of the worst films of the year, and I have five fine selections here to show you just how bad things get even in the best of years. Also, after there was no recipient last year, 2013 sees the return of the Last Airbender Memorial Award for Special Achievement in Terribleness. That will come at the end. First, here are my picks for the five worst movies to be released in the last 12 months. Enjoy, and avoid them at all costs.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Lone Survivor (2013)

At the start of Ben Stiller’s terrific 2008 comedy Tropic Thunder, there is a lengthy sequence depicting the exact type of over-the-top war movie its characters are seeking to create. There is copious gore, the dialogue consists only of the usual military clichés shouted at top volume, and those who die happen to perish in the most cinematic and grandiose way possible. All of this, of course, was meant to poke fun at what most war films have become in the post-Saving Private Ryan era, and while watching Peter Berg’s Afghan War film Lone Survivor I found myself constantly thinking that this the exact type of movie Stiller was mocking. Berg has made a thundering, intense, flag-waving war film that is never boring but also frustratingly strains to create “big” moments. The genre doesn’t get much more emphatic than this, but it does get a whole lot better.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Rejects of 2013

Ever since I started this blog, I have ended each year with the usual lists featuring the best and worst movies to come out in the previous 12 months. However, I have also decided to end each year with a list of what I call “rejects.” In many ways, these posts act as an In Memoriam to the films that were ignored by audiences and critics alike in the preceding year. Every year has its fair share of failures, but the bloodshed came early and often in 2013, with a couple high-profile flops and several mid-level films that just never caught on. This year is a bit low on hidden gems, but it’s always interesting to look back at all the films that just didn’t work.

My aforementioned posts featuring the bests and the worsts will come later in the week. Also, let me know if there are any rejects you think I forgot. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

I will try to write longer about this film at a later date. This short review will do for now.

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have collaborated numerous times in the past decade, but never have they come up with a more memorable creation than this fictional version of Jordan Belfort, the ostensible “protagonist” of the new film The Wolf of Wall Street. Belfort is the founder of Stratton Oakmont, a firm that deals mostly in penny stocks. Ever since he opened his firm out of the garage, Belfort has had one goal: take as much money from his clients as possible. His business is instantly successful, and over the course of several years he becomes something of an icon in his field. There is nothing honorable about what he does for a living, and even less is honorable about what he does in his off time. His is a life of partying, booze, drugs and prostitutes, and with The Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese has made a hilarious, scathing film that isn’t about Belfort so much as it’s about a society that allows him to not only exist, but thrive. There will inevitably be much talk about whether the film presents Belfort as an aspirational figure, but in my eyes that’s missing the point. The Wolf of Wall Street is a film about Belfort being an aspirational figure, and over the course of three extravagant hours Scorsese viciously explores this demented version of the American dream.