Cult classics are rarely born, they are chosen. It is not a knock on the cult classic as an institution to mention that movies that achieve that status usually do so by failing in some regard. Otherwise, they wouldn’t need adjectives. Some movies become cult classics by being bad in a charming and/or entertaining way, some by being transgressive in ways mainstream society isn’t prepared to deal with, others by just being flat-out weird. I submit, with great fondness, that The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension, belongs to the latter category. more
It took me a while to realize this, but the title of Spike Jonze’s new picture,Her, is the entire movie in a syllable. The protagonist, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a man who ghostwrites love letters for other people, a job that requires an extraordinary amount of empathy to do properly, which he more than has. And yet, good as he is at articulating others’ feelings of love, he’s still reeling from a recent divorce, and alone in that uniquely terrible way one always is under those circumstances. On a whim, he upgrades his computer’s operating system with a new model of artificial intelligence. Once it finishes calibrating, it takes the form, in personality, of Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), who takes it upon herself to see if there is any other way she can improve his life. And, the two fall in love. more
The fact that producer-director Robert Aldrich’s 1955 Kiss Me Deadly is regarded as one of the classic films noir of the initial 1941-58 period is both self-evident — it’s a great movie — and a little odd, as it bears more in common with later movies, commonly called neo-noir, than it does most others of the classic period. Like those later movies,Kiss Me Deadly features all the hallmarks of noir — because it is a film noir — but it’s more, much more. It’s the first great hybrid between noir and SF. more
"Phata Poster Nikhla Hero" (translation, roughly: "the poster rips open and out comes the hero") makes its intent clear early on. After a brief prologue, the movie's hero, Vishwas Rao (Shahid Kapoor), is introduced jumping through a poster of himself to dispense a few quips and beat up some guys menacing an innocent girl. This kind of self-reflexive comedy pervades throughout, with star cameos and many references to other movies and stars. The result feels like a not-quite-as-good equivalent for action-comedy of what Farah Khan's 2007 instant classic "Om Shanti Om" was to the romantic melodrama—but to clarify, a movie can be not quite as good as something great and still be something very good. "Phata Poster Nikhla Hero" is very good. more
From the beginning, the "Dhoom" films have invited comparison to the "Fast & Furious" franchise, with John Abraham's charismatic villain/antihero in the first giving way to Hrithik Roshan's even more charismatic variation in the hugely successful sequel. One feature unique to the "Dhoom" series, though, most decidedly continued in the third and latest installment, is the ostensible heroes—tough cop Jai Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan), and his crook-turned-cop partner Ali Akbar (Uday Chopra)—being mentioned secondarily, if at all. In the first film, John Abraham was simply more interesting than they were, but over time, the series has evolved consciously into an exploration—between action sequences and songs—of the antihero as an archetype, with bigger and bigger stars cast. In "Dhoom: 2," it was Hrithik Roshan, and now, in "Dhoom: 3," no less a worthy than Aamir Khan. more
As delightful a proposition as "a Bollywood Romeo & Juliet" sounds at first glance, there still remains the question of execution. "Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela" (or "Ram-Leela" for short), the film in question, fits neatly within what one might expect from director Sanjay Leela Bhansali's literary adaptations—the most widely-known in the West probably being 2002's "Devdas" with Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, and Aishwarya Rai—a visually opulent, proudly melodramatic entertainer with some great songs and star performances. more
"Gulaab Gang" is a film advocating education for girls and autonomy for women, made by a first-time director who faced enormous obstacles in getting it made. That thumbnail version makes it almost impossible to root against the film, although some of Soumik Sen's obstacles were of his own creation. His claims that the film is fiction and that any resemblance to real people is coincidental strain credibility to the breaking point, as the pink saris worn by the title gang are the very ones worn by the real-life Gulabi Gang, whose name Sen didn't even bother to change, and upon whose founder Sen's protagonist is heavily based. This led to legal disputes that threatened to delay release of the movie. All of this is meant not to reignite the debates about poetic license in fictional films drawn from real life, but to make the point that "Gulaab Gang" is a movie whose director needs to get out of its way. Which is a wildly delicious bit of irony, considering that it's about women taking charge of their own lives, and that Sen is a man. more
If Dolph Lundgren had never done another movie after his breakthrough role as Ivan Drago in "Rocky IV," he'd still be remembered today. But, to the great benefit of the action genre, he kept on, punching, shooting, and detonating his way through a string of memorable movies.
One of these, 1992's "Universal Soldier," has recently been resurrected as a franchise by up-and-coming action auteur John Hyams. "Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning," -- which comes out on DVD and Blu Ray this week -- along with Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables" series, has brought Lundgren back into the spotlight. We recently chatted with him about action movies, directing, his academic background, and what's next. more
Jean-Luc Godard once said something to the effect that a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, but not necessarily in that order. In that spirit, I’ll begin this story at the end: “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You,” by Heart.
Until very near the end of my junior year in high school I had a frame of reference that was limited, with almost no exceptions, to sports, action movies, science fiction and detective novels, and radical leftist political theory (just to spice things up a bit). Girls were a bit beyond me, until one informed me that we were going out. This relationship was short, but informative, and that summer I had other short but even more informative. The bulk of the information in question could be summed up in one sentence, even if that sentence fails to properly convey the profundity and grandeur of the idea: “Sex is awesome.” more
The A.V. Club
The best science fiction transcends the time and cultural moment of its creation, living on and assuming whole new unintended levels of meaning in years to come. It does so by being, once and always, fundamentally true. Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days has seen strange days of its own in the 20 years since its release, receiving mixed reviews at first, then quickly becoming irrelevant in its concern after the immediately archaic late 1990s Y2K hysteria, only to gradually emerge as an increasingly potent allegory for 21st-century internet culture. Most recently, its unflinching, incisive, yet optimistic perspective on the relationship between black Americans and the police has come into focus, with the greater public attention to police brutality and oppression in the 2010s. more