Entries in Vin Diesel (8)
Michael C. here admitting upfront that I was wary about the prospect of reviewing an entry in the Fast/Furious franchise. The risk is that a movie like this turns one into a caricature of a film critic, a Frasier Crane type watching the movie through a pair of opera glasses, scoffing and harrumphing at the schlock on the screen. The kind of killjoy who cranks out the cane-shaking screed about how 'in MY DAY car movie had GRAVITAS, not the weightless, video game CRAP that these damn KIDS shell out for! Something, something, Steve McQueen.'
So I am relieved that seventh entry in the franchise did not force me into that unappealing position. Unlike the recent Kingsman, which spoiled the fun of its goofy action with a rancid attitude, I can endorse Furious 7 if only for the tone of goofy positivity maintained by director James Wan. These films are, as they never tire of repeating, all about family. Family and loyalty and introducing every third scene with a shot of a babe’s bikini-clad ass. Getting worked up over the lack of realism on display is like chastising a toddler smashing his Tonka trucks together because, actually, that’s not how to use a cement mixer properly.
Furious 7 went from 0 to 4004 (theaters) today and is certain to collect huge box office bounty this weekend. The other films have been hits and then there's the morbid curiousity factor of saying goodbye to Paul Walker which may lure back moviegoers who haven't really been paying attention. That would include me. I only realized today, looking over this list, that the first film is the only one I've seen in theaters... though it seems like I've seen them all (is it cable showings, or their interchangeability as suggested by their very similar posters, minor variations in titles, and cast lists?)
Cast List by numbers: Vin Diesel & Paul Walker (6 films); Jordana Brewster & Sung Kang (5 films); Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges & Gal Gadot (4 films); Dwayne Johnson & Elsa Pataky (3 films); Lucas Black, Luke Evans, Eva Mendes, Laz Alonso, Don Omar, John Ortiz, Matt Schulze, Shea Wigham (2 films)
The Fast and The Furious (2001, Rob Cohen)
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003, John Singleton) - aka the only one without Vin Diesel.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006, Justin Lin) - aka the only one without Paul Walker... but its the biggest detour as the cast list is mostly different. Only Vin Diesel shows up of the originals and one the fourth film hits, everyone seems to be back for good.
Fast & Furious (2009, Justin Lin) - the principle cast all returns
Fast Five (2011, Justin Lin) - aka the one where The Rock joins
Fast & Furious 6 (2013, Justin Lin)
Furious 7 (2015, James Wan) aka Paul Walker's swansong
So how many have you seen? And are you hitting the seventh entry this weekend?
This review originally appeared in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad
The Marvel Universe movies could have not existed before Right Now. Yet, for all the technological advances and computer wizardry that have made The Avengers and the like possible, the magic still comes from the humanity of the actors. No amount of technical prowess can make you care about Iron Man if a great actor hasn’t sold you on the bravado and change of heart of the man inside the suit. Captain America’s shield and super strength are great but his adventures don’t work if Chris Evans’s star turn isn’t so perfectly pitched to invoke fantasies of the nobility of a bygone American era. Without the humanity it’s just Trans4rmers and nobody wants that. (Shut up. I’m in denial about those billions). With Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios has gone Cosmic opening up a whole new movie wing for their ever-expanding universe. As they leave Earth behind, have they found a way to retain the humanity?
Yes and no. But not in the way you might expect.
It helps of course, on a superficial level that the movie begins on Earth and shamelessly pushes collective 80s nostalgia buttons by making Peter Quill, our hero, relentlessly nostalgic about that era. We first meet him as a little boy in 1988 and his most cherished possession twenty some years later when the movie takes place isn’t any of his impressive weapons or starship but a walkman with a cassette tape called “Awesome Mix Tape Volume 1”. It also helps that Quill is played by the endearingly simple Andy from “Parks and Recreation” a.k.a. Chris Pratt. Pratt’s new body may be imposingly hard, with all its cuddly body weight chiseled off, but those years of familiarity have given him a phantom comfy-ness.
AV Club Sad Keanu Doll
Empire JJ Abrams on the secrecy of his Star Wars sequels
Empire 25 different covers celebrating X-Men: Days of Future Past. I hate the cinematic interpretation of Quicksilver already... but they never do right by my favorite characters (see also Storm). And I didn't realize Sunspot was in this but they cast a Mexican actor to play an African-Brazilian?
Playbill Brokeback Mountain: The Opera debuts today in Madrid
US Magazine Charlize Theron & Sean Penn holding hands. The rumors are true. So that's a good excuse to relisten to...
That Film Experience Podcast in which we fantasized about same-year Oscar couples
Variety The Great Gatsby sweeps the technical prizes at the first half of the Australian Oscars. They announce the headline categories Thursday
Guardian Johnny Depp receiving an award from the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild
Post Script Sundance Sales
Ah, Sundance. My wrap up index post is coming late tonight but I enjoyed reading Vulture's takeaways and loved talking up the Sundance favorites with Guy Lodge on the podcast. I was also reading this piece about the non-spectular but steady sales at Sundance and a list of titles from the festival which now have distributors via Sound on Sight and I found both frustrating. I don't know if the latter list is 100% accurate (it's tough to keep track and did they ignore pre-sold films? If you know of a 100% complete list let me know) but it's frustrating. Only 20 deals were made? So naturally the great majority of films didn't sell. Some of them have easily saleable elements -- like oh, Anne Hathaway! --and in some cases are much stronger than some on the films that sold. I'm aware that in this day and age of DIY distribution, VOD, and [insert latest trend here] not selling to a major distributor is not a death knell, just as being picked up is not always a godsend (some films that have distribution curiously never make it to screens or arrive years later when the buzz has gone ice cold). The three films I most wish had been picked up are:
- Blind -Norwegian films rarely make a dent at the arthouse but it's so good
- A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night -Glenn loved it and it sounds like a must-see curio
- Appropriate Behavior -in the comic subgenre of sexually impulsive twentysomething New York lady in a tailspin it's superior to Obvious Child which did sell.
Here's Vin Diesel dancing to Katy Perry (!) and grabbing his crotch a lot. Two things that are worth doing when one tops
the dvd charts.
He would be in big trouble if he was asked to "lipsynch for your life"... but wouldn't he be an awesome guest on RuPaul's Drag Race? Make it happen, Ru.
It feels somehow right in early September while the world's film critics, pundits, and bloggers and world class auteurs are all over the Globe at festivals (Telluride, Venice, Toronto) that the mainstream has to reheat ole' hit leftovers for their movie dinner. Riddick, the long awaited ... another sequel to the Pitch Black franchise took the top spot at the box office with a decent $18 million. It'll eventually turn a profit since they kept the budget reasonable (a good lesson for all B franchises... or anything really).
In other news, Lee Daniels' The Butler, which came in second after three weeks at the top, will be Lee Daniels' First 100 Million Hit by this time next week... though I can't help wishing we lived in a world where The Paperboy and Precious also got there on the grounds of "you have to see this madness!" and "can you believe the genius of Mo'Nique/Kidman?" What a wonderful world that would be!
Also worth noting: Blue Jasmine crossed $25 million (a huge sum for a Woody Allen film though still less than half of Midnight in Paris's eventual domestic gross, and Short Term 12, buoyed by the strength of my awesome Brie Larson interview (kidding... but you should read it), took in another $100,000+. That doesn't sound big given that box office reporting tends to care only about movies with at least two more 0s on that number, you try marketing a movie about troubled foster kids and their supervisors. Well done, Cinedigm! Next week it adds 30 cities or so and if you go see it in droves I promise to quit bugging you about it. Deal?
What did you see this weekend? Care to share?
The Awl has a good piece on the metaphorical zombies and in blockbuster cinema
My New Plaid Pants a delightfully unexpected list: 5 tertiary characters from Paul Thomas Anderson movies deserve their own spin-off. I totally forgot about Brad the Bartender with Braces in Magnolia!
Atlantic prompted by all the "legacy" talk of TV after James Gandolfini (RIP) & The Sopranos... "where is the female Tony Soprano?"
HitFix David Chases' full eulogy for James Gandolfini
Coming Soon Sir Ian McKellen has wrapped filming The Hobbit trilogy, never to return to Gandalf the Grey (or White)
In Contention's wondering about Foxcatcher in Sony's Oscar Hopeful slate
Hollywood Vin Diesel meeting with Marvel Studios. Hmmm, I can't really see him as any of the characters mentioned beyond Thanos
Exploding Actresses on Tumblr. You will cry. Or laugh. Possibly both depending on the movie.
Antagony & Ecstasy has a well thought through piece on Joss Whedon's tossed-off Much Ado About Nothing
Filmmaker IQ's John Hess on Aspect Ratio in cinema. 18 minutes long but well produced and worth it, if your understanding of Aspect Ratio is, like mine, limited to Almost Squares vs Various Shaped Rectangles and trivia knowledge of gimmicks like "Cinerama." Watch it, it's Edumucational!
Filmsploitation Check out this wonderful photo and quote from cinematographer Christopher Doyle about set photography and the making of Wong Kar Wai's Happy Together (1997) which I had just been thinking of for no apparent reason (since I used a different photo for The Film Experience on Facebook... a page you should obviously "like", duh)
And while we're on the subject... Happy (belated) birthday to Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Lust Caution, In the Mood for Love, Hero), our favorite Asian movie star who celebrated his 51st yesterday. His wife Carina Lau posted this picture of him eating cake.
You missed the thumb Tony. Let me get that for you...