October 11th, 2013 — Coming this Weekend

Theater ThursdaysHello again, my fellow geeks.

This week brings us two new releases. One that could be an Oscar contender and another that….well….probably won’t be. Of the two new films though, it looks like it might be the more enjoyable experience on a Friday or Saturday night date night. It will almost certainly have more replay value as well.


CAPTAIN PHILLIPS    (PG-13  134 Minutes)captain_phillips_ver2_001

Up until a few years ago Tom Hanks was as close as they come to an absolute sure thing at the box-office. He had a string of films, both commercially successful and critically adored, that read like a list of everyone’s favorite films.  Splash, Nothing in Common, Big, Turner and Hooch, Sleepless in Seattle, Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, That Thing You Do, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, Castaway, You’ve got Mail, Road to Perdition and Catch Me If You Can.

Not to mention his indelible work as Woody in Toy Story 1,2 and 3.  Even his less successful films have become cult favorites like The Money Pit, The ‘Burbs, Joe versus the Volcano and The Ladykillers. The same thing is going to happen to Cloud Atlas, mark my words.

It happens to almost every Hollywood star though. Sooner or later, the taste of the public changes and their films start making less money. They are still stars. When you reach the rarefied air of Tom Hanks, you will always be a star. Little by little though, it stops being an event when they release a film. For Tom Hanks, I think that happened right around the release of Larry Crowne in 2011.

This was a sweet and decent little film that happened to star Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, two of the biggest stars of the last thirty-years, and it grossed a total of thirty-five million dollars. That is only five-million dollars more than it’s budget, and it was a very cheap film to make.

Why? That’s a question that Hollywood has been trying to answer for decades. No one knows. It just happens.

Why am I talking about this? It seems relevent because every so often a star reverses that trend and makes a film that once again becomes an event.

Based on the real-life event in 2009 when Somalian Pirates boarded the Maersk Alabama, a container ship, and took its Captain and Crew hostage, Captain Phillips looks very much like it could be a certifiable event.

Tom Hanks puts his everyman charm to good use as the titular Captain who does everything he can to keep his crew and his ship safe while the Navy prepares a rescue mission by sending in Seal Team 6 to end the crisis. If that name sounds familiar, that was the said-same Seal Team who punched Bin Laden’s clock a couple of years later.

Director Paul Greengrass knows his way around a high-tension thriller, having directed The Bourne Ultimatum and The Bourne Supremacy as well as the devastating United 93 which told the story of the doomed flight on September 11th, 2001 and remains the best film about that horrible day.

It is shaping up to be a great fall movie season with this film coming the week after the brilliant Gravity and right on the heels of Prisoners and Rush. If the trend holds, they will have no problem finding 10 films to nominate for Best Picture.



MACHETE KILLS      (R    107 Minutes)machete-kills_poster

I kind of love the fact that this film exists only to give Danny Trejo a vehicle to be a badass on-screen. For me, that is a completely legitimate reason for a film to exist.

As a piece of art? Well that could be up for discussion.

The first film was pretty good for what it was. I did feel that it was hamstrung by having to fit its storyline into the fake trailer that was made to play before Grindhouse. That trailer was great for what it was too, which was 2 1/2 minutes of money shots and Danny Trejo slicing and dicing his way through an army of bad guys. Trying to contort a full length feature film into the skeleton of a story sketched out in the trailer was a little more tricky. The film was only somewhat successful at it.

It was still a lot of fun though, which is why I am more excited for the sequel. The legend and myth of Machete has been set-up now and there isn’t a fake trailer that this film has to match, so they can do pretty much whatever they want.

Based on what writer/director Robert Rodriguez has said about the character and the film, what they want to do is just have a great time and give the audience a full tilt ride from beginning to end.

I trust him and I put my faith in Trejo.

I can’t even begin to describe the plot to you because I have absolutely no idea what the plot is. I’ve seen several trailers and several short featurettes about the film and still have no idea what the storyline is. I don’t think story or plot are all that important in this film. It’s all in the execution.

As a side note, I think it will be funny in 20 or 25 years when people have forgotten that this film is a loving homage to a style of film from the late 60’s and 70’s, they will stumble on this movie late at night on cable and marvel at the crazy cast in this. Kind of like how we look at something like It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World.


That just about does it for this week, but join me next week when we see if Rambo and Conan have what it takes to escape from prison. Hint: They do.

Until next time, Keep the Projector Threaded.

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