No amount of added action or plot twists can elevate ‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant’ beyond a glorified soap opera
For the first half of ‘Fantastic Four’ you’re wondering, “When is this movie going to start?” For the second half you’re wondering, “When is this movie going to end?!?” It’s not an awful movie, it’s just unrelentingly bland.
The Fantastic Four are the first family of Marvel Comics. Created in 1961 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (apocryphally, the result of an edict by Marvel publisher Martin Goodman to tryout a superhero team, a la rival DC Comic’s super-successful Justice League) and heavily inspired by the monster comics Marvel was publishing at the time, their tremendous popularity and success is responsible for launching Marvel’s Silver Age superhero renaissance, transforming a middling publisher of romance and sci-fi comics into one of the “Big Two” publishers of superhero adventure stories, leading to the creation of some of pop culture’s most enduring and beloved characters. Without the Fantastic Four, there would arguably be no Spider-Man, no Hulk, no X-Men or Avengers. Fantastic Four #1 is, simply, the Big Bang of Marvel Comics.
‘Insurgent’ has the emotional intensity of androids reciting an instruction manual. There’s nothing new to see here, and it’s delivered in the most listless fashion possible. Even for a sci-fi soap opera, Insurgent feels lazy and uninspired.
Miles Teller isn’t quite Chris Pratt yet, but with a fiery performance in the Oscar nominated Whiplash behind him and several blockbusters upcoming in the form of Insurgent and Fantastic Four, Teller is a bona-fide star. His latest project re-pairs him with his producer on Two Night Stand, Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland). The pair will be …
Originally birthed as an 18-minute short, premiering at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Whiplash went on to garner enough attention to become a feature full-length film. Thank God it did. The feature-length version of Whiplash masterfully showcases the pressures of perfection in a tightly plotted, beautifully shot, soberly performed package. From the creative genius of sophomore director Damien Chazelle comes a semi-autobiographical experience just as exhilarating as it is shocking. Whiplash tells the story of Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller), a promising young drummer who enrolls at an elite music conservatory, where his dreams of greatness are mentored by Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a ruthless music conductor who will stop at nothing to realize his student’s potential talent. With the audience on the edge of their seats, the question constantly being taunted is thus: how far is too far for pushing a student towards greatness?
Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, now conquering New York after wowing audiences at film festivals all the way back to Sundance last winter, opens with a title card over black while a few taps on a snare drum build into a furious drum roll. It’s a fine way to symbolize the conflict at the center of the film, which accelerates to “furious” so quickly and easily that it’s barely perceptible. Tension builds slowly in an empathic crescendo, before snapping over and over again like the repeated pounding of a cymbal. Whatever arguments this film may inspire, it’s clear that there is no other film in existence which makes music so thrilling.
Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash centers on a young drummer at a prestigious Manhattan music academy who finds a caustic instructor willing to do anything to urge him toward greatness. This may sound like the beginning of a sentimental, feel-good movie in which encouragement and perseverance win out. But Chazelle’s character study isn’t in the least bit evocative of Mr. Holland’s Opus or Stand and Deliver. Instead, the unrelenting verbal abuse heaped on the student vacillates between hilarious and needlessly demeaning. The ceaseless degradation creates a gray area of quasi-fulfillment where the cinematic rewards are anything but pure. Whiplash keeps the audience on its toes, never letting you think for a moment that the road to artistic success is easy or that one’s competition isn’t eagerly awaiting your total failure for their gain.
The Spectacular Now Directed by James Ponsoldt Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber USA, 2013 The teenage genre is an infinite well Hollywood enjoys returning to, even if such repetition can frequently wind up creating some of the most inherently false-seeming films. We like watching movies about teenagers so we can be nostalgic …
If you spend any amount of time here at Sound on Sight, you probably love movies, old and new. And you probably have fond memories of being a teenager. (Or maybe you are a teenager right now, in which case, we feel very old. But never mind.) So you may hold some classic teen-themed movies …