Gangster Squad: A Crime Against Cinema

by Ethan Alter January 11, 2013 6:01 am
<i>Gangster Squad</i>: A Crime Against Cinema

The easiest way to ease into a discussion of Gangster Squad, the fedora-era set, City of Angels-based cops vs. crooks action movie from Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer, is to describe what the movie is not. For starters, it's not a serious take on old-school film noir in the tradition of Chinatown and L.A. Confidential. Neither is it a twisty detective story like The Big Sleep or square-jawed, no-nonsense crime picture like The Public Enemy. It's also not a richly stylized comic book take on the period like Dick Tracy. And it's definitely not a successful piece of pop art mythmaking like the film it most clearly aspires to be, Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. Above all, in case you couldn't tell already, it's also not a good movie.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 31, 2012

by Ethan Alter January 31, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hey girl, Ryan Gosling wants to drive your car.

Drive: Ease On Down the Road

by Ethan Alter September 16, 2011 9:43 am
<i>Drive</i>: Ease On Down the Road

The first fifteen minutes of Drive may be the best movie I've seen this year. In an ordinary hotel room with a window that peers out on a neon-colored Los Angeles cityscape, a movie stuntman who enjoys a second career as a getaway driver (Ryan Gosling, in a commanding performance) is talking into his cell phone, tersely explaining his way of doing business to a prospective client on the other end. You have me for five minutes, he says, if you aren't back in the car by then, I'm gone. Hanging up, he heads to the garage, fires up his vehicle of choice and pulls out into the street.

Decoding <I>The Ides of March</i>: Who’s Who in George Clooney’s Political Drama

The new political drama The Ides of March, directed, co-written and starring George Clooney, is technically based on Beau Willimon's 2008 play, Farragut North, but you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's more of a ripped-from-the-headlines roman à clef. Almost everything about this moderately involving, but ultimately underwhelming film -- from the characters to the central story arc (which follows a presidential aspirant whose campaign is almost derailed by a sex scandal) -- seems to be modeled after real-life situations and individuals. That feeling is further driven home by the occasional appearance of recognizable figures like Charlie Rose and Rachel Maddow playing themselves in small cameos.

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