Sometimes having it all leaves you with nothing. In “Foxcatcher,” a superb and sordid tale of great wealth and unfulfilled desires, John DuPont (a fantastic Steve Carell) has millions in the bank and nothing to show for it. He inherited the family fortune but has done nothing of substance himself. So he goes where all millionaire philanthropists go to make their mark: the world of amateur wrestling.
Okay, maybe not. But John’s ability to lure 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) to his Foxcatcher Farms in Pennsylvania to train is a real coup for DuPont, who fancies himself a wrestling coach and believes providing the training facilities for future Olympic champions makes him both a great leader and a great American. John even invites Mark’s more celebrated brother, fellow Olympic champion Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), to train at Foxcatcher, but Dave declines. Things are great at first as they train for the ’87 world championships and ’88 Seoul Olympics, but jealousy, possessiveness and lack of gratitude soon rear their ugly heads.
At long last, the bloated, self-important, seemingly endless “Hobbit trilogy” has ended. Mercifully. I honestly thought we’d never make it, what with Bilbo and company travelling for what felt like forever in the first film only to say in the end, “Hey, look there way in the distance – that’s where we need to be!” And then there was the inflated second film, which had a cool action sequence down a river but concluded with a lonely, chatty dragon en route to destroying a town we barely know and don’t care about.
Fittingly, this is where the third “Hobbit” film, “The Battle of the Five Armies,” picks up. Boy does it. For as pathetic as dragon Smaug (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch) was last time, he is equally fearsome this time. Flying over Lake Town – which like its name suggests, exists on stilts in the middle of a lake – with rage and burning it to a crisp, Smaug leaves little behind in one of the most exciting action scenes this year. Seen in IMAX 3D with ear-popping sound, the music, sound effects, shrieking cries, visual effects and cinematography remind us how great director Peter Jackson was on the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and still can be when he wants to put on a show.
The New Testament has its book of Revelation and the Old Testament has Exodus, and the only task left is determining which is the bigger bag of horseshit. Especially in Ridley Scott's "Exodus: Gods and Kings," parables, the biblical stories which actually teach universal lessons without pretense of historical accuracy, are buried in the bluster of war battles and bloated catastrophes surrounding them. So, you can sit this one comfortably next to "The Passion of the Christ" (2004) as a favorite of Biblical literalists.
And you MUST know that any non-comedy that begins with John Turturro in heavy eyeliner means to torture and enslave you for the next 90 minutes or so. This movie, a horrible misstep in the career of the grandly talented director of "Alien" (1979), "Blade Runner" (1982), "Thelma & Louise" (1991) among other notable works, is a compendium of everything wrong with Hollywood today.
In “Top Five,” Chris Rock plays a comedian who hasn’t made a funny movie in years and now wants to star in serious dramas. I know what you’re thinking and no, this is not meant to parallel Rock’s own career, nor should it be construed as a Meta workshop on his id.
What’s really in play here is Rock wanting to write and direct a comedy on his own terms, and he’s done that with moderate success. Anyone who’s seen Rock’s standup routines knows he can be a hilarious no-holds-barred comedian, and true to form some of the conversations feel like his standup material delivered by two people rather than one. Rock’s voice is so omnipresent, in fact, that it feels like it’s coming from every actors’ mouth with every line. That kind of imprint can be a dangerous thing, but it works to the film’s benefit here.
Chris Pratt, newly anointed comic book action movie star thanks to “Guardians of the Galaxy,” plays Peter Quill, aka Star Lord. Abducted by aliens while listening to his Walkman cassette player as a boy in the 1980s, Peter was taken to the other side of the galaxy, where he learned how to be a thief. Apparently, no matter how far you travel in the universe, villainy and treachery are everywhere.
Present day, Peter works solo. He manages to steal a mysterious orb from a desolate planet. Bad news for him, as this is one of the orbs that uber-baddie Thanos (Josh Brolin) needs in order to take over the galaxy. Thanos then tasks his minion Ronan (Lee Pace) to retrieve it. In order to keep it out of the hands of evil, Star Lord recruits the help of fellow misfits Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (voice of Vin Diesel), and Rocket, a raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper.
Glen Campbell and his signature song "Rhinestone Cowboy" (written by Larry Weiss) played a major role in bringing country music into the mainstream. The sturdy, good-looking singer-guitarist from Delight, Arkansas gained millions of fans with his 1975 hit, though his silky-voiced, classic interpretations of Jimmy Webb's "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" (1967) and "Wichita Lineman" (1968) had already established him as a country star.
"Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me," the remarkable documentary directed by veteran actor James Keach (younger brother of Stacy Keach), follows the charismatic performer as he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and subsequently played over 100 concerts on what he, his family, and associates acknowledged would be his farewell tour. Yet the concerts and tour are only part of this rigorously honest and profoundly human story.
“Life Partners” begins with 29 year-old Sasha in her car, angry. Stopped at a traffic light, she calls the driver of the car in front of her a “bitch” and complains of being cut off. Unabashed, Paige, from the car in front, yells back “you almost knocked my side view mirror off, slut!” Numerous F-bombs ensue as they argue, and harried onlookers don’t know what to make of it.
All fun and games, we learn. Sasha (Leighton Meester) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs) are best friends, and this is part of their shtick. They think it’s funny, and it is funny. We immediately like them. They’re good together. They finish one another’s sentences, enjoy the same bad TV, and even know what type of pillow the other sleeps on. Sasha is a lesbian and Paige is not, but it doesn’t matter: There’s never sexual tension between them, nor is it implied. These two are deeply connected at an emotional level, not a physical one. And as has happened to many great friendships through the years, someone is about to come between them and mess everything up.
Picking up roughly ten years after “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this second installment, entitled “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” finds ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) leading an army of simians in the northern California forest outside of San Francisco. Their encampment is on the way to a dam that the humans in the ruins of San Francisco need to generate power. A group of emissaries lead by human Malcolm (Jason Clarke) go to the apes to reach an agreement that will allow the humans to repair the dam and generate power to their community….
Writing the above paragraph reminded me of the opening crawl to “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” where it’s about trade disputes. At least that movie got to the action pretty quickly. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” does not. The first hour is about the living situations of the humans and the apes, their fragile peace, fixing the dam, and Caesar’s second son being born.