November 24, 2016 admin 0Comment

Ah, the holiday are upon us, and so too, are forced family gatherings. Movies often show extreme examples of how the ties that bind sometimes strangle. The best family comedies put the fun in dysfunctional as characters have their patience tested — often by the folks who can push their buttons best. Here are ten memorable and darkly funny flicks. 1. “Pieces of April” Poor April (Katie Holmes) is the black sheep of her clan, a tattooed hipster living in downtown New York. She wants to make what may be the last Thanksgiving dinner for her dysfunctional family — long-suffering…

October 12, 2016 admin 0Comment

When I was 10 years old, my best friend screened “Creepshow,” George Romero and Stephen King’s 1982 satirical horror anthology, as the centerpiece of his sleepover birthday. At 10 minutes before lights down, I faked choking on a slice of pizza and called my parents to drive me home. Neither my best friend nor other guests called me a chicken or anything, because they’d already worn out that name several sleepovers ago. Everybody knew I didn’t do horror movies, not even funny ones. Not then, not since. The only difference is that, as a kid, I felt like I needed a…

September 26, 2016 admin 0Comment

“War Dogs” kind of sneaks up on the viewer, which is a weird thing to say about a movie that stars Jonah Hill and Miles Teller as the slimiest characters of their entire careers and was directed by Todd Phillips, the guy who made the “Hangover” trilogy. Not only is “War Dogs” a surprisingly well-told tale in the classic American rags-to-riches-to-rags mode. It’s also a mordant morality fable with a genuine heart of darkness. (Plus, it has one hell of a soundtrack, matching its moods to an array of classic rock and hip-hop tunes in the Martin Scorsese vein.) The film may lure…

September 23, 2016 admin 0Comment

A story as well-known as Chesley Sullenberger’s is difficult to approach: How do you make a movie about a man who did his job well and subsequently became a national hero? When the script for “Untitled Story About Captain Sullenberger and the Hudson River” came across Clint Eastwood’s desk, the director claims that he initially balked at the idea. But what surprised the veteran director about the script was how much of the behind-the-scenes drama he hadn’t heard. “I didn’t know the investigative board was trying to paint the picture that he had done the wrong thing,” Eastwood told The Guardian….

September 16, 2016 admin 0Comment

If you’re a cinephile visiting Los Angeles, you’ll have a crowded itinerary, but make time for an evening at the New Beverly Cinema. In previous lives, the theater was a candy factory and vaudeville house, but now the theater, owned by Quentin Tarantino, is a mecca for fans of celluloid and camp that pairs silver screen gems every evening. When I visited the New Beverly, I caught a Curtis Hanson double feature. New Bev patrons will confirm that it can be easy to bow out after the first flick, but that wasn’t the case with Hanson’s work. The audience was…

August 6, 2016 admin 0Comment

There are plenty of reasons to mourn the passing of Gene Wilder, the comedic icon who died yesterday at the age of 83. Wilder conceived of the idea for “Young Frankenstein” and helped director Mel Brooks write the script, for which Brooks eventually won an Oscar. Wilder also nabbed an Oscar nomination for his fevered portrayal of Leo Bloom in “The Producers.” He starred in a passel of hugely popular comedies with Brooks and Richard Pryor. He married Gilda Radner and started a support network in her name after she died of ovarian cancer. Later in life, he wrote a memoir and three…