Out on Screen

Out on Screen

Film and Television

Friday, October 02, 2015

Life (for Movies) on Mars

Hollywood has had a love-hate relationship with movies about or set on Mars. The 1950s and 60s saw hit films like War of the Worlds, Invaders from Mars and Robinson Crusoe on Mars (and even the campy Mars Needs Women), but Mars hasn’t been such a good luck charm at the box office of late with duds like Mars Attacks (which has developed a cult following), Ghosts of Mars, and Red Planet. Disney was so worried about the M-word that they removed the “of Mars” from John Carter’s title.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Screen Savor: Sweet and Sour

Twenty years after Noah Baumbach’s well-received directorial debut Kicking and Screaming, and ten years after his critical breakthrough The Squid and the Whale, the writer/director has made his most accomplished (and Woody Allen-esque) film to date with While We’re Young (A24 / Lionsgate). Baumbach saves Ben Stiller the trouble of waiting to hear from Allen by having him play a character that the legendary filmmaker could just as easily have created himself.

If you follow the movies and the people who make them, you are well aware of the spotty career of one-time wunderkind M. Night Shyamalan who hit it big with The Sixth Sense, divided audiences with Unbreakable, came back with the mostly well-received Signs, then started going off the rails with The Village and Lady in the Water (which have their fans and detractors) before finally hitting rock bottom with the reviled The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth. The one bright spot on Shyamalan’s recent resumé is the Fox event series Wayward Pines (even if it too began to go off the rails towards the end).

Friday, September 04, 2015

Screen Savor: Daddy Issues

Set in a rural California town, just north of Los Angeles, Tiger Orange (Wolfe), whose title comes from a paint color sold at the hardware store inherited by Chet (co-screenwriter Mark Strano) after his father died, utilizes flashbacks to illustrate the ways two brothers differed as children. Abandoned by their mother when they were small and raised by their perpetually raging father, Chet and Todd are as different as brothers can be. Chet stayed behind after college to help his father with the store, while Todd (Frankie Valenti) got the hell out of town as fast as he could.

With all the reboots, remakes and re-imaginings hitting cinema screens nowadays, it’s nice to see someone take a look at a TV show that had its heyday at the end of the Swinging Sixties, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., serving up not only a spinoff (The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.) but several feature films (actually TV episodes with newly filmed footage to add more sex and violence) and a TV movie reunion in 1985.

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