The Columbia Chronicle

Wooing ‘The Princess of Montpensier’

By Drew Hunt

May 2, 2011

Though it may be set against the backdrop of a 16th century battlefield, seasoned French director Bertrand Tavernier’s 25th feature film isn’t so much a war between nations as it is a war between the sexes. Examining the line between male entitlement and female obedience, Tavernier makes room for the kind of rich subtext he’s known for.“The Princess of Montpensier,” based on a classic story of the same name, written...

Genre flick puts smarts before gore

By Drew Hunt

April 25, 2011

Finding its footing somewhere between Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” and the 2009 film “Zombieland” is the vampire film “Stake Land,” an exceedingly entertaining thriller from writer/director Jim Mickle.Borrowing from a number of cinematic genres, “Stake Land” is a beautifully composed piece of work, which is equally as successful as pure horror escapism. Mickle and co-writer Nick Damici—who also stars in the ...

Bill Hicks documentary gives legendary comic subpar treatment

By Drew Hunt

April 18, 2011

Largely under-appreciated in his lifetime, comedian Bill Hicks has since become one of the most influential and admired stand-ups in history. His posthumous success led to a myriad of CD releases and live tributes. Now, filmmakers Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas have given him the bio treatment with their documentary “American: The Bill Hicks Story.”Unfortunately, the film frequently resembles something of a toothless cog....

Life’s lonely road, ‘Rubber’ style

By Drew Hunt

April 11, 2011

Sometimes a film builds a reputation for itself based not on its quality as a piece of cinema but for the sheer nerve of its presence. Such is the case with French director Quentin Dupieux’s debut feature, its premise adequately described as “that killertire movie.”“Rubber,” a sort of homage to the bloody road thrillers of the late ’70s, is the story of a discarded tire in the middle of a California desert tha...

Rainn Wilson ain’t so ‘Super’

By Drew Hunt

April 4, 2011

After cutting his teeth under the banner of Troma Entertainment—a horror film production company—director James Gunn seems poised for a career working in shlocky exploitation cinema.For his third film, the pseudo-comic book movie “Super,” Gunn enlisted the help of Rainn Wilson to portray Frank, a deeply perturbed fry cook with a fascination for religious television.When Frank’s wife, played by Liv Tyler, is lured a...

Michelle Monaghan hops a train back to Chicago

By Drew Hunt

March 28, 2011

Director Duncan Jones is back with his sophomore effort “Source Code,” a sci-fi action thriller set on a doomed commuter train headed toward Chicago. Starring in the film is Michelle Monaghan, a former Columbia student, who decided to pursue acting during her senior year.  Since then, she’s appeared in a number of films, including “Due Date” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Now she’s appearing opposite actor Jake G...

Suburban woes in the 21st century

By Drew Hunt

March 28, 2011

As a story ripped straight from recent news headlines, the new film “Win Win” is likely to hit close to home for a lot of people. From director Tom McCarthy—a man with a myriad of credits, including director of 2008’s “The Visitor,” co-writer of the Pixar film “Up,” and recurring character on HBO’s “The Wire”—the film is a domestic exploration of middle class America that sees the director returning t...

Enter the ‘Source Code,’ have mind blown

By Drew Hunt

March 28, 2011

French director Jean-Luc Godard once said, “Cinema is not the station. Cinema is the train.” There’s a distinct air of truth to that. If movies are meant to provide an experience that transports us to some place new, a train is an accurate analogy. Meanwhile, the station represents cogitation: a space to reflect on the journey.Keeping this in mind, the new movie “Source Code” is in some ways a rumination on the nature of cine...

Surveying economic woes with “Win Win”

By Drew Hunt

March 28, 2011

As a guy who’s worn many hats in his career, Tom McCarthy can seemingly do it all. He’s appeared as an actor in films and television shows like “Syriana,” and HBO’s “The Wire”; directed his own films, including 2008’s “The Visitor”; and co-wrote Pixar’s 2009 comedy “Up.” For his latest directorial effort, the family comedy-drama “Win Win,” McCarthy returned to his home town of New Province, Ne...

Indie director shoots for campiness, misses completely

By Drew Hunt

February 21, 2011

Gregg Araki, a director whose films from the early ’90s were considered to be the best examples of the burgeoning New Queer Cinema, has returned to his filmic roots with his latest offering “Kaboom,” a coming-of-age tale by way of sci-fi mystery. The film blends so many styles and themes it’s nearly impossible to keep up.Harkening back to the sexual anarchism that permeated his early work, “Kaboom” is about 18-year-old Sm...

‘I Am Number Four’ is woefully typical

By Drew Hunt

February 21, 2011

As far as movies go, the middle of February isn’t the most vibrant time of the year. The summer blockbusters are still a few months away, while the award contenders of the fall have long come and gone. But not every film is a miss—the delightful “Cedar Rapids” is currently in theaters. Still, for every decent option there’s at least a dozen shoddy ones.Enter “I Am Number Four,” an earnest yet arduous sci-fi ...

Arteta’s indie comedy brings big laughs

By Drew Hunt

February 14, 2011

Ed Helms is a burgeoning comedic star, beginning to establish a viable film career. In his day job at “The Office,” Helms plays the pompously boisterous Andy Bernard, a character who radiates charisma as much as he does arrogance. Yet in his breakout role—2009’s bro-fest “The Hangover”—the actor took a turn for the nebbish in his portrayal of Stu, a different kind of character whom Helms embodied with ease. As ...

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