Daredevil (Episodes 1-4)

Less of a binge watch, more of an IV drip approach to entertainment, but there’s plenty of room on the bandwagon … Netflix’s Daredevil series is an interesting exercise in TV storytelling.  A show meant to be binge-watched unfolds more like chapters of a novel, rather than interconnected but self-contained short stories, the way most shows would. Daredevil (2015) Created by Drew Goddard Starring: Charlie Cox, Rosario Dawson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Vondie Curtis-Hall Review (Eps 1-4, collectively): 3 stars (of five) While a standard TV pilot tries to cram in everything the show hopes to...

The Age of Adaline

Too often lately, I find myself engaged by the actors on the screen or by the sure hand of the director, while the story itself drags the film down. Such was the problem with last week’s debut of True Story, and such was the case when I recently streamed the Wong Kar-Wai epic The...

The Grandmaster

[Badmouth On Demand:  Occasional reviews of films on DVD/streaming services.] 2013’s The Grandmaster is a recent manifestation of director Wong Kar-Wai’s striking visual sense, but it might be a hard film for Western audiences, at least, to connect with. The Grandmaster (2013) Directed...

True Story

What True Story has going for it is its actors and its directors.  Well-shot, well-acted, it’s a film you really want to like, but the story doesn’t hold together in a satisfying way.  Jonah Hill, James Franco and Felicity Jones give excellent performances–Hill’s a career best, and Franco in a part well suited to his genial creepiness. Lovely direction from Rupert Goold takes a story that’s heavy on “this or that pair of people talking calmly” and makes each shot as pretty as a painting, engaging us with a sure directorial eye (and the eye of cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi). True...

Into the Woods

Stephen Sondheim’s fairy-tale mashup gives us the magic in act one,  then uses act two to try to teach us something deeper about being a failed, jaded adult. That second hour is irredeemable drudgery, as the story betrays itself and the audience and  drags  to a lame...

Unbreakable

Angelina Jolie again tackles a big, challenging story set against the horrors of war, and once again delivers a well-crafted film that fails to fire on all cylinders. Something’s missing here that would transform a powerful set of facts into a moving story.—————— Directed by Angelina Jolie Starring: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund Review: 2.5 stars (of five) As with her feature debut as a director, 2011’s In the Land of Blood and Honey, Angelina Jolie’s unbroken is a well-made film with engaging actors, a skillful and assured directorial hand, a powerful...

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The final Hobbit installment is called “Battle of the Five Armies,” so you can’t say you’ve been warned. It’s a lot of battling, between a lot of armies, and not quite enough of anything else to satisfy fans of things besides extended, exhausting combat sequences. —————— Directed by: Peter Jackson Starring: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Ian McKellan, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett Review: 2.5 stars (of five) The third Hobbit move is an extended—seriously extended—fight scene, a brutal, exhausting third act to the lengthy adaptation of the Tolkein...