Scott Tobias http://publicradioeast.org en In 'Sightseers,' A Killing Spree Gone South http://publicradioeast.org/post/sightseers-killing-spree-gone-south Scrub away the gore and the nastier bits of provocation, and Ben Wheatley's <em>Sightseers</em> belongs squarely in the tradition of British classics like <em>Kind Hearts and Coronets</em> and <em>The Ruling Class — </em>satires that transformed simmering class resentment into brittle, nasty dark comedy.<p>The key to these films is a disciplined tone: Whatever contempt the filmmakers have for their characters, or whatever types those characters represent, is harnessed by dry wit and an instinct not to overplay their outrageous premises. Thu, 09 May 2013 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 13674 at http://publicradioeast.org In 'Sightseers,' A Killing Spree Gone South 'Pain & Gain': Michael Bay's Suffering Fools http://publicradioeast.org/post/pain-gain-michael-bays-suffering-fools For Michael Bay, the director of <em>Armageddon</em> and the <em>Transformers</em> movies, to comment on the excesses of American culture would be a little like — well, Michael Bay commenting on the excesses of American culture.<p>And yet that's exactly what he does with <em>Pain & Gain</em>, a stranger-than-fiction yarn about a South Florida crime spree that points and snickers in the direction of precisely the supersized grotesquerie that's long been Bay's stock-in-trade. Thu, 25 Apr 2013 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 12589 at http://publicradioeast.org 'Pain & Gain': Michael Bay's Suffering Fools Effects-Heavy 'Oblivion' Pines For An Analog Past http://publicradioeast.org/post/effects-heavy-oblivion-pines-analog-past The score for <em>Oblivion</em> was composed by M83, a superb French electronic outfit that derives its name from one of the spectral pinwheels known as spiral galaxies. Thu, 18 Apr 2013 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 12044 at http://publicradioeast.org Effects-Heavy 'Oblivion' Pines For An Analog Past Zany 'It's A Disaster': Anything But http://publicradioeast.org/post/zany-its-disaster-anything For all his success as a stand-up comic, as one half of the brilliant HBO sketch comedy <em>Mr. Show</em> W<em>ith Bob & David</em> and as the hapless Tobias on <em>Arrested Development</em>, David Cross has struggled to find his footing in the movies, remaining relegated mainly to forgettable character roles. Thu, 11 Apr 2013 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 11526 at http://publicradioeast.org Zany 'It's A Disaster': Anything But What Happened In The Overlook's 'Room 237'? http://publicradioeast.org/post/what-happened-overlooks-room-237 Of all the great filmmakers, Stanley Kubrick may be the one most associated with control — there's nary an inflection, gesture, camera movement or prop out of place in his movies, and significance invested in every detail.<p>Tales of his perfectionism have become the stuff of legend: projects developed over years or even decades, open-ended shoots where actors were bullied into 100 takes if necessary, special lenses crafted just to achieve a certain lighting effect in <em>Barry Lyndon,</em> obsessive micromanagement of every aspect of a production.<p>And with a body of work that includes such Thu, 28 Mar 2013 23:46:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 10500 at http://publicradioeast.org What Happened In The Overlook's 'Room 237'? 'Gimme The Loot': The Tagger's Life, Lightly http://publicradioeast.org/post/gimme-loot-taggers-life-lightly For the Bronx graffiti artists of <em>Gimme the Loot,</em> Adam Leon's sweet, vibrant debut feature, "Bombing the Apple" is the holy grail of tagging achievements.<p>"The Apple" in question is the protuberance that emerges from behind the center-right wall in Shea Stadium — they refuse to acknowledge the corporate name Citi Field — every time a New York Mets player hits a home run.<p>The thought of seeing their supersized insignia rising to the sky, taunting their Queens rivals, is a delicious fantasy to consider; they're like thieves idly plotting to knock over Fort Knox. Thu, 21 Mar 2013 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 9965 at http://publicradioeast.org 'Gimme The Loot': The Tagger's Life, Lightly '60s Japan, Aglow 'From Up On Poppy Hill' http://publicradioeast.org/post/60s-japan-aglow-poppy-hill Of the many wonderful qualities associated with the films of Studio Ghibli — the Japanese animation house co-founded by Hiyao Miyazaki, the visionary director of <em>My Neighbor Totoro</em>, <em>Kiki's Delivery Service</em> and <em>Spirited Away</em> — serenity may be the most key. Ghibli productions offer the stirring adventures and magical creatures of their American counterparts, and often operate by a wondrously mysterious internal logic, but they do so without feeling compelled to grab a young audience by the lapels. Thu, 14 Mar 2013 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 9431 at http://publicradioeast.org '60s Japan, Aglow 'From Up On Poppy Hill' 'Everyman's Journey': Don't Believe Everything You Hear http://publicradioeast.org/post/everymans-journey-dont-believe-everything-you-hear Some bands are born of passion and deep camaraderie, a collective desire to rebel against authority — or at least to look cool. Others are born because a major label threatens to drop them if they don't find a lead vocalist.<p>It's possible that Journey started as the former before morphing into the latter. Most people know the band as the hit-making arena rockers responsible for "Don't Stop Believin'," "Open Arms," "Faithfully" and other songs you danced to at your cousin's wedding. Thu, 07 Mar 2013 22:00:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 8903 at http://publicradioeast.org 'Everyman's Journey': Don't Believe Everything You Hear Adolescent Angst Turns Deadly In 'Stoker' http://publicradioeast.org/post/adolescent-angst-turns-deadly-stoker It's a mark of a great filmmaker when a movie is felt first and understood later, allowing audiences to intuit their way through a fog of mystery and sensuality before finally getting a clear view of the landscape. Thu, 28 Feb 2013 22:12:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 8356 at http://publicradioeast.org Adolescent Angst Turns Deadly In 'Stoker' 'Snitch': Johnson And The Rock, At Odds In A Drug Drama http://publicradioeast.org/post/snitch-johnson-and-rock-odds-drug-drama "Inspired by true events" — a phrase that implies the greatest possible distance between something that actually happened and what's about to happen on screen<em> — Snitch</em> tries to be two movies at once.<p>One is an earnest social drama about the cruel, arbitrary nature of mandatory minimum sentences for first-time drug offenders. The other is an action movie starring Dwayne Johnson, the sometime wrestler popularly known under his <em>nom de headlock</em>, The Rock. Thu, 21 Feb 2013 22:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 7823 at http://publicradioeast.org 'Snitch': Johnson And The Rock, At Odds In A Drug Drama A '70s 'Playroom,' Without Much Room For Fun http://publicradioeast.org/post/70s-playroom-without-much-room-fun There's a sequence early in the laughable drama <em>The Playroom</em> that epitomizes everything wrong with it: With her parents out of the house, 16-year-old Maggie Cantwell (Olivia Harris), the eldest of four latchkey kids, sneaks into the garage with her boyfriend on a determined quest to lose her virginity. Thu, 07 Feb 2013 22:04:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 6760 at http://publicradioeast.org A '70s 'Playroom,' Without Much Room For Fun 'Stand Up Guys' Falls Terminally Flat http://publicradioeast.org/post/stand-guys-falls-terminally-flat Intended as a victory lap for three great stars of advancing age, <em>Stand Up Guys</em> is another entry in the "old folks doing stuff" subgenre, which offers comic affirmation that life is not strictly for the young.<p>This is the subgenre that had a retirement-home population necking like teenagers in <em>Cocoon</em>, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman jumping out of an airplane in <em>The Bucket List</em>, and ancient astronauts repairing an old Soviet satellite in <em>Space Cowboys</em>. Thu, 31 Jan 2013 22:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 6211 at http://publicradioeast.org 'Stand Up Guys' Falls Terminally Flat Spoiler Alert: 'John Dies,' But The Rest? Who Can Tell? http://publicradioeast.org/post/spoiler-alert-john-dies-rest-who-can-tell There's a fine line between a genre filmmaker with an offbeat sensibility and a maker of prefab cult movies — someone who appeals too aggressively to a cult audience that doesn't yet exist. Thu, 24 Jan 2013 22:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 5679 at http://publicradioeast.org Spoiler Alert: 'John Dies,' But The Rest? Who Can Tell? The Hard-Earned Liberty Of 'Happy People' http://publicradioeast.org/post/hard-earned-liberty-happy-people It's midway through <em>Burden of Dreams</em>, the superb documentary about the making of his glorious 1982 fiasco <em>Fitzcarraldo</em>, and iconoclastic director Werner Herzog has had enough.<p>His dream project, about a Peruvian rubber baron who tries to build an opera house in the middle of the jungle, has been beset by false starts, delays and tragedies — most notoriously his attempt to drag a steamboat up a muddy hill using a primitive pulley system. Thu, 24 Jan 2013 22:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 5681 at http://publicradioeast.org The Hard-Earned Liberty Of 'Happy People' 'Gangster Squad': Law? What Law? http://publicradioeast.org/post/gangster-squad-law-what-law Decked out in impeccable suits and a fedora so crisply brimmed it could cut through drywall, Josh Brolin stars in <em>Gangster Squad</em> as a square-jawed policeman of the first order, an Eliot Ness type who would sooner burn a pile of dirty money than pocket a single dollar.<p>In 1949 Los Angeles, Brolin's Sgt. John O'Mara has been trusted with the task of rebuffing the threat posed by Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), an East Coast gangster working quickly and ruthlessly to set up shop.<p>The trouble for the police is that not everyone is as incorruptible as Sgt. Thu, 10 Jan 2013 22:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 4678 at http://publicradioeast.org 'Gangster Squad': Law? What Law? Getting Merrily 'Smashed,' And Then Crashing http://publicradioeast.org/post/getting-merrily-smashed-and-then-crashing "Hi, I'm Kate, and I'm an alcoholic."<p>When Kate, an elementary-school teacher played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, gives the requisite confession in her first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, she laughs her way through it. It's the laugh of a casual drinker, like someone whose bar-hopping odyssey has left her passed out on a neighbor's lawn, apologizing with a grin and a shrug the next morning. She's young, she likes to blow off a little steam, and she can hardly believe that all those good times have landed her here, in front of people who are presumably much worse off than she is. Thu, 11 Oct 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 3453 at http://publicradioeast.org Getting Merrily 'Smashed,' And Then Crashing 'The Paperboy': A Crime Drama Lacking Conviction http://publicradioeast.org/post/paperboy-crime-drama-lacking-conviction The words "florid" and "inert" are not quite antonyms, but it would nonetheless seem impossible for those two adjectives to apply to the same thing. Thu, 04 Oct 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 2957 at http://publicradioeast.org 'The Paperboy': A Crime Drama Lacking Conviction 'Solomon Kane,' Hellbound And Down In Old England http://publicradioeast.org/post/solomon-kane-hellbound-and-down-old-england Published mainly in the pulp magazine <em>Weird Tales</em> — also the preferred outlet for his most famous creation, Conan the Barbarian — the serial adventures of Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane character provided an early model for the "sword and sorcery" subgenre, that crude yet irresistible fusion of the superpowerful and the supernatural.<p>A man of extremes, embodying evil and righteousness as circumstances warrant, Kane slashes his way through a barren hellscape, chased by demons sent to claim his condemned soul. Thu, 27 Sep 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 2418 at http://publicradioeast.org 'Solomon Kane,' Hellbound And Down In Old England The Elusive, Endangered 'Knuckleball' http://publicradioeast.org/post/elusive-endangered-knuckleball There are essentially two things that can happen with a knuckleball. It can float toward the plate without spin, jerk around like boozy relatives at a wedding hall and make the world's best hitters look like hapless <em>Looney Tunes</em> characters. Or it can float toward the plate <em>with</em> spin, lope with a steady trajectory at 65 mph and give the world's best hitters the juiciest slab of red meat this side of Sizzler. Wed, 19 Sep 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 1759 at http://publicradioeast.org The Elusive, Endangered 'Knuckleball'