Scott Tobias http://ktep.org en In 'Sightseers,' A Killing Spree Gone South http://ktep.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 16499 at http://ktep.org In 'Sightseers,' A Killing Spree Gone South Effects-Heavy 'Oblivion' Pines For An Analog Past http://ktep.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 15089 at http://ktep.org Effects-Heavy 'Oblivion' Pines For An Analog Past Zany 'It's A Disaster': Anything But http://ktep.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 14625 at http://ktep.org Zany 'It's A Disaster': Anything But What Happened In The Overlook's 'Room 237'? http://ktep.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 13682 at http://ktep.org What Happened In The Overlook's 'Room 237'? 'Gimme The Loot': The Tagger's Life, Lightly http://ktep.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 13212 at http://ktep.org 'Gimme The Loot': The Tagger's Life, Lightly '60s Japan, Aglow 'From Up On Poppy Hill' http://ktep.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 12745 at http://ktep.org '60s Japan, Aglow 'From Up On Poppy Hill' 'Everyman's Journey': Don't Believe Everything You Hear http://ktep.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 12290 at http://ktep.org 'Everyman's Journey': Don't Believe Everything You Hear Adolescent Angst Turns Deadly In 'Stoker' http://ktep.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 11814 at http://ktep.org Adolescent Angst Turns Deadly In 'Stoker' 'Snitch': Johnson And The Rock, At Odds In A Drug Drama http://ktep.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 11343 at http://ktep.org 'Snitch': Johnson And The Rock, At Odds In A Drug Drama A '70s 'Playroom,' Without Much Room For Fun http://ktep.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 10431 at http://ktep.org A '70s 'Playroom,' Without Much Room For Fun 'Stand Up Guys' Falls Terminally Flat http://ktep.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 9956 at http://ktep.org 'Stand Up Guys' Falls Terminally Flat Spoiler Alert: 'John Dies,' But The Rest? Who Can Tell? http://ktep.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 9496 at http://ktep.org Spoiler Alert: 'John Dies,' But The Rest? Who Can Tell? The Hard-Earned Liberty Of 'Happy People' http://ktep.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 9498 at http://ktep.org The Hard-Earned Liberty Of 'Happy People' 'Gangster Squad': Law? What Law? http://ktep.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 8635 at http://ktep.org 'Gangster Squad': Law? What Law? 'This Is 40': Ambling Into Midlife http://ktep.org/post/40-ambling-midlife Consider the premises of writer-director Judd Apatow's first three comedies:<p><strong>*</strong> A lonely tech salesman (Steve Carell) seeks to end a lifelong romantic drought in <em>The 40-Year-Old Virgin</em>.<br /><strong>*</strong> A mismatched couple (Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl) gets pregnant after a regrettable one-night stand in <em>Knocked Up</em>. Thu, 20 Dec 2012 22:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 7431 at http://ktep.org 'This Is 40': Ambling Into Midlife A Sin City Comedy That Comes Up Snake Eyes http://ktep.org/post/sin-city-comedy-comes-snake-eyes Based on Beth Raymer's memoir, <em>Lay the Favorite</em> has a cheeky, double-meaning title that sets up the story and the irreverent tone with impressive efficiency; the reference is both to the gambling practice of betting for the favorite and to the heroine's generous sexual proclivities.<p>Gambling and sex are the twin elixirs of Sin City, of course, but mixed together they can create an unstable alchemy subject to the ups and downs of hot streaks and cold decks. Thu, 06 Dec 2012 22:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 6565 at http://ktep.org A Sin City Comedy That Comes Up Snake Eyes Indie Queen Posey Reigns Over Familiar Territory http://ktep.org/post/indie-queen-posey-reigns-over-familiar-territory When Parker Posey was crowned "queen of the indies" in the mid-to-late '90s, the title referred to her Sundance-dominating ubiquity. But it could just as well have applied to the Parker Posey <em>type</em> — powerful and wonderfully imperious, with a habit of cutting her underlings down to size.<p>That's the Posey who turns up in Michael Walker's tense comedy <em>Price Check</em>, where she plays a relentless corporate climber who shakes up a sleepy regional office. She inspires. She terrorizes. Thu, 15 Nov 2012 22:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 5315 at http://ktep.org Indie Queen Posey Reigns Over Familiar Territory Between Friends, Age Is Nothing But A Number http://ktep.org/post/between-friends-age-nothing-number In two of her most prominent early roles — as Woody Allen's teenage girlfriend in <em>Manhattan</em> and as Dorothy Stratten, the slain <em>Playboy</em> centerfold in Bob Fosse's <em>Star 80</em> — Mariel Hemingway played young women under the sway of older, more powerful men. Both characters are objects of beauty, and Hemingway's soft voice and hazy eyes reinforced their passivity, even as they hid a more introspective side. Thu, 08 Nov 2012 22:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 4817 at http://ktep.org Between Friends, Age Is Nothing But A Number A Life And A Plane, In Free Fall From 20,000 Feet http://ktep.org/post/life-and-plane-free-fall-20000-feet For Whip Whitaker, the commercial airline pilot played by Denzel Washington in <em>Flight</em>, daily life is about achieving a practiced but tenuous equilibrium between the professional he's required to be and the wreck he really is. As the opening scene reveals, it involves keeping his poisons in harmony: Peeling himself off a hotel bed after a wild night, Whip guzzles the stale swill from a quarter-full beer bottle, does a couple of lines of cocaine as a pick-me-up and strides confidently out the door in his uniform. Thu, 01 Nov 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 4277 at http://ktep.org A Life And A Plane, In Free Fall From 20,000 Feet 'Ralph': An 8-Bit Hero With Plenty Of Heart http://ktep.org/post/ralph-8-bit-hero-plenty-heart After a very long engagement that began with the original <em>Toy Story</em>, Disney finally made an honest woman out of Pixar in 2006, when it paid the requisite billions to move the computer animation giant into the Magic Kingdom. But Disney's spirited 2010 hit <em>Tangled</em> made it abundantly clear that Pixar had a say in the creative marriage: The story of Rapunzel may be standard Disney princess fare, but the whip-crack pacing and fractured-fairy tale wit felt unmistakably Pixar. From now on, it would seem, Mickey Mouse and Luxo Jr. Thu, 01 Nov 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 4278 at http://ktep.org 'Ralph': An 8-Bit Hero With Plenty Of Heart Getting Merrily 'Smashed,' And Then Crashing http://ktep.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 2910 at http://ktep.org Getting Merrily 'Smashed,' And Then Crashing 'The Paperboy': A Crime Drama Lacking Conviction http://ktep.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 2497 at http://ktep.org 'The Paperboy': A Crime Drama Lacking Conviction 'Solomon Kane,' Hellbound And Down In Old England http://ktep.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 2074 at http://ktep.org 'Solomon Kane,' Hellbound And Down In Old England The Elusive, Endangered 'Knuckleball' http://ktep.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 1506 at http://ktep.org The Elusive, Endangered 'Knuckleball' 'Revenant' Mashes Up Undead Havoc, Anti-War Theme http://ktep.org/post/revenant-mashes-undead-havoc-anti-war-theme Back in 2005, for the Showtime anthology series <em>Masters of Horror,</em> director Joe Dante and writer Sam Hamm were given carte blanche to make whatever they wanted, so long as it came in under an hour and could be classified as "horror."<p>They delivered, in <em>Homecoming,</em> one of the sharpest and angriest films about the Iraq war to date — a blunt allegory about U.S. soldiers who rise from the dead not to feast on the living but to vote the president out of office. Thu, 23 Aug 2012 21:38:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 345 at http://ktep.org 'Revenant' Mashes Up Undead Havoc, Anti-War Theme 'Cosmopolis' Captures Decadent Spirit Of The Age http://ktep.org/post/cosmopolis-captures-decadent-spirit-age A matinee idol for the age of HDTVs and "retina displays," Robert Pattinson has a face that seems to require a higher resolution — glossy and ghostly pale, all sleek lines and alabaster skin. As Edward Cullen, the emo vampire in the <em>Twilight</em> saga, Pattinson plays a creature so immaculately inhuman that he literally sparkles in the sunlight. Thu, 16 Aug 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 280 at http://ktep.org 'Cosmopolis' Captures Decadent Spirit Of The Age 'The Campaign': Just How Low Can Politicians Go? http://ktep.org/post/campaign-just-how-low-can-politicians-go There's a devil-may-care recklessness to Will Ferrell that sets him apart from other screen comics — a willingness to commit to the moment without fear of embarrassment, even if the comedy goes right off the rails.<p>The classic Ferrell scene — like his <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5A0-u85aAYg">"prayer to Baby Jesus"</a> in <em>Talladega Nights</em> — is a monologue that skitters along on weird and unexpected tangents that just barely tie into the speech's ostensible purpose. Thu, 09 Aug 2012 21:00:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 204 at http://ktep.org 'The Campaign': Just How Low Can Politicians Go? A Neighborhood Watch Goes Alien-Hunting http://ktep.org/post/neighborhood-watch-goes-alien-hunting The savings are never passed on to the consumer, but a little product placement has become standard practice for Hollywood movies — a pizza box here or a conspicuously angled soda can there, and few take notice. But product <em>integration</em> is another matter: If a movie has been explicitly designed to accommodate a sponsor, it's worse than just a commercial movie. It's a movie commercial.<p><em>The Watch</em> concerns four neighborhood-watch guys from suburban Ohio who try to ward off an alien attack. Thu, 26 Jul 2012 21:03:00 +0000 Scott Tobias 70 at http://ktep.org A Neighborhood Watch Goes Alien-Hunting