It’s becoming a bit of a joke. The man hasn’t made a legitimate mainstream movie since 2001 (2006 if you count the digital experiment Inland empire) and yet he remains one of the most highly regarded and beloved auteurs in all of film. His past efforts include masterworks such as Mulholland Dr., Lost Highway, Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man, and Eraserhead, and even his lesser efforts (Dune, The Straight Story, to some extent) radiate an artistic immediacy that is hard to shake.
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With nearly $384 million in the bank and another four weeks that it can more or less dominate the box office, it’s clear that Universal’s Fast and Furious franchise is a monster hit—and it shows no signs of stopping. What once was a paltry post-modern attempt to merge underground street racing with a police procedural has now turned into an ever-increasing exercise in action genre excess.
The main characters have gone from outlaws to semi-good guys, given a pass by the powers that be in order to prove their superhero like mantle both behind the wheel and outside a vehicle, and the core narratives have shifted from speed to espionage.
This past weekend, as it slowly slinks past the $300 million mark at the box office and prepares to play (possible) spoiler to Boyhood and Birdman at this year’s Academy Awards, American Sniper remains one of the most talked about and controversial films of 2014.
Telling the supposedly true tale of America’s deadliest marksman, Chris Kyle (the film is based on his autobiography) and showing the hardship both abroad and at home for such men, director Clint Eastwood redeemed himself after the disastrous Jersey Boys to prove that, when it comes to mindless jingoism and fake babies, nobody does it better than the aging icon.
Over the last few days, ever since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nominations for the 2014/15 Oscars, there’s been a groundswell of criticism over what many in the press are calling “the whitest” pool of candidates since the mid ‘90s. The lack of diversity, especially in the main categories (Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress, Director, and Screenwriting) has the La-Z-Boy pundits up in arms, with the lack of respect for Paramount’s Civil Rights epic, Selma, front and center.
It’s the hack still being heard around the world, a surreal situation made even more bizarre by the reaction of the target and the accompanying response from the community. Before Sony succumbed to the pressure put on it by a shadowy group known only as the “Guardians of Peace”, which led to the studio pulling the proposed Seth Rogen/James Franco political comedy The Interview from distribution, it was simply dealing with the collective face egg that comes from your private corporate business becoming Reddit fodder.