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Last updateMon, 23 Mar 2020 12pm

1. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Paramount)

2. Last Vegas (Sony)

3. Captain Phillips (Sony)

4. Riddick* (Universal)

5. Rush* (Universal)

6. Lee Daniels' The Butler (Weinstein/Anchor Bay)

7. Carrie* (MGM)

8. Fruitvale Station (Anchor Bay)

9. Machete Kills* (20th Century Fox)

10. Instructions Not Included (Lionsgate)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Captain Phillips (Sony)

2. Riddick* (Universal)

3. Lee Daniels' The Butler (Weinstein/Anchor Bay)

4. Machete Kills* (20th Century Fox)

5. Runner Runner* (20th Century Fox)

6. Carrie* (MGM)

7. Instructions Not Included (Lionsgate)

8. Fruitvale Station (Anchor Bay)

9. Fast and Furious 6 (Universal)

10. Prisoners (Warner Bros.)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Riddick* (Universal)

2. Runner Runner* (20th Century Fox)

3. You're Next (Lionsgate)

4. Carrie* (MGM)

5. Fruitvale Station (Anchor Bay)

6. Lee Daniels' The Butler (Weinstein/Anchor Bay)

7. Don Jon* (20th Century Fox)

8. Despicable Me 2 (Universal)

9. Enough Said* (20th Century Fox)

10. Blue Caprice (IFC)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

Banshee (Friday, Jan. 10, Cinemax), season premiere: If you haven’t yet seen the first season of Banshee, do so—it’s a 10-episode rush of gonzo-pulp mayhem that defies reason, and yet it somehow still works, like a visceral mash-up of Justified, Twin Peaks, Fight Club and some sexy number you’d see much later in the night on Cinemax. You’d sprain something if you jumped in on Season 2 tonight. Go ahead; The Only TV Column That Matters™ will be here, waiting.

Shameless (Sunday, Jan. 12, Showtime), season premiere: Fiona (Emmy Rossum) and her job may finally have the family “creeping up on the poverty line,” but all is not yet well in Gallagher world: Lip (Jeremy Allen White) is finding college tougher than he thought; Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) and Debbie (Emma Kenney) have become hormonal-teen assholes; Ian (Cameron Monaghan) is still missing; and, even worse, Frank (William H. Macy) has been found and returned—and he’s learned a few … new ways … to get alcohol into his body now that he can’t drink. Four seasons in, Shameless has yet to run out of ways to simultaneously delight and disgust. Once more: Forget Modern Familythis is America’s family.

True Detective (Sunday, Jan. 12, HBO), series debut: Show creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto has set up True Detective as an anthology series that would introduce a new setting and cast every season—so he probably screwed himself by producing such an incredible first run, with stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson turning in some of their most intense performances to date. The pair play disparate detectives (Harrelson’s Martin Hart is a linear-thinking traditionalist; McConaughey’s Rust Cohle is hyper-smart profiler with a penchant for unsettling spiels about the futility of existence) investigating an occult-style murder in 1995 Louisiana. The twist is, the two are telling the story from their own viewpoints in 2012, being interviewed by police about a similar recent killing. Even with the time shifts, True Detective is seamless and riveting, more of an extended indie film than a crime series. If you see only one TV show this year, 1. Why are you on this page, snobby? And, 2. Make it True Detective.

Bitten (Monday, Jan. 13, Syfy), series debut: Welcome back to Gorgeous Supernatural Creatures Just Trying to Fit in Mondays, with returning series Lost Girl and Being Human, and new Syfy entry Bitten—for those keeping score, that’s a succubus, a vampire, a ghost and now three werewolves. Bitten stars Laura Vandervoort (Smallville) as a werewolf who’s split acrimoniously from her beardy-man pack to live the “normal” life of an urbanite—who has to strip down and wolf-out in the woods on occasion. Like Lost Girl and Being Human, Bitten looks like it was shot for $1,000 over the weekend in Vancouver, but it doesn’t achieve the deft humor/drama mix of either—so it piles on the sex scenes. Prediction: Hit.

Archer, Chozen (Monday, Jan. 13, FX), season premiere, series debut: As we—and they—learn in the first episode of Season 5, Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and the International Secret Intelligence Service have been causing global havoc for years without the sanction of the U.S. government, thus setting up a season-long arc with the on-the-lam spy gang attempting to unload a ton of cocaine before Pam (Amber Nash) ingests it all, because, you know, Archer. Moving the show to Mondays seems like an equally suicidal mission, but at least FX finally has a semi-worthy animated companion in Chozen, the story of a gay white ex-con rapper on a mission; it’s from the minds behind Archer and Eastbound and Down. It’s half-baked, but Chozen is at least good enough to beat off the competition … phrasing.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR JAN. 14!

Army of the Damned

Followed by reality-TV cameras, a police chief (Sully Erna—yes, the singer of Godsmack) and his men battle a small-town zombie outbreak. Also starring rassler Tommy Dreamer, porn star Jasmin St. Claire and … Joey Fatone?! (Screen Media)

Carrie

An outcast high-schooler (Chloë Grace Moretz) with telekinetic powers gets revenge-y at her prom, and the Liberal Media blames it on her religious mother (Julianne Moore). Based on a book, movie and first-person shooter. (MGM)

Riddick

In the third and final (?) installment of the series, Riddick (Vin Diesel) finally decides to get the hell off of the stupid desert planet (good call) and sends a signal to the mercenaries out to capture/kill him (bad call). Oh, and now he has a pet! (Universal)

You’re Next

A gang of ax-wielding killers take a rich family hostage in their home, and it’s up to a 98-pound houseguest (Sharni Vinson) to save everyone from the animal-masked assailants. Surprise! They all die. (Lionsgate)

More New DVD Releases (Jan. 14)

A.C.O.D., Big Sur, Enough Said, Fresh Meat, Fruitvale Station, Gasland Part II, Getting That Girl, How to Make Money Selling Drugs, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Short Term 12, A Single Shot, The Spectacular Now, 20 Feet From Stardom, Voodoo Possession.

Published in TV

If you’ve read the 1974 Stephen King novel Carrie, and you’ve seen the 1976 Brian De Palma film, you know that the book and the film are very different.

Well, the new Carrie remake, which stars Chloë Grace Moretz in the role that netted Sissy Spacek an Oscar nomination for the 1976 film, has more in common with De Palma’s film than King’s novel.

King’s novel, about a bullied telekinetic high school girl who endures one prank too many at the senior prom, depicted a series of episodic news reports, flashbacks and interviews, for the most part, to tell the story.

The new film welcomes a few of the novel’s plot points back into the story, although it takes a lot of the same liberties that De Palma took with the novel. In the new version, a few more characters survive the fiery black-prom tragedy—and one character might be pregnant. Otherwise, this feels like a remake of De Palma’s movie rather than a faithful retelling of King’s book. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: De Palma went to the core of that novel, massaged its great ideas, and made something akin to a horror masterpiece, with much thanks given to the brilliant Spacek.

Director Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don’t Cry), unfortunately, doesn’t turn in anything that makes a Carrie remake worthwhile. Yes, the new film takes place in the present, where cellular phones and the Internet have become prevalent bullying weaponry—but much of the plot execution remains the same. In a lot of ways, this version even rips off De Palma.

Moretz (Kick-Ass) was a mere 15 years old during the filming—a little young for a high school senior. While Spacek did an exemplary job playing younger than her then 26 years for the original, Moretz looks like a freshman crashing the senior prom.

Still, the Moretz performance is, in many ways, admirable. She captures the pain and confusion of a young girl tormented by her classmates after receiving no valuable life-coaching from her religious-fanatic mother (played here by Julianne Moore in a role originated by the Oscar-nominated Piper Laurie). Interestingly, Goetz also played a tormented teen in this year’s awful Kick-Ass 2.

Moore goes to a darker place with the role of Margaret White when compared to Laurie’s campy, crazy take. This Margaret is far harder on herself (i.e. intentional cutting) and her daughter; she simmers with a dark, disturbing violence that makes her truly hateful. Goetz and Moore play well off each other during the movie’s major confrontation scenes.

As for supporting performances, Pierce gets it right with the casting of Gabriella Wilde as the virtuous Sue Snell, the popular student who regrets bullying Carrie and asks her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (a charming Ansel Elgort), to escort Carrie to the prom—with deadly results. Judy Greer is OK as the gym teacher who tries to get Carrie through everything in one piece.

On the down side, Portia Doubleday and Alex Russell are mere caricatures as villains Chris Hargensen and Billy Nolan (notoriously played by the wild-eyed Nancy Allen and John Travolta in the ’76 version). Their dull portrayals offer nothing new.

The infamous prom scene, in which Carrie goes nuclear after getting doused with pig’s blood, was an operatic, gloriously torturous, expertly prolonged hell in De Palma’s movie. In the new version, the scene feels hastily edited and glossed over with a CGI polish. It totally misses the mark, and is the final reason that this remake is mediocre, at best.

I suppose if you’ve never seen De Palma’s film, the 2013 version might seem better. While the remake is, at times, skillfully made, its resources could’ve been put to a better cinematic use—like, say, an actual big-screen adaptation of King’s great novel, The Stand. A TV miniseries starring Molly Ringwald just isn't enough!

Carrie is now playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

This coming fall/holiday movie season is loaded, so here is a mere sampling of the rest of this movie year—and, man, does it look promising. The summer was a bit of a slog, but we’re looking at a major cinematic rally for 2013.

Movies are listed in order of their announced release dates (which are always subject to change). There’s a lot cover, so here we go …

Gravity

(Oct. 4): Sandra Bullock and George Clooney get lost in space for director Alfonso Cuarón. I feel like I’ve seen the whole damned thing already, because the marketing for this film has involved numerous clips in different previews. Stop! I want to be surprised! Early reviews are crazily enthusiastic, so here’s to it kicking some ass.

Runner Runner

(Oct. 4): Ben Affleck plays big a criminal asshole to Justin Timberlake’s just-sort-of-misguided asshole. The film involves online gambling and crocodiles, with the future Batman eventually squaring off against the guy who sings that absolutely adorable “Mirrors” song.

Captain Phillips

(Oct. 11): Director Paul Greengrass, master of the shaky cam, pairs with Tom Hanks, master of making us love him because he’s so freaking endearing, in this true story about Somali pirate peril on the high seas. The film promises many, many minutes of Hanks looking very anxious.

Machete Kills

(Oct. 11): I’m surprised Machete got a sequel, and I’m even more surprised that sequel got a theatrical release. Groovy.

Romeo and Juliet

(Oct. 11): Seventeen years after Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Daines, we are getting yet another adaptation of this tragic lubby-dubby story, with this one being of more traditional. Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit is in it, so I am intrigued. Trivia: Steinfeld was actually born in ’96, the year the DiCaprio version was released. You just learned something stupid and useless!

All Is Lost

(Oct. 18): Robert Redford, just like Tom Hanks, will experience peril on the high seas—sans pirates and, of course, sans Tom Hanks. If you like Redford, this is for you, because the film is all him.

Escape Plan

(Oct. 18): Sylvester Stallone stars as a guy who breaks out of prisons, and Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a dude sitting in prison. Thirty years ago, this would’ve been HUGE!

12 Years a Slave

(Oct. 18): Chiwetel Ejiofor—an actor whose face you know, although you probably can’t pronounce his name correctly—stars as a pre-Civil War free man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. This is already getting Oscar buzz.

Carrie

(Oct. 18): Chloe Grace Moretz, she of Kick-Ass fame, stars in this retelling of the Stephen King high school nightmare. Something tells me they have no chance of re-creating anything close to the deranged John Travolta pig-slaughter scene from Brian De Palma’s original. Actually, they could probably get Travolta to do a cameo and re-create that scene himself. It seems he’ll do anything these days.

The Counselor

(Oct. 25): Ridley Scott directs Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender in a film written by Cormac McCarthy. That’s a solid pedigree.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

(Oct. 25): Johnny Knoxville does a whole film as his old-guy character. If the rest of the movie is half as funny as the scene in which the kid does a stripper dance to “Cherry Pie,” this will be a blast.

Diana and Grace of Monaco

(Nov. 1 and Nov. 27, respectively): I’m lumping these two together, because they both feature Aussie actresses playing princesses. Naomi Watts (pictured here) plays Diana, while Nicole Kidman is Princess Grace, aka former Hollywood starlet Grace Kelly. Watts should have at least two Oscars by now, so I’m hoping this will finally get her the recognition she deserves (although anybody will be hard-pressed to beat Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine this year).

Ender’s Game

(Nov. 1): People have been telling me to read this book for years. I never did. Now it’s a movie with Harrison Ford in it. I’m still pretty sure I will never read this book.

Dallas Buyers Club

(Nov. 1): This is the year of the McConaughey, isn’t it? He participated in MudThe Wolf of Wall Street (more on that film shortly), and this promising-looking drama. As Ron Woodroof, a real-life man diagnosed with HIV, McConaughey lost near 40 pounds for the part.

Thor: The Dark World

(Nov. 8): Kenneth Branagh brought a Shakespearean goofiness to the first Thor movie. He has left the building, so now somebody else has to make an amusing movie with Chris Hemsworth in that getup—and without the aid of Iron Man or The Hulk.

The Wolf of Wall Street

(Nov. 15): Scorsese and DiCaprio team yet again for a raucous-looking take on financial misbehaving. Matthew McConaughey and Jonah Hill co-star. I have a feeling Hill would lose out in a supporting-actor Oscar campaign due to his demon-rape scene inThis Is the End.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

(Nov. 22): There’s another Hunger Games movie on the way. Joy.

Delivery Man

(Nov. 22): Vince Vaughn stars as a man who has fathered many children with donated sperm—and now they want to meet him. After the horror that was The Internship, I will throw soda at the screen if he says “Google” even once in this movie.

Oldboy

(Nov. 27): Spike Lee remakes one of the more twisted movies ever made. A remake of Oldboy seems like a preposterous notion to me, but it’s Spike Lee, so I’m curious.

Inside Llewyn Davis

(Dec. 6): If you aren’t impressed by the upcoming movie list thus far, this Coen Brothers movie about a folk singer should get you back on track. This also co-stars the guy who sings that adorable “Mirrors” song.

American Hustle

(Dec. 13): Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper all reunite with director David O. Russell for a ’70s period piece about con artists. This movie is essentially why Louis C.K., who also stars, canceled his show at the MGM Grand this year—a show for which I had tickets. It had better be good.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

(Dec. 13): I didn’t like the first Hobbit movie—not one bit. This one promises more dragon and less dwarves stuffing their faces and hitting themselves.

The Monuments Men

(Dec. 18): George Clooney directs and stars in this film about historians trying to recover works of art during World War II. It also stars Matt Damon and Bill “I Will Never Do Ghostbusters 3” Murray.

Her

(Dec. 18): Spike Jonze is back with Joaquin Phoenix playing a dude who falls in love with a computer voice (Scarlett Johansson).

Saving Mr. Banks

(Dec. 20): More Tom Hanks! He plays Walt Disney this time. Brother is going to cancel himself out at the Oscars.

Foxcatcher

(Dec. 20): Steve Carell stars as murderer John du Pont. It doesn’t look like there is much to laugh at in this movie. It co-stars Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo.

Anchorman 2

(Dec. 20): Will Ferrell needs a hit, and he’s going to get one with this long-delayed sequel. Steve Carell is here as Brick, going for laughs on the very same day his murder-guy film is being released. That’s crazy!

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

(Dec. 25): I’ve always championed Ben Stiller as being much more than the klutz in the Museum movies. As a director, he’s responsible for The Cable Guy and Tropic Thunder, two of the more-adventurous and better-looking comedies of the last 20 years. This one looks like he might be treading in Oscar territory.

Grudge Match

(Dec. 25): Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro play retired boxers getting back in the ring for one last fight. It’s kind of like Rocky vs. Jake LaMotta—and it can’t happen soon enough for me.

Published in Previews and Features