As the end of January approaches, that New Year’s resolution you were so adamant about just a few weeks earlier is already starting to fall by the wayside. Suddenly, the gym seems farther away, cigarettes call your name, and you haven’t even taken the cellophane off that scrapbook you bought. While we can’t do much to help you with those fading pledges, there is one resolution to which we can assist you in remaining faithful.
If you made it your charge to watch a more diverse assortment of films in 2013, in essence to become a more well-rounded cinephile, we're here to keep you on track. Here is our comprehensive guide to help you begin to branch out:
Bronson vs. Marvin
The '70s were a great time for action films, and the two biggest names of the era were Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson. Here’s a sampling of their best.
The Mechanic: Bronson takes a young Jan-Michael Vincent under his wing; showing him the ropes of contract killing. The complex relationship between the two characters, the slow, methodic storytelling, and the dramatic ending make this one of ol’ Charlie’s finest.
Point Blank:Lee Marvin inhabits Donald E. Westlake’s Parker in this gripping, deliberate crime thriller from John Boorman. Why anyone would want to mess with a guy like Lee Marvin is beyond the limits of reason.
Death Hunt: Can’t decide which actor to watch first? Why not watch them both in this early '80s wilderness actioner. Violent, well-constructed, and featuring one of the decade’s most interesting games of cat-and-mouse.
Asian Fists and Firearms
Whether it’s martial arts or automatic weapons, the action cinema of the East tends to be more brutal and bombastic than Hollywood fare. If you liked The Raid: Redemption, do yourself a favor and track down…
Tiger Cage: Legendary fight choreographer Yuen Woo-ping expertly directs this unsung cops vs. criminals actioner. The opening sequence, an unfettered gauntlet of carnage, alone is well worth the price of admission; an unfettered gauntlet of carnage.
Ip Man: Donnie Yen brings to life one of China’s most beloved historical figures, and does so with some of the fastest and most impressive kung fu in recent memory.
Hard Boiled: John Woo earned his reputation working in Hong Kong, and Hard Boiled may be his masterpiece. Chow Yun-fat eloquently dances through Woo’s gorgeous bullet ballet.
Contemporary Foreign Action
Sleepless Night: France may not be the first country one associates with action cinema, but they’ve made huge strides in recent years. Sleepless Night is a single-night nonstop crime story that rages through a nightclub like a force of nature. The cinematography, pacing, and exceptional performances create an organic sense of tension.
Man From Nowhere: Nobody, but nobody, does revenge movies like Korea. The Man from Nowehere is a savage, uncompromising descent into the darkest recesses of the soul of someone we still, despite everything, herald as a hero.
Solomon Kane: It took a French/British/Czech co-production to finally bring Robert E. Howard’s puritanical superhero to the big screen, but it was worth the wait. Solomon Kane combines horror, fantasy, and superhero conventions to create a truly unique filmic experience. James Purefory broodingly and perfectly inhabits the titular antihero.
These aren’t your granddad’s horse operas.
Dudes: A cross-country road trip turns tragic for a trio of rockers in this outstanding '80s gem from Penelope Spheeris. She uses punk rock to breathe new life into an age-old genre. The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea has a prominent role in the film.
Sukiyaki Western Django: A wild mashup of Yojimbo and Sergio Corbucci’s Django, Sukiyaki Western Django is somehow still unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Comin’ At Ya!: Of this group, Comin’ At Ya! most closely resembles a traditional spaghetti western, but the filmmakers behind it were keen to bring back the then-languishing 3D technology. If you thought the recent spate of 3D films in theaters were gimmicky, just wait until you see the prolific and hilarious instances in which Comin’ At Ya! finds ways to, well, make things come at ya.
The Long Goodbye: Possibly the best film on this entire list. Elliot Gould, as Philip Marlowe, wafts through a seedy, almost dream-like Los Angeles. Gould’s effortlessly charming performance is enhanced by Robert Altman’s superb direction and a marvelous, if slightly unusual John Williams score. An absolutely masterful film that, incidentally, makes a great double feature with The Big Lebowski.
Elevator to the Gallows: Film noir is sprinkled with traces of Hitchcock in Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows. A fledgling criminal murders his boss while their office building is empty, but his escape is hindered by a busted elevator. Tense, engaging, and given a pulse by a smoky cool Miles Davis score.
The Killing: An early Stanley Kubrick film hits upon the director’s substantial talent for storytelling. A flawless racetrack heist gives way to squabbling and conniving between a team of crooks. Its great cast anchored by Sterling Hayden, The Killing is gorgeously shot and harrowing to the last frame.
Buddy Cop Movies
Freebie and the Bean: It’s hard to do buddy cop films better than Freebie and the Bean. James Caan and Alan Arkin set the standard for unlikely law enforcement duos, constantly at each other’s throats as they do all in their power to get the better of crooks and thugs. Their banter is among the film’s greatest strengths.
Nighthawks: Sylvester Stallone doesn’t get a lot of credit as an actor, and maybe rightfully so, but in 1981’s Nighthawks, he and Billy Dee Williams are a formidable team. The perpetually fuming pair take on an international terrorist played to icy perfection by Rutger Hauer.
Busting: Elliot Gould returns to the list, this time working alongside Robert Blake to bring down a crime boss in Peter Hyams’ Busting. These two are laughably bad at their jobs at the onset, and that is meant as a compliment, but their ability to get serious when it really counts gives the movie a great deal of charm.
Paramount Pictures (in a co-production with MGM) brings to the big screen (in 3,372 theaters) an amped up version of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters in both 3-D and IMAX this weekend. The films stars The Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner as Hansel and Gemma Arterton (The Prince of Persia) as Gretel in this R-rated and decidedly updated take on the classic tale. At a mere 88 minutes the film blends action, horror & fantasy into a very unusual hybrid of a movie that could obliterate the competition this weekend with a gross in the mid-$20 millions or possibly higher.
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Sony’s Zero Dark Thirty will enter its third weekend of wide release (in 2,929 theaters) with tons of momentum and a Time Magazine cover story on the movie and director Kathryn Bigelow. Having played second fiddle to the newly opened (and hugely successful) horror film Mama in the mid-week derby, could the R-rated real life story of the manhunt of Osama Bin Laden could give Mama a kick in the butt this weekend? With both expected to deliver grosses in the $10 million range, we shall see.
Relativity Media brings Movie 43 to theaters this weekend with an enormous ensemble cast that includes among many others, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Emma Stone, Chloë Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Bell and Naomi Watts. The movie uses the novel approach of having 12 different storylines, each one helmed by a different director and is reminiscent of The Kentucky Fried Movie released in 1977 and directed by John Landis. The film is a bit of a wild card given its unusual construction, but this could play well with younger audiences this weekend and a gross in the $8 to $12 million range could be the result.
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Jason Statham is perhaps the hardest working man in show business with some 30 films to his credit and over $2 billion in worldwide box office revenues. He appeared in 5 films in 2011 and 5 in 2008 as well, building a reputation as a kick ass action star with a no-nonsense approach and a wry sense of humor. This weekend he appears in Film District’s Parker in the titular role as a professional thief who has a very strict code of ethics. The film co-stars Jennifer Lopez as his unlikely partner in crime, Michael Chiklis and Nick Nolte. Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman, Ray) directs the R-rated thriller based on the series of bestselling novels by Donald E. Westlake. Statham’s last non-ensemble movie Safe opened with $7.9 million back in April of 2012 and The Mechanic which opened in a similar late-January timeframe in 2011 debuted with $11.4 million. Parker should wind up somewhere between those two films with a possible $9 million this weekend.
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Last weekend The Weinstein Co.’s awards season darling Silver Linings Playbook added 1,713 theaters and jumped from 10th to third placed in the process. Maintaining its solid third place position mid-week, it will likely see a modest drop this weekend for a gross in the $8 million range and crossing the $60 million mark by Sunday night.
[IMAGE CREDIT: Universal Pictures; Film District; Paramount Pictures]
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Jason Statham is headed back to the big screen, and can you guess what role he’ll be playing? I’ll give you three tries, and the first two don’t count…
That’s right, he’s a law-breaking bad-ass out for revenge!
The Expendables star is taking on the titular role of Parker, the main character of the crime thriller based on the series of bestselling novels by Donald E. Westlake. Parker is a professional thief who lives by a personal code of ethics: don’t steal from people who can’t afford it and don’t hurt people who don’t deserve it. This lifestyle works for him until his latest job, when he gets stabbed in the back by his crew who steal his cash and leave him for dead.
Parker sets out on a course of revenge, leading him to Palm Beach and partner-in-crime Leslie, played by Jennifer Lopez. Together they plan to take down the guys who wronged Parker, and they just happen to be planning their biggest job ever… Cue the car crashes, knock-down-drag-out fights, and Statham’s hilarious attempt at a Southern accent and priest getup.
Directed by Academy Award nominee Taylor Hackford, Parker also stars Vegas’ Michael Chiklis, The Wire’s Wendell Pierce, and Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte.
Check out the trailer below, and hit the comments section to tell us what kind of crazy prop you want to see Statham take someone out with! It looks like we’ll see him use a toilet tank lid and a bar stool, among others.
Parker hits theaters January 25.
Follow Sydney on Twitter @SydneyBucksbaum
[Photo Credit: FilmDistrict]
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Taylor Hackford will direct the film, which will also feature Star Trek's Clifton Collins Jr., Wendell Pierce and Jennifer Lopez, according to Variety.
Westlake wrote 24 Parker stories under the pseudonym Richard Stark, and Lee Marvin and Mel Gibson have played a variation of the character in films Point Blank and Payback.
Parker will hit cinemas in 2012, according to CinemaBlend.com.
In this docile farce from George of the Jungle director Sam Weisman Lawrence and DeVito try to destroy each another--unimaginatively though--over a ring both consider lucky. Lawrence receives the ring as a token of love from girlfriend Carmen Ejogo. Though overly accepting of Lawrence's criminal pursuits Ejogo warns Lawrence never to lie to her about anything. Which puts Lawrence in a bind: lie to Ejogo or tell the embarrassing truth that the ring was stolen by the Boston bigwig whose beachfront mansion he tried to burgle. DeVito's just as crooked; he just manages to hide behind corporate law. Facing bankruptcy DeVito feels his luck change after taking the ring from an apprehended Lawrence. His refusal to return the ring results in open warfare between the two men neither of whom seems interested in what's at stake beyond the prized possession now adorning DeVito's finger.
Lawrence's career consists of playing either cops or robbers and audiences seem to accept him no matter which side of the law he's on. Perhaps this can be attributed to his insistence on offering the same resourceful and good-natured wise guy no matter whether he's busting felons or committing felonies. Unfortunately given What's the Worst's potentially spiteful scenario Lawrence lacks the necessary nasty streak to take on the kind of single-minded scumbag DeVito so deliciously offers. Not that it matters because DeVito indulges in nothing more vicious than spitting out a string of expletives on live television. Thank goodness for William Fichtner and his effeminate police detective. Dressed like he's plundered Tom Wolfe's wardrobe Fichtner garners more laughs with a mere swish of his manicured hand than Lawrence and DeVito can muster during 90 minutes of bloodless war games.
Based on a novel by Donald E. Westlake What's the Worst that Could Happen? should put its sparring partners through hell and back. It never does. Lawrence merely devises elaborate ways to burgle DeVito's numerous homes. DeVito fails to come up with any entertaining retaliations and repercussions are far and few between. Sure DeVito's out a few bucks but he's got plenty more to play with. And Lawrence never faces the prospect of being arrested once the games begin. Director Sam Weisman and screenwriter Matthew Chapman seem too hesitant to allow the proceedings to get down and dirty. Lawrence and DeVito are like two friends fighting over the last beer in the refrigerator. Heck most of us have seen gorier playground brawls. Things do perk up somewhat when Lawrence and DeVito clash face to face--it's a damn funny sight to see DeVito trying to whoop Lawrence's butt--but they rarely cross paths.