Justin Timberlake's newest movie, Runner Runner, is in theaters now, and even though it boasts big names like Ben Affleck, it's not winning over the critics or audiences. Timberlake plays Richie, a Princeston student who plays online poker to pay for his tuition and gets swindled by an online gambling boss (Affleck), who later takes Richie under his wing. Timberlake's latest inspired us to take a look back at his entire movie career, so we did just that and ranked his most notable movies from best to...not so great.
The Social Network
Not only did The Social Network win several Academy Awards, but it almost earned Timberlake an Oscar nod for best supporting actor. Now that is impressive. Timberlake's portrayal of Napster founder Sean Parker is arguably the best of his career.
Inside Llewyn Davis
You know you've made it when you're cast in a Coen brothers movie. In this one, Timberlake plays a musician and performs covers of classic folk songs live for the film.
Friends With Benefits
This movie came out around the same time as No Strings Attached, which basically had the same premise, but Timberlake's film was by far the superior of the two. He and Mila Kunis have palpable chemistry and a very natural rapport. The movie's real magic, however, lies in its postmodern mocking of the rom-com genre.
Black Snake Moan
Still starting out in his career, Timberlake played a minor role in this 2006 drama, but anytime he was on screen, his presence was overshadowed by another actor. Even when sharing the frame with little-known actor Michael Raymond-James, James clearly has more weight as an actor than the pop singer.
Though he stood out as a goofy supporting friend character, the movie is one of the most painful to watch in recent memory.
Trouble With the Curve
Not even Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams can save this snoozefest. It sort of makes you wonder if Timberlake only signed on because Eastwood's name was attached.
Cameron Diaz is hilarious as the teacher who smokes pot in front of her students and cares more about finding a rich husband than teaching, while Timberlake is the weakest link in a solid cast of comedians that also includes Jason Segel and Lucy Punch.
This wannabe sci-fi dystopia flick, about a future world that uses time as currency, looks slick, but the plot is ludicrous and poorly executed. Timberlake especially falls flat in his first major action role.
It just so happens that Timberlake's latest movie is his worst. His acting in the thriller may have improved marginally — he's doing the obvious head turns and concerned face less — but the movie fails to engage the audience with the subject matter.
Besides the fact that it's a remake of our favorite girl-power series, there are a plethora of reasons why we loved 2000's Charlie's Angels. Three of them happen to be the Angels themselves, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu, who play the iconic roles with feist and playfulness. Rounding out the cast are film veterans like Bill Murray and Tim Curry, and a Hollywood dark horse who you'd never expect to go anywhere near Drew Barrymore. Here's a breakdown of our favorite things about Charlie's Angels.
1. The Chicks Rule, Boys Drool Message
OK, so the movie basically tries to shove the message down your throat, but watching girls dominate the boys just never gets old. Dylan (Barrymore) punches a drill sergeant in the face and ditches the army, Alex (Liu) is the real-life version of her action star boyfriend — constantly showing him up about bomb knowledge, dodging bullets, and sliding across cars — and Natalie (Diaz) plays personal bodyguard to a very frazzled and frighetend Bosley (Murray).
2. Cameron Diaz Dancing
As if she could get more giggly, Cameron Diaz blinds the audience with her infectious smile as Natalie, who fantasizes of being a professional dancer when she's not roundhouse kicking bad guys. The scene in which she dreams of being a disco dancing queen, set to the movie's apropos theme song, "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel," makes the entire movie worth watching. As if that weren't enough, she wakes up and voilà! The very GIF-worthy underwear dancing scene is born.
Not to mention her Soul Train scene:
3. The Supporting Cast
Bill Murray, Tim Curry, Sam Rockwell, Kelly Lynch . . . sounds like an Oscar contender, right? Wrong. It's much more fun. Bill Murray adds a touch of genius to everything he does, and his portrayal of Bosley hits all the humorous, bumbling notes. His banter with Tim Curry's Roger Corwin is a study in two film greats shedding their usual stuffy roles and having fun in front of the camera. Then there's Sam Rockwell and Kelly Lynch as the film's villains, and they play up the caricature of the sexy baddy perfectly — not to mention Rockwell could give Diaz a run for her money on the dance floor.
4. Crispin Glover
Crispin Glover didn't let a chick flick influence his acting style. He was just as creepy as ever; in fact, his character was billed as Creepy Thin Man. His highly original blend of silent, pale Dracula type and martial arts master is odd but slick, and beyond brilliant. The way he screams like a banshee as he swings his cane-sword around gives the movie a nice touch of weird.
5. The Ass Kicking:
Besides the feel-good, indulgent, 100 percent pure fun, there are some legit action sequences. The fight scenes were choreographed by the same stunt coordinator who worked on two of the Matrix movies and a whole resume of Chinese kung fu films. While some of the sequences aren't the most realisic — the Angels often fight in heels — they are high-octane and slick. At the end of the day, the girls look hot while kicking ass, so mission accomplished.
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The Man with the Iron Fists the directorial debut of music artist RZA is clearly a love letter to all of the Wu Tang frontman's passions. An old school kung fu movie infused with hip hop beats and a comic book aesthetic Iron Fists rarely makes a lick of sense but it's a collage of imagination — and that earns it a few points. Like a cinematic version of the backyard games we all used to play RZA casts himself as a Chinese town's resident badass who teams up with a cowboy to take down an army of ninjas assassins. The freeform style allows him to run wild rarely providing actual thrills but resulting in an action movie overflowing with heart. Bloody bloody heart.
The manic script for Iron Fists written by RZA and Eli Roth (Cabin Fever Hostel) interlocks a handful of colorful characters with varying degrees of success: The Blacksmith (RZA) a freed slave who hopes to earn enough bucks to whisk his love prostitute Lady Silk (Jamie Chung) away from the Pink Blossom brothel; Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu) the brothel's owner (and local mobster); Silver Lion (Byron Mann) a murderous gangster out to overtake the city with the help of his magical metallic underling Brass Body (Dave Bautista); Zen Yi a.k.a. The X-Blade (Rick Yune) whose father was killed at the hands of Silver Lion and now seeks revenge; and Jack Knife (Russell Crowe) a mysterious British gunslinger taking residence at the Pink Blossom who may have ulterior motives. Iron Fists bounces between the plot threads without much worry — you never really know who is doing what or why. But if characters say what they're thinking with conviction then beat the daylights out of their opponent it's supposed to suffice. More often than not it does.
What Iron Fists lacks in coherency it makes up for in absurdity. RZA pumps up the volume on every element of the film from costumes that shoot daggers to flamboyant overacting evildoers to Jack Knife taking the goriest route to defeat an enemy (in this case using a knife gun to rip up a heavyset man's insides). Taking a page from mentor Quentin Tarantino's book anything can happen in this Eastern martial soap opera and everything does happen. It's money shot after money shot the rapid pace reminiscent of channel surfing — likely the way most kung fu fans stumbled upon the type of films that inspire Iron Fists back in the '70s and '80s.
Not every moment pops — unlike Liu and Crowe RZA doesn't exactly light up the screen when given the freedom to go crazy. Blacksmith is a muted mumbling character who doesn't throw himself into a fight the way a kung fu movie demands from its lead. Behind the camera the fight scenes are choreographed similarly to how the movie is structured: randomly with the occasional inspired moment. But the inventiveness of the mechanics keeps Iron Fists working. A scene with two twins using contortion to throw and kick and punch their way through hoards of bad guys is a joy. Seeing Crowe (obviously not an expert in martial arts) lay down a few moves is pure fun too.
The Man with the Iron Fists isn't as expertly crafted as Tarantino's Kill Bill but it has more mind-boggling oddities. RZA unleashes his passion into the film so even when the story or action isn't working something else on screen is.
If there’s one positive thing about Delta Farce is that is actually follows a tried and true comedy formula-- namely the fish-out-of-water scenario—with moderate success. Down on his luck after losing his job and his girlfriend on the same day Larry (of the Cable Guy variety) decides to join his neighbor Bill (Bill Engvall) and his combat-happy buddy Everett (DJ Qualls) for a relaxing weekend of playing army. But when the three unlucky guys are mistaken for Army Reservists they’re loaded onto an army plane headed for Iraq--and mistakenly ejected in a Humvee somewhere over Mexico. Don’t ask. Convinced they’re actually in the Middle East the clueless wannabe soldiers turn into Magnificent Seven meets the Three Amigos and save a rural village from a siege of bandits proving to be real heroes after all. If you need to laugh at the war on terror you might as well do it with Larry the Cable Guy. He serves up his particular brand of comedy making light of a bad situation. In fact not only does he come off somewhat sympathetically as the hapless boob with a heart of gold he also gets the hot chick at the end of the movie. Go Larry! As his accomplice fellow stand-up Bill Engvall follows his own comic routine playing a hen-pecked trailer trash denizen who views this adventure as a great way to escape his overbearing wife and snotty kids. As the third doofus DJ Qualls (Hustle & Flow) plays a trigger-happy wannabe jarhead who sees this opportunity as a way to gain some street cred. And in a supporting role Danny Trejo a Robert Rodriguez regular pokes fun at his scary looks as the leader of the marauding bandits aptly named Carlos Santana. Yes the jokes are plenty. Director C.B.Harding is obviously a Larry the Cable Guy crony since his only other feature film credit is the Blue Collar Comedy Tour movie. Honestly all that’s really required of him is to point and shoot with maybe a few action sequences to coordinate here and there. But while the formula works as a cohesive movie having to sit through Delta Farce’s comic stylings is the tricky part. What it really boils down to is whether you’re a fan of Larry the Cable Guy. If so you’ll (I would hope) realize you’re watching a pretty stupid comedy but will laugh in the appropriate parts. If not I would really wonder what the heck you are doing sitting in the theater.
The Painted Veil is based on W. Somerset Maugham’s 1925 novel about British colonialism in China. The film's cohesion is largely helped by a user-friendly script from Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia) who tackles amorphous movie-unfriendly themes like emotional longing. We meet Walter Fane (Edward Norton) a lovesick middle-class bacteriologist who spots Kitty (Naomi Watts) an upper-class socialite approaching the upper limits of marrying age at a party. Walter not smooth with women woos Kitty with his intensity and persuades her to join him in cholera-stricken China. With a wandering eye Kitty is soon caught in a lusty affair with a local British diplomat Charlie Townsend (Liev Schreiber) but Walter eventually forgives her but imprisons her in the desolate green south China countryside. The film's crucial problem is its setting of a Western-centric love story on top of a palette of Chinese human death and disease albeit framed beautifully and exotically. Norton and Watts take producers' credits as well. The actor pushed for years to get The Painted Veil made painstakingly and authentically co-produced with the China Film Board. These facts hint at the commitment and intelligence Oscar nominees Norton and Watts bring. Norton always impresses and surprises. Each role in his resume is tasty in its own way a wholly new creation and never derivative. In Norton's previous film The Illusionist he was a similarly powerful opaque character from a far away time and place. Although sometimes seeming she’s on autopilot Watts is also brilliantly underrated as the conflicted Kitty who doesn't love the man she married even though he loves her as much as she loves herself. Her tricky darting eyes mixed with uneasy body language tells us we don't know what to expect other than that she'll probably sabotage herself. Toby Jones--who played Truman Capote to critics' acclaim in Infamous--does a provocative turn as the mysterious opium-smoking neighbor. The Painted Veil falls short of greatness when the second half crumbles into laziness right when the emotional impact should be the strongest. Director John Curran is relatively untested ( We Don't Live Here Anymore) especially with difficult material and he stumbles a bit in this ambitious drama. Veil's storytelling meanders with a few unnecessary scenes. Lame mini-montages lapse into TV movie territory. Attention to detail however (minus Norton's highlighted hair) is superb. Four exquisite wisely picked Chinese locations were used in concert with local actors and crew to produce an internationally representative work of Chinese/American art. Interior sets are post-WWI prudish and upper-class underlying the movie's "painted " hidden ideas. Old-world rickshaws and water systems are true to the time. The haunting soundtrack feels postmodern and contemporary. But overall like last year's disappointing Memoirs of a Geisha the mish-mash of American and Asian story themes doesn't quite work.