Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
As grand as the themes of good and evil, needs and deservings, power and responsibility and such forth are, superhero movies are generally pretty straightforward in premise: hero stops villain from wreaking havoc. As off-putting as this kind of simplicity might sound, it's usually the right way to go. If you pack enough substance into your characters and adhere your plot to these linear margins, you can actually wind up saying a healthy amount (and having a lot of fun). The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets half of this formula down pat. Although Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker is still a moreover undistinguished identity, his emotional magnitude (re: his relationship with Gwen Stacy) is enough to keep him valid through the storm of lunacy that is his second feature. And it's not even that lunacy that holds him back. The problem isn't how wild his conquests are, how silly some of the action sequences feel, or how absolutely bonkers his villains turn out to be. It's all the other stuff (and yes, if you can believe it, there's a ton more going on in this movie than what I've already mentioned — that's the issue). All the plot twists, tertiary mysteries, ominous flashbacks, abject reveals, and weightlessly sinister pawns in this brooding game that, save for its fun with the baddies, takes itself way too seriously. All that stuff that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 thinks is necessary to make Peter Parker matter? It actually does just the opposite.
Peter is at his best when he's playing Tracy and Hepburn with the girlfriend he's perpetually disappointing (the eternally charming Emma Stone), or trying to win back the favor of the only remaining parental figure from whom he's rapidly slipping away (Sally Field, reminding us why she's a household name), or angling to connect with the mentally unstable engineer who just wants people to notice him (Jamie Foxx working his comic shtick with a frightening zest). We have the most fun with Peter when he's playing the simplest games, and we connect best with him on similar ground. But Peter and company, at the behest of The Amazing Spider-Man franchise's Sandman-sized aspirations, spend so much time exploring new avenues: the secrets surrounding the death and work of Richard Parker, the behind-the-curtains operations of OsCorp, the nefarious goings on in the waterside penitentiary Ravencroft.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
As a result of the grand stab at world building, there is just so much stuff that Peter has to wade through in this movie, dragging the likes of Gwen and his boyhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan, mastering angst, menace, and upper-class privilege all at once) into the dark crevasses of narrative waste. With so many diversions into the emotionally vacant, deliberately joyless explorations of Parker family origin stories, secret brief cases, and underground subways — The Amazing Spider-Man 2 rivals Captain America: The Winter Soldier in complexity, but forgets the necessary ingredient of fun — we barely have enough energy left when the good stuff hits.
And in truth, the good stuff isn't really good enough to sustain us through all the duller periods. Garfield and Stone do have laudable chemistry. Foxx is a hoot as Peter's maniacal new foe, especially when paired with the grimacing DeHaan. And the action, while often straying from any aesthetic authenticity, is nothing shy of neat-o. It's all passable, occasionally worthy of a hearty smile, but rarely anything you'll be definitively pleased you took the time to see.
But beyond coming up short in the micro, the film's regal downfall is its scope. With so much to do, both in accomplishing its own necessary plot points and setting up for those to come in future films, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn't seem to take time to make sure it's having fun with its own premise. And if it isn't having fun, we won't be either.
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It’s still uncertain whether or not there has been any child star that has come into adulthood unscathed, but what’s for sure is that stage parents are rarely ever as perfect as they make themselves out to be.
Here are 9 stage parents that will have you calling your mom tonight and telling her that you love her.
Dina & Michael Lohan A list about celeb parents gone wild would never be complete without the Lohans. Where to even start? In one side of the ring we have Dina Lohan, who has been blatantly freeloading off of Lindsay since she first shot to fame. Claims of being a Rockette (which she never was), a reality show, dodgy photos of her kinda-sorta making out with her own daughter (EW), showing up under the influence of WTF on Dr. Phil’s show, publicly sparring with her ex-husband, partying with Lindsay, and now a glorious DWI just weeks after Lindsay was released from rehab are some of the accomplishments Dina has under her belt. On the other side of the ring is Michael Lohan – over 6 years in jail, DUIs, random children with even randomer women, being violent towards his girlfriends, and talking to the press about how he’s not talking to the press anymore are some of Michael’s accomplishments. With parents like these, is it any wonder why Lindsay is the way she is?
Courtney Love Courtney Love is a hot mess and that title definitely passes over to her parenting skills. She was a shady parent from the start, admitting to Vanity Fair in 1992 that she took heroin while she was pregnant, though she stopped once she discovered she was with child. Love’s relationship with her daughter Frances has been plagued with drug overdoses, crazy Twitter rants, losing custody, restraining orders, and alleging that Dave Grohl hit on her daughter. It’s safe to assume that CPS was on speed dial for majority of Frances’ first eighteen years.
Charlie Sheen Charlie Sheen, Father. If those 3 words don’t strike fear in your heart, then little else will. Sheen may be winning life with his warlock tiger blood, but he sure isn’t winning any fatherhood acclaim. After he split up with Denise Richards in 2005, the couple had no problem airing out their dirty laundry for the world to see, which included the earth-shattering surprise that Sheen visited prostitutes and Sheen, the ever-romantic, threatening to kill Richards. The situation was replayed when Sheen and Brooke Mueller divorced in 2010, with Mueller getting a restraining order against Sheen for making “descriptive” threats to her. If that’s “winning,” being a loser sounds pretty awesome right now.
Jaid Barrymore Drew Barrymore comes from a long line of esteemed and troubled actors, but it’s her mom that gets most of the slack when it comes to her. Drew is a paradigm for reformed wild child, and majority of her problems stemmed from her own mother teaching her how to party. Jaid allegedly took Drew to Studio 54 before Drew could even walk. Drew was smoking and drinking by 9, doing cocaine by 13, and had gone to rehab twice by the time she was 14. Luckily, Drew divorced her parents when she was 15 and ended up turning out better than ok.
Joe Jackson It’s no secret that Joe Jackson always had a bad relationship with his children, namely Michael, but he reminded us all exactly how low he’d go after Michael’s death in 2009. Joe used Michael’s death as a publicity vehicle, using events commemorating MJ’s career to promote his own business ventures. He also blamed Katherine Jackson for Michael’s death, because that’s just the kind of stand-up guy he is. Joe complained about the fact that Katherine couldn’t stop crying after losing her son, admitting, “I didn’t give her a hug because I was mad at her crying.” Sociopathic much?
Kris Jenner We can all thank Kris Jenner for unleashing the Krazy Kardashian Klan upon us. Though they claim to love each other dearly and be a close family unit, it’s pretty easy to see that Kris Jenner has the entire family by the proverbial balls. Kris all but admitted to brokering Kim’s sex tape, saying on an early episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, “As a mother, I wanted to kill her. But as a manager, I knew I had a job to do.” Kris also encouraged Kim to pose for Playboy in 2007, even though Kim was uncomfortable with the prospect. There’s also the fact that she had no qualms about her barely teenaged daughters dancing on a stripper pole (in her own house, no less).
Linda & Hulk Hogan The Hogan Family is basically Days of Our Lives with more peroxide and less Stefano, and at the center of it all is poor Brooke Hogan. First, Hulk Hogan cheated on Linda Hogan with one of Brooke’s female friends. Then, in a totally non-attempt to get back at Hulk, Linda ran off with one of Brooke’s male friends. If all that wasn’t bad enough, a sex tape of Hulk and Heather Clem, the estranged wife of Bubba the Love Sponge (yes, that’s what someone chooses to call themself) was suspiciously leaked onto the interwebs. Hulk may be a WWE superstar, but nobody wanted to see that. It’s one thing when celebs leak sex tapes, but celeb parents leaking sex tapes is a whole other shade of embarrassing.
Ryan O’Neal If there’s a perfect example of why people should have to be tested for competency before they become parents, Ryan O’Neal is it. Ryan is the reason why his son, Redmond, is also a drug addict, with the 2 of them sharing a touching father-son arrest for felony meth possession in 2008. His daughter, Tatum, also alleged claims of physical and emotional abuse on his part in her memoir and she’s no stranger to drug arrests either. Making things worse is the fact that Ryan admitted to hitting on Tatum at Farrah Fawcett’s funeral, stating, “I was just trying to be funny with a strange Swedish woman, and it's my daughter. It's so sick." At least we all agree on one thing, Ryan.
Chrisoula Workman The latest recruit in the Crazy Stage Parents Club is Chrisoula Workman, mother of Modern Family star Ariel Winter. In 2012, reports emerged that Ariel had been removed from her home due to her mother abusing her physically and emotionally. Ariel lived with her older sister Shannelle, who was also removed from the house by the Department of Children and Family Services and even lived in foster care for a while. Some of the things Chrisoula was accused of include name-calling, insults about weight, trying to ‘sexualize’ the then-14 year old, and even depriving Ariel of food. Instead of trying to solve her family’s problems, Chrisoula went all out on the offensive, spreading rumors about her daughter wanting to shack up with an 18-year-old and telling a judge not to believe Ariel, saying, “She’s an actress so I’m sure she can cry at the drop of a hat.” Wow. Hey Chrisoula, there’s this great guy that’s just perfect for you named Joe Jackson...
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Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.
The title taken from a poem by 17th century poet Alexander Pope may be long and involved but it accurately paints the film's scenario: A love affair even if it turns out to be a painful one can never really be completely obliterated. Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) just another sad sack living in New York is looking for love in all the wrong places until he meets Clementine (Kate Winslet) an impulsive gal who changes her hair color as often as her mood. The two embark on an odd and wonderful yet tumultuous love affair which ends badly. Distraught over the breakup Joel finds out that Clementine has "erased" her memories of him on a whim undergoing a procedure created by one Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson). In retaliation Joel decides to go through the same procedure so medical techs Mary (Kirsten Dunst) Patrick (Elijah Wood) and Stan (Mark Ruffalo) pay him a visit proceeding to hook him up to a machine put him under and zap his brain. Yet while re-experiencing his memories of Clementine just before they are erased Joel rediscovers the reasons he fell in love with Clem and realizes he wants to hold onto those memories after all. Unable to regain consciousness he devises a way to stop the procedure within the deep recesses of his mind playing a sort of cat-and-mouse game and "hiding" Clementine from the memory zappers.
Both leads play against type in Eternal Sunshine. Typical wild and crazy guy Carrey easily pulls off quiet and introspective Joel which shouldn't come as much surprise; he has proven (The Truman Show Man on the Moon) he is more than capable of handling dramatic chores. On the flip side the usually prim and proper Winslet lets loose as the eccentric and wacky Clementine swirling around Joel like a whirling dervish making his life both gloriously happy and hellish at the same time but connecting with him in an extraordinary way. Wilkinson Dunst Ruffalo and Wood add their own refreshing characteristics to the film. Ruffalo (You Can Count on Me) with horn-rimmed glasses and messed up hair is the techno geek who dances around in his skivvies while Dunst as ditzy Mary gets the chance to show some real comic flair for once (Bring It On doesn't count). Turns out Mary actually has a major crush on the good Dr. Mierzwiak played ever so smoothly by the always good Wilkinson (In the Bedroom). And Wood finally gets to take off his Hobbit feet and just be regular joe Patrick an insecure guy who is just trying to find a little love in the world.
With a few films--and two Oscar nominations--under his belt it's gotten to the point where audiences go see a "Charlie Kaufman film" because they know it will be different; they know it will test conventions and turn genres on their heads. It's the kind of name recognition usually reserved for a director and/or star rarely a screenwriter. But the fact is Kaufman truly has a remarkable gift in taking ordinary subject matter--in Eternal Sunshine's case a simple love story--and turning it into something completely unique occasionally weird and always fascinating. Eternal Sunshine shows the softer romantic side of Kaufman's skewed psyche and his work is definitely enhanced by director Michel Gondry. Having worked together on the blink-and-you-missed-it indie Human Nature the two have turned in a nearly flawless second effort. Gondry's vision of Joel's memories matches the story's inventiveness as Joel races around in his subconscious grasping at straws and trying to keep Clementine in his head. In one particular moment the beach house where Joel's last remaining memory of Clem takes places--the memory of meeting her for the first time--collapses around them as the images are slowing disappear as the memory is being erased. It's a distinctive and heartbreaking flash of visual brilliance. Oscar should come knocking once again.