THE PUNISHER Trailer 2

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Trailer two for the new Marvel series The Punisher came out, and it looks pretty intense. Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle was one of the best things about Daredevil season two (though I’ll always think that Thomas Jane was better Punisher in terms of look), and I’m really looking forward to the solo series.

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JIM & ANDY: THE GREAT BEYOND Trailer

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Jim Carrey has become increasingly weird in the last few years. His weirdness is on full display in this new trailer for the documentary, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond. It seems that Carrey took method acting a little too far portraying one of his comedic heroes, Andy Kaufman, in the film Man on the Moon (which I thought was just okay). It will be interesting to see the behind-the-scenes footage, and really understand how much hell Carrey put everyone through on the set.

12 STRONG Trailer

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The first trailer for Jerry Bruckheimer’s latest war epic, 12 Strong, was recently released. It looks great, but it’s just the initial impression. I love when filmmakers tell these kinds of relatively unknown stories. Bruckheimer was the producer of the great Black Hawk Down, so I hope it’s that caliber of war drama.

78/52 – The Uncompromising Hitchcock

7852_theatrical_webThe infamous “shower sequence” in Psycho takes place in less than five minutes of screentime. The purported heroine (and headlining star) of the film was brutally murdered before the eyes of the audience in one of the most vulnerable positions imaginable, leaving the crowd narratively disoriented, without a sympathetic character to follow (for now).

That is the genius and historical significance of the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece. That scene literally changed how movies were made and ushered in a completely new subgenre of horror films (though the latter was not Hitch’s intention). And the shower scene is the subject of a new documentary called 78/52 – taking its name from the 78 shots and 52 cuts that comprise that scene.

This film takes the scene apart, sometimes frame-by-frame, and has an interesting panel of film experts and Hitchcock admirers analyze the scene on an artistic, stylistic and cultural level. For fans of Hitchcock, and film generally, this is a must-see. 78/52 goes into a lot of detail to help the viewer understand why that five minutes of the film changed things so much – both for the better and worse.

What interested me the most about 78/52 were the thematic insights I heard. The experts interviewed looked at the shower scene as a reflection of American culture’s impending fragmentation, as well as the Master of Suspense’s uncompromising vision of justice.

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THE VIETNAM WAR – Arrogance Comes Before a Fall

Helicopter_Poster_promoV2There are fewer eras in American history that are fraught with more controversy and consternation that the Vietnam War. It was a time of social and cultural change – most of it for the worse, in this author’s humble opinion. And even 40 years after it ended, the wounds of that era are still fresh for many.

This time period has also produced classic films that are revered today – Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, and the like. This films, for the most part, have a definite slant on the war and it’s a mostly negative one that usually leans left.

This is what made me initially apprehensive about Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s latest documentary series, The Vietnam War. While Burns’ early works are indeed fair and balanced to the subject matter they study (specifically his magnum opus, The Civil War), his more recent films have been glaringly biased to the left, with the worst being 2009’s The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.

I’m very happy to report that The Vietnam War is Burns’ best film in a while. It is a fair and comprehensive look at the war…to a point. Burns and his co-director Lynn Novick have crafted an excellent narrative of the events surrounding the war, providing much-needed context, set-up, and thoughtful analysis – allowing those who lived the war from all sides to have a say. However, the film still has some annoying biases, even though both Burns and Novick assured us there wouldn’t be any.

In The Vietnam War‘s narrative, all sides of the conflict were culpable in some way for its disastrous outcome. I believe the war began with sincere purposes and devolved into a quagmire. This is a reflection of the arrogance on all sides – the arrogance sometimes inherent in humanity itself.

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