Category: MasterChugs Theater

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MasterChugs Theater: ‘Dom Hemingway’

When you’re as handsome as Englishman Jude Law is, typecasting is just an occupational hazard. Some filmmaker somewhere always pictures you as “perfect” to play some right-proper gent or another.

On the flip side, when you are as talented as Law is, you can forge your own opportunities and hop off the typecasting train. That’s exactly what he does in writer-director Richard Shepard’s dark English comedy Dom Hemingway, a giddy blend of style and attitude that plays like a cross between a Guy Ritchie and Wes Anderson film.

Unfortunately, it’s also a little lightweight, just like Guy Ritchie and Wes Anderson films can be. Continue reading

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MasterChugs Theater: ‘The Raid 2′

When it comes to action blockbusters, it’s hard to think of a time before Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich and company brought their unique style of loud, mega-budget destruction to the masses. And while comic-book movies scratch a certain explosion-y itch, it’s been a long time since the action genre felt like it had a genuine edge.

Which is why The Raid 2 hits all the harder. Adrenaline-fueled and with a scope and variety that belies its origins and budget, it’s already a heavy contender for the giddiest, most thrilling action ride of the year. Its 2011 predecessor proved an effectively kinetic enough calling card for many to sit up and pay attention to Welsh director Gareth Evans. The tale of a drug bust gone hideously, bloodily wrong, it centred on one insanely brave cop’s desperate mission to scale and then take down a tower block full of psychotic criminals. How?

By using the ancient art of punching people very hard in the face. I mean, very, VERY hard. Continue reading

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MasterChugs Theater: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

Compared with Iron Man, Captain America and the other earthbound heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the maniacally entertaining Guardians of the Galaxy is definitely a wild child.

Director James Gunn (Slither, Super) tosses together a dizzying blend of superhero bravado, outer-space adventure and off-the-wall comedy that introduces the strangest and most enjoyable bunch of rogues ever to inhabit the same spaceship.

And you know what? Guardians of the Galaxy is SO. DAMN. GOOD. It might be one of the most fun movies I’ve seen in a long time. Continue reading

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MasterChugs Theater: ‘Snowpiercer’

A warning about the perils of climate change? An action vehicle for Chris Evans of Captain America fame to kick some more ass in a less polished outfit? An anti-capitalist tale of the proletariat revolution? A religious allegory? Snowpiercer is all of those and so much more, and definitely worth the price of admission. Yes, it’s a sci-fi action film, but it is one of the most purely exciting, compelling and thought-provoking cinematic experiences I’ve had in recent memory. Continue reading

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MasterChugs Theater: ‘Oldboy (2013)’

The question that goes throughout Oldboy, the latest Spike Lee joint, is “Why?” Why has somebody taken the trouble to kidnap Joe Doucett, an alcoholic advertising executive, and lock him up in a fake hotel room for 20 years? Why has Joe been framed for a murder and then, after making a mental journey to madness and back, set free?

The very same question could be asked why Lee remade a movie that, not even a decade old, is easily regarded as an international movie classic. Why?

I mean, if you’re gonna do something someone’s already done, at least do it better, right? Okay, maybe not if you’re Spike. Continue reading

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MasterChugs Theater: ‘The Adventures of Baron Munchausen’

If you’ve never actually seen a Terry Gilliam film, you’re truly missing out. Even when the movie itself isn’t all that great, you simply can’t take your eyes from the screen. As a kid, that’s slightly how I was about Time Bandits.

When it comes to The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, I’m definitely in the latter camp. It helps that the former never hits the film at all. Continue reading

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MasterChugs Theater: ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’

Despite the sin against God and mankind that was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, for the most part, I enjoy the live-action Transformers movie series. Though it wasn’t a smash hit, the last movie in the series, 2011′s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, made me think that we might actually be making upward progress. There’s potential here, folks! We can do it! We’ve got a black president in charge now! Anything is possible!

Let’s just say that Transformers: Age of Extinction is not hope and change. Continue reading

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MasterChugs Theater: ‘Doc of the Dead’

Anyone who sets out to make a documentary film about the history of zombie cinema is in a no-win situation: if you stick with the obvious stuff, then the hardcore horror fans will get bored, impatient, and very annoyed. But if you focus mainly on the oddest and most obscure information regarding cinematic zombiedom, then you’re leaving out all the newbies — or the geeks who only pretend to know White Zombie from Rob Zombie.

Fortunately the movie-obsessed documentarian Alex Philippe, the man behind Doc of the Dead (and also The People vs. George Lucas), knows how to cover a lot of bases in a short amount of time, and the result is a light and amusing film about some of the grossest movies you’ll ever see. Continue reading

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MasterChugs Theater: ‘Leviathan’

Leviathan, Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel’s enthralling documentary about a New Bedford-based fish trawler in the North Atlantic opens with a quote from the book of Job. “Upon earth there is not his like,” it reads in part, referring to the dreaded deep sea creature Leviathan, “who is made without fear.”

It, like the film, isn’t meant to be informative in any conventional sense: There are no voiceovers, interviews, or even onscreen titles, beyond the aforementioned citation from Job at the start of the film. Instead, Castaing-Taylor and Paravel have mounted cameras around a ship, and on the helmets of some of the crew, all to show the process of catching, sorting, and gutting fish as a noisy, roiling chore, involving speed, muck, and hard physical labor.

Immersive is a fantastic way to describe the movie in a nutshell. Coincidentally, fantastic is another way. Continue reading

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MasterChugs Theater: ‘The Last Days On Mars’

Trying to be the movie that lives to be both art-house and drive-in without quite delivering the goods required for either, The Last Days on Mars mixes semi-stylish art direction and a better than it should be cast with a very plot. It really isn’t even a bad movie, or a bad movie of its sort. It’s just not good enough to really distinguish itself. Continue reading