Chris Chiarella

Chris Chiarella  |  Aug 26, 2022  |  1 comments
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These days you're not likely to see a Quentin Tarantino script directed by someone else, but there was a time when the young filmmaker-cum-video-store-clerk was raising funds to make his directorial debut (Reservoir Dogs) and sold True Romance, which was ultimately helmed by Top Gun's Tony Scott. The movie took a few years to find its audience—and current cult status—but is now hard to see it as anything but inspired and uniquely entertaining.
Chris Chiarella  |  Aug 12, 2022  |  1 comments
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Long before Lin-Manuel Miranda set the American Revolution to music, playwright Peter Stone and composer/lyricist Sherman Edwards gave us an entertaining history lesson of their own, set in 1776. An unpopular John Adams, poetic Thomas Jefferson, and impish Ben Franklin are focused on a future free of British oppression, despite the danger of such a declaration, but when the decision is made that such a vote must be unanimous, the challenge becomes much more difficult. While a far cry from the hip-hop beats of Hamilton, the songs here do a remarkable job of conveying facts and weaving a compelling story worth telling again and again.
Chris Chiarella  |  Aug 05, 2022  |  0 comments
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Those seeking an accurate account of notorious gangster Al Capone's downfall should continue their search elsewhere. But anyone wanting two thrilling hours of fact-influenced entertainment need look no further. Director Brian De Palma's artful take on Eliot Ness and his squad of incorruptible treasury agents on a quest to clean up Prohibition-era Chicago blends hard-hitting dialogue and career-best performances in an almost operatic tale of good versus evil.
Chris Chiarella  |  Jul 15, 2022  |  1 comments
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Batman movies keep evolving, changing and—surprisingly—getting better with each reboot, in one way or another. Director Tim Burton's Batman relied heavily upon its extreme art deco design to sweep away the goofiness of the Adam West TV incarnation, before that film series quickly descended into its own absurdity. Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy was the cure, finding ways to make believable the exploits of a vigilante dressed as a flying mouse fighting a clown and a scarecrow, owing in large part to inspired casting choices.
Chris Chiarella  |  May 27, 2022  |  0 comments
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The title of Le cercle rouge is derived from a Buddhist proverb about people coming together in fateful encounters—a theme pertinent to recently released convict Corey (Alain Delon) who crosses paths with escaped suspect Vogel (Gian-Maria Volonte). Along with alcoholic ex-cop Jansen (Yves Montand), they team up for a big-franc jewel heist—sophisticated for its time—unaware that determined detective Mattei (André Bourvil) and his snitches are on their trail. While similarities inevitably exist, anyone expecting the visceral intensity of a more recent Heat or a Reservoir Dogs will be in for a surprise.
Chris Chiarella  |  May 20, 2022  |  0 comments
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Adult-skewing animation wasn't a new genre by 1981 (thank you, Ralph Bakshi), but was the world at that time ready for Heavy Metal? Inspired by the illustrated fantasy publication of the same name, this R-rated feature film served up a disparate series of sex-and-violence-filled short stories, loosely held together by the presence of a deadly mystical sphere called the Loc-Nar. Since each issue was an anthology, with assorted tales from a variety of creators, the range of dramatic tones and visual styles here perfectly captures the spirit of the magazine.
Chris Chiarella  |  May 06, 2022  |  0 comments
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Nostalgia--that "twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone" as Don Draper famously explained it--can be a potent ally to the modern filmmaker. With its risky and highly publicized meta-twist (which I won't spoil here, just in case), Spider-Man: No Way Home managed to complete director Jon Watts' arachno-trilogy on an epic scale, capping not only this story arc but one far grander, much as Avengers: Endgame did for the whole of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Chris Chiarella  |  Apr 29, 2022  |  1 comments
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Let's get right to the point: This new RoboCop boxed set gets my highest recommendation. For starters, director Paul Verhoeven's cheeky tale of a crimefighting cyborg is still thrilling, still funny, and still uniquely satisfying.
Chris Chiarella  |  Apr 22, 2022  |  0 comments
The Godfather, 175 mins.
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The Godfather: Part II, 201 mins.
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The Godfather: Coda, 158 mins.
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The Godfather still kills. At a recent theatrical re-release marking the 50th anniversary of the first film in the series adapted from Mario Puzo's bestseller, I witnessed the audience hanging on every emotional nuance set forth by director Francis Ford Coppola. Once the highest-grossing film of all time, this operatic tale of the Corleone crime family boasts bigger-than-life characters doing despicable things, spouting irresistible dialogue, and backing it up with copious violence. Part II is both prequel and sequel, with characters new and old seen through a fresh lens in another grand story: the "origin" of Don Vito Corleone, interwoven with son Michael's attempted business expansion into pre-Castro Cuba. Part III was reimagined and recut as Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone in 2020. While improved over past versions, it's by far the weakest of the lot, an outlier and a vain attempt to recapture past glory.

Chris Chiarella  |  Mar 25, 2022  |  0 comments
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One of the most sensual movies I have ever seen, The Piano owes much to Holly Hunter's central depiction of the voluntarily mute Ada, who communicates through her music (she tickled her own ivories for the role), through sign language, and through her remarkably expressive face. A single mother dispatched with her daughter from Scotland to New Zealand for an arranged marriage, Ada soon finds herself the unwitting target of the affections of an unexpected admirer, igniting love, lust, and no small measure of understandable jealous rage.

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