Review: Wanted (dir. Timur Bekmambetov, 2008)

wantedIf no one had told you that Wanted was based on a series of comic books, you probably could have guessed it. The film occupies a very familiar space between the sublimely silly and the oddly profound, using lots of visual razzle-dazzle to trick you into lowering your expectations and settling for little more than a fun ride, and then it hits you with plot twists that make you think, “Whoa.” Or at least, “Huh!”

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Wanted — the review’s up!

My review of Wanted is now up at CT Movies.

Expelled — another two articles are up!

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed opens in Canada tomorrow, so I’ve got a couple new articles up — one for the religious media and one for the more mainstream media. Click here for my newest article in BC Christian News, and click here for my article in the Georgia Straight.

Is this an unusually good year for family films?

Time for another list: I just discovered that my friend and colleague Steve Greydanus pondered a few weeks ago whether this was shaping up to be the best year for family films in, like, ages. At a glance, there are only a couple of the many titles he mentions, both past and present, where I think my opinion would differ in any significant way from his. So, I think he makes a very good case. And of course, the year’s not yet half-over.

Yeah, this will make us want to see the movie.

The movie is Meet Dave. The star is Eddie Murphy. The director is Brian Robbins. And their last collaboration was Norbit (2007), which I admittedly have not seen, but in this particular case, I do not feel that that disqualifies me from passing judgment on the film. So, there are multiple reasons why we should all be fleeing Meet Dave in terror to begin with. And the people who made it think the best way to get us interested in their movie is to have a giant, ego-sized replica of Eddie Murphy’s head driving around Los Angeles? This is a case of road rage just waiting to happen. (Hat tip to Jeffrey Wells and Jason Apuzzo. Another Giant Eddie Murphy head that is making the rounds can be seen here, with co-star Gabrielle Union waving from inside Giant Eddie Murphy’s ear.)

Is it all downhill for directors after 62?

I like lists, and I like studying the passage of time, so I was intrigued when Patrick Goldstein ran the following list of directors to support his thesis that few directors are capable of making “big hit movies” after their 62nd birthday. (He raises this question partly because Steven Spielberg turns 62 in December.)

The first list here was compiled by Goldstein and notes which movies the directors in question made before they turned 62 and which movies they made after they turned 62:

  1. Francis Ford Coppola
    The Godfather, Apocalypse Now
    63+: Youth Without Youth

  2. Howard Hawks
    Bringing Up Baby, The Big Sleep, Red River
    63+: Hatari!, Red Line 7000, El Dorado
  3. George Roy Hill
    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting
    63+: The Little Drummer Girl, Funny Farm
  4. Alfred Hitchcock
    The Lady Vanishes, Notorious, North by Northwest
    63+: The Birds, Torn Curtain, Topaz
  5. Elia Kazan
    A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, East of Eden
    63+: The Visitors, The Last Tycoon
  6. David Lean
    Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago
    63+: Ryan’s Daughter, A Passage to India
  7. Mike Nichols
    The Graduate, Heartburn
    63+: Closer, Charlie Wilson’s War
  8. Sydney Pollack
    The Way We Were, Tootsie
    63+: Random Hearts
  9. George Stevens
    Woman of the Year, Giant
    63+: The Only Game in Town
  10. Billy Wilder
    Sunset Blvd., Some Like It Hot
    63+: Avanti, The Front Page, Fedora

Here are some other examples that occur to me — only some of which, I think, support Goldstein’s thesis:

  1. William Wyler
    The Best Years of Our Lives, Ben-Hur
    63+: How to Steal a Million, Funny Girl

  2. Stanley Kubrick
    Paths of Glory, Full Metal Jacket
    63+: Eyes Wide Shut
  3. Robert Wise
    The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Sound of Music
    63+: Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Rooftops
  4. Cecil B. DeMille
    The Sign of the Cross, North West Mounted Police
    63+: The Greatest Show on Earth, The Ten Commandments
  5. Martin Scorsese
    Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Aviator
    63+: The Departed
  6. George Cukor
    Little Women, Adam’s Rib, Let’s Make Love
    63+: My Fair Lady, Rich and Famous
  7. Ridley Scott
    Alien, Blade Runner, G.I. Jane
    63+ Hannibal, Kingdom of Heaven, American Gangster
  8. William Friedkin
    The Exorcist, Cruising, Jade
    63+: The Hunted, Bug
  9. John Ford
    Stagecoach, The Grapes of Wrath, The Searchers
    63+: The Last Hurrah, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
  10. Fred Zinnemann
    High Noon, Oklahoma!, A Man for All Seasons
    63+: The Day of the Jackal, Julia
  11. Miloš Forman
    One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus, Valmont
    63+: The People vs. Larry Flynt, Man on the Moon
  12. Woody Allen
    The Purple Rose of Cairo, Deconstructing Harry
    63+: Small Time Crooks, Match Point, Scoop
  13. Michael Curtiz
    Captain Blood, Casablanca, Mildred Pierce
    63+: White Christmas, King Creole
  14. Roman Polanski
    Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, Bitter Moon
    63+: The Ninth Gate, The Pianist, Oliver Twist
  15. John Schlesinger
    Midnight Cowboy, Marathon Man, Madame Sousatzka
    63+: Cold Comfort Farm, The Next Best Thing
  16. Robert Benton
    Kramer Vs. Kramer, Places in the Heart, Nobody’s Fool
    63+: Twilight, The Human Stain, Feast of Love
  17. Robert Altman
    M*A*S*H, Nashville, Popeye
    63+: Vincent and Theo, The Player, Gosford Park
  18. Stephen Frears
    Dangerous Liaisons, Dirty Pretty Things
    63+: Mrs Henderson Presents, The Queen

And so on, and so on, and so on.

Yeah, I think Goldstein’s thesis doesn’t quite hold up; there are too many examples that falsify it. You pretty much have to do a fair bit of cherry-picking to make it stick, I think.