The new police drama End of Watch puts two beat cops in the middle of escalating danger when a violent drug cartel begins operating in a South L.A. neighborhood.
The cops are patrol partners played by actors Michael Peña and Jake Gyllenhaal. The characters' cop-car friendship is one that extends beyond their jobs. The nature of their work makes them more like brothers, something director David Ayer pushed to bring alive on the screen.
By the time Glenn Beck left the Fox News Channel in June 2011, both sides seemed ready, even eager, to part ways. Beck announced he would move on to bigger and grander ventures with his own production company, Mercury Radio Arts, but some media critics, such as Variety's Brian Lowry, shrugged then and since.
Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 1:15 am
Cop dramas may be a dime a dozen, but David Ayer's End of Watch is one of a kind: The picture is by turns clever, compelling and unconscionable, so artful in its artifice that sometimes it almost fools you into believing that it's reality.
Street gangs, drugs and the Los Angeles Police Department have been ingredients in so many police thrillers that it's hard to imagine a filmmaker coming up with a fresh take — though that hasn't stopped writer-director David Ayer from trying. He's made four cops-'n'-cartels dramas since his Oscar-winning Training Day a decade ago; the latest, End of Watch, easily qualifies as the most resonant.
From teenagers strumming guitars in their bedrooms to big studio executives in Hollywood, there are a lot of people trying to figure out how to make money from online videos. The video-sharing site Vimeo has just added to their site a feature with a time-tested history in the real world — a virtual tip jar.
Electric-bass player Brian Compton has been a musician for 20 years. He plays with a three-piece band on a San Francisco street corner and hopes for tips from afternoon commuters. He estimates that less than 1 percent of passersby actually leave a tip.
Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 9:04 am
The prestige film festivals were abuzz this month with independent films and possible awards contenders, but for movies opening wide, September is traditionally a dump month — a fallow time between the summer and Oscar season when studios release films expected to underperform.
Predictable but appealing, Trouble with the Curve is the latest of Clint Eastwood's odes to old-fashioned attitudes and virtues. That the star neither wrote nor directed the movie in no way prevents it from being another political address from a man who considers terseness one of a hero's greatest qualities.
The idea for 17 Girls, a woozy fever dream about a bunch of French provincial high-school girls who make a pact to get pregnant together, came from a similar, well-publicized 2008 event in Gloucester, Mass.
Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 11:26 am
Late in How to Survive a Plague, a fair-minded, careful history of the AIDS-activist movement ACT UP, comes an affecting montage that bears witness to the triumph and the tragedy of the New York-based group's radical crusade — a push to get affordable treatment for a disease that, at its peak in the late 1980s, was killing millions worldwide.
Writer-director Stephen Chbosky's adaptation of his own 1999 novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, might just as aptly be titled The Pains of Being a Wallflower. This fable of early-'90s high school recounts (if it usually doesn't show) abundant trauma — including suicide, child sexual abuse, psychotic blackouts and a gay boy who's bashed by his own father.