Friday Movie Roundup: Movieline: Part Deux and Robot Love

Apr 17, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Movieline is back. Sort of.

Launched in 1989, the magazine was — like the beat it covered — a glossy, gossipy, A-list-laden Hollywood wank-fest full sometimes vapid, usually smart, almost always entertaining content. (I still have a copy of the issue with Wild at Heart’s Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern on the cover. —- Hey, David Lynch’s gonzo follow-up to Blue Velvet was a game-changer for an impressionable, movie-mad teenager like myself).

The magazine’s relevance started to slip in the early 2000s with the rise of the Internet, suffering a death that almost no one noticed — its circulation numbers dropped quicker than Sean Young’s pants. It should then come as no surprise that the defunct magazine is now wielding the same weapon (aka the Internet) that effectively rendered it useless: debuted April 13. Editor Seth Abramovitch says of the magazine’s online-only resurrection, “It (Movieline) was awesome, and there’s been nothing like it since. And it sure as hell deserves a comeback/sequel/remake more than A Nightmare on Elm Street does.”

The site mixes magazine-format staples like an interview with Emily Blunt and a review of State of Play with tech-savy stuff like blog-delivered movie news and Twitter dispatches from the likes of Kevin Smith, Karina Longworth, Michael Bay and Slashfilm.

Perhaps most intriguing to its old-school readers, the site will soon offer a “Vault” section with access to the magazine’s print archive. Let’s hope it includes “The Culture of Reincarnation,” a piece from Movieline’s debut print issue that dissected Hollywood’s then-burgeoning habit of leaning on sequels and remakes. It’s reassuring that at least one thing hasn’t changed 20 years later.

On the local movie front, Pizza Infinity duo Kendall Bruns and Josh Flowers' Robot Love from Another World will screen at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Yes, the fancy one in France. The duo's short, an amusing, crafty homage to 50s sci-fi flicks, was originally created for the 2008 48 Hour Film Project, where it took the home several honors, including Best Picture.

"Being associated with the Cannes Film Festival is a great honor. I'm incredibly proud of our team," Bruns said in a recent e-mail.

"Getting into Cannes was the next best thing to the fun we had actually making the film," Flowers said in the same e-mail.

Bruns said he and a few cast crew members are planning to attend the festival. Good luck and congrats, guys.

As for this week's opening films, Jason Statham is back with another action/thriller, Astra Taylor offers up a thought-provoking documentary, Zac Efron tries a well-worn genre and director Kevin Macdonald follows up The Last King of Scotland with a solid thriller (yes, I liked it a bit more than CityBeat contributor Cole Smithey).

Opening films:

CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE — Jason Statham’s latest ludicrously plotted action thriller vehicle pimps this ingenious tagline: “He was dead … but he got better.” Need more be said? Co-directors/writers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor guide a cast that also includes a curious array of actors: Bai Ling, Clifton Collins Jr., Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakam, David Carradine and, uh, Corey Haim. (Opens wide today.) — Jason Gargano (Rated PG-13.) Not screened for review

EXAMINED LIFE — Plato said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Director Astra Taylor uses this nugget as a jumping-off point for Examined Life, an engaging but often elusive documentary that works as a decent primer of various philosophical movements and ideas. Taylor gives eight different philosophers — Cornel West, Peter Singer, Avital Ronell, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Martha Nussbaum, Michael Hardt, Judith Butler and Slavoj Zizek — 10 minutes to ruminate on essentially one central question: “Does life have meaning?” (Read full-length review here.) (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — JG (Not Rated.) Grade: B-

17 AGAIN — Zac Efron gets his first solo above-the-title billing in a movie that treads on well-worn cinematic ground: the “body swap” comedy. Burr Steers (Igby Goes Down) directs a cast that also includes Thomas Lennon and Leslie Mann. (Read full-length review here.) (Opens wide today.) — Scott Renshaw (Rated PG-13.) Grade: C

STATE OF PLAY — Based on a politically charged BBC miniseries, director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) moves the action from Britain's House of Parliament to Washington, D.C., where the suspicious death of a congressman’s co-worker mistress underlines the desperate state of newspaper journalism in America. (Read full-length review here.) (Opens wide today.) — Cole Smithey (Rated PG-13.) Grade: C