Scene Stealers

'Hobbit' finale taints legacy of Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy

Eric Melin

The mammoth cinematic achievement of **Peter Jackson** — adapting the rich world of **J.R.R. Tolkien**’s Middle-earth since 2001 — will always come with an asterisk; a sad irony. Turning “The Lord of the Rings” novels into a filmic trilogy was possible only with the latest in computer-generated graphics. It was ...

KC film critics award 'Birdman' with best film

Eric Melin

The Kansas City Film Critics Circle named **Alejandro González Iñárritu**'s genre-defying **"Birdman"** the best film of 2014, as the second oldest movie critics' organization in the country voted for the 48th time Sunday. In addition to best film, "Birdman" also won awards for best actor (**Michael Keaton**), best supporting actor ...

'Top Five' dragged down by hype

Eric Melin

Hype is a dangerous thing. It’s a double-edged sword, because any movie studio publicist will agree that buzz helps get people in the theater, but then high expectations from an audience can sink a mediocre film. That’s exactly what happened when I saw **Chris Rock**’s **“Top Five,”** which started a ...

Obsession to succeed drives characters in 'Whiplash,' 'Nightcrawler'

Eric Melin

On the surface, **“Whiplash”** and **“Nightcrawler,”** two of the year’s best and most thrilling movies, don’t have anything in common. One is about a jazz drummer (**Miles Teller**) at the most prestigious music school in the country and the other is about a weirdo (**Jake Gyllenhaal**) who trolls police scanners ...

'The Theory of Everything' a major disappointment; 'It's A Wonderful Life' at Liberty Hall

Eric Melin

The opening scene of **“The Theory of Everything”** tells you all you need to know about the film. Two young Cambridge students, Stephen and Jane, are at a gathering and they see each other from across the room. They both ask the person they are with about the other and ...

Hunger Games and the Serialization of Hollywood — Parts 1 and 2

Eric Melin

The first thing I thought coming out of **“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1”** is that it isn’t much of a movie. I don’t mean that the production isn’t professional or that it doesn’t look like a movie — it just doesn't feel like one. It's the worst recent ...

John Cleese and the silliness of everything

Eric Melin

“The idea that the world can become a sensible place is ridiculous,” said **John Cleese** during a 90-minute conversation onstage at The Midland Theatre on Wednesday evening. Coming from Cleese, a founding member of British sketch comedy troupe Monty Python, this statement could be taken as a formal creed of ...

Noir City Kansas City celebrates the dark side

Eric Melin

The term “film noir” often conjures up black-and-white images of boozy detectives pointing their guns and beautiful femme fatales smoking cigarettes in the shadows. But the films in this uniquely American genre are more than that, and they hold up especially well today. [Film Noir Foundation][1] president and founder **Eddie ...

'Interstellar' unforgettable but flawed

Eric Melin

**Christopher Nolan**, the filmmaker most often credited with making modern blockbuster films that tackle big themes and require grown-up thought (“The Dark Knight,” “Inception”), reaches for his inner Spielberg with “Interstellar.” What the writer/director achieves is a sci-fi epic that pushes the boundaries on the scientific theory side of the ...

The unexpected virtue of 'Birdman'

Eric Melin

They say that one of the best ways to combat stage fright is to imagine the entire audience naked, so it’s no surprise that **“Birdman”** — a waking nightmare about a Hollywood has-been who used to play a Batman-like superhero onscreen — features a similar scene, only one where the ...

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