LISTS

Summer, a season when movies get bigger yet mean so much less, has arrived. 

In this season of frenzied digital spectacle, there's already an oddity in limited release: an earnest little comedy-drama from a writer-director who has delivered his share of blockbuster super-action.

This little gem fits, for a stretch of its zippy story, into a specific subgenre that we're very fond of here at IAR, the father-family road trip movie.  Damn near everyone has spent seemingly endless hours in transit with a parent, the tediousness of the highway and the proximity of a car making the conversation both boring and intense.

With the first entry on the list as our inspiration, we decided to devote the latest ROGUE 10 to some films that follow fathers and their progeny on huge journeys.  It's a surprisingly varied subgenre, and we've tried to reflect that, so please enjoy these ten examples of the form:

Rogue 10: A Jason Statham Retrospective

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 11:02

Homefront, hitting Blu-ray today, is like a muscle car: a product of another age that is nonetheless even more effective now.

Jason Statham, the action-thriller's star, is similar: in an age of CGI superheroics and leading men with sculpted eyebrows, the British actor is a lantern-jawed bruiser, a throwback from an age when monosyllabic gunslingers were king and stunts commanded more attention than digital effects.  He's a man's man, a former professional athlete who specializes in gruff anti-heroes who may or may not have hearts of gold.

He's Jason freakin' Statham.  If you're a henchman, then Jason Statham is going to drop you with a single roundhouse kick to your glass-jawed ass and he's going to look like a million bucks while he does.

In Homefront, Statham plays Phil Broker, the former DEA agent from many a novel by Chuck Logan.  Looking for a quiet town in which he can safely raise his nine-year-old daughter, the recently widowed Broker is settling down.  Until, that is, he's slowly drawn into a feud with a local meth kingpin played by James Franco.

For more than sixteen years, Statham has been delivering his Stathamian brand of justice on screen.  With Homefront marking his latest contribution to the ass-whupping endeavors, we've decided to dedicate our latest Rogue 10 to a rundown of ten movies in which Jason Statham has especially excelled.

On Tuesday, May 21st, you can experience the epic cross-country oddity of The Griswold family all over again, as Vacation arrives on an extras-packed 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray.

That's right, kids, it's been a full three decades since the comedy franchise kicked off with the 1983 hit directed by Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day) and written by John Hughes (The Breakfast Club), that Eighties chronicler of Middle American lives who based the story on his own family roadtrip to Disneyland as a child.

The 30th Anniversary Edition includes a commentary track from Ramis and the cast, a long with a number of goodies.  Most notably, a high definition, 85-minute "Inside Story" documentary thoroughly examines the making of this classic comedy.

All of this got us thinking about Clark W. Griswold, the hapless hero played in all four Vacation films by Chevy Chase (Caddyshack).  The head of the Griswold clan, Clark continually tries the patience of his loving wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and misunderstands his kids, Rusty and Audrey (Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron in the first film).  Clark's a quintessential American protagonist.  He's a family man and a dreamer, a possessed of limitless vision, good intentions, hope, and naivety.  Nonetheless, he leaves a trail of destruction where ever he goes.

As a father, Clark Griswold is always dispensing priceless nuggets of paternal insight.   Even when he's egregiously screwing up, Clark is happy to offer up his own unique brand of wisdom.  So, with the 30th Anniversary Edition of Vacation arriving on Tuesday, IAR has compiled a list of ten moments in which Clark W. Griswold shares lessons worth knowing.

Pain & Gain, hitting theaters nationwide today, April 26th, is the sort of story that could only really happen in Florida.

Mark Wahlberg (Ted), Anthony Mackie (Gangster Squad), and Dwayne Johnson (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) are a trio of burnout bodybuilders, none of whom are especially bright or industrious.  Despite that, the three team up to execute Lugo's criminal plan to elevate himself out of his life as a gymrat and trainer.  Lugo aspires to his piece of the American dream, and he intends to get it by kidnapping a wealthy businessman in a harebrained extortion scheme.  Naturally, not everything goes according to plan and all hell breaks loose.

The movie is a longtime passion project for Michael Bay (Transformers, The Rock), who frames the action comedy with the gaudy style of mid-nineties South Beach.  Not only is Miami the perfect place to tell this story, it is perhaps the only place to tell this story.

And that got us thinking, kicking around ideas here at IAR HQ.  In some films, location is purely a product of which state offers the best tax incentives; it's incidental.  In fewer films, though, setting is inextricably connected to story.  And in even fewer films, Florida is essential to the telling of the tale.  The peninsula down below Alabama and Georgia is a tropical wonderland of beaches, gators, crocs, the Everglades, Disney World, neon-soaked cities, diverse and vibrant cultures, manatees, and eccentric human behavior.

With its humid tropicality, beautiful landscapes, and general sexiness, Florida is the perfect setting for many a film.  In recognition of Pain & Gain's theatrical release, we've compiled a ten-spot of movies that could take place nowhere other than the great state of Florida.

In Gangster Squad, out today on Blu-ray, a group of cops are freed from the strictures of their badges, let loose to conduct all-out war against a criminal overlord. 

In order to topple the empire of Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), these incorruptible lawmen led by Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling must abandon their obligations to due process, police reports, admissible evidence, or civil liberties. Basically, the Gangster Squad is too busy shooting tommy guns at really bad guys to concern themselves with all the boring stuff that occupies police here in the real world.

So the home entertainment release of Gangster Squad got everybody at IAR HQ thinking about other cinematic police officers who don't trouble themselves with writing up detailed reports or answering to anyone.  These are the renegades, the loose cannons, the hotshots who, through circumstance or character, are more inclined to action than the arduous intellectual, bureaucratic, and political processes of law enforcement.  These are cops who cause their bosses unimaginable stresses, but of whom even the most chagrined chief must admit, "You're a damn good cop."

It's a breed of cop particular to the movies, as though there's one training academy that instills in them the same disregard for any semblance of actual police work.  This is the kind of cop who is comfortable operating in a moral grey area – in some cases to the point of dangerous irresponsibility – but who generally gets the job done as it can only be done onscreen.

To celebrate this type of movie cop, we've compiled a list of ten law enforcement officials who are obviously unconcerned with doing any paperwork.

Starring as Billy Taggart in Broken City, Mark Wahlberg joins the ranks of actors who have memorably portrayed private investigators, cinematic seekers of the truth who operate in a moral grey area, without a badge or a uniform.

In the thriller from director Allen Hughes, Taggart is a former cop, an incorruptible officer disgraced by a controversial shooting.  Now an alcoholic private eye, he's contracted by New York Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) to spy on his wife Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones).  Taggart expects a fairly standard cheating spouse case, but through his investigation, Taggart discovers a conspiracy that goes to the highest levels of power, a plot that could change New York forever.

Broken City is now available to purchase on DHD, or Digital High Def, weeks before Blu-ray and DVD.  Early availability of DHD isn't the only advantage, either, as a download of Broken City comes equipped with bonus features, scene selection, and a high-definition presentation that can be viewed on your television, your computer, or portable electronic device, be it a phone, tablet, or anything in between.

With Broken City on DHD, we here at IAR have been thinking about Taggart's forebears, the onscreen private investigators who aren't just good at their jobs, they're great at their jobs.  These are PIs who go above and beyond the call of duty, solving seemingly insoluble mysteries and getting to the bottom of dangerous cases like seasoned professionals.

So, for your enjoyment, we've compiled a list of cinematic private investigators who go all the way in the course of their jobs.

Ladies and gentlemen, our latest Rogue 10 is a hall of champions, an inventory of characters who didn't merely overcome adversity, vanquish their foes, triumph over evil, etc.  These heroes did all that, of course, but they did it all with tiny little wheels strapped to their feet.  Yes, this is a list of cinematic characters who roller skated to glory, whether on traditional or in-line skates.

The inspiration for this particular list is Roller Town, a comedy from Funny or Die favorite Canadian comedy troupe PicnicFace.  Roller Town takes place during an unfortunate time in the late 20th century during which roller skate-based recreation collided with disco dance culture, producing a gaudy abomination that turned every roller rink into a worship center for discotronics. 

In the film, local legend Leo, played by Mark Little, must save his sleepy beach town's rink when villainous mobsters attempt to turn it into an arcade.  As he fights the Man, wins the girl, and unleashes his groovy roller-meals on wheels, Leo takes his place in the long line of characters who have done all that traditional heroes do.  But they did it while skating. 

For your entertainment and in no particular order, we humble present the latest Rogue 10:

Rogue 10: Ten Fish Out of Water Tales

Wednesday, 08 August 2012 15:11

$upercapitalist, arriving in theaters, VOD, and iTunes this Friday, August 10th, presents a story of stranger in a strange land, based this time in the world of globalized high finance.  Derek Ting, who also wrote the screenplay, stars as Victor, an almost preternaturally gifted and profitable hedge fund analyst who is right at home in Manhattan. 

When his boss, played by Linus Roache of Batman Begins, sends the young man to Hong Kong, Victor finds himself in an environment that is wholly new to him.  His understanding of the culture, pace, and values in which he's immersed must develop quickly or Victor could be at the center of a financial catastrophe.

The backdrop of international megafinance provides an appropriately fast-paced, glamorous set-up for $upercapitalist, but the fundamentals of the story are broadly familiar.  It's what you often hear described as a fish out of water scenario for obvious reasons, with a capable character rendered altogether less capable by a completely unfamiliar setting And the new movie got us here at IAR thinking about other films that feature figurative fish out of equally figurative water.

Families often present themselves socially as far more functional and enviable than they might be behind closed doors.  This goes from little touches, like cleaning up the house before company comes over, to devastating secrets, like a demented kid in the attic who subsists entirely off of fish heads.

The Perfect Family, hitting theaters this Friday, May 4th, dramatizes this tendency as a comedic drama.  In the film, directed by Anne Renton, Oscar nominee Kathleen Turner plays Eileen Cleary, a matriarch who is determined to demonstrate just how healthy and wholesome her family is in order to win a Catholic Woman of the Year award.  Her efforts put her at odds with her grown-up children as she attempts to win, even at the expense of her family and their struggles.

The film, which also stars Emily Deschanel, Richard Chamberlain, Jason Ritter, and Elizabeth Pena, provoked some discussion here at IAR.  So, with The Perfect Family arriving this week, we thought we'd present our latest Rogue 10, a list of ten cinematic families who appear ordinary at first glance, but who are hiding some very fundamental dysfunction.

In his career as an actor, Jason Statham has quite frequently played unstoppable tough guys, and whether out of revenge, profit, or self-preservation, Staham characters have perpetrated violence against innumerable bad guys, good guys, and assorted anonymous henchmen.  In this Friday's Safe, written and directed by Boaz Yakin, Statham stars as a former NYPD cop and cage fighter who kicks ass in order to protect a helpless a young girl.

See, Catherine Chan plays a little girl who knows the numerical code to a safe containing an invaluable MacGuffin, meaning that Statham must safeguard her from corrupt cops, Triad gangsters, and the Russian mafia, all of whom would happily dispose of the child once they opened that safe.

The story of Safe had us thinking about the tried-and-true trope of serious cinematic tough guys whose primary goal is the protecting of otherwise helpless youths.  We're not talking about guys like Superman or Spider-Man, who rescue different kids on a daily basis.  Instead, this latest Rogue 10 lists, in no particular order, ten onscreen heroes who dedicate themselves to their youthful charges.

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