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.

Matthew McConaughey is riding a gravy train with biscuit wheels.

Lately the actor has been on an unparalleled roll, doing career-best work in seemingly every new performance.  Just a few short years ago, McConaughey was synonymous with generic romantic comedies in which he played "The Matthew McConaughey Type" rather than real characters.

Now here we are, at a time when the dude everybody dismissed half a decade ago reveals new layers and depths on the regular.  Thanks to his devastating and dramatically physical work as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey is heavily favored to take home a Best Actor statuette at the 86th Academy Awards.

Even as rakes in accolades and awards for Dallas Buyers Club, he's turning in a riveting performance week-by-week on HBO's elegant and desolate True Detective, running with the opportunities for longer, more nuanced acting that cable television now provides.  And that's on the heels not only of his Oscar-nominated role, but a vital appearance in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street and acclaimed work in Magic Mike and Killer Joe, just to name a few.

Next year, he ups his blockbuster game with Christopher Nolan's huge, ambitious, and mysterious Interstellar.

So here, at or near the pinnacle of McConaughey's success, well beyond the turning of the tide, we've rustled up our latest Rogue 10 compiling ten outstanding Matthew McConaughey performances that are above reproach, that stand the test of time, that are worth remembered, and that you just can't McConaughate.

Every dog has his day.

And every awful superhero movie gets a tiny little something right.

Okay, maybe not every awful superhero movie.  Unless we're talking about the kind of bad that's actually funny, like, say, every moment that Arnold Schwarzenegger is on screen in Batman & Robin, then there are some cinematic spandex-fests that really don't do their subjects justice for even a moment.

But for so many maligned movies based on the exploits of our comic book neon gods, there's some small moment, some goal only briefly achieved, or some performance that really works. 

So, for our latest Rogue 10, we here at IAR have compiled a list of ten objectively bad superhero movies that nonetheless have something good or even great within them.  It's been said that you can't polish a turd, and we're certainly not looking to polish any of these turds, but we also believe that sometimes, very rarely, a turd can have a diamond somewhere inside.

Rogue 10: Ten Potential Gems of 2014

Friday, 10 January 2014 10:07

Strap yourselves in, ladies and gentleman.  We've got a good feeling about 2014.

So, naturally, we've compiled a Rogue 10 list of ten movies on the way over the next year that we here at IAR HQ are really excited about.  This isn't just the standard compilation of ten anticipated movies, though.  These are odder films, pictures that represent tremendous potential energy.

A lot of the movies on this list are here specifically because they come from filmmakers who we already know we love.  That's just in the nature of compiling a list of films that, in many cases, don't even really exist yet.  We're casting into the future, prognosticating, auguring.  So we're working from what we know.

Of course we're looking forward to heavy hitters like Interstellar and How to Train Your Dragon 2 just as much as anybody else is.  Those mega-movies already have a self-evident whiff of greatness or at least hugeness about them.  This list isn't as concerned about those movies; we already know that everybody's set on seeing those.  On this list, we're excited about movies that sound like they could have real personality, like they could just end up on favorite-movie lists long after the dust of 2014 settles.

But predictions always fall flat.  By this time next year, we're hoping to have been astonished by pictures haven't even heard of yet from filmmakers whose work will make us ask, "Who the hell made this?"  That's so much of the fun of going to the movies: getting knocked on your ass when you walked in with absolutely no idea what to expect.

We've got our fingers crossed for some pleasant surprises in the year to come, but this list represents ten specific movies we believe have the potential to be special. 


Wednesday, 25 December 2013 13:23

Greetings “ROGUE warriors.”

As the end of the year is fast approaching, it’s time to look back at the films of 2013 that contributed to another great year at the movies! 

We’ve seen important dramas based on true stories (12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips), offbeat comedies (Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska), unusual romantic comedies (Before Midnight, Her), new projects from legendary filmmakers (The Wolf of Wall Street, Blue Jasmine), impressive independent films (Short Term 12, Fruitvale Station), gritty crime dramas (The SweeneyOut of the FurnaceAmerican Hustle) groundbreaking 3D (Gravity, Pacific Rim), wonderful animation (Free Birds, Frozen) fascinating documentaries (Stories We Tell, This American Journey), fast speed entertainment (RushFast & Furious 6) ass kicking martial arts movies (Man of Tai Chi, Only God Forgives), Marvel superheroes (Iron Man 3The Wolverine, Thor: The Dark World), new installments of popular franchises (Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), remakes (Evil Dead, Carrie, Oldboy), prequels (Oz the Great and Powerful), and the triumphant return of an iconic hero … Superman (Man of Steel)!

The following is a look back at my ten favorite films of 2013. It’s important to note that at the time of this publication, I have seen almost every movie released in 2013 with the exception of Philomena, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, 47 Ronin, and Grudge Match. That being said, the list compiled below is based on the movies that I did see this year, and which of those were my favorites overall. I’m not necessarily saying that these are the ten best films of the year, but in my humble opinion, they are the ten that I enjoyed the most. 

However, honorable mention goes to Short Term 12, Dallas Buyers Club, Oldboy, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Stories We Tell, Man of Tai Chi, This American Journey, Pacific Rim, and A Place Beyond the Pines, all of which came very close to making the final cut.  

These are turbulent times, times of danger and uncertainty. 

Times that call for fixed stars in the celestial firmament, for the assurance that only heroes can provide. There is a man suited for the task, a man who can show us the way in these disorienting days. 

That man is Keanu Reeves.

For decades now, audiences have been taking the stoic leading man for granted, but around here at IAR HQ, the walls might as well be covered in posters featuring his piercing stare.  Many movie stars find their groove in a specific type of role that play to their strengths and suit their particular stripe of charisma. Despite all the easy potshots folks have taken over the years, Keanu Reeves has maintained a rare kind of fearlessness, tackling all manner of characters and collaborating with the likes of Gus Van Sant, Bernardo Bertolucci, Kathryn Bigelow, and Francis Ford Coppola.  He's played Siddartha Guatama, for example, and directed his own kung-fu extravaganza.

So out latest Rogue 10 compiles ten of our favorite Keanu Reeves performances, all of which remind us to appreciate his unique talents.  If you're looking for something tongue in cheek, something mockingly ironic, then this isn't the list for you.  This list sincerely celebrates Keanu in all his ballsy, enigmatic glory.

Next year, the star-spangled Avenger is returning to theaters. 

And we've got a good feeling about Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

When last we saw Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, he was leading the titular superteam and enjoying some shawarma in The Avengers.  That summer blockbuster marked the commercial peak (so far) of the roll Marvel Studios has been on for the past several years.  Phase 2 of that roll kicked off in fine fashion this year with Iron Man 3, and continues in mere weeks with Thor: The Dark World.

But we're looking ahead to April 2014, when Cap tosses his signature shield on his first solo outing since Captain America: The First Avenger.  Unlike that two-fisted World War II adventure, Captain America: The Winter Soldier brings Rogers into a recognizably modern world, a more cynical setting in which he confronts sinister conspiracies, untrustworthy characters, and a familiar figure with a bone to pick.

Marvel Studios unveiled the first Winter Soldier teaser trailer just this morning.  By now, you've probably laid eyes on the trailer, but if not, click right here.

We've long heard that this sequel is a comic book movie riff on the conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s.  The trailer shows just that, combining event movie spectacle and shadowy goings-on.  Basically, Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks fantastic.  So much so we here at IAR wanted to share just a few of the reasons that we're properly excited for the sequel after viewing the first trailer.

We need to talk about Alan.

The Hangover Part III arrives on Blu-ray and all manner of home entertainment platforms this week, completing the comedy trilogy that began with one raucous night in Vegas four years ago. With the final installment, the strange misadventures of the Wolfpack have concluded, sending Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha) figuratively riding off into the sunset.

Even Alan Garner, the man who started all the trouble by drugging his fellow bachelor partiers, achieves some resolution by the end of The Hangover Part III

Alan is the trilogy's spirit animal: a volatile, childish, oddly innocent human non-sequitur, a dangerous and unfathomable case study who is also endearing in his vulnerability.  There's a bit of Eric Cartman in Alan, along with a sprinkling of Rain Man and pinch of Pee-wee Herman for flavor. While credit must go to the filmmakers (Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong, Jon Lucas, Scott Moore, and director Todd Phillips all contributed as screenwriters), Alan unmistakably belongs to Zach Galifianakis.  Anyone familiar with his absurd stand-up will recognize elements of Galifianakis's style and fixations in the character.

Tiger encounters, revelations of transgender trysts, car chases, face tattoos, and full frontal male nudity all end up inspiring lots of conversation, but our latest Rogue 10 doesn't compile such moments.  Instead, we're preserving for posterity ten Alan-centric moments that don't get the same attention.  These aren't centerpiece gigs destined to be included in every trailer and TV spot.  These are quick, seemingly inconsequential moments that keep The Hangover films humming along, and also tell us a lot about the characters.

In this case, they originate with and tell us about the unknowable Alan Garner.

So here, for your reading pleasure, are ten moments to savor as you re-watch all three movies on Blu-ray:

Grand Theft Auto V is less a game and more a sprawling and vivid virtual world.  Within that world, there are a multitude of games, really.

The latest from Rockstar Games is a masterpiece, allowing gamers to play in the digital sandbox of an impossibly detailed megalopolis.  Grand Theft Auto V takes place in Los Santos – a barely-fictionalized stand-in for Los Angles – and in a variety of geographies around the faux-California of San Andreas.  The whole world and the games within are a vast pastiche comprised of innumerable influences drawn from all corners of contemporary culture.  Players encounter riffs on sources as disparate as reality TV, smartphones, music, advertising, talk-radio, video games of every genre, tabloids, network and cable news, and, of course, movies.

Since Grand Theft Auto III on Playstation 2, all the entries in the series have worn their cinematic influences on their sleeves.  The likes of Goodfellas and The Godfather cast a long shadow over Vice City, San Andreas, and GTA IV, each of which has its own distinct personality that evokes a movie like, say, Scarface.

The DNA of its forebears is identifiable throughout Grand Theft Auto V, but this entry cranks up the filmic qualities.  Playing through or just exploring San Andreas, you're reminded again and again of certain movies in ways both large and small.  So, as you and the other consumers who made GTA V a billion dollar-success in mere days continue to burn through missions of every stripe, we here at IAR have put together a little list, a cinematic travelogue of sorts.

This Rogue 10 lists, in no particular order, ten movies to watch once you've finished the missions and grown bored of trips to Ammu-Nation.  A GTA movie might never happen, but these ten movies are like distilled Grand Theft Auto V.

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.

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