Coming to America” (1988), from the height of Eddie Murphy’s comedic powers, has returned to the spotlight thanks to the upcoming release of the sequel “Coming 2 America,” which hits Amazon Prime on March 5. The original remains a classic thanks to Murphy’s and Arsenio Hall’s ability to create so many funny caricatures within not only one movie, but within single scenes.
To mark the 40th anniversary of author Thomas Harris’ invention of Hannibal Lecter and the 30th anniversary of “The Silence of the Lambs” – the only horror film to win Best Picture – we’re looking back at the four books and five films of the Hannibal Lecter series over nine Frightening Fridays. Next up is the second film, “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991):
Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986) takes a sometimes absurd but ultimately realistic view of human behavior as it chronicles a period encompassing three Thanksgivings of a New York City family and people in their circles. It’s consistently and gently humorous, occasionally sneaking in a gut-busting gag, as it slyly builds toward its overarching message that these four sisters will continue to love each other no matter what conflicts they get into.
As a kid, I knew “Annie Hall” (1977) as the movie that beat “Star Wars” for Best Picture, so I vaguely hated the movie without seeing it. That matchup remains one of the starkest apples-and-oranges comparisons in Oscar history, as “Star Wars” marks a sea change in filmmaking technology while “Annie Hall” is a just plain hilarious comedy. “Annie Hall” of course won because of the makeup of Oscar voters, but – while “Star Wars” would’ve been an equally legitimate winner – I’m now mature enough to say “Annie Hall” is deserving of the statuette.
Anear-perfect movie about an imperfect family, “Pieces of April” (2003) could serve as a template for how to make a low-budget film. Writer-director Peter Hedges, who also penned 2002’s “About a Boy” but is too talented to have such a sparse resume, follows Thanksgiving-meal-cooking April (Katie Holmes), her boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke), and April’s traveling family in a deceptively loose style, using a hand-held-camera. Yet the screenplay is a masterpiece of economy — a series of small moments that provide big insights.
Writer-director James Cameron shows he can do comedy – and Arnold Schwarzenegger adds another notch to his laugh belt – in “True Lies” (1994). Cameron’s relatively light entry between “Terminator 2” and “Titanic” offers good blockbuster fun, but it’s the fluffiest entry of his golden age and too long (2 hours, 21 minutes) for a film that’s not a sweeping social commentary or historical epic.
The Abyss” (1989) rarely tops rankings of James Cameron’s films, but that’s because the guy also helmed “Aliens,” “Titanic” and the first two “Terminators.” It’s no fault of “The Abyss” itself, which is a more intense, and equally beautiful, version of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but set underwater.
The story of “The Martian’s” publication is as good as the book itself, maybe even better. Computer programmer and amateur author Andy Weir published it on his website as a serial novel starting in 2009, then as an e-book in 2011, and then – when a traditional publisher saw its success – as a printed novel in 2014. The Ridley Scott-directed film (more on that below) came out one year later.
With “No Time to Die” coming out in November, I’m looking back at the eight modern-era James Bond films from the perspective of a newcomer, from July 11-26. Next up is the 24th Eon-produced film and fourth starring Daniel Craig, “Spectre” (2015):
With “No Time to Die” coming out in November, I’m looking back at the eight modern-era James Bond films from the perspective of a newcomer, from July 11-26. Next up is the 23rd Eon-produced film and third starring Daniel Craig, “Skyfall” (2012):