Scene Stealers

Burroughs on the big screen

Eric Melin

Much has been written and filmed about author/artist **William S. Burroughs**, who moved in Lawrence in 1981 and lived here for the remainder of his life. But any trace of 1983’s **“Burroughs: The Movie,”** considered to be the definitive documentary on his life and work, had been considered missing. The ...

The controversy over 'American Sniper,' and the uniquely American 'Whiplash'

Eric Melin

It made me grin from ear to ear when I heard the news. **J.K. Simmons**, the longtime working character actor — who is most visible right now as the guy from those [Farmers Insurance commercials][1] — is hosting “Saturday Night Live” next weekend. It is a testament to the power ...

'Foxcatcher' a twisted American dream, and a mini Free State Festival

Eric Melin

There’s a nearly wordless scene early on in the disturbing tragedy **“Foxcatcher,”** now playing at [Liberty Hall,][1] that beautifully sets up the relationship between brothers and wrestlers Mark Schultz (**Channing Tatum**) and Dave Schultz (**Mark Ruffalo**). They grapple with one another during a training exercise at their blue-collar gym, and ...

'Selma' is as relevant as 'Inherent Vice' is difficult

Eric Melin

There are films that are “important,” and there are films that are personal, and it's rare the two intersect. I put the word “important” in quotation marks because that connotation denotes somebody second-guessing what they think an audience needs to see. Most “important” movies have a historical aspect to them, ...

Why 'The Interview' is a legitimate and hilarious threat

Eric Melin

Last week when I posted a news item on Facebook about the controversial film **“The Interview”** being reinstated into 331 theaters and VOD on Christmas Day, my friends were split into two camps. About half wondered if the Sony hack had all been a part of some long-term marketing campaign/conspiracy. ...

'Unbroken' too slick to sink in; local music short film 'Bitter Thing' to premiere

Eric Melin

“Unbroken,” the WWII drama directed by **Angelina Jolie** now playing at Southwind 12, is based on the best-selling nonfiction book by **Laura Hillenbrand** — which itself is based on the extraordinary story of **Louis Zamperini**, who died this summer at age 97. The movie wants to be about courage and ...

'Wild' breaks mold of pretentious self-discovery movies

Eric Melin

It could have been pretentious as hell: An aimless young woman, searching for herself, discovers her own courage by hiking 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail alone. That’s pretty much the one-sentence description of **“Wild,”** now playing at [Liberty Hall][1] and starring **Reese Witherspoon** as Cheryl Strayed, the real-life ...

'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 ...

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