Spring break the yearly ritual depicted in Spring Breakers, where college students travel to Florida or Mexico to indulge in a week of reckless drinking, sex and partying has a long tradition on screen dating back to 1960 in Where the Boys Are. The two films couldn’t be more different but one thing remains constant; spring break is where you will find the boys. In Spring Breakers four small town bored college girls go in search of adventure and end up encountering one very bad boy.

Unlike many of the films that deal with spring break, there is no dorky guy trying to lose his virginity, nerdy girl trying to win the heart of a jock or loser group of friends attempting to fit in with the cool crowd. Spring Breakers is about the darker side of what can happen when youth, drugs, and alcohol mix with the aimless and disconnected. In this case, Brit (Ashley Benson), Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), and Cotty (Rachel Korine). And, how the girls finance their trip sets the tone for the rest of the film.

Faith is the good girl of the group first seen at a church meeting and who serves as the conscience of the group. Once in Florida the friends ride around on scooters in their bikinis and join in the drinking and drugs mayhem of spring break. Of course, things take a wrong turn and this is when the coeds meet Alien (James Franco) a pot dealer who fancies himself a rapper and the movie takes off.   Continue reading »

It’s Kansas in 1905 and Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is a magician in a traveling circus who is busy juggling women, a mediocre act, and a vague desire for greatness. In spite of his shifting moral compass Oscar does have a loyal assistant Frank (Zach Braff) and the love of the good-hearted, small town girl Annie (Michelle Williams) who sees a potential for meaning in Oscar’s life beyond his transparently charming façade. But, before he has a chance to fulfill that promise he’s forced to escape in a hot air balloon after one too many transgressions and is caught up in a powerful tornado that whisks him away to the Land of Oz.

Oz is a visually rich land teeming with vibrant colors; flowers that pop open, water fairies and the beautiful witch Theodora (Mila Kunis). It is Theodora who first sees Oscar fall out of the sky and welcomes him to Oz, innocently believing he is the wizard prophesied to save Oz from the evil witch who has killed the benevolent king. Oscar is happy to play the role of wizard when he learns there is a throne and scepter of gold that goes along with the title. Of course, he soon finds Oz is a darker place than it first appears. The yellow brick road to the emerald city is paved with danger, ominous flying creatures and live snapping tree branches.

Along the way to the emerald city Oz saves the life of a flying monkey Finley (voiced by Zach Braff), picks up China Girl (Joey King) and charms Theodora who falls in love with him and imagines she will be his queen. Once he arrives in the emerald city, Oz meets Theodora’s older sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) who sends him on a mission to kill the “evil” witch Glinda (Michelle Williams who also plays Annie) but he soon discovers that Evanora is the wicked one. Continue reading »

The story of Aron Ralston, the lone hiker who had to cut off his arm in order to free himself from a boulder that trapped him in a Utah canyon, was all over the news the minute his grueling plight came to light. It was unbelievable, yet it was true and that’s why we were endlessly fascinated by this ultimate act of survival.

127 Hours, starring James Franco as Aron is the depiction of Ralston’s five painstaking days in that canyon. We know going in what is going to happen and so, I wondered how the director, Danny Boyle was going to make those seemingly endless hours not seem like an eternity for the audience while still conveying the progression of Ralston’s ordeal. He succeeds in keeping the story riveting and tense by using the landscape to mark the passage of time visually while juxtaposing the successive levels of Aron’s mental and physical struggle to stay alive. Continue reading »

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