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Last Published: April 18, 2014
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Articles by Roberto Perez-Franco

STAFF WRITER
April 15, 2014
There are known unknowns — that is, things that you know you don’t know. Back in 2003, Robert McNamara was for me, an unknown when I saw him standing awkwardly in a khaki raincoat on the poster for The Fog of War. I had at best a very vague idea of who he was, and I had never even heard of Errol Morris, the film’s director.
STAFF WRITER
April 11, 2014
If you liked Rio, you absolutely have to watch Rio 2. The first movie was great, but its sequel is nothing short of extraordinary. Honestly, I do not think an animated comedy — when constrained to have a blue macaw as its main character — can get any better than this. I took my whole family to see it, and we had a blast!
STAFF WRITER
February 7, 2014
Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk have written a volume discussing a selection of fifty “myths” about atheism that they say are commonly held by the public. I will comment on the substance of their efforts below, but first I have a huge bone to pick with the cover someone designed for this book. Why the radioactive violet background? Do you really need seven colors to spell the word “atheism”? Now on to the important stuff!
STAFF WRITER
January 15, 2014
Search in YouTube for “too weak, too slow” and you will find a video of two young men sitting across from each other at a small table, frantically moving carved tokens on a wooden grid and slapping a clock mercilessly. They are fighting each other to the death, with bravado and gusto, in one of the oldest battlefields known to the human mind: the chessboard. The cocky guy in the green shirt, with the looks of a Viking and the nose of a boxer, is a 22-year-old chap named Magnus Carlsen, who happens to be the strongest chess player to ever walk the earth. The other guy, at the receiving end of Magnus’ Muhammad Ali-esque taunts (“Too weak, too slow! C’mon! What, you wanna play?”) is his close friend and sparring partner, Grandmaster Laurent Fressinet.
STAFF WRITER
October 11, 2013
In case you have not seen the trailer — because if you have, you already know the whole plot — Captain Phillips is a movie about how Captain Richard Phillips (played by Tom Hanks) sailed a U.S.-flagged merchant ship, Maersk Alabama, too close to the coast of Somalia, and was hijacked by four Somali pirates with machine guns. The pirates were not too competent in the operation and had to abandon the ship, but not without taking the good Captain with them as a hostage. A few days later, the pirates were killed, and the Captain was rescued by a team of Navy SEALs. That’s it.
STAFF WRITER
August 23, 2013
Ip Man, the legendary martial arts master that popularized the wing chun style of kung fu and mentored Bruce Lee as a child, has been the subject of several biopics before. The two directed by Herman Yau, Ip Man: The Legend is Born (2010), didn’t make much noise on this side of the world; its continuation, Ip Man: The Final Fight (2013), will be released next month. The two directed by Wilson Yip, with a serene and solid Donnie Yen in the main role, Ip Man (2010) and Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster (2011), were warmly received by the public and critics alike. With these still warm from the oven, we are presented with yet another take on the life of the master. Written, directed and produced by Wong Kar Wai, The Grandmaster (2013) is an artistic retelling of the already familiar story, with familiar faces in the main roles: Tony Leung (Hero; Lust, Caution; Red Cliff) plays Ip Man, and Ziyi Zhang, (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; House of Flying Daggers; Hero) plays Gong Er, his fierce antagonist and platonic love interest.
STAFF WRITER
August 23, 2013
Neill Blomkamp’s 2009 cinematic debut, District 9, took the world by surprise. I, for one, was blow out of my socks by the crispness and realism of the special effects that this young director managed to conjure, and by the originality and the depth — nay, the poetry — of the story he had written. It remains one of my favorite sci-fi movies of all time, and I can’t wait for the sequel, District 10. But with Elysium, Blomkamp has committed the same sin of his godfather, Peter Jackson, who followed the triumph of his filmmaking career, The Return of the King, with the painfully vacuous King Kong: letting ego and ambition get in the way of artistic integrity, and failing to see that a story — even one from his own pen — can be cheesy and unworthy of being made into a film.
STAFF WRITER
August 23, 2013
I have a feeling that Robert Luketic, the director of Paranoia, may be feeling a bit paranoid himself lately, after his movie was mauled mercilessly by the critics. You know you are not bound for the Oscars when your Rotten Tomatoes score is lower than that of The Adventures of Pluto Nash. I will grant Luketic this much: there is nothing grotesquely bad about Paranoia. Unfortunately, there is nothing good about it either. And this may be his sin: we were expecting something, a saving grace. When you have Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman in the cast, and build anticipation by — as I heard — multiple postponed release dates, great expectations are created.
STAFF WRITER
August 7, 2013
Within the X-Men universe Logan/Wolverine enjoys a privileged sort of position, comparable to that of Iron Man in The Avengers universe. After multiple X-Men movies with the whole cast, Hugh Jackman was itching to make a movie or two about Wolverine. On his own. And the promise, the potential, of grandeur was there. This potential has only been partly satisfied.
STAFF WRITER
August 7, 2013
I love Jason Sudeikis. He’s one of my favorites in the SNL cast: I think he does a great Romney impression, and his Joe Biden is hilarious. I like Jennifer Aniston, too (I really do). And I like comedy movies (Meet the Parents killed me) and movies about drug trafficking (Traffic is among my favorite movies ever). So I was expecting to like We’re the Millers. You could even say I wanted to like it. But I didn’t. I am sorry to say, but I did not like it. Yes, I laughed a few times, but as a whole, as a package, the movie just didn’t fly for me.
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