The Verdict: SavagesOliver Stone's latest fails to deliver on the promise of its all-star cast and intriguing premise

I WALKED INTO Savages with pretty tempered expectations. The movie opened nearly two weeks ago, and I’ll admit that the middling reviews it’s been receiving almost prevented me from seeing it. It’s not that the story of a weird California love/pot triangle seemed uninteresting or lacking in shock value. It was more the idea that a movie with such a ridiculous storyline could somehow manage to miss the entertainment value mark.

Savages has all of the elements of a truly entertaining film. Its lead actors, Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson, are two up and coming young actors with some solid acting chops. There are explosions, scenes of graphic torture, Salma Hayek in low-cut dresses, and some pretty decent dialogue for a movie where the protagonists spend a somewhat absurd amount of the film cracking lame marijuana puns. Benecio del Toro and John Travolta give great performances as a cartel enforcer and crooked DEA agent, respectively, and Blake Lively even manages to shed a bit of that Gossip Girl image of hers. Any other director would be able to take material like that and sculpt it into something worth paying money to go see. The problem is that Oliver Stone is not just any other director.

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The Verdict: Magic CityGlitz, crime and sex on the beach

NOSTALGIA FOR POST-WWII America has swept across popular culture like a monstrous tidal wave. Sparked by the stunning success of AMC’s Mad Men, demand for retro cars, mod-style suits, and skinny ties have skyrocketed. Inevitably, every TV producer in the country has seen the trend gaining momentum with little sign of slowing down and found a way to toss their felt fedoras in the ring. The mad rush to the ‘60s table has led to a number of unfortunate endeavors—just last fall, The Playboy Club and Pan-Am quickly found their ways off the air.

The latest drama to cash in on the phenomenon is Magic City, which aired its first episode on Starz this past Friday. Because of its 1958 setting, throwback style, and a cast full of smoldering actors and actresses, the most immediate and obvious comparison is to Mad Men. But this is no midtown ad agency we’re dealing with here.

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The Verdict: Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar MovieThe bizarre comedians' big screen debut is a manic, haphazard joyride

WHAT DO A PIZZA-EATING WOLF, a bathtub filled with human feces, old ladies getting their fingers cut off, near-pedophilic interest in young boys, and John C. Reilly all have in common?

If you can’t think of anything, don’t worry. Until a few days ago, the answer was nothing.

Now, however, every item on this list can be found featured prominently in Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim’s new full-length film, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie. The movie, which debuted last Friday, promised all of the incredibly quirky, stutteringly glitchy, and insanely inappropriate humor that has turned the duo into cult heroes, and it delivered in spades.

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The Verdict: DriveNicolas Winding Refn's latest film accelerates into a coercive, exhilarating masterpiece

FOR WAY, WAY LONGER than you’d expect, Drive is a polite movie. It goes the speed limit. It makes complete stops. It signals before turning. It brakes on yellow. (Should I keep going?) The film is so well-behaved that you’d be forgiven for thinking your mom might like it, right up to the minute the first skull gets blown open. Ryan Gosling is so dreamy.

Drive makes the most of the disconnect between its extraordinary violence and its overwhelming sexiness, and then some. Where most hyper-stylized, ultra-violent films inevitably end up romanticizing the carnage (some quite successfully), the blood in Drive hurts and delights in roughly equal measure. It’s not Schindler’s List, but it’s not The Boondock Saints, either. Thank God for that. 

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