Richard Procter

Staff Writer

Richard Procter enjoys writing words about stuff he is interested in, and has done so for a variety of publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco magazine, and Decades magazine. He has an abiding love of portmanteaus and has never had a donut. Really. 

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The X-Men Franchise Mutates into Something Excellent in "Days of Future Past" Review

With the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, our superhero movie universe has officially become as cluttered as the comic book universe from whence they sprang. You may celebrate or grumble as you see fit; whether this is good or bad depends on you.

There have been reboots and questions of canon and continuity for several superhero franchises before now - we are now on our 27th Batman and I’m not sure if there have been two or three Incredible Hulks or if the Ang Lee-directed one counts or not, not to mention the consistent failure of every filmmaker to make a decent Spiderman movie - but now that we have an X-Men movie with time travel and alternate timelines, it feels like the silver screen superhero worlds have caught up to the comics in terms of chaos and alternate titles.

May
23
2014
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"Her" Explores Artificial Love Review

For a movie that’s about a man falling in love with his phone, Her is surprisingly believable. It presents us with a version of the not so distant future that seems totally legit if you can accept the premise of someone inventing truly artificial intelligence. What happens when a man falls in love with a virtual being? Not quite what you were expecting.

Joaquin Phoenix plays a man named Theodore who has a job writing other people’s letters. This is sort of a cruel joke as he’s often tasked to write love letters while being separated from his wife, whom he’s still in love with. He ends up buying a new operating system, which by this point in the future is the base software for all the electronics in your life, not just your computer. It’s like if Siri followed you everywhere. Anyway so he gets this operating system and sets it up, chooses a female voice, and voila, his new operating system is Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

Jan
12
2014
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"The Invisible Woman" is Just the Worst of Times Review

The Invisible Woman is the story of Charles Dickens and his mistress, Nelly, who must remain a secret, i.e. invisible. Watch the trailer, and you’ll see that this movie looks absolutely beautiful. It stars Ralph Fiennes as Dickens. Also, look at that plot again; British people being awkward and scandalized by social situations! People have been mining this comedic/dramatic premise for as long as there have been stuffy British people to make fun of. Sadly, they get it wrong here, and by the end of The Invisible Woman, you’ll be wishing that it were just a lame horror flick about the introduction of a love interest for the invisible man.

Jan
12
2014
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"Walter Mitty" is an Endearing, Charming Guy/Movie Review

Critics sometimes describe movies as charming. I know this because, like you, I’ve seen commercials. After a movie comes out, they’ll show split seconds of scenes from the first trailers, only now they’re followed with superlatives in quotes from publications because apparently this will get you into the theater (I’m not sure where this logic comes from because I don’t know anyone who’s on the fence about a movie but then sees that Rolling Stone said it was “A triumph!” and then is like “Oh well NOW I have to go,” but I digress). Sometimes that superlative is the word charming. This has always been puzzling because I don’t really think of movies as “charming.” Fuzzy little animals are charming. Handsome men and women who are nicer than they need to be when they’re that good looking are charming. Movies? Movies are thrilling or exciting or riveting or, possibly, mind-numbingly boring. Anyway, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is charming.

Dec
27
2013
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"American Hustle" Will Hustle You Up And Down Review

There’s a scene in American Hustle that could end a number of ways. You’re not sure where it’s going to go. It feels vaguely unpleasant, and seems like it might escalate. You tense up. Then someone says something and you can’t quite believe it, because it was totally unexpected. Also, kind of funny. The scene starts to go the other way, and you find yourself chuckling, the anxiety of moments before almost forgotten. Except this doesn’t happen in just one scene. It happens over and over throughout the movie, which is precisely what makes American Hustle such an excellent film.

The events in American Hustle are simultaneously plausible and ridiculous. The movie itself is relatable, with moments veering from tender and sad to confused and dangerous to farcical and all the way back again. Don’t worry, it’s not as harrowing as it sounds. Well, kind of. It’ll be fun, don’t worry about it.

Dec
22
2013
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The Desolation of Smaug: As Cool As You Would Expect A Movie With A Fire-Breathing Dragon To Be Review

If going to see the Lord of the Rings was like going to the opera (admittedly an action-packed opera), then The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is like an amusement park ride. The harrowing stream of action and adventure was a note that its predecessor tried to hit (see: goblin tunnel cart ride) but failed, seeming to drag in a lot of places. The Desolation of Smaug succeeds where The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey failed, though perhaps having a really cool dragon helps.

Dec
14
2013
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"Thor: The Dark World" is Fun if You Don't Look for Too Many Answers Review

A man strides slowly and purposefully into the sunlight, burdened only by a multitude of rippling muscles and a pair of pants. His flowing blonde locks sparkle in the sun. And… scene! Shirtless Thor striding around a pretty movie set for a few seconds, neither saying or doing anything to advance the plot, perfectly encapsulates Thor: The Dark World: It’s pure fan service.

The scene outlined above, for instance, occurs less than 10 minutes into the movie and is actually the only time Chris Hemsworth appears without his shirt. But don’t make the people wait! Give them what they want. So what do they want, aside from washboard abs? How about great actors, for one.

Nov
09
2013
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"Parkland" Reminds Us That The JFK Assassination Was Sad Review

Scientists recently unveiled a robot that can solve a Rubik’s cube in under one second. Under one second! That’s amazing, right? But then you immediately wonder if this was really the best use of our robot-making resources. Has some foreign power threatened to do something bad to us unless we can help them with their vast warehouses of unsolved Rubiks cubes? What if we had made a robot that did something you’d ever actually want help with instead? Wouldn’t that be a better use of time for the scientists smart enough and well-funded enough to create such a robot? Parkland is the Rubik’s cube solving robot of movies.

Oct
06
2013
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Howard, Hemsworth, and Bruhl Offer Quite a "Rush" Review

Somewhere, there exists a moviegoer who does not like Rush, who pooh-poohs it and declares it crass. Or something. I have no idea what objection one would realistically raise against such a wildly entertaining movie. Let’s agree to not go out to movies with this other person though, they clearly have terrible taste.

Rush tells the story of two Formula One racecar drivers in the 1970’s, the British James Hunt (played by Chris Hemsworth) and the Austrian Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Bruhl). They are rivals who cannot help but get on each other’s nerves at every available opportunity and our lives are the richer for it.

Sep
20
2013
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All Badassery Aside, "Riddick" is Riddickulous Review

Riddick begins by fleeing the vestiges of it’s predecessor, The Chronicles of Riddick; there’s a brief intro featuring Karl Urban, some naked ladies, and a guy with extensive facial scarring, and then quickly gives way to Riddick finding his way to some wasteland of a planet, hoping it’s his homeworld of Furya. Riddick, a Furyan, really, really wants to go home and abdicates his throne to Vaako (Urban) in order to find out how. He really, really wants to do this because… well actually it’s not made clear why, but let’s assume it’s important.

Sep
06
2013
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Don't Think Too Hard & "Despicable Me 2" Easily Entertains Review

The trailer for Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud's Despicable Me 2 features the main character Gru (voiced by Steve Carrell) dueling with a secret agent, getting tased, abducted, and then recruited by a mysterious agency, and all the while we are treated to various shenanigans of the franchise’s trademark tiny, yellow, be-goggled minions. Thoughtful observers of these events might wonder - as Gru does in the movie - if the same objective might have been accomplished with a simple phone call.

This is really an excellent capsule of the entire film: entertaining, funny, with emphasis on the two main characters (voiced by Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig), heavy use of the little yellow guys, and a mostly nonsensical plot.

Jul
03
2013
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"Epic" Boasts Tiny People with Big Voices Review

Epic is a surprisingly good movie. It’s surprising because Dreamworks Animation is not typically thought of as producing good animated family features, mostly because the other major studio doing CGI kids movies is Pixar; How to Train Your Dragon and Rise of the Guardians are solid, but they’re up against the likes of Wall-E and The Incredibles. It’s hard out there for a company trying to make computer animated family movies. Hence, let us celebrate Epic while we can.

The movie begins with a girl named Mary Katherine (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) moving back in with her eccentric father, who believes that a civilization of tiny people lives in the forest outside his house. Obviously he’s crazy! Except he’s not, and both father and daughter get sucked into the conflict between the peaceful forest denizens (protected by the Leaf Men) and the gross swamp denizens (called boggins).

May
24
2013
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"Star Trek Into Darkness" Can't Escape the Gravitational Pull of What Came Before Review

Star Trek Into Darkness intends to evoke, presumably, the idea that catastrophe lurks around the corner, that the hair-raising events of 2009’s Star Trek were child’s play compared to what happens now; that the proverbial shit has gotten real. A more defensible interpretation would be that the title refers to the franchise reboot’s continued slide into the shadow of previous movies.

Director JJ Abrams' latest fare is a fun movie; Star Trek Into Darkness represents what most people want from a summer movie: beautiful to look at, engaging action scenes, epic scale, and humor. There are familiar actors doing familiar things in an entertaining way and really, right there this movie has exceeded 80 to 90 percent of movies released in the last eight months. If you enjoyed Star Trek, there’s an excellent chance you’ll enjoy this movie as well... just not as much.

May
17
2013
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"Trance" Is Really, Really Bad Review

The first thirty minutes of Trance are fun to watch. The following 70 minutes create the unique feeling of slowly descending into a violent trainwreck.

Director Danny Boyle sets up the action with James McAvoy as a sort of security specialist at a British auction house and Vincent Cassel as the criminal in charge of a heist at said auction house. A painting is stolen successfully! Or is it? Cassell pulls off the heist but the painting is missing from the frame. Following this we discover that McAvoy was actually in league with Cassell, despite tasing him during the caper. A fascinating set up for a movie the audience should expect to be mind-bending going in, as the trailers for the film make it clear that Rosario Dawson, playing a hypnosis expert, plays a significant part and there’s something hidden in McAvoy’s head.

Apr
14
2013
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"Dead Man Down" Takes The Revenge Genre Where Its Been Repeatedly Before Review

Dead Man Down examines revenge and what it costs. As you might expect, we’re led to believe that it’s not really worth it as the characters seeking revenge won’t be healed or at peace even if and when they do achieve their goals. You might expect this because other movies have taught us that achieving vengeance doesn’t actually resolve the internal conflict, pain, and dissonance within the characters (Memento, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Star Trek: First Contact to name just a few). Colin Farrell plays a character driven entirely by thoughts of exacting revenge for his wife and daughter from the criminals who murdered them. Noomi Rapace plays a woman that has been horribly disfigured by a car accident suffered at the hands of a drunk driver and wants to make said drunk driver pay. Farrell and Rapace just so happen to live in apartments right across from each other. Hey! I wonder if they’ll meet or something.

They totally do! They do meet. Cue movie.

Mar
08
2013
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Fifth "Die Hard" Film Will Make You Root for Death Review

A good day to die hard would be the day before anyone forces you to see Director John Moore's A Good Day to Die Hard. The film's awfulness pervades the entire movie viewing experience, never letting up in much the same way Sisyphus’s boulder never stops rolling back down. We may be thankful that at least it’s short (97 minutes).

Bruce Willis returns for the fifth time as John McClane, the tough NYPD officer we’ve seen save the day so many times before. Only this John McClane isn’t really the John McClane we’ve come to know and love; he looks old and run down, his dialogue and indeed his entire character seem to have been reduced to unimaginative one-liners, and any role he might have in saving this day becomes mitigated by the fact that he actually causes nearly every problem in the movie.

Feb
14
2013
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Go "On The (Long) Road" Again Review

On The Road can best be likened to one of the highways and byways traversed by the characters in the movie: long, meandering, occasionally hazardous, long, full of interesting sights and sounds, and long.

Fortunately it’s not the interminable sort of long one encounters in a movie like The Master or 30 Minutes or Less, in which you’re hoping, begging for the projector to break or there to be a fire or an asteroid that strikes the theater, anything to save you from seeing the rest of the movie. Watching Sal Paradise and his pals bounce from place to place across the United States, you are just occasionally struck by the thought “Wait, is this actually going anywhere?”

Feb
01
2013
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Haneke's "Amour" Rings True and a Bit Unpleasant Review

Amour is a good movie that is painful to sit through. The film’s director, Michael Haneke, gives us an unflinching look at old age and love that feels true and important, even if it isn’t pleasant.

The story revolves around an elderly couple, Georges and Anne, and how their lives change drastically once Anne suffers a stroke. Anne goes from being a self-sufficient individual to an invalid dependant on her husband to help her with the most basic of tasks, all in the blink of an eye. That should sound like an incredibly difficult ordeal, and let me tell you, that is how it is portrayed.  The camera does not cut away from the elderly husband, Georges, performing various tasks on his wife Anne, even if sometimes we wish it would.

Jan
10
2013
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"Hitchcock" is Indeed a Good Evening Review

We may rejoice that film has now been around long enough for one of the greatest contemporary actors to play one of the greatest past directors in a movie about making a movie. Well, ostensibly, anyway. While the plot of Hitchcock may center around the making of Psycho, every meaningful aspect of the film tells us about the romance between Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville.

As the film begins, Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) seeks a new project to work on and settles on Psycho after reading the book of the same name, as he’s become quite taken with the grisly work. So taken, in fact, that he begins to have dream sequences of a sort with Ed Gein, the Wisconsinite inspiration for Norman Bates. These sequences, along with some Hitchcock-ian breaking of the fourth wall, keep the movie a little more lively and interesting than the average biopic, in case you weren’t already mesmerized by the interaction between Hitchcock and Alma (Helen Mirren) on screen.

Nov
26
2012
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3D "Rise of the Guardians" Has 2D Characters Review

Rise of the Guardians is like Avengers for five year olds only holiday mascots and creatures of folklore take the place of comic book superheroes. The end result is quite watchable, even for non-five year olds; Dreamworks’ unique take on seasonal familiars combined with some fantastic visuals will distract from the tired dialogue and flat characters.

The film’s protagonist is an apparently teenage boy, chosen by the Man in the Moon to be Jack Frost, an invisible sprite of winter. The reasons for his ascension from mere boy to elemental whim aren’t clear to Jack, who remembers nothing of his past. To distract himself, he plays with children, causing snow days and mayhem to amuse himself.

Nov
23
2012
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