Archive for category Reviews
There’s a mid-credits scene in Vice that writer/director Adam McKay deliberately uses to get out in front of those who will say his new politically polarizing film is nothing but biased propaganda. In the scene, a member of a focus group questions the film for being biased, in which another member retorts that it’s based on facts. This eventually leads the ignorant redneck to start a fist-fight. The scene represents everything that’s wrong with American politics today, and by placing it in the film at all validates the fact that McKay is well-aware of his own personal bias — and doesn’t care. A quarter of the audience will love the film for putting a knife into former Vice President Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), another quarter will hate it for the same reason. It’s the middle half, of which I believe I am a part, that will feel as though, even if the film is based on fact, nothing portrayed can be believed because it’s been tainted by McKay’s obvious preconceptions. Read Full Review
I always tend to enjoy films that play with the imagination as a means of dissecting abstract emotions. Whether it’s a guy breaking from his mundane life to achieve an adventure beyond his wildest dreams, or kids creating their own fantastical world to cope with the suffering of those they love, these films give us permission to escape into ourselves in order to work through depression, fear and loneliness, and secure a strong, healthy pathway to heal. Welcome to Marwen, the true story of man fighting to overcome the demons that haunt him through the stories he creates with a set of dolls, portrays its hero in a serious way without taking away from inventiveness of the human mind. Read Full Review
In Return of the Jedi, as the Rebel Alliance attacks the second Death Star, Lando Calrissian pilots the Millennium Falcon into the core to set off a few ion charges and start a chain reaction that will ultimately destroy it. As he does so, Luke Skywalker is on board the Death Star helping Anakin Skywalker find redemption. As the explosions start burning away at the core, both characters — as well as that infamous ship — are in danger. By the time the Falcon blasts from within the fire to come out (relatively) unscathed, we’re all cheering in excitement because we want to see these heroes we’ve grown to love survive. There’s a similar sequence in the new post-apocalyptic adventure, Mortal Engines, that falls extremely flat, mostly because unlike the sequence in Jedi, we aren’t invested in any of the characters enough to have that same breathless urgency. Read Full Review
Along with holdovers and independent releases, there were three major films that made an attempt to dominate the box office this Thanksgiving. Because I all but haunted the cineplex over the long weekend, I decided to give a quick take on all five of the films I went to see. Read Full Reviews
In 1993, Robin Williams starred in a film about a man so desperate to see his kids after separating from his wife (Sally Field), he turned to cross-dressing as a nanny to spend time with them every day. The film, of course, is Mrs. Doubtfire and was an instant classic, not only for its clever humor (and Williams’s winning performance), but because at its core was a strong respect for parents and children who have gone through divorce. It didn’t try to pander to anyone while depicting the hardships in sharing custody and provided an uplifting message that when a couple at odds with one another can find it in their hearts to put their children’s interest first, parents can make things work for the best.
Instant Family treads in the same waters as Mrs. Doubtfire even as it tackles a different subject altogether — foster care and adoption. Though the premise may be slightly different, what remains is the pure heart the filmmakers have for the subject and the respect they have for those individuals who truly care about giving kids in unfortunate circumstances a better, more prosperous life. Read Full Review
Like a lot of mainstream genres, action can be defined in several different sub-genres. A couple of examples include hardcore action, which usually includes heavy violence and gore; action-comedy, in which the action can be the product of the comedy or the reason for it; and military action, where the action is set primarily in war scenarios. Hunter Killer, the new submarine film, falls under the last example, mixed heavily with one of the hardest action sub-genres to get right, the action-thriller. There are a lot of elements that need to fit perfectly together in order to keep the tension tight throughout the entirety of the film. Director Donovan Marsh follows in the footsteps of Tony Scott, who utilized his incredible cast (including Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman) to create one the best military action-thrillers in Crimson Tide. With the exception of Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman (who only has a few minutes of screen time), there isn’t anyone in Killer that even comes close to that level of notoriety, however, Marsh is able to pull together a cast of relative unknowns that emulates the same taut atmosphere to keep your heart pounding even when there isn’t any action happening on screen. Read Full Review
For a long time, especially throughout the sixties and seventies, westerns ruled the roost in the cineplexes. But as the blockbuster slowly took over and science fiction finally found a strong footing in people’s wallets, the western eroded into a forgotten medium that occasionally rears its head to peek in on what’s happening around them, sometimes to great critical acclaim (Tombstone, Unforgiven, Open Range), other times in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fashion (The Quick and the Dead, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Cowboys and Aliens) and tepid remakes (3:10 To Yuma, True Grit, The Magnificent Seven).
In that time, the western also evolved; it was no longer just your typical men on horseback in the dusty old west anymore. We now had what’s known as the modern western, which took the style and themes of the old and paired them in an era full of cars and modern technology (Hell or High Water). Two films went wide this week that convey both sides of the western coin: The Sisters Brothers, reveling in the harsh realities of a time when uncivilized gunslingers are starting to fade into the civility of the modern world; and The Old Man and the Gun, meditating on a modern bank robber who reminisces of days gone by, but is just as happy with the respect he provides his victims. Read Full Review
Earlier this year, Hotel Artemis, a film with a big name cast gathering inside a hotel for various reasons, was released. It didn’t last long in theaters, and it’s not hard to understand why: the film couldn’t figure out what it wanted to be as the majority of the cast sailed through their usual schtick without much passion behind it. None of the characters were all that likable, mostly because, aside from the Doctor (Jodie Foster), we never really got to know any of them outside of their overt personalities, so their choices didn’t give us anything to identify with or hold onto. Fast forward a few months to Bad Times at the El Royale, another film with an all-star cast about a group of strangers coming together at a hotel for their own nefarious purposes. The similarities end there, as El Royale turns out to be what Hotel Artemis was hoping to be. Read Full Review
For a long time, I never thought of Lady Gaga as anything but an act. By this I mean, she was all gimmick, no substance, more focused on the persona she presented than with the music she performed. Although her music was fine, her shtick so far overwhelmed it, I always felt she was covering for a lack of vocal talent. Then in 2015, she appeared completely stripped down (no weird outfits or heavy makeup) at the Oscars to sing a beautiful rendition of “The Sound of Music.” It was clear she was an extremely talented vocalist, and it made me wonder why she’d spent so much time hiding behind a mask. A Star Is Born, the newest remake of the film made famous by Barbara Streisand (which itself was a remake), in some ways mirror’s Lady Gaga’s rise to fame and how she may have felt when she herself was coming up in an industry obsessed with appearance. Read Full Review
Pixar has dominated the animation stage for so long now, sometimes we forget there are other animation studios that have delivered some exceptional animated films as well (though the majority of them do tend to run their brands into the ground with too many unnecessary sequels and spinoffs). Sony Animation has produced several fun films, Dreamworks Animation has delivered a couple of standouts, and of course, we all know Disney Animation’s history. Then there’s Warner Brothers Animation, who, outside of their DC, LEGO and Hannah-Barbara brands, hasn’t delivered a whole lot in terms of winning products. So it was interesting to see them step out of their comfort zone once again (after 2016’s Storks, which did impress me quite a bit!) to produce a film that resembled something you might expect from a studio like Blue Sky. I can’t say that Smallfoot is full of laugh-out-loud moments, but it does have a strong, tender narrative that keeps it from sinking into the ice. Read Full Review