REVIEW: The DUFF [2015]

“Can I have some peaches and pears?” CBS Films and Lionsgate are using an interesting approach to pitch The DUFF. Watching their first trailer made me check the calendar, wondering if I had somehow been transported back in time. Not only were they openly calling someone a Designated Ugly Fat Friend to her face as though it’s merely a fact worth noting, they were doing so to someone who isn’t close to being either pejorative. This atrocity set itself up to go the tired ugly duckling route, telling girls they…

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REVIEW: 2 Fast 2 Furious [2003]

“I’m not going back to Barstow” It would appear that we have Michael Brandt and Derek Haas to blame (thank?) for the sudden change from overwrought melodrama to self-aware comedy I would attribute to giving the Fast and the Furious franchise its longevity. Being that I had only ever seen the first, fifth, and sixth installments, I wasn’t quite sure what happened in between because, while I enjoyed the latter two, I simply couldn’t get into the original. Not only was it riffing on Point Break the wrong way by…

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REVIEW: Power/Rangers [2015]

“Bullshit is an ugly color on you” I watched “Voltron” growing up so I was never a huge proponent of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” when they arrived on the scene. There was always a sense of facsimile in my mind and the goofiness of the whole thing didn’t help recruit me into their legion of diehards. I couldn’t tell you any details of either show now so many years removed, but I will say Joseph Kahn giving the latter a contemporary facelift has me reminiscing about the good and bad…

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REVIEW: Левиафан [Leviafan] [Leviathan] [2014]

“These animals are not the whole town” It doesn’t get much bleaker or more cynical than Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s Левиафан [Leviathan]. He and cowriter Oleg Negin were inspired by many stories—”killdozer” rampage orchestrator Marvin Heemeyer, the Bible’s Job and King Ahab, and Heinrich von Kleist’s novella Michael Kohlhaas—all of which I know nothing about. Reading a little of Heemeyer’s tale, however, has me believing each dealt with the tragic circumstances befalling common man and the uphill climb necessary to overcome oppression. Whether met with economic, bureaucratic, or personal turmoil, there comes…

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The 87th Oscars recap through tweets …

I’m not sure why I keep filling myself with false hope that the Oscars will one day be an entertaining show to watch. The optimism is almost completely unfounded by this point. Whether they go weird (Anne Hathaway and James Franco), safe (Billy Crystal), hip (Seth MacFarlane), or try and steal another show’s success (Neil Patrick Harris), the result is the same. NPH should have been the shot of adrenaline the 87th Annual Academy Awards needed—a song and dance guy who’s young, fun, and funny. Sadly—and I do blame the…

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REVIEW: Kingsman: The Secret Service [2015]

“It’s a bulldog, innit?” I’m all for Matthew Vaughan continuing to jump from comic book property to comic book property. That’s not to say his debut Layer Cake was bad—on the contrary, I liked it a lot—he’s simply had a very successful run afterwards in the graphic novel realm spanning Stardust, Kick-Ass, and X-Men: First Class. Collaborating with Mark Millar hasn’t hurt either with his latest Kingsman: The Secret Service coming from the Kick-Ass creator’s pen. The pair plus screenwriter Jane Goldman have found a synchronicity for fun, entertaining action…

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Picking Winners at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Things look pretty cut and dry where the Academy is concerned in 2015. The Oscars are always a somewhat watered-down look at what really mattered in the past year of cinema and this installment is no exception. In fact, it may be all water at this point. That doesn’t mean there can’t be some intriguing surprises in the second-tier categories like Best Animated Feature (I really hope How to Train Your Dragon 2 loses to one of the other much more aesthetically and conceptually unique nominees) or Short Film Animated…

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REVIEW: Focus [2015]

“Nice jacket” You know that moment in a con movie where you’re shown an elaborate sequence full of subtle background action without knowing exactly what’s happening until the mastermind explains it all to a colleague—and us—who’s unaware? It’s my favorite trope of the genre because it either provides a sense of awe in the trick’s success or allows me to pat myself on the back for noticing the ruse. Sadly, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa forget the first part and keep us in complete darkness assuming their revelation will prove…

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REVIEW: Heritage [2015]

“Easy thing to bring someone into this wild world” Writer/director Damien Kazan is really honing his visual style these last couple of years with a string of gorgeous looking short films able to mesmerize with the sound off. Not that you should turn it off, his narration arrives with the type of resonating philosophizing we often need to hear in order to kick ourselves in the butt and move forward out of the depressive wastelands of our insecure minds. Scores by Jacob Cadmus don’t hurt either with their sweeping crescendos…

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REVIEW: McFarland, USA [2015]

“There ain’t nothing American Dream about this place” I entered the theater expecting McFarland, USA to be a Million Dollar Arm redux with Latinos in place of Indians. What director Niki Caro actually delivered was something more akin to Miracle—still not a “great” film per se, but definitely a worthwhile telling of a heartwarmingly Disney, sports-themed tale. While the studio that loves plastering “based on a true story” atop every bit of marketing material available to them didn’t do so with this property has me questioning the authenticity of what’s…

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REVIEW: Still Alice [2014]

“I knew I shouldn’t have had that champagne” There’s little scarier in this world than a debilitating disease like Alzheimer’s. You may initially feel a sentiment as shared by the titular Alice (Julianne Moore) in Still Alice to be hyperbolic, but the thought that cancer could be a better option is an extreme worth considering. We’d all hope to never have either effect ourselves or our families, but the prospect of losing health does in a certain way seem more appealing than losing one’s self. Because that’s what Alzheimer’s does:…

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