REVIEW: Frozen II [2019]

Do the next right thing. I have to give directors Jennifer Lee (who also wrote the script) and Chris Buck credit for not simply jumping at the chance to follow up a cultural phenomenon for the paycheck. People wondered on opening weekend when a sequel to Frozen would arrive and these two held fast to their mutual decision of waiting until the story drew them back. They even began work on a completely separate project before heeding the call of unfinished business where Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel)…

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REVIEW: Vice [2018]

What do we believe? It’s still weird thinking the guy who joked around with Will Ferrell for years is an Oscar winner, but that’s exactly what Adam McKay is. Weirder still is my being firmly in the camp that believes it was deserved. What he did with The Big Short was the equivalent of too-smart people giving the public a “layman’s terms” explanation to their questions. He dumbed-down a complex topic, made it wildly entertaining, and taught us something about ourselves both in how we reacted (or didn’t react) to…

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REVIEW: Ralph Breaks the Internet [2018]

You said I was trenching! I knew things weren’t going to go as hoped when the lack of a short film before Ralph Breaks the Internet brought a filmed introduction by three of its middle-aged, male creators instead. They pretend as though they’re personally beaming themselves into our theater to share their gratitude with fake buffering circles freezing frames every now and then as one tells us the hardest part of making this sequel was fitting everything they love about the internet in. It’s spoken with a transparent insecurity boomers…

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TIFF REVIEW: The Front Runner [2018]

A lot can happen in three weeks. And so it began—sentiments that prove true only until the next example replaces it. We’re just two years removed from Donald Trump’s victory for president of the United States and already the art seeking answers about what went wrong and what went right have arrived. Much of it stems from finding a turning point to mark when the mainstream media started including tabloid fodder under the header of journalism, when politics shifted from the good of constituents and country to that of party…

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REVIEW: The Prophet [2015]

“And yet you rise above them unbound” After watching the animated cinematic adaptation of Kahlil Gibran‘s The Prophet and hearing his prose poetry read out loud, I can understand both the critical pause and public adoration it’s earned this past century. It consists of the kind of inspirational tales of flowery optimism that many love to read—enough so the book’s twenty-six essay-compilation has been translated into almost fifty languages and never been out-of-print since bowing in 1923. But this type of uplifting human condition rhetoric isn’t for everyone and personally…

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REVIEW: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice [2010]

“Are you familiar with the grey wolf?” Considering the story goes that Nicolas Cage was the catalyst for getting The Sorcerer’s Apprentice off the ground—he really wanted to do a movie where he had magical powers—and how well-suited his over-the-top theatrics are to family film fare, it’s surprising he hasn’t made a point of doing more this past half decade. All those direct-to-DVD entries can’t be paying him that much money. He did make a run with the two National Treasure movies, coincidentally hatched by the same team of producer…

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REVIEW: Serena [2012]

“About what? The kidnapping or the body parts?” Writer, director, and co-creator of the WIGS network Rodrigo García pretty much summed up his short film entry Serena with the following behind the scenes quote: “The best love stories are those with the greatest obstacles.” An intriguing sentiment as far as admitting the struggle necessary to find, keep, and enhance one’s love with another, the word obstacle is an understatement in the context of the relationship he’s created. Dealing with the interactions of a pastor and one of his troubled parishioners,…

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REVIEW: Rango [2011]

“Ain’t no one gonna tango with the Rango” Director Gore Verbinski knows star Johnny Depp’s penchant for fast-talk rambling only too well. After helming the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, he decided to take an odd turn into animation with the PG-rated Rango, taking his lead with him for the journey. Using a quasi-motion capture technique, the actors actually performed their roles, the footage later animated in character to mimic the motion and expressions of each. So, even though we see an awkward chameleon in a Hawaiian shirt—it’s not…

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Picking Winners at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards

Some Oscar nomination thoughts, the morning after: William Altreuter: Best Picture: The Hurt Locker. James Cameron backlash, plus Hollywood self-seriousness = victory! Best Actor: Jeff Bridges. Everybody loved Clooney, but he’s in something good every year. Supporting Actor: Stanley Tucci. Just a hunch. Best Actress: Sandra Bullock. Did you realize she’s forty-five years old? Not exactly the best argument against the proposition that there are no roles for women over twenty-four, since she plays at least ten years younger, but still. Plus the Streep movie wasn’t that good (even though she…

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REVIEW: My Life Without Me [2003]

“There’s no such thing as normal people” It may be clichéd to use the phrase, “if you look ‘blank’ up in the dictionary, you will see a photo of ‘blank’”, but sometimes it is appropriate. Sarah Polley, for instance, epitomizes the words underrated and underused. I know she has evolved her state in the film industry by becoming an auteur behind the camera of late, but it truly is a joy to go back and watch her early work in front of it. Finally catching The Sweet Hereafter a short…

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TIFF09 REVIEW: An Education [2009]

“They’re making themselves a friend” When I think Nick Hornby, films such as High Fidelity and About a Boy come to mind. It’s obvious of course, being that he wrote the novels for which both were based, but I mention it because I really didn’t know what to expect from An Education, scripted by he and directed by Lone Scherfig. The subject matter seemed so much darker and serious than his previous work; until finding out it was based on a memoir during the opening credits, I really was perplexed.…

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