REVIEW: How to Change the World [2015]

“Ecology is flow” Using the unplanned creation of Greenpeace by a group of hippie ecologists in the 1970s trying to stop nuclear bomb testing in Alaska as its backdrop, Jerry Rothwell‘s documentary How to Change the World shows us the trials, tribulations, fame, ego, and success of doing exactly that. It’s a savvy mix of media manipulation, contagious public speaking, and the passion to do something good amidst centuries of human-led destruction. It’s about fighting the good fight against real predatory forces working outside the ecology system and those by…

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REVIEW: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials [2015]

“Where did you come from? Where are you going? How can I profit?” Full disclosure: I haven’t yet read James Dashner‘s Maze Runner series so I’m not sure if his second installment is as hollow as the film version, but I hope it isn’t. Many people have told me that T.S. Nowlin‘s script virtually rewrites the entire thing—not always bad (see Insurgent bookending its tale correctly despite changing the middle to be more cinematic)—so I’m retaining my optimism the text lives up to the first story’s potential because what director…

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REVIEW: The Lone Ranger [2013]

“A fairly sinister jar of pickles at the bar” To sum up Disney’s big budget reboot of Fran Striker and George W. Trendle’s radio show turned television hit The Lone Ranger in one word conjures “silly”. It’s silly to read how Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio’s original script involved werewolves—John Reid’s outlaw does use silver bullets after all. It’s silly—and offensive—that the producers cast a movie star like Johnny Depp in the role of Tonto when so many Native American actors could have performed the role effectively. (And yes, the…

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REVIEW: Snitch [2013]

“You just have to trust me” Watching the trailer for Ric Roman Waugh‘s Snitch had me believing the film would be a high-octane actioner in the vein of Dwayne Johnson‘s other one-word titled thriller Faster. Between the depiction of The Rock’s John Matthews going undercover with the DEA to bring down a narcotics kingpin and the writer/director’s past as a stuntman/stunt coordinator, it seemed a pretty easy leap to make. Interestingly enough, however, this isn’t the case and I’m torn whether that realization is a positive or negative. Generally action…

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REVIEW: Casino Jack [2010]

“Washington is just Hollywood with ugly faces” Did you know Jack Abramoff works out everyday? Well, if director George Hickenlooper and writer Norman Snider’s Casino Jack is to be believed, everyone he dealt with knew. Here is a man (Kevin Spacey) who’s been in the lobbying game for so many years that his hot shot assistant, Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper), is even getting on in years, yet both call each other ‘bro’ affectionately and their clients ‘dude’. The media coined Abramoff a ‘Superlobbyist’ and he lived up to the reputation,…

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REVIEW: True Grit [2010]

“A saucy line will not get you very far with me” The Coen Brothers have been on such a roll the past four years. While they’ve gone serious for the most part, the trademark wit has not disappeared from the dramatic entries to their oeuvre. Still able to hit the funny bone full bore—see Burn After Reading—the comedies have gone subtler with a more dire tone, (A Serious Man), and the dramas have gone grimmer themselves, right into consistent Oscar contention, (No Country for Old Men). Going back to Charles…

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REVIEW: Seven Pounds [2008]

“Hold the elevator” It all starts with a suicide. Or is it a car crash? I guess it all depends on whether you choose to start at the beginning or the end. Director Gabriele Muccino gives you the ability to enter his new film Seven Pounds whichever way you prefer as he starts at the end and works his way back to the beginning, showing us the course of events that led us to that heartbreaking 911 call. This is one powerful movie; maybe that is because I’m a softy…

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REVIEW: Unknown [2006]

“He must be tied up for a reason” Here is a little known film that never reached theatres in Buffalo, despite its all-star cast of talented actors. When you have guys like Jim Caviezel, Greg Kinnear, Barry Pepper, Peter Stormare, and Joe Pantoliano, with Jeremy Sisto and Bridget Moynahan thrown in, and an intriguing trailer about five men waking up with amnesia in an abandoned warehouse, not knowing which side of good they are on, (a couple people are hurt and/or tied up), how could this film not be raking…

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