REVIEW: Captain Marvel [2019]

I’m not what you think I am. With the snap of his fingers, Thanos made half of Earth’s population disappear. It was the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most harrowing climactic cliffhanger and it did possess an emotional response despite knowing most if not all of our beloved characters would find their way back before the war was officially over. With so many broken heroes, however, who could lead the necessary response? Tony Stark? Steve Rogers? No. When Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) saw what was happening, neither of them was on…

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REVIEW: Ready Player One [2018]

“Ninjas don’t hug” You can’t help but drown within the pop culture vacuum of Ernest Cline‘s Ready Player One while reading. He throws references left and right—most often for no other reason than to namedrop as though he’s racking up geek-cred points within a nonexistent game. There becomes such an influx of information that you begin to see just how flimsy and redundant the plot behind the superficial artifice is in its reworking of common dystopian tropes utilized to bestselling success in the YA world. It’s a thin veil similar…

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REVIEW: Darkest Hour [2017]

“It’s not a gift. It’s revenge.” Did you know Winston Churchill was given the Prime Minister position during World War II as a means to appease the opposition party before quickly removing him (once he failed like he always did) for the Conservatives’ actual choice to replace Neville Chamberlain? It’s quite the bit of intrigue considering we all know of his rising to the occasion with back against the wall to rally his nation together for the fight to reclaim Europe against all odds that laid ahead. The great orator…

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REVIEW: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story [2016]

“Rebellions are built on hope” George Lucas used to say years ago that the original Star Wars trilogy was but three chapters of an epic nine-part saga. It dealt with the Skywalker family, beginning in the middle to introduce a passing of the “Force” from father to son. Lucas would eventually make the first three chapters as a prequel series used to tell the tale of Anakin Skywalker’s descent towards the Dark Side for exposition into the stunning reveal his becoming Luke and Leia’s formidable foe in A New Hope…

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REVIEW: Mississippi Grind [2015]

“It’s Machu Picchu time” Filmmaking duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck‘s latest Mississippi Grind is an interesting creature. It has no ulterior motives whatsoever and that’s a unique attribute for a movie about gambling. You can’t watch loudmouth storyteller Curtis (Ryan Reynolds) happen upon the same poker table as down on his luck sad sack Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) without knowing he’s in the midst of a con. We don’t know what he could want from a guy who is joining sixty-dollar buy-in tournaments to pray he’ll be able to pay-off…

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REVIEW: Lost River [2015]

“Here in my deep purple dream” You cannot watch Ryan Gosling‘s directorial debut Lost River without recalling the divisive surrealism of Only God Forgives. He’s the first to admit how much of an influence Nicolas Winding Refn was, pitting the Dane’s heightened realities against the emotive authenticity of another favorite collaborator in Derek Cianfrance. Gosling places himself somewhere in the middle of their two disparate sensibilities and while I get what he’s saying, the apple falls much closer to Refn’s tree. Unsurprisingly booed out of Cannes as it earned the…

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REVIEW: Starred Up [2014]

“Single cell. High risk.” The hype on Jack O’Connell is real. And I’m only basing that sentiment on one film. Something tells me, though, that Unbroken in a couple weeks and ’71 next year will succeed at corroborating the notion because his turn in David Mackenzie‘s Starred Up is simultaneously fierce and vulnerable like few his age are capable of portraying. He and his castmates surely had plenty of avenues for inspiration thanks to writer Jonathan Asser basing his script on true life experiences made while serving as a voluntary…

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REVIEW: Killing Them Softly [2012]

“America’s not a country. It’s just a business.” Now I know why writer/director Andrew Dominik changed his film’s name to Killing Me Softly. It’s not because star Brad Pitt uses the phrase to describe his preferred method of murder; that just supplied the words. I’d like to believe he did so because he knew how different a beast it was from the novel by George V. Higgins on which it’s based, Cogan’s Trade. Written in 1974, the book obviously couldn’t have had our recent global recession in mind let alone…

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TIFF12 REVIEW: The Place Beyond the Pines [2013]

“Your skill set? Very unique.” Retaining the gritty authenticity of his lyrically heartbreaking Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance‘s new insanely ambitious look into the nature versus nurture equation feels much smaller than its reality. It would be easy to say The Place Beyond the Pines gives us too much to process in too contrived a way, but I believe that would be too quick a judgment. Shifting character focus three times, the film will have you wondering if it would have worked better with an earlier ending. But then you’d miss…

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REVIEW: Animal Kingdom [2010]

“Crooks always come undone” The new, critically acclaimed Australian film Animal Kingdom debuted earlier this year at Sundance to rave reviews before it even opened in its native country. Finally, eight months later, the rest of North America is able to check out this brutal crime drama for themselves in select cities too. And they aren’t likely to forget the Cody family after watching the story unfold, seeing young Josh scooped into their criminal activity with no other place to go after his mother overdoses on heroin. A seemingly good…

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