REVIEW: Battle of the Sexes [2017]

“Libbers not lobbers” Between the title and trailer, I assumed Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris‘ Battle of the Sexes would focus strictly on the circus surrounding the event itself. It’s not like there isn’t enough content to make that happen between the political, social, and athletic motivations behind the media frenzy. But screenwriter Simon Beaufoy knew he had to go further back to truly understand the climate that led to former champion and current senior tour member Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) calling up Billie Jean King (Emma Stone)—arguably the best…

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REVIEW: Lost Highway [1997]

“I like to remember things my own way” POSSIBLE SPOILERS Every cinephile has a moment when “the movies” became more than entertainment. Mine was David Lynch‘s Lost Highway. It was my first foray into the auteur’s catalog—a viewing that occurred three or four years after its initial release courtesy of a rented VHS cassette tape. My experience with film as an art form had progressed beyond usual action or comedy reprieves from real life challenges, but no indie drama yet seen had quite the same unparalleled effect in its dementedly…

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REVIEW: American Ultra [2015]

“We fired the ugly one” When there are only seven basic plots—as the saying goes—to implicitly choose from as a screenwriter, genre-bending homage becomes the sole path towards creativity. So while Max Landis‘ script for American Ultra is The Bourne Identity meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith through a Pineapple Express filter, it’s a damn good ride regardless. He’s throwing common tropes on their head by making a government-trained agent into a paranoid stoner filled to the brim with anxiety. He’s creating laughs out of dramatic convention while director Nima Nourizadeh…

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REVIEW: The Equalizer [2014]

“Change your world” It may be because I knew beforehand that Antoine Fuqua‘s The Equalizer was based on an old 80s TV show (from Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim), but it felt very episodic in a way that made it utterly boring. There’s that time Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) helps his coworker lose weight. That time he gives a troubled young prostitute a reason to smile. Don’t forget when he helps someone out of a jam with some corrupt cops. Or when he takes down a Russian mob syndicate single-handedly.…

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REVIEW: Independence Day [1996]

“We will not go quietly into the night” The man who proved we could only take so many disaster films and yet still made more, Roland Emmerich shouldn’t be denied the astronomical success of the one that jump-started the genre’s big budget revival in the first place. After giving us the rather smart science fiction actioner Stargate, he and writing/producing partner Dean Devlin came up with the treatment for Independence Day as a response to the constant questions about their opinions on alien life. Wanting to take a step back…

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REVIEW: Singles [1992]

“What took you so long?” Finally I have caught up with all of Cameron Crowe’s films. Like his directorial debut, Say Anything …, Singles brings us great music, a cast of unknowns we all know now, and a story with heart and laughs. Maybe it just goes to where I am in my life at the moment, but this movie really resonated with me. The fact that life relies so much on luck, whether good or bad, to shape our personal relationships, our career, and our loves is quite prevalent.…

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REVIEW: The Trial [1962]

“To be in chains is sometimes safer than to be free” What do you get when you combine two masters at their craft like Franz Kafka and Orson Welles? Why, The Trial, of course—a heady, surrealistic commentary on society and justice. Much like the novel Atlas Shrugged, laws here are made not to be followed, but to be broken. Society is constructed on the spine of guilt. One doesn’t need to be aware of what they have or haven’t done; to just be accused is all that is needed to…

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REVIEW: You Kill Me [2007]

“I may have to brake his toes” From the screenwriters of the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe comes the R-rated black comedy You Kill Me. It’s an odd pairing, but at least you can say these guys have range. To helm this film, about a hitman whose drinking problem has caused sloppiness and perhaps the demise of his Polish gang in Buffalo, we have John Dahl. I am a huge fan of Rounders, so I was hoping for some of the same here, with a…

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REVIEW: Carnival of Souls [1962]

“I don’t belong in the world” **SPOILERS** This little gem from 1962 has been on my to see list for years. I’ve eyed the Criterion Collection version, almost buying it a couple of times, until finally looking away until I knew for sure it was worth purchasing. I can safely say that Carnival of Souls is well deserving of the Criterion treatment and soon a place in my film catalog. Director Herk Harvey has put together a real work of art and amazingly it was to be his only non-documentary/educational…

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