REVIEW: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs [2018]

Well don’t let my white duds and pleasant demeanor fool ya. You know the whole enterprise will be a bit cheeky just by directors’ Joel and Ethan Coen‘s statement of intent. While explaining that their love for anthology movies stems from the format’s ability to unite multiple directors with a common theme, they admit their hopes of doing the same with a sextet of Western tales written and adapted over the years. Instead of lamenting the fact they couldn’t make it happen before deciding to direct everything themselves, the duo…

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REVIEW: Mission: Impossible II [2000]

“Who wants to be decent?” It shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s seen the movie to read a 2016 interview and learn how screenwriter Robert Towne came aboard John Woo‘s Mission: Impossible II after the big action sequences were already set in stone. His job was to therefore connect those choreographed behemoths into a cohesive enough story to invest audiences beyond the requisite quick-cut fisticuffs and volatile explosions. Towne was more or less set-up to fail and there’s nobody but Tom Cruise to blame, especially since the two worked together to bring…

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REVIEW: Paddington 2 [2017]

“Where all your dreams come true” In true children’s book fashion, Paddington’s (Ben Whishaw) continuing adventures in London alongside the Brown family (Hugh Bonneville‘s Henry, Sally Hawkins‘ Mary, Madeleine Harris‘ Judy, Samuel Joslin‘s Jonathan, and Julie Walters‘ Mrs. Bird) would of course stem from something as seemingly innocuous as procuring a birthday present for his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton). The activity will prove more difficult than anticipated, a villain will be introduced, and a mystery uncovered through an enjoyable series of pratfalls and error. This is exactly the stuff that…

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REVIEW: Live By Night [2016]

“We don’t get to pick our sins” A scene happens early on in Live by Night where Deputy Police Captain Thomas Coughlin (Brendan Gleeson) tells his criminal son Joe (Ben Affleck) that our actions always add up to a conclusion for which we can never predict. The idea is that Joe is a good man—a war veteran with a good heart—who’s simply been disillusioned. Thomas is willing to not crackdown on him despite being fully aware of how his boy makes a living as long as the evidence doesn’t force…

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REVIEW: Assassin’s Creed [2016]

“Not everyone deserves to live” The Knights Templar and their numerous myths about secret societies and grand political aspirations have rendered the organization primed for villainous roles in multiple forms of media. One example is Ubisoft’s videogame Assassin’s Creed wherein a violent war has waged for centuries between the Templars’ drive for world domination (peace via control) and the Assassins’ desire to stop them (peace via free will). The series sprinkles in real historical figures and does its best to make it seem as though it could all be true—besides…

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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: Song of the Sea [2014]

“You’re going to be the best big brother in the world” Writer/director Tomm Moore received the okay to contemporize his peoples’ folklore from the seanachai he listened to while growing up in Ireland, Eddie Lenihan. A traditional storyteller known for modernizing these same archetypes, Lenihan explained to Moore that adapting them to our time might be the only way for us to keep them alive now that new technology has forced the oral custom of passing down history moot. He’s right too as the two films Moore has thus crafted…

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REVIEW: Calvary [2014]

“I’ve always found forgiveness to be underrated” I’m not a religious man—hell, I’m barely agnostic. I’m also not sure if that truth helps my finding John Michael McDonagh‘s Calvary as powerful as I believe it to be or simply evidence of it’s universality for both churchgoers and not. A reflection on faith, God, and ourselves caught within a present where destruction is immensely more prevalent than salvation, this story cannot help but touch you on the basest level of humanity to ask whether or not you can be better. It’s…

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Posterized Propaganda August 2014: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ ‘Sin City,’ ‘Starred Up,’ and More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. 2014 soldiers on and the poster selection just gets worse. Luckily the films themselves haven’t been as uninspired. Or maybe they have. After all, this summer is down almost 19%…

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REVIEW: Edge of Tomorrow [2014]

“The only thing missing is you” When a script is placed on The Black List—an unauthorized survey of the “best” unproduced screenplays making the rounds—it’s generally a calling card for the writer. Many of these works come off to huge success and springboard the author to great heights in hopes more box office winners lay dormant inside his or her mind. With the highly entertaining Edge of Tomorrow, however, this isn’t quite the case. While based on a Japanese young adult novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka entitled All You Need Is…

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TIFF12 REVIEW: The Company You Keep [2013]

“We made mistakes, but we were right” In Robert Redford and Lem Dobbs‘ adaptation of Neil Gordon‘s novel The Company You Keep, the personal futures fought for by the militant Weather Underground during the Vietnam War risk being destroyed as the last surviving members of a Bank of Michigan robbery find their past catching up to them after thirty years. Hidden with new identities and normal, domestic lives far from the bombings and murders of a previous era, they’ve begun to take stock and find the guilt of what they…

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