REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald [2018]

We mustn’t be what they say we are. Who is Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne)? This is an important question we have to ask while watching Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, one we didn’t during the entirety of Harry Potter’s adventures at Hogwarts and beyond. Back then we knew who our hero was because of the mark on his head. Potter was the child of prophecy, the fated vanquisher of the wizarding world’s greatest foe Voldemort. So we invested in him and his friends from the beginning. We willingly grew…

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REVIEW: Roman J. Israel, Esq. [2017]

“Hope don’t get the job done” There’s something about introverted characters (possibly on the Autism spectrum) with poor social cues battling their own internal morality that writer/director Dan Gilroy loves. Nightcrawler saw a hard-working sociopath sever ties with virtue before gleefully embracing the spoils of his decision. Gilroy provided a descent into the nightmarish hell-scape of opportunism and greed without any optimistic hope that a reversal could be found or followed—a cynical look at society’s ills. So it’s only natural that his sophomore effort behind the camera would seek to…

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REVIEW: It Comes at Night [2017]

“Are you sick?” Distill any post-apocalyptic, sickness-infested world inhabited by survivors to its core and you receive an unfiltered glimpse at humanity’s desperation. Strip away the artifice and redundant plotlines, tear down labels in the vein of hero or leader or savior, and make sure “hope” becomes an archaic concept lost to distant memory even if it hasn’t been that long since everything imploded without warning. These arduously unforgiving circumstances box “life” in the present so that the past seems like a dream and the future a luxurious fantasy nobody…

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REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them [2016]

“Worrying means you suffer twice” After seven books, eight movies, and a play, the Harry Potter universe has become an expansive property no one wants to see die. Pottermore kept the fandom alive online with exclusive stories and quizzes bringing you into Hogwarts while author J.K. Rowling‘s textbooks added flavor and raised over seventeen million pounds for charity. So it was a no-brainer when Warner Bros. asked her for more. The question simply became how to do it. How could you retain the level of excitement and wonder to acquire…

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REVIEW: Born to Be Blue [2016]

“Hello fear. Hello death.” I’m not a jazz guy. I’ll listen, enjoy, and promptly forget it straight away. It all kind of sounds the same to me, but to each his own. If you can differentiate Miles Davis‘ sound from Chet Baker‘s you’re a better music fan than me. So to hear Robert Budreau‘s biopic of the latter wasn’t actually a biopic was to think it could be the greatest thing to happen to his story—not that Baker’s legendary life of West Coast Swing and heroin addiction didn’t provide ample…

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REVIEW: Selma [2014]

“God was the first to cry” A civil war waged on Alabaman soil in 1965 whether President Lyndon B. Johnson felt holding off on a bill negating the South’s tactics to bar African American citizens from voting would prevent one or not. It was fought under his and the country’s eyes in the streets, on TV, and in their hearts. Finally someone proves brave enough to show it by throwing convention aside to stop treating cinematic historical biographies as revelry for the deceased heroes who helped make our country great.…

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REVIEW: The Purge: Anarchy [2014]

“We’ve lost our souls to attain this peace” I enjoyed last year’s suspense horror The Purge a lot—despite high expectations for the premise actually going where it needed to prove more than another generic home invasion flick. Writer/director James DeMonaco gave us the graphic brutality its conceit promised through its claustrophobically bottled skirmish between malicious debutantes and an (not so) innocent family trying to survive while also lending the social commentary at its back a voice. I use the parentheses because it just so happened that the Sandin’s patriarch was…

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REVIEW: Sparkle [2012]

“You snuck out of the house for less” I can’t wait for the Director’s Cut. No, not Criterion’s much ballyhooed 216-minute edit of Michael Cimino‘s Heaven’s Gate. I’m talking about Salim Akil‘s Sparkle. I need to try and piece together the gaps leading towards its imploded Motown trio’s back-up singer earning a sold out first ever solo show with full orchestra and gospel choir after barely receiving two minutes of unsolicited time from the record executive who already dropped her once. I don’t care if her voice is like listening…

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REVIEW: Away We Go [2009]

“Do the preggo shuffle” I love Sam Mendes; I’ll say that now. What else do I love? Comedies with indie quirk. And that leads me to Away We Go, a film that embodies the genre completely as evidenced by the trailer with its awkward laughs, (I stapled the itinerary to your coat? Really?), and “cool” soundtrack, I must have absolutely loved it … right? Wrong. I know I should, I know that people all around me are showering it with praise, but besides the final thirty minutes—‘Away to Montreal,’ ‘Away…

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