REVIEW: Anomalisa [2015]

“Nah. That’s British Airways.” Leave it to Charlie Kaufman to write a play about human connection and have it be just three actors who don’t physically interact—two playing single characters and the third everyone else with no discernable attempt to differentiate his voice. Then leave it to Dino Stamatopoulos and Dan Harmon of “Community” and “Moral Orel” fame to think it would make a great stopmotion animated film co-directed by Duke Johnson wherein Tom Noonan‘s stable of characters could literally all have the same face. This is Anomalisa: an adaptation…

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Top Ten Films of 2013: A year in cinema to write home about

2013 has been a banner year for cinema with a slew of quality pictures that makes you wonder how only nine got enough first place votes to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Most of my favorites could have filled that elusive tenth spot for some added acclaim—whether having a chance to win or not. I hadn’t even seen a good chunk of these until the calendar flipped to 2014, the sheer amount of winners was too vast. And after only awarding three films a 10/10 rating last year,…

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Picking Winners at the 86th Annual Academy Awards

The Oscars are generally quite boring, since we often know well in advance what is going to win Best Picture, Director, etc. But this year? Not so much. Sure, there are heavy favorites — see below. But it is entirely possible there will be some real surprises. Of course, I could be completely wrong. But if I am, hopefully Bill Altreuter and Jared Mobarak will be right. And away we go … —Chris Best ActorBruce Dern: NebraskaChiwetel Ejiofor: 12 Years a SlaveMatthew McConaughey: Dallas Buyers ClubLeonardo DiCaprio: The Wolf of Wall StreetChristian Bale: American Hustle…

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REVIEW: Ruby Sparks [2012]

“I will never write about her again” The debut screenplay from actress Zoe Kazan includes moments ringing absolutely true and others completely false. I can’t stop thinking about Harry Weir-Fields (Chris Messina) giving his brother Calvin (Paul Dano)—the film’s lead—notes on his new, very rough manuscript. Asking without a shred of patronization who the target reader is, he doesn’t believe the women inclined to read romances will care about a quirky, damaged girl with little going for her besides being the object of a man’s affections. It’s obvious to Harry…

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REVIEW: Sound of My Voice [2012]

“Why do I like being lame?” There is a new, legitimate voice in science fiction and her name is Brit Marling. A steadily rising actress seen in a collection of intellectually stimulating independent films the past two years, her writing talents have surprisingly proven to be an even greater asset. In fact, it’s fascinating to learn her breakthrough movies—as co-writer and star—debuted together at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Another Earth turned public heads first only a few months later, but I believe it’s her work on Sound of My…

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REVIEW: Bitch Slap [2009]

“Lusting after strapping Latvian gymnasts” What did I just watch? To say Bitch Slap is an oddity would be an understatement. Half soft-core porn without the nudity and half blood-soaked action orgy, Rick Jacobson’s film is a fourteen year old’s wet dream. Sitting through it is like watching a movie from the mind of Donald Kaufman, the fictional brother in Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation, putting action and sex above any semblance of quality acting or coherent storytelling. I laughed throughout and do believe that reaction was intended despite it’s attempts at…

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REVIEW: 8 1/2 [1963]

“Because he doesn’t know how to love” With the soon to be released Nine on its way, I had to finally dust off my Criterion DVD of Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 for a viewing (that musical is based on it). Besides all the praise lauded, I really had no idea what to expect. It only took about ten minutes or so to discover that we wouldn’t have Charlie Kaufman if it were not for this film, Fellini’s interpretation of his inner thoughts both creatively and personally road-blocked. Synecdoche, New York…

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Top 50 Films of the Decade (2000–2009)

As always, I have not seen every film made in the decade, so this list is only complete as of posting. There are those diamonds in the rough I’ve yet to witness that could render this entire list obsolete. The ‘Naughts’, I believe an appropriate term being used for the decade spanning from 2000–2009, the years we feared wouldn’t come thanks to Y2K, brought with them some amazing films. Technological advancements aside, this time period contained a number of singular auteurs both continuing on already stellar careers and others beginning…

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REVIEW: Synecdoche, New York [2008]

“The end is built into the beginning” We all go about our lives creating a world around us. To us, we are the stars of a film; our surroundings are the set; and the people touching our lives supporting players and/or extras. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Caden Cotard watches as the plays he directs onstage succeed and garner praise while the life he lives with wife and daughter falls apart around him. As a God, crafting the activities and molding the characterizations of a cast, his own humanity is lost and…

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Top 25 Films of 2008

(short and sweet and to the point; culled from watching 129 releases. constantly updated as i catch up to those i missed. click poster for review if applicable) #25: Entre les murs [The Class] directed by Laurent Cantet #24: JCVD directed by Mabrouk El Mechri #23: Boy A directed by John Crowley . #22: Cloverfield directed by Matt Reeves . . #21: Doubt directed by John Patrick Shanley . #20: Il y a longtemps que je t’aime [I’ve Loved You So Long] directed by Philippe Claudel #19: Milk directed by…

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REVIEW: The Science of Sleep [2006]

“Will you marry me when you’re seventy and have nothing to lose?” Michel Gondry’s first foray into that of solo writer/director has finally been released outside the festival circuit. The Science of Sleep was created without the help of writing collaborator Charlie Kaufmann whose scripts for Human Nature and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind were brought to the screen by the visual prowess of Gondry. There is a void apparent as the story is not as tight and coherent, (if you can call a Kaufmann script either), as his…

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