REVIEW: Little Women [2019]

Fight to the end and be loud. Despite letting its sordid content embarrass her to the point of pretending to be a writer friend’s messenger, Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) can’t hide the excitement of earning twenty dollars her family desperately needs for a story she composed. With one sister married to a husband of modest means (Emma Watson‘s Meg), another off in Europe with a wealthy suitor yet to propose (Florence Pugh‘s Amy), and a third sick in bed with fever (Eliza Scanlen‘s Beth), her New York City efforts to…

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REVIEW: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood [2019]

Anything mentionable is manageable. Anyone who grew up watching “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” has a friend. Their parents might have smiled at what they inaccurately presumed was a performance, but the children smiled because the connection felt was real. Here was a man who looked them in the eyes and spoke truths with as much compassion and vulnerability as they possessed while watching. He was someone who listened even though the act itself was impossible through television. Fred Rogers cared—sometimes when it seemed like no one else did—because he understood what…

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REVIEW: Cars 3 [2017]

“I call you my senior project” I know I’m in the critical minority when admitting my enjoyment of the Cars franchise, but I honestly do. It’s not even that I am a “car guy” either—I’ve never seen the appeal of them beyond their utility as a transportation vehicle. So my enjoyment of the first film was solely on the level of its message and humor. It dealt with the theme of ego and humility as Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) discovered you simply cannot get through life on an island alone.…

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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: Coming Through the Rye [2016]

“Everyone loves Mercutio” Emmy-winning director James Steven Sadwith makes his feature theatrical debut with a story close to his heart. Coming Through the Rye fictionalizes his experiences as a 1969 boarding school teen and his adventure finding reclusive author J.D. Salinger. We assume liberties were taken considering the opening caption loquaciously elongates the usual “inspired by” to “a lot of this is inspired by real events if you want to know the truth,” but that’s okay since this sort of chatty flourish aligns perfectly with the character created as his…

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REVIEW: The Bourne Supremacy [2004]

“It’s easy. She’s standing right next to you.” The idea that a sequel can best its predecessor is one that many people believe impossible save one or two exceptions to prove the rule. We’re talking The Godfather: Part II caliber stuff—prestige pieces with weight behind them for critical acclaim and box office success. So you may find me hyperbolic to say this, but I think The Bourne Supremacy belongs on this ultra short list. Don’t demean it by exclaiming how an action film doesn’t deserve to sit alongside a Francis…

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REVIEW: The Bourne Identity [2002]

“I guess you’re not home” It’s interesting to go back and watch Doug Liman‘s The Bourne Identity after so many years and sequels because it’s so unlike what Paul Greengrass accomplished during his tenure at the helm. The action scenes seem almost quaint in comparison with quick cuts and loud thuds. The kinetic excitement of extended take sequences is absent, replaced by choreographed images rather than limbs. It just goes to show how different the series’ origins were with espionage and spy thrills trumping the subsequently explosive hand-to-hand combat. This…

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REVIEW: Demolition [2016]

“She always said I didn’t pay attention” Sometimes we can’t realize we’ve taken the easy road until it’s too late. It’s crass to say, but Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) was lucky to have been abruptly slapped awake when he was. The unfortunate side effect of his rebirth from the doldrums of routine and convenience: the life of his wife Julia (Heather Lind). Suddenly she wasn’t there to smile at him or leave a Post-It note asking for a chore to be done and he’s inexplicably apathetic towards that truth. Not…

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REVIEW: August: Osage County [2013]

“I’ll be sickly sweet” I’m drawn to dysfunction—especially when it’s of the familial persuasion. It’s probably because I didn’t really get exposed to much as a kid growing up with a family most would give anything to have. When you see the looks others who know dysfunction’s definition like the back of their hands telling you that what you believed was an example from your past is laughably quaint to say the least, experiencing a bit of that fiery vitriol at the movies can be invigorating. And when you have…

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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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REVIEW: The Muppets [2011]

“Laughter, the third greatest gift of all!” If you saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall, it’ll be no surprise that Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller were chosen as the ones to bring The Muppets back to the big screen. Almost three decades since the last true Muppet movie besides their literary adventures after Jim Henson’s untimely death, it’s also not shocking that the two decided to base their plot around this lengthy hiatus. Years removed from the original “Muppet Show” that began in 1976, this new iteration begins by introducing us to…

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