REVIEW: Papillon [1973]

“Blame is for God and small children” While Henri Charriere‘s account of his incarceration and escape from the penal colony known as French Guiana has a contentious history as far as it being an autobiography or novel of historical fiction, such debate is inconsequential to Franklin J. Schaffner‘s cinematic adaptation Papillon. Whether or not what we see actually happened has no bearing on our enjoyment of its so-called “Greatest Adventure of Escape!” What we watch are the harrowing years of men convicted (falsely or not) of heinous crimes that deserve…

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TIFF14 REVIEW: The Cobbler [2015]

“I’m not gonna eat you!” Adults need fairy tales too and Thomas McCarthy—with cowriter Paul Sado—deliver one in The Cobbler. They don’t try to pretend it’s something more either as its opening prologue can attest thanks to older tradesmen on the Lower East Side speaking Yiddish around a table to think up a way to defeat the evil landlord raising their rent to drive them away. Cut to the local shoe man deemed their savior stitching up a pair of loafers with son in tow and we learn his machine…

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REVIEW: Chef [2014]

“You’re trending, bro” I have to say it. A guy clueless about Twitter—who doesn’t understand tweets are public—knows what a meme is less than forty-eight hours later? Not only knows but smugly acts smarter than a woman who’s obviously his junior by legitimately asking whether she knows? It shouldn’t irk me so much, but the movie hinges a lot of its plot progression on the concept of social media paired with the internet savvy of a ten year-old boy. Save that meme joke for the end if you absolutely need…

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Posterized Propaganda September 2011: Misfires countered by fearlessness

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact that 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. September is the start of the film festival season. Unsurprisingly, while Toronto, Venice, and New York debut the flicks we’ve been waiting all year to see, the box office…

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REVIEW: Barney’s Version [2010]

“Montreal 2, Boston 1” It begins with an aged detective, a man unafraid of police brutality, and his newly released novel about the circumstantial evidence surrounding the disappearance of a young man at the summer home of a friend. Detective O’Hearne (Mark Addy) has never let go of the assumption that Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) shot and killed his Best Man from two weddings, Boogie (Scott Speedman), in a drunken stupor after the discovery of an adulterous tryst. To that end, he has been a constant fixture in the television…

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REVIEW: Kung Fu Panda 2 [2011]

“Tell those musicians to play some action music because it is on” The phrase sophomore slump wasn’t just coined out of the blue; it is a very real description for a good number of sequels overall, but especially the realm of cinema. Very few follow-ups to praised work ever earn a place to be mentioned beside their predecessors let alone become deemed a step above. And the attempt gets even harder when you’re dealing with animated children’s fare—the Toy Story films a grand exception—since most end up languishing in direct…

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REVIEW: Little Fockers [2010]

“Stay calm, Mr. Jinx. I’m going to defibrillate myself.” Par for the course. Is that diplomatic enough? It’s a statement that could go both ways depending on what came first, but for those who know me, and my comedy sensibilities, it is not good here. Meet the Parents was harmless enough and semi-worthwhile to see Ben Stiller squirm, Robert De Niro use his brooding persona for humor, (although give me Analyze This any day), and Owen Wilson’s other-worldly transcendence. Meet the Fockers then took a marginal film, added two kooks…

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BNFF10 REVIEW: Cadillac [2009]

“All I can do is drive” The eight-minute short film Cadillac, by Nathan Lewinski, is a sentimental portrait of the memory of a man who has left this earth. Beginning without dialogue, an older gentlemen turning on his Caddy while still in the garage, I thought that maybe my cynical mind was playing tricks on me. The first reaction I had to the scene was that this man was committing suicide, especially as the sequence blurs out into black for the next act to begin. Only when I read the…

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REVIEW: Last Chance Harvey [2008]

“Are you trying to get me to buy you a new dress?” It’s the little film that could, Joel Hopkins’ Last Chance Harvey. I remember it getting a limited run locally and then being surprised by Golden Globe nods for both leads, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. If the feel-good praise didn’t get me to want to check it out, the award accolades did; however, it’s not necessarily the type of film that I’d seek too ambitiously. But, when I had an hour to kill and Starz On Demand with…

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REVIEW: Kung Fu Panda [2008]

“Can you handle the crazy feet?” Pixar is where it is at for me animation-wise in Hollywood. Maybe that makes me a snob, but something about their films resonate on a level that the others can’t even begin to touch. Sure Shrek and Madagascar are funny, but besides the off-belly laugh, they are kind of shallow and hollow. With that said, I went to check out Dreamworks new foray into computer graphic cinema, Kung Fu Panda. Admittedly, I knew very little about this thing other than the fact that Jack…

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REVIEW: I Heart Huckabees [2004]

“How am I not myself?” My favorite film of 2004, I Heart Huckabees, is one that cannot be easily classified. From the heady philosophy, to the comic genius, to the absurd surrealism, director David O. Russell has gone astray from the mainstream and crafted something that must be autobiographical as well as a passion project. Sure, as of late, there is all the talk about Lily Tomlin and he butting heads (the internet videos are fantastic, but my favorite is Paul Rudd and Michael Showalter doing their own version) and…

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