REVIEW: Motherless Brooklyn [2019]

I’m chasing his footsteps. Frank Minna (Bruce Willis) was more than a boss to Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton). This man plucked him out of an orphanage wherein the nuns beat him because they believed his Tourette syndrome was a sign of wavering faith. Frank taught Lionel that anyone using God’s name to harm a child isn’t someone worth listening to, took him under his wing, and hired him (along with three other orphans in Bobby Cannavale‘s Tony, Dallas Roberts‘ Danny, and Ethan Suplee‘s Gilbert) as a gumshoe for his private…

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REVIEW: Isle of Dogs [2018]

“You’ve heard the rumor, right?” I feel like the twee sensibilities of writer/director Wes Anderson might be catching up to him. Moonrise Kingdom was a sort of rejuvenation proving both exactly like his oeuvre and wholly unique as its child’s perspective lent a fresh voice to his usual brand of artificial melodrama. But rather than propel him forward, it seems it may have pulled him back. The auteur’s follow-up was the hilarious The Grand Budapest—perhaps his funniest tale to-date despite ringing hollow in a way that turned endearing artifice into…

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REVIEW: Collateral Beauty [2016]

“If only we could be strangers again” There’s a moment in the trailer for Collateral Beauty where Helen Mirren‘s character of “Death” is talking to someone that we cannot quite see but definitely know isn’t Will Smith. This was an intriguing “a-ha” moment for me because the premise of Allan Loeb‘s script—which passed through Alfonso Gomez-Rejon‘s hands when Hugh Jackman was attached before landing in David Frankel‘s lap—states that only Smith’s grieving Howard Inlet can see her. She’s an abstract construct much like “Love” (Keira Knightley) and “Time” (Jacob Latimore),…

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Top Ten Films of 2014: A deluge of sci-fi doppelgängers and one-word titles

I don’t want to label 2014 as a good, bad, or average year. I want to call it inventive, original, and delightfully dark. Whether it’s doppelgänger paradoxes leading to murderous rage, the bleak carnage of war, prison violence, or psychologically debilitating struggles to be great, my favorite films had an edge that cut to the bone by credits’ end. The best thing I can say about 2014 is that my top ten (heck, maybe my top twenty-five) could be re-organized and re-listed without making me too angry about what is…

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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: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) [2014]

“The truth is always interesting” It’s true what the film’s Times‘ theater critic (Lindsay Duncan) says: an artist should bleed for his craft. Physically, spiritually, metaphorically—blood must be spilt so the world knows he was here, selflessly (selfishly?) making us laugh, cry, and reflect on lives well lived and squandered. This is why those who touch upon life’s intrinsic emotions and universal feelings can demand salaries and compensation so large not even their over-stretched, ambitious, and insane imaginations can think of how to spend it all. They create what we…

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Posterized Propaganda October 2014: ‘Gone Girl,’ ‘Nightcrawler,’ ‘Whiplash,’ 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. Say goodbye to summer. Tent pole season is over and the critical darlings have begun to pop up on the Fandango queue. October is still a weird month, however, since…

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REVIEW: The Grand Budapest Hotel [2014]

“Who’s got the throat-slitter?” The films of Wes Anderson have always resided in some sort of parallel universe full of stylistic flights of fancy, but never has one been so completely defined by its fantasy than The Grand Budapest Hotel. His previous work exists to pay homage with stories filled to the brim by aesthetic flourishes and meticulously detailed set dressings that transport us into his familiar yet unfamiliar worlds. Rather than start with story as usual, however, his latest seems to have sprung out from its environment. This shouldn’t…

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REVIEW: Tomorrow You’re Gone [2013]

“He needs to get killed” Directing his first film since 2005’s Down in the Valley, David Jacobson finds himself in very similar tonal territory with Tomorrow You’re Gone. Written by Matthew F. Jones from his own novel Boot Tracks, the story picks up with introspective, tormented criminal Charlie Rankin (Stephen Dorff) upon his release from a four-year stint in prison. Deciphering a contracted hit in a coded letter sent by The Buddha (Willem Dafoe)—his wealthy friend and mentor long since freed—Charlie finds himself holing up inside a seedy bar/motel to…

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REVIEW: The Bourne Legacy [2012]

“We are morally indefensible and absolutely necessary” There was bound to be fallout after Jason Bourne ran amok avenging his girlfriend’s death and shutting down the government agencies that turned him into a cold-blooded killer. With his amnesia-induced morality’s push towards righteousness and its ability to turn executives like Pam Landy (Joan Allen) sympathetic to his plight, fixers behind the scenes of this CIA blunder realized public knowledge of Operations Treadstone and Blackbriar could risk exposing the myriad other similar programs being performed by high-level security officials doing their best…

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REVIEW: Moonrise Kingdom [2012]

“He left me a letter of resignation” Five years removed from his last foray into live action filmmaking—although Fantastic Mr. Fox is much more akin to his sensibilities than a normal animated children’s movie should be—writer/director Wes Anderson returns with what could be his most storybook piece yet. So far removed from our reality, Moonrise Kingdom fits firmly into the auteur’s world of meticulously detailed constructions and manufactured quirk. Subtly surreal in its tale of lost innocence, the characters populating the small island of New Penzance exist on the fringes…

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