REVIEW: Stan & Ollie [2018]

Do we really need that trunk? As someone completely unversed in the Laurel and Hardy oeuvre, I’m not sure there could have been a better introduction to the comedic duo than through their last year together. With Jon S. Baird and screenwriter Jeff Pope‘s Stan & Ollie (inspired by A.J. Marriot’s book Laurel and Hardy: The British Tours enough to warrant a mention in the credits if not a credit itself) comes a tale that’s more than simply about their success. No, this film is a glimpse behind the curtain…

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REVIEW: Ralph Breaks the Internet [2018]

You said I was trenching! I knew things weren’t going to go as hoped when the lack of a short film before Ralph Breaks the Internet brought a filmed introduction by three of its middle-aged, male creators instead. They pretend as though they’re personally beaming themselves into our theater to share their gratitude with fake buffering circles freezing frames every now and then as one tells us the hardest part of making this sequel was fitting everything they love about the internet in. It’s spoken with a transparent insecurity boomers…

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REVIEW: The Sisters Brothers [2018]

Are you going to watch? Many assumptions can be made during the opening scene of Jacques Audiard‘s The Sisters Brothers. It’s here where we meet the titular siblings (John C. Reilly‘s Eli and Joaquin Phoenix‘s Charlie Sisters) approaching a ranch with a clear warning of only wanting the man they’ve come to kill. A firefight ensues with gun blasts and light flashes in the distance until the camera pushes in on the two men storming the door to take care of those still struggling to breathe inside. They hear someone…

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REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island [2017]

“Eating’s for the living” It’s amazing how a film’s success can create a tidal wave, but that’s exactly what Gareth Edwards‘ Godzilla did in 2014. We’re talking critical acclaim, half a billion dollars at the box office, and a rejuvenated plea for monster flicks. Well the first two are fact, the third merely hope on behalf of Legendary Pictures. Because their investment isn’t just sequels, it’s about a “MonsterVerse” so important to them that they got Universal Pictures to give Kong: Skull Island‘s rights to Warner Bros. so a single…

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REVIEW: Sing [2016]

“Don’t let fear stop you from doing the thing you love” After helming The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Son of Rambow, it’s easy to forget writer/director Garth Jennings started his career as one half of music video masters Hammer & Tongs. Pair his knowledge of music with some great past examples of family-friendly aesthetics (Supergrass‘ “Pumping on Your Stereo” puppets, Blur‘s “Coffee & TV” stop-motion) and the notion he’d eventually gravitate towards a feature-length animated children’s film doesn’t seem far-fetched. In fact, the only thing about his third…

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REVIEW: The Lobster [2015]

“That is none of your concern” Writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos‘ English language debut The Lobster is a dystopian sci-fi romance depicting a world where Paula Abdul doesn’t exist. If these mechanical creatures devoid of emotion heard her 1988 single “Opposites Attract” their woes of the heart might be eased. I say this because while life is hazardous to your health without someone to share it, Lanthimos’ non-descript City strictly inhabited by couples is impossible to traverse without that someone also sharing your “defining characteristic”. To be a match is to be…

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REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy [2014]

“I don’t learn” It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the best Marvel film to date would be one without a single recognizable character to anyone not already a fan. Guardians of the Galaxy has been around since 1969, but it’s the 2008 iteration by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning which struck the studio’s fancy as far as opening their cinematic universe wide open. There’s still a tenuous connection to Earth with the group’s default leader being a human snatched as a child by a Ravager ship, yet this detail…

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REVIEW: Jeff, Who Lives at Home [2012]

“The Porsche is normal size. You’re a Sasquatch.” It’s good to see Mark Duplass hasn’t stopped making small-scale, heartfelt indies with his brother Jay despite success on the acting front with the likes of “The League” and Safety Not Guaranteed. While I’m not sure you could still call them mumblecore with increasingly prominent casts—although their second film of 2012, The Do-Deca Pentathlon might—they haven’t lost the quirkily authentic appeal that originally endeared the duo to audiences. Jeff, Who Lives at Home contains some questionable choices with constant zoom pulls recalling…

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REVIEW: Wreck-It Ralph [2012]

“Who doesn’t like a brat with dirty hair?” The news that Disney bought Lucasfilm for four billion dollars had me thinking about another of the powerhouse’s key acquisitions—no, not Marvel and its potential for crazy property crossover. To me Mickey and friends’ best move this past decade was ensuring that Pixar Studios and its unparalleled team of creative visionaries would be their in-house animation studio with John Lasseter at its head. Not only would he have the foresight to re-open Walt Disney’s 2-D animation shingle, but he’d also find himself…

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REVIEW: The Dictator [2012]

“Where’s the trashcan?” After starring in three films and on television in two countries by engaging unwitting audiences in a guerilla-style ambush of often cruel and lewd comedy proving he hadn’t a shred of modesty, Sacha Baron Cohen‘s days of anonymity have officially ended. Utilizing many of the same collaborators behind the scenes as his last few creative endeavors, The Dictator exists inside a fully scripted world because the Englishman’s antics have become too widely documented. Gone are the days when a ‘supreme beard’ could hide his identity from an…

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REVIEW: We Need to Talk About Kevin [2011]

“He’s a funny little boy, isn’t he? But there’s nothing wrong with him.” Six words coming too late—We Need to Talk About Kevin. For mother Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton), the sociopathic tendencies of her boy were prevalent since conception. But to her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) their son was a happy, polite kid living life and getting into trouble like all boys his age do. Driving a wedge between them—a union bred from spontaneity and a lack of planning—Kevin appears to revel in the destruction he wreaks. Only letting…

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