REVIEW: Going in Style [2017]

“Everyone deserves a piece of the pie” Back before Martin Brest was placed into forced retirement post-Gigli, he had a run of comedy hits including Midnight Run and Beverly Hills Cop. The first of these studio pictures, however, was a heist flick starring eighty-year old George Burns, seventy-year old Lee Strasberg, and fifty-year old Art Carney as clean-nosed roommates inexplicably looking to rob a bank. The fun was in the preparation—a rejuvenated excitement in their lives. The drama came via a long, winding road of tragedy afterwards. So of course…

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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: Steve Jobs [2015]

“Computers aren’t paintings” Despite being an Apple guy from way back playing with LOGO the turtle in grade school before eventually swapping out MacBook Pros every five years or so from college on, I never really cared who Steve Jobs was beyond the kindly looking genius in a black turtleneck. To me the appeal was ease of use—I embraced the closed system Aaron Sorkin’s script readily attributes to Jobs—and the design. How can you not love the packaging, look, and logo during the Jobs 2.0 era? It’s impeccable. Whether or…

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REVIEW: Fast & Furious [2009]

“He used to date my sister” While only grossing half of its predecessor’s haul to make it seem as though Paul Walker‘s absence was a huge box office hindrance, Tokyo Drift still almost doubled its budget despite no discernible connection to the franchise that spawned it until the very end (minus its drag racing theme). It was apparently enough for the studio to gauge interest and see whether the quickly fading from public consciousness Walker and Vin Diesel wanted some easy money. With director Justin Lin‘s visual style alongside screenwriter…

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REVIEW: Fast & Furious 6 [2013]

“You wanna catch wolves? You need wolves.” It’s family reunion time in the Fast & Furious franchise as its creative team consisting of director Justin Lin and writer Chris Morgan expand the arc they began seven years ago with Tokyo Drift. The one installment without tough guy scowls from Paul Walker’s Brian or Vin Diesel’s Dom (although the latter did cameo), it’s out of chronological order existence had only since been alluded to via the continued participation of Sung Kang’s Han. Fast Five brought Brian’s old friends from 2 Fast…

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TIFF12 REVIEW: Silver Linings Playbook [2012]

“Is that song really playing?” I know it’s misguided, but my interest in David O. Russell films kind of ended after The Fighter. This was a guy who used to pave his own path with challenging material and comedies that made you think. It’s not even that I disliked his true-life boxing tale—actually I loved it. But where was the eccentricity? Where was the promise of subversive insanity that his sadly unfinished Nailed possessed? He showed he had the skills for the big time and I’m ecstatic he now has…

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REVIEW: Jack Goes Boating [2010]

“Chicken, fish, or beef. Ya know?” Offbeat and uncomfortable in its characterizations of four New York City residents overcoming and succumbing to their secrets, Robert Glaudini’s Jack Goes Boating makes it to the big screen. Based on his Off-Broadway hit, star Philip Seymour Hoffman enlisted the playwright/actor to adapt the work into a screenplay and thus make his directorial debut. Three of the four principals partake in the transition—John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Amy Ryan replacing Beth Cole to round out the quartet—and they deliver some amazing performances. Deeply entrenched…

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REVIEW: Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem [2007]

“I want Daddy to read it” When Alien vs. Predator hit theatres a few years back I had seen only Alien and Aliens from either franchise. I figured I didn’t really need to know every single detail of both series before viewing the combo and I was absolutely right. That film took it upon itself to build up a mythology that connected two alien races in a way that showed they’d been on Earth much longer than humans. The story was pretty intriguing and the fights never overshadowed what happened…

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REVIEW: American Gangster [2007]

“My man” I’ve been hearing that American Gangster is just your run-of-the-mill cop vs. robber flick, again showing Ridley Scott’s prevailing mediocrity. Hey, I love the cast and I find Scott almost as intriguing as his brother, so I was all for it. Generic gangsters with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe should still be better than most. However, while finding it to be unoriginal, I didn’t see it as a crime film. Instead it was one of my least favorite genres, the biopic. We are shown Frank Lucas go from…

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REVIEW: Miami Vice [2006]

“Drugs, Money, and Speed” I had heard a rumor going around that writer/director Michael Mann was having a real tough time cutting his feature adaptation of his own 80’s television drama “Miami Vice.” Supposedly he wasn’t finding a balance in the material he shot that would support his vision of the update. Whether this is true or not, I believe he was finally able to come to terms with the brutal look at underground police justice he had filmed. The movie has an edge to it that works well with…

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