REVIEW: All Is True [2019]

Perhaps, to some, I was the lark. Sony Pictures Classics announced their deal to distribute Kenneth Branagh‘s latest All Is True after it had already been completed without the usual media fanfare surrounding projects with royal Oscar pedigrees such as one whose cast is rounded out by Judi Dench and Ian McKellen. You shouldn’t, however, be surprised to recognize this fact upon watching its often meticulously positioned frames of conversational exchanges with little to no camera movement. Alongside those longer elegiac shots of emotive gravitas are shorter ones devoid of…

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REVIEW: Red Joan [2019]

That’s a peculiar way of putting it. The government agents within Trevor Nunn‘s Red Joan arrest Joan Stanley (Judi Dench) under suspicion of treason and enthusiastically ask who politicized her because to them only an outsider could have brainwashed someone to act against his/her country on behalf of a foreign enemy. It’s an understandably emotional reaction experienced by a patriot discovering a truth so wildly unbelievable to someone under the belief that his/her nation is the true protagonist of world history. It’s a logical one too considering we’re talking about…

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REVIEW: Tea with the Dames [2018]

It’s alright, you can still swear. Friends for over fifty years, Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Maggie Smith join together for Nothing Like a Dame [Tea with the Dames] as they often have. This time, however, comes at the behest of director Roger Michell. And while it’s structured to appear like any other get-together this quartet has enjoyed at Plowright’s estate, there’s no effort to hide the production’s artifice under false pretenses of fly-on-the-wall intent. We see clapboards, listen to Smith good-naturedly call out a photographer off-camera, and…

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Picking Winners at the 86th Annual Academy Awards

The Oscars are generally quite boring, since we often know well in advance what is going to win Best Picture, Director, etc. But this year? Not so much. Sure, there are heavy favorites — see below. But it is entirely possible there will be some real surprises. Of course, I could be completely wrong. But if I am, hopefully Bill Altreuter and Jared Mobarak will be right. And away we go … —Chris Best ActorBruce Dern: NebraskaChiwetel Ejiofor: 12 Years a SlaveMatthew McConaughey: Dallas Buyers ClubLeonardo DiCaprio: The Wolf of Wall StreetChristian Bale: American Hustle…

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REVIEW: Philomena [2013]

“No one’s interested in Russian bloody history” The dreaded ‘human interest story’—a tale about naively ignorant folk read by naively ignorant folk. I paraphrase what wrongly disgraced journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) dryly quips when first told about the aging woman’s plight he would soon use to rejuvenate his career (at least where the film’s concerned considering he published The Lost Child of Philomena Lee eight years after his being ‘resigned’ from the BBC), but you get the point. Why would anyone who covered political scandals and wars want to…

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Posterized Propaganda November 2013: ‘Ender’s Game,’ ‘Nebraska,’ ‘Frozen,’ ‘Oldboy’ & 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. Summer is here! Well, at least the summer we hoped to have when the sun was still shining out my window. Yes, the requisite Oscar bait arrives with a few…

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Picking Winners at the 85th Annual Academy Awards

Supporting Actress:Amy Adams: The MasterSally Field: LincolnAnne Hathaway: Les MisérablesHelen Hunt: The SessionsJacki Weaver: Silver Linings Playbook William Altreuter: It often seems to me that the Best Supporting categories are where the most interesting things are to be found in the Academy Award nominations, and this year is proving me right. What we often get—especially with Best Actress in a Supporting Role—are performances that really carry the movie, even though we tend not to notice. We also get actresses showing us what they can do against type, and that display of craft and professionalism is frequently rewarded. The…

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REVIEW: Skyfall [2012]

“He’s keen to get home” With Paul Haggis relinquishing co-writing duties opposite duo Neal Purvis and Robert Wade to John Logan, the newest iteration of James Bond finds itself an autonomous entity. More attuned to the legacy that came before Daniel Craig donned the suit, we no longer need to worry about Mr. White or the loss of Vesper Lynd because their tale has run its course. Instead, Skyfall deals with a new chapter in the aging hero’s life as his and his employer’s loyalty is questioned against the changing…

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REVIEW: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel [2012]

“Top of the mountain” It’s a rare success to see a film as great as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel excel because of its leading cast of seniors. Since this bunch of peerless British performers so often shine in the background, we forget how good they really are. An inspired group, they portray Deborah Moggach‘s odd mix of retirees with an authenticity that brings her novel These Foolish Things to life inside the vibrant hustle and bustle of its Indian locale. Whether looking for new love, lost love, companionship, an…

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REVIEW: My Week with Marilyn [2011]

“Let’s say I sleep in nothing but Yardley’s Lavender” After the all awards season hoopla, I guess I expected more from My Week with Marilyn. My favorite kind of bio pic—depicting a finite amount of time in a famous person’s life rather then the full duration—it’s interesting that I find it closest in alignment to one that’s not. Much like my excitement to watch La vie en rose post-Oscar win for Marion Cotillard, I really wanted Simon Curtis‘ film to strike a cord with its microcosm look inside Marilyn Monroe‘s…

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REVIEW: Jane Eyre [2011]

“We shall root out the wickedness from this small, ungrateful plant” No, the words from friends and family about the dry, dull, laborious task it is to read the Brontë sisters didn’t sway my desire to see Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation of Charlotte’s Jane Eyre. Between my adoration of the director’s previous effort, Sin Nombre; the uneasy, ethereal quality of tone and aesthetic of the trailer; and the drop-dead gorgeous poster, (yes, I do judge books by their covers), my ticket was punched long before acclaim showered down. Considering its publishing…

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