REVIEW: Gloria Bell [2019]

We could all die tomorrow. I hate the argument that remakes of foreign films allow English-speakers to invest more in the story and performance because they aren’t dividing attention between dialogue and imagery, but I can’t deny some validity to the thought. There’s more to it than just what you hear, though, because a new environment also brings new context. But so does a subsequent viewing of the original. A second viewing provides something the first couldn’t because you are different while watching—emotionally, energetically, etc. So we ultimately appreciate some…

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REVIEW: The Lost World: Jurassic Park [1997]

So you went from capitalist to naturalist in just four years. That’s something. It’s one thing for a movie to spawn a sequel for no other reason than money—especially at the Hollywood level where the capitalistic gains of producers usurp the artistic worth of its creators. But it’s another to ask the artist who spawned the property to go down that bankrupt well with them. This is exactly what happened when the time came to follow-up the smash hit Jurassic Park, however. The original book was a bestseller that only…

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REVIEW: Wonderstruck [2017]

“It’s never the right time” What do a deaf (from birth) girl in 1920s New Jersey and hearing-impaired (due to a recent accident) boy in 1970s Minnesota have in common besides their struggle to communicate? We’ll just have to wait until author/screenwriter Brian Selznick and director Todd Haynes are ready to let us know. In the meantime we’re made to follow their parallel (albeit five decades apart) paths towards a sense of freedom the adults in their lives simply cannot comprehend. They yearn for more than existing in a world…

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REVIEW: Kingsman: The Golden Circle [2017]

“There’s no room for emotion in this scenario” When Kingsman: The Secret Service debuted, comparisons to creator Mark Millar‘s other comic book to cinematic adaptation Kick-Ass were obvious. How the latter spun the superhero template, the former spun stylish James Bond-type spy actioners. It was all high-concept insanity with a kid from the wrong side of the tracks proving courage, heroism, and finesse weren’t as much a product of environment as they were personality and the capacity to overcome one’s disadvantages. There was a sweet surrogate father/son dynamic too with…

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REVIEW: Maggie’s Plan [2016]

“‘Like’ is a language condom. Trust me.” The character of John (Ethan Hawke) within Rebecca Miller‘s Maggie’s Plan is writing his first fiction novel not-so-loosely based upon his life—a loveless marriage with a bigger narcissist (Julianne Moore‘s Georgette) than he that’s up-ended by a hopeful affair with a control freak (Greta Gerwig‘s titular Maggie) just narcissistic enough to allow him to fully embrace his ego. This novel starts out promising. It’s stripped down, funny, and possesses a surrealist bent that tickles Maggie into falling in love. But after three years…

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REVIEW: Far From Heaven [2002]

“Here’s to being the only one” While Todd Haynes‘ Far From Heaven wears its “inspired by All That Heaven Allows” on its sleeves from aesthetic to subject matter to blatant homage, it’s so much more. He takes what Douglas Sirk brought to life and injects it with a healthy dose of complexity and jeopardy wherein the melodrama can’t simply be defused by laughter as true love conquers a town of self-centered lemmings slaving to adhere to the homogeneity of wealthy comfort. It’s not about the guilt of one woman swaying…

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REVIEW: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

“They chose you” With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 officially in the books I’m confident in saying Suzanne Collins‘ dystopic trilogy will hold up as one of the most successfully faithful cinematic adaptations ever. And a big part of that is the decision to make it into four movies because, as anyone who’s read the novels knows, Mockingjay is a dense work with little fat where its political and emotional intrigue are concerned. Any issues stem from Lionsgate’s misguided choice of putting a full year’s wait in between…

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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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REVIEW: Still Alice [2014]

“I knew I shouldn’t have had that champagne” There’s little scarier in this world than a debilitating disease like Alzheimer’s. You may initially feel a sentiment as shared by the titular Alice (Julianne Moore) in Still Alice to be hyperbolic, but the thought that cancer could be a better option is an extreme worth considering. We’d all hope to never have either effect ourselves or our families, but the prospect of losing health does in a certain way seem more appealing than losing one’s self. Because that’s what Alzheimer’s does:…

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REVIEW: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 [2014]

“If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree” Welcome to the bait and switch. If you’ve read Suzanne Collins‘ Hunger Games Trilogy you know that Mockingjay is by far the meatiest and most resonate installment of the series despite diverting from the blueprint that brought people in. So rich in the politics, revolution, and sci-fi lying underneath the action of the previous entries, splitting it into two films was actually a good idea. They should have placed the release dates months apart a la The Matrix sequels rather…

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REVIEW: Maps to the Stars [2014]

“… Liberty” There are many versions of Hollywood I would never wish to live within—including the real one—but it appears those crafted by Bruce Wagner might be the most nightmarishly hedonistic, vile, and depressingly pathetic. A man who grew up in Los Angeles via Wisconsin and probably experienced many of the selfish acts of depravity he cynically puts to paper first hand, it says something about his artistic merits that he was able to write and direct two films (both based on what must be a sprawling novel I’m Losing…

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