REVIEW: Toy Story 4 [2019]

She’ll be okay. It was said upon the release of Toy Story 3 that the franchise was done as far as Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear’s (Tim Allen) adventures were concerned. These sentiments made sense because it ended nicely on a logical breaking point wherein the boy whose name adorned their feet grew-up and gifted them to a new owner (Bonnie) who promised a warm future of happiness and play. Because simply retiring the characters would be dumb, Pixar decided to branch out into a trio of short comedic…

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REVIEW: Always Be My Maybe [2019]

Kale can’t hold on forever. The premise is familiar. Two childhood best friends of the opposite sex lose touch after growing up only to find themselves in close proximity again almost two decades later. One became a huge success elsewhere while the other remained home and thus without much opportunity for escaping that neighborhood’s limited resources—the former falling prey to a materialistic superiority complex while the latter stayed “down to earth” on a depressive trajectory steeped in a fear of failure. Will celebrity chef Sasha Tran (Ali Wong) remember her…

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REVIEW: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum [2019]

Rules and consequences. Like the Purge series before it, John Wick is proving to be a money-making franchise that loves to let its mythology gradually unfold in a way that familiarizes via a personal experience prior to zooming out so the systemic issues beyond one man’s home can be revealed. While we still stay with the titular character as played by Keanu Reeves (an assassin that assassins simultaneously fear and revere who did the impossible to get out of the life only to see tragedy—his wife’s untimely death—start a chain…

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REVIEW: Siberia [2018]

“So sorry for the bird” The question is asked with a wry grin, but Katya (Ana Ularu) isn’t wrong to joke that the mysterious, handsome American who walked into her small Siberian town’s café is a spy. Any other film besides Matthew Ross‘ Siberia would have made Lucas Hill (Keanu Reeves) exactly that—especially now with the actor so successfully donning a suit to portray the dog-loving assassin John Wick. But that’s not who Hill is no matter how much the methodically measured beats of Scott B. Smith‘s script would have…

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REVIEW: John Wick: Chapter 2 [2017]

“Are you here for the Pope?” The team behind John Wick achieved success with a formula that distilled the prototypical action film down to its main points of entertainment while leaving the fat on the cutting room floor. This is why we moved back and forth through time for some scenes (the result playing out while the road there is experienced in montage) and why the economy of script successfully conveyed a hyper-real state of danger and malice from all involved. We don’t need elaboration on what we just saw…

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REVIEW: The Neon Demon [2016]

“Are you food or are you sex” Fame: all that’s glittered and gold, the intrinsic “it” quality we’d kill for but never do. That aura with an expiration date; beauty, confidence, radiance, and whatever other label outsiders use to transform you into a commodity to be bought, sold, and exploited within the tiny window before someone younger takes your place. This is Nicolas Winding Refn‘s The Neon Demon, an unexplainable concept jumping person to person without definition or discernment. It consumes the souls of unwitting vessels, makes them and breaks…

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REVIEW: Keanu [2016]

“It’s like smoking crack with God” After the massive success of former “MADtv” comics Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key’s eponymous sketch comedy show “Key & Peele” it was only a matter of time before the duo would grace the silver screen together. It’s actually surprising that it’s taken this long (the Comedy Central property went for five seasons before being put on indefinite hold by the creators) considering Key is everywhere you look these days on TV and film. Peele is the one you don’t notice very much (and only…

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REVIEW: Point Break [2015]

“Do you own a suit, son?” We’ve officially come full circle. Point Break arrived in 1991 with more cheese than a Green Bay Packers game and ten years later a fresh generation got to enjoy an ambiguous cops and robbers romp that moved the same basic plot from ocean to streets with The Fast and the Furious. It’s probably an obscure connection at best, but the cinematographer of than unofficial remake, Ericson Core, just happens to now be the man to bring a brand new version of the original story…

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REVIEW: Point Break [1991]

“Sir, I take the skin off chicken” ***SPOILERS*** I’m thankful I always saw Point Break as stupid fun watching it years ago because there’s no way I could ever take it seriously today. But rather than have the decade-spanning The Fast and the Furious rip-off saga and hilarious spoofing in Hot Fuzz among others ruin it by pointing out its well-documented flaws, they’ve instead enhanced my enjoyment. Any filter that may have allowed me to acknowledge it as a “90s classic” like some still do was removed ten years ago…

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SXSW15 REVIEW: Deep Web [2015]

“We are the darkness” Alex Winter‘s new documentary Deep Web provides many unanswered questions the future will certainly shed light on soon. This is its point. While also giving a layman’s education on its subject matter—the Dark Net within, Tor as a means to access it, Silk Road and other illegal marketplaces utilizing it, etc.—the driving thesis is to expose how crucial the trial of SR founder Ross Ulbricht is to understanding our basic human rights within a digital world. What happened in that courtroom at the beginning of 2015…

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REVIEW: Heritage [2015]

“Easy thing to bring someone into this wild world” Writer/director Damien Kazan is really honing his visual style these last couple of years with a string of gorgeous looking short films able to mesmerize with the sound off. Not that you should turn it off, his narration arrives with the type of resonating philosophizing we often need to hear in order to kick ourselves in the butt and move forward out of the depressive wastelands of our insecure minds. Scores by Jacob Cadmus don’t hurt either with their sweeping crescendos…

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