REVIEW: Assassin’s Creed [2016]

“Not everyone deserves to live” The Knights Templar and their numerous myths about secret societies and grand political aspirations have rendered the organization primed for villainous roles in multiple forms of media. One example is Ubisoft’s videogame Assassin’s Creed wherein a violent war has waged for centuries between the Templars’ drive for world domination (peace via control) and the Assassins’ desire to stop them (peace via free will). The series sprinkles in real historical figures and does its best to make it seem as though it could all be true—besides…

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REVIEW: Allied [2016]

“Look for the hummingbird” Sometimes that story you’ve had bouncing around your head needs time to gestate and your career the opportunity to blossom before it can be released upon the world. For Steven Knight it was a bit of both. Already nominated for an Oscar back in 2004 for the brilliant Dirty Pretty Things, the screenwriter soon wrote Eastern Promises before directing the intriguing one-man show Locke. A couple underrated gems (Pawn Sacrifice), some duds (Seventh Son), and a critically acclaimed television series later (“Peaky Blinders”), he finally put…

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REVIEW: Avril et le monde truqué [April and the Extraordinary World] [2015]

“All scientists must serve the empire!” Most writing on Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci‘s Avril et le monde truqué [April and the Extraordinary World] speaks as though they’ve adapted one of revered Frenchman Jacques Tardi‘s graphic novels. This isn’t quite the case. What they’ve actually done is bring his unique “universe” to life with help from previous collaborator Benjamin Legrand (writer of Tardi’s Tueur de cafards) instead. Legrand and Ekinci crafted this alternate steampunk version of Paris as something inspired by the artist’s work rather than born from it. Tardi…

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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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Picking Winners at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Things look pretty cut and dry where the Academy is concerned in 2015. The Oscars are always a somewhat watered-down look at what really mattered in the past year of cinema and this installment is no exception. In fact, it may be all water at this point. That doesn’t mean there can’t be some intriguing surprises in the second-tier categories like Best Animated Feature (I really hope How to Train Your Dragon 2 loses to one of the other much more aesthetically and conceptually unique nominees) or Short Film Animated…

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REVIEW: Deux jours, une nuit [Two Days, One Night] [2014]

“You mustn’t cry” Leave it to Marion Cotillard to take an otherwise workmanlike film and make it into a must-see. On the surface Deux jours, une nuit [Two Days, One Night] is simply a series of emotionally reactive moments responding to a decision unfairly placed on the shoulders of blue-collar employees at the local solar panel plant. Would you rather collect your year-end bonus or watch as a senior co-worker, just recovered from a depression-induced sick leave, returns to her post by your side? Without a true human connection to…

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REVIEW: The Immigrant [2014]

“The things you do to survive” While we may not possess that ideal “good” so many want to believe is intrinsic to humanity, sometimes even the worst of us can at the very least find a shred of remorse. “Sorry” will never be enough, though. It never can. But that lapse of amorality unearthing contrition from the darkest of corners could unexpectedly ensure an end to the cycle of pain wrought by previous selfish desire. It won’t erase what came before, nor can it serve as penance for the horror…

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Posterized Propaganda May 2014: ‘Godzilla’, ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2′, ‘Maleficent’ & 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. Is it officially Summer yet? Blockbuster poster campaigns for Spidey, Magneto, Godzilla, and Seth MacFarlane would lean towards yes. Buy your popcorn and candy now because we’ve got computer generated…

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Top Ten Films of 2012: Ensembles upon ensembles

Many have been saying 2012 was a great year for movies. I’m not sure I fully agree. There were a ton of solid 7/10s and 8/10s, yes, but how does that compare with previous years when the amount of 10/10s were also drastically reduced? It took until September for me to give a film four stars and the two I did laud with such a distinction that month were the only ones. Rather than a showcase of masterpiece cinema, 2012 was instead a year of the performance. And I mean…

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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: De rouille et d’os [Rust and Bone] [2012]

“What’s up Robocop?” There’s nothing like a little tragic drama helping troubled souls find purpose in their lives to warm your heart. No, really, there isn’t. With the way the movies tell it, sometimes I get jealous I’ve never gone through a horrible near-death experience or witnessed someone close to me doing so because those things always seem to meander their way into allowing their victims to achieve that ever-elusive moment of clarity. Sure the path probably contains a few more rough patches—with the worst generally yet to come—but sometimes…

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