TIFF16 REVIEW: Snowden [2016]

“Secrecy is security and security is victory” Remakes repackaging foreign films for American audiences are justifiable if done correctly. I’d hope our movie-going public would willingly read subtitles and experience the original artist’s vision, but we don’t live in a utopia. Dramatizing non-fiction work is equally acceptable in specific circumstances because a narrative built from talking head interviews is sometimes easier to parse and appreciate than those disparate accounts alone. Where I take umbrage with this trend is when Hollywood uses a documentary—an Oscar-winning documentary no less—and literally re-enacts it…

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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: Savages [2012]

“Money’s not enough. You’ve got to give your heart.” Who’s crueler: a vicious Mexican cartel decapitating men to send a message or a couple Laguna boys willing to do whatever it takes to protect the emotionally damaged girlfriend they share? Being a trick question, the answer is yes. Plain and simply, humanity has forever been plagued by the capacity for evil since the dawn of time, whether a monkey discovering the blunt force trauma capability of a stick or Eve biting that gosh darned apple in Paradise. We yearn for…

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Posterized Propaganda July 2012: Meet the new poster, same as the old one

“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. Not even superhero heaven can save this summer from continuing its uninspiring dearth of quality posters. But what do you expect when there are four sequels/reboots in the mix? A…

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REVIEW: Margin Call [2011]

“It’s a long way down” When most people think about Wall Street movies they usually conjure images of the financial center’s eponymous Oliver Stone flick or something like Boiler Room showing the fast life and high rewards achieved by twenty-somethings pushing numbers around a computer screen. We think glamorous lifestyles and the stench of arrogance as money-hungry men in suits fleece the common man to make a percentage off their nest egg’s devastating losses. It’s high stakes poker on a grand scale relying on men with ulterior motives to give…

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REVIEW: Scarface [1932]

“It’s Poppy, boss. I got a name!” When you hear the title Scarface, I’m sure the first thing that comes to your head is Al Pacino’s horrid Cuban accent turning the phrase, “Say, ‘ello to my little friend.” And while Oliver Stone’s adaptation of Armitage Trail’s novel depicting Al Capone’s rise to criminal infamy is an entertaining, over-the-top gangster flick, it’s really Ben Hecht’s screenplay—adapted and filmed by director Howard Hawks while Capone was still alive—that truly depicts the era and this larger-than-life monster’s reign. The gangster even caught wind…

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REVIEW: The Killer Inside Me [2010]

“It’s always lightest just before the dark” Nobody is more across the board genre-wise than director Michael Winterbottom. Who else could traverse the broad canvases of Steve Coogan shenanigans, Guantanamo Bay documentation, the human condition of emotion in the face of terrorism, and an unsimulated meld of sex and rock n’ roll? Shake those sensibilities up with screenwriter John Curran’s penchant for thought-provoking material, (this year’s Stone is much more than the cookie cutter its trailer advertises), and the pulp crime styling of novelist Jim Thompson and you’ll need to…

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REVIEW: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps [2010]

“Growing old’s not for sissies, kid” Stupid subtitle aside, dare I say Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps surpasses its predecessor pretty much across the board cinematically? Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff have woven together an intricate plot of dueling con jobs amidst a young romance between idealists in a capitalist world where greed is a top commodity. Oliver Stone doesn’t need a tour de force performance from Michael Douglas like he did to shield the somewhat simplistic storyline at the backbone of Wall Street—although he reprises the role very effectively—because…

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REVIEW: Wall Street [1987]

“I just bagged the elephant” We Some films are carried by a once in a lifetime performance that takes you along for a ride greater than itself. Oliver Stone’s Wall Street is one of them. Written with Stanley Weiser, Stone, fresh off a huge Oscar run with Platoon the previous year, wanted to get right back to work, avoiding the inertia he said ruins many award-winners basking in their own glory. It’s an attitude hewing closely to the themes of the film and its blue collar versus white collar factions—young…

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REVIEW: Australia [2008]

“Make the land sing” It’s been seven years since Baz Luhrmann’s astonishing Moulin Rouge! Years that included the dissolution of his planned Alexander the Great film, after Oliver Stone beat him to the punch, and casting changes that plagued the long preproduction of Australia, his new sprawling epic in the country’s frontier during WWII. Known for his visual imagery and artistic bent, the trailers and poster materials for his fourth film seemed a bit uninspired. Much like Peter Jackson with King Kong, it appeared that Luhrmann decided to build his…

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REVIEW: W. [2008]

“Bushington” I’m going to start this review by saying I have no idea why Oliver Stone thought his new film W. would have any effect on the upcoming elections. The guy gave himself almost no time to edit his footage so that it could be released two weeks before Election Day. Don’t get me wrong, the film is constructed very nicely, he did a great job in that short time, all I’m saying is that he didn’t need to rush. I mean if he was trying to show the world…

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