REVIEW: Cars 3 [2017]

“I call you my senior project” I know I’m in the critical minority when admitting my enjoyment of the Cars franchise, but I honestly do. It’s not even that I am a “car guy” either—I’ve never seen the appeal of them beyond their utility as a transportation vehicle. So my enjoyment of the first film was solely on the level of its message and humor. It dealt with the theme of ego and humility as Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) discovered you simply cannot get through life on an island alone.…

Read More

REVIEW: Café Society [2016]

“Dreams are … dreams” Ever since Woody Allen left New York City for England in 2005 to create some really spectacular films outside his usual comedic efforts of neurotic meet-cutes, I may have intentionally tried to avoid anything he made with a character he would have played himself a decade prior. I personally don’t count Midnight in Paris simply because Owen Wilson owns that lead role in a way Allen couldn’t equal. So when Café Society was announced with Jesse Eisenberg at the fore, I did cringe a bit. I…

Read More

REVIEW: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb [2014]

“They’ll burn up like tiny scarabs in Sinai” It appears director Shawn Levy and new screenwriters David Guion and Michael Handelman have thrown the jokey nature of Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant‘s Battle of the Smithsonian away to bring the Night at the Museum series back to what first made it a success. Secret of the Tomb reminded me a lot of the original installment with a thinly veiled metaphor once again providing the dramatic arc for Larry Daley’s (Ben Stiller) adventure, this time showing a need to say…

Read More

REVIEW: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian [2009]

“Like a Golden Fleece” While Night at the Museum is by no means a great film above family friendly theatrics, it did have heart. There was a story at its back—one steeped in magic that dealt with redemption and self-worth against insurmountable odds. A cool premise too wherein the exhibits at the Natural Museum of History come to life each night thanks to the golden tablet of Egyptian Akmenrah (Rami Malek), there was enough to entertain viewers of all ages with an eccentric stable of characters engaged in an exciting…

Read More

REVIEW: Night at the Museum [2006]

“Keep a lid on it, Butterscotch” While based on a 1993 children’s book by Milan Trenc portraying a museum security guard discovering how he must protect the people outside from the dinosaur skeletons that come to life inside, Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon‘s cinematic adaptation of Night at the Museum bears more of a resemblance to another family friendly fantasy franchise ending its trilogy the same year as theirs began. I’m talking about The Santa Clause, an enjoyable holiday journey of the heart wherein a divorced dad hoping to…

Read More

REVIEW: Inherent Vice [2014]

“Something Spanish” While no stranger to comedy, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson had yet to go full screwball as he does with Thomas Pynchon‘s Inherent Vice. I shouldn’t say “full” considering the laughs are desert dry and delivered with the utmost severity, but laugh-out-loud wouldn’t be an out of question turn of phrase to utilize if your sensibilities are keenly attuned to its acquired tone. Think Chinatown on acid with twists and turns and leads run hot that ultimately point nowhere; the end arriving with a few periphery issues resolved and…

Read More

REVIEW: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou [2004]

“Esteban was eaten!” It’s ambitious, hilarious, visually complex, and kind of … boring. I hoped that last adjective was merely the distant memory of a twenty-two year old expecting more out of Wes Anderson‘s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou when first released in theaters due to his infinite love for The Royal Tenenbaums two years previous. I thought perhaps that its failure—a relative term since it being my least favorite of the auteur’s films doesn’t mean it’s not still a three-star entry within a brilliantly quirky oeuvre—was courtesy of…

Read More

REVIEW: The Royal Tenenbaums [2001]

“How interesting. How bizarre!” Nothing Wes Anderson does will ever match the brilliance of his third film, The Royal Tenenbaums. A lot of this has to do with when I first saw it back in the winter of 2002, but I say it objectively too. I was still in college, still in the midst of my cinematic education after an adolescence full of mainstream Hollywood, and just starting to realize the potential of my local independent theaters’ reach. I don’t remember why I even went to see it considering I…

Read More

REVIEW: Rushmore [1998]

“I saved Latin. What did you ever do?” Writer/director Wes Anderson‘s style was officially born on his sophomore effort Rushmore. That’s not to say his debut was devoid of the trademarks we associate him with today, it was simply set in a world possessed by more authentic rules. He’s since made a career out of skewed storybooks of selfish characters wandering a landscape they misguidedly feel power over as they take their missteps in stride with over-the-top reactions steeped in a heightened state of the absurd. His stories take upper…

Read More

REVIEW: Bottle Rocket [1996]

“You know there’s nothing to steal from my mom and Craig” Released two years after writer/director Wes Anderson brought its eponymous short film to Sundance, Bottle Rocket improves upon its predecessor’s shortcomings, makes good on its potential, and provides a prototype for the more commercial successes that would follow. A character-driven piece full of deflection and red herrings to confuse the audience into a state of unwitting ignorance just like that of the wannabe criminals at its center, the plot really becomes secondary to the relationships built along the way.…

Read More

REVIEW: Bottle Rocket [1994]

“It has the logic of a dream” The career of writer/director Wes Anderson begins with his University of Texas at Austin buddy Owen Wilson and their 13-minute short film Bottle Rocket. Screened at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, it tells the story of two friends and their aspiration towards crime. Dignan (Owen) and Anthony (Luke Wilson) are by no means masterminds when it comes to their almost non-existent scores, but they enjoy the rush and feel as though it’s a path worth taking if success comes as easily as it…

Read More