REVIEW: Private Life [2018]

Let’s get pregnant, shall we? At forty-one and forty-seven respectively, Rachel Biegler (Kathryn Hahn) and Richard Grimes (Paul Giamatti) are against the proverbial clock when it comes to having children. With her novel about to be published, his pickle business sustaining him after his successful off-Broadway theater troupe disbanded, and a rent-controlled New York City apartment keeping them warm, the time to finally make a go of it has arrived. But things aren’t going very well. Both have their reproductive organs called into question, the adoption process is moving at…

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REVIEW: The Phenom [2016]

“You give it a name and it might want to stick around” I admittedly didn’t think too much on The Phenom after watching its trailer. There was a good cast, its look behind the curtain of fame seemed intriguing, and there’d probably be some darkly honest depictions of sports abuse at the hands of over-zealous parents. But then I saw who the writer/director was and suddenly all I could do was think. Noah Buschel is the man behind a wonderful little character piece from a few years back called Sparrows…

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REVIEW: Love & Mercy [2015]

“Lonely scared frightened” The best part of a Rock and Roll Music History class that I took in college was learning just how influential The Beach Boys were to music at large. I knew the songs and enjoyed them, but how could surfer pop be held in the same regard as The Beatles? It didn’t make sense. But then we dove into the intricacies of the music’s construction and Brian Wilson‘s insane ideas in the studio. We listened to Rubber Soul, Pet Sounds, and beyond to catch where one band…

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REVIEW: Straight Outta Compton [2015]

“Speak a little truth and people lose their minds” NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton is a conventional biopic. And I hate conventional biopics. It’s therefore a good thing its story is anything but. Between its time period containing an excess of racial and political strife to the void of a black voice filled by rap lyrics expressing said climate devoid of fear to the crisscross of music industry and gang life, this thing is so much more than merely a rags to riches tale of some kids from Los Angeles.…

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REVIEW: San Andreas [2015]

“Played a little tug-of-war with a car” Can you call a movie a disaster flick without the President of the United States declaring a state of emergency? While I ask in jest, we do expect such a sobering announcement to arrive with music soaring and heroic platitudes raining down. It never comes here, though, and its absence might be the best thing about San Andreas since it means the chaos inflicted on poor unsuspecting pixels pretending to be Californian cities doesn’t spread internationally. The shockwaves of this cataclysmic event surely…

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REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 [2014]

“You still blow dry your hair every morning?” It’s time to embrace the comic aspect of comic book films. I’m sorry, but it is. Christopher Nolan‘s time on the Dark Knight Trilogy is over and while we’d like the comic genre’s big brother graphic novel to imbue the dark conflicted nature of an Oscar worthy film, it doesn’t necessarily mimic the medium’s tone. We’re talking costumed heroes fighting a rogue’s gallery of mutated baddies with special powers who wreak havoc, never die, and engage in a never-ending cycle so that…

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REVIEW: Saving Mr. Banks [2013]

“A leisurely stroll is a gift” If you thought Mary Poppins couldn’t get more uplifting in its journey towards giving two young children the love they always desired from their downtrodden dad, Saving Mr. Banks will prove you wrong. Utilizing a script by Kelly Marcel (a second credit was later added to Sue Smith) that only lasted one year on the screenplay Black List before being scooped up by the studio prominently featured within it, we’re shown a rather humorous behind-the-scenes look at the culmination of a twenty-year business courtship…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: Parkland [2013]

“It’s my story too” We all know the story of President John F Kennedy’s assassination. It’s an event that has been ingrained into our culture, spawned a myriad of conspiracy theories, and remains a hotly contested moment in time that changed the fabric of an entire nation. But what about the people this tragedy affected on a personal level beyond victim and perpetrator? What about the trauma surgeons and nurses who watched as the president’s heartbeat flat-lined? What about the giddy business owner excitedly filming the motorcade on his lunch…

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REVIEW: Cosmopolis [2012]

“My prostate is asymmetrical” Thematically more like what David Cronenberg created before his last three films; I’m not quite sure what to think about Cosmopolis. Faithfully adapted from a novel by Don DeLillo, its look inside the day of billionaire magnate Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) skews closest to the hellish descents behind the director’s eXistenZ and seminal work Videodrome through a filter of smugness a la Bret Easton Ellis‘ American Psycho. The characters speak in pronouns with a universal aloofness that makes their world appear a coldly detached fabrication of…

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REVIEW: Rock of Ages [2012]

“Actually, I told him the gig was last night. So he’s a day late.” Listening to Night Ranger‘s “Sister Christian” sung by a bus full of strangers a la Almost Famous was a pretty good way to start Rock of Ages, the big screen adaptation of the Tony Award nominated musical. Julianne Hough‘s ‘Sherrie’ Christian’s blandly starry-eyed wonder was acceptable; Hollywood circa 1987 took shape via hookers, muggers, and over-zealous cops; and the hyper-real Broadway sensibilities came out as extras broke into song and dance while a sweaty, sex-infused rock…

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REVIEW: The Ides of March [2011]

“My name is Molly” To someone with limited interest and knowledge in politics like me, it seems an intriguing choice for a self-described political liberal who backed Barack Obama on his presidential campaign like George Clooney to tackle the subject matter of Beau Willimon’s play Farragut North. Based in part on the 2004 Democratic primary run of Howard Dean—who Willimon worked for—it depicts an idealistic, platform-driven candidate with an integrity the American public can rally around. With Shepard Fairey influenced posters of his visage, Clooney’s Governor Mike Morris appears to…

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