TIFF11 REVIEW: Moneyball [2011]

“Now we’re gutted—organ donors for the rich” Did Billy Beane change the game of baseball? If the epilogue to Moneyball is to be believed, he did—to a point. General Manager of a team that was one win away from a World Series birth and watching his star trio walk for giant paydays, anyone would be dejected and unsure how to move forward. The Oakland A’s owner had no money to spend, his scouts were pushing sixty years old and cared more about whether their ballplayers had pretty faces than if…

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REVIEW: Jack Goes Boating [2010]

“Chicken, fish, or beef. Ya know?” Offbeat and uncomfortable in its characterizations of four New York City residents overcoming and succumbing to their secrets, Robert Glaudini’s Jack Goes Boating makes it to the big screen. Based on his Off-Broadway hit, star Philip Seymour Hoffman enlisted the playwright/actor to adapt the work into a screenplay and thus make his directorial debut. Three of the four principals partake in the transition—John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Amy Ryan replacing Beth Cole to round out the quartet—and they deliver some amazing performances. Deeply entrenched…

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REVIEW: The Boat That Rocked [Pirate Radio] [2009]

“All he did was sleep with someone else’s wife” Why must Hollywood retitle a film that was produced in Britain? It’s the same language and frankly The Boat That Rocked sounds so much cooler than Pirate Radio … doesn’t it? Either way, no matter what it’s called, writer/director Richard Curtis has crafted a second hit to follow up his magnificent romantic tapestry Love Actually. Taking place on a renegade ship, anchored in the North Sea, the film follows eight DJs, their producer, his God son aboard to be “set straight”…

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REVIEW: Frozen River [2008]

“Popcorn and Tang?” I love indie debuts that blow me away. The press on Frozen River was across the board praise, especially for underrated character actor Melissa Leo, but I never got the chance to check it out before compiling my top ten of 2008. Now, I don’t think Courtney Hunt’s feature would crack that list, but it gets really close. The story contains so much more than just a tale of two women playing the role of coyotes to bring illegals into the United States via Mohawk territory from…

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REVIEW: Synecdoche, New York [2008]

“The end is built into the beginning” We all go about our lives creating a world around us. To us, we are the stars of a film; our surroundings are the set; and the people touching our lives supporting players and/or extras. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Caden Cotard watches as the plays he directs onstage succeed and garner praise while the life he lives with wife and daughter falls apart around him. As a God, crafting the activities and molding the characterizations of a cast, his own humanity is lost and…

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The 2009 Oscars … ‘nuff said

The 2009 Academy Awards have closed out the 2008 award season once and for all. And in an inspired move, actually ushered in the new year of movies by ending the show with a montage of 2009 releases. It was a departure somewhat from previous years as it appeared the Academy wanted to try some new things out, making the ceremony a bit more intimate while also possibly shortening its length (well the latter didn’t end up happening). I’ll say that production-wise, this was one of my favorite incarnations ever.…

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REVIEW: Doubt [2008]

“Killing kindness in the name of virtue” Upon seeing the trailer for John Patrick Shanley’s film Doubt, based upon his own play, I just thought, wow, a great cast with a dull story. Well, after seeing it, my mind has been changed to believing that the accolades strewn down may be warranted. Something about small-scale films adapted from theatre resonates with me. I love the emotional punch packed inside, tightly constructed for a powerful impact. Unlike a novel, plays need to get everything out in a short period of time,…

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REVIEW: Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead [2007]

“May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead” The often-used phrase about how it was too bad such great acting was wasted on an inferior film has always intrigued me. The last time I felt it was with The Last King of Scotland. There, however, its top-notch performances vaulted its above average story into a highly enjoyable experience. That is how these instances usually go for me. I don’t mind if the movie is on the simple side if the acting is worth the…

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REVIEW: Mission: Impossible III [2006]

“There is a point where bold becomes stupid.” Ving Rhames’s character Luthor speaks the above words and couldn’t be more right. Just by looking at the evolution of the Mission: Impossible series, one can see a bold example of cerebral storytelling shot by virtuoso Brian De Palma and a cold, mechanical showing of a really stupid haircut filmed by John Woo—who still hasn’t matched the brilliance of his final Hong Kong piece Hard Boiled stateside. Mission: Impossible III definitely could have fallen in either camp and my thoughts leaned towards…

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