REVIEW: Hell or High Water [2016]

“I ain’t speeding” It wasn’t long after his run as above-board Deputy Chief David Hale on “Sons of Anarchy” that Taylor Sheridan would find himself caught in awards season platitudes with Sicario, a film earning three Oscar nominations despite his screenplay not quite making the cut. Well he has a second change this January as his earlier script of gritty Texas survival under the poverty line—a 2012 Black List inclusion—has arrived with David Mackenzie‘s stewardship. Hell or High Water utilizes similar themes of determined, smart vengeance and bittersweet resolutions, it’s…

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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: Unbroken [2014]

“If you can take it you can make it” Universal Pictures has possessed the rights to Louie Zamperini’s life story since 1957 with good cause considering its scope spanning a troubled childhood, Olympic glory, and POW torture at the hands of the Japanese during WWII. Only when Laura Hillenbrand‘s mouthful of a book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption came out in 2010 was traction finally found assumedly in large part due to her previous adaptation at the hands of Hollywood, Seabiscuit, earning seven Oscar…

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REVIEW: Starred Up [2014]

“Single cell. High risk.” The hype on Jack O’Connell is real. And I’m only basing that sentiment on one film. Something tells me, though, that Unbroken in a couple weeks and ’71 next year will succeed at corroborating the notion because his turn in David Mackenzie‘s Starred Up is simultaneously fierce and vulnerable like few his age are capable of portraying. He and his castmates surely had plenty of avenues for inspiration thanks to writer Jonathan Asser basing his script on true life experiences made while serving as a voluntary…

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Posterized Propaganda August 2014: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ ‘Sin City,’ ‘Starred Up,’ and 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. 2014 soldiers on and the poster selection just gets worse. Luckily the films themselves haven’t been as uninspired. Or maybe they have. After all, this summer is down almost 19%…

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