REVIEW: Nancy [2018]

We have to appreciate what we have now. To look at Nancy Freeman (Andrea Riseborough) is to see a defeated woman. Her single moment of hope throughout the day is the chance of opening mail to check whether her latest writing submission was accepted for publication—a hope perpetually dashed by the fact her oppressive mother (Ann Dowd‘s Betty) already ripped the envelope seams to find rejection letters inside. Relegated to temp work since her hours must always revolve around Mom’s Parkinson’s needs, her life becomes forever isolated from friendship, joy,…

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REVIEW: Miller’s Crossing [1990]

I’ll think about it. The mob is a business like any other. Leadership must be strong and decisive, employees must be loyal to a fault, and every once in a while you have to cut someone you like loose in order to not anger someone you might like less but definitely need more. Despite everything we learn as kids that ends up being useless, the concept of “choosing the lesser of two evils” will forever prove as useful as breathing and yet we have trouble reconciling such dilemmas due to…

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REVIEW: Lean on Pete [2018]

“I’d rather them never see me again than see me like this” Loneliness is a tough concept to cope with as a child, especially when it begins to seem as though you’re to blame. That’s hardly the case, though, since people who leave do so out of selfishness rather than “just cause.” You may think yourself cursed as a way to cope via laughter and many adults retain this mindset to turn jaded as a means of self-defense. But before that transition can occur, you’re another tragic adolescent left with…

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REVIEW: The Death of Stalin [2017]

“I can’t remember who’s alive and who isn’t” The Russians may have taken umbrage with British director Armando Iannucci‘s The Death of Stalin—a tale of backstabbing governmental hilarity—but their successful quest to ban it domestically is a case of “doth protest too much.” The Soviet Union allied with Hitler’s Nazi regime before joining the winning side and Stalin was very much an enemy of my enemy type of compromise. So while some may have glossed over his many atrocities because he once posed for a photograph with Roosevelt and Churchill,…

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REVIEW: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter [2015]

“Solitude? Just fancy loneliness.” It’s easy to assume Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter will be a humorous adventure of cultural dissonance upon reading its synopsis. The conceit is ripe for comedy and David and Nathan Zellner do mine that arena throughout their drama when it suits the story, but it’s a nuanced tragedy that’s ultimately delivered. How could the tale of a twenty-nine year old Japanese office worker stumbling upon a hidden VHS copy of Fargo, thinking it a treasure map to a suitcase full of cash, be tragic? Quite easily—even…

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TIFF14 REVIEW: The Cobbler [2015]

“I’m not gonna eat you!” Adults need fairy tales too and Thomas McCarthy—with cowriter Paul Sado—deliver one in The Cobbler. They don’t try to pretend it’s something more either as its opening prologue can attest thanks to older tradesmen on the Lower East Side speaking Yiddish around a table to think up a way to defeat the evil landlord raising their rent to drive them away. Cut to the local shoe man deemed their savior stitching up a pair of loafers with son in tow and we learn his machine…

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REVIEW: Monsters University [2013]

“Technically I caught the pig” I entered the theatre with low expectations and a willingness to be surprised, curious towards Monsters University’s trailers lacking plot description besides a generalized notion of witnessing Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and Jimmy “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman) becoming best friends. What would first-time Pixar feature-film director Dan Scanlon and co-writers Robert L. Baird and Daniel Gerson have up their sleeves? How would they fill the inevitable gaping hole of not bringing back the adorable Boo from Monsters, Inc. due to their newest installment’s status as…

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REVIEW: Monsters, Inc. [2001]

“Kitty!” If there is one film type where a laundry list of screenwriters can actually help the finished product, it’s the animated feature. Sparked by the simple idea of “Let’s make a movie about monsters”, Pete Doctor’s directorial debut evolved immensely from its brainstorming lunch origins in 1994. What would ultimately become Pixar Studios’ second most inspired fantasy world piggybacked on the shoulders of a child’s imagination—the first being Toy Story’s brilliant concept of toys living full lives when humans weren’t looking—Monsters, Inc. took us inside the dark, scary closets…

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REVIEW: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone [2013]

“Pretend I’m still here and tell me all about it” I’m a big magic fan—always have been. Armed with a set of tricks needing extensive instructions before allowing my parents to feign astonishment at my implementation, I watched every David Copperfield special and even went to a weekly magic class one summer as a kid. There is something about making the impossible possible through hard work and dedication that is utterly satisfying. Who wouldn’t enjoy witnessing the look in someone’s eye when they’ve been genuinely surprised by a flawless illusion…

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Posterized Propaganda March 2013: ‘Stoker,’ ‘Place Beyond the Pines,’ ‘Spring Breakers’ & 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. I’m honestly not sure if it is possible to cram more movies in one 31-day period (five Fridays!). Let’s just say the dump month doldrums have ceased and we’ve moved…

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REVIEW: Hotel Transylvania [2012]

“What? Now there’s no sheep in the road.” After the abysmal failure of That’s My Boy, seeing Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg highlight another film’s marquee this year didn’t instill confidence. Cartoon or not, the pairing still left a sour taste in my mouth that the addition of their larger-than-life comedic buddies Kevin James, David Spade, and Molly Shannon did nothing to alleviate. Only the names behind the scenes gave me a sliver of hope that Hotel Transylvania could end up a fun hybrid of writers Robert Smigel (“SNL’s” TV…

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