REVIEW: Transformers: Age of Extinction [2014]

“I know you have a conscience because you’re an inventor like me” There’s a problem when the first, expository-heavy hour of a three-hour Transformers action extravaganza shines above the rest. Michael Bay has looked upon this franchise from the start as an excuse to put explosions and destruction onscreen alongside cheesy and sometimes offensive comedy to satisfy the young children of parents (uninterested in shielding their ears from the oft swear word) that grew up in the 80s. He excelled at this mix with the first installment, casting the sarcastically…

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REVIEW: Live By Night [2016]

“We don’t get to pick our sins” A scene happens early on in Live by Night where Deputy Police Captain Thomas Coughlin (Brendan Gleeson) tells his criminal son Joe (Ben Affleck) that our actions always add up to a conclusion for which we can never predict. The idea is that Joe is a good man—a war veteran with a good heart—who’s simply been disillusioned. Thomas is willing to not crackdown on him despite being fully aware of how his boy makes a living as long as the evidence doesn’t force…

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REVIEW: Item 47 [2012]

“It’s time we took a chance for ourselves” I guess when your latest film makes over 1.5 billion dollars at the worldwide box office you find yourself with a little extra scratch to throw around. What better way to spend it than on the series of short films you’ve been producing for DVD releases? Where the first two entries lasted barely four minutes each and consisted of mainly dialogue and Agent Coulson’s deadpan smugness, Item 47 finds itself benefiting from a massively expanded budget. Not only do we get three…

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TIFF12 REVIEW: Argo [2012]

“The United States government has just sanctioned your science fiction movie” In 1979, tensions between Iran and the United States reached a boil after Ayatollah Khomeini called for a return of his predecessor—Shah Pahlavi—in order to try him in what would be a kangaroo court whether or not deserved. Allowed passage into the US to attend the Mayo clinic and combat his cancer, the fact we were housing him infuriated a group of Islamist students and militant followers of the Imam’s Line to the point of storming the American embassy…

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REVIEW: Man on a Ledge [2012]

“I can see his leg shaking from here” I’ll give TV movie scribe Pablo F. Fenjves light applause for hooking me during the first two thirds, but the real kudos go to documentarian Asger Leth and his ability to make even the implausibly contrived and impossibly far-fetched finale not take away from the entertaining little gem his fiction debut Man on a Ledge surprisingly ends up being. It’s convenient, convoluted, and pretty hard to stomach in terms of realism, but something about the acting and sporadic bits of humor kept…

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REVIEW: The Town [2010]

“It’ll be just like one of my sunny days” There is just something about Ben Affleck and Boston. Raised in Cambridge, it seems that success and the hometown accent combine as though they are directly related. Good Will Hunting earned him an Oscar for Best Screenplay, his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone was—in my opinion—one of the best films of 2007, and now his sophomore effort The Town shows it wasn’t a fluke. I’m not saying he should quit his day job in front of the lens or anything; you…

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TIFF08 REVIEW: The Narrows [2008]

“He owns you now” Call me a sucker, but I highly enjoy films about the criminal underworld of a city like Brooklyn; all those seedy little details that you can imagine actually happening right before your eyes. I was a fan of the short-lived tv series “The Black Donnellys” and really like The Yards and to a lesser extent Sleepers. The new film The Narrows plays with the same types of storylines as these other works, namely centering on one young man, trying to stay good while having one foot…

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REVIEW: Gone Baby Gone [2007]

“Be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove” Real life is not known for its happy endings. Author Dennis Lehane seems to understand this fact and is not afraid to tell his stories with that mentality. The last novel of his to be given the film treatment was Mystic River. A great movie from Clint Eastwood was the result, showing the deep bonds between family and friends in Boston amidst horrifying tragedy. While the story and acting were top-notch there, something about the recent adaptation of Gone Baby…

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