REVIEW: Selma [2014]

“God was the first to cry” A civil war waged on Alabaman soil in 1965 whether President Lyndon B. Johnson felt holding off on a bill negating the South’s tactics to bar African American citizens from voting would prevent one or not. It was fought under his and the country’s eyes in the streets, on TV, and in their hearts. Finally someone proves brave enough to show it by throwing convention aside to stop treating cinematic historical biographies as revelry for the deceased heroes who helped make our country great.…

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REVIEW: The Grand Budapest Hotel [2014]

“Who’s got the throat-slitter?” The films of Wes Anderson have always resided in some sort of parallel universe full of stylistic flights of fancy, but never has one been so completely defined by its fantasy than The Grand Budapest Hotel. His previous work exists to pay homage with stories filled to the brim by aesthetic flourishes and meticulously detailed set dressings that transport us into his familiar yet unfamiliar worlds. Rather than start with story as usual, however, his latest seems to have sprung out from its environment. This shouldn’t…

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REVIEW: The Lone Ranger [2013]

“A fairly sinister jar of pickles at the bar” To sum up Disney’s big budget reboot of Fran Striker and George W. Trendle’s radio show turned television hit The Lone Ranger in one word conjures “silly”. It’s silly to read how Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio’s original script involved werewolves—John Reid’s outlaw does use silver bullets after all. It’s silly—and offensive—that the producers cast a movie star like Johnny Depp in the role of Tonto when so many Native American actors could have performed the role effectively. (And yes, the…

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REVIEW: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel [2012]

“Top of the mountain” It’s a rare success to see a film as great as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel excel because of its leading cast of seniors. Since this bunch of peerless British performers so often shine in the background, we forget how good they really are. An inspired group, they portray Deborah Moggach‘s odd mix of retirees with an authenticity that brings her novel These Foolish Things to life inside the vibrant hustle and bustle of its Indian locale. Whether looking for new love, lost love, companionship, an…

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REVIEW: The Debt [2011]

“I’m not brave; I’m terrified.” Whether malicious or compassionate, actions have consequences. It could be your own guilt, justice being served, or the fear and paranoia of what may be coming your way—in the end, the past will rise to haunt you. This is a fact that John Madden’s The Debt uses in many different ways, cross-cutting between 1966 and 1997 with the wipe of the screen. We see the past and present of three Mossad agents and the mission they were ordered to complete, culminating in the glory of…

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REVIEW: The Green Hornet [2011]

“Don’t thank him. He did nothing.” Don’t be surprised when you find that the new incarnation of The Green Hornet has taken a very different path from its predecessors. The trailer should address this issue, but the simple fact Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are the duo tackling the escapades of George W. Trendle’s characters will if not. The two had great success with their semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale of high school angst in Superbad and took a well-orchestrated shot at making action funny with Pineapple Express. It’s not hard to…

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TIFF10 REVIEW: The Conspirator [2010]

“Why did I fight for the Union if my rights aren’t assured?” The aftermath of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination hasn’t really been the subject of many films that I know of. Of course there is the whole Steven Spielberg Lincoln project that has been pushed back every year since its announcement, a starting date nowhere near close at hand, but while watching a depiction of his life should be interesting, the subject of his death is more so. Here was the first murder of a President, an event no one…

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REVIEW: The Ghost Writer [2010]

“It’s in the beginnings” I remember being so perplexed during the 2008 Oscars because Michael Clayton was up for Best Picture of 2007. To me it was a solid thriller and just didn’t seem to deserve the vaunted status or the company it was keeping. That all changed minutes after the completion of Roman Polanski’s newest The Ghost Writer, however. Through the entire thing I kept recalling how taut Tony Gilroy’s movie was—lean, mean, and edge of your seat thrills in the dangerous world of political intrigue. With all the…

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REVIEW: Valkyrie [2008]

“Long live sacred Germany” Bryan Singer returns to a world that isn’t inhabited with superheroes, joining an old friend in screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, a partnership that last resulted in The Usual Suspects. The question then becomes whether lightning can strike twice and if Tom Cruise’s thoughts that it would, by producing it as his second feature as head of United Artists, could be correct. With Valkyrie, a “based on true events” tale of high Nazi officials with enough guts to risk their lives to stop Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror…

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REVIEW: RocknRolla [2008]

“Was it a slow dance?” Is Guy Ritchie back? Has the impending divorce brought back that violent edge we fans have been missing? I guess it is somewhat idiotic of myself, and others, to dismiss Ritchie as though he’s left the playing field. Sure Swept Away couldn’t have been good as art let alone for his career, but besides that and what some consider a bloated mess in Revolver, Ritchie hasn’t imploded. The guy made two great cockney gangster flicks and with his newest film, RocknRolla, continues the tradition, pulling…

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REVIEW: Batman Begins [2005]

“I warned you about compassion” In anticipation for the new film The Dark Knight, I found it time to revisit the one that relaunched the franchise—Batman Begins. With an all-star cast and Christopher Nolan at the helm, everything seemed to be in place for a true telling reminiscent of the latter day comic books starring everyone’s favorite vigilante. Batman had become very dark and brooding since the days of Adam West’s Bangs! and Pows! Here was finally the chance to show that drama and ethos behind what makes Bruce Wayne…

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