REVIEW: The Gentlemen [2020]

Doubt cause chaos and one’s own demise. It begins with a murder: out-of-frame, bloody, and a punctuation mark on Mickey Pearson’s (Matthew McConaughey) monologue about kingdoms and having to be the king when history ceases to be enough. By that he means the criminal underworld and intentionally getting his hands dirty to ensure the level of respect and fear necessary to stay alive in a volatile cross-section of gangster life. Mickey worked hard to get where he is as the boss of a seemingly impossible marijuana enterprise and he’s unafraid…

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REVIEW: Dumbo [2019]

Let’s get ready for Duuuumboooo! We’re a long way away from 1941 and the days of pure frivolity in your animated films are over. That’s why Disney evolved their glorified sing-along The Jungle Book into a weighty dramatic adventure and why their sweet little flying elephant Dumbo can no longer sustain himself as a metaphorical hero teaching kids lessons about believing in themselves. There needs to be raised stakes and a bona fide antagonistic force to combat to hold our attention now. So screenwriter Ehren Kruger repurposes the original film’s…

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REVIEW: Widows [2018]

This isn’t your world. When the first trailer for Widows dropped, I thought, “Steve McQueen is branching out to genre fare now.” This wasn’t a slight, just an observation. I obviously wanted to see it, but thought I could wait before the notes out of TIFF declared it a must-see. Suddenly I needed to reevaluate my perception of what this thing was behind its marketing push. Would there be more than just revenge and heist-based thrills? Would this be a slower burn a la co-writer Gillian Flynn‘s novels augmented by…

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REVIEW: Roman J. Israel, Esq. [2017]

Hope don’t get the job done. There’s something about introverted characters (possibly on the Autism spectrum) with poor social cues battling their own internal morality that writer/director Dan Gilroy loves. Nightcrawler saw a hard-working sociopath sever ties with virtue before gleefully embracing the spoils of his decision. Gilroy provided a descent into the nightmarish hell-scape of opportunism and greed without any optimistic hope that a reversal could be found or followed—a cynical look at society’s ills. So it’s only natural that his sophomore effort behind the camera would seek to…

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REVIEW: The Killing of a Sacred Deer [2017]

You’re too young to worry. Writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos is an artist who deals with consequences through elaborately skewed and often-uncomfortable scenarios just left of the off-putting spot that’s just left of center. He uses absurdity and humor to provoke us in order for his complex existential and social messages to hit home in a way strict realism never could. His films are thus morality plays of sorts pitting characters against one another in a puzzle that may or may not be of their own choosing. They are presented with a…

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REVIEW: The Beguiled [2017]

“I didn’t want you to be misled” There’s a lot to like about Don Siegel‘s 1971 adaptation of Thomas Cullinan‘s A Painted Devil. Unfortunately, there’s just as much left wanting. It built towards a tense finale of malicious intent, the kind that’s able to turn what was a simple wartime drama into a metaphorical representation of fear and paranoia pitting man against woman in a battle of physical strength opposite will. Where it goes wrong, however, is in the decision to draw its lead character as the unequivocal bad guy.…

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REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them [2016]

“Worrying means you suffer twice” After seven books, eight movies, and a play, the Harry Potter universe has become an expansive property no one wants to see die. Pottermore kept the fandom alive online with exclusive stories and quizzes bringing you into Hogwarts while author J.K. Rowling‘s textbooks added flavor and raised over seventeen million pounds for charity. So it was a no-brainer when Warner Bros. asked her for more. The question simply became how to do it. How could you retain the level of excitement and wonder to acquire…

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REVIEW: The Lobster [2015]

“That is none of your concern” Writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos‘ English language debut The Lobster is a dystopian sci-fi romance depicting a world where Paula Abdul doesn’t exist. If these mechanical creatures devoid of emotion heard her 1988 single “Opposites Attract” their woes of the heart might be eased. I say this because while life is hazardous to your health without someone to share it, Lanthimos’ non-descript City strictly inhabited by couples is impossible to traverse without that someone also sharing your “defining characteristic”. To be a match is to be…

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REVIEW: Winter’s Tale [2014]

“For even time and distance are not what they appear to be” Can you buy a world where angels and demons walk alongside humans, gently coaxing us onto a path of righteousness or evil in order to tip the scales of eternity their way throughout time infinite? What about the idea that we each have a miracle to give to the one person we are meant to love unequivocally if only we’re destined to meet him/her? How about two Russian immigrants being deported back home who’d lower a model ship…

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REVIEW: Saving Mr. Banks [2013]

“A leisurely stroll is a gift” If you thought Mary Poppins couldn’t get more uplifting in its journey towards giving two young children the love they always desired from their downtrodden dad, Saving Mr. Banks will prove you wrong. Utilizing a script by Kelly Marcel (a second credit was later added to Sue Smith) that only lasted one year on the screenplay Black List before being scooped up by the studio prominently featured within it, we’re shown a rather humorous behind-the-scenes look at the culmination of a twenty-year business courtship…

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REVIEW: Epic [2013]

“Moist is what we do” Children’s author—and Academy Award winning animated short film director—William Joyce continues to make his rounds throughout the industry’s ever-expanding studio ranks with an adaptation of his book The Leaf Men and The Brave Good Bugs with Blue Sky. Having already seen his work turned into feature length films with Pixar (Meet the Robinsons) and DreamWorks (Rise of the Guardians), it’s no surprise he would reteam with Ice Age director Chris Wedge in a larger creative capacity than was had as production designer on Robots. While…

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