REVIEW: Greed [2020]

Nod your head and shake my hand. What’s that Greek word? Hubris. The question is asked and answered by people who know all too well what drives Sir Richard McCreadie (Steve Coogan) because they’ve had the unfortunate pleasure of being the target of his ire whenever they’ve done something that might damage his international reputation in the slightest (even if they acted on his command). Do they really care, though? Do they care that being berated by “Greedy” McCreadie is a daily certainty rather than possibility? Not when he’s paying…

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REVIEW: The Beach Bum [2019]

Chase the moon. It’s as though writer/director Harmony Korine breathed life into a Jimmy Buffett song with his latest film The Beach Bum considering how effortlessly it allows its lead character Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) to skate by in the moment with a laissez-faire attitude balanced atop the simple desire to have fun. The musician even cameos as himself, lounging around R&B singer Rie’s (Snoop Dogg) yacht while surrounded by naked women. But even though the script is bare bones and devoid of narrative drive beyond allowing Moondog to move from…

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REVIEW: Tag [2018]

Our friend is a psychopath and this is scary. The most memorable moment throughout Jeff Tomsic‘s Tag is the introduction of one of the five grown men engaged in a thirty-year game of trading who’s “it.” The player is “Chilli” (Jake Johnson) and he’s loudly smoking a bong while talking to his father, an aging man covered in tattoos readying for a turn. It’s not about what, but whom: Brian Dennehy. The venerable Brian Dennehy inexplicably came onboard a zany high concept comedy for less than five minutes of screen…

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REVIEW: Nocturnal Animals [2016]

“Sometimes it’s not good to change things so much” One movie stood out in 2009: fashion designer Tom Ford‘s unlikely directorial debut A Single Man. It had style to spare and amazing performances (Colin Firth‘s Oscar loss was vindicated a year later), but its emotionality was its greatest strength. Ford created this tragic whirlwind and found a glimmer of hope—a way out of the darkness to acknowledge there’s more life yet to live. That was the trait I looked forward to experiencing on a larger scale with his follow-up Nocturnal…

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REVIEW: Now You See Me 2 [2016]

“You may not be having fun, but I am” The problem with giving a film steeped in misdirection a sequel is that the mysteries have already been uncovered. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle to achieve the same success. Now You See Me had a great magic premise wherein the theatrical audience was as in the dark as the fictional audience attending The Four Horsemen’s performances. We knew something big was happening, but weren’t privy to the plan. We watched the intrigue, received truth from an illusion-debunker,…

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REVIEW: Now You See Me [2013]

“That’s a lot of excitement for a crime” As the characters in Louis Leterrier‘s Now You See Me love to say, the more you see the less you know. This is the line of deflection The Four Horsemen love to package as their neat and tidy rule, ignoring the constant, ever-apparent question magicians and illusionists have refused to answer since the first trick was performed: “How did you do that?” It’s a loaded query posited with full knowledge that understanding would only render the feeling of disbelief we hunger to…

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REVIEW: The Great Gatsby [2013]

“Once again I was within and without” Visionary filmmaker Baz Luhrmann returns with a big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus The Great Gatsby, filmed in the ostentatious aesthetic that made his jukebox musical Moulin Rouge! such a divisively stunning work. Love him or hate him, no one can deny the man has style or the ego necessary to transform iconic literature and historical eras into contemporary art-infused visual epics that overwhelm our senses. No one does excess better—over-cranked and pulsing to music intentionally subverting the subject matter…

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REVIEW: Rise of the Guardians [2012]

“Merry Christmas! Happy Easter! Don’t forget to floss!” It was only a matter of time before someone turned our favorite holiday-bound mythical creatures into superheroes. Unsurprisingly it’s William Joyce who did. By no means a household name, he isn’t a stranger to the world of youthful fantasy with credited work as a conceptual artist (Toy Story and A Bug’s Life), television show creator (“Rolie Polie Olie”), and author of cinematic adaptations earning box office success (Meet the Robinsons inspiration A Day with Wilbur Robinson). His latest project coined The Guardians…

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REVIEW: Rango [2011]

“Ain’t no one gonna tango with the Rango” Director Gore Verbinski knows star Johnny Depp’s penchant for fast-talk rambling only too well. After helming the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, he decided to take an odd turn into animation with the PG-rated Rango, taking his lead with him for the journey. Using a quasi-motion capture technique, the actors actually performed their roles, the footage later animated in character to mimic the motion and expressions of each. So, even though we see an awkward chameleon in a Hawaiian shirt—it’s not…

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REVIEW: Definitely, Maybe [2008]

“I make a living” Maybe I was just in the mood for a romantic comedy with some intelligence, but as far as wondering if I liked this week’s Valentine’s release, I say … definitely. Wow, I just did that. Despite the horrible wordplay, I really found myself fall into this story of one man’s three loves told to his daughter in order to show the complexities of that, humanity’s greatest passion. Definitely, Maybe is very much your run-of-the-mill rom-com, yet something about it just resonated with me. It might be…

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REVIEW: The Lookout [2007]

“Gimps night out” Writer Scott Frank can now add director to his list of accomplishments. The man behind the script for two favorites of mine, Get Shorty and Out of Sight, has gone behind the camera to direct a new original screenplay, The Lookout. Despite the talent involved—Frank, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who can do no wrong), Matthew Goode, and stalwart Jeff Daniels—I definitely had my reservations about the film from the trailer. It seemed a bit too conventional, a bank heist gone wrong with an inevitable twist waiting in the wings.…

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