REVIEW: Secretary [2002]

“I like dull work” I had read that Secretary the film was very different from its source material (a short story in Mary Gaitskill’s book Bad Behavior). Even so, I wasn’t prepared for the difference being tone rather than content. Besides a drastically altered ending, everything that happens in text is included almost verbatim. But director Steven Shainberg and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson (both credited with “adaptation by” since the result is drastic) deliver it with an absurdist air instead of dramatic severity. Theirs exists in a parallel dimension of…

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REVIEW: Avengers: Age of Ultron [2015]

“It wasn’t a nightmare. It was a legacy.” He may not have been there at the start, but Joss Whedon stewarded the Marvel Cinematic Universe through its make or break stage. It was one thing to give the world high-tech flying fun via a sarcastic playboy, otherworld fantasy come to earth courtesy of a haughty royal, and the ‘aw shucks’ patriotism necessary for a bona fide WWII hero on their own terms. Bringing them together along with even more allies was anything but. Yet Whedon—fearless when it comes to delving…

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REVIEW: The Homesman [2014]

“God will strike you down” I didn’t necessarily love The Homesman, but it’s hard not to respect it. This is a dark story in the desolate Mid-West with outlaw justice and remorseless murder surrounding the charitably selfless journey of Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) and the three crazed women she’s taking across the Missouri into Iowa so they can be cared for under reasonable conditions. It can’t have been an easy adaptation of Glendon Swarthout‘s novel for director Tommy Lee Jones and his co-writers Kieran Fitzgerald and Wesley A. Oliver…

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REVIEW: Lincoln [2012]

“This isn’t usual, Mr. Pendleton. This is history.” Images of brother fighting brother, President Lincoln orating the Emancipation Proclamation, and his tragic demise at the end of John Wilkes Booth’s gun are conjured when most think about the Civil War. For many the abolition of slavery was merely one of the resulting terms of surrender on behalf of the Confederates, the goal of the Union and the Republican Party from the start finally becoming reality. But the details of this historic event are never really explained save a couple dates,…

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REVIEW: Wall Street [1987]

“I just bagged the elephant” We Some films are carried by a once in a lifetime performance that takes you along for a ride greater than itself. Oliver Stone’s Wall Street is one of them. Written with Stanley Weiser, Stone, fresh off a huge Oscar run with Platoon the previous year, wanted to get right back to work, avoiding the inertia he said ruins many award-winners basking in their own glory. It’s an attitude hewing closely to the themes of the film and its blue collar versus white collar factions—young…

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REVIEW: Stargate [1994]

“I’m here in case you succeed” Could anyone have fathomed Stargate spawning a legion of television series and huge cult sci-fi following back in 1994? It came from writer/director Roland Emmerich after all, a man that had a German language feature and four in English, all ill received, behind him. Who knew he’d one day become the guy for big budget Hollywood end-of-the-world scenarios? Well at least a tag team partner of Captain Destruction Michael Bay. My first thought when sitting down to view this modern day classic—at the behest…

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REVIEW: sex, lies, and videotape [1989]

“Never take advice from someone you don’t know intimately” Here we have the film that put frequent indie/mainstream crossover, powerhouse director Steven Soderbergh on the cinematic map. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect having never seen it and hearing all the hype surrounding it. For some reason I thought there was an NC-17 controversy swirling around its release before finally being given an R rating and was a bit intrigued what could possibly have caused it. To my surprise there was no nudity whatsoever and besides the frequent swearing…

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