REVIEW: Tesla [2020]

Who strokes the cat’s back? As Anne Morgan (Eve Hewson) states from writer/director Michael Almereyda‘s Tesla coil set, Nikola Tesla is hardly as well known as the likes of contemporary Thomas Edison. She shows us her laptop screen with its Google search repeating the “same four photos” of the genius inventor just to fill his first page of images while Edison’s portfolio goes on and on. One was in the spotlight while the other was in the shadows. One knew how to play the marketing game while the other’s idealism…

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REVIEW: Super Troopers 2 [2018]

Happiness in the household. To look at Broken Lizard is to see the ever-changing landscape of mid-range studio cinema at the turn of the century. These five guys (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske) formed a comedy troupe in college before taking their first film Puddle Cruiser on a campus tour. It allowed Super Troopers to become a reality with supporting players like Lynda Carter and the venerable Brian Cox. Fox Searchlight paid around three million after its Sundance debut, made twenty million in box…

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TIFF17 REVIEW: Chappaquiddick [2018]

“Sometimes the path you’re on isn’t always the path you choose” It was always funny to think of Ted Kennedy as “the other Kennedy.” How could you not? Despite his long tenure as Massachusetts Senator, he wasn’t “anointed” like Jack or Bobby. He tried and failed to secure a presidential nomination, but even if he won there’d always be that one incident tainting his legacy and integrity. The place was Chappaquiddick and the reality was he killed someone. He became the butt of a joke—a tasteless joke. Nothing he’d ever…

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REVIEW: Chuck [2017]

“That guy could take a punch” Who is Chuck Wepner? It’s a legitimate question. I didn’t know—not that I’ve ever followed pugilism in my life. So when his story received the cinematic treatment from director Philippe Falardeau with the title The Bleeder, I honestly assumed fiction. Here comes another boxing movie about what’s assumedly a not-so-good fighter who bleeds like a sieve. Maybe it’ll be funny. But that’s not what Chuck (it’s theatrical name) is at all. No, Chuck Wepner is a real guy and was a real fighter. At…

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REVIEW: Hot Pursuit [2015]

“He just wanted to sit in the front seat” Sometimes the most intriguing aspect of a film project is the “why” of its creation. This usually deals with the changing of hands or evolution of scripts as words on the page become spoken onscreen, but every once in awhile the fascination is more abstract. The “why” in these cases becomes a hypothetical question you don’t care to find an answer for because not knowing whether the reason will be acceptable or not is better than definitively knowing it won’t. So…

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TIFF10 REVIEW: It’s Kind of a Funny Story [2010]

“I would just live like it meant something” I’ll admit, an adaptation of Ned Vizzini’s novel It’s Kind of a Funny Story wasn’t what I thought Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck would pursue after two well-received dramas in Half Nelson and Sugar. The trailers did express the dramedy aspect, though, despite media outlets incessantly calling it the next comedy starring Zach Galifianakis, so no one should go in thinking it will necessarily be a laugh riot. It’s very funny, in fact a lot funnier than I expected, but the setting…

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REVIEW: Going the Distance [2010]

“Dan, take me to Berlin” Acclaimed director—and Buffalo, NY native—Nanette Burstein has finally made her way to the world of fictional film. After helming the documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture about producer Robert Evans, one could say she took a step towards narrative with American Teen, a real-life look into today’s high schools and just how close John Hughes got The Breakfast Club. I remember some talk about staging and scripting reactions to make it all more cinematically interesting, but whether true or not, the film was a…

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REVIEW: The Great New Wonderful [2005]

“I think I’m lost” I will admit I had been looking forward to checking out this film for a while now. Hearing stuff about how it was a great character based drama in a post-9/11 New York City and how it really held meaning and was a catharsis for those who watched. Just the fact that it was a serious dramatic turn for director Danny Leiner, yes he of Harold & Kumar fame, was enough to pique my interest. In the end, however, the film really fell flat for me…

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