REVIEW: Klaus [2019]

A true act of good will always sparks another. For a figure as ubiquitous as Santa Claus, the myriad ways in which his origin can be reborn, refashioned, and retrofitted seem infinite. Those seeking a new direction generally take the old and filter it through a contemporary generational lens wherein the jolly man’s title is passed down the line either by magic (The Santa Clause) or birthright (Arthur Christmas). Those choosing to start from scratch instead have therefore become a fascinating subsection of the Christmas genre simply by ensuring nothing…

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REVIEW: Toy Story 4 [2019]

She’ll be okay. It was said upon the release of Toy Story 3 that the franchise was done as far as Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear’s (Tim Allen) adventures were concerned. These sentiments made sense because it ended nicely on a logical breaking point wherein the boy whose name adorned their feet grew-up and gifted them to a new owner (Bonnie) who promised a warm future of happiness and play. Because simply retiring the characters would be dumb, Pixar decided to branch out into a trio of short comedic…

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REVIEW: The End of the Tour [2015]

“You might just have to read it” A young writer whose day job involved scribing 500-word reviews of boy band albums during the 90s comes to the decision of pitching his editor something Rolling Stone hadn’t done in years: interview an author. Who better than in-the-moment rockstar David Foster Wallace on the road promoting his magnum opus Infinite Jest? Thus begins a five-day tape-recorded session taking place inside Wallace’s home, his college, multiple airplanes and automobiles, and the Minneapolis, MN hotel hosting his final stop. Even though that initial article…

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Welcome to Me [2015]

“And only five carbohydrants” There’s a great reference in Welcome to Me about Cindy Sherman that many may gloss over. Director Shira Piven and screenwriter Eliot Laurence made mention to Network and The Truman Show during their Q&A after my TIFF screening, but I don’t think such comparisons hold a candle to Sherman’s photography challenging audiences with staged depictions of women in society and the media. In them the artist made herself up to be the subject rather than a model or community figure aligned with her concept. The film’s…

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REVIEW: Toy Story of Terror [2013]

“And if something does happen to the potato—I don’t want to miss it!” While Disney/Pixar has dove into children’s television with Cars-centric offerings and a Buzz Lightyear spin-off, it’s surprising it’s taken this long to craft a primetime special. With what used to be a flawless feature film enterprise bolstered by award-winning shorts, perhaps they believed themselves above the small screen until now. But as Pixar evolves from luxury brand to simply one more animation arm of Disney proper, good press and high ratings aren’t something to ignore out of…

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REVIEW: Grosse Pointe Blank [1997]

“Well thank you for profiting from my childhood” Despite having most likely seen John Cusack in previous films, I do believe black comedy Grosse Pointe Blank was the first to put him firmly on my radar as an actor to follow. While the last few years haven’t necessarily been a great showcase of his talent, his late-90s run was quite a streak of hits that seemed to stem from this gem. Credited as a producer and co-writer, the film possesses a very keen comedic sensibility with a great sarcastic wit…

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REVIEW: Mars Needs Moms [2011]

“A world of trash … it is awesome!” And the hippies shall inherit the world—said world being Mars, of course. Ours has already pushed that faction of humanity to the fringes in order to wallow in their pot smoke, unwashed bodies, and ratty hair far from the rest of society. And by we I mean the generalized average of Earth. Not me. I love petula oil and Cherry Garcia. But when it comes to the new animated film Mars Needs Moms—distributed by Walt Disney but not created by them—hippies are…

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REVIEW: Toy Story 2 [1999]

“I can’t look. Can someone cover my eyes?” The stigma associated with sequels is that they always attempt to either go bigger or rehash what was already done. Both variations are usually set-ups for failure, sacrificing story for more bells and whistles or boring the audience with a slightly reworked alternate version, a watered down facsimile of the brilliant original. So, after Pixar produced just one other film post-Toy Story—the charmingly entertaining A Bug’s Life—the news that number three would be Toy Story 2 became an opportunity for everyone to…

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REVIEW: My Sister’s Keeper [2009]

“I’m sorry I let them hurt you” I have not read the Judi Picoult novel for which the new film My Sister’s Keeper is based, and I think that is a good thing. Whether I would have thought the movie did or didn’t live up is beside the point as, from the scuttlebutt at the completion of the screening around me stated, the endings are completely different. Truthfully, I think I like the cinematic conclusion much better than the literary one, if these audience members are to be believed. What…

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