REVIEW: The Goldfinch [2019]

I lost something that should have been immortal. Theo Decker (Oakes Fegley) lost a lot one fateful day at The Metropolitan Museum of Art when an unexplained terrorist bombing took his mother, home, stability, and, most importantly, his childhood away. One second he’s stealing a glimpse of the young girl (Aimee Laurence‘s Pippa) beside him in front of a famed Carel Fabritius painting while his mom’s hand leaves his shoulder and the next sees him rising from the ashes of the aftermath, dead bodies everywhere. And if dealing with the…

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REVIEW: Phil [2019]

I never promised you a rose garden. We meet Phil McGuire (Greg Kinnear) exiting his parked car while still in traffic to climb up a bridge railing. It’s a one hundred-plus foot drop into the water and he imagines taking the plunge before a group of teens with cellphones outstretched jolt him from the morbid sensation with excitable demands that he jump so they can enjoy the carnage. That’s a bold tonal mood on behalf of screenwriter Stephen Mazur and director Kinnear (his debut) because there’s actual dejection on their…

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REVIEW: Arizona [2018]

Nothing but possibility. You should know going in that Jonathan Watson‘s Arizona is a comedy. It’s billed that way. Former “30 Rock” and current “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” writer Luke Del Tredici is responsible for the script. And Danny McBride has had his face plastered on all the marketing materials. But you wouldn’t be wrong for thinking otherwise at the very start considering the lead role is played by Rosemarie DeWitt. She’s a real estate agent named Cassie who’s shown spinning her sales speak with a couple just as the housing bubble…

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REVIEW: Measure of a Man [2018]

This time I had something to prove. The coming of age dramedy is a crowded genre with many seminal works established in the 70s and 80s. It’s tough to therefore see any entries without comparing them to what came first. Some can still find their niche and win audiences over before earning a place besides those former greats, but oftentimes they simply feel too familiar to necessitate a second look. The latter category is a shame because familiarity isn’t always synonymous with “bad.” Take Jim Loach‘s Measure of a Man,…

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TIFF17 REVIEW: Brad’s Status [2017]

“Why are you competing at all?” Brad’s (Ben Stiller) son is about to embark on college. It’s the type of auspicious life marker to make anyone look back and question the journey they’ve taken thus far. Has Brad done enough? Lived up to the potential he felt he possessed? Or was he passed by? All of his old Tufts friends are rich, famous, successful, and/or happy—pure happiness unencumbered by the seemingly trivial struggles Brad faces daily. He isn’t poor, though. Nor destitute. If anything he’s on the cusp of breaking…

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REVIEW: Approaching the Unknown [2016]

“That planet is calling for us” While the mission is one thing, your reason for performing it could be drastically different. For Captain William Stanaforth (Mark Strong) the two barely overlap except for a common destination: Mars. He will be the first man to ever step foot on the Red Planet with another astronaut (Sanaa Lathan‘s Maddox) following closely behind his 270-day journey by about a month. He’s bringing a water generator he created that synthesizes the fluid from soil and she has supplies to ready future colonization. The endeavor…

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REVIEW: Concussion [2015]

“Tell the truth” As of September of 2015 it was reported that 87 former NFL players tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) out of the 91 deceased men researchers at Boston University autopsied. That’s almost 96%. Their study revealed that 79% of all players (professionally, semi-professionally, or college/high school athletes) examined had it—damning numbers not to be ignored and yet the NFL did for many, many years. How long and what exact details they denied, we may never know. Settlements are funny that way. It’s hardly surprising, with the…

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REVIEW: The Royal Tenenbaums [2001]

“How interesting. How bizarre!” Nothing Wes Anderson does will ever match the brilliance of his third film, The Royal Tenenbaums. A lot of this has to do with when I first saw it back in the winter of 2002, but I say it objectively too. I was still in college, still in the midst of my cinematic education after an adolescence full of mainstream Hollywood, and just starting to realize the potential of my local independent theaters’ reach. I don’t remember why I even went to see it considering I…

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REVIEW: Bottle Rocket [1996]

“You know there’s nothing to steal from my mom and Craig” Released two years after writer/director Wes Anderson brought its eponymous short film to Sundance, Bottle Rocket improves upon its predecessor’s shortcomings, makes good on its potential, and provides a prototype for the more commercial successes that would follow. A character-driven piece full of deflection and red herrings to confuse the audience into a state of unwitting ignorance just like that of the wannabe criminals at its center, the plot really becomes secondary to the relationships built along the way.…

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REVIEW: Bottle Rocket [1994]

“It has the logic of a dream” The career of writer/director Wes Anderson begins with his University of Texas at Austin buddy Owen Wilson and their 13-minute short film Bottle Rocket. Screened at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, it tells the story of two friends and their aspiration towards crime. Dignan (Owen) and Anthony (Luke Wilson) are by no means masterminds when it comes to their almost non-existent scores, but they enjoy the rush and feel as though it’s a path worth taking if success comes as easily as it…

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REVIEW: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy [2004]

“Rule number 1: No touching of the hair or face… AND THAT’S IT!” People have been telling me for almost a decade that Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy needs a second viewing to fully appreciate its genius. I’m happy to say they were correct. I watched it again last night and increased its score a whole point. That’s right, I still don’t get what you all do when it comes to writer/director Adam McKay and writer/star Will Ferrell’s first foray onto the big screen after collaborating on “Saturday Night…

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