TIFF20 REVIEW: Good Joe Bell [2020]

The truth is all I have. The first event at which we see Joe Bell (Mark Wahlberg) speak his anti-bullying message can’t help but make you laugh. He’s standing on-stage with a disheveled look cultivated by a weeks-long journey on foot, spouting more nervous “ums” then concrete dialogue as his son Jadin (Reid Miller) watches at the back of the auditorium. The scene lasts less than two minutes before Bell asks the audience of teenagers if they have any questions as though his awkward presence was enough to spark conversation…

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REVIEW: All the Money in the World [2017]

‘Thank you’ is for strangers. It’s impossible to see a disclaimer at the end of an “inspired by” film reiterating with more direct language about how the “truth” has been altered without assuming the majority of what I just saw never really happened. Ridley Scott fades to black on a seething Michelle Williams before two one-sentence captions replace her with epilogue declarations that then are replaced by the caveat of taking everything with a grain of salt. It reeks of lawyer speech as though the studio anticipated backlash from those…

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REVIEW: Transformers: The Last Knight [2017]

“You’re running out of tomorrows” Fact: Transformers: The Last Knight is its franchise’s most entertaining entry. While I definitely felt ready to nod off during my original trilogy refresher course this week—and actually shut my eyes a couple times during Age of Extinction—this latest installment had me wide-eyed and interested throughout its 149-minutes (the series’ shortest runtime since its 144-minute original). Sometimes that interest was in the insane retrofitted King Arthur plotline padded by manageable excess, but mostly it was attuned to an unhinged and manic Anthony Hopkins having a…

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REVIEW: Transformers: Age of Extinction [2014]

“I know you have a conscience because you’re an inventor like me” There’s a problem when the first, expository-heavy hour of a three-hour Transformers action extravaganza shines above the rest. Michael Bay has looked upon this franchise from the start as an excuse to put explosions and destruction onscreen alongside cheesy and sometimes offensive comedy to satisfy the young children of parents (uninterested in shielding their ears from the oft swear word) that grew up in the 80s. He excelled at this mix with the first installment, casting the sarcastically…

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REVIEW: Mojave [2016]

“I’m into motive-less malignity” I’m not sure what I thought William Monahan‘s Mojave would be, but it definitely wasn’t what followed the tense first fifteen or so minutes spent in the titular desert. We’re thrown into the world he creates to meet a man named Thomas (Garrett Hedlund) speaking philosophically about life and identity via narration as his stern yet lost self leaves a naked woman alone in his bed and ignores the voicemails of who we assume is his family. He’s a mystery—a formidable guy both physically and mentally…

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REVIEW: Ted 2 [2015]

“Fresh cakes” Something Steve Harvey said on a recent episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” really struck me: “Tragedy strikes. I got news for you—we have the jokes that night. We know that we can’t bring this to the public yet cause we’ll get hammered. But in a room alone, when it’s just us, we have the jokes already ready.” He’s right. If the joke is funny—no matter what the circumstance is—it’s funny. Your finding it offense or “too-soon” isn’t a comment on the joke itself, but on your…

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REVIEW: Entourage [2015]

“I don’t worry. I win.” I was a big fan of “Entourage”—loved the first four seasons and remained entertained until the end. The fact Doug Ellin received backing for eight seasons is a success story in itself because you can only recycle the same story beats so often before the audience loses interest. Who cares if the movie Vinny Chase (Adrian Grenier) makes off-screen gets bigger or his role in its creation expands, ultimately he and his crew will laugh off the hate, find new girls, and move to the…

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REVIEW: The Gambler [2014]

“I think you’re the kind of guy who likes to lose” I was very surprised to see James Toback‘s name as Executive Producer on The Gambler remake after reading a 2011 editorial explaining how he found out about the project secondhand after it was already announced that William Monahan was adapting his original script for Martin Scorsese. While this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise in a Hollywood where studios give EP credits to anyone they feel a need to appease and have no remorse retooling properties without caring…

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Posterized Propaganda June 2014: ‘Snowpiercer,’ ‘The Rover,’ ‘Venus in Fur’ & More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. It’s no surprise a month like June doesn’t possess the best posters for blockbuster releases. No one readying to visit a theater for summer popcorn carnage cares if the advertisement…

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REVIEW: Lone Survivor [2013]

“A lot of moving parts” If you’ve read Marcus Luttrell‘s memoir Lone Survivor (co-written by Patrick Robinson), you’d know it was primed for a cinematic adaptation. There’s Navy SEAL boot camp, the infamous “hell week”, the brotherly bond formed between team members, and the courage under fire each has been trained to cultivate and utilize in the field. It’s a tragic tale with a spoiler title that details the heroic deaths Marcus witnessed after a rules of engagement decision proved fatal as well as the unlikely saviors who helped ensure…

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REVIEW: 2 Guns [2013]

“I did wink at him because he’s my bitch now” What do you get when you throw forty-three million dollars at an unsuspecting bank-robbing duo comprised of a DEA agent and a Naval Intelligence Officer, both believing the other is a criminal they can use as a fall guy on their respective missions? A pretty fun time, that’s what. With a poster depicting Denzel Washington’s Bobby and Mark Wahlberg’s Stig back-to-back with guns drawn and money raining down, it’s easy to write the whole thing off as a lame duck…

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