REVIEW: The Last Duel [2021]

God will spare those who tell the truth. The tale at the center of Eric Jager‘s book The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France is a compelling one that supposedly continues to inspire debate among historians today about who was telling the truth. While unsurprising considering there weren’t any witnesses of the crime that was said to have been committed, it explains how little has changed from 1386 where the patriarchal underpinnings of our world are concerned. Debate means that some people believe Marguerite…

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REVIEW: Stillwater [2021]

Life is brutal. I’ll let Amanda Knox speak on the topic of consent where it comes to using another person’s trauma to sell your art and the refusal to realize how doing so inevitably destroys the hard work that person put in to fight for truth in the face of a ubiquitous media-fueled lie. Just know that my needing to mention it is all director Tom McCarthy‘s fault. He’s the one who brought up that Knox’s imprisonment for a crime she didn’t commit was the springboard for Stillwater. He’s the…

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REVIEW: Ford v Ferrari [2019]

I’ll have you home for meatloaf and gravy. The man at the center of James Mangold‘s Ford v Ferrari is Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), a former driver turned racecar designer forced into retirement by a heart condition exacerbated by the difficulties of his high-speed sport of choice. His narrative importance lies in being the connective tissue between Ken Miles (Christian Bale as his close friend and colleague) and Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts as a man who needs no introduction) once the titular war at Le Mans gets underway. His…

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REVIEW: Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back [2001]

They don’t deserve their own movie. It’s easy to forget that Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was supposed to be the View Askewniverse’s final chapter. Writer/director Kevin Smith had finally decided to grow up (a relative term) and leave the foul-mouthed, pot-dealing miscreants he and Jason Mewes brought to life in Clerks (before subsequently popping-up in every film) behind. He even capped the credits with God (Alanis Morrisette) closing the proverbial book after corralling as many familiar faces and stars he could for what proved a self-conscious and self-referential…

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REVIEW: Downsizing [2017]

Lots of people are in pain, Ma. In all sorts of ways. It’s an ingenious comedic premise. With Earth’s population untenable, a couple of Norwegian scientists discover a way to combat our impending doom: genetic shrinkage. With a syringe of blue formula and a microwave oven (the logistics are never explained beyond surface visuals), any biologic entity can be miniaturized to a fraction of its size and mass. Since over-population is a main component of global warming, food shortages, and poverty, this solution is a timely miracle. Add the fact…

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REVIEW: The Great Wall [2016]

“I’m honored to be honored” The Great Wall of China took centuries to become what it is today. Construction began as early as 7th century BC with portions strengthened, rebuilt entirely, or expanded upon from the days of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang to the Ming Dynasty where most of what remains originated. It’s 5,500 miles of wall, trenches, and natural barriers—a fortification that protected its land from invasions and allowed a sense of control over trade and immigration. It’s bandied about as a “Wonder of the World” (although…

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The 89th Oscars recap through tweets …

  pic.twitter.com/oGJkXytnQ2 — PwC LLP (@PwC_LLP) February 27, 2017 So that actually happened. Warren Beatty opened the Best Picture envelope, furrowed his brow, and looked for another card. He’s thinking, “This is wrong.” He stalls—his body language coming off as a joke in the moment, the audience and his co-presenter Faye Dunaway laughing at what appears to be an old man who forgot his glasses. And since no one came running onto the stage to say something actually was wrong, he silently turned to Faye with the card. And the…

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REVIEW: Manchester by the Sea [2016]

“I can’t beat it” It’s hard to imagine a Manchester by the Sea directed by Matt Damon and starring John Krasinski, but that was the original plan. They actually brought the idea to Kenneth Lonergan—Damon acted in one of his friend’s plays on stage and also his sophomore film Margaret. Hollywood is tough, though. Schedules fill up and pieces move around. Damon loved the initial draft Lonergan drew up for them so much that he asked him to take over directing duties while he shifted to the lead (perhaps Krasinski…

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REVIEW: Jason Bourne [2016]

“And I heard you got hacked” In the nine years since Matt Damon last played amnesiac black ops assassin Jason Bourne, (eleven movie years considering the character exclaims he’s been running for three in The Bourne Ultimatum after The Bourne Identity bowed in 2002), there’s been a lot of chatter about making a reunion work only to have the actor and director Paul Greengrass emphatically say, “No.” It was with good reason too because they knew throwing a sequel together without a quality story that did justice to the original…

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REVIEW: The Bourne Supremacy [2004]

“It’s easy. She’s standing right next to you.” The idea that a sequel can best its predecessor is one that many people believe impossible save one or two exceptions to prove the rule. We’re talking The Godfather: Part II caliber stuff—prestige pieces with weight behind them for critical acclaim and box office success. So you may find me hyperbolic to say this, but I think The Bourne Supremacy belongs on this ultra short list. Don’t demean it by exclaiming how an action film doesn’t deserve to sit alongside a Francis…

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REVIEW: The Bourne Identity [2002]

“I guess you’re not home” It’s interesting to go back and watch Doug Liman‘s The Bourne Identity after so many years and sequels because it’s so unlike what Paul Greengrass accomplished during his tenure at the helm. The action scenes seem almost quaint in comparison with quick cuts and loud thuds. The kinetic excitement of extended take sequences is absent, replaced by choreographed images rather than limbs. It just goes to show how different the series’ origins were with espionage and spy thrills trumping the subsequently explosive hand-to-hand combat. This…

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