REVIEW: Judy [2019]

What if I can’t do it again? Playwright Peter Quilter has stated that the original play (“Last Song of the Nightingale”) on which “End of the Rainbow” was modeled upon found its inspiration from an alcoholic male singer met while traveling with his partner on a cruise ship wherein the latter was also a performer. Because he changed his lead into a woman, however, everyone assumed the show was about a thinly-veiled Judy Garland. This reception led him to research the Wizard of Oz legend’s final year on earth and…

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REVIEW: King of Thieves [2018]

Stop talking shop. She’ll turn in her grave. It’s not about the robbery. King of Thieves wouldn’t be worth telling if it was just watching these senior actors ranging sixty-years old to eighty-five fictitiously accomplish the “biggest jewel heist in British history” since there obviously won’t be any foot-chases or complex wire-suspended acrobatics. No, the reason this tale (adapted by Joe Penhall from a Vanity Fair article by Mark Seal) proves interesting is due to the characters they portray. How do diabetes, incontinence, and hearing loss affect their chances of…

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REVIEW: The Last Witness [2018]

I thought this was supposed to be about us. Soviet secret police began a series of mass executions circa 1940 of Polish citizens they knew would reject foreign occupation upon WWII’s completion. Some of the resulting graves were discovered in the Katyn Forest three years later with more found elsewhere totaling 22,000 bodies. Because of the diplomatic relations necessary to join the Allied nations with the “enemy-of-my-enemy” USSR, official word on the Katyn massacre stated Nazi Germany was to blame. This lie was crafted with obvious intentions: America and Britain…

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REVIEW: Paddington [2014]

Does anyone know where I can find a home? I remember reading Michael Bond‘s Paddington Bear books when I was a kid and might have even had a duffle coat-wearing stuffed animal too. But I couldn’t tell you a thing about those stories if you put a gun to my head and asked. I recall a little more about The Berenstain Bears and a bit more than that about Teddy Ruxpin—apparently bears just didn’t leave a huge impression upon me. Even so, however, I worried about a live action film…

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REVIEW: Gosford Park [2001]

“I’m the perfect servant: I have no life” Watching Gosford Park again conjured thoughts about it being quintessential Robert Altman, thoughts I couldn’t conjure in 2001 considering it was my first true experience watching one of his films. It proves the perfect evolutionary end to a way of filmmaking he began over twenty years previous with A Wedding‘s sprawling cast, overlapping dialogue, and class strife. Its Agatha Christie-type whodunit conceit lends itself perfectly to his sensibilities and aesthetic, but we can thank Bob Balaban for enthusiastically asking to collaborate for…

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REVIEW: The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover [1989]

“The naughty bits and the dirty bits are so close together” The above quote pretty much sums up Peter Greenaway‘s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. High society and criminal filth: seemingly disparate sectors of civilization that wouldn’t truly wish to consort together yet constantly overlap through history to almost merge into one. The surface context of the words concerns a conversation about the close proximity between genitals and anuses during dinner as only the boorishly crude gangster Albert Spita (Michael Gambon) could describe, but it also…

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REVIEW: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou [2004]

“Esteban was eaten!” It’s ambitious, hilarious, visually complex, and kind of … boring. I hoped that last adjective was merely the distant memory of a twenty-two year old expecting more out of Wes Anderson‘s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou when first released in theaters due to his infinite love for The Royal Tenenbaums two years previous. I thought perhaps that its failure—a relative term since it being my least favorite of the auteur’s films doesn’t mean it’s not still a three-star entry within a brilliantly quirky oeuvre—was courtesy of…

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REVIEW: The King’s Speech [2010]

“There’s a ‘bob’ in it for you; you’ll go home a rich man” Here is a film about the making of a king through speech, both as a wartime oration to the public and as rudimentary elocution, aptly named The King’s Speech. With Hitler’s rise at the cusp of WWII, the stability of the throne in England needed a strong figure. King George V (Michael Gambon) had grown ill and his heirs included an eldest son (Guy Pearce’s David) in love with a twice-married woman and the stately, yet horribly…

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REVIEW: The Book of Eli [2010]

“Stay on the path; it’s not your concern” Sometimes promotional material lets on to the truth. By watching the trailers for The Book of Eli, I became excited to see the film due to its stripped color palette, post-apocalyptic environment, and Denzel Washington’s insane fighting skills. For some reason, though, all those posters saying “Deliver Us” and the fact of it all centering on a book that’s more important than anything else left on earth—a weapon even—eluded me in realizing just how large religion would loom over everything. The Hughes…

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REVIEW: Fantastic Mr. Fox [2009]

“Never look a beagle in the eye” When I heard that Wes Anderson was going to direct a stop-motion adaptation of a Roald Dahl children’s story I was shocked, perplexed, and very worried. Not only had he stumbled—not fallen—with The Life Aquatic, but he was now also putting his talent behind a multi-year project. He thankfully fit in The Darjeeling Limited, bringing back a bit more of the magic his first three films contained, and because of it I frankly forgot Fantastic Mr. Fox was even on the table. After…

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REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince [2009]

“The binding is really fragile” It’s a real shame that I could never give a film featuring Harry Potter the status of a perfect film. Each tale relies so heavily on those that came before or after so one can never be a truly all-encompassing work. The three-act structure can be utilized, but watching a middle installment alone will leave you confused and disoriented without the background info or knowledge that more will be coming. The reason I bring this up is the fact that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood…

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