REVIEW: A Wrinkle in Time [2018]

Love is the frequency. While waiting outside the bathrooms after A Wrinkle in Time finished, I saw a white couple with their two young, fair-haired daughters walking out of the theater. Mom and Dad were explaining to one how movies are interpretations. They were reminding her that she had an idea of what the characters looked like while reading and now Ava DuVernay showed hers onscreen. The girl looked up and said, “Yeah. Most of them were blonde in the book.” They went out of earshot soon after, just as…

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REVIEW: Sing [2016]

“Don’t let fear stop you from doing the thing you love” After helming The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Son of Rambow, it’s easy to forget writer/director Garth Jennings started his career as one half of music video masters Hammer & Tongs. Pair his knowledge of music with some great past examples of family-friendly aesthetics (Supergrass‘ “Pumping on Your Stereo” puppets, Blur‘s “Coffee & TV” stop-motion) and the notion he’d eventually gravitate towards a feature-length animated children’s film doesn’t seem far-fetched. In fact, the only thing about his third…

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REVIEW: Hot Pursuit [2015]

“He just wanted to sit in the front seat” Sometimes the most intriguing aspect of a film project is the “why” of its creation. This usually deals with the changing of hands or evolution of scripts as words on the page become spoken onscreen, but every once in awhile the fascination is more abstract. The “why” in these cases becomes a hypothetical question you don’t care to find an answer for because not knowing whether the reason will be acceptable or not is better than definitively knowing it won’t. So…

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Top Ten Films of 2014: A deluge of sci-fi doppelgängers and one-word titles

I don’t want to label 2014 as a good, bad, or average year. I want to call it inventive, original, and delightfully dark. Whether it’s doppelgänger paradoxes leading to murderous rage, the bleak carnage of war, prison violence, or psychologically debilitating struggles to be great, my favorite films had an edge that cut to the bone by credits’ end. The best thing I can say about 2014 is that my top ten (heck, maybe my top twenty-five) could be re-organized and re-listed without making me too angry about what is…

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Picking Winners at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Things look pretty cut and dry where the Academy is concerned in 2015. The Oscars are always a somewhat watered-down look at what really mattered in the past year of cinema and this installment is no exception. In fact, it may be all water at this point. That doesn’t mean there can’t be some intriguing surprises in the second-tier categories like Best Animated Feature (I really hope How to Train Your Dragon 2 loses to one of the other much more aesthetically and conceptually unique nominees) or Short Film Animated…

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REVIEW: Big Eyes [2014]

“I’m just a Sunday painter” It’s a paint-off. Literally. Will the winner be the charismatic salesman peddling his wife’s art as his own or the soft-spoken woman slaving away in a turpentine-filled room that’s been dominated and belittled into allowing him to do so? Who will earn the right to say they were the creators of an oeuvre simultaneously thought to be worth thousands of dollars and infinite fame by the general populace and conversely less than the canvas they were painted on by New York Times critic John Canaday…

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REVIEW: Wild [2014]

“Cold mush dreams” The cinematic adaptation of Cheryl Strayed‘s memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail seems to be getting pigeonholed hard as being solely a tale of female empowerment. It most definitely is, but I’m not sure critics should necessarily call it a day with such a generic categorization. There’s a deeper draw to the author’s solo, one thousand mile journey along the Pacific Crest that hits at a human level way beyond gender. Was Into the Wild only thought of as a tale of…

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REVIEW: Inherent Vice [2014]

“Something Spanish” While no stranger to comedy, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson had yet to go full screwball as he does with Thomas Pynchon‘s Inherent Vice. I shouldn’t say “full” considering the laughs are desert dry and delivered with the utmost severity, but laugh-out-loud wouldn’t be an out of question turn of phrase to utilize if your sensibilities are keenly attuned to its acquired tone. Think Chinatown on acid with twists and turns and leads run hot that ultimately point nowhere; the end arriving with a few periphery issues resolved and…

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REVIEW: The Good Lie [2014]

“I’m thinking about that chicken” It isn’t easy to write a film around a tragic hot-button issue such as the “Lost Boys of Sudan” without coming across as either exploitative or manipulative. Making the result human is an even loftier goal. I won’t say screenwriter Margaret Nagle and director Philippe Falardeau were flawless in their execution of The Good Lie, but they were at least honest. Well, more honest than the marketing firm selling us on Reese Witherspoon being the lead when she’s only onscreen for a quarter of the…

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Toronto International Film Festival 2014 Preview

We may have two consistent film festivals here in town showcasing small releases and restored classics, but you might not realize how close we are to one of the biggest in the world. Most “in the know” will center on five events when thinking about the best of the best film festivals and while Venice, Cannes, and Berlin are an ocean away and Sundance is across the country, The Toronto International Film Festival is less than a two-hour drive via the QEW into Canada. Even better than proximity, though, is…

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REVIEW: Mud [2013]

“Green beans never tasted so good” It’s a rarity to find a coming-of-age story set inside an adult-themed drama. Usually we’re made to watch adolescents caught inside the funny/awkward growing pains of puberty as lust and love and vanity and fear all mix into a pool of hormonal angst, embarrassment, and pratfall through comedy. Writer/director Jeff Nichols looked to create something in opposition to such cliché when he set off on the journey leading him to Mud more than a decade ago. He sought a way to capture the heaviness…

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