REVIEW: The 33 [2015]

“Aim to miss” As if being the international feel-good story of 2010 wasn’t enough, the Copiapó mining accident at the San José copper/gold mine in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile included the type of personal, human melodramatic intrigue ripe for cinematic interpretation. Sourced from Hector Tobar‘s non-fiction novel Deep Down Dark (commissioned with each miner’s help so one couldn’t benefit more than another), Patricia Riggen‘s The 33 could be fiction. Mario Sepúlveda (Antonio Banderas) was working his day off, Álex Vega (Mario Casas) was days from fatherhood, and Mario…

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REVIEW: Focus [2015]

“Nice jacket” You know that moment in a con movie where you’re shown an elaborate sequence full of subtle background action without knowing exactly what’s happening until the mastermind explains it all to a colleague—and us—who’s unaware? It’s my favorite trope of the genre because it either provides a sense of awe in the trick’s success or allows me to pat myself on the back for noticing the ruse. Sadly, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa forget the first part and keep us in complete darkness assuming their revelation will prove…

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REVIEW: 300: Rise of an Empire [2014]

“Fear his freedom!” This is what a copy of a copy looks like. It pretends to be equal to the original—and in some aspects proves to be exactly the same—yet arrives seven years after everything its groundbreaking ancestor provided was expanded and evolved upon. I loved 300 and gave it a perfect score despite some issues because it was so fresh and exhilarating. It showed how the capabilities of cinema could be pushed even further than Frank Miller‘s other adaptation Sin City, breathing life into a dark and gruesome graphic…

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REVIEW: Rio [2011]

“Sing it, Lionel” Always playing third fiddle to the powerhouses of Pixar and Dreamworks, Sony Pictures’ Blue Sky Studios has held their own with the Ice Age franchise and a couple supporters. Their newest endeavor, Rio, looks to try and recreate a bit of the magic from their competitor’s Madagascar, setting the tale in an exotic locale—Brazil—and populating it with a blend of random humor, violin playing sentimentality, and an eccentric hoard of hive-mind beasts for slapstick entertainment. The music is unfortunately not up to snuff, giving a film aimed…

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REVIEW: I Love You Phillip Morris [2010]

“I tend to do that … hide things” There is a reason Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s film, based on the writings of Steve McVicker, is called I Love You Phillip Morris. Lead character, and real-life con man, Steven Jay Russell is at his core a pronoun who loved. Without a real identity to call his own—Russell was adopted when he was born, became a cop only to find his biological mother, married and had a daughter despite having gay affairs, and reinvented himself as any number of professionals, lawyer…

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REVIEW: Post Grad [2009]

“Cheers, to your dead mother” Ah, the plan. You know the one, get good grades in high school, earn that college scholarship, continue the straight-A regimen, and land that dream job you’ve wanted since grade school. If the first three occurred without a hitch, of course that interview is a mere formality standing as a thin wall in front of the bright future ahead. Well, life is never that easy, and Post Grad’s Alexis Bledel finds that fact out very quickly. Her Ryden Malby somehow managed to not only keep…

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