REVIEW: The Trial of the Chicago 7 [2020]

You don’t know what to do with the egg now, do you? It’s a project tailor-made for Aaron Sorkin. So much so that I’m surprised The Trial of the Chicago 7 didn’t somehow worm its way into becoming his directorial debut rather than Molly’s Game three years prior. There’s the courtroom drama aspect recalling his play and screenplay for A Few Good Men, the government inner-workings a la his television show “The West Wing”, and the notion of a youth-led counter culture of bickering geniuses similar to the fast-paced insults…

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REVIEW: Bohemian Rhapsody [2018]

Good thoughts. Good words. Good deeds. There’s the story of Freddie Mercury and the story of his band Queen. One deals with complicated topics spanning fractured identity, the excess of fame, and AIDS while the other is apparently straightforward with little conflict besides creative squabbles that get ironed out before the argument is even finished. Is it weird then that Hollywood would deliver the latter? The sad truth is unfortunately no. Going the safe route to make sure all parties involved are happy about their depiction is exactly what Hollywood…

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REVIEW: Alice Through the Looking Glass [2016]

“Everyone parts with everything eventually, my dear” Now that the whole “should we reboot or create a sequel or just go ahead and do both at once” debacle is over thanks to Tim Burton‘s misguided Alice in Wonderland, maybe Disney’s desire to create an imaginative and surprisingly dark franchise of the absurd could find creative merit to match its insane billion dollar gross. This is because the filmmakers (Linda Woolverton returns as screenwriter with James Bobin taking over the director’s chair) have acquired the latitude to think outside the box…

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REVIEW: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [2013]

“I always save your knick-knacks” What began as a 1939 short story by James Thurber debuting in The New Yorker, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty found its way to the big screen in 1947 led by Danny Kaye. The tale of a daydreamer losing himself in excitingly heroic fantasies while sleepwalking through a daytrip of chores in the city with his wife expanded into a magazine editor finding more interest in the pulp stories he reads than the drab life he leads. It’s a conceit mirrored today with Mitty…

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REVIEW: I Give It a Year [2013]

“I’d ruin Bieber” Clumsy and cute—that’s my concise review of regular Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator Dan Mazer’s directorial debut I Give It a Year. It’s actually a perfect embodiment of the central marriage for which the bride’s sister indifferently declares the titular sentiment. They bore each other in equal measure while providing the one thing they each thought they desired. Josh (Rafe Spall) is the type of security Nat (Rose Byrne) covets at this time in her life and she is the perfect woman he’s been bred to want through…

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REVIEW: Les Misérables [2012]

“I dreamed a dream” I tried to tackle Victor Hugo‘s massive literary masterpiece Les Misérables years ago only to find myself stuck two hundred pages in and our book club disbanded after learning my poor progress was actually second best among the lot of us. Suffice it to say, none of the words I caught sunk in to give me any sort of footing before sitting down to Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper‘s musical adaptation. This was a welcome development, though, as going in fresh seemed the best way to let…

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REVIEW: The Ambassador [2011]

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu” Did you ever wonder what a guy like Sacha Baron Cohen could accomplish if his satirical bent towards political upheaval had more than cheap laughs as its goal? What if Borat became a literal representative of Kazakhstan or Brüno a luminary in the fashion world interviewed for expert insight as a real person and not just a fictitious persona tossed aside when public saturation reaches uncontrollable heights? He would need to be a committed journalist with the stomach to both…

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REVIEW: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted [2012]

“I’m like a candy cane in a black and white movie” A round of applause for directors Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath—and Conrad Vernon who joins them to expand on his responsibilities playing Mason the monkey—because they have kind of accomplished the impossible with Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. I was surprised at how much better Escape 2 Africa was in comparison to the original Madagascar, but never expected my level of enjoyment to rise even more with the third. Darnell—also a co-writer with Noah Baumbach—and McGrath have grown alongside…

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REVIEW: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa [2008]

“I find it pretty and slightly hypnotic” It’s amazing what happens when filmmakers craft a plot for their characters. I’m not saying I approve of sequels with lame flashback origin prologues trying to make up for the lack of story in their predecessors, but I won’t complain if such contrivances help ground the jokes into a cohesive three act structure. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa isn’t hampered by the need to remove its leads from their fabricated habitat, instead starting off the reservation and relying on everyone’s intrinsic desire to return…

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REVIEW: Madagascar [2005]

“Just smile and wave boys. Smile and wave.” Made as though in opposition to Pixar’s brand of magical storytelling, Dreamworks Animation’s Madagascar ushered in the studio’s want for broader comedy and adolescent appeal. With Shrek, they found a franchise that subverted Disney’s use of fairy tales for cinematic fodder and created a nice hybrid of laughs and story with an underdog hero inside an ugly duckling tale. But after a steady stream of Pixar work including Monsters Inc. and the previous year’s The Incredibles, you have to believe that Dreamworks…

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REVIEW: The Dictator [2012]

“Where’s the trashcan?” After starring in three films and on television in two countries by engaging unwitting audiences in a guerilla-style ambush of often cruel and lewd comedy proving he hadn’t a shred of modesty, Sacha Baron Cohen‘s days of anonymity have officially ended. Utilizing many of the same collaborators behind the scenes as his last few creative endeavors, The Dictator exists inside a fully scripted world because the Englishman’s antics have become too widely documented. Gone are the days when a ‘supreme beard’ could hide his identity from an…

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