REVIEW: The Roads Not Taken [2020]

And what are you doing to make things better? Leo (Javier Bardem) is barely coherent thanks to a degenerative disability that demands constant care despite his wishes to remain alone under a façade of self-sufficiency within an apartment whose window is directly beside a public transit train. He alternates between Spanish and English without reason when not grunting unfavorably to let whoever is nearby know he doesn’t want to do what they’re asking of him. The one person he allows to lead him where he needs to go is his…

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REVIEW: The Hummingbird Project [2019]

What’s at the end of the line? Vincent Zaleski (Jesse Eisenberg) and his cousin Anton (Alexander Skarsgård) work for a stock trader in New York City (Salma Hayek‘s Eva Torres) and seem to be doing well. Writer/director Kim Nguyen doesn’t give any specifics as to their salaries and whatnot, but we visit one of their homes during a memorial for Vincent’s father and everyone seems comfortable enough to not need to be greedy. And yet The Hummingbird Project starts by placing greed front and center. It introduces Vincent’s shrewd business…

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REVIEW: The Prophet [2015]

“And yet you rise above them unbound” After watching the animated cinematic adaptation of Kahlil Gibran‘s The Prophet and hearing his prose poetry read out loud, I can understand both the critical pause and public adoration it’s earned this past century. It consists of the kind of inspirational tales of flowery optimism that many love to read—enough so the book’s twenty-six essay-compilation has been translated into almost fifty languages and never been out-of-print since bowing in 1923. But this type of uplifting human condition rhetoric isn’t for everyone and personally…

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REVIEW: Everly [2015]

“That’s a lot of dead whores” The best part of Everly is the realization that smartasses the world over deeming it worthy of cult status will soon begin a trend of calling it a Christmas film. Social media couldn’t help itself last December with overused jokes about readying to watch Die Hard or Gremlins to ring in the yuletide cheer and come this winter those same people will have another ironic selection for the pile. All it took was screenwriter Yale Hannon and director Joe Lynch placing a couple lines…

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REVIEW: Wild Wild West [1999]

“Never drum on a white lady’s boobies at a big redneck dance” Let’s just say that Mel Gibson and Tom Cruise dodged a bullet by backing out of Wild Wild West during its seven-year gestation. Its script probably wasn’t nearly as off-the-wall goofy at the start considering their clout as actors, but I highly doubt either would have been up for the parody it became. While the 90s were all about the television adaptation anyway—Gibson went on to do the lackluster Maverick and Cruise the effective Mission: Impossible—I’m not sure…

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REVIEW: Dogma [1999]

“You can’t be anal retentive if you don’t have an anus” Due to an overly self-deprecating humor, writer/director Kevin Smith will always be the first to say he lacks true “talent” as a filmmaker. From the ultra-low budget Clerks to a recent spate of box office failures, his work deals in eccentrically loquacious characters with an acerbic wit and extreme grasp of pop culture that live or die by dialogue rather than any unparalleled directorial vision. As a result the critical sphere and haters prove vocal about his propensity to…

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REVIEW: Here Comes the Boom [2012]

“I’m having a crazy month of meeting people” Let’s face it, I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed a straight Happy Madison production—I exclude Apatow‘s and Binder‘s because they would have probably been made with or without the shingle—since 2004’s 50 First Dates. In all actuality, looking at the list now makes me think it may be the only film I’ve given three stars to at all. And this is coming from a long-time Adam Sandler apologist. I’ve finally decided to wake from the drunken stupor Billy Madison‘s greatness put me under so…

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REVIEW: Savages [2012]

“Money’s not enough. You’ve got to give your heart.” Who’s crueler: a vicious Mexican cartel decapitating men to send a message or a couple Laguna boys willing to do whatever it takes to protect the emotionally damaged girlfriend they share? Being a trick question, the answer is yes. Plain and simply, humanity has forever been plagued by the capacity for evil since the dawn of time, whether a monkey discovering the blunt force trauma capability of a stick or Eve biting that gosh darned apple in Paradise. We yearn for…

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REVIEW: Puss in Boots [2011]

“We don’t have any baby muffins” Before Shrek left his swamp to spawn a four-feature franchise I sadly had no real interest in continuing past the original, a Latino kitty cat roamed the lands of Far Far Away. Without a home once San Ricardo turned its back after the public bank was robbed with him left holding the moneybags, Puss in Boots must survive on the fringes of society to woo the ladies and endlessly thieve. Needing a big score for an influx of cash, Puss returns to his adopted…

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REVIEW: From Dusk Till Dawn [1996]

“I’m Sex Machine, pleased to meet ya” This year’s Grindhouse was not the first of such collaborations between Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. One could argue that their production of From Dusk Till Dawn laid the seeds for that schlock-fest extravaganza. I remember while watching Planet Terror thinking how overboard Rodriguez was going, and loving every minute of it. Revisiting this film, however, showed how he didn’t stray too far from where he had already been. Sure Tarantino’s dialogue is at the forefront for much of the film’s duration, but…

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REVIEW: Frida [2002]

“Alone in pain” I’ve said it many times; I am not a fan of biopics. They always overextend themselves to the point of unbelievability because of the same actors playing everyone from 20-80 years old. The ones that work are those that take a slice of life rather than the entirety of it, like The Queen and Capote. Let’s say I was very surprised to find out how much I enjoyed Frida. From her college years until her death, this film never feels like we are learning about her life—it…

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