REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them [2016]

“Worrying means you suffer twice” After seven books, eight movies, and a play, the Harry Potter universe has become an expansive property no one wants to see die. Pottermore kept the fandom alive online with exclusive stories and quizzes bringing you into Hogwarts while author J.K. Rowling‘s textbooks added flavor and raised over seventeen million pounds for charity. So it was a no-brainer when Warner Bros. asked her for more. The question simply became how to do it. How could you retain the level of excitement and wonder to acquire…

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FANTASIA14 REVIEW: The Harvest [2014]

“God doesn’t think he’s a doctor” I can see why director John McNaughton chose Stephen Lancellotti‘s script The Harvest to be his first feature length film in thirteen years, but I’m not sure it was worth the effort. There are some cool aspects to the horror thriller that may have worked better if its 104-minute runtime didn’t tick along at a snail’s pace—a shortcoming I guess he has no one to blame but himself. A lot of questions are posed, crazy becomes crazy about halfway through with a genuinely startling…

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REVIEW: Her [2013]

“Hey, do you want to have a Sunday adventure with me?” The first thing I wondered upon hearing Spike Jonze‘s new film concerned a man who falls in love with his computer’s intuitive operating system was how he’d thematically comment on the lack of physical connectivity inherent to such a pairing. What didn’t cross my mind until watching Her, however, was how shortsighted and selfish that worldview was in context to an ever-evolving universe populated by myriad personalities and beings. To see this sort of science fiction relationship as absurd…

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REVIEW: Cosmopolis [2012]

“My prostate is asymmetrical” Thematically more like what David Cronenberg created before his last three films; I’m not quite sure what to think about Cosmopolis. Faithfully adapted from a novel by Don DeLillo, its look inside the day of billionaire magnate Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) skews closest to the hellish descents behind the director’s eXistenZ and seminal work Videodrome through a filter of smugness a la Bret Easton Ellis‘ American Psycho. The characters speak in pronouns with a universal aloofness that makes their world appear a coldly detached fabrication of…

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REVIEW: John Carter [2012]

“Vir-gin-ya, Vir-gin-ya, Vir-gin-ya!” When you’re working from a novel written almost a century ago about a planet we still have yet to truly discover, it would be easy to find yourself going off track onto a cheesy, archaic path of exposition. John Carter is not without its moments of superfluity and at over two hours in length does at times find itself sprawling out into an epic beyond the needs of the story being told. However, writer/director Andrew Stanton and company still manage to intrigue with their desert wasteland of…

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REVIEW: The Messenger [2009]

“No such thing as a satisfied customer” Most times I feel that the story of a soldier’s return home is more interesting than anything that might have happened while overseas in battle. I think it has a lot to do with my enjoyment in a good story told with riveting performances, and what subject matter can deliver unforgettable acting fodder than readjusting to civilian life post-military? Oren Moverman’s film The Messenger doesn’t fall into that category completely as our main character still has three months of his tour before being…

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REVIEW: Synecdoche, New York [2008]

The end is built into the beginning. We all go about our lives creating a world around us. To us, we are the stars of a film; our surroundings are the set; and the people touching our lives supporting players and/or extras. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Caden Cotard watches as the plays he directs on-stage succeed and garner praise while the life he lives with wife and daughter falls apart around him. As a God crafting the activities and molding the characterizations of a cast, his own humanity is lost and…

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REVIEW: Control [2007]

“Love will tear us apart, again” Anton Corbijn has finally joined the ranks of his contemporaries Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, and Mark Romanek in directing his first full-length feature. No one could have been a better choice than this still photographer and music video director of cutting edge bands like Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen, and, of course, Joy Division themselves with the video for “Atmosphere” (albeit eight years after the death of frontman Ian Curtis). Corbijn has the sensibilities to craft a gorgeous study of a man on…

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REVIEW: Elizabeth: The Golden Age [2007]

“I will live right until the end” Whereas Elizabeth told a tale of royalty and the politics underlying every action to gain power, Elizabeth: The Golden Age weaves the story of how that strength survives. Michael Hirst gets help this time from the capable William Nicholson to explain what happens once the queen has proven her worth. The country has accepted her, yet many Catholic dissenters hide behind Mary Stuart, looking for an overthrow. Outside her kingdom sees Spain reviling her crown, standing against the God they hold dear. King…

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REVIEW: 300 [2007]

“Sparta!” This is what film was destined to evolve to. After decades of directors making storyboards as reference before filming and the slow building trend to adapt comic book work, we finally have the ultimate fusion of both. Sure Sin City did amazing things with the medium and created frame-by-frame transfers from drawing to celluloid, however, it was still shot as a movie first and foremost. Zack Snyder has done something different with 300; he has created a true work of art. Frank Miller’s story was one steeped in truth…

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