REVIEW: Vice [2018]

What do we believe? It’s still weird thinking the guy who joked around with Will Ferrell for years is an Oscar winner, but that’s exactly what Adam McKay is. Weirder still is my being firmly in the camp that believes it was deserved. What he did with The Big Short was the equivalent of too-smart people giving the public a “layman’s terms” explanation to their questions. He dumbed-down a complex topic, made it wildly entertaining, and taught us something about ourselves both in how we reacted (or didn’t react) to…

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TIFF REVIEW: Beautiful Boy [2018]

Everything. There’s an odd framing device within Felix Van Groeningen‘s Beautiful Boy that strangely frames the first half of the film for no reason. It’s a scene wherein David Sheff (Steve Carell) is conducting an interview with a Dr. Brown (Timothy Hutton). The latter assumes it’s for a story considering the former is a journalist, but this inquiry is in fact a personal issue. Sheff is worried about his son Nic (Timothée Chalamet), a crystal meth addict who’s disappeared. He wants to get a better handle on the physical destructiveness…

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REVIEW: Battle of the Sexes [2017]

“Libbers not lobbers” Between the title and trailer, I assumed Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris‘ Battle of the Sexes would focus strictly on the circus surrounding the event itself. It’s not like there isn’t enough content to make that happen between the political, social, and athletic motivations behind the media frenzy. But screenwriter Simon Beaufoy knew he had to go further back to truly understand the climate that led to former champion and current senior tour member Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) calling up Billie Jean King (Emma Stone)—arguably the best…

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REVIEW: Despicable Me 3 [2017]

“I love the combination of Gummy Bears and meat” You have to give Illumination credit because they chose to cultivate an animated niche able to set them apart from Pixar rather than simply seek to copy their blueprint. Their path brings them closer to Dreamworks and yet we can still pick out the difference because Christopher Meledandri‘s style strips things even further down to a level of pure entertainment. So it’s no coincidence that his flagship property Despicable Me has now spawned two sequels to go along with a spinoff,…

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REVIEW: Café Society [2016]

“Dreams are … dreams” Ever since Woody Allen left New York City for England in 2005 to create some really spectacular films outside his usual comedic efforts of neurotic meet-cutes, I may have intentionally tried to avoid anything he made with a character he would have played himself a decade prior. I personally don’t count Midnight in Paris simply because Owen Wilson owns that lead role in a way Allen couldn’t equal. So when Café Society was announced with Jesse Eisenberg at the fore, I did cringe a bit. I…

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REVIEW: The Big Short [2015]

“Trust me. This happened.” I can honestly say I learned something watching The Big Short. That’s no small feat considering it was directed and cowritten by funnyman Adam McKay. His collaborations with Will Ferrell acting like a doofus are generally the exact opposite of educational. But he couldn’t have told this story about the handful of eccentrics who bet against the American economy and won by seeing the mortgage bubble everyone else couldn’t (or fraudulently ignored) without a financial crash course. CDOs, tranches, and sub-primes were as synonymous with gibberish…

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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: Foxcatcher [2014]

“John du Pont is … kind of a mentor to me” Now here’s a film with immaculate construction in production design, sound design, acting, and direction. The only thing Foxcatcher lacks is the breathing room to stand as a cohesive whole worthy of the talent pouring its heart and soul in. The story of John “Golden Eagle” du Pont is a highly provocative one that deserves to be told on the big screen if only to educate those like myself who were unaware of the tragedy surrounding him. In the…

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Posterized Propaganda November 2014: ‘Foxcatcher,’ ‘Interstellar,’ ‘The Imitation Game,’ and More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. I guess studios are gearing up for a huge December push because this month has a pretty sparse line-up. Thankfully, however, it appears quality has trumped quantity because most of…

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REVIEW: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day [2014]

“His pox is your gain” I’m a little disappointed I never read Judith Viorst‘s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day because it seems exactly the type of book I would have read as a child. If you’ve had the pleasure (it was published in 1972) and wonder how a feature length film could come from 32-pages that literally show nothing but their titular character having the worst luck ever on a very busy day, don’t be surprised when screenwriter Rob Lieber adds the tried and true…

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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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