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Archive for the 'Movie Reviews' Category

NBFF 2016 Review: Show Business

show businessIf you are going to pay homage to Woody Allen, you better be sure everyone is on board to do the same thing. Writer/director/composer/star Alexander Tovar wears many hats for his film Show Business, but it felt as if he had a little bit of a tough time managing all of them to completely nail what he was going for in this Hollywood farce about a writer getting his shot. That does not mean the film was unenjoyable, but the light-heartedness of the film did seem to extend a bit far with some of the cast.

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NBFF 2016 Review: After The Reality

12957470_1111751962215593_4714805152280256639_oThis year After the Reality opened the 17th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival. Since Jewtopia served as the opening night feature a few years back, I have been doing my best to manage my excitement level for these premieres, but the film was certainly no dud. While a bit familiar, the comedy-drama took on some subject matter in an interestingly enough way to hold onto my attention and make good use of its key performers.

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‘A Hologram For The King’ Aptly Ambles Through The Desert (Movie Review)

hologram for the king thumbWell that was better than expected. Not that marketing should be a factor in a review, but the trailer for A Hologram for the King presented a random comedy-drama starring Tom Hanks, arriving outside of awards season with little to suggest something worthwhile. Sure, the film tells a seemingly trite story of a white man traveling to an exotic location and reevaluating his life, but it does it pretty well.

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‘The Huntsman’ Tells The Fantasy Tale You Never Wanted (Movie Review)

the huntsman winters war thumbThe worst fears have been realized, as The Huntsman: Winter’s War is The Return of Jafar of big studio fairy tale movies. Armed with a $115 million budget, this attempt at a spin-off/prequel/sequel fails miserably in its attempt to have any more worth than a direct-to-video sequel that no one expects much from. It would be one thing to announce this film as some kind of soon-to-be camp classic, but the dreariness keeps things far more in check than one would like. The result is a dire and unnecessary film that offers next to nothing.

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‘Elvis & Nixon’ And The Delightful Badge Quest (Movie Review)

elvis and nixon thumbCasting really is everything sometimes. Whether playing an original creation or a fictional character, getting the right actor in the role will lead to an ultimate response from the audiences watching. I’m not sure Michael Shannon would have ever crossed my mind when it comes to casting Elvis Presley, but along with a game Kevin Spacey as President Nixon, a film depicting the meeting of these characters probably could not have gone better.

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Fight Evil With Feedback In The ‘Green Room’ (Movie Review)

Green RoomThe Green Room is one of those films that you’ll hear your colleagues in the business say you have to see, especially if you loved the raw, natural brutality that was the revenge flick Blue Ruin (see our Blu-ray review of it here) a few years back.  That’s because the Blue Ruin director, Jeremy Saulnier (listen to our interview with him over here), is back with an all new thriller starring Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) and Patrick Stewart.  Yes, that last name may sound odd seeing it outside of a Star Trek film, but it’s indeed Patrick Stewart in a role like you’ve never seen him before.  The film is scheduled to be released by the magnificent A24 Films (Ex Machina, Under The Skin) in a limited release on April 15, 2016 before opening wide on April 29, 2016.  I was lucky enough to check this film out an early screening at the Alamo Drafthouse this past week.  Here’s what I have to say about it all. Continue reading ‘Fight Evil With Feedback In The ‘Green Room’ (Movie Review)’

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‘Sing Street’ Rocks (Movie Review)

sing street posterAfter mixing it up with bigger stars and budgets with Begin Again starring Kiera Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, writer/director John Carney has taken things back down a notch with the incredibly winning Sing Street. This film takes the sweetness found in Carney’s breakout film, Once, and enlivens the material with an attitude akin to Son of Rambow. As a result, Sing Street is a very charming coming-of-age story, with a number of successful ideas put into action and a killer soundtrack.

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‘Barbershop: The Next Cut’ Is The Best Trip To The Shop Yet (Movie Review)

barbershop 3 thumbWhen you have a premise that is as easy-going as watching characters interact in a barbershop, it’s not too much of a wonder to figure why it’s enjoyable. Coming in more than a decade after the last entry in this series, Barbershop: The Next Cut may have changed the setup a bit, but there is a real ease to which we accept the atmosphere of this film. Everyone seems so comfortable in their roles, which is important, as the film balances comedy, honest opinions and social agendas that have a real place in the world of today. This all ends up making The Next Cut the best entry yet in a series that has always been fairly likable.

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Trust In ‘The Jungle Book’ And Its Astonishing Visuals (Movie Review)

the jungle book thumbSeeing is truly believing when watching this live-action remake of The Jungle Book. Featuring one living actor on screen and a plethora of astonishing visuals created by Weta Digital surrounding him, there is plenty here to mesmerize a viewer as if they were staring into the eyes of Kaa. Further adding to the argument that CG visuals can easily invest a viewer if the film works overall, director Jon Favreau has made a fun and exciting all-ages adventure.

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‘The Boss’ Gave Me A Raise In Spirit (Movie Review)

the boss thumbIt is great to be surprisingly entertained by something. I am never seeing a movie with hopes to not enjoy it, but I have been decidedly mixed on the films of Melissa McCarthy. This is why I am so happy to say that I not only enjoyed another movie featuring her in a starring role, but also happened to find her hysterical in it. Maybe I just wanted to laugh, but The Boss won me over like a boss.

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‘Hardcore Henry’ – Combat Evolved (Movie Review)

harcore henry thumbAt its very best, Hardcore Henry has a lot in common with 2006’s Crank, starring Jason Statham. Both films have the sort of logic you would find in a video game and rarely take their foot off the gas to deliver anything all that deep. The difference is getting a personality you enjoy from Statham, while Hardcore Henry plays as a first person shooter, where the hero has no discernible personality. It makes for a decent one-time watch in terms of visual ambition, but the action we see hardly qualifies the film for higher acclaim.

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‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ And You Should Want This Film Too (Movie Review)

everybody wants some thumbI sometimes wonder how difficult it is to make something look easy. Writer/director Richard Linklater has largely specialized in putting together films that depict people acting natural enough, talking (sometimes philosophically) and occasionally involving themselves in some kind of activity. From his simpler efforts like Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight to his acclaimed epic, Boyhood, this filmmaker style has been permeating throughout his career. It applies once again to Everybody Wants Some!!, an incredibly enjoyable hangout movie, with some wonderful depth hidden just beneath the surface.

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‘I Saw The Light’ And It Was Pretty Dull (Movie Review)

i saw the light thumbA biopic like I Saw the Light feels like the result of a film that relies on a well-cast lead performance to make up for everything it lacks. With this film specifically, there is a lot that it lacks due to its unfocused nature and a misunderstanding of what it means to display the mystique of it subject. Tom Hiddleston puts his all into the role of Hank Williams, but this film has very little to offer.

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Darkness, Camera, Action! ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ (Movie Review)

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice Movie ReviewIt seems like forever since the mighty Aaron Neuwirth wrote of the manic news that broke at San Diego Comic-Con 2013 here, which surprised the six thousand plus fans in attendance with news that the direct follow-up to the very divided Man of Steel entry would not necessarily be a solo outing, but also would include the infamous Caped Crusader, Batman.  Reports then quickly poured in that the film would also prominently feature Wonder Woman in a somewhat lead role and service as a launching pad springing viewers right into the fabled Justice League movie everyone has been asking for long before The Avengers became so wildly successful.  You remember that George Miller incarnation, don’t you?  So here we are some three years later.  I thought this day would never come.  While I was not the biggest fan of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel (review here), I wanted to come out of Tuesday’s press screening of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with a huge a$$ grin from ear-to-ear on my face.  However, before we jump the gun and talk about what really went down, let’s kick this movie review off with the quote that gave both the boys and girls in attendance within Hall H at Comic-Con 2013 instant boners. Continue reading ‘Darkness, Camera, Action! ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ (Movie Review)’

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‘Batman v Superman’ Is Gorgeous And Grim, With Little Room For Fun (Movie Review)

batman v superman thumbAt its very best, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice depicts sequences ripped straight out of an Alex Ross comic book. When at its worst, this is a cold, muscled-up film that has the feel of something written by Frank Miller, minus the irony. There is far too much on display for me to call one of the biggest superhero movie match-ups of all time bad or not worth your time, but the direction this film takes does see some of the biggest fears being realized. The story and characters fall flat in a gorgeously filmed world that, while mostly exciting, often misplaces the fun.

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‘Midnight Special’ Provides A Stunning Close Encounter With Complete Filmmaker Freedom (Movie Review)

midnight special thumbThere’s something pretty cool about seeing an indie director with a knack for human drama take on a genre film. Okay, so that applies to almost any newbie director handed the keys to a franchise, but how about one who has developed the story himself and is allowed by a studio to make such a movie completely in his own voice? Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud) has accomplished such a task with Midnight Special, a fantastic sci-fi chase movie that is undeniably a film he developed and put to screen.

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SXSW Review: Miles Ahead

SXSWCan we just give Don Cheadle all the awards right now? Miles Ahead, Cheadle’s directorial debut, which also showcases his talents as co-writer and lead actor, is a unique and moving biopic about a unique and moving individual, Miles Davis. Not satisfied to just check off the boxes of events in Davis’ life, Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Boogie Nights) has crafted a masterpiece of cinema, jarringly jumping around in time to show events that help the audience better understand the complexity of a troubled, but genius mind. This is a perfect blend of scenes that fold in on each other with quiet subtlety and simultaneously explode outward with grandiose vigor, mirroring the effect that the music of Miles Davis had a tendency to create. Combining all those elements with a virtuoso acting performance from Cheadle, a soundtrack that spans Davis’ long career as a musician, surprisingly adept comedy beats, tight, gripping editing, and stellar support from Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Big Fish) and Emayatzy Corinealdi (“Hand of God”) creates a triumphant, striking work of art. Continue reading ‘SXSW Review: Miles Ahead’

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‘Allegiant’ Fights Against Tired Ideas (Movie Review)

allegiant thumbThere is something to be said for the third film in a franchise (based on three books) that can essentially reboot itself with the same characters. While the Divergent series wasn’t over, Insurgent did leave things in a curious position. Now we are getting more answers, but while Allegiant may be an improvement over the previous entry, its ideas and concepts are bleeding together with other stories of similar ilk.

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