Archive for the 'Movie Reviews' Category

AFI Fest 2016: Miss Sloane (Movie Review)

miss sloane thumbMiss Sloane is the kind of film that can be championed, but called into question at the same time. On the whole, the film is a well-acted political drama that leans heavy on some pulp qualities. The film does away with overt statements arguing for specific causes, with the exception of calling out accountability and making a case for women in positions of power, who can be just as cold and calculating as men. That is still the kind of film that is not seen all that much and Miss Sloane does what it can to make its case, while providing some entertaining twists and turns along the way. I only wish the film was as smart as it thinks it is.

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AFI Fest 2016: Lion (Movie Review)

lion posterIt takes a lot to make a dramatic feature, based on a true story, into something that hits in the right ways. Because a drama can have the intent to strike at certain chords to ideally generate emotions, there is often a level of manipulation to consider. Lion concerns the story of a lost Indian boy, who loses his family, gains another and then searches to find what he has lost. That is the sketch of a tale that will likely draw up various emotions, but the key is to earn it. The film’s success largely revolves around how it carefully navigates this story’s big moments that go from a more visceral adventure to a cerebral study of loss. It pays off big, as the film is quite the effective drama.

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Forgotten Friday Flick – “Battleship”

Forgotten Friday FlickThis week sees the continuation of the guilt ridden purge of questionable cinematic outings by yours truly in an attempt to enlighten and embarrass equally – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  For those who are old school board game junkies like me, the guilty pleasure selection below won’t come as a complete shock.  (For the rest of you I feel your crappy movie pitchforks at the ready!)  Combining the basic elements of an old Hasbro game in some creative and clever ways and matching it with some stylish direction, kick ass music and a little alien invasion scenario to boot, this is one big budget flop that I simply (and previously silently!) adore.  Place your ships, grab your pegs and get ready to hit or miss with my shameful fav…Battleship!

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AFI Fest 2016: Mifune: The Last Samurai (Movie Review)

Mifune_HiResPosterLooking at the documentary Mifune: The Last Samurai, I am reminded of Gimme Danger, the Jim Jarmusch documentary about Iggy & The Stooges, which I didn’t get around to reviewing. That film and this one, which details the life legendary actor Toshiro Mifune, have little to offer outside of an engaging, cinematic version of Wikipedia research, but there is plenty to enjoy. For Mifune, there is a bonus that comes in the form of hearing Spielberg and Scorsese share their insight, in addition to many others. Various clips and archival footage make a good case for why the actor deserves all his acclaim as well, regardless of whether this doc has any other impact outside its key subject.

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AFI Fest 2016: Rules Don’t Apply (Movie Review)

rules dont apply posterIt is pretty fitting to see this year’s AFI Fest kick off with a film that tells the story of maverick filmmaker and business tycoon Howard Hughes. Produced, written and directed by Warren Beatty, nearly twenty years after his last directorial effort, Bulworth, the film serves as a semi-fictional biopic, a screwball comedy and a drama all rolled into one. Coming from an idea Beatty started developing 40 years ago, the film is a clear passion project and despite all the various issues involving tone and narrative construction, I dug it. Beatty and his four editors have assembled a messy film out of what is likely a ton of footage, but it was never uninteresting, features some terrific performances and even buries some interesting themes amidst all the Hughes-focused chaos.

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Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Four New Indie Titles

Encapsulated Movie ReviewsA fewer array of indies dissected as end of year mandatory viewing duties begin to take hold of my precious movie watching schedule (so many films, so little time!), but there are some surprises here nevertheless.  Tales involving deadly relationship intrigue, a hot widow who gets her dates via the occult, an examination of the true meaning of what constitutes a monster and courage in the face of shark attack on the high seas make up the movies examined this week.  Check out the Encapsulated Movie Reviews of Come And Find Me, The Love Witch, The Monster and USS Indianapolis: Men Of Courage below!

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Arrival Is NOT Your Typical Alien Invasion Film (Movie Review)

ArrivalArrival is one of those films that when you first see the theatrical trailer for it just cries out to you.  It screams that you must see me.  Who knows.  Maybe it’s the aliens in the film calling out to me.  I don’t know but whatever it was I was smitten by the first trailer I saw.  I knew that as soon as I saw Amy Adams trying to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors that I must see this one.  If she’s good enough for Superman, she’s good enough for me.  Couple that with the fact that we have the mind (Denis Villeneuve) behind Prisoners and Sicario in the director’s chair here and you have an event that I wouldn’t dare missing out on.  As an added bonus it’s science fiction too.  So in other words Arrival already had me at hello.  Now let’s review this science-fi odyssey. Continue reading ‘Arrival Is NOT Your Typical Alien Invasion Film (Movie Review)’


It’s The ‘Arrival’ Of An Interesting Alien Mystery (Movie Review)

arrival thumbImagine how the world reacts to multiple spacecraft entering our atmosphere without any warning. Now take away the immediate imagery that has come from years of seeing various blockbusters use this as a way to provide explosive spectacle. Arrival has little interest in adding action-based excitement to its story about how an elite team works to uncover an extraterrestrial mystery. Instead, director Denis Villeneuve follows up his terrific crime thriller, Sicario, with a strong science fiction film that allows smart people to do their job and be genuinely affecting at the same time. The film succeeds at being smart as a whole for both what it attempts to accomplish and how meaningful it could end up being.

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Forgotten Friday Flick – “Blue City”

Forgotten Friday FlickWith October filled with scare cinema and December an awards heavy film time, November is a fine time shed some good old-fashioned movie guilt – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  Are there films you love that you tell no one about?  Movies with cheesy acting, deplorable dialogue and plot twists you can drive a Mack truck through, but that you secretly adore anyway? That’s the genre film focus for this month – guilt pleasures.  Up first is a film so gamey that it received no less than five top Razzie nominations.  A youth revenge fantasy that shamelessly cashes in on a previous picture coupling and has some of the worst lines ever uttered on screen. Some call it s@it – I lovingly call it…Blue City.

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Doctor Strange is Magically Entertaining (Movie Review)

Doctor StrangeDoctor Strange is actually one Marvel comics movie I was not looking forward to.  Truth be told I’ve never been a fan of the comic book character.  He always reminded me too much of Tony Stark in the looks department.  Coupled with the fact that I’m not a huge Benedict Cumberbatch fan and I’m already batting 0 and 2 going into this one.  However, I’m a huge fan of superhero films and I love what Marvel has done with this Cinematic Universe (MCU) thus far.  Therefore I wont let my prejudices supersede my judgment here.  Despite initial early reviews and some warnings calling this Marvel’s Green Lantern I was still stoked to see what was in store for me here.  If nothing else, the visuals look pretty trippy and Inception-like in the trailers.  It should at least be a spectacle.  That much I was counting on! Continue reading ‘Doctor Strange is Magically Entertaining (Movie Review)’


Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Seven New Indie Titles

Encapsulated Movie ReviewsThe only thing stranger than Doctor Strange this week is the continued unprecedented amount of cinematic offerings for those with an eye out for alternative moving pictures.  (Movies find a way!)  From passionate docs about everything from climate change to unbroken human spirit to dramas about coming to terms with baggage past and present (and a little killer Krampus action to boot!) we’re running the genre gamut to provide film fans with a wide range of superhero alternatives.  Check out the Encapsulated Movie Reviews of Off The Rails, Keep In Touch, Before The Flood, Dog Eat Dog, My Dead Boyfriend, All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception and The Spirit of I.F. Stone and Krampus Unleashed below!

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‘Loving’ v. Nichols (Movie Review)

loving thumbWith Loving there comes a certain expectation that writer/director Jeff Nichols is not out to provide. The historical drama surrounds an event that led to the invalidation of state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. This seems like the typical kind of film to automatically receive awards consideration. Regardless of if it does or doesn’t, Nichols is not that kind of filmmaker. Following Take Shelter, Mud and Midnight Special, there is a definite low-key style to how he approaches his films, regardless of genre, and that once again applies to Loving, which does little to sensationalize a story that actually led to a change in constitutional law.

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‘Trolls’ Sparkles And Glitters Its Way Through A Stock Animated Adventure (Movie Review)

trolls posterSometimes it is necessary to expect a level entertainment that simply does not work for you. Trolls is essentially fine in providing an assortment of colors and music to keep its intended audience (younglings) thrilled for a majority of the screentime. There is a message at its core, the voice actors all seem game, the visuals are sometimes a trip and I would even say an attempt is made to provide some little jokes for the adults. The degrees in which I would speak to the effectiveness of these elements, however, only go so far in a film that feels like it arrived from a candy factory.

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‘Doctor Strange’ And The Sorcerer Supreme’s Infinity Stone (Movie Review)

doctor strange thumbIt should be exciting for Marvel to invite audiences to the wizarding world of Doctor Strange. Armed with another strong cast and the ability to produce some fantastic visuals that stand out in a way that’s uncharacteristically inventive for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this 14th entry in the series that began with Iron Man back in 2008 at least knows how to make things seem fresh. Of course, “seem fresh” is the kind of visual distortion that one could actually expect from a magician with the power to enter different dimensions. As it stands, while there was a conscious effort to push the action scenes to a new level, this story of neurosurgeon-turned-sorcerer follows a pretty standard operating procedure.

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Forgotten Friday Flick – “Cemetery Man” (aka Dellamorte Dellamore)

Forgotten Friday FlickFollowing up my actual appearance (finally!) on the Out Now With Aaron and Abe Podcast this week dissecting the zombie genre, I’m covering one of my undead selections just in time for Halloween – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  This week I’m heading into ghouls in a cemetery territory with a cult classic I was lucky enough to review back in my Joblo.com DVD Clinic days way back in 2006.  (Yes, some of these words of praise may be familiar film fans!)  It’s a wonderful throwback to the Italian gore features that brought guys like Fulci and Argento to acclaim and features a knockout lead performance that kills it.  Need a job?  Don’t mind shooting reanimated dead folks in the head on a nightly basis?  Maybe you can be the….Cemetery Man!

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Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’ Not To Be Confused With The Prequel to ‘Rogue One’ (Movie Review)

InfernoThe Da Vinci Code book was one of those that come around every so often that make non-readers take note of and spend time doing something they normally wouldn’t…they READ.  Yes, I’m one of those suckers too.  While I love to read I often have this problem in life called no time.  By the time I snuggle up with a book it’s like I have taken a large dose of Tylenol PM.  A book, good or bad, usually puts me right to sleep just like a classic X-Files episode does calming my hectic nerves.  Dull reading material is prone to giving me narcolepsy during the middle of the day.  However, every once in awhile that magical manuscript does come along that wildly captivates and fascinates my imagination.  It ceases to let go of me as it manages to keep me engrossed, excited about and invigorated over throughout the read.  Those are the books that I can’t inexplicably put down and just want more of.  The Da Vinci Code was one of these so called “magical” books for me.  It kicked off mad fervor for author Dan Brown.  I fondly remember those moments like they were yesterday. Continue reading ‘Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’ Not To Be Confused With The Prequel to ‘Rogue One’ (Movie Review)’


Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Five New Indie Titles

Encapsulated Movie ReviewsCatching films is like catching rodents – you gotta move fast if you want to get them all.  And speaking of scurrying creatures, it’s fittingly one of the doc themes featured in the five films reviewed this week, alongside some campfire terror tales and even a courtroom drama.  (Scary but for different reasons of course!)  Follow the trail of meaty movie morsels via our Encapsulated Movie Reviews for the skinny on Rats, The Whole Truth, The Windmill, Fire At Sea and The Unspoken all below!


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‘Inferno’ Is Upon Hanks (Movie Review)

inferno thumbFollowing the sadly underseen Rush and the underwhelming In The Heart of the Sea, director Ron Howard returns to his moneymaking Robert Langdon film series with Inferno, based on the novel by Dan Brown. Tom Hanks is back too, continuing to portray his boorish, know-it-all character (although the hair is kept much more in check this time around). The result is another mystery thriller that, much like Angels & Demons, has learned from the mistakes of The Da Vinci Code and keeps things loose and moving, even if the proceedings are quite ridiculous.

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