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This Is Where I Leave You

October 7, 2014

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Hilary Altman: For the next seven days, you are all my children again and you are all grounded.

Sometimes a film works merely based on an all-star cast. You can get away with some passionless writing if you have a convincing cast.  This Is Where I Leave You is the newest film from director Shawn Levy and has enough fluff to entertain those familiar with the talent on display.  It’s fun watching these characters deal with the unbearable situations they manage to get themselves into and how they revel in each other’s company.  Imperfections aside and bolstered by first-rate performances, I was delighted to sit this Shiva. 

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The Equalizer

October 5, 2014

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Robert McCall: I am offering you a chance to do the right thing. Take it.

Denzel Washington’s latest vehicle had great potential.  It mixed all the right ingredients; a solid cast, a big budget, and the teaming up of Washington and director Antoine Fuqua who worked together on Training Day.  So what went wrong?  Well, for starters, there are serious pacing issues going on in this almost two and a half hour train wreck.  Secondly, the action scenes are choppily edited.  Lastly, the writing is substandard and the villain is feeble.  The Equalizer isn’t as exciting, intricate or captivating as the filmmakers think. 

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Gone Girl

October 4, 2014

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Nick Dunne: When I think of my wife, I always think of her head.

Back in the fall of 2010, a little film came out called The Social Network.  The movie, directed by David Fincher, gained huge commercial and critical success, taking in three Oscars and several other accolades.  It defined a generation, but most importantly, because of that film I dove into the world of film critique and acquired a new taste for the art of cinema. It’s only fitting Fincher’s latest outing has gotten me back into the swing of things following a two-year hiatus. Gone Girl is a terrific film that hits all the right beats with its chilling score, stellar acting, and tight editing which all makes for great visual storytelling.  

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Boyhood

October 2, 2014

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Mason Sr.: Life doesn’t give you bumpers.

A journey is a tale of adventure which leads to discovery.  Discovery leads to knowledge which leads to success.  Richard Linklater’s adventure for the past twelve years has been gathering a group of actors up once a year to film a few scenes for a movie that he’d been writing as the years went on.  Linklater’s discovery came from a young child with no prior acting experience: Ellar Coltrane, while his knowledge stems from prior filming experience and the success is how universally loved Boyhood is.  This is a love letter to cinema and an incredibly satisfying experience.

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Skyfall

November 12, 2012

James Bond: Youth is not a guarantee of innovation. 

James Bond is back for an exciting 23rd adventure in the popular spy franchise.  This time around, Bond (Daniel Craig) battles the double-crossing, blonde-haired Silva (Javier Bardem).  Skyfall is a good film, but not the best of the Bond flicks.  It’s a thousand times better than Quantum of Solace, but not as gripping as Casino Royale, which is my favorite Bond film to date.  However, Skyfall sets itself up for a franchise that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight! Craig is compelling, Bardem is menacing, and Judi Dench is… aging!  Read on, folks!
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End of Watch

October 7, 2012

Officer Taylor: We’re cops, everyone wants to kill us.

End of Watch is a fantastic cop film, plain and simple.  The first few films that used handheld cameras used it because it was an innovative technique. Now, when films use it, I thought it was an excuse to be lazy and not invest in real good cinematographers.  Boy, was I wrong.  End of Watch shows that handheld films can still be surprising and innovative.  It works so well here because it uses multiple cameras, including the car and plenty of other methods.  As long as it serves a purpose, I have no issue with its use now or in the future.  But when it’s used for frivolous purposes, it becomes grating and obnoxious.  Luckily, that’s not what happens in End of Watch.  This film is just brilliant. Watch your six. Read more…

The Dictator

May 16, 2012

General Aladeen: I love being an American.

I’ll start off by getting this out of the way: Sacha Baron Cohen is a comedy legend. After shocking audiences with his alter-egos Borat, Bruno, and Ali G, Cohen goes a step further and creates a terrorist-dictator sort of leader: General Aladeen. I’ve gotta say, Cohen’s latest character is up there with Borat. In their latest collaboration, Cohen and Director Larry Charles manage to offend about every race, color, and religion… and that’s only the first twenty minutes! The script is brilliant, the running time is brisk, and the laughs are big. So, do you want to Aladeen or not Aladeen The Dictator?

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