Tribeca Review: Gueros


Nowadays it is very easy to identify a coming-of-age story when you see one.  Usually it makes its’ presence known by compounding the audience with a number of clichés that range anywhere from montages of flashbacks or an elder character attempting to guide a younger, seemingly lost character onto the path of self discovery and […]

Tribeca Review: Garnet’s Gold


There was a brief period in my early childhood where I went through a phase of wanting to be a pirate.  Sailing on ships seemed cool and pillaging villages looked like a lot of fun, but the big appeal came from searching for lost treasure.  Having the chance to go on a larger than life […]

Tribeca Review: Chef (Jon Favreau directs)


While Chef may have had a relatively light premise its star studded cast was still enough to lend it some legitimacy. What keeps you engaged with the relatively shaky premise of this film is its heavy use of of technology and social media along with a number of geographic culture shocks that provide occasional laughs, […]

Tribeca Review: Below Dreams


An uncommonly loose portrait of life in New Orleans, Garret Bradley’s debut feature film uses a documentary-like cinema verite style to create a movie that values tone over narrative. Weaving together *but just barely) the lives of three very different people, only connected by the city they share, Below Dreams’ naturalistic approach to scene structure […]

Tribeca Review: In Order of Disappearance


Stellan Skarsgård has a unique set of skills in Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland’s In Order of Disappearance, and among them is operating a snow blower. Set against the sparse, snow-soaked landscapes of Norwegian, Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland’s In Order of Disappearance casts Skarsgård in the old-guy-after-revenge role that’s been popularized by Liam Neeson […]

Review: Joe


There comes a point in David Gordon Green’s Joe where main character Joe (an excellent Nicholas Cage) starts to act as if he might be insane. Hardly restrained up to this point, the film proceeds to take two steps forward and one step backward in terms of finesse. Green, whose sharp-focused observations ultimately fail to […]

Review: Draft Day


Its blaring print advertisement quote compares Draft Day to Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. If you go in looking for a shred of either film, you’ll feel as cheated as this film’s Cleveland Browns fans feel after a pre-draft day trade. Brown’s GM Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) gives up three future first round […]

Review: Dom Hemingway


There hasn’t been an actor playing this “against type” since Bill Murray as FDR. In Dom Hemingway Jude Law stars as a blustery Cockney smart-ass safe-cracker with bad teeth and a few extra pounds on his gut. Law, usually solidly cerebral (the excellent Side Effects, Anna Karenina), here is big on balls and small on […]

Review: The Unknown Known


Although it’s disappointing politically that the bedeviling Donald Rumsfeld fails to emulate Robert McNamara in Errol Morris’ documentary, The Fog of War, it makes for compelling cinema in Morris’ new film The Unknown Known. Whereas McNamara gave plenty of mea culpa heft to his turn in the spotlight, Rumsfeld is instead intent on making sure […]

Review: Nymphomaniac: Part Two


Ever the tricky jokester, Lars Von Trier mixes it up in his two-part opus, Nymphomaniac. The grandiloquent literary and fly fishing allusions of Nymphomaniac Part One and its hand-in-hand farcical shadings yield in Part Two to a much more somber tone. Sadomasochism rises to the fore as soon as you can say 50 Shades of […]

Review: Cesar Chavez


  Diego Luna’s Cesar Chavez glosses over some rather important aspects of the underlying essence of its subject matter. Although admirable in taking the course of the biopic Lincoln versus, say Mandela, in keeping its scope focused on a narrow swath of time, it fails to go deep in portraying the great 1960s labor organizer. […]

Review: Nymphomaniac Part 1


Mixing the eloquent and the pointless and dressing up his profane observations with intellectual frosting, Lars Von Trier presents Nymphomnia Part 1, the first part of a three-hour-plus feeding frenzy of lust and guilt. Loveless sex holds court as Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), found bloodied on the street, reluctantly tells her rescuer (Stellan Skarsgard) her story. […]

Review: Bethlehem


Dumbfoundingly similar in its finale to the recent Oscar-nominated Palestinian film, Omar, the Israeli Bethlehem mines equivalent emotional turf. Devoid of explanatory context, Bethlehem, via credible and interesting characters, lays out a sad premise: both sides are inhumane, lying and vengeful to a mortal fault. As in Omar, what proceeds as a suspenseful action yarn […]

Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel


Wes Anderson prefers not to enter himself into a particular time and place unless he’s able to twist and turn his subject until it’s ready to fit into HIS world. In The Grand Budapest Hotel, his eighth and best feature, his enchanting stylization rises to a level of obsessiveness that bodes well for the adventurous […]

Review: The Bag Man


John Cusack and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day may have been an apt title for Cinedigm’s new slow-burn thriller The Bag Man. Starring as the decidedly undescriptively named “Jack,” Cusack kills or is almost killed by nearly every character in this movie, and little of it is his own fault. He must […]

Review: Mr. Peabody and Sherman


Stephen Colbert voices the surly character Paul Peterson in Mr. Peabody and Sherman, the new animated reworking of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show characters. Invited to the dog and his adopted human son’s home for dinner, Peterson is having none of this erudite mutt’s shenanigans. Peterson’s s daughter Penny bullied Sherman into actually biting her […]

Review: The Wind Rises


Content to portray the daydreams, everyday life and sturdy determination of a nerdy kid turned genius aeronautical engineer, Japanese anime master Hayao Miyazaki has some observers ticked off at him. Based on the life of Jiro Horikashi, the designer of the Zero fighter plane used in Pearl Harbor, The Wind Rises exhibits the usual amazing […]

Review: Omar


Omar’s got a problem: how to balance staying the good street soldier in the West Bank Palestinian liberation movement while remaining on course to settle down with the sister of his comrade-in-arms. We are introduced to Omar (Adam Bakri) as he scales a wall more than 20 feet high in the Occupied Territories in order […]

Review: 3 Days to Kill


Luc Besson, the most provocative of guilty pleasures when he’s on his game, wrote 3 Days To Kill’s story, co-wrote its screenplay, and produced. The film’s campy violence marks a return to form for Besson while it also heralds a continuation of a renaissance in the acting career of Kevin Costner begun with the TV […]

Review: Like Father, Like Son


Like Father, Like Son tells how two families deal with the bombshell revelation that their six-year-old sons were switched at birth. Director Hirokazo Kore-da, whose marvelous ouevre continues its focus on children facing unusual predicaments, leads us through an impossibly heartwrenching situation without a touch of melodrama. Some of this is a wry mirror held […]

Review: A Winter’s Tale


Like a Saturday Night Live skit spun out of control and barely keeping itself together, this impossibly imbecilic film somehow prevails to its end shot, stellar cast in tow. Since A Winter’ s Tale professes to be a serious film, this is something of a feat. Russell Crowe, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Connelly, Will Smith and […]

Review: That Awkward Moment


A deceitfully overwrought premise, bargain-basement plot, and paint-by-numbers characters add up to a Valentine’s Day film disaster. The lipstick on this donkey is provided by a bunch of photogenic, fairly talented actors. Yet even Brando and Hepburn couldn’t do much with this concoction that seems like it was stillborn in a Five and Under store. […]

Review: Labor Day


Not since American Pie has the all-American baked classic received this much attention in a film. In Labor Day, pastry dominates the vacuum created by a movie that wears its heart on its sleeve and ought to hide its melodramatic script in a drawer. When he’s not Mr Fix-it-up-er or mopping their hardwood floor, escaped […]

Review: Ride Along

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James doesn’t like Ben (Kevin Hart), who lives with James’ dishy sister. James (Ice Cube) is a real cop and a bit of a rogue one at that. Ben’s only notion of police work comes from his advanced knowledge of video games yet he’s somehow just been accepted into Atlanta’s police academy. In the first […]

Review: August: Osage County


In this John Wells adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer-prize winning play, The Weston family, long-marinated in misery and malevolence, let it all out at a post-funeral meal. The verbal fireworks are ugly enough to make the most dysfunctional family seem rather normal by comparison. A testimony to the bounty of Meryl Streep’s extraordinary talent and […]

Review: Her


It’s no joke that Scarlett Johansson is generating Oscar buzz as Samantha in Her despite the sum of her role consisting of a remarkable voice but not one visual appearance. Instead, she provides the distinctive, albeit disembodied voice of a computer operating system. Convincingly conveying the notion that she possesses an autonomous consciousness, Johansson gives […]

One Guy’s Best Films, Performances, and Scenes of 2013


Perusing the dozens of Best Film Top Ten lists, I’m struck with the same sentiment as in years past: Some cockamamy choices indeed! Far be it from me to stand in judgement of anyone who seriously included Only God Forgives or The Counselor, as more than one prominent critic has. They must simply be the […]

Review: Inside Llewyn Davis


Highly fond of recent Coen Brothers efforts Burn After Reading, A Serious Man, and True Grit, I looked forward to their latest offering. Taking place in the pre-Dylan folk music milieu of early 60s Greenwich Village coffeehouses, Inside Llewyn Davis has much bark: it’s musical numbers–and insufficient bite: its story of a dour, shrugging sad […]

10 Best Films of 2013: List


It’s finally here, the Top 10 Films of 2013. Read below for our thoughts: 10. The 1985 headline declared “Police Bomb Osage Avenue MOVE House—11 MOVE Members Dead, 61 Houses Destroyed.” Suspicions of a double police cover-up  in West Philadelphia incidents separated by seven years inform director Jason Osder’s riveting documentary Let the Fire Burn that uses […]

The Best Films of 2013 (


Throughout the year, the collected staffs of & The Pretentious Film Majors collect their 5-star scores of all the new movies in preparation for this year list: The Film Majors Best & Worst Films of 2013. The votes have been collected, tabulated, and averaged into one common score, and then placed on our […]

10 Worst Films of 2013 ( List)


Unfortunately, for all the enjoyable movies that 2013 gave us, it also dealt out its fair share of utter, absolute stinkers. Movies that wasted our money, time, and hard-earned sanity. There are 10 terrible films that stood out above the rest, but before running down those, here are the 10 movies that just missed out […]

Review: Mandela


You may know Idris Elba, who plays Nelson Mandela in the new film Mandela: A Long Walk To Freedom, from his stint as Stringer Bell in The Wire. Despite Elba doing essentially a nice job, Mandela is no The Wire. That may not seem like a fair comparison on the surface yet actually it speaks […]

Review: The Wolf of Wall Street


You will likely think Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is either a marvelous spoof on avaricious assholes complete with its own brand of sex-and-drugs magical realism, or you’ll find it an excessive glorification of the very depravity it is lampooning. The likelihood that its leg-pulling challenge, its unnerving dare, will polarize its audience […]

Review: American Hustle


Take a couple who deep down are essentially two deceitful people (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) who have made themselves successful at scamming the vulnerable. Add a hyper-pushy FBI agent (Bradley Cooper), who offers them a stay-out-of-jail deal dependent on their trusting each other. Mix in a big-time hood (Robert DeNiro) and a loose-cannon bimbo […]

Review: Saving Mr. Banks

saving mr salt disney

Disney created a new cinematic making-of feature for one of its most beloved films, Mary Poppins, with Saving Mr. Banks. The film follows Mary Poppins author, P.L. Travers, as she is finally convinced to go to Los Angeles and work with Disney to turn her book to a film. Travers is intent on protecting her […]

Review: Philomena


Judi Dench has had a remarkable career earning her stripes mostly playing intelligent women who possess that extra edge to make themselves the smartest person in the room. Steve Coogan has, with some notable exceptions, staked out a reputation as an outlier comedic actor. In Philomena, directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen), they both go […]

Review: Frozen


Frozen, an intelligent, fun film for all ages, is helmed by the first female director (Jennifer Lee) of a Disney animated feature. Combined with its two female leads, Anna (the voice of Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), the expectation here is that of a film more for girls than boys, a Disney chick flick. […]

Review: Nebraska


My normal intolerance for aw-shucks Americana notwithstanding, I had plenty of room for the graciousness and insight of Alexander Payne’s black-and-white gem, Nebraska. Peppered with genuine humor, it achieves a feel for what in sunnier days was called “Middle America,” that is at once affectionate and steely-eyed observational. What ends up entertaining in this slice-of-life […]

Review: Delivery Man


Ken Scott’s remake of his own film, Starbuck, has been put together with a nearly scene-for-scene deference to replication. How odd, then, that Delivery Man, the English language version of the French Canadian comedy, is mysteriously missing the humor present in the earlier version while mirthlessly retaining the schmaltz. Messing up foreign films for American […]

Review: Big Bad Wolves (Philadelphia Film Festival ’13)


Big Bad Wolves, directed by Aharon Keshales, is the tale of a man suspected of some truly horrendous murders and the two men who take it upon themselves to torture him. The torturers are Miki (Lior Ashkenazi), an Israeli cop who’s been recently fired, and Gidi (Tzahi Grad), the father of one of the victims. […]

REVIEW: The Discoverers (Philadelphia Film Festival ’13)


The Discoverers is a movie about a family’s trip to help their estranged grandfather (Stuart Margolin) after the death of his wife. The bulk of the film takes place on an exploratory trek, following the path of Lewis & Clark (with whom the father and grandfather are differently obsessed). At its core, the film is […]

REVIEW: Burning Bush (Philadelphia Film Festival ’13)


Burning Bush is a four-hour long film — originally a three-part mini series — that details student protests against the Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia and, primarily, the aftermath of those protests. The film has its focus in political intrigue, the struggle to do the right thing, and the effects of death. Though at a four […]

PFF ’13 Review: Young and Beautiful


Young and Beautiful, directed by François Ozon, is a French film centered on the life of a 17-year-old girl, Isabelle (Marine Vacth), who enters into a life of prostitution, as a part of a journey of sexual self-discovery. While the film attempts to show the effect on her family, it focuses on Isabelle, who discovers […]

Contest: “Philomena” Screening Passes


This beautiful film staring Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan tells the daring tale of an old woman looking for her lost son that was taking from her in childhood. I usually makes snarky comments in these contests but I’ve seen Philomena (at the Philadelphia Film Festival) and I cannot think of words that aren’t […]

Review: Dallas Buyers Club


Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto lost a combined 80 pounds for the compelling Dallas Buyers Club. There’s an 80 – 1 chance they don’t both secure Oscar nominations. They could both win. Although you’ll need to see David France’s excellent 2012 documentary, How To Survive A Plague to get a fuller picture of the scope […]

PFF ’13: Live Action Shorts


A collection of ten films, the Live Action Shorts Collection from the Philly Film Fest is a mixed bag: some good, some bad, none all that weird. On the whole, the experience is alright, some middling pieces and standouts, reduced by others that they’re sharing screen time with — nothing is particularly bad, but some […]

Review: About Time

About Time trailer - video

Richard Curtis has done it again, and for those of you who don’t know who Richard Curtis is, you probably should. He is the witty and intelligent filmmaker behind just about every smash romantic comedy to come out of the UK in the last 20 years. Curtis started off his career in British TV, writing […]

We Are The Best Review

we are the best

Punk is alive and well in Stockholm circa 1982 as the charming foreign film Vi är bäst! or We Are The Best! The film follows a group of three teens, ages 12-14, who decide to start a Punk Rock band. The plot is an adaptation of the graphic novel “Never Goodnight” by Coco Moodysson. Watching these […]

Review: Blue is the Warmest Color


One might pass over Blue Is The Warmest Color since when a film is this hyped and controversial, some have the tendency to run the other way. That would be a big mistake. Unprecedented was the film winning the prestigious Palme D’or at Cannes not only for its director, Abdellatif Kechiche but also its two […]

Review: Ender’s Game


What do you get if you combine The Hunger Games and Starship Troopers? Ender’s Game. A well thought out, visually contorting film that will make you laugh, scream, and motion sick. Really really really far into the future we find an Earth that has barely survived an alien attack, killing tens of millions of people. […]

Review: Last Vegas


A re-imagining of The Hangover for the geriatric set? Sure, but much like Stand Up Guys, this is another movie whose entire reason for existence is to showcase formerly heavyweight actors condescending to, wink in their eye, settle for a lesser script. DeNiro, Douglas, Freeman, and Kline set out to demonstrate that no matter how […]

Philadelphia Film Festival Animated Shorts Program Review


The Philadelphia Film Festival’s Animated Shorts Program featured a collection of 13 recently released animated short films from around the world.  Each short had its own style and story to tell.  When presented as a collection, these stories created a unique experience that I’ll never forget, even if I try. Fear of Flying Director Conor […]

Review: Diana

Diana Feat.

Perhaps the hardest thing to do when creating a historical film is to keep the story interesting. Movies like The Social Network and The King’s Speech  have been some of the most successful of these films, telling stories from angles that people overlooked. Diana, the new film from director Oliver Hirschbiegel, aims to tell the story […]

PFF ’13: Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction

HDS Featured

Filmed against the quiet setting of his home save for the gentle American folk songs emanating from his slight, aged frame Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction delivers an honest portrait of a man with a plethora of on-screen experiences and a subtle, quiet attitude of the life he’s lived and continues to carry on. A […]

PFF ’13: 12 O’Clock Boys


Often the best characters and most dynamic stories are walking amongst us overlooked or hidden by the preoccupations of a culture fixated on looking for the next idol or super-hero drama. It’s high time we once again pay attention to the world around us witnessing through their eyes what makes up their world.      […]

PFF ’13 Review: Let the Fire Burn

The headline in 1985 read something like “Police Bomb Osage Avenue MOVE House, 11 MOVE Members Dead, 61 Houses Destroyed.” Where there’s police brutality, citizen pushback isn’t far behind. When the peace of innocent residents of a block is disrupted by unruly neighbors (threats of violence, the constant blare of bullhorns, filthy conditions–the group did […]

Review: 12 Years a Slave


Every once in a long while a film comes along where seeing it can be considered not only essential, but practically a duty. Setting aside even the lowest tolerance for violence can be a relative small price to pay for the reward gained. In 12 Years A Slave, the mindless atrocities brought against American slaves […]

PFF ’13 Review: The Immigrant


Even a strong performance from Marion Cotillard and a fairly good one from Joaquin Phoenix fail to ignite the stodgy if rigorous The Immigrant. Supporting characters are uniformly stock, the story stretches plausibility more than once, and Ellis Island seems like Alcatraz one day, a Barnum & Bailey circus the next. Jeremy Renner as a […]

PFF ’13 Review: Gloria


Gloria Cumplido (Paulina Garcia, Best Actress winner at The Berlin Film Festival) is a late-50s divorcee, mom, and garndmother who regularly hits a Chilean dance hall to meet meet men of a similar age and bent. She does so with aplomb, and with sufficient savvy to offset her vulnerability. Most of the time. Her challenge […]

PFF ’13 Review: Mother of George

mother of george

Cultural traditions, in all their splendor and confinements, envelop the exquisite Mother of George. Beginning with a sensuous Nigerian wedding celebration, the film offers a first-hand glimpse into a hard-working and dutiful family living among the Nigerian immigrant population in Brooklyn. What sets the film apart is the subtle touch of Nigerian-American director Andrew Dosunmu […]

PFF ’13: The Unknown Known Review


Although it’s disappointing politically that the bedeviling Donald Rumsfeld fails to emulate Robert McNamara in Errol Morris’ documentary, The Fog of War, it makes for compelling cinema in Morris’ new film The Unknown Known. Whereas McNamara gave plenty of mea culpa heft to his turn in the spotlight, Rumsfeld is instead intent on making sure […]

PFF ’13 Review: The Congress


The zany The Congress, Israeli director Ari Folman’s follow-up to the Oscar-nominated Waltz With Bashir, is twice as playful and half as coherent. No worries.  Once one gets used to Folman’s keeping us guessing throughout the film’s back-and-forth switches from a live-action present to an animated 2033, it’s fun to sit back and rake it […]

PFF ’13 Review: Mary Queen of Scots

MQOS featured

“A queen who lost three kingdoms. A wife who lost three husbands. A woman who lost her head.” The tagline of Tomas Imbach’s Mary, Queen of Scots succinctly summarizes a long and complicated history. Camille Rutherford plays the title character, a woman most commonly remembered for being beheaded by Elizabeth I of England. But what […]

PFF ’13 Review: Caucus

Caucus Featured

As the sole party with a serious decision to make in the primary race for the 2012 presidential election, the Republican candidates were thrust into a near-constant spotlight and the equally constant critique and, at times, ridicule that came with it. In his new documentary, Caucus, director AJ Schnack follows the candidates as they attend […]

Review: Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks

The brilliant, haunting last scene of Captain Phillips features a real-life Navy medic and Tom Hanks in an improvised scene that sums up the emotionally wrecking experience Hanks has just endured. It underscores both Hanks’ amazing acting talent and director Paul Greengrass’s ability to turn his extraordinary rendering of realism on its side and look […]

Review: Gravity


A magician masquerading as a filmmaker, Alfonso Cuaron delivers a fim experience that shakes our senses while it wows our sensibilities. Suspense hangs in nearly every frame of the tight 90-minute Gravity, one of the rare films that is a must-see in 3-D. Space travel serves as the ultimate backdrop for not only physical survival […]

Review: Baggage Claim


In an era when Tyler Perry has reigned supreme in capturing the “black audience” for the past decade in film (and television), seeing films with a predominately black cast has become a crapshoot.  Fortunately more directors have begun to create projects targeted specifically to a black audience, and thus providing options outside of the Madea […]

Review: Enough Said


Its “female Woody Allen” critical trappings notwithstanding, the well-written Enough Said leans heavily on the bulk-sized talents of the late James Gandolfini. He’s the very oxygen of this film, whose timbre and wit surpass the previous, not inconsiderable, films of Nicole Holofcener. Bittersweet is the realzation that two of Gandolfini’s final film characters envelop a […]

Review: Don Jon


Yes, In Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets a greater charge out of solo sex with internet porn than the real thing with luscious Scarlett Johansson. He’s got a real problem. Don Jon more than adequately handles the dilemma with bracing humor, and, to keep things honest, with a pathos that, although kept simple, avoids simplemindedness. […]

Review: Prisoners


Bringing to mind vintage David Fincher (Seven, Zodiac), Denis Villeneuve tampers wit the formula of the police procedural, elevating it to the highly original. Dense enough to favor complexity over simple solutions, Prisoners will keep you guessing while invoking a character-driven sense of gloom and foreboding. Two young girls disappear while their families are sharing […]

Review: Sparrow’s Dance

SD Featured

Most people have wound up in a social situation they don’t know how to deal with. Awkward situations are normal, they happen, and many people just move on with their lives. Agoraphobia is the fear of social situations, but far more intense than just wanting to avoid awkward conversations. Some people who suffer from this […]

Review: The Family

The Family

In a film strikingly out of harmony, parallel strains of comedy and action jarringly clash in The Family. Usually likeable crowd-pleaser Luc Besson steers a trio of AAA-list actors (Robert DeNiro, Tommy Lee Jones and Michele Pfeiffer) into a cul-de-sac of scenes that far too often miss hitting the funny bone. In fact, The Family […]

Review: The Grandmaster


Wong Kar-Wai hasn’t released a new film in six years. I was a defender and proponent of his previous film, My Blueberry Nights (almost universally trashed), loved the film before that, the brilliant sci-fi-esque 2046, and highly appreciated his earlier critically acclaimed films such as In The Mood For Love and Chung King Express. So […]

Review: Short Term 12


There are breakthrough performances and there are smashing, no-holds-barred unforgettable ones. Brie Larson plays Grace, a guardian in a group foster home for wayward youth. Grace has the added advantage that she grew up in a similar environment after an estrangement with her dad. She can be tough and see through bluffs and manipulations and, […]

Review: Closed Circuit


Closed Circuit promises more than it delivers, simmers rather than sizzles, all the while tiptoeing around topical issues. Sparks missing, its well-acted competency merely instigates a curiosity about the highly relevant challenges of government surveillance and cover-ups. While it often whets the appetite, it ultimately goes for a paint-by-number approach–preferring to mostly duck rather that […]

Review: The World’s End


If you’re on your way to the multiplex in search of that great new end-of-the world comedy you’ve heard about, be careful you don’t confuse the hilarious This Is The End with the new Edgar Wright film, The World’s End. You’ll still garner more than a few laughs with the final installment to the trilogy […]

Review: Thérèse


The 1920s. Sometimes the American Roaring Twenties party stories make it easy to forget that everyday life for some was much the same. Thérèse, a French import made by the late Claude Miller and closer of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, tells an everyday story. Thérèse begins with protagonist Thérèse and her friend Anne as […]

Review: The Spectacular Now


In The Spectacular Now, a rich, original screenplay and two strong lead performances form a refreshing coming-of-age yarn–one that will likely stick in your mind for a long time. Avoiding cliches of the teen-film genre, director James Ponsoldt and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber ((co-screenwriters of (500) Days of Summer)) are no dummies […]

Review: Blue Jasmine


This observer counts himself among the luckiest of the lucky after seeing Cate Blanchett capture Blanche Dubois onstage, in a performance for the ages, at BAM in Brooklyn during a teasingly short run a few years ago. In Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, a gem of a film that twists the themes of A Streetcar Named […]

Review: We Are the Millers


While it set my expectations admittedly low, We’re The Millers mildly surprises with a not bad laugh quotient. If you ward off its cheap sentimentality, you can do far worse for a summer comedy in a year of Identity Thief and numerous other turkeys. Much has been made of 44 year-old Jennifer Aniston playing a […]

Review: 2 Guns


Amidst a thicket of buddy bantering and ridiculous plot twists, 2 Guns strenuously goes after the violent and the coy at every turn. Individual scenes work despite all the heavy lifting, but the end result falls short of a satisfying thriller. About two crooked buddies short. Meet Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington. Oh, you’re plenty […]

Review: Crystal Fairy (and the Magical Cactus and 2012)


From its long and slightly-silly title you can already gather that Crystal Fairy is going to be a strange and wild drug-filled ride. Michael Cera has been absent for a long time in cinema (and for good reason). He hasn’t really done much to get him out of the indie stereotype that made him famous. […]

Review: The To Do List


Valedictorian Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) has one new-fangled, obsessive goal: to tackle her brash laundry list of explicit sexual escapades as if it were just another academic achievement. Shaking off her nerdiness is another matter entirely. The delightful Plaza (Parks and Recreation, 2012′s excellent Safety Not Guaranteed) plays off her intelligent, straight-laced yet sardonic character in […]

The Conjuring reminds you not to look under the bed… or in the closet


Director James Wan is fast becoming the new master of the Old Dark House, and he certainly shows his work with ‘The Conjuring’, his latest take on the paranormal starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. With its release pushed back away from the spring dumping grounds, ‘The Conjuring’ has been touted as the scariest offering […]

Review: The Conjuring


The Conjuring raises the sort of havoc horror fans will be quite familiar with yet director James Wan, sticking mostly to old-school terror devices, has fashioned a crafty, often exciting hair-raiser. The stellar Vera Farmiga and reliable Patrick Wilson portray real-life 1970′s paranormal investigators Lorraine And Ed Warren–famous ghostbusters in the Amityville Horror case. Lifting […]

Review: The Way Way Back

The Way Way Back

Devoid of the wrongheaded sentimentality of the typical coming-of-age movie, The Way, Way Back claws back to the little moments of adolescence with a surehanded robustness. From its dynamite opening scene to its gleaming, touching last shot, it infuses the viewer with his or her own recollective pangs of identification with its 14-year-old protagonist’s rocky […]

Review: The Lone Ranger


With a team assembled from Gore Verbinski, Jerry Bruckheimer, Johnny Depp, and the same writers behind Pirates of the Caribbean, in many ways, The Lone Ranger is exactly what you would expect. Adventure, explosive set pieces, hilarious comedy that breaks the monotony at the exact right time; it’s all here. The main point of what […]

Review: Charlie Casanova

charlie casanova

What if you left all of your decisions to chance?  Instead of using logic and thoughts of consequences to guide your everyday decision, you used a deck of cards to determine what you do?  That’s exactly what successful Irish businessman Charlie (Emmet Scanlan) decides to do, beginning with the decision not to report running over […]

Review: The Heat

the heat

At the beginning of The Heat, Melissa McCarthy, in the middle of busting a prostitution transaction, grabs a john’s cellphone and brusquely calls his wife with the news of his shameful activity. Later, her trashy Boston cop character will play Russian Roulette with her gun pointed at a drug dealer’s crotch, take FBI agent Sandra […]

Review: World War Z


Brad Pitt takes the lead in World War Z as the guy with just enough to lose and enough experience in dangerous environments to survive the occasional run-in with the undead. Pitt’s character has a family and has recently retired from working for the United Nations (UN) as an investigator, so he knows what to do […]

Robert Mitchum Is Dead Review


Little gems of French cinema have been increasingly making their way into the American market on a large scale.  One of the latest imports is Robert Mitchum Is Dead.  After receiving a warm reception from the international film festival circuit, Robert Mitchum is Dead left an impact on critics and audiences alike. This road trip […]

Review: Much Ado About Nothing (Don’s Review)


Hardly a calculated stunt, Joss Whedon’s home-movie take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing wisely casts a sparkling Amy Acker as Beatrice. Whedon’s ensemble cast, familiar to fans of his TV work (Angel, Firefly, Buffy Te Vampire Slayer) rollick their way to a giddy yet formidable modern-dress re-imagining of the bard’s comedy. Long on commentary […]

Review: The Bling Ring


Reacting to the occasionally interesting knuckleheads in The Bling Ring an odd weariness sets in. These four teenage girls and one guy who break into Hollywood celebrity homes to steal, but mainly to gloat at, an enormous display of glitzy possessions, aren’t exactly supposed to break our hearts. More like give us the creeps while […]

Review: Monsters University


After the success of Pixar’s Toy Story reboot, Toy Story 3 back in 2010, there seems to be more reboots in the works for Pixar. After twelve years of waiting, Pixar has brought Mike and Sully back in Monsters University, a prequel to the childhood favorite, Monsters Inc., which will be released on June 21st. Monsters University […]

Review: An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty


An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, on first impression often too busy being busy, endeavors to bowl you over with its postmodern scope. A carefree amalgam of narrative, documentary, and several styles of animation, it can be mistaken for an undisciplined tour-de-force. With its stentorian second-person narration (Reg E. Cathey from The Wire), self referential film-within-a-film, […]

Review: This Is The End

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Comedy may be in the eye of the beholder but chances are unless you’re a bonafide fuddy-duddy you should find This Is The End hilarious and audacious, if crude and low-brow. What saves it is the running joke of filmstar comedic actors playing themselves. Celebrity culture may never have been lambasted this believably. Throw in […]

Video Review: The Purge, Pretentious Film Majors Breakdown

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James reviews The Purge, the latest horror from Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity, Insidious). In The Purge, there is one day every year in which all crime is legal. The Purge follows one family’s story on the day of the purge. For more information on The Pretentious Film Majors be sure to visit their official website. […]

Video Review: This Is The End – Pretentious Film Majors

This Is The End

Ben, James, Andrew and Michaela face the end of the times in This Is The End. Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, and featuring a slew of celebrity cameos, This Is The End finds a group of celebrities at a party at James Franco’s house, when suddenly, the […]

Review: Before Midnight


Both the funniest and darkest of the films in the Before trilogy, Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight is a stunning portrait of a relationship enduring a serious rough patch. Starring the incredible leads Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, both who also co-wrote with Linklater, the film takes place another nine years down the road traveled by […]

Video Review: The East, Eco Terrorism, Freegan Living & More

The East

Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgard, Brit Marling and Patricia Clarkson star in THE EAST, a political espionage thriller about an eco terrorist group and its members. Michaela, Amelia, Caitlin and Izzy break down the new film co-written by its star Brit Marling, as well as its director Zal Batmanglij. Is it the best movie of the […]