• Son-of-Saul-stalone

    Review: Son of Saul

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

    The Nazi’s weren’t content with the devastation of all their other combined horrors. They also devised a Sonderkommando squad consisting of Jews forced to perform the disposal of bodies and other deplorable tasks related to the executions. Robbing them of their only comfort–that of innocence–the concentration camp commanders granted those in the Sonderkommando meager extras […]

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  • oscars-winners-envelopes

    Best Films and Performances Snubbed By The Academy Awards

    Wednesday, January 20, 2016

    I concur with many of the eight films nominated for Oscar’s Best Film of the Year. In relative order of preference, Spotlight, Brooklyn, The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, Bridge of Spies, and The Revenant are among my own selections of best films of the year. Since it was an especially good year for […]

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  • 1401x788-068-ANOMALISA-008R

    Review: Anomalisa

    Wednesday, January 20, 2016

    OK, you want something really different, here you go. You don’t need to know this to enjoy it, but Anomalisa, one of the year’s most creative efforts, throws around Fregoli syndrome like water. Main character Michael Stone (David Thewlis), who’s some kind of retail business guru/writer (“May I Help You Help Them?”) checks into a […]

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  • THE HATEFUL EIGHT

    Review: The Hateful Eight

    Saturday, January 9, 2016

    Sadly, we cannot undo the unconscionable acts propelled by racism and sexism throughout our history. A large part of fixing these problems is coming to grips with what actually occurred. Viscerally experiencing the shameful humiliations is a good start. In The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino, never one to shy away from harsh realities, holds a […]

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  • carol-cannes-film-festival-3

    Review: Carol

    Thursday, December 31, 2015

    Flooded with luminescence, Todd Hayne’s Carol is a rapturous example of what occurs when sumptuous cinematography and art direction meet superlative acting. Rooney Mara is absolutely devastating as Therese, a young aspiring photographer who takes on a job in a department store in the early 1950s. She meets the much older, more talkative and aristocrat-like […]

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  • 21626637065_987e23b3de_o

    Review: The Big Short

    Thursday, December 31, 2015

    Like all superb art about significant political events, The Big Short holds a mirror to human beings caught up in forces beyond their control. Highly entertaining and often comical, the film focuses on several maverick financial rocket scientists who go against the grain, trying to take the upper hand in the way they know best. […]

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  • concussion

    Review: Concussion

    Thursday, December 31, 2015

    It took former NFL players to start killing themselves at an alarming rate for something to finally be done about it. Suffering from the deleterious effects of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) due to repetitive, jarring physical contact, some have shot themselves in the chest rather than the head in order to allow scientists to autopsy […]

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  • The-Danish-Girl-e1441120044697

    Review: The Danish Girl

    Monday, December 14, 2015

    Alicia Vikander (Ex-Machina) continues her prolific year as a very impressive actress and Eddie Redmayne follows up his Oscar-winning role in The Theory of Everything with The Danish Girl. Redmayne plays Einar Wegener, a landscape artist in 1926 Copenhagen, who went on to become one of the first recipients of transgender surgery. Redmayne, like the […]

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  • james-white-1-credit-courtesy-of-the-film-arcade

    Review: James White

    Friday, December 4, 2015

    The gut-wrenching, unflinching James White, the inaugural film by Josh Mond, brazenly pulls onto your jacket’s lapels with a sharp array of tight closeup shots and equally closeup feelings. In actor Christopher Abbott, Mond (producer of the excellent Martha Marcy May Marlene) has found a wonder of nature. They provide a character that utterly sticks […]

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  • trumbo-movie-bryan-cranston

    Review: Trumbo

    Thursday, December 3, 2015

      Excluding a “where they are now” segment, Trumbo ends with Dalton Trumbo giving his 1970 WGA Laurel Award acceptance speech. In this speech, Trumbo speaks about the importance of remembering the blacklist, in order to heal. More than anything else, this seems to be the thesis of the movie. There were no heroes or […]

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Review: Creed

By now–39 years in–you’ve made up your mind on the Sylvester Stallone Rocky persona. Whether you see it as down-home, dogged, feel-good corn or self-aware bluster, his character needs little explanation. In Creed, playing a reluctant trainer, Stallone feels right at home uttering lines like “It’s you against you; he’s just in the ring,” and […]

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Review: The Night Before

Seth Rogen, clad in a Star of David sweater, is tripping on mushrooms while out gallivanting with his two buddies on Christmas Eve. Before he leaves home, his pregnant wife provides him with a small box full of drugs. So it’s only natural according to the logic of dumb comedies that, after wandering away from […]

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Nov
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Review: Brooklyn

The 1950s-era drama Brooklyn possesses the unique ability to break your heart while it simultaneously renews your faith in humanity. In what could have been a setup for sentimentality in lesser hands, director John Crowley fine tunes the heartstrings into a stellar chamber piece of emotionally intense filmmaking. When young Irish immigrant Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) […]

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Nov
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Review: Man Up

Most romantic comedies have the same basic plot. Boy meets Girl, otherwise known as the Meet Cute. Boy and Girl start hanging out more, and grow closer: The Relationship. Either the Boy or the Girl leaves for some reason- it could be a misunderstanding, a previous commitment, etc.: The Exit. Boy and Girl spend time […]

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Nov
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Review: Spotlight

A resistant Boston archdiocese that covered up a massive scandal of pedophilia among its priesthood is confronted by a crack Boston Globe team of investigative reporters in the excellent Spotlight. Among the obstacles the journalists face is a 53 percent Catholic readership who, along with the courts, were for many years manipulated into looking the […]

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Nov
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Review: The Assassin

Sometimes you just need to throw out the expectations provided by the conventionalities of film–plot, developed story arc, action itself. With the Assassin, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s wuxia that was seven years in the making, a master of extreme craftsmanship throws the martial arts film on its head. The result is so beautiful to watch, you may […]

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Nov
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Review: Spectre

Rampant plot shortcuts, large stretches of filler, and a Daniel Craig so laid back this time out he actually seems anesthetized–all add up to a dry-martini-sipping James Bond caught in a movie that’s mostly all wet. The Bond franchise made strides toward reclaiming the high standing of the Sean Connery era with the advent of […]

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Nov
6

Review: Truth

Portraying Dan Rather, Robert Redford perfectly captures the former CBS anchorman’s Texan vocal nuances. Yet Truth, the new film by James Vanderbilt (screenwriter, Zodiac), places its emphasis on Rather’s producer, Mary Mapes, in telling the story of their mutual downfall after televising an investigative report questioning George W. Bush’s military service. Cate Blanchett, as Mapes, […]

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Nov
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PFF24: Baskin

While the Turkish horror film Baskin is, throughout its run, a beautiful film with creative imagery, its inability to foster a tone of tension (mostly through the fault of its characters), leaves it with an empty feeling overall and to its violence. Baskin plays with a beautiful color palette from the beginning in its lighting […]

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Oct
29

PFF24 Review: SPL 2: A Time for Consequences

The sad thing about SPL 2: A Time For Consequences is that I can’t get excited about writing a review for it. One would think that a movie with a title that over-the-top and with a trailer that features a bunch of insane action snippets would be fun and engaging to watch. Unfortunately, the movie […]

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Philadelphia Film Festival 2015

Entertainment
Dec
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Review: Entertainment

  “What’s the difference between Courtney Love and the American flag?” asks The Comedian in Rick Alverson’s latest film Entertainment, a study of isolation, mundanity and the qualifications of entertainers in modern culture.  I’ll spare the punch line of that joke due to explicit language; I only wanted to give you a sense of the […]

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Nov
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Review: Brooklyn

The 1950s-era drama Brooklyn possesses the unique ability to break your heart while it simultaneously renews your faith in humanity. In what could have been a setup for sentimentality in lesser hands, director John Crowley fine tunes the heartstrings into a stellar chamber piece of emotionally intense filmmaking. When young Irish immigrant Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) […]