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    Review: We Are Your Friends

    Friday, August 28, 2015

    For what it’s worth, I was a part-time club DJ from 1981until 2000. Although I hung up my headphones just before the advent of the laptop-era it was with more than passing interest I penciled in We Are Your Friends as a film to be checked out. Here was a movie purporting to cover the […]

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  • mistress-america

    Review: Mistress America

    Friday, August 28, 2015

    Highly observant yet often annoyingly mannered, American Mistress takes director Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha to the realm of farce. With casual dialogue as antic and fast-paced as a Marx Brothers movie, Baumbach, who again co-wrote with Greta Gerwig, explores another New York City fallen and frustrated, snarky character. Brooke (Gerwig) has a lot more audaciousness […]

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    Review: Diary of a Teenage Girl

    Monday, August 24, 2015

    The Diary of a Teenage Girl, a pedophile drama gussied up with non-judgmental makeup, strikes one as more odd than innovative. Fifteen-year-old Minnie Goetze (a rather good Bel Powley) opens the film declaring, “I had sex today,” and you sure can tell it changed her. Set in the free-love 1970’s in San Francisco, Marielle Heller’s […]

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  • PHOENIX

    Review: Phoenix

    Monday, August 24, 2015

    Christian Petzold’s Phoenix creates a bracing tension between rediscovery and denial, between traumatization and angst. Nina Hoss, one of the world’s finest film actresses, portrays Nelly Lenz, a concentration camp survivor who undergoes plastic surgery that essentially grants her a new face after her old one was shot up by Nazis. At the film’s outset […]

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  • 05

    Review: American Ultra

    Friday, August 21, 2015

    A stoner comedy by nature relies on an undercurrent of paranoia. In American Ultra Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) quickly loses the edge of thinking everyone is after him when–lo and behold–before long everyone is indeed after him. Also gone with the stoner conceit is the notion that this film is somehow a comedy. What looks […]

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Review: Trainwreck

Rip-roaringly, outrageously funny, then in its final turns predictably conventional, the Judd Apatow-directed Trainwreck presents the one and only Amy Schumer. Both the film’s lead actor and its writer, Schumer portrays a character, Amy Townsend, who takes the words of her rough-hewn dad in the film’s opening scene, and boldly personifies them. “Monogamy isn’t realistic,” […]

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Review: Amy

Director Asif Kapadia took what was the blessing of Amy Winehouse’s family and record company and then relentlessly actually made the film that needed to be made on the life of Amy Winehouse. His biopic wisely throws out any political correctness and eschews a safe approach for an ultimately honest one. The results offer a […]

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Review: The Overnight

Jason Schwartzman, fresh off a relentlessly acerbic performance as a misanthrope writer in Listen Up Philip goes intense again in The Overnight. Similarly, it’s not his fault this film about would-be swingers comes up limp. Schwartzman goes into overdrive with a gushing likability this time that is practically the flip side of his rotten-egg personality […]

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Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

In a recurring animated sequence in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, a moose suddenly appears and instantly tramples a small unidentified mammal. Symbolic of the school knockout’s treatment of the film’s lead character Greg (Thomas Mann), the sequence sets the tone for this quirky, steadfastly unsentimental film about important stuff. It also reveals […]

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Review: Jurassic World

Director Colin Trevorrow, fresh off the delightful, small-budget ($750,000) Safety Not Guaranteed, steps up to the $150,000 million Jurassic World. To quote some street jargon, Trevorrow’s not playing. The first flat-out summer blockbuster, Trevorrow’s film knows when to go hard and when to tread lightly. In the spirit of executive producer Steven Spielberg, Trevorrow’s screenplay […]

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Could Netflix be the Right Spot for a Reality Renaissance?

I am a sucker for reality shows, especially competitive ones. There‚Äôs something about watching a group of people compete with the consistent threat of elimination that is captivating. One competitive reality show that I watch is Survivor; a show that has become emblematic of mega successful reality Juggernauts that dominated ratings in the early aughts. […]

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Review: Spy

The low point of last year’s lousy Melissa McCarthy vehicle, Tammy, was when the film completely changed from shrill, unfunny comedy to banal bathos in one ludicrous scene. McCarthy mooing with co-star Mark Duplass looking down at Niagara Falls was enough to make you ill. It’s even worse than the scene where McCarthy holds up […]

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Review: Love and Mercy

No doubt some crybabies will turn apoplectic at the stark contrast of Paul Dano and John Cusack splitting the challenging chore of portraying popular music genius Brian Wilson in the new biopic Love & Mercy. They’ll whine neither one (especially Cusack) looks like Brian and, furthermore, the two actors don’t even look like each other. […]

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Jun
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Review: Far From The Madding Crowd – A Comparison of Schlesinger and Vinterberg

Viewed without the accompanying perspective of John Schlesinger’s 1967 version of Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Vinterberg’s new version of the Thomas Hardy novel might seem sufficient in capturing the 19th century period of rural western England. Michael Sheen may also seem a fine enough brooding Mr. Boldwell, as well as Carey Mulligan a […]

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Review: Good Kill

Tommy Egan (Ethan Hawke) suffers from a new kind of culture shock. An F-16 military pilot with six Iraqi tours under his belt, he now finds himself inside a claustrophobic trailer that serves as a drone command center near Las Vegas. Major Egan, surrounded by newcomers recruited because they “were a bunch of gamers,” has […]

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Review: Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland comes off like an expanded Super Bowl TV advertisement: cocksure of itself and sure to dazzle but ultimately a hollow, superficial gewgaw. Director Brad Bird (the excellent Ratatouille and The Incredibles) even has a wonderful young actress (Raffey Cassidy) and two venerable pros (George Clooney and Hugh Laurie) going for him, but the film’s […]

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Review: About Elly

With his third film released in this country, Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi continues his growth in stature and deserves to be included among the very best international auteurs. The brilliantly absorbing About Elly was filmed two years before Farhadi’s Oscar-winning gem A Separation (2011) and withheld from domestic distribution until now. Like A Separation and […]

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