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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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    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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    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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    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: Hot Pursuit (More like Hot Mess…)

Never at a loss for finding ways to disappoint us, Hot Pursuit is utterly devoid of a basis in anything resembling reality. Unfortunately, a comedy depends of plausibility every bit as much as a drama. Thus, this new Reese Witherspoon/Sophia Vergara female buddy flick becomes fatally unfunny almost as soon as it begins. Officer Cooper […]

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Review: D-Train

Trying to come off as simultaneously cynical and warm-and-fuzzy, D-Train succeeds somewhat tantamount to a flat tire. Starting with an insipid premise, and scaling new heights in screenplay vapidness, the new Jack Black vehicle possesses a jittery, shifting point of view and a horrid plausibility quotient. Its main character, Dan Landsman (Black), part schizoid and […]

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Avengers: Age of Ultron–Spoiler Free Review

I have seen the new Avengers movie, and it is beautiful. Avengers: Age of Ultron combines action and comedy the way the first Avengers did to make a well-crafted summer blockbuster. However, it is not without its flaws. One of the biggest problems Avengers: Age of Ultron will face is simply being the sequel to […]

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Review: Ex Machina

“What will happen to me if I fail your test? Do you think I might be switched off?” asks the lovely and stone-serious android Ava. Her examiner Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), startled by her comment, need not look any further in answering his own question of whether Ava possesses a self-awareness, and perhaps, a consciousness. To […]

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May
1

Interview: Tenured Director Christopher Modoono

Based on his short film Teacher of the Year, Chris Modoono’s Tenured follows depressed elementary school teacher, Ethan Collins, who the administration is desperately trying to fire. Tenured is Modoono’s first feature and we recently got the chance to speak with him about the process of transitioning from a 17 minute short to a full […]

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Review: Avengers – Age of Ultron

Complaining about Avengers: The Age of Ultron may be as futile as complaining about the weather, but next to the first film in the series, the new installment is a dull cloudy day compared to its relatively sunny predecessor. Basically a non-aficionado who merely dabbles in the Marvel world, I identified with the deer-in-the-headlight gaze […]

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Apr
29

Interview: Misery Loves Comedy Director Kevin Pollak

“Do you have to be miserable to be funny?”  That’s the question posed by Misery Loves Comedy, Kevin Pollak’s labor of love to the comedy world.  Kevin is a comedian, actor, and, with the debut of this film, director who has been performing stand-up since he was 10 years old.  I spoke to Kevin about […]

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Apr
24

Review: 5 to 7

When Brian Bloom spots her, it’s purely love at first sight as he crosses the street toward the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan. More a magazine-cover caricature than a character of the flesh-and-blood variety, Arielle (Berenice Marlohe, Skyfall) will consistently stymie this well-meaning but insipid rom-com. She’s first of all French, we’re insistently reminded. The […]

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Apr
23

Tribeca Film Festival: The Driftless Area–Review

The Driftless Area has unintentionally given critics and the critical masses the perfect adjective to describe the film: driftless. Toted as a “neo-noir dark romantic drama-comedy”—I’m serious, google it—The Driftless Area follows Pierre (Anton Yelchin), a bartender from a small Midwestern town who finds himself mixed up in a surreal relationship with Zooey Deschanel’s Stella, […]

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Review: True Story

The lowest point of the uneven True Story occurs when Jill Barker (Felicity Jones) pays an impromptu prison visit to accused murderer Christian Longo (James Franco). Longo is charged with unceremoniously offing his wife and three kids and stuffing their bodies in suitcases, which he then threw over a bridge. He also curiously impersonated Jones’s […]

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Review: Clouds of Sils Maria

Clouds of Sils Maria contains an acting clinic and so much more. French director Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours, Carlos, Irma Vep, Demonlover) takes many chances with his solid, often wondrous, occasionally mystifying material. The viewer needs to do some work here but the rewards are plentiful. His screenplay is straightforward enough but teasingly opaque like […]

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Review: Unfriended

Proof that movies need not be cinematic to be potent, Unfriended contains basically one set: the desktop of teenager Blaire (Shelley Hennig). We find her online revisiting the suicide of her friend Laura Barns on the anniversary of her death. A flirtatious Skype session with Blaire’s boyfriend Mitch (Moses Storm) ensues until it is interrupted […]

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