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    Review: Hail Caesar!

    Monday, February 8, 2016

    In Hail Caesar! co-directors Joel and Ethan Coen lean fairly hard on silliness. In what amounts to a simultaneous spoof of, and tribute to the Studio Era of Hollywood, the Coens provide commendable optics of splendid cinematography and surefire editing. Their presentation of a 27-hour trajectory of a day-in-the-life of studio “fixer” Eddie Mannix (Josh […]

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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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May
1

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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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
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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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Apr
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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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Apr
17

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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Apr
16

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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Philadelphia Film Festival 2015