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    PFF24 Review: Dheepan (Opening this week at the Ritz Bourse 5/27)

    Friday, May 27, 2016

    If you haven’t seen Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet (2010), do whatever it takes to catch up. Also, don’t miss Auduard’s latest, Dheepan, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Dheepan is the story of a “fake family” of refuges from war-torn Sri Lanka. Former Tamil Tiger Dheepan (Antonysaythan Jesuthasan, himself a former boy soldier), in […]

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    Review: The Nice Guys

    Monday, May 23, 2016

    In his last two directorial efforts (Kiss Kiss,Bang Bang; Iron Man 3) veteran screenwriter Shane Black enjoyed having Robert Downey Jr. as his lead. Lucky him! This time it’s Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. They don’t merely reinforce the material here–they propel a breathtakingly-paced yet lax script into the smart-and-funny category. That is not to […]

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    Review: Love and Friendship

    Monday, May 23, 2016

    Step aside, Blanchett. Make room, Winslet. There’s a new Kate in town. Actually, she’s not new at all. More like rejuvenated. Kate Beckinsale, who’s best work might have been her previous collaboration with director Whit Stillman (Last Days of Disco, 1998) reunites with Stillman in a spot-on, deliciously devilish Jane Austen adaptation. In Love and […]

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    Review: Money Monster

    Friday, May 13, 2016

    The villainous hedge fund in Money Monster is an outfit lamely called IBIS Clear Capital (presumably the moniker ISIS was already taken). Unfortunately the rest of the film is seriously marred from equally obvious manipulations. On the occasions when the film’s three screenwriters don’t resort to cheating and short-cutting the material, this Jody Foster-directed effort […]

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    Review: Captain America – Civil War

    Monday, May 9, 2016

    Kudos: Nineteen year-old British actor Tom Holland takes a pretty decent Marvel movie to a higher level of fun. With the help of a spot-on Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Holland busts out a vexatious yet wholesome new version of the decidedly non-Marvel Spider Man. He’s an oasis in the take-itself seriously Marvel desert. […]

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    Review: Papa: Hemingway In Cuba

    Friday, April 29, 2016

    Is there any doubt Ernest Hemingway would have deplored the gross sentimentality displayed in Papa: Hemingway in Cuba? Short of being merely misguided, this sloppily mounted biopic of the gifted writer in 1959 Havana commits the even greater sin of not seeming to care about its subject. The first film shot in Cuba since that […]

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  • Key-and-Peele-Movie-Keanu

    Interview: Jordan Peele–Keanu

    Friday, April 29, 2016

    Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key have been a comedy writing/ performing pair since their work together in the early 2000s. They honed their distinct brand of comedy  during their tenure at MADtv . In 2012, with the launch of their eponymous sketch show, Key and Peele’s names became permanently associated with writing and performing  brilliant […]

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  • Embrace-of-the-Serpent-2_0

    Review: Embrace the Serpent

    Wednesday, April 20, 2016

    Forget Apocalypse Now. Toss aside Conrad’s venerated Heart of Darkness. When it comes to obtaining a vivid realization of the essence of Amazonian culture, check out Ciro Guerra’s amazing Embrace of the Serpent. The stunningly shot black-and-white Colombian Oscar nominee frames two separate interactions, 40 years apart, between a pair of white explorers and an […]

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    Review: Everybody Wants Some!

    Wednesday, April 20, 2016

    Everybody Wants Some!! is Richard Linklater’s most deceptive film. On its surface it is light as a feather but hang out with it for its 100-minute (and far too short!) length and its 11 unique characters leave an indelible impression. Linklater, the director of numerous classics (Before Midnight, Boyhood) is also adroit at the offbeat […]

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  • 1408134550000-Don-Cheadle-Miles-Ahead-Film-Miles-Osaka-Poster-6-30-14-1221-2

    Review: Miles Ahead

    Wednesday, April 20, 2016

    Unfortunately Don Cheadle, despite displaying savvy acting chops in playing the ever irascible Miles Davis, does a disservice to one of the 20th century’s leading jazz musicians. In Miles Ahead, which Cheadle directed and co-wrote, unmoored diversions plague what amounts to more of a made-up buddy/heist picture than a serious look at a complex man. In […]

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Jun
28

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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Jun
19

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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Jun
12

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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Jun
10

Could Netflix be the Right Spot for a Reality Renaissance?

I am a sucker for reality shows, especially competitive ones. There’s 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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Jun
7

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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Jun
5

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
4

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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May
23

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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May
22

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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about-elly
May
11

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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Philadelphia Film Festival 2015