craiger'scinemacorner©

Full-length reviews of contemporary and classic films by

one of Western Canada's leading online film critics

c r a i g   j.   k o b a n

 

 

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"Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING!"

 

TOM HARDY

 

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

 

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CrAiGeR's

pick of the week

 

LAWLESS

(R) jjjj 

 "LAWLESS is THE GODFATHER of Prohibition-era hillbilly films."

 

 
 

 

 
 

CrAiGeR's movie blog:

[ ARCHIVES ]

 

My Top 5 Favorite Video Games of All-Time!

September 19, 2014

 

James Gunn: The Guardian of Science Fiction's Future - Why his 'Guardian of the Galaxy' is the most surprising - and unlikely - hit of 2014.

August 15, 2014

 

LATEST POSTS:

CrAiGeR's Cinema Corner Turns 10 - And I'm getting by with a little help from my friends as we discuss our favorite films of the last ten years.

July 19, 2014

 

Shannon Hollander: Truthful Storyteller - The leader of the 'GEEKS' reflects on her academic career, performing on stage and on screen, and what the future holds.

April 29, 2014

 

 
     
 

craiger'srecentreviews:

Total number of reviews in archive:

1351

 

 

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My last appearance:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Underrated Tom Hardy Films

 

My next appearance:

Monday, May 25, 2015

Animation Directors That Became Live Action Directors

 

Previous appearances:

Monday, April 27, 2015

2015 Summer Film Preview

 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Most Influential Summer Films of All-time

 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Underrated Will Ferrell Movies

 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kenneth Branagh film retrospective

 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Underrated Will Smith Performances

 

Friday, February 20, 2015

If I Picked the Oscar Winners 

 

Monday, February 2, 2015

My Most Anticipated Films of the First Half of 2015 

 

Monday, January 19, 2015

AMERICAN SNIPER and Clint Eastwood's most underrated films as a director 

 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

ANNIE, INTO THE WOODS, and movie musicals

 

Monday, December 22, 2014

The BEST films of 2014

 

Monday, December 8, 2014

The WORST films of 2014.

 

Monday, November 24, 2014

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 Discussion

 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

TBT: Top 3 Films of the 1960s

 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

TBT: Top 3 Films of the 1970s

 

Thursday, October 30, 2014 

TBT: Top 3 Films of the 1980's

 

Thursday, October 16, 2014 

TBT: Top 3 Films of the 1990's

 

Thursday, October 16, 2014 

GONE GIRL discussion

 

Wednesday, September 29, 2014 

Movies Based on TV Shows

 

Wednesday, September 15, 2014 

INDIE FILM TRIBUTE:

Richard Linklater's BOYHOOD

 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 

Fall Movie Preview

 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Robin Williams Tribute

(video unavailable...sorry)

 

Friday, August 8, 2014 

Guardians of the Galaxy discussion 

 

Monday, July 21, 2014 

San Diego Comic Con

 

Monday, July 7, 2014 

Reflecting on my site's 10th Anniversary 

 

Wednesday, June 23, 2014 

2014 Midterm Movie Report Card

(video unavailable)

 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 

Edge of Tomorrow Discussion

 

Friday, May 23, 2014 

Memorable Monster Films

 

Friday, May 9, 2014 

Amazing Spider-man 2 Discussion 

 

Friday, April 25, 2014 

Summer Film Season Preview 

 

Friday, April 11, 2014 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Discussion 

 

Friday, March 28, 2014 

DIVERGENT

 

Friday, March 14, 2014 

Great Graphic Novel Film Adaptations 

 

Friday, February 14, 2014 

Unconventional Romance/Date Films

 

Friday, January 31, 2014 

Great Frankenstein Films 

 

Friday, January 17, 2014 

BEST FILMS of 2013

 

Friday, January 3, 2014 

Biggest Movie News Stories of 2013 

 

Friday, December 20, 2013 

Tribute to director Al White / GEEKS 

 

 

CrAiGeR's SELF-IMPOSED RATING SCALE:

 

jjjj GREAT

jjj GOOD

jj FAIR

j POOR

zero stars CRAP

 

 

DR. FILMLOVE

CrAiGeR's intro. to his web site. 

 

 

FAQ's of CrAiGeR

Answers to all those nail biting questions

 

 

CrAiGeR's REVIEW ARCHIVES

All of CrAiGeR's full-length reviews of contemporary films since Jan 2004

 

 

CrAiGeR's FOUR STAR REVIEWS

Listing of every FOUR STAR review that CrAiGeR has ever written (excludes retro-reviews)

 

 

CrAiGeR's WORST REVIEWS

Listing of every one and a half star or lower review that CrAiGeR has ever written

 

 

CrAiGeR's RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW ARCHIVES

CrAiGeR revisits classic films from

the past

 

 

CrAiGeR's YEARLY BEST/WORST LISTS

CrAiGeR dishes out his TEN BEST and TEN WORST films for every year since 2000

 

 

CrAiGeR's SO BAD, THEY'RE GOOD!

CrAiGeR looks at 25 films that he knows are stinkers, but still finds that they are actually kind of good

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN MOST OVER-RATED FILMS OF ALL-TIME

CrAiGeR unleashes his list of ten films that he felt did not deserve universal fan accolades and critical praise.

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN MOST INFLUENTIAL FILMS OF THE LAST 25 YEARS 

CrAiGeR ruminates on ten films he feels most directly influenced the business and making of movies since 1986.

 

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 2000's

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1990's

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1980's

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1970's

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1960's

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1950's

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1940's

 

 

 

GOOD KILL (R) jjj1/2 

A "just war" or just a war?

GOOD KILL is a decidedly different type of war film.  It’s not about the physical and emotional toll that soldiers go through on the ground in combat, nor is it about the hellish conditions on the battlefield.  No, this film deals with the nagging and deeply rooting psychological effects of waging a technological war from a distance...

Posted May 21, 2015

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD 

(R) jjjj 

Apocalypse WOW!

George Miller’s MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is the greatest possible MAD MAX film ever conceived and executed.  That’s high praise, considering that it comes off the heels of Miller’s original and iconic MAD MAX trilogy, the post-apocalyptic sci-fi/action series that both redefined the genre for decades to come...

Posted May 20, 2015

WHILE WE'RE YOUNG

(R) jjj1/2    

Gen X'ers that desperately want to be Millennials

I knew the precise moment when I realized that I was – the horror! – getting old.  Years ago I woke up to excruciating lower back pain that was radiating through my legs and up my spin.  I thought I was going to need hospitalization.  Turns out – after some x-rays – that I had developed arthritis.  I was in my late thirties at the time. There’s a similar scene that occupies Noah Baumbach’s newest dramedy WHILE WE’RE YOUNG...

Posted May 15, 2015

EX MACHINA (R) jjjj    

Diving into the problematic and dangerous rabbit hole of artificial intelligence

here have been many recent films that have tackled the weighty and contemplative themes of artificial intelligence to varying degree of success (like the so-so TRANSCENDENCE and CHAPPIE to the masterful HER), but Alex Garland’s EX MACHINA belongs, I think, in a whole other league of its own...

Posted May 15, 2015

50 SHADES OF GREY (R) zero stars      

No pun intended, but this erotic drama is a cinematic crapf--k

One of central ironies of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is that it’s a film ostensibly about a couple with an unhealthily kinky predilection to sadomasochistic sex that’s pure, unadulterated torture to sit through.  This is an erotic drama – based on E.L. James’ first book in her popular literary trilogy series that inexplicably began as TWILIGHT fan fiction before taking its current form...

Posted May 15, 2015

MAGGIE (R) jjj1/2     

Not the Au-nald vs zombies thriller I was expecting...and it's much better for it

When one hears the words “zombie thriller” and the name “Arnold Schwarzenegger” in the same breath, certain images come to mind.  It’s inescapable.  Part of the subtle genius, though, of Henry Hobson’s MAGGIE is how it so wonderfully and innovatively subverts not only our own expectations of the zombie genre...

Posted May 15, 2015

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

(PG-13) jj1/2  

Too many creative strings on this super hero sequel

There’s a wonderfully droll party scene part way through AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON that takes place at the lavish penthouse home of Tony Stark’s Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.).  Now, it’s pretty common knowledge that only a being “mighty” and “worthy” enough can pick up and wield Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) hammer "Mjolnir"…but the rest of his pals still don’t buy it...

Posted May 5, 2015

THE AGE OF ADALINE

(PG-13) jj1/2     

An eternal youth dramatic fantasy that could have used some scripting magic

The new romantic fantasy THE AGE OF ADALINE is one of the most strangely handled films with a sensational premise that I’ve ever seen.  It concerns a woman that – after a chance magical encounter – miraculously and permanently stays 28-years-old.  She is not immortal (she can be killed or hurt), but she doesn't age a day, nor can she perish due to natural causes.  In essence, she remains in her youthful twenties indefinitely...

Posted April 30, 2015

DANNY COLLINS (R) jjj1/2     

Churning out the oldies only carries one so far in life

DANNY COLLINS has a relatively dime-a-dozen premise that’s been done countless times before: aging rock star that has led a self-destructively hedonistic lifestyle for decades now seeks personal and emotional redemption.  There are few intentions by writer/director Dan Fogelman (making his feature film directorial debut after writing films such as CRAZY STUPID LOVE) to break much new dramatic ground here...

Posted April 30, 2015

PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2

(PG-13) j1/2     

Hop on your Segway and leave the screening of this film...as quickly as possible

Even the cold minded and harshly analytical critic in me respected and modestly admired 2009’s PAUL BLART: MALL COP.  Outside of being a dutiful slapstick action comedy that utilized Kevin James rather well, the film also managed to be a surprisingly well-orchestrated and sly send-up of the first DIE HARD film.  It was a real come-from-behind comedy...

Posted April 23, 2015

IT FOLLOWS (R) jjjj        

And boy...does it ever!!!

Within the first five minutes of the new $2 million supernatural horror film IT FOLLOWS I realized that I was in store for something decidedly more eerie and unnerving than the obligatory dead teenager/slasher flicks that have dominated cinemas for decades.  Director David Robert Mitchell’s film (his second after THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER) opens with relatively serene and dreamlike shots of a typical suburban landscape...

Posted April 16, 2015

FURIOUS 7 (PG-13) jjj        

Still finding new ways for cars to do insanely improbable things

There’s an action sequence midway through FURIOUS 7, the seventh (count ‘em...SEVENTH!?) film in the FAST AND FURIOUS series that highlights its go-for-broke penchant for action sequences that border on the sublimely ridiculous.  During it Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his squad parachute out of a cargo jet that's flying over Azerbaijan…while in their cars...

Posted April 8, 2015

GET HARD (R) jj1/2       

Finally!  A comedy about racial profiling and prison sodomy!

Considering that GET HARD was written and directed by Etan Cohen (one of TROPIC THUNDER's co-writers that had a field day lampooning movie star vanity and excess in that film), attempts at social satire in the film are sorely lacking. Instead, we get a race/class relations comedy that’s decidedly low on hilarious commentary and very, very high on nudity, bodily functions, and many jokes and gags about prison rape, racism, and homophobia...

Posted April 3, 2015

THE GUNMAN (R) jj1/2       

Sean Penn tackles a Liam Nesson-ian role

 

THE GUNMAN is a beyond obvious attempt for director Pierre Morel to return to the middle-aged action hero template that he popularized with the first TAKEN film.  This time, though, he has multi-Oscar winning actor Sean Penn at the helm, whom at a ripe age of 54 has never looked as ripped and chiseled as he does here.  There’s no doubt that Penn certainly looks the part of a rough and rugged action hero...

 

Posted April 3, 2015

THE DIVERGENT SERIES: 

INSURGENT (PG-13) j1/2

An incredibly dull divergence to the insurgency

I honestly can’t tell if the awkwardly titled THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT is a bad film or one that I just simply didn’t care about.  Perhaps it’s a little bit of both.   This new film – a sequel to 2014’s DIVERGENT, based on the first in a literary trilogy of novels by Veronica Roth – should have at least attempted to take the characters and premise from its antecedent in new and refreshing directions...

Posted March 29, 2015

CINDERELLA (PG) jjj       

SPOILER ALERT: The glass shoe fits the heroine at the end

Outside of perpetuating an established brand and box office returns, I can’t think of anything more redundant and wasteful than adapting animated films to live action.  CINDERELLA was already made into an iconic and magical 1951 animated Disney film that has long stood the test of time, so the thought of needlessly updating and/or retrofitting this fairy tale classic seems financially motivated at best...

Posted March 29, 2015

RUN ALL NIGHT (R) jjj       

A consummate Neeson-ian action thriller that rarely runs out of gas

RUN ALL NIGHT features another robust and dependably stalwart performance by Liam Neeson, the Irish star of such acclaimed dramatic films like SCHINDLER’S LIST and KINSEY that has ushered in a highly unlikely, but successful career rejuvenation as a middle-aged action hero.  The character he plays in RUN ALL NIGHT is, in many ways, an extension of the world-weary souls that he played to great effect in last year's terribly underrated A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES and NON-STOP...

Posted March 21, 2015

BLACK OR WHITE (PG-13) jjj1/2        

A challenging film about race relations that's anything but black or white

Mike Binder’s BLACK OR WHITE is an honest and uncommonly challenging film about race relations.  What could have emerged as a manipulative TV movie of the week about a child custody battle unexpectedly becomes a meticulously well acted and deeply perceptive portrait of what makes people who they are and what affects our perceptions of those we frequently deem as different from ourselves in society...

Posted March 21, 2015

CHAPPIE (R) jjj       

ROBOCOP + SHORT CIRCUIT + Blomkamp 

CHAPPIE is a new science fiction film that – like good examples of the genre - poses many fascinating philosophical questions about its premise (in its case, artificial robotic intelligence) and how it relates to the human condition.  It’s the third film from South Africa filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, whom previously made the game changing Oscar nominated DISTRICT 9 and the criminally underrated ELYSIUM...

Posted March 13, 2015

UNFINISHED BUSINESS (R) jj1/2       

Vaughn is up to his usual comedic business

To take a page out of the SWINGERS vernacular, Vince Vaughn has always been “money” to me.  He has that incomparable level of motormouthed bravado and lightning quick razor sharp wits that can save just about any subpar movie scene from imploding in on itself.  Vaughn has been in some of my favorite comedies, but after watching UNFINISHED BUSINESS even I’m left with the overwhelming sensation that he may need to try something new...

Posted March 13, 2015

THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (PG-13) jjj   

It certainly is the second best film in the two film series...for sure

THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is, without a shadow of a doubt, the second best film about an exotic Marigold Hotel that I’ve ever seen.  Obvious sarcasm aside, this might be one of the more unnecessary sequels to emerge in many a moon.  2011’s THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL was essentially comfort food as far as dramas go, but it sure was delectably charming comfort food...

Posted March 13, 2015

FOCUS (PG-13) jj1/2     

A well acted and good looking con artist flick that lacks narrative...focus

FOCUS is a new conman/caper film that revels in movie star glamour.  The lead actors – Will Smith and Margot Robbie – are endlessly likeable, attractive, and charismatic presences on screen, so part of the pleasure of the film is seeing these gorgeous performers look good, exude movie star glamour, and essentially carry the proceedings...

Posted March 8, 2015

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 (R) j    

The most "necessary" sequel of all-time...obvious sarcasm implied

If I had a time machine – flux-capacitor enabled DeLorean or a, yes, nitrotrinadium-infused hot tub – I'd travel back to last weekend and dutifully warn myself to not screen HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2.  My time – past and future – is a highly valuable commodity, so cautioning my past self to avoid one of the most inexcusably wrongheaded, witless, needless and awful sequels of our current decade seems like my honor bound duty...

Posted March 8, 2015

McFARLAND, USA (PG) jjj1/2      

Cross country running as a catalyst for social and cultural empowerment

I have to be honest.  I had no desire to see a film about cross country running.  None at all.  While I certainly have respect for the sport’s athletes, I just wasn’t sure if the subject was inherently cinematic.  Alas, along comes McFARLAND, USA – a new fact-based sports drama from Disney – to completely make me change my tune...

Posted February 27, 2015

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE

(R) jjj      

James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Jack Bauer have some competition

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE is an exemplarily well oiled and fiendishly enjoyable action comedy that’s clearly made by people that covet comic books and spy movies.  It’s not quite an on-the-nose homage of the genre made popular by James Bond and Jason Bourne, nor is it completely an affectionate spoof of those film worlds (akin to Austin Powers)...

Posted February 22, 2015

SEVENTH SON (PG-13) jj   

A fantasy film that's six ways to Sunday dull

How can a fantasy film with all sorts of magical creatures like dragons, witches, ghosts, and ogres and featuring multiple Oscar nominated and winning actors like Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore be…such a mind numbing bore?  Such is the fate of SEVENTH SON, a new 3D fantasy flick based on the novel THE SPOOK’S APPRENTICE by Joseph Delaney...

Posted February 22, 2015

PREDESTINATION (R) jjj1/2   

A head-scratcher of a time travel film...but gloriously so

Okay, I’m stumped.  I have no idea how to write my review for PREDESTINATION.  I really don’t.  How do I relay why I thought that it was a wonderfully intoxicating and mind-bending time travel sci-fi thriller without revealing some – if not many – of the film’s tantalizing and shocking secrets?  It’s fitting that PREDESTINATION is so wickedly complex...

Posted February 22, 2015

JUPITER ASCENDING (PG-13) j   

The Wachowski's sci-fi fantasy is insipidly lost in space

The Wachowskis, based on their past directorial resumes, are far too talented and fearlessly bold to make a film as terrible and wrongheaded as JUPITER ASCENDING.  Yet, their newest sci-fi offering is an ungodly misfire of galactic proportions, which finally saw the light of day in theaters this past week after a fairly lengthy release delay...

Posted February 13, 2015

STRANGE MAGIC (PG) jj1/2   

A definitely strange, but not quite magical animated musical from the mind of George Lucas

STRANGE MAGIC is the latest creative endeavor from George Lucas, which despite its outward façade as a fantasy, it could not be anymore different than what the flannel shirted one has attempted before: a computer animated jukebox musical featuring classic rock and pop tunes from the last several decades.  Drawing loose inspiration from Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM, STRANGE MAGIC...

Posted February 13, 2015

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR (R) jjj  

J.C. Chandor evokes the 70's era films of Lumet and Scorsese with mostly strong results

Director J.C. Chandor is a rare breed of filmmaking talent that’s not content with making the same film over and aver again.  His wonderful 2011 indie film MARGIN CALL was a small scale, but ambitious chronicling of the financial crisis of 2008.  He followed that up with 2014’s ALL IS LOST, which emerged as one of the finest human survival dramas of recent memory...

Posted February 9, 2015

WILD (R) jjj  

A raw and empowered Reese Witherspoon carries this fact-based wilderness survival drama

WILD is a surprisingly engaging and frequently moving film considering that it involves a subject matter that’s not particularly cinematic.  French Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee’s film concerns the fact-based story of Cheryl Strayed (based on her own 2012 memoir) of how she decided – after a devastating personal loss and subsequent self-destructive behavior – to clean up her act...

Posted February 9, 2015

PROJECT ALMANAC (PG-13) jj  

Flux capacitor-enabled DeLorean not included

PROJECT ALMANAC is a film about high school students that are brilliant enough to build a time machine in their basement based on 10-year-old blueprints, but nonetheless do stupid and illogical things with it.  Worse yet, the film – shot way, way back in 2013 and shelved until its recent release – makes the cardinal blunder of using the found footage premise as its basis without plausibly grounding why the story needed it in the first place...

Posted February 9, 2015

MORTDECAI (R) jj1/2  

An affectionately hammy Johnny Depp can't save this farce's shortcomings

Relax, everyone.  Take a deep breath.  MORTDECAI is not the soul-crushingly awful comedy that many other critics have been letting on.  That’s not to say that the adaptation of Kyril Bonfiglioli book anthology (with the wonderful title DON’T POINT THAT THING AT ME) is not a complete and rousing success.  An appreciation of MORTDECAI will largely depend on one’s taste – or tolerance levels – for madcap farce and wanton comedic peculiarity...

Posted January 30, 2015

TUSK (R) jjj

I AM THE WALRUS!!!!

Kevin Smith’s TUSK just may be one of the most deeply unsettling films set in the Great White North that I’ve ever seen.  It’s also the only horror-comedy – or film, for that matter – that I can recall that is based…on a podcast.  Smith and long-time friend/movie producer Scott Mosier recorded episode 259 of their extremely popular SModcast where they discussed a very peculiar ad that they came across....

Posted January 30, 2015

BIG EYES (PG-13) jj1/2  

A Tim Burton film painted with different stylistic strokes

BIG EYES is a refreshingly un-Tim Burtony film and a wonderful change of pace for his typically odd and kooky stylistic idiosyncrasies.  That’s a good thing.  BIG EYES is also – as far as fact-based period dramas go – a fairly paint-by-numbers affair that never really elevates itself above the level of a TV-movie-of-the-week.  That’s a bad thing...

Posted January 30, 2015

BLACKHAT (R) jj

Someone needed to hack the PC that this film's script was written on

 

Michael Mann’s BLACKHAT – his first film in six years – is a new high tech thriller that touches on some tangible real world concerns about the future of cyber terrorism.  There is no doubt that the film certainly feels timely and thematically relevant, not to mention that it has its finger on the pulse of our global anxieties regarding technological attacks on established infrastructures....

 

Posted January 22, 2015

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

(PG-13) jjj1/2

A surprisingly touching love story involving a brilliant scientific mind

There’s simply no denying that Stephen Hawking’s life story is a remarkably inspirational one of him overcoming incredible odds.  The celebrated English theoretical physicist and cosmologist suffers f rom a rare form of early on-set amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or motor neuron disease, which has slowly paralyzed him over the course of several decades.  He was diagnosed at 21, at which time doctors told him that he would be lucky to have two years left to live...

Posted January 22, 2015

AMERICAN SNIPER (R) jj1/2

A war genre film that's a bit too old fashioned and antiquated for its own good

 

There is an absolutely fascinating psychological story to tell at the core of AMERICAN SNIPER, but director Clint Eastwood seems to spend too much time in his own film celebrating his subject without really probing its complex depths.  This is not the first time that the acclaimed 83-year-old director has tackled the military genre...

 

Posted January 22, 2015

These are unequivocally the TEN best reasons why all of you should have rushed out the the cinemas last year.  I've also expanded my list of the 10 BEST FILMS of 2014 to a greater TOP 25!  Enjoy!

 

Posted January 18, 2015

TAKEN 3 (PG-13) jj

TAKEN: 3 - Filmgoers' Wallets: 0

 

It could easily be argued – and with reasonable levels of merit – that TAKEN 2 was completely unnecessary.  It was, after all, a sequel that existed primarily to make a buck and to reap the benefits that 2008’s TAKEN created after becoming a sleeper action film hit...

 

Posted January 18, 2015

INHERENT VICE (R) jj

A trippy haze of convoluted plotting that never pays off

Back in the late 1990’s I was willing to go down just about any Paul Thomas Anderson cinematic rabbit hole with a real enthusiasm.  Now…not so much.  He proved two decades ago that he was one of the most singularly talented film directors of his generation, making two of the best films of the 1990’s in BOOGIE NIGHTS and MAGNOLIA.  The 2000’s, though, weren’t quite so kind to Anderson...

Posted January 18, 2015

SELMA (PG-13) jjj

A deeply humanized portrait of an iconic civil rights crusader

 

SELMA is a dark and sobering reminder of America’s grave civil rights injustices of the past.  Beyond that, it’s one of the very few feature films that I can recall that actually dealt with Martin Luther King, and as to why there have been far so few films that have either chronicled his life or his civil rights crusades is kind of damning in its own right.  Perhaps the sheer scope of his life and accomplishments couldn’t be adequately pared down into any one single film...

 

Posted January 18, 2015

As I have done every year for the last decade, I've compiled my list of the TEN reasons why you should have avoided cinemas like the plague in 2014.  I also discuss every other film beyond that in the year that was that disappointed me in one way or another.

 

Posted January 12, 2015

THE IMITATION GAME (PG-13) jjj

A WWII era film about a truly unknown soldier

 

THE IMITATION GAME is a different type of war genre film in the sense that it’s not about enlisted men serving and dying on the battlefront, but rather about intelligence agents behind closed doors that used their cunning wits to help win WWII in secret.  It was these scientists and engineers that fought a different type of war that didn’t make it to the newspapers; their clandestine efforts, largely unknown until they were declassified five decades later, changed the whole makeup and outcome of WWII...

 

Posted January 12, 2015

THE GAMBLER (R) jjj

An effectively stylish retooling of the 1974 James Caan classic

The job of the film critic, I think, is to relay what a film is trying to do and whether or not it has succeeded in those very aims.  Reviewing a remake adds another layer of complexity, especially when one’s fond memories of the original film come to the forefront.  THE GAMBLER is, of course, a remake of the critically lauded 1974 James Caan film, which was a semi- autobiographical take on writer James Toback’s life...

Posted January 12, 2015

UNBROKEN (PG-13) jj1/2

A somewhat moving, but somewhat broken fact-based WWII POW drama

I've always admired Angelina Jolie the actress for her headstrong tenacity and willingness to get into the darker recesses of her flawed characters.  It’s sad, though, when Jolie as a director lacks the teeth-clenched grit and edginess of many of her acclaimed performances...

Posted January 7, 2015

ANNIE (PG) jj1/2

Some refreshing alterations to the classic musical can't save its lackluster musical numbers 

ANNIE is a strange cinematic occurrence.  It’s a movie remake of a movie adaptation of a Broadway musical remake of a classic comic strip.  Of course, this new big screen version of ANNIE is technically the third if one considers the 1982 John Huston film and the 1999 ABC TV iteration (which is not half bad at all)...

Posted January 7, 2015

INTO THE WOODS (PG-13) jj1/2

Taking the "grim" out of the Brothers Grimm Broadway stage musical

 

INTO THE WOODS debuted nearly 30 years ago on Broadway stage and it was a long standing musical triumph for audiences and critics alike in terms of how it took inspiration from the Brothers Grimm fairy tales – like Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Jack and the Beanstalk –  by honoring their essence while exploring the darker impulses of their characters and their decisions...

 

Posted January 7, 2015

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES

(PG-13) jj1/2

Poor Bilbo Baggins gets lost in his own trilogy

 

For all of the obsessive die hard fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth literary universe, THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES will elicit great sadness in them, seeing as it’s the last of the current cinematic trilogy and arguably the last film we’ll likely see set within THE LORD OF THE RINGS world...

 

Posted January 1, 2015

THE INTERVIEW (R) jjj

A much ado about nothing satire...but it's a funny farce

For a brief period a week or so ago, THE INTERVIEW looked like it was poised to paradoxically be the most well known/least seen film of 2014.  The Seth Rogen/Adam Goldberg written and directed comedy – their follow-up to their gut-bustingly funny THIS IS THE END – has a premise that was sure to incite controversy: a bumbling tabloid TV host and producer are hired by the CIA to covertly assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un while on assignment to interview him...

Posted January 1, 2015

 

 

 

 

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