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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"Ain't no thing like me, except me!!!"

 

BRADLEY COOPER

 

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

 

2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CrAiGeR's

pick of the week

 

THE DROP 

(R) jjj1/2

 "THE DROP, at least as far as gangster films go, is a refreshing low-key affair."

 

 
 

 

 
 

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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:

1316

 

 

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My last appearance:

Monday, January 19, 2015

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

 

My next appearance:

Monday, February 2, 2015

TBA 

 

Previous appearances:

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

 

 

 

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

FOXCATCHER (R) jjj1/2

The hazardous perils of athletic ambition 

Bennett Miller’s FOXCATCHER is one of he bleakest and most chilling reality based sports films that I’ve ever seen.  So many examples in the genre are genuinely moving and uplifting, but Miller takes a decidedly different course with his portrayal of John du Pont, a millionaire heir to the Du Pont family fortune that just happened to also be a sports enthusiast and amateur wrestling coach...

Posted January 1, 2015

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: THE SECRET OF THE TOMB (PG) jj

A third film about exhibits coming to life that has no comedic life of its own

Question: NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB – Unnecessary sequel or unnecessary-est sequel?  I thought that all of the comic possibilities of exploring museum artifacts and exhibits come magically to life were explored in the first two NIGHT AND THE MUSEUM pictures.  Honestly.  I did.  Perhaps there are just so much CG-creatures running around the screen amidst many celebrities playing famous – but long since dead – historical figures that a man can take over the course of a few films...

Posted January 1, 2015

EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS

(PG-13) jj

The story of Moses...GLADIATORIZED

With visionary director Ridley Scott at the helm returning to the sword and sandal epic genre (which he re-popularized with his Oscar winning GLADIATOR and the underrated KINGDOM OF HEAVEN), you’d think that him taking on the Biblical story of Moses’ journey from Egyptian prince to Hebrew leader and liberator would have been a relative win-win proposition for all involved...

Posted December 20, 2014

WHIPLASH (R) jjjj

The cerebral battlefield between mentor and protégé 

WHIPLASH, at face value, is about jazz music, but deep at its core it’s more about fanatical obsession and a battle of egos and wills between two artists constantly vying for supremacy.  There’s the student that’s willing to go to any extreme to achieve musical excellence, but then there’s his mentor/instructor that’s equally willing to painfully make a mockery of his protégé at every waking moment...

Posted December 14, 2014

THE GIVER (PG-13) jj

A post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller of the been-there/done-that variety

As a cautionary piece of futuristic sci-fi, THE GIVER has so much going for it that it’s a real shame when far too many of its other elements fall flat.  Based on the Newbery Medal winning 1994 young adult book of the same name by Lois Lowry, the film tells an Orwellian tale of a society of tomorrow that has creepily eradicated emotion and memories to create a utopian civilization that, deep beneath its façade, subverts individuality...

Posted December 14, 2014

HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 (R) jjj

Workplace revenge is far less funny this go around

About half way through HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 I was left contemplating whether it was an unnecessary sequel or a horrible one.  By the time the film ended I was leaning a bit towards the former.  There are certainly some solid laughs sprinkled through this follow-up to 2011’s HORRIBLE BOSSES...

Posted December 5, 2014

BIG HERO 6 (PG) jjj

A Disney animated adventure with a Marvel Comics slant

Where Disney’s BIG HERO 6 (their 54th animated film) lacks in originality it more than makes up for it in terms of energy and a fairly amusing and heart-warming story that preaches a noble anti-violence message.  Directed with great exuberance for the underlining material by Don Hall (WINNIE THE POOH) and Chris Williams (BOLT)...

Posted December 5, 2014

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 1

(PG-13) jjj    

Katniss strikes back!

I was a rather reluctant fan of THE HUNGER GAMES right from the beginning.  The first film – based on Suzanne Collins’ massively popular novels - felt like it borrowed a bit too heavily from the standard troupes of other better post-apocalyptic, dystopian sci-fi genre efforts.  It also seemed to adhere to the obligatory conventions of young adult fiction...

Posted November 29, 2014

ATARI: GAME OVER

(no MPAA rating) jjj1/2

Hitting the reset button on one of the great video game urban legends

ATARI: GAME OVER is a thoroughly enthralling new documentary that's not only about a fascinating bit of video game history, but it also manages to be a cautionary tale of business and corporate hubris left largely unchecked.  The first film project made under the Xbox Entertainment Studios banner (which has unfortunately now closed shop) was written and directed with great enthusiasm by Zak Penn...

Posted November 25, 2014

DUMB AND DUMBER TO

(PG-13) jj1/2   

As advertised

DUMB AND DUMBER TO (no, that’s not a typo) is, to be fair, a spectacularly, predictably, and aggressively dumb movie.  How could it not be?  It’s a film that celebrates nincompoopery, much like its 1994 predecessor DUMB AND DUMBER, the Farrelly Brothers’ first film that showcased the highly unlikely – but enjoyable – pairing of the then rocketing to superstardom Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels...

Posted November 21, 2014

BIRDMAN  (R) jjjj      

Michael Keaton dons the cape and cowl again...sort of 

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) is a masterpiece of directorial choreography.  It just might be one of the most audaciously envisioned and executed films that I’ve seen in an awfully long time.  Not only is it a bravura showpiece of remarkable filmmaking ingenuity (more on that later), but BIRDMAN also is a deeply intimate and insular look the daily grind of the New York theater scene...

Posted November 21, 2014

INTERSTELLAR  (PG-13) jjj   

A mind-bending space odyssey unlike any other

Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR is the most fearlessly ambitious and thought-provoking films about space exploration since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (which served, by Nolan’s admission, as a huge source of inspiration in the making of his film).  Nolan's film dares – as far too few sci-fi films do these days – to interweave an emotionally harrowing tale of human struggle with that of remarkable speculative science that pushes our deep-seeded understanding of how time, space and relativity works...

Posted November 15, 2014

THE ZERO THEOREM  (R) jj

Gilliam returns to his old bag of dystopian sci-fi tricks

Terry Gilliam’s THE ZERO THEOREM is a film of sublimely offbeat visual hubris that only he can muster, but as an example of contemplative and involving science fiction...his film leaves a lot to be desired.  His first attempt at the genre since 1996’s TWELVE MONKEYS (and a pseudo third chapter in his dystopian sci-fi trifecta that includes that film and 1985’s BRAZIL before it)...

Posted November 15, 2014

NIGHTCRAWLER (R) jjjj   

Gyllenhaal channels his inner Travis Bickle

Dan Gilroy’s NIGHTCRAWLER is like a nightmarish cocktail of the most alarming elements of TAXI DRIVER and NETWORK further crossed with the cold and unnerving aesthetic of a Michael Mann.  Much like Martin Scorsese’s lauded 1976 film, NIGHTCRAWLER is an unflinching and unnerving portrait of a methodical minded sociopath that finds a sick purpose in life while exploring the seedy underbelly of society...

Posted November 9, 2014

VIDEO GAMES: THE MOVIE

(No MPAA rating) jj1/2     

This documentary needs an extra life

 

I’m going to preface my review of VIDEO GAMES: THE MOVIE by saying that (1) yes, I do indeed feel that video games are an artform and (2) I’ve been a lifelong gamer as long as I’ve been able to hold a controller in my hand.  I’ve played on multiple generations of home consoles (including archaic relics of the past like the Atari 2600, the Intellivision, the original Nintendo, and all the way up to current gen consoles made by Sony and Playstation)...

 

Posted November 9, 2014

WISH I WAS HERE (R) jj1/2      

Wish this film was as good as GARDEN STATE

 

It has been ten years since writer/director/actor Zach Braff burst onto the movie scene with his novice directorial effort GARDEN STATE, I film that I admired so much that I placed it on my list for the Ten Best Films of 2004.  I found that the film intimately spoke to me and towards the general malaise of uncertainty that people of my generation were experiencing at the time…and perhaps still do...

 

Posted November 9, 2014

JOHN WICK (R) jjjj   

WHOA!

I have all but given up on modern Hollywood action films in terms of their ability to infuse some much needed vitality and novelty back into the genre.  Well, along comes the rough, rugged, frequently brutal, deliriously stylish, and intensely entertaining JOHN WICK to wake the genre – and audience members, for that matter – up out of apathy...

Posted October 31, 2014

ST. VINCENT (PG-13) jj1/2   

He ain't no saint...trust me

ST. VINCENT is a deeply manipulative film about deeply endearing characters.  It tells a story that has been served up, in one form or another, countless times before in other films – a cantankerous ol’ bastard of a drunk gets reformed into a better, less self-loathing individual via the aid of a sweet and innocent kid from the block...

Posted October 31, 2014

THE PURGE: ANARCHY (R) jjj   

Let the cleansing begin!

THE PURGE: ANARCHY is, of course, a sequel to last year’s THE PURGE, but it feels more like a subtle reboot than it does a follow-up entry in the series…and that’s kind of a good thing.  Writer/director James DeMonaco is back at the helm, attempting to carry forward the somewhat involving and fascinating premise of his introductory film, which, more or less, never materialized as a fully developed entity to my satisfaction...

Posted October 31, 2014

FURY (R) jjj1/2   

Band of tank brothers

The war genre has become such a prevalent one for so many decades that finding a new and refreshing spin on it must be a daunting challenge for modern filmmakers.  Writer/director David Ayer (who wrote TRAINING DAY and recently directed END OF WATCH and the very underrated SABOTAGE from earlier this year) opts to shed light on a very seldom seen facet of WWII on the silver screen: tank warfare...

Posted October 24, 2014

VAMPIRE ACADEMY (PG-13) 1/2j     

No higher learning was involved in the making of this film

Okay…here’s one for you:  How could a film from the director of MEAN GIRLS and the writer of HEATHERS be not only one of the worst films of 2014, but is also the single worst young adult themed movie of recent memory?  Well, VAMPIRE ACADEMY is a rare breed of multiple cinematic sinner...

Posted October 24, 2014

DRACULA: UNTOLD (PG-13) jj1/2  

Dracula Begins

At this point in my life, films about vampires have to work some serious overtime to get me invested in them.  There have been so many innumerable adaptations and interpretations of Bram Stoker’s iconic literary creation over the last century that I’ve nearly lost my – ahem! – thirst for any new film that wishes to re-imagine the most infamous undead bloodsucker in history...

Posted October 18, 2014

THE JUDGE (R)  jjj  

'Two Roberts' at the top of their game

There is very little territory that THE JUDGE covers that has not already been shown in numerous other legal thrillers or family melodramas.  The film builds to a obligatory “big” courtroom climax ala John Grisham and, along the way, tells a fairly predictable tale of a father and son that have been estranged for years, but are brought back together over the death and funeral of a mutual loved one and are then forced to come to grips with their respective differences...

Posted October 18, 2014

ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY (PG)  jjj  

Worst. Day. Ever!

Everyone has bad days.  Alas, for poor Alexander Cooper…he and his family suffer from a relative tsunami of embarrassing social indiscretions in – to quote its full title (deep breath!) – ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY.  The film – based on Judith Viorst’s 1972 book of the same name, which was also previously adapted into a an HBO animated musical...

Posted October 18, 2014

GONE GIRL (R) jjjj

Chasing "Amazing Amy"

David Fincher’s GONE GIRL is a brilliantly macabre and intoxicating film with such a labyrinthine narrative and thematic complexity that writing about it at any length without engaging in massive story spoilers is daunting.  The best thing I could possible recommend to viewers is to go in as cold as I did, which means having never read the source material that the film is based on, Gillian Flynn’s 2012 thriller novel of the same name...

Posted October 12, 2014

LEFT BEHIND (PG-13) 1/2j  

Please, dear God...save us all from this movie

LEFT BEHIND is one of the funniest films that I’ve ever seen.  The fact that it’s not a comedy is ultimately telling.  Only an omnipotent deity in the heavens above could explain how a film so inexcusably and laughably mediocre like this exists.  LEFT BEHIND is so monumentally ill conceived and amateurishly shot and acted that you’re left thinking that the makers behind the scenes had no real idea just how terrible their final product was going to be...

Posted October 12, 2014

SPACE STATION (No MPAA rating) jjj

The future has never looked so...grooooovy

SPACE STATION 76 is one of the most peculiar science fiction films - and comedies - that I’ve ever seen.  Yet, it’s the film’s audacious level of peculiarity that makes it kind of oddly infectious.  Directed and co-written by Jack Plotnick, SPACE STATION 76 is an adaptation of a Los Angeles based stage play that was apparently developed through a series of improvisational sessions with the writers and actors...

Posted October 12, 2014

THE TRIP TO ITALY (R) jjj1/2  

Coogan + Brydon + dueling Michael Caine Impersonations = a trip worth savoring

 

There’s a very sly scene in THE TRIP TO ITALY – Michael Winterbottom’s sequel (his first one…ever!) to 2010’s THE TRIP – during which time stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (playing versions of themselves) are at a posh restaurant in Italy ruminating about movies in general...

 

Posted October 3, 2014

THE EQUALIZER (R) jjj

Not your typical retail store stock boy

THE EQUALIZER opens with an unintentionally hilarious and pretentious Mark Twain quote regarding the nature of man, which tries, I think, to set up this action thriller as one of utmost solemnity.  The resulting film, though, is so unrelentingly silly that you kind of have to do a reflective double take on the inclusion of that title card quote...

Posted October 3, 2014

A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES

(R) jjj1/2  

Not your typical Liam Neeson shoot first, ask questions later thriller

Scott Frank's A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES – adapted from the 1992 novel the same name by Lawrence Block – is the kind of white knuckled detective crime noir that’s just not made in any abundance anymore.  The central character – an ex-cop and recovering alcoholic now turned unlicensed private detective – has seen the light of day in multiple books and I can certainly see why this character and material appealed to Liam Neeson...

Posted September 26, 2014

THE MAZE RUNNER (PG-13) jjj  

A young-adult sci-fi thriller that doesn't completely pander down to its audience

There have been relatively so many young-adult fantasy novels adapted to the silver screen lately that I’ve frankly lost count.  Some have been exceptional (THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE), some have been mediocre (DIVERGENT), and some have been downright cruddy (THE HOST, I AM NUMBER FOUR, any TWILIGHT film of your choosing).  As a result, it was with great reluctance that I screened THE MAZE RUNNER...

Posted September 26, 2014

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU

(R) jjj

Shiva at its most stressful

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU does absolutely nothing different than what the countless other estranged family reunion dramedies have done before.  You know the type of genre I’m talking about: The one involving cranky and irritable siblings – all in stages of a respective mid-life crisis – returning to their childhood home to reconnect with one another and their parents – via a marriage, funeral, etc. – to eventually sort out and deal with all of their nagging insecurities with each other and themselves...

Posted September 26, 2014

THE DROP  (R) jjj1/2  

A tale of lost mob money and abused puppies...but it miraculously works

THE DROP is a mob movie of a decidedly different breed.  It’s concerned more with the behind-the-scenes lowlife bit players that play small, but significant roles in the larger food chain of the mafia.  The film places great emphasis on characterizing these bottom-feeders, some of which are aging crewmembers whose best days are long behind them, whereas others are relatively young and honor bound workers that harbor deep secrets from the past...

Posted September 21, 2014

 

 

 

 

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REVIEWS

 

PALO ALTO

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BOYHOOD

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A MOST WANTED MAN

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BLENDED

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THE NOVEMBER MAN

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TO BE TAKEI

(no MPAA rating)

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NIGHT MOVES

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SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR 

 

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WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL

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THE EXPENDABLES 3

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LET'S BE COPS

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INTO THE STORM

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TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

 

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LIFE ITSELF

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

(PG-13)

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HERCULES

(PG-13)

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LUCY

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SABOTAGE

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SEX TAPE 

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SNOWPIERCER

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DOM HEMINGWAY

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