REVIEW: Fast & Furious [2009]

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“He used to date my sister” While only grossing half of its predecessor’s haul to make it seem as though Paul Walker‘s absence was a huge box office hindrance, Tokyo Drift still almost doubled its budget despite no discernible connection to the franchise that spawned it until the very end (minus its drag racing theme). […]

REVIEW: Une Libération [2015]

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“The Americans are coming” ***Possible Spoilers*** The sheer number of different stories that have been told out of the atrocities committed during World War II never ceases to amaze me. It shouldn’t—such a large-scale assault on humanity is nothing if not complex. When you think about breadth of the countries, cultures, and languages involved, the […]

REVIEW: Relatos salvajes [Wild Tales] [2014]

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“Crime of passion?” Best. Wedding. Ever. And trip to the bureaucratic black hole that is government sanctioned towing. And expertly planned, faux fateful airline flight this side of “Lost”. I mean it. Damián Szifrón‘s Relatos salvejes [Wild Tales] is a twisted cousin of Krzysztof Kieslowski‘s The Decalogue, a sextet of darkly comic morality plays where […]

REVIEW: Track [2015]

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“I probably should have picked up your gun” There have been many iterations of the dark morality tale known most recently as “The Scorpion and the Frog”. Before its take around 1954, however, came similar fables from Aesop (“The Farmer and the Viper” and “The Snake and the Farmer”) as well as that of Arab/West […]

REVIEW: Cinderella [2015]

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“Have courage and be kind” For anyone who cannot stand singing, Disney’s latest iteration of the timeless Cinderella is catered to you. I know Chris Weitz and the other screenwriters on the project before him poured through the fairy tale’s vast lineage for every detail they could cull together into what they surely believe to […]

REVIEW: Faults [2015]

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“What did you lose?” There’s an inherent paradox to the universally held idea of cults being destructive. So quick to deem what occurs within them unnatural—namely a leader using his charisma to indoctrinate the weak into a “family” that understands them—we forget to acknowledge how much of our own lives follow the same pattern. As […]

REVIEW: Run All Night [2015]

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“Me and you” There’s something to be said about knowing exactly what you’re getting and Jaume Collet-Serra is proving consistent enough to deliver that promise through his films. Whereas Luc Besson spins a revolving door of directors to helm his actioners—mostly tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top fare (besides the original hit-maker Taken) he doesn’t deem worthy of his […]

REVIEW: Левиафан [Leviafan] [Leviathan] [2014]

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“These animals are not the whole town” It doesn’t get much bleaker or more cynical than Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s Левиафан [Leviathan]. He and cowriter Oleg Negin were inspired by many stories—”killdozer” rampage orchestrator Marvin Heemeyer, the Bible’s Job and King Ahab, and Heinrich von Kleist’s novella Michael Kohlhaas—all of which I know nothing about. Reading a […]

REVIEW: Focus [2015]

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“Nice jacket” You know that moment in a con movie where you’re shown an elaborate sequence full of subtle background action without knowing exactly what’s happening until the mastermind explains it all to a colleague—and us—who’s unaware? It’s my favorite trope of the genre because it either provides a sense of awe in the trick’s […]

REVIEW: Heritage [2015]

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“Easy thing to bring someone into this wild world” Writer/director Damien Kazan is really honing his visual style these last couple of years with a string of gorgeous looking short films able to mesmerize with the sound off. Not that you should turn it off, his narration arrives with the type of resonating philosophizing we […]

REVIEW: McFarland, USA [2015]

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“There ain’t nothing American Dream about this place” I entered the theater expecting McFarland, USA to be a Million Dollar Arm redux with Latinos in place of Indians. What director Niki Caro actually delivered was something more akin to Miracle—still not a “great” film per se, but definitely a worthwhile telling of a heartwarmingly Disney, […]