• top10_2014

    Top Ten Films of 2014: A deluge of sci-fi doppelgängers and one-word titles

    I don’t want to label 2014 as a good, bad, or average year. I want to call it inventive, original, and delightfully dark. Whether it’s doppelgänger paradoxes leading to murderous rage, the bleak carnage of war, prison violence, or psychologically debilitating struggles to be great, my favorite films had an edge that cut to the […]

  • wildtales01

    REVIEW: Relatos salvajes [Wild Tales] [2014]

    “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 […]

  • faults01

    REVIEW: Faults [2015]

    “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 […]

  • 2014topalbums

    Top 100 Albums of 2014

    Honorable Mention: #100: Get Hurt by The Gaslight Anthem #99: They Want My Soul by Spoon #98: Motion by Calvin Harris #97: The Joy of Motion by Animals as Leaders #96: Dialects by Snowmine #95: Emmaar by Tinariwen #94: The Fire is Gone by Midnight Faces #93: The Endless River by Pink Floyd #92: Count […]

  • oscars2015a

    The 87th Oscars recap through tweets …

    I’m not sure why I keep filling myself with false hope that the Oscars will one day be an entertaining show to watch. The optimism is almost completely unfounded by this point. Whether they go weird (Anne Hathaway and James Franco), safe (Billy Crystal), hip (Seth MacFarlane), or try and steal another show’s success (Neil […]



film reviews

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REVIEW: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift [2006]

“I thought you loved me?” The Justin Lin/Chris Morgan era begins with The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and it’s a welcome improvement. Not only does the visual style evolve to be less cartoonish in its power zooms, but the sense of humor finds a happy medium between The Fast and the Furious‘ severity […]

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REVIEW: Chappie [2015]

“I want to go home” I understand the general public not wanting to go as far into sci-fi as Neill Blomkamp goes with Chappie—although they loved the similar lengths of District 9—but it’s hard to believe the critical sphere has taken such a hard stance against it. Actually, maybe it’s not too difficult to believe […]

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REVIEW: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night [2014]

“Are you a good boy or not?” The comparisons are so spot-on that I knew critics before me had made the same parallels before even looking. Ana Lily Amirpour‘s debut feature A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is Jim Jarmusch cool with Quentin Tarantino swagger—an Iranian Vampire Western calling to mind Dead Man and […]

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REVIEW: Run All Night [2015]

“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 […]

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REVIEW: The DUFF [2015]

“Can I have some peaches and pears?” CBS Films and Lionsgate are using an interesting approach to pitch The DUFF. Watching their first trailer made me check the calendar, wondering if I had somehow been transported back in time. Not only were they openly calling someone a Designated Ugly Fat Friend to her face as […]

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REVIEW: 2 Fast 2 Furious [2003]

“I’m not going back to Barstow” It would appear that we have Michael Brandt and Derek Haas to blame (thank?) for the sudden change from overwrought melodrama to self-aware comedy I would attribute to giving the Fast and the Furious franchise its longevity. Being that I had only ever seen the first, fifth, and sixth […]

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REVIEW: Power/Rangers [2015]

“Bullshit is an ugly color on you” I watched “Voltron” growing up so I was never a huge proponent of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” when they arrived on the scene. There was always a sense of facsimile in my mind and the goofiness of the whole thing didn’t help recruit me into their legion of […]

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

“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 […]

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REVIEW: Kingsman: The Secret Service [2015]

“It’s a bulldog, innit?” I’m all for Matthew Vaughan continuing to jump from comic book property to comic book property. That’s not to say his debut Layer Cake was bad—on the contrary, I liked it a lot—he’s simply had a very successful run afterwards in the graphic novel realm spanning Stardust, Kick-Ass, and X-Men: First […]

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REVIEW: Focus [2015]

“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 […]

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REVIEW: Heritage [2015]

“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 […]

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REVIEW: McFarland, USA [2015]

“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, […]

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REVIEW: Still Alice [2014]

“I knew I shouldn’t have had that champagne” There’s little scarier in this world than a debilitating disease like Alzheimer’s. You may initially feel a sentiment as shared by the titular Alice (Julianne Moore) in Still Alice to be hyperbolic, but the thought that cancer could be a better option is an extreme worth considering. […]

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REVIEW: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice [2010]

“Are you familiar with the grey wolf?” Considering the story goes that Nicolas Cage was the catalyst for getting The Sorcerer’s Apprentice off the ground—he really wanted to do a movie where he had magical powers—and how well-suited his over-the-top theatrics are to family film fare, it’s surprising he hasn’t made a point of doing […]

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REVIEW: Plain Clothes [2015]

“And God left it to them to choose darkness or light” Actor Sam Jaeger played the most calm and collected character of the bunch on “Parenthood”. Introduced as a stay-at-home dad with a smile, he had a way of internalizing his feelings so every emotion coursing through him was seen behind actions trying hard not […]