• phoenix01

    REVIEW: Phoenix [2014]

    “I no longer exist” The Holocaust left thousands of survivors stripped of identity—branded by a number as though they weren’t worthy of the name given at birth. To exit such horror was to enter a new world forever changed for them as well as those lucky enough to have missed the nightmare first-hand. Pity, guilt, […]

  • mommy01

    REVIEW: Mommy [2014]

    “A mother doesn’t wake up one morning not loving her son” If I can be justified in agreeing with all the praise after seeing just one of his films—his latest, Cannes Jury Prize-winning Mommy—twenty-five year old writer/director Xavier Dolan is every bit the wunderkind label that has been thrust upon him. Five films in six […]

  • observance01

    FANTASIA15 REVIEW: Observance [2015]

    “Just watch and report back” You know you’ve seen something special when your only thought upon completion is whether to watch again or scour the internet for possible interpretations. This is what Joseph Sims-Dennett‘s Observance did for me. A horror/suspense filled to the brim with atmosphere and mood, its tension gradually rises like the dark […]

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    INTERVIEW: Olivier Nakache, cowriter/codirector of Samba

    Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano‘s (shown above at middle and right with Omar Sy) Intouchables was France’s Oscar hopeful in 2012 and did make the January shortlist. An infectious crowd-pleaser based on a true story, it vaulted Sy into stardom with a César win over The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin and ultimately co-staring roles in Hollywood […]

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    INTERVIEW: Debra Granik, director of Stray Dog

    If you don’t think someone fresh off an Oscar nomination would spend five years to follow her critically acclaimed fictional narrative with the first feature-length documentary of her career, you don’t know Debra Granik. When I interviewed her back in 2010 in support of Winter’s Bone, she was already talking about documentary observation as being […]



film reviews

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REVIEW: Terminator 2: Judgment Day [1991]

“You’re really real” Oh what seven years can accomplish through cinematic technological achievement. While The Terminator still looks good today, Terminator 2: Judgment Day looks amazing. Director James Cameron acknowledges his evolutionary leap by opening the follow-up with a near-replica 2029 Los Angeles prologue as the first to showcase exactly how far forward. These new […]

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REVIEW: San Andreas [2015]

“Played a little tug-of-war with a car” Can you call a movie a disaster flick without the President of the United States declaring a state of emergency? While I ask in jest, we do expect such a sobering announcement to arrive with music soaring and heroic platitudes raining down. It never comes here, though, and […]

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REVIEW: The Terminator [1984]

“It’s just him and me” Sometimes the road to success hinges on a series of happenstances and whom you know. Just ask James Cameron: on-set special effects director for Piranha II: The Spawning (former boss Roger Corman produced the first) before it became his directorial debut due to creative differences between his predecessor and producer […]

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REVIEW: How to Save Us [2014]

“Have you seen mom and dad yet since they’ve died?” A plague has decimated Tasmania to the point where everyone is either dead or evacuated. Everyone but Sam Everett (Coy Jandreau), the youngest of three siblings yet to cope with the death of his parents, present to visit his family’s old vacation home on the […]

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REVIEW: Roar [1981]

“They’re not trained cats. They’re just my friends.” Disparaging Roar as a film means nothing in the grand scheme of things when no one will ever watch it as a movie above the near-deadly document of misguided, Hollywood liberal stupidity it is. Drafthouse Films knew this when they decided to rerelease the infamous action/adventure thirty-five […]

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REVIEW: Entourage [2015]

“I don’t worry. I win.” I was a big fan of “Entourage”—loved the first four seasons and remained entertained until the end. The fact Doug Ellin received backing for eight seasons is a success story in itself because you can only recycle the same story beats so often before the audience loses interest. Who cares […]

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REVIEW: Tomorrowland [2015]

“Which wolf wins?” The only constant the future holds is how today’s will look nothing like tomorrow’s. It would have been an amazing experience to see the vision Walt Disney had for his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow in Orlando, but he of course sadly passed away in 1966 and that land became the Magic […]

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REVIEW: Mad Max: Fury Road [2015]

“Our babies will not be warlords” It’s not often delays, financial dissolutions, and waning interest make a film better, but I don’t want to know what Mad Max: Fury Road might have been without them. In its current form the film embodies a logical escalation of what director George Miller began over three decades ago […]

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REVIEW: Pitch Perfect 2 [2015]

“And there are the props” A surprise hit from 2012, Pitch Perfect was more than hype. It was good. Good enough for a sequel? Sure. I was excited to see what might happen until the trailer dropped. Boy did that thing look like a train wreck attempt at capturing lightning in a bottle by mimicking […]

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REVIEW: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome [1985]

“He can beat most men with his breath” It’s said that Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is based (without credit) on Russell Hoban‘s science fiction novel Riddley Walker. This could be true, but to my eye the finished product bears a striking resemblance to the 80s fantasy aesthetic thus far utilized during the decade. More of […]

madmax201

REVIEW: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior [1981]

“I’m just here for the gasoline” Welcome to the “Wastelands”. This is the Mad Max I remember—a desolate post-apocalyptic future riddled with mohawk-toting, S&M leather-wearing marauders bearing teeth and chaining submissives/human guard dogs on leashes until the fight needs some extra wild. It’s no surprise Hollywood changed the name from Mad Max 2 to The […]

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REVIEW: Mad Max [1979]

“I’m a fuel-injected suicide machine” You couldn’t turn on the television without seeing Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome when I was growing up. I couldn’t tell you anything about it besides the fact Tina Turner co-starred, but I remember the whole terminally crazed aesthetic of George Miller‘s post-apocalyptic world. So much so that I always assumed […]

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REVIEW: The D Train [2015]

“Like lawn chairs” Calling The D Train a comedy is probably the most accurate description to bestow upon it, but the label doesn’t quite do it justice. I’m still wrestling about whether that’s because it’s more than a simple comedy or because it utilizes the genre so it can get away with a strain of […]

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REVIEW: Barely Lethal [2015]

“Like, totem pole” Much like director Kyle Newman‘s first theatrical release Fanboys, his sophomore effort Barely Lethal is built for a niche audience with minimal wiggle room to capture the excitement of casual viewers just stopping by. You don’t need to travel farther than the backlash-riddled comments section of its YouTube trailers to understand this. […]

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REVIEW: Avengers: Age of Ultron [2015]

“It wasn’t a nightmare. It was a legacy.” He may not have been there at the start, but Joss Whedon stewarded the Marvel Cinematic Universe through its make or break stage. It was one thing to give the world high-tech flying fun via a sarcastic playboy, otherworld fantasy come to earth courtesy of a haughty […]