Posted in: Review

The LEGO Movie

“Everything is awesome” is the goofy, satiric musical refrain that plays over the opening sequences of The LEGO Movie. It’s purposely grating, on-the-nose in the most comedically intentional way, and yet there is no more appropriate descriptor for this film. Everything is truly awesome in The LEGO Movie, which is the cinematic realization of our […]

Posted in: Review

Dallas Buyers Club

In form, Dallas Buyers Club would appear a rollicking, globe-hopping ride, complete with a compelling kingpin figure and a sprawling mega-heist at its center. In execution, however, the film walks quite a steep tightrope, since the kingpin figure is a hateful bigot and the mega-heist involves the smuggling and thinly-veiled distribution of unapproved drug cocktails […]

Posted in: Review

Paradise

Paradise is a film about soul-searching, which is convenient, since it feels like Diablo Cody is searching her own soul to rediscover the edgy voice that made her once seem so fresh. Or, alternatively, maybe this is just what happens when Cody runs out of juice. This is the kind of lean, thin, mercifully short […]

Posted in: Review

The Fifth Estate

Irony of ironies – the much-anticipated “WikiLeaks Movie,” which dramatizes the inception of an organization responsible for some the most incendiary and controversial information leaks in recent history, turns out to be a rote, by-the-numbers thriller. The Fifth Estate, director Bill Condon’s re-entry into the land of serious filmmaking (after a psychotropic stint on the […]

Posted in: Review

Escape From Tomorrow

We had to always know there was something evil lurking behind those big, iconic mouse ears. Randy Moore is just the first guy to openly acknowledge it. The upstart writer-director’s first feature, Escape from Tomorrow, is one of the most far-out fantasies of all-time… and I’m not even talking about the film itself. Shot on […]

Posted in: Review

Captain Phillips

With measured satisfaction, I can report Captain Phillips is a solid thriller. Satisfaction is “measured” because, with the filmmaking talent behind the film, it could’ve been so much more. Director Paul Greengrass has made a career out of twisting expectations, taking straight thrillers like the Bourne films and infusing them with geopolitical subtext and emotional […]

Posted in: Review

Don Jon

Two things are readily apparent on the basis of Don Jon. First, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is clearly a talented filmmaker and a thoughtful, empathetic storyteller. Second, the guy has obviously never been caught in the grip of true addiction. In this, Gordon-Levitt’s debut as a writer-director, addiction — specifically, porn addiction — is the force  that […]

Posted in: Review

Elysium

In an early promotional interview for Elysium, writer-director Neill Blomkamp made two declarations of note. First, he stated that his newest film, which plainly and explicitly depicts a world that separates the haves and have-nots in a story that hinges on an uprising over universal health care, was not political. Second, he proclaimed affection for […]

Posted in: Review

Jug Face

As Jug Face begins, it toes the line between thoughtful indie thriller and B-movie schlockfest. Very quickly, it fully crosses over into the latter category. Not merely because the film is amateurish, though it unfortunately is — there are only so many legitimate thrills that can be created by shaking the camera and layering cheap […]

Posted in: Review

The Canyons

The decay of modern cinema permeates The Canyons — and not just because the film sucks. Director Paul Schrader begins and ends the movie with still shots of abandoned movie theaters, clearly signifying the death of the movie-going experience we grew up idolizing. Old school cinemas used to be signposts of glitzy Hollywood, a window […]

Posted in: Review

The To Do List

The To Do List is the first movie I can recall to treat the 1990s as retro kitsch, from the clothing to the hairdos to the outdated pop culture and technology references. Pagers instead of iPhones — HA-HA! Frizzy perms held together by massive amount of AquaNet — HEE-HEE! The gags are obvious and easy, […]

Posted in: Review

The Way, Way Back

The agony of adolescence and the magic of summer are both evoked with charm to spare in The Way, Way Back, a film that is a wondrous conundrum of sparkling intelligence and sneaky reality. The movie is too sharply witty to be fully realistic, yet reaches moments of such beautiful emotional resonance that we not […]

Posted in: Review

Pacific Rim

The advertising tagline for Pacific Rim is “Go Big or Go Extinct,” and on the evidence of the film itself, Guillermo del Toro is conveying that message to all other directors of summer action epics. The Mexican auteur’s latest work is a behemoth among behemoths, the kind of grandiose cinematic spectacle that should redefine all […]