Posted in: Review

Grand Piano

It’s a fine line that separates astute homage from cheap facsimile. Liberally taking cues from Hitchcock and De Palma, Grand Piano is far too fun and well-crafted to come off as forgery. The premise of the thriller is preposterous:  a renowned pianist with shredded nerves is threatened by an unseen sniper. If he plays a […]

Posted in: Review

Journey to the West

After a workhorse career in Chinese cinema throughout the nineties, comedian Stephen Chow broke through, to some extent, in the United States with the release of Shaolin Soccer and especially Kung Fu Hustle — projects he also wrote and directed, with his trademark mix of Jim Carrey-level cartoon energy and Quentin Tarantino-level cultural influences. In […]

Posted in: Review

Interior. Leather Bar.

Eye-opening, it’s not. James Franco’s “reimagining” of the 40 minutes of explicit material cut from William Friedkin’s Cruising arrives heavy with baggage, little of which turns out to be relevant to the movie at hand. Interior. Leather Bar. is less what it claims to be than an inside-out investigation of the “Franco’s doing a gay-porn […]

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Non-Stop

Non-Stop is yet another in a long line of intriguing film ideas rendered inert by bad execution. In this case, while director Jaume Collet-Serra (House of Wax, Orphan) is doing the best he can to ratchet up the tension and the suspense, a screenplay by John W. Richardson, Chris Roach, and Ryan Engle is spending […]

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Odd Thomas

Odd Thomas is based on a novel of 446 pages, and it feels like at least half of them are read aloud in the film. A cramming of expositional and explanatory voiceover is meant to ensure we keep up with the strange story, but it also slows the momentum of what is, at times, a […]

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Beach Pillows

Beach Pillows is writer/producer/director Sean Hartofilis’ first feature film. It’s an intimate and relatable character study of a depressed, late-20-something guy stuck in a small-town suburb as his uninspired life crumbles before his apathetic eyes. His friends use him, his girlfriend cheats on him, and his writing career never materializes, leaving him to work full […]

Posted in: Review

The 10 Best Religious Themed Films of All Time

There are a lot of genres that Hollywood gets right. This town appears to be full of experts at drama, action, comedy, family films, and with a few exceptions, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. One area where they tend to fail, however, is in the area of religion and faith. Something about Christianity (or any […]

Posted in: Review

Pompeii

Ah… Pompeii. What choice cheese you are. Neither gouda nor cheddar, Edam nor Danish Blue, but cheese none the less. Perhaps, it would be better to call you Velveeta, a slippery, silly imitation of the real thing — or even better, a purely processed cheese-food slice, nondescript in both flavor and appearance. Under the always-awkward directing […]

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Omar

For such a razor-sharp thriller, the West Bank-set Omar smuggles a dense packet of ambiguity into its compact running time. This shouldn’t be a rarity, given how many stories there are about the conflict between occupiers and occupied, the dueling taxonomy of “freedom fighters” and “terrorists.” But too often these clashes are related in absolutes, […]