MOVIE REVIEW: The Equalizer 2

Turning 64 this year, Denzel Washington’s eyes may be heavier and his body might be softer than before, but it’s what’s between his ears and trumpeting out of his mouth that are truly ageless. For The Equalizer 2, all four years has done is make this man-of-action more methodical and calculating with this ass-kicking punishment and sin-correcting righteousness. This twisty sequel takes the temperature and weight of the cold lead hammer that is Denzel and heats it with anger and stakes to match the hot lead being shot around him.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Eighth Grade

Dropped jaws, bashfulness, winces, worries, and all, this dynamite film needs to be required viewing for the teens out there, especially girls, of these complicated and confusing present times. And the people that should be joining them in the next closest seats are their parents who need their eyes and hearts opened as well. Adults, this Eighth Grade may not be your plight or a mirror to your own middle school experience, but you can engage and empathize easily with its challenges.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Skyscraper

When you see Dwayne Johnson wipe his sweat, furrow his brow, clench his muscles, and fixate his eyes of indomitable resilience at each obstacle in Skyscaper with the sole goal of rescuing his wife and two kids from a 225-story burning building, you immediately feel completely inadequate as a man and especially a father. You want a dad like The Rock. Johnson is the ultimate winning answer to every playground banter battle of “my dad is tougher than your dad.” His screen children don’t know how good they have it, but we sure do enjoying another glossy, ballsy, and brawny summer blockbuster from the most dependable and bankable action star in the world.

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COLUMN: Late summer box office forecast

Every annual summer box office season tends to be front-loaded in the months of May and June with films looking to rake in the dough early. Disney releases led the way. The Mouse House clearly isn’t hurting and neither is the competition. But there’s still two months of the summer schedule to go. A few solid contenders remain to clean up the remaining monetary potential of the 2018 summer box office. Let’s take a quick look at the remaining field.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on July 9, 2018

Notable and notorious IndieWire film critic David Ehrlich recently put out a social media call for film critic peers to join a weekly survey to discuss movie topics, answer questions, and highlight their work.  Representing Every Movie Has a Lesson, I, along with over 60 other emerging and established film critics including some of my fellow Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle members, accepted the invitation to participate.  I'm honored by the opportunity, and I hope my responses are chosen each week.  

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INFOGRAPHIC: Ranking the most iconic movie falls

Long, dramatic falls are a frequently used device in cinema to provide a suitably theatrical demise for a character. Whether it’s from a skyscraper, an aircraft or even a mountain chasm, there are few more visually arresting ways to provide a cinematic send-off. To give the frequently used set-piece some well-needed recognition, Roof Stores put together a movie "Fall of Fame" acknowledging the best examples of falling in film history. Enjoy!

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SPECIAL: Highlights for the upcoming 22nd Fantasia International Film Festival

The expression "lions, tigers, and bears, oh my!" merely scratches the surface of the wildly imaginative creations that grace the annual Fantasia International Film Festival.  The Montreal-based gathering celebrates its 22nd year from July 12 through August 2.  Long acclaimed as one the largest and best exhibitions of genre films in North America, this year's festival lineup has as much promise as it does fantasy and Every Movie Has a Lesson will be offering its reviews and coverage.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on July 2, 2018

Notable and notorious IndieWire film critic David Ehrlich recently put out a social media call for film critic peers to join a weekly survey to discuss movie topics, answer questions, and highlight their work.  Representing Every Movie Has a Lesson, I, along with over 60 other emerging and established film critics including some of my fellow Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle members, accepted the invitation to participate.  I'm honored by the opportunity, and I hope my responses are chosen each week.  

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EDITORIAL: The Best Films of 2018 (so far)

Usually for this website, half of a year equals half of a future “10 Best” in December, meaning normally only five films make this “best of” list. However, I have seen six 5-star feature films as well as one 5-star documentary and one 5-star short film. I’m giving all of them the spotlight. As always for this “so-far” list and the year-end final and true to my website’s hook, I present each film with its best life lesson from my review. Enjoy!

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on June 25, 2018

Notable and notorious IndieWire film critic David Ehrlich recently put out a social media call for film critic peers to join a weekly survey to discuss movie topics, answer questions, and highlight their work.  Representing Every Movie Has a Lesson, I, along with over 60 other emerging and established film critics including some of my fellow Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle members, accepted the invitation to participate.  I'm honored by the opportunity, and I hope my responses are chosen each week.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: Ant-Man and the Wasp

Pun not intended, but Ant-Man and the Wasp is where Marvel goes to get small, and not in the obvious sense of the heroes’ sizes. The narrative and scope gets smaller. Amid the mega-powered showdowns and high stakes elsewhere, it is encouraging to know that Marvel can still make local-level superhero stories and not make everything so overpopulated, globe-trotting, and cataclysmic in importance. Smaller is what the source comic books used to be. Smaller is still fully-formed and, most of all, smaller is welcome.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Sicario: Day of Soldado

Luckily, this cinematic cactus retains the nectar at its core underneath the lesser spiny exterior. Sicario: Day of Soldado still has dynamic screenwriter Taylor Sheridan scripting the suspense and the twin returning brutes of Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin to shoot and punch the lights out. Following his Oscar nomination for Hell or High Water and his superior directorial debut of Wind River, Sheridan is on a hot streak and pens a worthy follow-up to what should have been his first Oscar nomination a year prior to the one he received.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Damsel

Kicking up scratchy dust in the western genre, the Zellner Brothers rousingly debunk and demystify that stereotype to create a dark comedy of their own pitch and prickliness. With humor as dry as the topography, Damsel is the kind of film that sneaks up on you like a snake in the weeds. The brothers and fellow stars Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska dance all over this landscape, but the steps keep dawdling when the music runs out.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on June 18, 2018

Notable and notorious IndieWire film critic David Ehrlich recently put out a social media call for film critic peers to join a weekly survey to discuss movie topics, answer questions, and highlight their work.  Representing Every Movie Has a Lesson, I, along with over 60 other emerging and established film critics including four of my fellow Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle members, accepted the invitation to participate.  I'm honored by the opportunity, and I hope my responses are chosen each week.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World to matched all of the definitions of “spectacle,” from the positive connotations of “unusual, notable, or entertaining especially an eye-catching or dramatic public display” on down to the more questionable “an object of curiosity or contempt.” The jungle playground reboot lacked most of the awe and wonder of the Spielberg classic in favor of blockbuster-sized theme park thrills. Its sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, continues the feral frolic only to go a little too far and throw smarts out the window next.

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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: Mountain

In contrast to the informational methods of most common documentaries, poetry is the point of view within Mountain. Featuring towering imagery enriched by a sumptuous narration from recent Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe, Australian filmmaker Jennifer Peedom’s follow-up to Sherpa is a testimony to what draws people to the mental and physical summits they seek to conquer. The size of this film demands the biggest screen you can find.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: "Connecting With Classics" Episode 6: "Bringing Up Baby"

The Feelin’ Film Podcast and Every Movie Has a Lesson go back a little further and a little sillier than than Jurassic Park and Jurassic World with the loosest movie interpretation of a paleontologist possible. 1938’s Bringing Up Baby, directed by Howard Hawks and starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, may not be scary but it is a classic screwball comedy with plenty to enjoy. Here’s our latest “Connecting With Classics!”

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MOVIE REVIEW: Hearts Beat Loud

One winning quality of many that makes the Sundance darling Hearts Beat Loud so perfectly endearing is fleshed out by its very title. The deeply personal pulse that makes this movie tick is nourishment to the soul. Emotive and approachable relationship challenges and a stirring soundtrack combine to make this shiniest of indie gems the anti-blockbuster of this summer. Absorb this film, with your eyes and ears open, and let its essence revitalize you the way it does its own characters.

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