MEDIA APPEARANCE: Guest on "Kicking the Seat" podcast talking "Justice League"

This past week, I was cordially invited and honored to join a panel on the "Kicking the Seat" podcast hosted by Ian Simmons.  As always, Ian is joined by his regular wingman David Fowlie of Keeping it Reel.  We left a seat warm for mutual friend Emmanuel Noisette of E-Man's Movie Reviews, but he couldn't make it.  Ian, David, and I have talked comic book movies before, so it was only proper to get together for Justice League.

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STUDENT-FRIENDLY MOVIE REVIEW: Wonder

I do my best to write professional grade film criticism fit for a formal audience, becoming best friends with a thesaurus and using my big boy words.  By day, I'm an elementary school educator.  At work this year, I've been organizing a special field trip for 5th graders to see Wonder after they've been reading the novel all fall.  This second "student-friendly" movie review is for them and other younger readers.  Revised, this review scales down my review down from an 11.6 Flesch Kincaid readability level to a comfy 4.4 average.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Wonder

Wonder’s buoyant messages are the moving jolt of empathy this generation needs.  Even better, its literal and figurative precepts carry an inspiring weight worthy to last many generations more.  Directed by the good hands of Stephen Chbosky, Wonder is an instant classic, sure to become a new favorite, for its target audience and a winning (and rare) example of a film taking great care to do justice by the book it is based on.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Justice League

Justice League comes across like attempted course correction done on that Etch-a-Sketch.  The artist, or artists in this case, are trying to retrace old paths and smooth over past missteps with redrawn swirls, lighter hues, and a fluffy cover-up we call comedy.  That effort on the cinematic Etch-a-Sketch indeed changes the initial picture, but only after unnecessarily tedious effort and some remaining messy results.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Lady Bird

In her solo feature directorial debut, Greta Gerwig has stepped in and pushed this cinematic species tremendously forward with the dramedy Lady Bird.  The film destroys any notion of the “manic pixie dream girl” fakery.  Lady Bird is a cornucopia woven with striking candor and filled with delightful oxymorons artfully composed to challenge taboos and stereotypes. Let’s give each oxymoron a life lesson and a paragraph or two along the way.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Last Flag Flying

Richard Linklater operates between free-wheeling fun and poignant realism with little middle ground.  No matter which parallel, the quality of his romps on one side or his character studies on the other are equally and rightfully celebrated.  It has reached the point where you have to ask if we’re getting "Party Linklater" or "Serious Linklater."  Contrary to the little middle ground previously mentioned, Last Flag Flying tries both.

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GUEST CRITIC #26: Murder on the Orient Express

Fellow Chicago critic Jeff York is a delight to talk to on any and all topics, but our movie chats have become truly special.  Jeff was able to view and review Kenneth Branagh's remake of Murder on the Orient Express. He's a self-professed fan and cover-to-cover expert on the Agatha Christie source novel and the previously celebrated 1974 film adaptation.  His review will do better informative service than mine ever would. 

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INFOGRAPHIC: Criminally Good Movie Heists

The crime genre has always been a favorite of Hollywood filmmakers and cinemagoers. Within this niche, there are few things more thrilling than a well-executed heist. Regardless of whether you’re backing law enforcement or a charming crew of thieves, the excitement of the event itself is often worth building an entire film towards. Courtesy of MoneyGuru, here is an infographic of five of the most criminally good heists in modern movies. 

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MOVIE REVIEW: Princess Cyd

Bright as the summer is sunny, thoughtful as the literature being referenced, and raw as the emotions running through it, Princess Cyd is a pertinent and inspiring triumph from writer and director Stephen Cone.  We are privy to private moments, yet welcomed in for sake of common ground and personal growth.   The sublime polish and volume of empathy amid this film’s themes is utterly magnetic.

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INFOGRAPHIC QUIZ: Hollywood Hounds

umping from infographics to a fun quiz, give this a try.  If you love movies and dogs, chances are you’ll enjoy a good dog flick. Using this series of minimal posters, can you guess the movie that the famous dog featured in?  Quiz courtesy of Protectivity.

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INFOGRAPHIC: The Importance of Fog in Film

One of the most dramatic of all meteorological phenomenon is fog. It can be used to ratchet up tension, conceal terrifying creatures, and even provide important characters with a suitably dramatic entrance.  Spanning genres from horror to sci-fi, mist and fog are more versatile than mere set dressing.  This infographic from Vaping Man shares the importance (not forgetting the scare-factor) that fog brings to the silver screen.

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INFOGRAPHIC: The Best Movie Rooftop Confrontations

There are few things more scenic and compelling than a wide-open rooftop overlooking a sprawling urban landscape.  The perception of heigh and depth does it all.  Over the years, some iconic movie scenes have taken place on rooftops. Maybe it’s the risk of falling off, or the build-up to the inevitable showdown at the end. Here is an engaging infographic from Rubber Band on some of the best rooftop confrontations in movie history.

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INFOGRAPHIC: Stephen King in Film

No author has seen his work has seen his work made into more movies than Stephen King, with over 50 films originating from his writing.  However, not every movie was a success.  Courtesy of MoneyPod, enjoy this intriguing infographic on the cinematic successes and failures based on the works of Stephen King.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Mr. Roosevelt

This entire film is a head-turning and striking first impression if you missed Noel’s single season on Saturday Night Live four years ago.  As aforementioned with a passion project like this, you beg and wonder how autobiographical a wild story like this has to be.  No matter if it’s true or entirely created, the appreciation measures the heavily positive same.  The jokes come from all angles and hit with every effect from belly laugh to full cringe.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Thor: Ragnarok

Paired perfectly as a double-feature follow-up to this summer’s spacefaring Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok is a raucously rad roller coaster that shoots rainbows out of every digitally-rendered pore.  Blasting with energetic pace in the complete opposite direction from the dreary and grayish Game of Thrones Lite tone of Thor: The Dark World, this new chapter is a cinematic box of Crayola crayons laced with dynamite.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer is deeply immersed in such dread.  As purposeful as that approach may be, it’s borderline unnatural and it throws you off.  Where the peril present in this psychological thriller should be raising heart rates, the slightness and dullness of its flatlined tone fail to move minds and elicit palpable responses.  Titillating ideas should titillate.  Resonating themes should resonate.  Neither occurs and madness takes over.

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