MOVIE REVIEW: Logan Lucky

The buzzing North Carolina public within the film Logan Lucky dub the central robbery a “hillbilly heist” and an “Ocean’s 7-11” perpetrated by “redneck robbers” and “Hee Haw heroes.”  With diegetic puns like those being thrown around, how could you not be entertained by Steven Soderbergh’s first feature film in four years?  It’s almost an invitation to pile on.  How does “clodhopper caper” sound?  What about “Podunk pilfering” or “backwoods buffoonery?”  I’ll settle for “hayseed hijinks.”  

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Glass Castle

Mulling over the many layers and events of Destin Daniel Cretton’s film adaptation of Jeanette Wells’ memoirs The Glass Castle, I keep coming back to the same essential question: "Who am I to judge someone else's life story or life choices?"  If the real Jeanette Wells is able to make peace with the events of her childhood, how can I, or anyone, tell her she's wrong?  The answer is we can’t (and shouldn’t) and that’s a hurdle not everyone has shown to be prepared for or able to separate from critique.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Wind River

Through every snowflake and gunshot, Taylor Sheridan cuts to the marrow and keeps Wind River firmly on track with its layered stages of discovery.  Tighter than Hell or High Water and more humane than Sicario, this film creates a tone of toughness balanced adroitly by human realities occurring in a dangerous place with a different set of rules.  The end result is a highly engrossing mystery with the edge we have come to appreciate and admire from Sheridan.

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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

Asking someone if they subscribe to the science of climate change might as well be as tenuous as asking a person if they believe in God.  Climate change has become a divisive firebrand topic like few others in the decade since the Oscar-winning and punctually motivating documentary An Inconvenient Truth.  In several ways, the topic has come a long way in some places only to slip backward in other measures.  An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is a persuasive update on the matter.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Dark Tower

Add all of The Dark Tower up, the ineffective length, the nonsensical plot, threadbare mythology, leashed acting, and limited thrills, and you get the lowest sum of calculations. You get the sheer absurdity we started with.  I'm sure it's all meant to be substantial and worthy of audience investment, but how is any of it supposed to give us gravity to grasp if it's all presented in such a cursory degree?

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Discussing July and the top films of 2017 on the "Reel Talker" podcast

Fellow CIFCC critic and director Jim Alexander of Reel Talker extended the invitation for me to co-host a new episode of his podcast.  On this installment of the Reel Talker podcast, Jim and I discuss the July movie releases and which we consider hits or flops.  Also, he and I disclose our Top 10 movie lists through the halfway point of 2017.  Jim and I had very different picks, chock full of surprises!

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: "Feelin' Film" podcast minisode on "Detroit"

Kathryn Bigelow's new film Detroit deserves the attention and lightning rod attraction it hopes to receive.  Her historical drama is unrelenting in weight and topical in its parallels to similar and remaining mistreatment still happening today.  On the same night as seeing an advance screening, three critics got together to unpack and reaction to Detroit.  Aaron White, one of the hosts of the Feelin' Film Podcast, invited me and fellow Chicago critic Emmanuel Noisette of Eman's Movie Reviews to put our thoughts and feelings into words.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Menashe

Weinstein writes and directs what constitutes as a love letter to a culture, a community, and to the essence of fatherhood.  The lead’s personal plight is a compelling one done with grace and admiration for attaching the right layer of empathy.  It’s not overly heavy in any particular way, but Menashe carries enough honesty, enough will, and enough power to break any father’s heart.  There’s strength to be found in that.

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MOVIE CLASSROOM: A Ghost Story

If you remember from my recent appearance on an minisode of the Feelin' Film podcast, I cannot be the only person who needed a therapy session after this film.  David Lowery's film has been a transcendental experience for some audiences and something oddly impatient that sends others that will walk out scratching their heads.  See where I fall with the "Movie Classroom" version of my review

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MOVIE CLASSROOM: The Big Sick

Excellent romantic comedies have been a rare thing for the entire 17 years so far of this century.  For one to arrive and stand above the crowd as one of the best romantic comedies in years and one of the best films of the year, period, is special.  If you haven't already, meet The Big Sick starring Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, and Ray Romano.  Through the ShowMe app on the Every Movie Has a Lesson YouTube channel, hear and see what my review has to say about the film and why it's my #2 film of 2017 so far.

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MOVIE CLASSROOM: Detroit

I cannot beat the drum for the word "timely" enough when it comes to Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit.  Her follow-up to Zero Dark Thirty is a jarring yet important film that speaks volumes and draws numerous parallels from 1967 to 2017.  As hard as it is to watch, it is equally essentially viewing that poses the challenges for progress, increased empathy, and improved dialogue on a multitude of racial, ethical, and societal issues that have not gone away in a half-century and beyond.

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MOVIE CLASSROOM: Atomic Blonde

There are not enough loud writing colors on the ShowMe app to give the splashy neon of Atomic Blonde the rub it deserves, but, hopefully, my words do the trick.  Come and bow at the altar of Charlize Theron, as I did for this review.  The film may not be anything special in the spy department, but the Monster Oscar winner deserves the fist-pumps for the toughness and guile she put on display.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: YouTube guest on YPA Reviews talking all things "Dunkirk"

YouTube creator extraordinaire Mike Crowley of the "You'll Probably Agree" channel, a.k.a. YPA Reviews, invited me as an on-camera guest for the second time.  This past May, we ranted on the overrated qualities of Terrence Malick.  This time, we throw down on all things Dunkirk, including full reviews, fighting and tempering Christopher Nolan fandom, and the state of art house vs. Netflix.  Mike's show can be digested in three parts: the Dunkirk review, the sidebar talk on Nolan, and the full uncut version of all topics.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Guest on the "Feelin' Film" podcast for "Mr. Mom"

I had the honor and pleasure this past week to join a league of movie-loving dads talking about a true fathers' movie: 1983's Mr. Mom.  Host Patrick Hicks orchestrated myself and fellow regular Feelin' Film contributor Jeremy Calcara in a lively discussion covering the film, dad jokes, how our own upbringing informed our own parenting styles, our tremendous wives, and what makes this John Hughes film worth revisiting.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Detroit

For a film like Detroit with difficult content thrust upon audiences to endure, this is not a place to seek entertainment or joy. Instead, Detroit is a challenge of cementing respect and achieving an empathy deeper than basic sympathy. Step into a beyond-cautionary tale of history that school books skipped or have forgotten.  Let Detroit stir and inspire conversations.  Let the emotions, good and bad, come and talk about them.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Guest on Eman's Movie Reviews audio podcast for "Dunkirk"

If you're like me and friend-of-the-page Emmanuel Noisette of Eman's Movie Reviews, you might be feeling masterpiece-labeling pressure and Dunkirk review fatigue.  For Emmanuel, guest extraordinaire Harry Egbo, and I, the film didn't resonate with us emotionally, but we had plenty of superlatives to talk about mingling with the challenges and questions.  This is a SPOILER-FILLED audio discussion and the ethnic music in the background is all bonus gravy!

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MOVIE CLASSROOM: Dunkirk

As a big Christopher Nolan fan and supporter, this review was difficult.  Critic after critic is calling Dunkirk Nolan's masterpiece and best film to date.  I simply can't do that and no filmmaker should ever get a pass.  In fact, it might be the worst of his films I have seen, but that's like slipping from a king-size Sleep Number mattress to a king-size pillowtop mattress.  The fall isn't far.  Allow me to explain.  Here's my "Movie Classroom" interactive whiteboard presentation of the audio form of my written review as it appears posted on Every Movie Has a Lesson's YouTube channel.

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