Posts tagged 2015 Fall Movies
MOVIE REVIEW: Bone Tomahawk

The western film genre has always had a violent backbone.  Even in the sunniest and most heroic of examples, more often that not, we're watching a struggle of survival where it is kill or be killed in a raw rural landscape.  We label, separate, and celebrate heroes from villains, but all are killers with only opposing morals and justice of different degrees separating them.  The violence is ever present.  Few traditional westerns embrace its violent reality.  "Bone Tomahawk" surges head first into it with absolute courage and graphic disregard.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: Burnt

Due entirely to his talent and appeal, two hours of Bradley-being-Bradley works and the film will rightly entertain at an acceptable superficial level.  The subject is simple and the the risk is low.  The food is pretty, the ensemble is smooth, and the cliches are pre-made.  While "Burnt" offers a flourish or two to spark a little extra entertainment, it is far from the grass roots personal touch and smaller scale passion that was Favreau's "Chef" a year ago.  "Burnt" is, in essence, more elitist and that requires you to be impressed, but only at a distance.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Assassin

"The Assassin," directed by Taiwan New Wave director Hou Hsiao-Hsien, is the latest and brightest wuxia film looking to make an international splash.  The film was an official Main Competition selection of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the awards for Best Director and the Soundtrack Award.  It is making the rounds of the international film festival circuit, including a recent Highlight selection bow at the 51st Chicago International Film Festival, and will represent Taiwan's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards this coming February. 

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Middle Distance

51st Chicago International Film Festival special presention

There is a tangible and winsome spirit that emerges through this quick 80-minute journey of "The Middle Distance."  First-time director Patrick Underwood rightly sticks to artistic vision and solid storytelling over cheap tricks and the urge to throw monkey wrenches at everything for the sake of standing out.  A easy story such as this doesn't need overindulgence.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Bridge of Spies

Sewn with care to document an unopened storybook file on little-rememberd, forgotten Cold War heroics and theatrics, "Bridge of Spies" is the kind of historical drama that Steven Spielberg can make in his sleep.  In a way, this is Spielberg's throwback answer to "Argo," three years after Ben Affleck's film swept the top Oscars away from Spielberg's own "Lincoln."  He doesn't need that one-upmanship for his ego.  "Bridge of Spies" is more a reminder that the master is still capable of making a winner with ease.  

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ADVANCE MOVIE REVIEW: Steve Jobs

"Steve Jobs" chronicles soul-bearing small measures of the real man behind the public persona of genius.  The blood feuds and many glorious shouting matches deliver one narrative bombshell after another.  Using a unique three-act structure, the artistic result is nearly perfect.  Superior to its peers in so many areas of technique and performance, "Steve Jobs" stands boldly as one of the finest films of 2015.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: Sicario

"Sicario" is a raw labyrinth of grit and surprises.  This film is a python of suspense.  Just when you think the film can't squeeze you any tighter, it chokes you even more.  It resets the bar as the best and finest film on drug warfare that Hollywood has ever attempted.  "Sicario" is steely, seedy, scary, and jarring in its underlying social and political commentary to bore that out.  It's the kind of film that will make you never want to visit Mexico or live in Arizona or Texas.  

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ADVANCE MOVIE REVIEW: Pan

Like all of the failed live-action fairy tale remakes, the two largest missing components are restraint and charm.  The timeless stories being attempted by films like "Pan" have no idea how to let a good narrative flow build or a poignant moment breathe before stepping to the next unrelenting set piece.  The original written sources of these films have that restraint and quality.  Blasts of action and sound have replaced subtle imagery and brevity.  "Pan" lacks any and all charm to enamor the audience into what made Barrie's tale lovable and enchanting.  Charm is replaced by dissonance and pandering.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Martian

Simply put, "The Martian" from director Ridley Scott and headlining star Matt Damon, is a great survival film.  It strikes all of those aforementioned chords of survival essence and entertainment.  Giving it the easy labels of "Castaway in Space," "Robinson Crusoe: Astronaut," "Interstellar without Nolanism," "Apollo 13 on Mars," or "The Next Gravity" sells it too short.  "The Martian" doesn't need to borrow anything from those five notable survival film stories and can stand confidently aside, or even above them, as an exemplar all its own in the genre.  Meet what is sure to go down as one of 2015's best films.

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ADVANCE MOVIE REVIEW: The Walk

The definition of "marvel" can be given as a noun or a verb.  As a noun, it means "something that causes wonder, admiration, or astonishment."  When used as a verb, marvel means "to wonder of be curious about."  Several aspects about the true story behind "The Walk" spell out both definitions of marvel.  Just hearing about the daredevil feat orchestrated by Frenchman Philippe Petit, walking for an hour on a high-wire 110 stories up across the former twin towers of the World Trade Center, evokes a "He did what?!" head-turning reaction where you acknowledge the wonderment and want to learn more.  While not perfect, "The Walk" astonishes enough visually bringing this historic stunt to life to captivate movie-going audiences.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Everest

Marketed like a thrilling disaster film yet playing like a respectful drama, "Everest" is still carries the sheen of every other Hollywood mountain climbing movie while offering enough of a eulogistic history lesson to be respectful of its true story.  Based on the real 1996 events documented in Jon Krakauer's massively best-selling novel "Into Thin Air," astute viewers who know how it will all end will still be engaged and entertained through the cliches.  Director Baltasar Kormakur veils the seams of Hollywood dramatization enough to not sour the experience.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Black Mass

Not to put on the school teacher hat, but let's pose a few questions and directions.  Raise your hand if Johnny Depp has let you down since 2003 when he hit the big time playing Captain Jack Sparrow and became a caricature instead of an actor?  Alright.  That's most of you.  Now, how many times did he let you down?  Twice?  Five times?  More than five?  Wow.  That's still a lot of hands.  Last question, how many of you miss Johnny Depp, The Actor who made us marvel as a serious performer back in films like "Blow" and "Donnie Brasco"  Yup, that's everyone.  Rest assured, class, "Black Mass" is here.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Before We Go

"Before We Go" premiered in the special presentation undercard section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and got a second public look at the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival.  It landed on Video on Demand in July and finally gets a chance to shine in a limited theatrical release starting on September 4.  Borrowing way too much from the "Before..." series works of Richard Linklater to be a flattering mild homage or influence, "Before We Go" is a cute, approachable, yet flawed romantic comedy.  The weak chemistry can't match an innate charm to honor its simple premise.

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CHECKLIST: 2015 Fall Movie Calendar

Thank you for all of your patience with my long month of August travel for work.  Things are slowing down and I'll be catching up soon.  Looking ahead, the 2015 fall movie season is just around the corner.  My full and complete preview will be coming soon, but here's a calendar and checklist of the upcoming season's releases.  Print this, slap it on the fridge, or fill you calendar!

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