Posts tagged Life lessons from movies
VINTAGE REVIEW: The Astrologer

In a reversal of this practical parable’s usual cadence, one man’s treasure is another man’s trash.  This is where the tastes, descriptions, and comparisons begin for 1975’s The Astrologer.   A young man named Craig Denney set out to direct and star is his own feature film to break into stardom.  It was a passion project of sorts derailed by a backstory of avoidable failure.  Along the same lines as trash versus treasure, one filmmaker’s passion project is another man’s vanity film.

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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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EDITORIAL: The Best of 2017 (so far)

I'm beginning to love making this annual halfway point list.  For me, 2017 has been a year for immense volume.  Since January, I've reviewed 64 films, 58 of which were 2017 releases and not carryovers from a late 2016 awards season.  Thanks to some film festival and advance press access, you can add 16 short films and four more feature films pending the windows to publish reviews. True to my website's hook, I present each film with its best life lesson from my review.

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MOVIE CLASSROOM: It Comes at Night

The new film from Trey Edward Shults needs to be scene to be believed.  There is hype and highmindedness beyond the horror film marketing of It Comes at Night.  That said, it will scratch many heads at the same time.  Here is my newest YouTube "Movie Classroom" video review using the ShowMe iPad app and iMovie.  Enjoy!

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MOVIE REVIEW: Baywatch

Contrary to how well the Mythbusters pulled it off, you can't shine sh-t, not turds of the TV or film variety.  Terrible TV shows make terrible movies.  Asking for anything more is asking too much, and there's nothing wrong with that.  All of the zing and jiggle audiences enjoyed in eleven seasons and 242 episodes of Baywatch get the amplified and gaudy movie treatment an entertaining guilty pleasure deserves.  Enjoy what you enjoy and don't be ashamed of it.

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ADVANCE MOVIE REVIEW: Logan

With stunning brush strokes soaked in pathos and blood, "Logan" taps into a cask of comic book scotch that been reserved to reach maturity.  This is, by a country mile, not only the best film of the “X-Men” franchise, but the best of 20th Century Fox’s entire catalog of Marvel Films.  Presented as an analogy, “Logan” is to comic book films what “Unforgiven” was to westerns.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Loving

With a minimalist style and unadorned simplicity to reflect on racial intolerance, Jeff Nichols crafts “Loving” as a reminiscence of history without the histrionics.  Devoid of soapboxes, speechifying, and manufactured swells of forced emotion seen in far too many historical dramas, “Loving” cuts a different cloth, trading in Hollywood glamor for blue collar truthfulness.  Nichols brilliantly lets the honesty and grace of Richard and Mildred Loving stand on their own without an unnecessary pedestal.  Cite this film as proof that “tell it like it is” does not require bombastic noise and volume.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Moonlight

I dare you to look into the painful eyes of the three ages of Chiron and their matching performers and not have your soul triple in weight.  The arc in "Moonlight" from the innocence of the little boy to the uncomfortable vulnerability hiding underneath the muscles and gold fronts of the hardened resulting adult is arduously moving on multiple levels.  Observing his difficulties forces you to absorb the conflict and inescapable trepidation that surrounds the shared character.  Pressing his heart to your own makes for one of the most moving and rewarding film experiences this year.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Level Up

As a clever and unusual experiment, “Level Up” maintains a sobering edge of straight-faced menace.  Set to the electronica of the British musical duo Plaid, any sense of humor is present purely as a WTF moment of reminder of this scenario’s gonzo craziness.  Targeting the metaphor of video game violence, once the clues bear fruit and darker confrontations ensue, “Level Up” earns your twisted interest and delivers on its high-concept potential with an adequate amount of thrill.

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MOVIE REVIEW: War Dogs

You know the "Goodfellas" tropes: excessive narration, ordinary people getting rich or powerful doing extraordinary and often illegal activities played by colorful actors or actresses, dramatic license spinning a likely lesser true story, a kicking period soundtrack, pervasive drug use, freeze-frame shots to stamp moments, and a tidy epilogue of comeuppance.  Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it is also lazily standing on the shoulders of giants.  That’s the impact and existence of Todd Phillips’s “War Dogs” in a gun… err… nutshell. 

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MOVIE REVIEW: Hell or High Water

If I was trying to create a snazzy pull quote to add to the "Hell or High Water" lobby poster (one that is already filled with oversold promises), it would be "redneck edge."  Fashioned as a genre-advancing Modern Western from the same screenwriter that knocked us out with "Sicario" last year, director David Mackenzie's new film is inspired in ambition but lax in execution.  Its edge is the inability to decide whether to bark or bite.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Pete's Dragon

Blooming out of a cradle of artistic and narrative perseverance, it is clear a philosophy of great care and pleasant patience was given to “Pete’s Dragon” by Lowery and company.  The film enhances the magical charm audiences remember from the original with newly gained maturity to operate as a loving family drama and touching adventure of friendship.  It is a welcome and calming addition of heft painted by that superb idyllic tone.  The wonderment never overplays its moments.

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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You

The adjectives "titan" and "humble" are not commonly found together.  Famed television producer Norman Lear is an iconoclast in every way.  His successful shows and the waves they created are forever chiseled into that industry.  Away from the his seat as a creative czar, the man remained a hard-working and vigilant self-made man of activism and integrity.  In his 90s, Lear has crossed unimaginable measures of impact and history.  The new documentary "Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You" stylishly chronicles his vast contributions.

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