Posts tagged social commentary
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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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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MOVIE REVIEW: Suburbicon

Suburbicon lazily delivers a caper that lacks cleverness, smarts, and anything edgy other than the spurts of hemoglobin that stain a few starched shirts.  Even if it is pitch black by design, the final ingredient of fake sentimentality glazed over the proceedings is ineffective to add any varnish to the acidic angle of white-collar crime.  Nonsensical twist follows nonsensical twist for an aimless purpose.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Liquid Truth

The discolored and dingy tile grout at the bottom of a swimming pool and the imagery effect of rippling water seen under the surface bending the images above perspective starkly symbolize the many warped dimensions of Liquid Truth.  The truth in the title is as slippery as the water in director Caroline Jabor’s simmering social commentary.  The film may be foreign from Brazil, but it typifies all too many social media ills that would explode in a parallel fashion here in this country.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Florida Project

The crucial emotional response The Florida Project demands of its viewers is empathy.  If you can’t find that, if you turn your nose, close your eyes, and refuse to accept that this kind of American lifestyle exists, you are missing the hard truths, the teachable moments, and the larger points being presented.  onvenient Hollywood endings don’t exist in the real life Baker’s film examines.  Applaud a film that dares to push that stark reality.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Our Souls at Night

Even from a different generation than the present day, you can’t get more Hollywood than Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.  Both are emeritus stars of Tinseltown royalty on multiple levels, respected and celebrated as award-winning performers, icons of style, sex symbols, and vigilant political personas off-screen.  To see the two of them together again, for the fifth time and the first time in 38 years in Our Souls at Night, is a revitalizing treat unto itself, but to see their shared film be staunchly non-Hollywood in stature is even more refreshing.

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MOVIE REVIEW: mother!

There is extreme thematic and visceral content in mother! that will rattle even the toughest souls.  Metaphorical imagery and symbolism are everywhere, and the number of literal and figurative interpretations of what is implicitly or explicitly transpiring can kill as many brain cells as it multiplies.  The film begs endless questioning. Surviving and absorbing the film becomes a maddening experience.  In the end, what is evident to celebrate is also categorically impossible to fully condone.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Crown Heights

Director Matt Ruskin’s Crown Heights presents a true story incarceration as it happened to an innocent man.  Just when you think two undue years awaiting trial are shameful enough, it turns into twenty over the course of four presidencies and 99 tidy minutes.  To tell the story of Colin Warner is to tell a story shared by too many thousands of other wrongfully incarcerated people within the U.S. prison system.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: The Other Place

Dashes of kink and horror mix within Lee Amir-Cohen to create moments of shock and heat shared with Amanda Maddox in the short film The Other Place.  The star, who also writes and directs this short, has crafted something creepily captivating in front of and behind the camera.  Contracted properly as a short film that leaves you wanting more, this shot glass of venom is a properly measured jolt.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis

In a terse 80 minutes, The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis locks its suspenseful build and holds your attention.  Open-ended as it is, the film could have employed additional time to hammer its points home and offer a payoff.  However, it’s minimal surface and suddenness feels intentional to mirror the mysterious fates that befell so many people of this era.  Quietly powerful, the effect and feeling are convincing.

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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 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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MOVIE REVIEW: The Little Hours

The phrase “nuns behaving badly” sounds like a bad porno title or a silly hashtag.  Alas, that’s the low-hanging fruit and chicanery afoot in The Little Hours.  Tracing inspiration to a yarn from one of Giovanni Boccaccio’s collected 14th century novellas in The Decameron, the new ensemble film from Jeff Baena wraps it religious habit up with wit, erotica, and practical jokes from Italian prose translated into a modern vernacular.

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MOVIE REVIEW: A Ghost Story

Welcome to the polarizing gamut of engagement, acceptance, and disquiet of A Ghost Story.  This is a wholly original film that takes preparation, patience, absorption, and reflection that some, or even many, may not be ready for.  Presented in the rounded and claustrophobic corners of a centered 1.33:1 aspect ratio, it is safe to say, you will see nothing like this all year and maybe several more.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Guest on "Feelin' Film+" discussing "It Comes at Night"

The new "Feelin' Film+" shows on the Feelin' Film Podcast website set out to document full-throated and unfiltered reactions to film showings, spoilers and all.  Feelin' Film host Aaron White and his team have me on speed dial for these hot takes and mental exercise put on the mic and recorder.  Here's my therapy session with Aaron for It Comes at Night.

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