Posts in 3 STARS
MOVIE REVIEW: The Favourite

The Favourite has a wider scope and warmer temperature than Lanthimos’ previous two films. His aim for deadpan delivery highly on display last year in The Killing of the Sacred Deer bends to occasionally include pulse-quickening emotions and diaphragm-shaking chuckles. The Favourite says that “love has limits.” The same can be said for Lanthimos. He is the exact definition of an acquired taste. The brilliance is there, with much to love and plenty still to rebuke.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Outlaw King

Filmmaker David Mackenzie’s strapping Netflix epic Outlaw King starts with prologue notes surrounding the glowing heat of a single candle in close-up. The flickering warmth is inviting and a tone of liberating light coming out of darkness is set to parallel the recreated history that will follow. But how much heat can one candle emit? Try as it may, no matter what measures of warm blood and sweaty brawn is infused into Outlaw King, it is very difficult to find or create sizzle out of something balmy.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Silencio

Within in the 98 minutes of Silencio, this little dual-language flick accomplishes what few high concept indie films have been able to achieve with their wildly audacious ideas. It builds a bridge, not a wide and sturdy one, mind you, but a successful structure nonetheless, from the nonsensical to the profound. That is a normally a huge canyon of belief and consideration to cross.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Loving Pablo

The overarching challenge remains making romance out of a villain, enough to soften the depravity of the historical truth. Matching Vallejo’s own findings, Loving Pablo defines that Escobar’s darkness cannot be diluted, making much of this film a difficult and treacherous viewing experience. To its great credit, the merciless edge of Loving Pablo rejects forced cinematic sugar-coating overused in other crime films to romanticize its leviathans.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Sisters Brothers

From “spaghetti,” “meat pie” and “ostern” to “curry” and “charro,” there are reasons for the good ole’ U.S. of A. to feel jealous and intrigued to realize that some of the best westerns being made today are coming from foreign directors and sources. After The Salvation, look no further than The Sisters Brothers from French director Jacques Audiard. Call it a “baguette,” “crepe,” or “foie gras” western, but the Rust and Bone and Dheepan filmmaker has genuflected to make a proper addition to this movie discipline.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Unbroken: Path to Redemption

Stepping forward unofficially as a literal and figurative “spiritual sequel,” Unbroken: Path to Redemption corrects that omission. Glowing with effort above its pedigree, the film is an earnest and very commendable exploration into what elevated the former Olympian and POW survivor into a true legend of his “greatest generation.” There is no begrudging this second attempt to make worthy what was tabled as circumstantial.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Meg

Smirking and confident in its own bristly sharkskin armor, The Meg is as lean a blockbuster as you will find. Any fat is trimmed quickly by the urge to chomp up more people and scenery. Since this go-big-or-go-home late summer IMAX sizzler is a creature feature B-movie dependent on a carnivorous buffet of victims (and customers) to satiate its excitement (and bottom line), the loving focus for this critique will be the types and cuts of meat consumed and on display. Tuck your monster movie napkin into shirt collar, skip the hoity-toity hand sanitizer, and bring your creative kill appetite to an entertaining little film feast.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Christopher Robin

The messages wrapped up by this movie’s soft spirit may be achingly sympathetic and predictable simple. Things are better when the many Milne stories and adaptations of this wonderment can still offer timeless reminders very suitable and highly beneficial for both the parental and youthful generations of filmgoers today that could use a little slowdown and imaginative play. Foibles aside, Christopher Robin is an unapologetic heart-melter. Earnestness comes easy and there is a place and, even better, a need, for this in the cinema marketplace.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Skyscraper

When you see Dwayne Johnson wipe his sweat, furrow his brow, clench his muscles, and fixate his eyes of indomitable resilience at each obstacle in Skyscaper with the sole goal of rescuing his wife and two kids from a 225-story burning building, you immediately feel completely inadequate as a man and especially a father. You want a dad like The Rock. Johnson is the ultimate winning answer to every playground banter battle of “my dad is tougher than your dad.” His screen children don’t know how good they have it, but we sure do enjoying another glossy, ballsy, and brawny summer blockbuster from the most dependable and bankable action star in the world.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Ant-Man and the Wasp

Pun not intended, but Ant-Man and the Wasp is where Marvel goes to get small, and not in the obvious sense of the heroes’ sizes. The narrative and scope gets smaller. Amid the mega-powered showdowns and high stakes elsewhere, it is encouraging to know that Marvel can still make local-level superhero stories and not make everything so overpopulated, globe-trotting, and cataclysmic in importance. Smaller is what the source comic books used to be. Smaller is still fully-formed and, most of all, smaller is welcome.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Sicario: Day of Soldado

Luckily, this cinematic cactus retains the nectar at its core underneath the lesser spiny exterior. Sicario: Day of Soldado still has dynamic screenwriter Taylor Sheridan scripting the suspense and the twin returning brutes of Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin to shoot and punch the lights out. Following his Oscar nomination for Hell or High Water and his superior directorial debut of Wind River, Sheridan is on a hot streak and pens a worthy follow-up to what should have been his first Oscar nomination a year prior to the one he received.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Ocean's 8

After you shuck needless gender label temptations, feel free to call Ocean’s 8 a well-garnished cinematic martini. Plenty clever and cool in its own right, the summer tentpole is a highly enjoyable little diversion of escapism, true to its intent and design. Like the classic cocktail, this very entertaining romp combines the strong and the sweet with plenty of little twists.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Sunset

The looming threat of nuclear war presented within the independent film Sunset thrusts a heavy-hearted ordeal on a small cross-section of everyday people living near New York City.  Any blockbuster portending, ticking clocks, or manufactured heroics are decidedly off-screen, Periodic news bulletins keep the score, so to speak, but Sunset stays keenly personal.  This is about the people, their homes, and the fitting resolve to stay where one feels is right.

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MOVIE REVIEW: On Chesil Beach

Original On Chesil Beach writer Ian McEwan was able to write his own screenplay and select his own places to deviate and condense.  The denouement in the film is shortened from the deeper explorations made by the novel. It’s a hell of a turn that hits like a ton of brick but feels very rushed.  The additional heft and scope do elevate the film from the comedic beginning into something more poignant, albeit it is a mismatched and difficult experience to approach and accept, much like the maligned central couple.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Succeeding frequently with several exciting and well-conceived action sequences and a bevy of rich supporting characters to enjoy, Solo: A Star Wars Story still has an inescapable ceiling.  Directed by a respected safe veteran in Ron Howard, rescuing this film from loudly reported production woes, this prequel seeks to chronicle a background of how our favorite smuggler, thief, and scoundrel came to be.  On this writer’s ledger, the first two of those three traits register emphatically from the movie.

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DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM REVIEW: Donald in Mathmagic Land

Frees’s voiceover goal is to change Donald’s mind about math, to ruffle his feathers of antiquated ideas, false concepts, superstitions, confusion, and general bungling (all revealed in pseudo-analog-Inside Out fashion).  Whether the knowledge of these “boundless treasures of science” stick in his bird brain remains to be seen.  Spirited and pristinely stylish animation, dancing shapes, and moveable manipulatives fill the screen backed by music from Buddy Baker, a veteran of 26 Disney films of the era.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: 1945

The end of a large war is always a turning point that trickles down from the front lines and the soldiers at arms to the home front with those that maintained their respective communities when their fighters were away.  Wars benefit some community members while tragically redefining others. 1945 is a small and intense microcosm of that dichotomy demonstrated over the course of one fateful day in the aftermath of World War II.  Shot in bracing black-and-white, this film exudes strong themes of guilt across several points of view.

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