Posts in 4 STARS
MOVIE REVIEW: The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

Matching the classic plastic building toys themselves, reinvention is as easy and frequent as the twist of one of their rainbow-hued blocks if one is prepared for it. Projecting that life’s simplicity through its dazzling style of presentation, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is another sparkling escapade of accepting and approachable entertainment.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Stan & Ollie

Steven Coogan and John C. Reilly offer meticulous and mirror-like stage perfection. Their movements, cadences, and pliable statures stir light shenanigans and incalculable charm, just the like the genial historical figures. The winsome and touching delights spreading from the remembrances and respect found here in Stan & Ollie make for amiable and meaningful engagement. This one is a true treat.

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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: They Shall Not Grow Old

Free of labels and talking heads and clean in ambiguous anonymity, They Shall Not Grow Old is entirely composed of footage and voiceovers restored and transformed by current production technology. The documentary takes viewers through the enlisted man’s journey through the Great War from sign-up to homecoming in vibrant color and 3D, a theatrical event (presented by good people at Fathom Events) like no other you will find this year.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Aquaman

Bounding over land and sea across the oceanic globe, Aquaman is a bona fide comic book adventure with all the proper melodrama, pathos, heroics, and world-building amplified to a fantasy level of the highest order. James Wan’s crowd pleaser is a gushing rush of dazzling entertainment fully aware of its challenge to wash away decades of misplaced opinions and intentions. Enjoy bringing these action figures into a really big bathtub of flavored popcorn. For as fantastically cheesy as this movie is, its brassy and glossy pull is quite surprising.

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MOVIE REVIEW: When Jeff Tried to Save the World

Not only has writer-director Kendall Goldberg fleshed out this excellent main character, she guides it through this plot with a matching sense imagination and earnestness. The nuances win in a story where heart and pragmatic approachability outshine any need for shock value and raunch. The smart and spot-on tonal mix of such simplicities deserve to be appreciated.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Rendezvous in Chicago

Michael Glover Smith’s third feature film channels Éric Rohmer to present three collisions of love occurring in the writer-director’s own beloved Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. Smith’s canny talent to pen and juggle a triptych is not what impresses the most. Rather, what is greater, quite simply, is his sense of feel as a storyteller and filmmaker.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Guilty

Played in nearly real-time, The Guilty jolts the audience with the fits and spurts of the received and dropped calls. Some are dangled snippets and others linger with impact. Their rising and falling tensions are shrewdly and sharply written by director Gustav Möller and TV writer Emil Nygaard Albertsen. Their unforgiving suspense create an engrossing and choking mood of unknown and mounting dread. The Guilty is as smooth and taut of a 85-minute feature as you’ll see, no matter the language.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Creed II

Sylvester Stallone and debuting co-writer Juel Taylor have fleshed out more layers of storytelling sinew than most Rocky movies deserve. Beyond the ropes of the squared circle is where Creed II softens us up as armchair and popcorn ring partners. The heart may do the talking, but the fists still say plenty and find themselves pumped into the air with cheers just fine.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Widows

Kicking something flaky and flimsy like Ocean’s 8 to the curb, the Shame and 12 Years a Slave Oscar winner has assembled a dauntless ensemble cast lead by dynamic females. Rooted in the thinly and sinfully fabricated dermal and subcutaneous layers of Chicago, Widows wields an effeminate brawn and sly intelligence working to stoke a masterful slow burn. The film’s bold gravity constricts us wonderfully for one of the most visceral crime films of recent memory and one of the best films of 2018.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Minisode #55 Minisode podcast guest for "Feelin' Film" to review "A Private War"

A Private War takes Colvin’s words off the page and lets us experience just why her work was so important, making this one of 2018’s most essential films. In this special minisode, Feelin’ Film Aaron White interviews Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award winning director Matthew Heineman about his first narrative feature film, followed by a discussion with yours truly from Every Movie Has a Lesson.

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MOVIE REVIEW: A Private War

The biographical film A Private War is a collection of those slivers, each with increasing sharpness to cut to the core of our moral constitution. Like each year taking its toll on Colvin, A Private War is the kind of movie that wears you down with increasing tension and toll in the effort to move and reforge your empathetic spirit. This is a phenomenal and ferocious lead performance from Rosamund Pike, who deserves the second Oscar nomination of her career for this combination tenacity and honesty.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a new cornerstone for Melissa McCarthy. If she can continue this maturation and start trading one or two raunchy romps for introspection and challenge like this, she could become the one of the best American actresses of her generation. Watch out. This might just be the second coming of Robin Williams. Add a “yet” in there somewhere if you must, but the potential is real.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Oath

Spinning out of a ridiculous-yet-just-plausible-enough premise, Ike Barinholtz and his fellow comedians light a ticking clock fuse towards a powder keg of social commentary dipped in the incendiary gasoline of partisan politics.The result is an entertaining explosion where every tame “bless your heart” or “agree to disagree” pleasantry shared through gritted teeth becomes replaced with “shut the f — k up” shouts and punches to the face. No matter how wrong all of this is, The Oath is a finger-pointing wake-up we could all use.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Blaze

 Serenading and soul-bearing for two stout hours, Ethan Hawke’s third directorial effort personifies the quintessential plight of the “starving artist.” Whether they carry a paintbrush or a guitar, these will-they-or-won’t-they tales stir hope and anticipation as nearly irresistible cinematic story material. Real or fictitious, we want to see the Vincent van Goghs, Llewyn Davises, and Blaze Foleys find success. Greater than rooting for an ending of stardom, there is whimsical power to be found in simply reaching emotional fulfillment.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Mandy

The zany bi-product of Cage’s addictive self-indulgence is that we get to see a committed and endowed artist apply his craft in nontraditional places, which is a nice way of saying lesser and lower-budgeted films. The challenge then isn’t on Cage, who is often better than the material he’s given. It’s whether the film can rise to meet his fury and tenacity as a performer. He brings it. Can the film do the same?

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MOVIE REVIEW: We the Animals

The phrase “they’re just kids” shouldn’t be the verbalization of a dismissal. Rather, it should be spoken as a moment of pause to reflect on what future positive or negative impact could come from the lifestyle choice being observed. We the Animals, the feature debut of short film director Jeremiah Zagar, lives for those errors and pauses as one of the best independent films of the year.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Pickings

Watching the death-dealing retribution and grudge-settling on display definitely shows the dishonesty part, but you will find nothing easy enough to be called “pickings.” Oozing all kinds of artistic flamboyance and crimson damage, this film is a straight punch to the face that has to swing hard to to knock you out. Like any punch, the hand delivering it stings as much as the cheek that receiving it. Sure enough, Pickings is a punch you’ll take and ask for another.

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MOVIE REVIEW: BlacKkKlansman

The slogan of Spike Lee’s long-time production company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmwork is “by any means necessary,” a tagline that could not be more fitting of the urgency and purpose of Spike’s works. Nothing he puts his effort into ends up empty or meaningless. His lightning rod flair singes silver screens again with Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix prize winner BlacKkKlansman, stoking a p

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