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Baby Driver Review

17 Jun

Music has the ability to completely transform a film. However, it’s usually seen as a complement of sorts, a mood-crafter that assists in furthering the story and themes. It’s clearly essential, but it’s usually viewed as a secondary element unless you’re watching an overt musical. Baby Driver isn’t an overt musical; it’s a musical and a love story and a crime thriller and an homage all rolled up into one glorious package, and it doesn’t just utilize music as a complement to the story. In fact, music dictates everything from the editing to the acting to the directing, lingering in certain scenes and blasting in others. It’s the rock solid foundation of the entire film, and Wright uses different musical cues to set up the very structure of his plot. It’s a thoroughly engrossing relationship between song and screen, and from the exquisite opening sequence to the final shot, it plays out in a confident, exhilarating fashion.

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The Big Sick Review

16 Jun

This is a well made film with a big heart. It features a likable cast and crew doing what they do best. It’s a funny, touching, and deeply personal story that I’m very glad Kumail is sharing with us. And yet, there’s definitely something I missed that everyone else seemed to get. It’s certainly not the quality of the performances, as they’re excellent across the board and feature vets Ray Romano and Holly Hunter essentially carrying an entire half of the film. It’s certainly not the dialogue, as it’s frequently engaging and witty and even contains some brilliant dark jokes. It’s certainly not the messages of acceptance and love that are prominent in the story.

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It Comes At Night Review

10 Jun

On a technical level, this is a fun little exercise in the manipulation of space. Shults and d.p. Drew Daniels have a clear vision for what they want their set to become on screen, their use of wide lenses in tight spaces meshing well with their lighting and blocking and changing aspect ratios. Their quintessential image consists of the camera dollying toward a red door, the focal point of the entire film because of what it represents: an unknown that we’re drawn to. Shults seems to be a proponent of the idea that what is unknown may be the most terrifying thing of all, and he does his best to try to build tension with that in mind.

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Wonder Woman Review

8 Jun

Wonder Woman is a worthy follow up to Logan in that it continues the trend of people overhyping slight variations on a worn-out formula, as well as blatantly disrespecting The Dark Knight by vomiting out hyperbolic quality comparisons to that masterpiece. For a film that’s been labeled as progressive and empowering and different, it does remarkably little to separate itself from the vapid storytelling that has plagued preceding works. In fact, the most praiseworthy aspect of this project is Patty Jenkins, who injects some life into the CGI’ed emptiness with her earnest, kinetic filmmaking and who honestly should’ve written the script as well. We should be past the point where it’s surprising that a woman is directing a blockbuster superhero film, but we’re not. Let’s keep it going.

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The Leftovers “The Book of Nora” Review (3×08)

4 Jun

“I’m here.”

In the end, a simple game of Mad (Matt) Libs might be the perfect encapsulation of what this show is all about. You have a framework, a scenario, something you’re working within the boundaries of even though there are endless possibilities to choose from. The most important part is the choice: what word do you choose? Does it have a special meaning? Do other people choose similarly? Differently? How do you deal with the blanks that pop up in life? This show is not about providing those blanks; it’s about “letting the mystery be”, following people as they go on journeys that might never be logically parsed but still maintaining a sense of empathy and compassion toward them. It’s about exploring how people’s belief systems are crafted in response to a lack of answers, and it does it so goddamn well.

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The Leftovers “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” Review (3×07)

28 May

“It doesn’t make any sense!”

“International Assassin Part 3” opens with Kevin and Nora in a bathtub, back in the good ‘ol days when they could joke about how they wanted to dispose of their bodies post-death. It’s a wonderful little scene, and though the subsequent hour goes on twists and turns of epic proportions–something this show is familiar with–it all comes back to that scene in the end. Of course, it may not be that scene in particular, more so what that scene stands for: the pairing of Kevin and Nora, two people who are perfect for each other precisely because of how messed up both of them are. And thus, by circling back around to the Kevin-Nora relationship at the end of this wild, surreal adventure, The Leftovers once again makes it very clear that this is a character-driven show about grief.

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The Leftovers “Certified” Review (3×06)

21 May

“I want fucking closure.”

At the beginning of “Certified”, Laurie sits in her office talking to a woman who lost her child during The Departure. In fact, this is the same woman we saw in the very first scene of the series, and seeing her again here transports us back to the good ‘ol days of season one. We’re transported back for a very good reason, though: witnessing Laurie’s story come full circle. She hasn’t simply done a 360; she’s grown and changed and regressed and struggled, a process very true to life (and especially true to life under these extraordinary conditions). However, she is at the point of suicide once again.

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