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Logan Lucky Review

20 Aug

Nothing in this film is particularly remarkable or memorable in any way. It isn’t really meant to be. It’s a breezy affair from an experienced filmmaker, a fun heist film with relatively minimal conflict and broadly sketched stakes. That’s not to say the stakes aren’t there; they just don’t feel all too prominent. Soderbergh doesn’t quite give us enough to really flesh out his characters, but he manages to imbue them with just enough humanity to help them transcend caricature status. This results in some unexpectedly poignant scenes, mostly involving the relationship between Tatum’s character and his daughter. It additionally absolutely helps that the cast is great all around, with the standouts being Daniel Craig’s zany safecracker and Riley Keough’s stylishly steely hairdresser (seriously, when has this woman not been great? She is on a rise to stardom and I am lucky to witness it). This is also quite a funny film, and Soderbergh does a nice job with camera positioning and misdirection in order to mine visual humor from his scenes.

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Columbus Review

17 Aug

The best scene of Columbus is serene, yet dripping with emotion. It’s deeply passionate, a small slice of life that speaks volumes even though it’s as quiet as can be. I won’t give too much away here, but what sparks it is a question from one character to another about a building they’re standing in front of. It has to do with meaning, with personal connection, with finding something amidst the complicated assembling of inanimate objects. It has to do with your engagement with the world around you, and the value within that process is something that Kogonada certainly understands and connects to. That’s one of the more profound ideas that the film expresses, and it’s done so in a visually lyrical manner. Kogonada makes his human characters living, breathing elements of the architecture in the background, utilizing symmetry from both visual and character-based standpoints as Jin and Casey (Cho and Richardson, the latter of which is particularly incredible) wander through their environment.

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Orphan Black “To Right the Wrongs of Many” Review (5×10)

13 Aug

“I survived you. We survived you. Me and my sisters, together. This is evolution.”

I don’t have much to say about this finale. It’s not that I don’t want to say anything; it’s simply that there isn’t all that much to unpack. This is a crowd pleaser, a thoroughly satisfying series finale that dispatches of its villains in the first third of the episode so that it can focus on the themes that drove the series. The main one? Sisterhood, the bond that never broke through the trials and tribulations these people faced, the connective tissue that transcended mere biology. You could see it shine through in each and every episode, even if Clone Club wasn’t completely intact.
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Good Time Review

12 Aug

Give me the first twenty minutes of this film over and over again. Give me the frenetic pacing, the tight closeups and saturated colors from Sean Price Williams, the pounding, pulsating synths from Oneohtrix Point Never’s incredible score. Give me the palpable sense of desperation in the air, the mountains and valleys of hope and panic, the brief but powerful expressions of fraternal love that flow through the rapidly disintegrating situation. Give me Robert Pattinson’s brilliant performance, the way his character pushes on even as the weight of other lives fall onto his shoulders, the way he walks and holds himself throughout the film. All of the above work well in tandem. It’s an engrossing and memorable experience. It’s a well-oiled cacophony.

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Detroit Review

6 Aug

It’s easy to try to do too much with a historical film. As a filmmaker, you might feel the need to cast a wide net over the events in question, going down a laundry list of important events in an effort to do due diligence to history. I prefer the approach taken by Detroit, which zeroes in on the Algiers Motel and stays with it for over an hour. The film certainly provides context for the tensions that flare in that motel, opening the film with an excellent prologue that places you right in the heat of the Detroit riots. However, Bigelow’s concerns do not lie with the riots as a whole; rather, she and Boal are interested in how the backdrop of the riots feed into an event like the one at the Algiers Motel. The approach has some flaws, of course. Are there some meandering scenes with iffy dialogue? Yes. Are there moments a bit lacking in nuance? You bet. Does the character development sometimes fail to match up with the intense emotions we’re asked to feel for the characters? Sure. Are various perspectives omitted? Absolutely.

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Dunkirk Review

23 Jul

Let’s get this out of the way first: Christopher Nolan is a very talented filmmaker. He and his brother have crafted several masterpieces in my eyes, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for his commitment to high(er) concept crowd pleasers. He gets a lot of shit, but his type of filmmaking is desperately needed in an age of mindless entertainment; how many other directors will garner such universal support from the studio, critics, film buffs, and casual moviegoers alike? Yeah, not many.

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War for the Planet of the Apes Review

18 Jul

There’s a tendency these days to qualify any evaluation of a blockbuster film with the word “blockbuster”. “It’s great for a blockbuster.” “It’s a smart blockbuster.” “It’s just a fun summer blockbuster.” This trend does not occurs sans reason: the big, lumbering studios churning out remarkably low quality CGI fare at a record pace, and we the consumers facilitating that by constantly handing over our hard earned money. I don’t want to tell people what they should and shouldn’t enjoy, but people sure do get defensive about others affording their “blockbusters” the same level of respect that arthouse fare should receive, i.e. the critical evaluation of a film on its own merits without any sort of preconceived bias toward the style of film. By shielding certain filmmaking from criticism because it’s “just a blockbuster”, you are in fact denigrating it as a film and denigrating the blockbuster as a valuable art form. What I therefore want to make very clear is that this apes trilogy isn’t just a good blockbuster trilogy; it’s damn good filmmaking overall and one of the most impressive feats in recent film history.

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