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‘It Follows’ and its world without adults

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fourstars

 

(2015 – Director: David Robert Mitchell   Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist)

What impresses me most about the sure-to-be-instant-cult-classic It Follows, is the respect it has for its audience’s intelligence. The premise is simple and established almost right from the beginning. It’s typical in that it follows a group of teenagers as they band together and try to escape a vague, but haunting, curse. It Follows is a great example of how not to let plot, or mythology, get in the way of a feature script. We don’t need a lot of answers. We don’t have time to even ask questions. We’re placed in an unsettling world with chilling visuals and we’re too busy being scared about what’s around the corner to really ask why.

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Mini-Reviews

Paddington

fourstars

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Paddington is unbelievably heartwarming without feeling false or manipulative. Its characters have depth and personality. The world is whimsical without feeling childish. It’s chalk full of gags and visuals that make it feel like a more snuggly version of a Wes Anderson movie. It’s a children’s story about a bear living with a family, but it touches on so many larger themes (immigration, being an orphan, becoming a parent, growing as a family) that it never gets lost in its own silliness or dumbs down its emotional core in the name of “being a children’s movie.”

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The Skeleton Twins

fourstars the-skeleton-twins01

The Skeleton Twins immediately seems like a depressing film, but navigates its way into becoming a poignant, and ultimately uplifting journey. Life sucks, and the more honest we can be about our own problems, secrets, and fears with someone, the happier we are; no matter how hard that may be. That’s what Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig’s characters are going through, as the twins indirectly help each other confront their most challenging issues. Hader and Wiig are solid. They prove that they belong in more dramatic roles. The color palette and directing is impressive. Certain motifs are especially powerful.

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Life Itself

fourstars life-itself7

Life Itself is an impressive documentary that, yes, gives you detailed background of Roger Ebert’s life. But more importantly, it eloquently frames the impact his life had on so many others. Good documentaries always seem to be filmed at just the right place during just the right moments. Life Itself juxtaposes images of Roger in his last days with images from his glory years that give context and meaning to his life much better than if it were done after his death. Even if you’re apathetic toward Roger Ebert’s work, this film will win you over.

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The Imitation Game

threestars

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I feel like my review of The Theory of Everything could also apply toward The Imitation Game. They’re both movies about British geniuses, yet never actually show their characters being a genius. They’re both melodramas with solid, yet predictable leading performances. They both are filled with sweeping, stale visuals. The Imitation Game is a movie focused on Alan Turing’s perceived weirdness. But what’s really weird is that arguably the best material to support that overall theme (the pre-war and post-war periods of his life) was abbreviated. The movie is too abrupt, and fails to make actual connections with an unlikeable lead character. Like TToE, it could have been better served as a mini-series.

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How to Train Your Dragon 2

fourstars how-to-train-your-dragon-2

A surprising sequel that, with added characters, is more emotionally powerful than its predecessor.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

threestars

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES

 When it’s not dealing with plot, (which is 99% of the time) the emotional beats feel redundant. Simply put, The Hobbit wasn’t material worthy of 3 epically long movies. The Battle of the Five Armies makes that abundantly clear.

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Frank

three_andhalfstars

Michael Fassbender as Frank

Frank is weird. Weird story, weird characters, weird everything. (In a good way) But what made Frank so captivating was knowing that Frank (the leader of the band who wears a fake head for nearly the entire movie) was played by Michael Fassbender. If Frank was played by a no-name, I wouldn’t have been dying to see who was inside. Fassbender simply makes this movie.

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The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 1

three_andhalfstars

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Another final installment of a franchise split out into two movies. Part 1 feels dragged out. It feels like one half of a movie expanded to the length of one complete movie. That’s the biggest hurdle this movie faces. Everything else is carried over from the previous film – a cast more worthy than the source material, capable directing, and good character building.

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Dumb and Dumber To

twostars

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 The film is horrible, and not in a good way. I gave it two stars simply because of how impressed I was that Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels never once felt like they were giving less than 100%. Here are two actors who, 20 years after the first film, have enjoyed both critical and financial success. Their dedication to come back and give their all for this sequel makes it worth seeing. Or at least watching for 5 minutes and then turning off.

‘The Theory of Everything’ is better suited for a BBC TV series

Theory-of-Everything-banner

threestars

 

(2014 – Director: James Marsh   Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones)

The Theory of Everything is a movie that never lives up to its potential. Instead, it’s a movie stuck being very ordinary. Read More…

Catch-up Mini-Reviews

Chef

fourstars

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Jon Favreau delivers a gentle, touching, and humorous film that hits so many good notes. The film meanders through weird first act script choices before catching its groove in the second and third acts. It ends up being a lot of fun and worthy of subsequent viewings.

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John Wick

threestars

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John Wick answers the question, “What’s the least acceptable reason someone would go on an all-out killing spree?” Despite having an ultra-simplistic plot, the movie has well-executed action sequences and creative atmospherics. But, all together it feels too much like a video game cinematic.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

fourstars

Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Pics

Marvel just proves that it can take the most obscure source material and make a hit blockbuster movie out of it. Fun. Great cast. ‘The Avengers In Space’– except better.

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The Interview

three_andhalfstars

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It’s weird saying that The Interview will be remembered as a historically significant film. Whether or not you like this movie is dependent on whether or not you like typical Seth Rogan movies. I, for one, was amused throughout this film.

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Magic in the Moonlight

threestars

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When it comes to Woody Allen’s lesser films, it’s hard for me to be too nitpicky. I’ll hold him in high regard no matter what kind of movie he concocts year after year. MM isn’t very memorable, but it is gorgeous to look at. It also has great actors, and a manageable script; and that’s enough to be entertained.

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Non-Stop

three_andhalfstars

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One of Neeson’s better performances with a script that updates enough old tricks to keep you guessing.

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The November Man

two_andhalfstars

November Man

It’s sort of awkward how, in this film, Olga Kurylenko plays the exact same character as her one from Quantum of Solace. All she did was switch up her Bond counterpart.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2

threestars

Andrew Garfield;Dane DeHaan

Marc Webb has his moments, but it’s safe to say I wouldn’t be too disappointed if a third addition to this series never came to fruition.

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A Walk Among the Tombstones

threestars

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This movie starts out really well. The always reliable Liam Neeson does what he does best. The directing and script seem to be going in a good direction. And then, we get to know the villains. Any threat or interest in where the story was going after that faded into TV melodrama.

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