American Assassin (2017) Movie Review

American Assassin opens on Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien), our handsome action hero, proposing to his girlfriend (Charlotte Vega) on a beach in Spain. Because we need Rapp to become a grizzled action hero with a chip on his shoulder, decked out in a scraggly beard so that we know he’s in grief, his girlfriend has to die in a random act of violence.

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Enter the CIA in the form of the dueling ideologies of Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) and Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton). They recruit Rapp in an elite anti-terrorism unit, a unit so cutthroat that it Continue reading American Assassin (2017) Movie Review

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Frontier(s) (2008) Movie Review

Xavier Gens’ Frontier(s) begins similarly to Mathieu Kassovitz’ 1995 drama La Haine. Both begin by mixing real and documentary footage of riots in the streets of France. In both cases they are riots over an intense distrust of the government. For Frontier(s) it is a distrust over a newly elected right-wing government.

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In a way, it feels like Gens is trying to pick up where Kassovitz left off, beginning with an Continue reading Frontier(s) (2008) Movie Review

Mother! (2017) Movie Review

In the New York Post review of Darren Aronofsky’s new feature film Mother!, critic Sara Stewart calls the film “a Rorschach test of a movie to interpret however you like.” Not only is this statement accurate, but it is the fatal flaw that sinks this unwieldy monster of a film.

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There is so much to unpack with Mother! that it becomes not a question of “what?” but a question of Continue reading Mother! (2017) Movie Review

Kodachrome (2017) Movie Review (TIFF 2017)

In Kodachrome, Matt Ryder (Jason Sudeikis) is an arrogant, childish talent agent for musicians. When he loses one of his premiere acts, he finds himself on the verge of losing his job. Lying his way through a conversation with his boss, he buys himself a week to book a major up-and-coming act.

He can get a meeting with this act in Chicago, but only if he accompanies his dying, irate, and estranged father Ben (Ed Harris) to Continue reading Kodachrome (2017) Movie Review (TIFF 2017)

Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken (2017) Movie Review (TIFF 2017)

At the world premiere of Morgan Spurlock’s latest documentary—a sequel to Super Size Me, the film that put him on the map—Spurlock dialed the PR knob to 11 by providing the audience with a free meal from his new restaurant venture “Holy Chicken.”

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The food truck outside of the venue served fried chicken sandwiches that looked somewhat grotesque and felt slimy to the touch. There were side choices that included fried green beans, which the charming young woman behind the counter referred to affectionately as simply “greens.” They offered soda and water (the water was dubbed “Holy Water,” perhaps because it was the closest thing to a healthy option on the menu).

Why would the man who injured his body by eating McDonald’s for 30 days straight decide to open a fast food chain? Could it be a statement on Continue reading Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken (2017) Movie Review (TIFF 2017)

It (2017) Movie Review

The term beloved may be an understatement when it comes to Stephen King’s It. The iconic image of Pennywise is a staple of the horror genre, mostly due to Tim Curry’s performance of the character in the 1990 TV movie version of King’s tome of a novel.

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Andy Muschietti, director of the tepid Mama, returns to the horror genre with the 2017 adaptation of It. The film replaces Curry with Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard, whose delightful campy performance rivals Curry’s adequately.

Without needless comparison—such a rabbit hole would siphon any light out of a critical interpretation—Muschietti’s It is a genre film that largely works through convention while trying to Continue reading It (2017) Movie Review

Oedipus Rex (1967) Movie Review

We first see Jocasta (Silvana Mangano) giving birth to Oedipus, from afar as if we are voyeur’s looking in on a sex act (a fitting introduction given the Freudian psychological product of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex). Next, we see her in a pleasing closeup. As her baby nurses from her, her smiling face recedes into a blank look that borders on concern, before her delight returns. Only, this delight seems lessened. Her face looks as though she has seen something, an omen of some kind.

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Of course, the dramatic irony inherent in this opening is intentional. Director Pier Paolo Pasolini imbues the tonal undercurrent of the film with Continue reading Oedipus Rex (1967) Movie Review

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