Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016) Movie Review

Oh Sharknado, what are we to do with you? Being the main vein of Syfy’s annual income, a trilogy just wasn’t enough. Sharknado needs to be a saga!

For the uninitiated, Sharknado is exactly the Frankenstein’s monster it sounds like: sharks + tornadoes = sharks inside tornadoes aiming to kill everybody. It’s Jaws meets Twister, etc. etc. etc. What began as an innocent, Tara Reid-starring B-movie on basic cable has blown up to the appointment viewing, C-list celebrity cameo filled annual event that we now know. We’ve survived four years of Sharknado, and we didn’t even get a stupid T-shirt.

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To understand the tone of the Sharknado-verse, just look at the climactic end of Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!. Our heroes fight sharks in space, stars Ian Ziering and Tara Reid are both eaten by sharks which fall back to Earth, they both escape from said shark bellies, Tara Reid pushing out first a newborn baby. Depending on who you ask, the films are  Continue reading Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016) Movie Review

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The Man Who Saved Ben-Hur (2016) Movie Review

You won’t find many credits for John Alarimo Jr. on IMDb. But the man was entrenched in the Hollywood system for years. He ate lunch with Gore Vidal, sat on set with Frank Sinatra and Vincent Price, acted alongside Mae West, danced with Stella Adler. Most notably, he acted as a (uncredited) second assistant director on the iconic epic Ben-Hur.

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In The Man Who Saved Ben-Hur, Alarimo’s cousin Joe Forte, now a filmmaker himself, interviews Alarimo about his time in Hollywood. Surprisingly, this interview does not begin with stories of California, but with stories of Continue reading The Man Who Saved Ben-Hur (2016) Movie Review

Bad Moms (2016) Movie Review

Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) is always running late. She works at a hipster coffee company. A hipster coffee company with employees that don’t respect her and don’t work as hard as her. She has two children and a child husband. A child husband who cheats on her online with another woman. When Amy gets fed up with the infuriating mundaity of suburban motherhood, she…does things. Most of them involve parental irresponsibility and middle-fingering the dictatorial PTA president (Christina Applegate). Oh, and plenty of slow motion montages.

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Given the premise of this film, I have no real reason to Continue reading Bad Moms (2016) Movie Review

Cafe Society (2016) Movie Review

In 1930s Hollywood, Phil Stern (Steve Carrell) is a high profile film agent. His nephew Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) is a neurotic New Yorker who moves to Los Angeles after becoming tired of life in the Big Apple. The extended family also includes a gangster (Corey Stoll) and a Communist intellectual (Stephen Kunken).

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The film is, in essence, a wandering tale of cinephilia, writer-director Woody Allen exercising his vast knowledge of classic Hollywood whenever possible. It is also a romantic melodrama: Bobby wants a woman named Veronica (Kristen Stewart) who is Continue reading Cafe Society (2016) Movie Review

Nerve (2016) Movie Review

“Nerve” is a game of extreme sports and social media. The “players” film themselves doing a series of dares for money, and the more people watching them, the closer they are to being number one, a position that ironically guarantees nothing other than the empty stardom of fleeting viral attention.

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Venus (Emma Roberts), a born watcher, throws caution to the wind for once in her life by becoming a player in the game. Nerve ropes her into Continue reading Nerve (2016) Movie Review

Batman: The Killing Joke (2016) Movie Review

Batman: The Killing Joke begins with Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl (Tara Strong), stating in voiceover that she understands this isn’t the beginning you were expecting. This is because it’s not. The first frame of the iconic Alan Moore comic is of water thumping onto the pavement in the night, not a shot of the night’s sky. With this opening line, the film is keying the viewer into its extended opening, one that does not appear in the comic.

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This opening has been cause for much controversy; why add to the tight story that is found in Moore’s version? The simple answer is that

Continue reading Batman: The Killing Joke (2016) Movie Review

Captain Fantastic (2016) Movie Review

Ben (Viggo Mortensen) raises his children under a strict survivalist patriarchy in the woods. They wear caked mud as camouflage to stalk and hunt game. They train in knife combat. At night they read books on quantum mechanics and high literature. It is an extreme form of home schooling, in a way, if home was a forest and school taught you how to skin a deer.

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Ben is trying, but he is a loving father. The family’s life appears serene in its isolation and in spite of nature’s harshness, but, like the ever-pressing power of globalization, the outside world Continue reading Captain Fantastic (2016) Movie Review