Why Him? (2016) Movie Review

Nothing screams a middle aged man writing a teen-targeted comedy like an extended opening gag involving “Netflix and chill.” The subject of the gag in question, the parents (Bryan Cranston and Megan Mullally) of upcoming Stanford grad Stephanie (Zoey Deutch), are about to take a holiday to visit their little girl…and her new boyfriend. Laird Mayhew (James Franco) is a tattoed man-child who stumbled into wealth with an app production outfit, and he wants to marry Ned Fleming’s daughter.

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Throughout the setup of Why Him?, every joke is punctuated or predicated on Continue reading Why Him? (2016) Movie Review

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Rules Don’t Apply (2016) Movie Review

In an instant, Rules Don’t Apply flings us into 1950s Hollywood under the reclusive control of Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty, who also directs), a Hollywood on the verge change. Hughes hires a bevy of young and hopeful starlets and precocious Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich) to drive them around the city. Forbes and Hughes both fall into fascination over one of the actresses, Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins), a virginal and devout Virginian who chose to forego a college education for stardom.

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The film’s style begins equally in-your-face as the narrative. Cuts between reaction shots are rapid, disorienting. Sudden flourishes of period appropriate music intrude and then disappear before a meaningful tone can be established from it. The lighting is invasive in its brightness. Everything about the film has Continue reading Rules Don’t Apply (2016) Movie Review

Loving (2016) Movie Review

Jeff Nichols, the writer-director responsible for great films such as Take Shelter and Mud, presents us his next film about an interracial couple whose marriage is prosecuted as illegal by the state of Virginia in the 1950s. LovingĀ stars Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton as the titular couple, and the film is by and large a platform for their performances.

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The film begins with shots of their faces awash in soft shadow, a quiet discussion of an impending pregnancy an intriguing locale to start off the film.

This quietness is the defining characteristic of Continue reading Loving (2016) Movie Review

Moana (2016) Movie Review

Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) is a Polynesian islander and daughter of the chief of Motu Nui. Moana is raised on tall tales of legendary heroes and dastardly monsters, the story of demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) stealing away the heart of the Mother Island rousing in her the spirit of adventure.

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Caught between this adventurous spirit and a call to lead her tribe, a divide between land and sea, Moana ventures out beyond the reef to Continue reading Moana (2016) Movie Review

Bleed For This (2016) Movie Review

Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller) is a boxer on his way out. After losing a title fight his representation, in lieu of dropping him outright, strands him with an alcoholic trainer (Aaron Eckhart) who is also on the way out.

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This, this 45 minutes of the film, is not the narrative crux of the film, though. In a way, it is a thematic introduction, but it is a lengthy one. Risking everything, Pazienza “The Pazmanian Devil” bulks up two weight classes and finds himself Continue reading Bleed For This (2016) Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) Movie Review

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a researcher of magical creatures, travels from Britain to New York in this Harry Potter expanded universe film. When one of his creatures escapes his person at a bank in a delightful opening set piece, Scamander gets apprehended by the equivalent of a magic police officer (Katherine Waterston) and a Nomag (aka a Muggle) gets away with Scamander’s briefcase full of creatures.

This all set in a 1920s period piece landscape including a dangerous wizard criminal, a conspiratorial anti-witch Muggle, and a looming dark presence.

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David Yates returns to direct this Rowling-verse film (Yates directed the final four Potter films). Beasts has a similar feel to the Potter films in their warmer moments, although the film doesn’t Continue reading Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) Movie Review

Tickled (2016) Movie Review

Journalist Davier Farrier has made a career out of seeking out the obscure fringes of society. So, when Farrier stumbles upon the world of Competitive Endurance Tickling, of course he decides to find out more.

Little does Farrier know that the strange “sport” is something that participants do not want surfaced and broadcast to the public. An innocent documentary about tickling as sport thus morphs into a very different, less silly monster involving homophobic threats and lawsuits.

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Tickled is nothing that one would expect. Unique as its subject matter is, it is impossible to Continue reading Tickled (2016) Movie Review