Category Archives: Long Reviews (>400 Words)

The Disaster Artist (2017) Movie Review

James Franco’s The Disaster Artist could have been the extension of a joke, an acknowledgment of the irony that makes Tommy Wiseau’s historical miscalculation The Room such an audience favorite. That would have been the easy route, and it would have made for a less compelling film.
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Instead, The Disaster Artist takes an earnest approach. It aims to convince us that it is the drive of Wiseau’s vision which is truly Continue reading The Disaster Artist (2017) Movie Review

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Coco (2017) Movie Review

Pixar films often run on a formula of a handful of sure-fire tropes. A protagonist with dreams bigger than the present situation, prevented from acting on those dreams by external forces. A sidekick character who either doesn’t talk or has way too much to say. A supporting character who turns out to be evil at the third act break. The hero’s journey, all in pursuit of a theme that revolves around family and/or finding oneself.

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Coco does not deviate wildly from this formula, certainly not as much as Continue reading Coco (2017) Movie Review

Novitiate (2017) Movie Review

When Pope John XXIII created Vatican II, it shook the Catholic Church to its core. The Second Vatican CouncilĀ  was a big deal at the time, being that it was the first reconvening of Roman Catholic officials for the sake of reform in over 100 years.

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In the wake of Vatican II, thousands of nuns left the Church given that, in an attempt to create a more open and inviting Church, the status of nuns was Continue reading Novitiate (2017) Movie Review

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Movie Review

In Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a title so laborious and specific that it can’t help but get stuck in your head, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) rents out three billboards (they haven’t been used in years, not since the highway went up) and plasters a notice up on them. Black on red. A question aimed at Police Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) asking for justice for Mildred’s dead daughter.

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A confrontational pitch-black comedy about reactionary culture and life-altering emotional extremity, Three Billboards delivers one of the Continue reading Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Movie Review

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017) Movie Review

It wouldn’t be surprising if you only know of the film Roman J. Israel, Esq. because the poster features the back of Denzel Washington’s head. It’s understandable. It’s not as if the name is particularly catchy. But Roman J. Israel, Esq. is the second directorial feature from Dan Gilroy, the man behind Nightcrawler and the scripts of such films as The Fall and Bourne Legacy.

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For someone who appreciated Nightcrawler, it is not unreasonable to anticipate good things from Gilroy’s follow up. Don’t be fooled. Roman J. Israel, Esq.—and I only keep reiterating the name because we are reminded of it time and time again in the film—is not Continue reading Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017) Movie Review

Mudbound (2017) Movie Review

On the eve of World War II, Laura (Carey Mulligan) is courted by engineer Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke) in the Mississippi Delta. Although Laura is more charmed by Henry’s brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund), she marries Henry and they raise two children. Henry buys a farm (more precisely, he’s swindled and the family is relegated to a meager shack that is characterized most readily by the puddles of mud in the yard that never dry up). This farm employs the Jackson family, led by pensive Florence (Mary J. Blige) and Hap (Rob Morgan) Jackson.

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When America is drawn into the war effort—Roosevelt’s infamy speech marks the act break—Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) and Jamie are called on to serve. When they return to the states, inevitably changed, they face Continue reading Mudbound (2017) Movie Review

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligatory Mention of Tony Clifton (2017) Movie Review

There is a moment at the very start of Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligatory Mention of Tony Clifton where you expect this to be a pretentious showbiz doc, where Jim Carrey stares at the camera and tries to convince us in one line that the soul of Andy Kaufman embodied him when he got the job as Kaufman for the Milos Forman film Man on the Moon.

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In a sense, Jim & Andy is this standard industry documentary, telling the story of how an actor was inspired to give another industry figure an in memoriam by way of biopic. It is the type of biopic that Continue reading Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligatory Mention of Tony Clifton (2017) Movie Review