Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Rabbit Fire (1951)

More wordplay and violence. This is the Looney Tunes formula.

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Rabbit Seasoning (1952)

Wonderfully violent. Daffy’s one of the best Looney Tunes characters.

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Steve Jobs (2015)

A LOT of talking. It’s a blurry mumbo-jumbo of product names, operating systems, and business directives. Names are dropped, characters fly in an out in a rush to tell some sort of story. None of the relationships Jobs has with his family, peers, bosses, or competitors is explored with any…

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Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Great casting and respectful performances. The whole thing seems authentic.

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Annie (1982)

I remember loving this as a kid, and it actually holds up pretty well. Heartfelt and well-made. Aileen Quinn is cute and turns in a great performance. And all of the other kids are great too, with well-delivered lines and impressive song and dance numbers. Look at how long they…

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Cinderella (2015)

Nicely realized by Branagh. I was skeptical of James and Madden at first, but they ended up doing a pretty good job. James has got a bit of Geena Davis in her.

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Saving Mes Aynak (2014)

Interesting look at a sliver of land with an interesting and turbulent history.

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Delicatessen (1991)

A quirky, tongue-in-cheek look at dystopian future, similar to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Anachronisms and sillyisms and goofy TV clips make it nostalgic and timeless at the same time. But Jeunet makes this one distinctly French, with goofy-looking and overly expressive characters, exceedingly silly humor and physical comedy gags, and bouncy…

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Annie (2014)

The focus here is not on the story or characters or performances, but on being updated and fresh and pretty. It doesn’t have the charm, warmth, cohesiveness, and naturalness of the 1982 film. Along with the modern-day references and jokes, there are updated lyrics, and new songs. The biggest problem…

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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)

Like the first, lots of deep and valuable messages delivered by old people in the quirky and exotic surrounds of India. Natural acting by veteran actors. Gotta assume it’s fun for them to make these movies.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

A deep, insightful look at being the unpopular kid in high school, though it got unexpectedly dark at the end. Obviously a very personal movie for Chbosky, the author and screenwriter and director of the film. It’s interesting and surprising that Chbosky’s hardly done any other directing. I wonder how…

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Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)

Aside from Roberts, who was a relatively talented and exceptionally mature young actress, acting is this movie is completely awful. Every actor moves robotically and talks as if reciting from a script. It’s ironic that Ben plays a drama teacher in the movie. And it’s not just the acting. This…

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Baby Mama (2008)

Cute with some funny lines. Fey and Poehler are pretty good, and a nice supporting cast.

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Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Not the Will Ferrell comedy I was expecting. He doesn’t have a single funny line, playing the straight man in a borderline sad story. Was Ferrell miscast? Or was he giving drama a serious attempt? I’m not sure how his OCD fits into the story. And it’s all a bit…

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La La Land (2016)

An impressive musical, with beautiful sets, dramatic lighting, nice photography, a great score with wonderful instrumentation and original pieces, lively dance numbers, and quality performances. Perhaps most impressive are the long takes of musical numbers, executed with a degree of difficulty that is probably unappreciated by the casual viewer. There’s…

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Once (2007)

Nice, simple story. The music and talent is great, though maybe there’s a bit too much of it and not enough dialogue and character development.

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The Light Between Oceans (2016)

Gently paced, cleanly told, beautifully shot. Some of the shots are subtle but carefully chosen and metaphorical. This is a polished, smart movie. Fassbender’s performance is wonderfully restrained, and the old age make-up and performance is spot-on. Vikander, with her wonderfully expressive puppy dog eyes, puts in a great dramatic…

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I’m Here (2010)

Spike Jonze is an interesting dude, isn’t he? He’s a genius, but something’s a little off-center with him. A strange, charming but nightmarish story. Nice effects. Why English accents?

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13 Hours (2016)

This movie oozes with Bay’s visual style. Scenes are overly color-treated and contrasty, characters are all good-looking, orange, shiny, each trying to out-cool the other with macho lingo. Editing is predictably kinetic and with predictable interludes of slow-motion. Good action, though, with firefights and explosions that are intense and believable.…

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Finding Dory (2016)

Nothing really stands out about this one. Basically an continuation of Finding Nemo, only the story is not as crisp and the comedy is not as funny. Dory’s memory issue goes from cute affectation to downright annoying. Isn’t the story more about Dory finding her parents than it is about…

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David Brent: Life on the Road (2016)

I love Gervais and Brent, but this one just didn’t have the engaging humor of The Office. Main reason for that is the thin plot, a lack of subplots, and a shortage of supporting characters with real personalities. Gervais is trying to carry this thing solely with Brent’s schtick, and…

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The Accountant (2016)

Well-structured, seriously and methodically and efficiently told, with carefully constructed flashbacks revealing character and the motivations for the story, obviously written by someone who knows a lot about the legalities of corporate accounting. This feels literary, almost Grisham-y. Affleck plays a character that’s a mix of Raymond Babbitt and Jason…

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

A showcase of visual effects, but it’s all incredibly boring. I’m just not a fan of Harry Potter or magical fantasy stories. I went into this not knowing it was a Harry Potter film. My mistake. Ooh, a quirky little animal that is exotic and strangely cute and makes unusual…

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Fastball (2016)

Great biography of the fastball. Nicely paced, well-shot, with plenty of first-hand commentary from established players and some of the all-time greats. If anything, would have liked a bit of conjecture about how fast the balls were thrown in the early days of baseball. The math that brings it all…

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Allied (2016)

Like Mr. & Mrs. Smith, only with a historical setting and the polish of Robert Zemeckis. Story and characters are engaging throughout. Great sets and costumes help make it feel like an authentic period piece. Slow-paced, but the editing is good. Cotillard is great, but I think Pitt is bad…

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Paprika (2006)

Weird-ass movie, a roller coaster acid trip of dreams. Evokes Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine, Strange Days, Inception with its dreams-in-dreams confusion, and maybe also Matrix. Animation and music are great. Not sure if the weird dialogue is a byproduct of bad translations, but there are weird word choices, no dramatic pauses,…

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Arrival (2016)

I thought we might be getting a quality film about alien contact, a subject that hasn’t been treated with the proper care since Contact, but this one ended up being a disappointment. Started off right. Wonderful tension when first meeting the aliens, and the effects and sound mixing for the…

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Primer (2004)

A really impressive personal project by Carruth. The whole thing was made for $7000? That’s amazing. The whole thing is shrouded in mystery from the start. These guys are smart, but what’s their background? They seem to be some sort of engineers, but no hint is given of their educational…

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Kon-Tiki (2012)

A paint-by-numbers film about a few guys in a raft for three months. This is a boring story. The fact that fictional liberties were taken to make things more exciting is evidence that maybe this not the greatest story for a movie. Why was this trip so important? The archaeological…

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The Normal Heart (2014)

This is not just a showcase of gay people doing gay things. There is a good story here, made with heart and class. It’s too bad this didn’t get a theatrical release. It deserved one. Great casting, even better acting. Ruffalo and Bomer are fantastic. Where were the Oscars? What’s…

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An Honest Liar (2014)

A great documentary about a fascinating man and his noble principles. Well-made and interesting throughout.

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Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Gibson is drawn to Jesus-like characters who stick to their convictions and sacrifice everything for a greater good. These are passionate stories that he tells, stories that are usually great for movies. Good, authentically American characters played by a mostly Australian cast. Garfield is amazingly authentic, nailing it in a…

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The Sociopath (2016)

A decent collection of Trump-related footage, but most of it is superficial media coverage, and much of it seems to have been recorded from a TV screen and is strangely cropped. The droning music in the background is manipulative and unnecessary. Let the subject matter speak for itself. Available here:…

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Piper (2016)

True to Pixar form, the animation, characters, emotions, expressions, and timing are all fantastic. But the revelation here is that he learns a new way to find food? Cute, but some of the other Pixar shorts are better.

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Captain Fantastic (2016)

Like The Mosquito Coast, a genius shuns modern civilization to create a utopia for his family in the forest. Nice mood, and the characters and acting are great, but it meanders a bit.

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Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Inspired by Abrams, but this one’s not as good and not as smart. Spock’s dialogue is basic, McCoy’s quips are forced. Pegg’s Scotty doesn’t have a single good line, even more surprising when you consider that he wrote the screenplay. Effects are dizzyingly good, with silly smooth camera movements through…

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Life Itself (2014)

A candid and depressing look at one of the most beloved figures in film history, and such a personal, heartfelt project from Roger, Chaz, and James. That Roger was self-aware of the film’s production makes it that much more meaningful. I know he valued this. Cleanly crafted and well-organized. How…

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Song of the Sea (2014)

Creatively and beautifully animated. Almost too mystical and wishy washy for me, but I was surprised at how touched I was at the end.

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The Jungle Book (2016)

Not sure which, but either the original Rudyard Kipling novel or this movie is a crap story. Why are we supposed to care about any of these characters? What makes Mowgli good? His youthful innocence? What makes the tiger bad? The scar? There’s no character development, and consequently, I don’t…

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Jason Bourne (2016)

Getting a bit tired of the formula. Bourne looking around, in super-close-up, with a furrowed brow, trying to remember who he is. Music builds when he’s about to be apprehended. Handheld and shaky camera throughout. The dizzying car chase at end was good, just wish it had more drama behind…

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Sing Street (2016)

Cute and charming, pulling some of the same strings as Almost Famous. Carney did a great job capturing the 80’s authentically and making fun of it at the same time. Actors are all great. Walsh-Peelo pulls off a great first performance as the lead, and there’s something really appealing about…

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Overall, better than I thought it would be. It’s Zach Snyder, so it’s beautiful and polished and graphic, but the story is a bit jumbled and the acting is pretty blah. There were a few moments when I didn’t really know what was going on, including a ghost sequence and…

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

Silly and odd. Neill is good at playing crotchety. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play anything else. But does he really think he did a good thing here?

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O.J.: Made in America (2016)

Epic and powerful and masterfully crafted. A complete story is told with no narration and almost no titles. An amazing assemblage of footage. Even the drone B-roll footage is beautiful and effective. And the way it’s arranged is an unbelievable editing accomplishment. A dramatic and beautiful score pulls it all…

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Blue Thunder (1983)

Like WarGames (another Badham movie) and Red Dawn and Spies Like Us and many other movies of the early 80’s that take a distrustful look at military technology and the people who use it. This was at the forefront of people’s minds at the time. Helicopters were in vogue around…

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I’m the Angel of Death: Pusher III (2005)

Refn has created a series of sequential but interconnected stories, and they all work. The characters and stories are unique and interesting enough to hold interest, and the consistent pacing, visual style, and natural acting keep it all glued together. Seems he was going to make a fourth movie with…

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With Blood on My Hands: Pusher II (2004)

A pretty good sequel, with the same intensity and style as the first. The story isn’t quite as engaging, though

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The Nice Guys (2016)

It’s polished and star-powered, but aimless and silly. I wanted to laugh but I couldn’t. I wanted it to end but it wouldn’t.

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Pusher (1996)

Haunting, intense, and brutal. Drugs are bad. Appealing characters and actors, amazing how far Mads has come. Bodnia is great to watch, with an fixed expression throughout revealing only the most subtle changes from scene to scene. He has a Tom Sizemore/Kevin Spacey peacefulness quality to him. Shooting style really…

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Captain America: Civil War (2016)

This is really Avengers 3, but the title of the movie kept expectations lower and helped make it a pleasant surprise. It’s a big, ambitious effort with real plot lines and great action, and it’s nice to see everyone together again. The regular all-star cast gives us more of the…

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Lucy (2014)

Hokey story, hokey characters. This is what Luc Besson does. He goes for cool and intense, throwing logic and real drama out the window and ending up with something that’s cartoonish and silly.

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Bronson (2008)

The whole celebrity in prison thing was reminiscent of Chopper, the characters in the crazy house reminded me of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the confessionals to the camera were similar to the ones in JCVD. There’s no denying Hardy’s intensity. His performance is brutal and raw, and…

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Zootopia (2016)

Not as smart as some of the other Pixar movies, but cute nonetheless. Yes, these comparisons of Disney/Pixar collaborations to the original Pixar classics will continue. I fear that some of Pixar’s wit and heart is slowly being replaced by Disney’s safer, more generic characters and stories. The sloths are…

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Vacation (2015)

About as good as you could do, I guess. Helms channels Chevy for his performance, which is fun but a bit weird since he wasn’t a goofball in the original movies.

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Into the Blue 2: The Reef (2009)

A throwaway thriller with beautiful people, actually not as bad as it could have been. Vandervoort is delicious.

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Papillon (1973)

Experimental and a little bit awkward, which is owed to the era in which it was filmed. But the greatest flaw is that the story is a bit aimless. I know that anti-heroes were popular around this time, but there’s almost no character development and no reason that we should…

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Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

A fine adventure with pretty good pacing and character development for the 1930’s. Was this one of the first real adventure movies? Gable’s good, isn’t he? Laughton is wonderfully horrible and a big reason for the film’s dramatic success. What an amazing story, especially with descendants of the original mutineers…

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Ip Man 3 (2015)

A worthy sequel. Nice and long and beautifully shot, like the others from the series. An example of how some decent writing and characters can take a kung fu movie to the next level. The relationships are complex, but they work and have real emotion. Dramatically, Wing-sing’s death sometime before…

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In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)

A wonderful collection of raw footage, b-roll, interviews, and voiceover, all marvelously edited. Perhaps the best documentary or the Apollo program. It’s all really amazing isn’t it? The astronaut interviews are great, humanizing each mission with lots of great details and memories and insights. Collins and Duke are especially likable…

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Blackfish (2013)

Polished, scary, and tragic. Would have liked to see more interviews with people who were attacked, or maybe their families.

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The Night of the Grizzly (1966)

Has the charm of the old westerns, but it’s not much more than a monster movie. While this may have played back in the day, the monster here is innocent and hungry. Killing the bear is the happy climax of the movie? The bear action is decent. Walker was quite…

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Room (2015)

Disturbing and amazing, painful and wonderful to watch. Not sure if it’s the performances of Larson and Tremblay, Abrahamson’s direction, or the subject matter, but it hits home. How is it that no one’s ever made a movie about this? Larson deserved the Oscar, and an argument could be made…

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Nebraska (2013)

The movie is as confused as Woody is. It’s black and white to imply that it’s an art film and slightly quirky in a Fargo or Napoleon Dynamite sort of way, but if you strip all that away, all we have left is a dumb premise and wooden performances. Forte…

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The Landlord (2007)

Cute.

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Inside Job (2010)

Decent job explaining complex topics, with lots of help from good graphics and Damon’s patient narration. But it’s still pretty heavy. I wonder if there’s a way to simplify things even more. Lots of great arial photography.

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The Third Man (1949)

War-torn Vienna is an interesting backdrop, and the expressionist lighting and shadows and angles give the film a psychologically interesting feel. One of earliest movies I can remember having a score. The zither music definitely gives the film some life, but it’s used way too much. The happy music starts…

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Sicario (2015)

Showcases the complexity of the drug problem, like Traffic, and also told in a similarly gritty tone. Despite the grit, Villeneuve has this movie nicely polished. Tension in a few scenes is fantastic. Exquisite photography, with some great night and thermal vision effects. Couple of minorly awkward moments with dialog.…

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Say It Isn’t So (2001)

I get it, the Farrelly brothers like absurd dark humor. But this is dumb and a big waste of time for a lot of quality actors.

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Deadpool (2016)

A much needed, refreshing take on the superhero movie. A few really good laughs, and the R rating really helps to add some intensity to a genre that was starting to roll over for the kids. They took a chance here, and I think it worked. Miller, a first time…

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Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)

A courageous coming of age story. I appreciate how the exploration of lesbianism is neither superficial nor overdramatic, things these types of movies often fall victim to. The exploration of the lifestyle and sexuality is thorough and interesting, and the relationships between the main characters are real and endearing. But…

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Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal (2003)

A little drawn out, but interesting and nostalgic.

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No End in Sight (2007)

Well-assembled, with just the right amount of narration and text gluing it all together. Anyone who supported the war in Iraq and Bush’s overall agenda should see this.

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Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Polished and well-shot, but I’m starting to get a bit tired of these movies. I prefer the Bond franchise, which come to think of it isn’t that much different anymore. What REALLY the difference between this and Spectre? All these movies are sort of converging at some generic point, aren’t…

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The Colorful Montreal Expos (2016)

A nice collection of polished and well-paced footage, and Shatner’s narration is pretty good. But having personal knowledge of the subject makes me critical of its accuracy and thoroughness. My take on it, as someone who knows the recent history of the Montreal Expos quite well, is that it is…

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The Perfect Storm: Story on the 1994 Montreal Expos (2015)

Beautifully polished, though maybe a bit heavy on the music. Would have loved for this to be a part of the more famous documentary, “The Colorful Montreal Expos”.

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Les Expos Nos Amours ()

A dated but impressively thorough documentary of the Montreal Expos. Year by year installments chronicle the entire history of the franchise. The collection of footage and interviews is thorough, and the contemporary music for each season really helps take you back. Sutherland’s narration is a little creepy and melodramatic, and…

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Something the Lord Made (2004)

A pretty interesting story, but the race stuff is a bit on the nose, the passage of time isn’t entirely clear, and interactions between Thomas and Blalock, as confusing as they may have been in real life, are a little inconsistent here. Direction is a little too traditional and safe.…

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The Big Short (2015)

This is dramatic subject matter, but McKay, a comedy director, is all over the place. Making very complicated economic concepts fun and bouncy with celebrity cameos is irreverent and irrelevant and distracting. And all the in-camera dialogue, particularly the explanations that come out and admit that what we have seen…

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The Act of Killing (2012)

An unconventional angle on Indonesia’s brutal, genocidal history. Who knew Indonesia was this messed up, this corrupt? Oppenheimer has found dramatic subject matter that has not yet been exposed and exploited. Interesting collection of footage. It’s horrifying how proud these people are of their brutal history, and it’s even more…

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Vincent (1982)

Vintage Burton. Amazing that, in 1982, he had already established his unique style.

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The Revenant (2015)

As intense and you can get and beautifully shot, but there’s not a whole lot of story. DiCaprio bleeds for two and half hours and vows revenge. There’s not much else to it. Beautifully composed shots of majestic mountains, big skies, and flowing water give the movie a contemplative feel…

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Police Story 3: Supercop (1992)

Standard Jackie Chan fare. Action is decent, but it’s not enough. Yeoh was cute.

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Predator 2 (1990)

Pretty awful. They took the original and added a shitty story, shitty characters, and shitty dialogue.

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The Apartment (1960)

A wonderful little story, smartly told and well-directed. Long takes and wider shots, which I know Wilder fought for, both work wonderfully. Made during the wonderful transition between the formal 50’s and experimental 60’s. In the themes and performances, you can see the boundaries being pushed a little bit, but…

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Beautiful to see Seuss’ characters and universe come to life on film. Maybe it captured the imagination back in the day, but under a critical eye, the story and animation and songs are all pretty bad.

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Paths of Glory (1957)

Kubrick makes movies about men victimized by their environments, men who are being disconnected from each other, men who must abandon the formalities of daily life to deal with the pressure and chaos of their personal struggles. This one’s a perfect example. But this one’s made before Kubrick really started…

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Bridge of Spies (2015)

A story about an important and overlooked period in American history. Beautifully shot, with great effects and period costumes. A touch of light comedy perfectly sweetens the tension of the story. Performances ring true for the period, with everyone looking and feeling authentic. Spielberg, when he’s on, creates a depth…

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Spotlight (2015)

Not a documentary, but it’s made with a certain straightforwardness and detail that leads me to believe that the facts were heavily researched and few fictional liberties were really taken. That said, as an instrument of social change, I don’t think the film will really change things a whole lot…

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The Hateful Eight (2015)

As expected, it’s violent, dialogue-driven, and filled with two-faced characters. But for a film this long, I’m just not sure the story is interesting enough. Not a whole lot happens. A stagecoach picks up a black guy, they go to a cabin, and characters spar with dialogue for a while…

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As Good as It Gets (1997)

Not sure what Melvin’s OCD has to do with anything. He’s clearly an asshole, and that’s what drives the conflict in the story. His OCD is really just a distraction. Nicholson’s pretty good. I’ve always thought Hunt is cute in an unconventional sort of way. Kinnear is fantastic, one of…

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The Punisher: Dirty Laundry (2012)

Why would they make a short for this? I don’t get it. There’s not much to it.

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Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015)

A great exposé of one of the biggest shams in recent years. Amazing the Church even allowed it to get made. If they were smart, they would have prevented its production from happening in the first place. Now, it’s too late. It’s scary how seductive this is to some people,…

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Entourage (2015)

A continuation of the TV series with what must be a record number of celebrity cameos. Osment’s still got it, and I hope he dives back into acting, though I fear he might be relegated to playing fringy characters and villains.

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Miss Representation (2011)

Sometimes social commentary can be effective vehicles for change, but Miss Representation takes the wrong angle on feminism, perhaps even a destructive one, by a) focusing on a selective and unfair sampling of women being objectified in the media, b) pointing fingers at that studio heads, company presidents, and men…

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The Cove (2009)

A beautiful, tragic piece of investigative reporting. They did a great job documenting and editing together the mission, though the long, dramatic fades to black a bit much. An amazing turn for one of the driving forces behind Flipper. With the majestic music and romantic footage, the message here is…

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Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)

Some of the effects campy, but a noble effort for 1956. Looks like they had a few different monster costumes, each of them having slight cosmetic differences. I understand that the suit makes the actor somewhat immobile, but the monster’s movements seem downright spastic and clumsy. Why did Burr take…

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

I was very excited to learn that Abrams, a quality director, was going to be making a Star Wars movie. I had high hopes, and how interesting that he had just made Star Trek Into Darkness. After decades of debates have divided fans between the two franchises, here was a…

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Rope (1948)

I agree with Jimmy Stewart when he says he didn’t like this Hitchcock movie. It’s some sort of philosophical statement about social rights and mortality, but I found it pretty darn boring. The novelty with this one is the long takes, consistently edited together with close-ups of bodies walking by…

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It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Seems to have become a Christmas tradition, though it’s not entirely a Christmas movie. There aren’t really any Christmas references until about halfway in. The alternate history with a rich asshole taking over the town reminds me a lot of Back to the Future Part II. A polished production. Nicely…

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22 Jump Street (2014)

Light comedy that makes fun of itself. These two are pretty good together. Great credit sequences.

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