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The Danger of Trust, by Reed Lackey

18 Feb

I must confess that the style of the genre known as “mumblecore” is still something to which I’m adjusting. The sparse settings, the mostly improvised dialogue, and the naturalistic performances seem to be striving towards a deliberate reality, and as a result have their virtues and their detriments.

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Blistering, by Reed Lackey

15 Feb

In turbulent and uncertain times, heightened anxieties and tensions are often described by four metaphorical words: “Things are heating up.” Blind Sun, a recent French film from director Joyce Nashawati takes those words to heart and crafts a story around them that is challenging, reflective, and, at times, quite troubling.

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Going Nowhere Fast, by Bob Connally

12 Feb

In 2001, a relatively unknown 40-year old British comedian named Ricky Gervais burst onto the BBC. As David Brent, the hopelessly oblivious boss on The Office, the character describes himself as “a friend first, a boss second…probably an entertainer third.” Brent’s excruciating mugging, tone-deaf jokes, and attempts to be everybody’s friend, pained his employees and made the audience laugh and cringe in equal measure. Both in the lead role and as the co-writer and co-director of all 14 episodes (it was designed to be that short), Gervais managed to always walk a tightrope without falling off of it. Brent was almost a cartoon character but he remained just believable enough, as did the show, that viewers running across it unaware The Office was a mockumentary could have been forgiven for believing it was real.

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Vault of Horrors and Screams, by Reed Lackey

12 Feb

The anthology format has long been a specialty not quite unique to the horror genre, but certainly utilized by it more than any other genre. What usually sets apart the best entries are a unique wraparound narrative and inventive individual sub-stories. V/H/S manages to accomplish both, although it still remains something of a mixed bag.

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Reload, by Bob Connally

11 Feb

2014’s John Wick was not an ordinary action film. The directorial debut of longtime stunt coordinator and second unit director Chad Stahelski not only presented action in a unique way, it created a fascinating world populated by characters that were intriguing from the moment we met them. Primarily though, it was an action film as a character study of a man who had gotten out of a world seemingly no one gets out of and what happens when returning to it- “Just visiting” as he puts it- is the only choice he has.

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Corpse Rave, by Reed Lackey

8 Feb

There are precious few subgenres of film I enjoy more than a good horror-comedy. The best of the bunch succeed on both levels and manage to frighten as much as they induce laughter. Paying homage to that subgenre, and attempting to find its way on the same shelf with the greats, is the new film from director Torey Haas called The Neon Dead. Unfortunately, the film becomes a bit too bogged down by its own ambition, but that doesn’t mean it’s not quite a bit of fun.

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The Bob Awards

8 Feb

As a film fanatic in my teens and early twenties I took part in the time honored tradition that so many of us do. Waking up at 5:30 AM to watch the Oscar nominations and immediately begin complaining about them. After a few years of this I decided that if I wasn’t happy with the Academy’s choices then I should create my own awards. So I started the imaginatively named…Bob Awards. (It only occurs to me now that had I been named Oscar I’d have had a problem. Bullet dodged. Thanks, Mom and Dad.)

I have been doing these for a little over a decade now but this is the first time I will be sharing the Bob Award nominations as a writer for More Than One Lesson and I am very excited. I really hope you enjoy them. If you don’t like these nominees then by all means create your own movie awards. Go on. Do it! I dare you!… No, really, you’ll feel better. It works for me. (If your name is Bob or Oscar though then I’m so sorry, but you’ll just have to accept these.) Of course I still complain about the Oscar nominations. But slightly less. And I guess that’s something.

I will be back before the Oscars to reveal the winners in not only these categories but several others.

Best Picture
ARRIVAL
FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS
HELL OR HIGH WATER
LA LA LAND
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL
A MONSTER CALLS
MOONLIGHT
SILENCE
SWISS ARMY MAN
ZOOTOPIA

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Asking Questions, by Bob Connally

25 Jan

Martin Scorsese has never kept his Catholic upbringing a secret. While he has certainly never made Christian films, his lifelong internal struggle of faith has informed his work throughout his now 50 year career as a filmmaker. It is most overt in works such as Mean Streets, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Gangs of New York. But it is such a part of him that his films that don’t have at least a small piece of Christian iconography are notable for the absence of it. He is probably the only mainstream filmmaker of which that can be said. Now with Silence, Scorsese takes an unflinching look into what it means to truly be a follower of Christ under the harshest of circumstances.

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Shock Without Awe, by Reed Lackey

24 Jan

Rob Zombie frustrates me. On one hand, he’s clearly a distinct and visionary director, with a strong command of imagery and a rich understanding of the foundational horror films of the 20s and 30s. With each new film announcement from him, I’m immediately curious. I reacted the same way when his recent death-match slasher 31 was announced. However, with every film of his besides The Devil’s Rejects, I’ve walked away disappointed.

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Help My Unbelief, by Reed Lackey

22 Jan

Sequels are continually regarded, however unfairly, as automatically inferior films. Recent entries in the superhero and science fiction genres have rebuked that stigma, but they’ve not abolished it. It is particularly challenging to craft a sequel to a film which is regarded as a landmark. So when William Peter Blatty set out to direct a third sequel to the legendary horror classic, The Exorcist, it seemed a matter of incredible folly.

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