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You Must Remember This, by Reed Lackey

23 Nov

Stories about death, deferred dreams, broken families and old wounds don’t immediately resonate as fodder for children’s films. But Pixar’s latest entry, Coco, attempts to tackle these subjects and more. Stunningly, they not only manage to craft an accessible and entertaining fable, but they also express profound observations about legacy, familial heritage and the power of art to unite and to heal.

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Empty Passion, by Darrell Tuffs

10 Nov

What’s the one thing that could make or a break a bleak romantic drama focused on the unstoppable love of two despairing individuals? The answer… chemistry. Unfortunately for Gabe Kliger’s European art/indie feature Porto (2017), it had none.

It’s not that Porto is a bad film necessarily, indeed, I enjoy parts of its filmmaking very much. An inventive and considerate camera does its best to dissect the strangely incoherent and dreamscape world of the film. I even caught sight of a few early Truffaut/Godard style camera moves, shots that seemed to reminisce the film’s own appreciation for new wave works such as Jules and Jim (1962) or A Woman Is a Woman (1961). Technically, the film stands on its own, with just enough cinematic beauty and creativity to run its course. The problem is this… emotionally, Porto seemed to think I was way more invested in its character’s and narrative than I actually was.

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A Time to Laugh, by Reed Lackey

2 Nov


Superhero movies are supposed to be filled with action, suspense, and occasionally gravitas. Very few of them, if any, have ever been focused primarily on laughs. Sure, the occasional witty catch phrase or clever retort has always been a functional element of superhero stories (I’m looking at you Spidey). But rarely, if ever, has a legitimized superhero film attempted to be a straight-forward comedy.

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Inhuman, by Bob Connally

8 Oct

Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic Blade Runner has become one of the most debated films ever made. Film buffs debate which cut of the film is best and they debate whether or not Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a human or a replicant. Where viewers come down on the Deckard question can depend in large part on which version of the movie they prefer. Even the director and star have disagreed about it for decades with Scott insisting, “He is definitely a replicant,” while Ford played the role believing his character to be human. 35 years later and 10 years after the release of Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Ford is back as Deckard while the question still looms.

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Two-Toned, by Bob Connally

27 Sep

One of the more difficult things to pull off in a film is a successful shift in tone. It’s even more difficult when a filmmaker shifts back and forth between tones throughout a movie. Altered Spirits attempts to do this several times over the span of 90 minutes but unfortunately it just leaves the viewer repeatedly asking, “What does this movie want to be?”

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A Big Hit, by Bob Connally

24 Sep

Two of the more popular comedy subgenres of the past couple of decades have been mockumentaries and dark comedies about hitmen. With Killing Gunther (now available on demand and coming to theaters on October 20), writer and first-time director Taran Killam (Saturday Night Live) is combining the two with fantastic results. It’s a movie that wouldn’t work nearly as well in the hands of many filmmakers who might have concocted a similar premise. However, Killam displays a great understanding of tone and pacing throughout and perhaps most importantly of all, knows how to carry the idea all the way through to the end. As a result, an idea that sounds like it would work better as a short than a feature makes for a very funny 93 minute film.

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The Fear of God: The Night of the Hunter

29 Aug

In this episode, Reed and Nathan discuss Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter.

Mundane Obsession, by Bob Connally

28 Aug

Like its title character, Ingrid Goes West is a movie that will be dismissed and rejected by many. What many will understandably find difficult is that it defies easy categorization. Not content with simply being a dark comedy about a mentally and emotionally troubled young woman named Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), it’s a film that dares to turn its cell phone camera back at us and we may not like what we see. From early on it feels reminiscent of Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy in that we in the audience may recognize parts of Rupert Pupkin or Ingrid Thorburn in people we know or maybe, to our discomfort, in ourselves.

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Hillbilly Heist, by Bob Connally

20 Aug

There is a lot to like about Steven Soderbergh’s self-proclaimed, “anti-glam version of an Ocean’s movie.” The cast is terrific and manages to have fun with southern stereotypes without openly mocking southerners. The plot is cleverly constructed yet breezy in the right way and there’s an emotional weight to the story of the Logan family and their supposed “curse” that works well. But there is one fatal flaw that Logan Lucky cannot overcome. The film asks its audience to believe that Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) could orchestrate a heist worthy of Danny Ocean but it never earns that belief from us. While Jimmy may be a smarter guy than people realize, it remains too much of a leap to get from there to him being a criminal mastermind. It is unfortunate because as I said, there is a lot to like here.

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Something Great in the Neighborhood, by Bob Connally

15 Aug

When your job as a writer is to look at film objectively, it’s important to not get hung up on nostalgia. Thankfully, I do pretty well with that. I might have thought a movie was wonderful as a 9-year old but if it doesn’t work for me now I can’t trick myself into still loving it and I know that I shouldn’t try. If I’m watching a film I loved as a kid now for the 37th time it’s because it still works for me and it works for me in an entirely different way than when I first saw it. I feel that it’s important to be clear about this so you understand where I’m coming from when I say that 1984’s Ghostbusters – a movie I loved almost as much as life itself after I got it on VHS for my 6th birthday in 1988 – is my favorite movie of all-time. I hope that you’re ready to believe me.

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