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Most Triumphant, by Bob Connally

30 Aug

It would have been difficult to imagine saying this in 1988 as Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure sat on a shelf, unlikely to be released in theaters, if at all. But 32 years later, we need Bill S. Preston, Esquire (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) more than ever. We need their enthusiasm, we need their positivity, and in a year that has been, “Bogus. Heinous. Most non-triumphant,” we just need something to put a smile on our faces. Moviegoing as we know it has all but ceased to exist completely since March, but thanks to a video on demand release, Bill & Ted Face the Music is here just before the end of summer to give us all an escape from the never-ending nightmare we call 2020.

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Is That a Man? by Bob Connally

22 Aug

Upon seeing the 2-minute trailer for Disney+’s upcoming series adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book, The Right Stuff, I was struck by how unexciting it all looked. How do you make the story of the pioneer days of humanity’s greatest and most exciting endeavor appear so dull? Hopefully, the series – when it premieres on October 9 – will turn out to be the engrossing and thrilling show that the story deserves, but whether it is or not, the greatness of Philip Kaufman’s 1983 film adaptation stands the test to time.

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Trying Not to Come Back, by Bob Connally

16 Aug

It’s only been in the last couple of years that I have really started to embrace horror. I haven’t become a full-on gorehound, but I have developed an appreciation for horror movies and what they can deliver that is unique to any other genre. The biggest obstacle I had was the misconception that horror movies, by and large, did not care about their characters. While this may be true of many slasher films (the original Friday the 13thbored me to tears), it was an idea that had gotten into my head and it took a long time for me to realize I was wrong. The thing is, even slashers with little to no character development can be fun in their own ways if the filmmaker is inventive. After all, if I can love big, dumb action movies like Sudden Death and “The Greatest Movie Ever Made,” Commando, then I can enjoy a horror movie that delivers on the same level.

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What is Not Promised, by Reed Lackey

7 Aug

Bursting with unbridled creative boldness and fearlessly focused on the haunting questions it raises, She Dies Tomorrow – the new film by writer/director Amy Seimetz – is a film that will likely polarize audiences, confusing and frustrating some while inspiring and captivating others. It is a unique vision of anxiety and courage, carried almost exclusively by subtext and mood. It is somehow simultaneously as intimate as a shared secret and as relatable as a timeless myth. And it is entirely possible that when you finish it, you won’t quite know how to feel: which is a testament to its power.

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Warmed Over, by Barnabas Prontnicki

21 Jul

Over the weekend I made chicken sandwiches from a recipe entitled “Copycat Chic-Fil-A Sandwiches.” I also watched a movie where a discontented, immature male relived the same day over and over again and was only shaken from his mundane life by trying to win over a lady love interest. You may have heard of it, it’s called Groundhog, er, Palms Springs.

When I first saw a trailer for Palm Springs, I was excited. It looked funny, and while some are put off by Andy Samberg (who plays the lead, Nyles), I rather enjoy him. But my main question was, “Is this going to be any different from Groundhog Day?”

The answer: Not really.

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Strange Tides, by Reed Lackey

20 Jul

Strong horror stories thrive on the mysterious and the unknown. They are anchored in a sense of atmosphere and emotional evocation that, when most effective, connect with us on a visceral level. That effectiveness can often be undermined, however, by a listless sense of scope or underdeveloped elements. The Beach House, the debut feature film by Jeffrey A. Brown, walks a thin line between what works and what frustrates to create a film with several memorable sequences, even if the whole of the experience remains somewhat lacking.

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Typical Madness, by Tober Corrigan

18 Jul

Sometimes a film hits all the right personal preference buttons yet still leaves you underwhelmed. That was my experience with Shirley, Josephine Decker’s loosely autobiographical account of fiction writer Shirley Jackson’s years in North Bennington, Vermont. It really gets the process of imagining characters and bringing fiction to life in your head. It captures with great specificity both the intrigue and the trappings of elite university culture, particularly during the 1950s in America. Its depictions of what it means to be a woman, a wife, and a creative person are also excellently realized. Yet rather than boldly claiming new cinematic territory with these themes and concepts, I found the film, in both style and storytelling, to vary little from the lineage of films that have covered this same ground. 

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Plenty of Time, by Bob Connally

18 Jul

Going into Palm Springs, I had not seen a trailer. I knew who the two leads were and a friend of mine had told me she’d enjoyed it. That’s it. So when it very suddenly becomes something more than a standard rom-com about 15 minutes in it comes as quite a shock. If you have not watched the trailer and want to go into the film completely unspoiled then I recommend simply going to Hulu and watching the movie before reading the rest of this review so you can be as surprised as I was. Also, that makes this easier for me as it’s really impossible to review Palm Springs by dancing around the bulk of the movie.

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Brutish Squad, by Bob Connally

12 Jul

The premise of The Old Guard sounds like a teenage boy saying, “What if Highlander but Furiosa is John Wick?!” The resulting film feels as though it was written by a teenage boy. Basing it upon his own graphic novel series of the same name, Greg Rucka’s screenplay is full of cringe-inducing dialogue delivered by actors who are either trying to hide their own embarrassment or whose weaknesses are only exposed by it. The only exception to this is Chiwetel Ejiofor who is giving it his all as a character potentially more interesting than the immortal leads of the film. In his relatively small role, he’s better than this movie deserves.

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Breathless, by Bob Connally

11 Jul

As the grandson of not one but two men who served in the United States Navy during the Second World War and the son of a naval officer who was in the Mediterranean the day I was born, it’s fair to say I have a connection to the world Greyhound takes place in. That being said, my only real experience with naval vessels has been from ship tours and of course, war movies. Greyhound feels a bit different from most seafaring war movies in that its brief 92 minutes are filled to the brim with almost nonstop action. In this sense, it’s a far cry from Das Boot, where it’s around the 90-minute mark of the full miniseries cut before any action even occurs. The resulting film is fast-paced and certainly holds one’s attention though it doesn’t have anywhere near the sense of tension of Das Boot and it’s unlikely to have the high rewatchability in years to come of The Hunt For Red October.

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