Film Review: War Dogs

by Carrie Kahn on August 19, 2016

Arms and the bros: Hangover director brings incredible true story to the screen

Efraim (Jonah Hill, center) and David (Miles Teller, r.) inspect some choice merchandise in an Albanian warehouse.

The economy of war and the audacity of youth brilliantly collide in writer/director Todd Phillips’s new picture War Dogs. A heavily fictionalized dramatization of Guy Lawson’s 2011 Rolling Stone article  (and later book), the film details the spectacular rise and fall of two 20-something young men from Miami Beach who became major international arms dealers during the heart of the Iraq War.
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‘Kubo’ is a visual masterpiece!

Beetle, Kubo, and Monkey looking high...

Beetle, Kubo, and Monkey looking high…

I’ve never seen stop-motion animation as inventively crafted or as embedded in the storytelling as I saw in Kubo and the Two Strings. Laika, the animation studio behind Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, releases their most ambitious film yet with Kubo. Part parable and part fantasy epic, Kubo has a bit of everything, and though it gets a little over-indulgent in the final ten minutes, the film never feels overcrowded. Credit is due to first time director Travis Knight (son of Phil Knight, of Nike), who does a solid job of executing on an intelligent script by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler. The filmmakers infuse Kubo with unique action sequences, family-friendly humor, some nightmarish chills, and strong emotional themes. When these aspects are woven together with solid voice acting and stunning visuals, Kubo becomes a memorable cinematic tapestry.

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Bridges, Pine anchor riveting western crime drama

Brothers Tanner (Ben Foster, l.) and Toby (Chris Pine) come up with a plan to save their family’s West Texas farm.

Actor turned screenwriter Taylor Sheridan proved he had a knack for conveying the rhythms and feeling of the American southwest with his award-nominated debut feature screenplay for last year’s gritty drug smuggling crime drama Sicario. The success of that debut was no fluke, as we see here in Hell or High Water, Sheridan’s new, follow up screenplay. A similarly southwest-set blend of western and crime drama, the picture rivals the Coen Brothers’ Best Picture winner No Country for Old Men as a modern day, quintessentially American morality tale.
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A profound examination of religious faith — buried deep, deep within a hilariously crude, offensive, foul-mouthed animated film.

Oh, sh*t, these foods are f**cking foul-mouthed!

Oh, sh*t, these foods are f**cking foul-mouthed!

Imagine if Toy Story was written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and then sprinkled with a dash of Caligula. Even that probably doesn’t quite capture just how far Sausage Party goes in terms of it’s R-related language and content (supposedly it came close to an NC-17 rating, until they toned it down — yes, toned it down!). As advertised, the cast and creators of This is the End are back, this time to infuse their stoner, ultra-sexualized, black comedy into an animated feature. Sausage Party goes a step beyond just shock-value to deliver its laughs, serving a healthy does of side-splitting puns, curse-words, pop culture references, and hilarious characters. But Sausage Party is also an incredibly clever film. It disguises it’s more contemplative themes of divinity, the existence of an afterlife, and the triviality of religious tensions within the entertaining muck of a hilariously perverse one-note culinary joke — that anthropomorphic foods discover that they’re all doomed to be devoured by humans.

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Recapturing that ol’ warm fuzzy Disney feeling.

The biggest kind of warm fuzzy.

The biggest kind of warm fuzzy.

For those who remember the 1977 Disney classic, Pete’s Dragon, you may wonder why an obscure title such as that one would need a remake. To be honest, the remake doesn’t answer that question. But nevertheless, the new Pete’s Dragon is a very charming family film. Pete’s Dragon has an old school magical feel to it, with similar familial themes to classic 1970s Disney films such as The Apple Dumpling Gang, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Escape to Witch Mountain, and the original of the same nameAside from the less-than-ideal usage of country-tinged pop songs to convey the right emotions we should be feeling, and the absence of musical numbers, Pete’s Dragon is a solidly executed and delightful adventure.

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Suicide Squad dies a slow, painfully disappointing death.

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More like an awkward dance than a ballroom blitz.

Watch the Suicide Squad trailer one more time. Do you feel that insane energy? Well, that same energy exuding from all the Suicide Squad trailers, posters, and marketing materials doesn’t exude from the feature film. All the hype, and true potential, of this anti-hero DC property has been damaged by over-bloated character introductions, weak villains, and a restrained take on some of the DC Universe’s most iconic psychopaths — looking at YOU, Joker! Suicide Squad could’ve been so much more, but unfortunately the DC film producers, again, trivialize a tremendous premise into an “extended trailer” for the Justice League movie, which is becoming less and less enticing with every preceding related release.

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Spinning Platters Interview: Comedian Paco Romane

August 3, 2016

Paco Romane is one of the greatest Bay Area comedians. In addition to doing stand-up all around the Bay all the time, he hosts the Sup Doc Podcast with George Chen. He’s also performing at the Outside Lands Music Festival this weekend, where he has curated a set of his favorite comics to open the […]

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Film Review: Jason Bourne

July 29, 2016
www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4gJsKZvqE4

Jason Bourne returns for his darkest, most intense (and uncharacteristic) mission yet. One of the consistently enticing aspects of the Bourne film franchise was the mysterious history of the title character, Jason Bourne. Slowly but surely, spread throughout three films, we learned bits about Bourne’s past and the reasonings behind his dangerous predicament with the CIA, and seemingly […]

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Film Review: Bad Moms

July 29, 2016
youtu.be/IHBLbGvwO6I

The moms may be Bad, but their film has its moments A few weeks ago, we learned that Mike and Dave need wedding dates, and now today, in Bad Moms, we find that some stressed out moms need to cut loose. In the summer’s second booze-soaked, raunchy-but-sweet comedy to open this month, Josh Lucas and […]

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Top 10 Outside Lands 2016 Acts From The Bottom Half Of The Poster

July 25, 2016
www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcHkYSvO93Q

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Outside Lands is about to begin, and with it, a slew of great acts you love — as well as a bunch of bands you may have never heard of before. I know that your instinct is to sleep in and show up just in time to let Third Eye Blind […]

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