Films

Superb cast anchors McDonagh’s outstanding southern tale  

Grieving mother Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) expresses her frustration with her daughter’s stalled murder investigation via three billboards. 

“Raped while dying / And still no arrests / How come, Chief Willoughby?” So read the titular three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, in writer/director Martin McDonagh’s brilliant, searing new blackest of black comedies. Whether the picture is correctly classified as a comedy – as its trailer would have it – may be a point of argument, however. While the film is not without its head-shaking, laugh-out-loud moments, they serve as counterpoint to the overarching dark, almost biblical tale that envelopes them, which will leave the viewer contemplative and affected for days after the credits roll.
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Film Review: Last Flag Flying

by Chris Piper on November 10, 2017

Time heals all wounds, mostly

Sal (Bryan Cranston), Mueller (Laurence Fishburne), and Doc (Steve Carell) on one last mission

Sal (Bryan Cranston), Mueller (Laurence Fishburne), and Doc (Steve Carell) on one last mission.

Here’s an interesting number, 18, which is the number of feature films directed by Richard Linklater. He’s made a film about rootless Austin hipsters, a film about 70’s high school escapades, a film about 80’s college escapades, a film about opening a school of rock, a film about a ragtag little league baseball team, a film about growing up, even a film about two erstwhile friends, their shared lover, and two hours of very tense conversation.  It’s an impressive number, 18, and would seemingly cover just about every conceivable theme. But whatever the plot, whichever the characters, wherever the setting, Linklater always makes films about time. And his 19th film, Last Flag Flying, is once again a film about time.

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Mediocre sequel deserves a lump of coal         

The Bad Moms (from l., Kathryn Hahn, Mila Kunis, and Kristen Bell) get into the Christmas spirit in one of the film’s 8,000 (oh, I mean five) montage sequences.

With A Bad Moms Christmas, writer/directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore try in vain to recapture the success of Bad Moms, their smart, funny, and truthful comedy from last year about overextended and overwhelmed modern day moms. They should have left well enough alone; not every picture needs a sequel or to be the start of a franchise. A Bad Moms Christmas is not nearly as funny as the original, and just feels like a painfully obvious and rather weak extension of the filmmakers’ initial idea. [read the whole post]

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Film Review: Suburbicon

by Carrie Kahn on October 27, 2017

Clooney emulates the Coens in adequate film noir      

Maggie (Julianne Moore) and her brother-in-law Gardner (Matt Damon) have an unwanted conversation with a visitor.

George Clooney is clearly a huge fan of the Coen Brothers. After starring in four of their films (Hail, Caesar!; Burn After Reading; O Brother, Where Art Thou; Intolerable Cruelty), he tries his hand at directing one of their screenplays with Suburbicon, marking his first return to the director’s chair since 2014’s The Monuments Men. The result is more successful than that mostly forgettable attempt, but his fan-boy energy permeates his new film almost to distraction. Tonally and stylistically, the picture is an unabashed imitation of a Coen Brothers production, which, if you’re a Coen Brothers fan, is super, but does mean that Clooney offers no cinematic originality here.
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Film Review: The Snowman

by Carrie Kahn on October 20, 2017

This Snowman will leave you cold       

Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) searches for a killer, and we search for a good movie. Which of us will be successful?

Whenever a movie is based on a book, there are always those who will passionately argue that “the book was better.” Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong, but, in the case of The Snowman, which opens today, I firmly believe the-book-is-better-crowd is correct, and I haven’t even read the book upon which the film is based. But, I have seen the movie, and, after watching it, I cannot possibly fathom that anything could be worse than this nonsensical, hastily thrown together, boring mess.
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Film Review: Dina

by Chris Piper on October 20, 2017

Love, across the spectrum

Dina and Scott do the wedding cake thing.

There are a few times in our lives when we as individuals, full of our specific collections of flaws and the fantastic, must navigate our way through life-changing and unforgettable events: school dance, funeral for a family member, wedding. Most of us struggle during these times to balance our individual responses and expressions with the expectations of family and community. The clear-eyed yet wholehearted Dina, opening today, asks us to examine a wedding through the eyes of a groom with autism, and a bride with a “smorgasbord” of neurological issues and an extremely violent romantic past. The film unflinchingly examines the power of our need to believe that love conquers all.

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Film Review: Marshall

October 13, 2017
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A portrait of the justice as a young attorney       You would be forgiven for assuming that a film that takes as its title the last name of its protagonist would be an all inclusive, sweeping biopic about that individual. But director Reginald Hudlin and the father/son writing team of Michael and Jacob Koskoff […]

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Film Review: The Mountain Between Us

October 6, 2017
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Kate, Idris, and a dog battle the elements: Who will survive!?       I’ve always been a sucker for a good old fashioned, human-versus-the-elements survival story; 127 Hours is one of my all-time favorite films, and Everest, Into the Wild, and even Alive all captured my imagination and left me pondering the strength of my own […]

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Film Review: Battle of the Sexes

September 22, 2017
youtu.be/5AWP1K7FaFI

Stone and Carell serve up a winner in still timely ’70s tennis drama       Opening nearly 44 years to the day after the famous tennis match it’s named after, Battle of the Sexes chronicles the much publicized and widely watched (90 million viewers tuned in worldwide) 1973 match between then 29-year-old women’s champion […]

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Film Review: Brad’s Status

September 22, 2017
youtu.be/22w8T9K8iRU

A midlife crisis worth watching: Stiller shines in funny and poignant story   Ben Stiller, who can play middle-age angst like no one else (see While We’re Young, for example), is in fine form in writer/director Mike White’s new film Brad’s Status. Although the film’s premise about a soon-to-be-50 straight white man facing an existential […]

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