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REVIEW – Selena

April 20, 2019 Leave a comment
Directed by: Gregory Nava
Produced by: Abraham Quintanilla Jr., Moctesuma Esparza, Robert Katz
Written by: Gregory Nava
Edited by: Nancy Richardson
Cinematography by: Edward Lachman
Music by: Dave Grusin
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olmos, Jon Seda, Constance Marie, Jacob Vargas, Lupe Ontiveros, Jackie Guerra, Rebecca Lee Meza, Panchito Gómez
Year: 1997

April 16, 2019 would have been the 48th birthday of influential Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez. Tragically, Selena was murdered just shy of her 24th birthday on March 31, 1995 by the former head of her fan club, Yolanda Saldívar, who had been recently fired for embezzling money. Despite her young age and shortened career, Selena has gone on to become one of the highest selling Latino artists of all time and has gone on to be a major influence on countless artists after her. I was only 8 when she died and despite having heard a few of her songs here and there, I was not exactly aware of her as an artist until the film based on her life was released a mere two years after her death. The film became a staple in my family’s household, thanks in large part to my younger sister, who also had the film’s soundtrack and, I believe, some of Selena’s other albums. After moving out on my own, I largely forgot about the film beyond a few references (“Selinas!” “It looks like ‘Papa Yoyos’!” etc.), a general feeling that the film was mediocre, but the music was excellent, and so when theatres in my area decided to mark the singer’s birthday this past week with a screening, I decided to revisit the film and see if the experience could help me not only reassess it as a film, but see also if the film could provide me with some insight into the singer’s life, culture, and impact as an artist. Read more…

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REVIEW – The Final Girls

October 15, 2016 3 comments
The Final GirlsDirected by: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Produced by: Michael London, Janice Williams
Written by: M.A. Fortin, Joshua John Miller
Edited by: Debbie Berman
Cinematography by: Elie Smolkin
Music by: Gregory James Jenkins
Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Åkerman, Adam DeVine, Alia Shawkat, Thomas Middleditch, Nina Dobrev, Alexander Ludwig, Angela Trimbur, Tory N. Thompson, Chloe Bridges, Daniel Norris
Year: 2015

 

It’s almost a cliché by now that horror films will inevitably mock themselves, if not outright be more mock than shock. (That was terribly trite, I know, as is mocking your own writing, but, whatever – I’m keeping it.) Thanks in large part to Scream (and, yes, to a lesser extent, fellow Wes Craven film predecessor New Nightmare), the genre, more than almost any other, has become somewhat replete with meta-commentary about horror film structure and clichés, and so it takes something pretty special to make that whole shtick interesting again. The Final Girls, with its meta-to-the-nth-degree title, is one of those special films that rises above the pack because it brings something new to the table: sincerity. Where most other films seem content to take the cerebral route, horror comedy The Final Girls takes the emotional route and presents a story with a surprising amount of heart and emotion – one that’s also, more importantly, surprisingly effective. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

June 11, 2016 1 comment
Popstar: Never Stop Never StoppingDirected by: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Produced by: Judd Apatow, Rodney Rothman, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Written by: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Edited by: Jamie Gross, Stacey Schroeder, Zene Baker
Cinematography by: Brandon Trost
Music by: The Lonely Island, et al.
Starring: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, Imogen Poots, Joan Cusack, Maya Rudolph, Chris Redd, James Buckley, Will Arnett, Eric André, Chelsea Peretti, Mike Birbiglia, Bill Hader
Year: 2016

 

Ah, the lifestyles of the rich and famous. So glamorous. So scandalous. So ripe for parody. The hilariously titled Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a mockumentary that was bound to draw comparisons from the very beginning to another particular musical mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap. However, Popstar differentiates itself just enough by not only focusing on the musicians themselves, but by putting real life, self-important, money-siphoning documentaries like Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and One Direction: This Is Us in its crosshairs, resulting in a film that is, of course, a bit more current and, thus, a lot more prone to poking fun at the marketing and technological synergy inherent to modern pop stars, as well as the generic, myopic, and self-important altruism so many modern celebrities seem to espouse. And, because it’s a Lonely Island production, it has more than a touch of their signature absurdities thrown in, too. Read more…

REVIEW: Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブル)

October 9, 2013 4 comments
Perfect BlueDirected by: Satoshi Kon
Produced by: Hiroaki Inoue
Written by: Sadayuki Murai (screenplay)
Edited by: Harutoshi Ogata
Cinematography by: Hisao Shirai
Music by: Masahiro Ikumi
Starring (Manga Entertainment English voice cast): Bridget Hoffman, Wendee Lee, Barry Stigler, Lia Sargent, Steve Bulen, Jamieson Price, Frank Buck, Steven Blum
Based on the novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi
Year: 1997

 

Review contains moderate plot points which may be considered spoilers, but are included for the sake of analysis. No plot twists or revelations are exposed, however.

Yes, I’m reviewing another anime film, this time a scary movie for Halloween! As previously noted in my review of Macross II, I was never really a fan of anime outside of the mainstream Studio Ghibli fare, but, thanks to the suggestion of my friend, Matt, I ended up going outside my comfort zone and wound up mostly enjoying what I saw with that quasi-film (assembled from a TV miniseries). I’m really going to have to start trusting my friend a bit more with his suggestions, though, ‘cause his latest suggestion (he clarified that this was not necessarily a recommendation, due to the contents of the film he suggested, so I guess I’ll honor his wording) was actually his best one yet. Yes, far better than K-PAX. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “This Is the End”

June 24, 2013 4 comments
This Is the EndDirected by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Produced by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver
Written by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg (screenplay and story)
Edited by: Zene Baker
Cinematography by: Brandon Trost
Music by: Henry Jackman
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jamese Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson, Michael Cera, Rihanna
Year: 2013

 

You don’t expect a movie where movie stars, playing (often slightly askew versions of) themselves, fight demons during the apocalypse to get widespread acclaim, and yet, here we are, and This Is the End has managed to delight audiences and critics alike. At least, the ones who can handle a heavy dose of raunch. And, for the religious out there, those who can handle a few liberties being taken with theology. This movie isn’t for the squeamish. There are scary demons in the movie who are well equipped to do their jobs, if you get what I’m saying…. (PROFANITY AND OTHER SUCH STUFF AHEAD, o ye of faint hearts!) Read more…

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