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REVIEW – Love, Simon

March 31, 2018 Leave a comment
Directed by: Greg Berlanti
Produced by: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Isaac Klausner, Pouya Shahbazian
Screenplay by: Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger
Edited by: Harry Jierjian
Cinematography by: John Guleserian
Music by: Rob Simonsen
Starring: Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg, Jr., Logan Miller, Talitha Bateman, Keiynan Lonsdale, Miles Heizer, Joey Pallari, Tony Hale
Based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Year: 2018

Full disclosure that, to some of you, may sound a bit more like a disclaimer : I’m embarrassed to admit this, but… I am writing this after having seen the movie in theatres twice. I rarely do that for any film that isn’t something like Star Wars, or a superhero movie, or any number of films that benefit greatly from the sensory stimulus of a theatre experience. Love, Simon, a romcom about teenagers, is hardly in the same category. So why, then, did I pay good money for a second theatrical viewing, including concessions, to see this run-of-the-mill film about teenagers when I didn’t even do the same for Lady Bird, another film about a teenager that was among my personal picks for one of the best films of 2017?

Read more…

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REVIEW: Grease

June 21, 2016 Leave a comment
GreaseDirected by: Randal Kleiser
Produced by: Robert Stigwood, Allan Carr
Written by: Allan Carr, Bronte Woodard
Edited by: John F. Burnett, Robert Pergament
Cinematography by: Bill Butler
Music by: Michael Gibson
Songs by: Jim Jacobs, Warren Casey, John Farrar, Barry Gibb (theme)
Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway, Didi Conn, Barry Pearl, Michael Tucci, Kelly Ward, Jamie Donnelly, Dinah Manoff, Eddie Deezen, Susan Buckner, Eve Arden, Dody Goodman, Sid Caesar, Alice Ghostley, Edd Byrnes, Sha-Na-Na
Based on the stage musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Year: 1978

 

I never liked this movie growing up, and before recently, it had been years since I actually gave it another shot, mostly because it’s been a very long while since any of my family members foisted it upon me. However, after now seeing it for the first time since I first saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show in full, I think I finally understand why people like Grease now, too. Some of you may think these two films are polar opposites of each other, but they’re really more like peers, both being quirky, campy 1970s musicals, complete with subversive, sexual subject matter. Yes, Grease really is kind of subversive, albeit in a much less obvious way than Rocky Horror. The original stage production was, in fact, a noticeably raunchier depiction of 1950s youth culture, purposely contrary to the idealization and sanitization of the era that prevailed in the public consciousness. It’s actually kind of baffling that there’s a high school production version of this. How bowdlerized would that end up being? Read more…

2014 IN REVIEW: Everything in Between That I’ve Seen

February 7, 2015 1 comment

Under the Skin - Eye

Finally, we come to the films that I actually did see! As with the films I didn’t see, these films will come at you in three parts: the films that were just somewhere in the middle in terms of quality, the films I greatly disliked, and the films I really enjoyed.

I use those qualitative terms just to avoid confusion over what I’m ranking here. The films in this section range from generally bad to generally quite good, but never elevating to excellence or making me fall in love with them or making me hate them with a passion. That being said, I didn’t expect to like some of the films here as much as I ended up liking them, and, of course, I was letdown by others I actually was kind of looking forward to.

If you don’t see the movie here and didn’t see it in the list of films I didn’t see, then you can almost certainly be guaranteed to find them on one of my next two lists, as this is just a portion of the 121 total films I ended up seeing from 2014 as of this writing, whether in theatres, on DVD/Blu-Ray, or through streaming. Read more…

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2013 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (May – August)

January 18, 2014 2 comments

Monsters University - Mike Wazowski

Blockbuster season. Typically the season where most of the most anticipated films of the year — the ones that were hyped perhaps years in advance — are released. Since 2012 was the year when The Avengers gave us the first superhero team-up film and the year when The Dark Knight Trilogy came to a close, 2013 looked like it was going to be rather underwhelming this time of year. I already mentioned that Iron Man 3 was released in April, starting the season early, but Thor: The Dark World wasn’t coming until October!

So that left us with two major superhero films to look forward to: Man of Steel, which divided audiences and critics alike in its more serious, violent portrayal of Superman, and The Wolverine, which made good on its promise to improve upon its abysmal predecessor and managed to be both coherent and quite entertaining. Pixar and DreamWorks continued their rivalries, however, with the release of Pixar’s first prequel, Monsters University, and DreamWorks’ first sequel to cash-cow Despicable Me. (The less said about Turbo, the better.) World War Z finally came out and, predictably, did very well for itself, what with people being starved for zombie entertainment until the next season of The Walking Dead started. Summer also saw the release of some fairly big “prestige” films, however, the likes of which you’d normally expect to come out during the fall and winter Oscar season: Fruitvale Station, The Spectacular Now, and Blue Jasmine each received widespread critical acclaim.

Perhaps my most anticipated films of the summer were Star Trek Into Darkness, Pacific Rim, and The World’s End, which were all released during this time, and I personally actually enjoyed each of them immensely, though to also varying degrees. This was the time period where I did get promoted at my job and also got a raise, so I was able to see a few more films that I just wanted to see during this time. Nevertheless, I couldn’t see them all, so, as with the last time, here are the films that, as of this writing, I did not see from May– August 2013, in order of release, as noted on Wikipedia. Please note that, as in the past, I still reserve the right to watch any film that is listed here and then re-remark on the film in one of the upcoming articles on films I did see from 2013. So, yes, again, you might see some of these films again, and soon… Read more…

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REVIEW: From Up on Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から)

November 13, 2013 1 comment
From Up on Poppy HillDirected by: Goro Miyazaki
Produced by: Toshio Suzuki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa (screenplay)
Edited by: Takeshi Seyama
Cinematography by: Atsuhi Okui
Music by: Satoshi Takebe
Starring: Masami Nagasawa, Sarah Bolger, Junichi Okada, Anton Yelchin, Keiko Takeshita, Christina Hendricks, Jun Fubuki, Jamie Lee Curtis, Yuriko Ishida, Gillian Anderson, Takashi Naito, Bruce Dern, Shunsuke Kazama, Charlie Saxton, Teruyuki Kagawa, Beau Bridges, Rumi HIiragi, Aubrey Plaza, Emily Osment, Goro Miyazaki, Ronan Farrow, Ron Howard
Based on the manga by Tetsuro Sayama and Chiziru Takahasi
Year: 2011 (Japan), 2013 (US)

 

A friend of mine pointed out soon after he read this review that it’s important that I specify that I watched the English dub — not due to the dub’s inherent inferiority (it is very good), but due to a stylistic choice in the English dub’s voice casting of a character during a pivotal dream sequence. I will not spoil it here, but after having this brought to light, I feel it is necessary that I point this out. I actually really like the thematic depth the English dub adds, whereas he did not. Either way, my rating stands.

I’m normally an admirer of his reviews, but I must say that it’s a shame that Roger Ebert regarded From Up on Poppy Hill as a disappointment, especially as he was such a notable fan of Studio Ghibli’s, and this would, sadly, be the last film of theirs that he would ever review. While it may not reach the same sort of visual spectacle of the studio’s more fantastic and popular films – Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind among the studio’s most notable – From Up on Poppy Hill is no less a visual masterpiece and is one of the more touching, quieter films that have come out of the studio. It may not go on to be their most memorable or most favorited film among the studio’s throngs of fans, but as director Goro Miyazaki’s second film after the disappointing Tales from Earthsea, which actually was more like what you would expect from an anime studio, to criticize this dramatically superior but more intimate film for being something that it never aspired to be in the first place feels like doing the film a disservice. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “The World’s End”

August 28, 2013 5 comments
The World's EndDirected by: Edgar Wright
Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Nira Park
Written by: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Edited by: Paul Machliss
Cinematography by: Bill Pope
Music by: Steven Price
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, David Bradley, Michael Smiley, Pierce Brosnan, Bill Nighy
Year: 2013

 

Well, it’s finally here – the conclusion to the loosely connected, genre-homaging Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, the long rumored, long in development film known as The World’s End – not to be confused with This Is the End, the American film released earlier this summer. The conclusion to what accidentally became a trilogy was long in coming, and while I don’t remember exactly when I first heard about it, it was a long time ago, I know that for sure. Director Edgar Wright’s original script, titled Crawl, was written 21 years ago, but the concept of turning Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz into the first 2/3 of a quasi-trilogy never really came into fruition until the filming of Hot Fuzz. People, such as myself, who were eager to see the final entry were tided over with the likes of the unrelated-yet-still-somewhat-similar Paul from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and Edgar Wright’s brilliant but sadly overlooked adaptation of the comic Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but when you consider the fact that it’s been six long years since the release of Hot Fuzz, it’s easy to understand why fans were getting a bit restless. But, finally, it’s here, and I’m happy to say that it is every bit as good as its predecessors. Read more…

Review: “Billy Madison”

June 26, 2013 2 comments
Billy MadisonDirected by: Tamra Davis
Produced by: Robert Simonds
Written by: Adam Sandler, Tim Herlihy
Edited by: John Gilroy, Jeffrey Wolf
Cinematography by: Victor Hammer
Music by: Randy Edelman
Starring: Adam Sandler, Bradley Whitford, Bridgette Wilson, Josh Mostel, Darren McGavin, Norm Macdonald, Mark Beltzman, Larry Hankin, Theresa Merritt, Dina Platias, Chris Farley, Steve Buscemi
Year: 1995

 

As a kid, I had several friends who were massive Adam Sandler fans. I liked him well enough, I guess, being a 90s kid who actually watched Saturday Night Live quite often for someone my age, but I never liked him nearly as much as I did Jim Carrey, who, in my grade school mind, was seen as some sort of rival to Sandler – the Nintendo to Sandler’s Sega. The movies I saw Sandler in were just nowhere near as funny as Carrey’s to me, and it’s a sentiment I still hold to this day. But with every passing comedy that he made, Adam Sandler grated on my nerves more and more, even if I hadn’t seen the films in question – the trailers were pretty much all I needed. The few films I actually did get around to watching only made me dislike him more by association. His most recent output pales in comparison to even Jim Carrey’s worst films. I’d much rather watch the dull Yes Man three times over a single second more from Grown Ups, Bedtime Stories, or, even worse, the horrendous Jack and Jill. Read more…

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