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REVIEW – Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

June 23, 2017 1 comment
Directed by: Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat
Produced by: Thomas G. Smith, Ian Bryce
Screenplay by: Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat
Story by: George Lucas
Edited by: Eric Jenkins
Cinematography by: Isidore Mankofsky
Music by: Peter Bernstein, John Williams (themes)
Starring: Wilford Brimley, Warwick Davis, Aubree Miller, Siân Phillips, Paul Gleason, Carel Struycken, Niki Botelho, Eric Walker, Daniel Frishman, Tony Cox, Pam Grizz, Roger Johnson
Year: 1985

 

Well, they talk now… Or, at least, Wicket does. And by “talk,” I of course mean “speaks English” – or, if you will, “speaks Galactic basic” – rather than just Ewokese. Released a year after the first Ewok-starring Star Wars spinoff, Caravan of Courage, and set months after the events of that film, The Battle for Endor sees the friendship between Cindel Towani and Wicket the Ewok blossoming, to the point where Cindel’s lessons from the first film have apparently paid off. But, sadly, the Towanis have also made progress in repairing their star cruiser since being rescued from the Gorax by Cindel, her brother Mace, and the Ewoks, and so it’s almost time for them to go back home and say good-bye to their furry friends. Read more…

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REVIEW: Rich Hill

August 21, 2015 1 comment
Rich Hill (Kickstarter)Directed by: Tracy Droz Tragos, Andrew Droz Palermo
Produced by: Tracy Droz Tragos, Andrew Droz Palermo, David Armillei
Edited by: Jim Hession
Cinematography by: Andrew Droz Palermo
Music by: Nathan Halpern
Year: 2014

 

I am not a fan of reality TV. This isn’t exactly a bold statement, I know, but seriously – screw pretty much the whole entire exploitative genre. From absurdly overwrought drama, to manufactured hilarity to peddle some person’s brand or image, to outright delight in the misfortune of others, I hardly see any benefit in reality TV’s existence. The overflow this industry has had into actual reality, what with cameras everywhere at the ready to share some unsuspecting person’s personal issues with everyone, is even more troubling than the stuff people at the very least consent to divulging on television. There’s little artistry in manipulating perception and encouraging schadenfreude with whatever makes it to air. Shame on the people who produce it, and, quite frankly, shame on those who enjoy it, too. I’m not excluding myself in that, mind you. I’ve dabbled in taking pleasure at the horrific performances of admittedly terrible singers and judged the merit of people’s very existence based on a few minutes of footage aired weekly that could have very likely been a façade meant to make the footage seem much more interesting and outrageous than it actually was.

Documentaries, however – at least the good ones – differ from reality TV in that their primary goal is usually to invoke some kind of understanding and empathy; the goal is usually education over entertainment. Though documentarires, too, are edited to fit the purpose of the filmmaker, it’s often with artistic goals in mind, there’s usually a respect for the intelligence of the audience to understand the filmmaker’s intentions and the footage being presented to them. Read more…

REVIEW: Happy Christmas

December 2, 2014 5 comments
Happy ChristmasDirected by: Joe Swanberg
Produced by: Joe Swanberg, Alicia Van Couvering, Peter Gilbert
Written by: Joe Swanberg
Edited by: Joe Swanberg
Cinematography by: Ben Richardson
Music by: N/A
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Lena Dunham, Joe Swanberg, Mark Webber
Year: 2014

 

Originally released widely in the midst of summer, July 2014, this film apparently only popped up on most people’s radars thanks to Netflix and the presence of Pitch Perfect star Anna Kendrick being featured on the film artwork displayed and less so because the film got any widespread word of mouth. At least, that’s exactly how it popped up on my radar, so… I can only assume that that’s how it was with everyone else, right? Its Wikipedia entry even currently makes note of its streaming availability, so my inference is not without any basis in proof. That’s probably for the best, as a film of this sort was never going to make crazy box office numbers in theatres, so it was smart to debut the film early in the year at festivals and then release it to a general public to build up word of mouth before then releasing it to an even wider audience that has essentially already paid admission through their Netflix subscriptions and let the respectable Rotten Tomatoes score, courtesy of all those critics who watched it over the year, convince people to give it a watch during the holiday season. Such is indie filmmaking business, I guess. Hopefully, though, that translates into a film that will actually be watched by more than just a few people, because this is actually a film that’s nicely put together. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy

August 13, 2014 3 comments
Guardians of the GalaxyDirected by: James Gunn
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Written by: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman
Edited by: Craig Wood, Fred Raskin, Hughes Winborne
Cinematography by: Ben Davis
Music by: Tyler Bates
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Djimon Honsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Peter Serafinowicz, Laura Haddock
Based on the comic book by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Year: 2014

 

I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no stopping the superhero hype train, and, to be honest, I’m quite happy with what’s come about ever since the X-Men and Blade franchises revived the concept and The Dark Knight Trilogy raised the bar and made these movies into this prestige thing (no pun intended) that seemingly everyone from B-list has-beens to A-list Oscar winners were hyped to be a part of, these types of films have really come along way, and despite some embarrassing lows (Green Lantern, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), most of what has come out has been mightily enjoyable – particularly from Marvel Studios, who has managed to turn several B-list superheroes into some of the most engaging and entertaining action heroes of all time. Now, apparently, it’s time for the C-listers to have their chance in the spotlight, as Marvel has gone deep for their latest film, Guardians of the Galaxy. Read more…

REVIEW: Free Willy

April 9, 2014 Leave a comment
Free WillyDirected by: Simon Wincer
Produced by: Lauren Shuler Donner, Jennie Lew Tugend, Richard Donner, Arnon Milchan
Written by: Keith A. Walker, Corey Blechman
Edited by: O. Nicholas Brown
Cinematography by: Robbie Greenberg
Music by: Basil Poledouris; Michael Jackson (theme)
Starring: Jason James Richter, Lori Petty, Jayne Atkinson, August Schellenberg, Michael Madsen, Michael Ironside, Mykelti Williamson, Michael Bacall, Keiko
Year: 1993

 

Man, I remember a time when I could watch this movie and not think of all the horrors that went on at SeaWorld, don’t you? Thank you, Blackfish, for making the message behind Free Willy so devastatingly real now that I’m a grown man. I hate you.

All kidding aside, however, this was probably one of the first pieces of media with an activist message kids from my era ever watched outside of a “very special episode” of one of their favorite TV shows. (And that was probably the episode of Fresh Prince where Carlton bought the gun after Will was mugged.) Free Willy was the movie that dared us to care about the remarkable relationship between a troubled young boy named Jesse who just desperately needs someone to love him and set a good example for him and his unexpected friendship with a tenacious whale who was taken away from his own family and put on display for a world that doesn’t fully understand him. 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…

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