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REVIEW – Brokeback Mountain

July 29, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Ang Lee
Produced by: Diana Ossana, James Schamus
Screenplay by: Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana
Edited by: Geraldine Peroni, Dylan Tichenor
Cinematography by: Rodrigo Prieto
Music by: Gustavo Santaolalla
Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Linda Cardellini, Randy Quaid, Kate Mara
Based on the 1997 short story by Annie Proulx
Year: 2005

 

It’s been 12 years since the release of the film dubbed “The Gay Cowboy Movie” was released, and yet Brokeback Mountain still arguably remains the most recognized film about a same-sex romance in the public mind. Though several films have come out since representing LGBTQ people (the incredible Moonlight is probably the most recent to gain the national spotlight, even though it was largely thanks to its near exclusion from said spotlight at the Oscars), but none have yet to have the same kind of cultural impact as this 2005 release. I think it’s safe to say that the film was a milestone, regardless of whether you actually saw it or not. The film’s release created a minefield of various controversies on all sides of “the gay issue,” and the concept alone of usually rugged character types falling in love with one another led to the film becoming a cultural phenomenon. Predictably, detractors accused the film of “pushing the gay agenda down our throats,” and it was also outright banned from showing in certain countries. The term “brokeback” entered the public lexicon as a word synonymous with “on the down-low,” usually used humorously in moments of gay panic. Supporters of the film couldn’t escape the outrage machine, either, accusing the Academy Awards of homophobia when the film famously lost its Best Picture nomination to the allegedly inferior and heavy-handed morality play Crash. They even accused the marketing of similar shenanigans when any scenes of romance between the two cowboys was deemphasized or just outright excluded from ads – again, despite it widely being known as “The Gay Cowboy Movie.” The cultural impact of the film cannot be denied, but I think even supporters lose sight of what is arguably more important: that Brokeback Mountain is arguably one the best romantic films ever made. Read more…

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THEATRICAL REVIEW: X-Men: Apocalypse

May 28, 2016 6 comments
X-Men ApocalypseDirected by: Bryan Singer
Produced by: Bryan Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker
Screenplay by: Simon Kinberg
Edited by: John Ottman, Michael Louis Hill
Cinematography by: Newton Thomas Sigel
Music by: John Ottman
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, Alexandra Shipp, Olivia Munn, Ben Hardy, Lucas Till, Josh Helman, Lana Condor, Tomas Lemarquis, Hugh Jackman
Based on the Marvel comics created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Year: 2016

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I actually didn’t initially intend on reviewing this, considering the number of superhero movies I’ve reviewed lately as well as the fact that, apart from The Wolverine, I haven’t reviewed any previous X-Men movies, and this was the third in the rebooted timeline series. However, in the wake of seeing it and thinking on it for about a day, I just couldn’t help myself, because I seriously needed to get this out of me in some way beyond nagging the one friend of mine who saw it with me. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: The Jungle Book 3D (2016)

April 19, 2016 1 comment
The Jungle Book (2016)Directed by: Jon Favreau
Produced by: Jon Favreau, Brigham Taylor
Screenplay by: Justin Marks
Edited by: Mark Livolsi
Cinematography by: Bill Pope
Music by: John Debney
Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling
Based on the 1967 animated Disney feature and the book by Rudyard Kipling
Year: 2016

 

Okay, how does this work again? It’s been a while since I last wrote a review! Forgive me if I am rusty. Hooray for job searching…

I wasn’t particularly interested in the latest adaptation of The Jungle Book. Let alone that this one was based on what I consider to be one of Disney’s lesser classic films, it was also because it was another in a line of live action films that Disney seems bent on doing to more and more of its older animated movies, which had so far managed to miss with 2 out of the 3 most recent unnecessary cash-ins – Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent were absolutely painful. However, with the positive reviews coming in and the fact that I actually genuinely loved their most recent film, Cinderella (also based on what I believe to be a lesser classic), I did decide to spend an early Friday respite from the last fleeting bits of work I have left over the next few weeks by checking out the 3D matinee. Read more…

REVIEW: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

December 17, 2015 2 comments
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)Directed by: Ron Howard
Produced by: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard
Screenplay by: Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman
Edited by: Dan Hanley, Mike Hill
Cinematography by: Donald Peterman
Music by: James Horner
Original song by: Mariah Carey, James Horner, Will Jennings, performed by Faith Hill
Starring: Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon, Josh Ryan Evans, Clint Howard, Anthony Hopkins (voice)
Based on the book by Dr. Seuss
Year: 2000

 

I’m not really certain what makes studios think that live action adaptations of things that belong in animation are good ideas, but if I had to make a guess, I’d say it’s because they make money. Obviously, that trumps artistic expression, more often than not. And that’s how you end up with things like The Cat in the Hat starring Mike Myers. These movies are at least technical marvels, when sufficient effort is put into them, and the environments in How the Grinch Stole Christmas are really quite incredible and well realized. The makeup effects are also mostly impressive, too. That being said, I’ve only once ever seen a live action adaptation or extension of a property that I ended up liking more than the original, and that was this year’s live action Cinderella. Still, that’s one exception, and none of this can overshadow the fact that Dr. Seuss’ book was already perfectly adapted decades ago by Chuck Jones in the 26-minute-long, 1967 animated TV special, complete with the perfect look and tone, and, best of all, with absolutely zero filler to pad out the original book. The same cannot be said about Ron Howard’s admirable but misguided adaptation. Read more…

REVIEW: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

October 22, 2015 2 comments
Tucker & Dale vs. EvilDirected by: Eli Craig
Produced by: Morgan Jurgenson, Albert Klychak, Rosanne Milliken, Deepak Nayar
Screenplay by: Eli Craig, Morgan Jurgenson
Story by: Eli Craig
Edited by: Bridget Durnford
Cinematography by: David Geddes
Music by: Michael Shields, Andrew Kaiser
Starring: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christie Laing, Travis Nelson, Alex Arsenault, Adam Beauchesne, Joseph Allan Sutherland, Karen Reigh, Tye Evans, Philip Granger
Year: 2010

 

You know, hillbillies, rednecks, and hicks don’t get a lot of respect. Jokes about incest, ignorance, ugliness, and prejudices are pretty common fodder when it comes to discussing people we assign these labels, and when they’re not made out to be the butt of jokes, they’re often made out to be psychotics to be feared and villainized. You would think, though, in these days of understanding and tolerance that we’d attempt to be not so quick to return judgment on those we deem to be judgmental. Sure, sometimes the criticism is justified, but obviously not everyone is the same, and sometimes these portrayals aren’t exactly fair. So what if someone were to make a film that told the story about a hillbilly massacre from the hillbillies’ perspective? No, I’m not talking about the Texas Chain Saw Massacre prequel movie they’re making, Leatherface. I’m talking about a film where it turns out that the hillbillies were the ones being terrorized by the perceived victims, a group of attractive, entitled young people! That’s pretty much the concept behind Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Read more…

2013 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 16, 2014 2 comments

Rush - Chris Hemsworth

FINALLY! The moment I’ve been building up to for far too long! It’s been a busy month… and a half… for me, but I’m finally done, and this is my last of my 2013 in Review articles! (Consequently, while none of these are exactly final reviews, many of them may as well be and portions of what is stated here may show up in a future review. For the sake of my sanity and my time, however, I’ve decided to present what I felt the need to write without very many edits!)

The format I’ve chosen for my annual Year in Review articles is a bit insane, I know, but while it’s time consuming, its also quite fun, and it’s just as much about sharing all the films released in the last year (or at least most, as I probably missed some in the sections where I went over films I didn’t get around to seeing) as it is about me locating films that you and I have both overlooked, which is also why a lot of the films I didn’t see this year made repeat appearances, as I couldn’t resist the urge to watch them, and it’s not like I’d be able to do another year in review for them, too, you know? This year, one of those movies I didn’t see at first but did during my writing these articles even made it onto this list, My Top Films of the Year!

The Wolf of Wall Street - Jonah Hill, Marching Band

So why don’t I call it “The Best Films of the Year”? It’s simple, really – it’s subjective, yes, but it’s also because even I switch around the order at times. I guarantee you that at some point in the past and future, I might have ordered these films differently. It took some time and thought, and this is ultimately what I felt comfortable enough with to publish, but I’ll tell you that this was a hard process, particularly in the top 10.

All of this year’s Best Picture Academy Award nominees are on this list. Seriously – I’ve even decided to mark the Oscar nominations this year. They were all very good and justifiably nominated, and while I might have my preferences as to who should win, they’re all remarkable, worthwhile films if you should ever consider watching them. Some of the other movies on this list, however, are also quite awesome, some of which I like better than the films that were nominated, and one of which I’m still very annoyed didn’t at least get the tenth vacant slot in their nominees list, just out of principle for how awesome it was. (I’m just going to tell you now, that movie is Inside Llewyn Davis.) How annoying!

The World's End - Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan - beer

So what of the rankings? Lists like these tend to demand them, so I include them, and I do think they are helpful in making priorities in our very busy lives as to what to see first and give preference to. Since the rankings are so subjective and sometimes even arbitrary, my main rule is to go with my gut on these things. Seriously. That’s what it boils down to. It’s a mixture of favoritism, enjoyment, entertainment, and, yes, the actual skill behind the scenes and within them. As such, films that were without a doubt brilliant masterpieces that will go on to receive tons of accolades and be remembered forever may be outranked by flash-in-the-pan popcorn films that have very little to say except, “Hey, look at this awesome thing we did!” but were also very skilled at doing so and are films that I will revisit time and time again whenever I want to be entertained. It’s hard to rank films of these sorts against one another, and if I felt that I could be that much more objective about these things and take out the entertainment factor, I would probably top load this list with all the heavyweight dramas and such. But I don’t think I can, so I don’t put up any airs of being able to do so.

But, you know, I think that’s alright. Variety is the spice of life, you know, and to say that dramas should be exalted at all times above the comedies and action films is, I think, false doctrine when it comes to film criticism and lessens the true value of joy and wonderment that isn’t always found in those serious dramas – so long as that joy and wonderment is done very well, of course.

So, with that all in mind, I feel I’ve prepared you for this eclectic list of my picks for not just the best films of the year, but also the ones that are my favorites, the ones I find most enjoyable, and the ones that blew me away with their spectacle. Read more…

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THEATRICAL REVIEW: Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas

December 14, 2013 7 comments
Tyler Perry's A Madea ChristmasDirected by: Tyler Perry
Produced by: Tyler Perry, Ozzie Areu, Matt Moore
Written by: Tyler Perry
Edited by: Maysie Hoy
Cinematography by: Alexander Gruszynski
Music by: Christopher Young
Starring: Tyler Perry, Anna Maria Horsford, Larry the Cable Guy, Tika Sumpter, Kathy Najimy, Chad Michael Murray, Eric Lively, Alicia Witt, Lisa Whelchel, Noah Urrea, JR Lemon, Jonathan Chase
Adapted from the musical play by Tyler Perry
Year: 2013

 

I used to think that this would be a sign of the apocalypse – Tyler Perry teaming up with Larry the Cable Guy to make a movie together. When I joked about such a thing happening all the way back in January when I was reviewing the films of 2012, I mentioned that if such a thing were going to happen, I would be among the first to see such an event take place, and it would be my first Tyler Perry film that I would spend good money on to see in theatres. Then, a few days later, God showed that He had a smug sense of humor with me when He deemed that such a thing would happen. And that it would not be released during the apocalypse, but rather during the celebration of His Son’s birth, and yet also on the official release date of December 13, 2013 – which, if you’re reading this far from now, you may not immediately know is also Friday the 13th. Very funny. You win again, God. Also, would you look at that? We’re all still here. I guess I should’ve known that not even Satan himself wouldn’t want his big finale to be upstaged by such a massive bomb as this. Read more…

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