War Dogs Aug16

War Dogs

Director Todd Phillips doesn’t exactly have a wide range. Since his debut movie Road Trip (2000) he has gone on to mine bro culture while creating some of Greek Rows most revered figures. Frank the Tank (Old School,) Alan, Stu and Phil (The Hangover) are synonymous with dorm room walls and frat parties, sure to be part of the lexicon for as long as boys will be boys.

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Suicide Squad Aug03

Suicide Squad

It’s extremely clear after witnessing the new DC-Comics adaptation Suicide Squad this week that Warner Bros. has a problem on their hands. In their haste to build an interconnected, Marvel-esque world they have made grave mistakes. What made the original Avengers a landmark film was how carefully planned and plotted it was. Each character was given standalone origin movies (some weaker than others but you know the drill) with unique personalities that were given hours of screen time to develop.

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Jason Bourne Jul29

Jason Bourne

When The Bourne Identity was released in 2003 it felt like a revelation. It launched Matt Damon into the Hollywood stratosphere and fundamentally changed the way action movies were made. Paul Greengrass took the mantle with two sequels (Supremacy and Ultimatum) and added his unique frenetic camera, pace and tone. The trilogy is an action classic, a repetitive yet dense romp through the European countryside as our favorite amnesiac is searching for a past full of moral rot.

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Bad Moms Jul28

Bad Moms

Crude comedies are wonderful. Yes, they are a dime a dozen these days and have almost replaced the PG-13 romantic comedy romp but so be it. Those movies on the whole had become a dumpster fire of regret, peddling tired stereotypes and 1950’s gender tropes. Which is why I was excited to see Bad Moms – a movie with a terrible title and an A+ cast.

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The BFG Jun30

The BFG

When the climax of the film you are watching is the Queen of England letting out a fart that lifts a table cloth…you know you may not be the target demo. Don’t get me wrong, a good fart joke is timeless, a form of comedy I dare say none of us are above. And weirdly the BFG earns the laughs in this scene by taking the time to give us two compelling leads that have led us through even the sleepiest of moments.

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Finding Dory Jun16

Finding Dory

When Finding Nemo was released 13-years ago it was met with righteous adulation and rightfully so. It was a perfect Pixar vehicle – using state of the art animation to bring the Pacific Ocean to life in vivid detail. The story was slight, essentially a road trip movie about a clownfish and his absent-minded companion but this was early Pixar. The depth of character combined with a wonderful sense of humor and beautiful themes made the film accessible to kids but even more resonant with their parents.

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Warcraft Jun09

Warcraft

About halfway through the interminable Warcraft I all at once fought the urge to doze off while wondering if this monstrosity of a movie could find an audience. Not a traditional audience mind you, which it most certainly will not – rather the kind of cosplay, hooting and hollering type audience that shows up for midnight madness screenings of cult classics at the Egyptian Theater. But as this theatrical Ambien reached its CGI-fart of a conclusion the crushing realization had fully washed over me.

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Captain America: Civil War May04

Captain America: Civ...

What’s truly left to be said about the Marvel Comic Universe? At this point it’s an expansive world of spandex and spaceships with superheroes taking turns punching with a healthy dose of saving. Every couple of years they get together to punch a really bad guy. So what’s left? What device could possibly be used to keep this thing going? What if…they punch each other! A novel idea indeed.

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Keanu Apr28

Keanu

If you haven’t been able to see even a sketch from the comedy duo Key and Peele at this point than there is a case to be made that you indeed, live under a rock. Using their platform on Comedy Central (established in 2012) combined with a savvy use of social media the pair have created a hysterical platform that folds in observational, racial and absurdist humor. They took the lofty expectations set by Dave Chappelle and nearly met them at every turn.

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The Jungle Book Apr15

The Jungle Book

Growing up in the 90’s and being fed Disney movies like Midwest TV dinners we of course saw The Jungle Book. With its silly charm and fun music it fit in perfectly to the Disney lexicon. But we didn’t often return to the jungle with Mowgli and Baloo and I’m not sure why. It’s not that the original animated film didn’t have the charm or good-natured intentions of its counterparts but maybe it lacked the verve of The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast.

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Everybody Wants Some!! Apr07

Everybody Wants Some...

Richard Linklater released his decade-long masterpiece Boyhood in 2015 to rave reviews. After spending 12 years filming your magnum opus what would you do next? In Linklater’s case it’s bro-out, HARD. And honestly, I can’t blame him. Linklater has always toed the line between exploitation and his signature laid back charm so after completing a nearly impossible task like filming an entire fictional family literally grow up – I’d probably go back to that well too.

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Mar24

Batman v Superman: D...

When Director Zack Snyder was given the keys to the Superman franchise in 2013 fans were rightly skeptical. The man has made his living on macho gore-fests like 300 and Watchmen and his recent output hasn’t exactly imbued the general public with confidence in his craft. So when his saggy, bloated bore fest Man of Steel was released everyone was disappointed, but the previews were good so it made a fortune.

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10 Cloverfield Lane Mar10

10 Cloverfield Lane

When the first trailer for Cloverfield was released in early 2008 I remember the excitement being palpable. JJ Abrams had fostered a reputation with his television work on Alias and LOST as a man who could create hype like few can.

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Whisky Tango Foxtrot Mar03

Whisky Tango Foxtrot

Tina Fey’s new movie Whisky Tango Foxtrot has a bizarre worldview. That’s not to say it isn’t valid but its intentions are fuzzy. What exactly does a movie with this breezy of a tone want us to think about the war in Afghanistan? That it’s hell? They certainly give us enough reason to believe that. What about war inflicting languid boredom – not only on soldiers but the press corp who covers them? How would you react if the domestic viewing public only cared if the explosions were big enough and what would you do in your downtime?

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Zoolander 2 Feb12

Zoolander 2

Superhero fatigue is known and understood in the Hollywood landscape. The sheer amount of movies leveraging spandex and face-punching filling the cultural cup, dare I say, has runneth over. But there is a different kind of fatigue spreading throughout Hollywood as well only slightly under the radar – nostalgia sequel fatigue.

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Deadpool Feb11

Deadpool

Many comedians have spoken about “going blue.” Many comics are deft at navigating that humor (Louis C.K., Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, etc.) and find depth and humanity in the hysterically foul. Others simply don’t go there (Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan) and find just as much success. Some think blue humor is easier, that it requires less forethought to toss in a timely f-bomb. I suppose for an amateur that’s true but when you hit the pinnacle of the profession the lines aren’t so easily drawn.

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Hail, Caesar! Feb04

Hail, Caesar!

On the surface there is something curiously thin about the Coen bros. new venture Hail, Caesar! It’s so fluffy and aloof at times it can feel lazy. But that’s not the Coen’s we know. Beneath the surface they are always searching for deeper themes, even under the guise of the 50’s Hollywood studio system.

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45 Years Jan28

45 Years

Around the midway point of Andrew Haigh’s stunning new film 45 Years, Charlotte Rampling’s Kate makes a stunning revelation. It’s the week before her 45th anniversary and she has been planning the celebration for months. A week earlier her husband Geoff (Tom Courtenay) receives a letter in the mail informing him that his first love Katja’s body has been discovered.

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13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Jan14

13 Hours: The Secret...

Say the word Benghazi in the wrong company and you may very well have walked into the most awkward 15-minutes of your life. It’s a controversy that has permeated the political system for two years and promises to continue at least through the general election. So how do you approach this story from a Hollywood perspective?

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Top Ten of 2015 Jan13

Top Ten of 2015

What a year 2015 was at the movies. There was such an embarrassment of riches even if you were able to see every major release there is almost no way to shrink your favorite list to 10.

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The Revenant Jan07

The Revenant

Many have called Director Alejandro González Iñárritu a visual sadist – and frankly it’s not difficult to make that argument. His cannon is filled with tough, bruising visions of the world that find his characters struggling for hope in the face of unrelenting cynicism.

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The Hateful Eight Dec25

The Hateful Eight

Quentin has never been a stranger to controversy, in fact he often courts it. His visions force you to reckon with something – always through his very specific worldview and Eight is no different.

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The Big Short Dec22

The Big Short

Imagine if you were sitting at the poker table and you knew your opponents hand. Even better, as the turn and the river hit the table your opponents hand looks increasingly better. But you know what’s coming and take every advantage to bait them into betting against you. That advantage seems too good to be true right? Well of course it is…you’d be pretty rich but poker would be really boring.

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In the Heart of the Sea Dec09

In the Heart of the ...

I’m going to go out on a limb and make an assumption – I don’t think a Moby Dick origin story is high on anyone’s list. Is Melville’s universe one that’s ripe to be expanded? Ron Howard seems to think the answer is an unequivocal yes – so we have In the Heart of the Sea – an aggressively old-fashioned tale of heroism and humanity on the high seas.

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Creed Nov24

Creed

I’m not sure what it says about the state of modern boxing that Rocky Balboa is still the most famous American fighter and he’s not real. The Italian Stallion is of course Sylvester Stallone – a man with 6-movies under his belt, a statue in Philadelphia and a myth as big as his ego. It’s incredible that after all these years there is still something left in the Rocky well in 2015.

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The Night Before Nov18

The Night Before

At this point Seth Rogen is a known commodity. Sure, he’s branching out into Oscar territory (he’s great in Steve Jobs) but almost annually he seems to return to his comedic well. And for me, that well is by no means dry.

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Brooklyn Nov18

Brooklyn

On the surface Brooklyn may look like a bore. A slog through glossy 1950’s New York complete with the costumes that get you noticed come Oscar time but none of the substance that springs eternal. It has elements of awards-bait, prestige filmmaking that we see every year and is dismissed almost as quickly as it’s introduced.

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Spectre Nov06

Spectre

I can’t simply look at the newest iteration in the Bond cannon – Spectre – and pronounce the franchise dead. Too often the man in the impeccably tailored suit has proved that notion wrong, rebooting after a 5-10 year passage of time with a new actor and new possibilities.

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Steve Jobs Oct14

Steve Jobs

At this point in the cultural lexicon Steve Jobs is an ethereal figure. He’s held in high regard by nearly every person that has wielded one of his mighty devices and by the stock holders that have reaped the benefits. His name is synonymous with success.

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Bridge of Spies Oct14

Bridge of Spies

At this point in his career I find it reassuring that Steven Spielberg is still making movies. The man doesn’t have to and surely has nothing left to prove but he continues to take on projects every couple years.

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