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Blue Ruin Adds Dash Of Realism To Coen’s Bloody Footprints

By on May 7, 2014 in Reviews | 0 comments

Revenge films are in vogue. And as much as I enjoy Denzel Washington exacting vengeance in the genre classic Man on Fire, or laugh at the studios coming up with another excuse for Liam Neeson to hunt down his targets in Taken 3, or look forward to Mads Mikkelsen taking a break from chewing up the scenery in Hannibal to provide some vengeance spaghetti Western style in The Salvation; I find the genre pretty forgettable. With no shortage of such films the question is what makes Blue Ruin memorable?

Writer/Director Jeremy Saulnier deserves most of the credit by focusing the story on someone completely lacking the “special set of skills” that Neesson is constantly highlighting.… Read the rest

The Raid 2: Body Count Is In The House!

By on Apr 21, 2014 in Reviews | 0 comments

Great films have moments in them that make you think, “This is something special.”

There is a moment in the opening of Saving Private Ryan during the Normandy Beach invasion scene where the audience realizes it’s in for level of violence that it’s not prepared for. Likewise there is a moment in Donnie Yen’s film Ip Man where the normally peaceful grandmaster mows down a group of Japanese black belt karate students in front of his captors, with the intent to maim. Then there is the famous hammer scene in Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy where a brutal hallway fight involving knives, sticks, and the aforementioned hammer turns into an altogether different art form not unsimilar to dance.… Read the rest

Brief Reviews: Headhunters, The Killer Inside Me, and End of Watch

By on Apr 9, 2014 in Reviews | 0 comments

This week’s Brief Reviews, I’ve lined up three films with a criminal theme.


Easily the film with the highest production value and sharpest cinematography, Headhunters is a surprisingly unsatisfying experience. Based on bestselling Norwegian author Jo Nesbø’s crime fiction, Headhunters tells the tale of an art thief who makes the misstep of stealing a painting from a former special forces soldier who specialized in tracking people. A great setup which the film executes as if the producers of CSI made their own version of No Country for Old Men. Perhaps it is telling that director Morten Tyldum spent the majority of his career heading a Norwegian TV series.… Read the rest

David O’ Russell Hustles Up An Acting Master Class But Forgets The Sizzle

By on Mar 26, 2014 in Reviews | 0 comments

Who would have guessed that the director of Spanking the Monkey would turn into one of Hollywood’s darlings? I certainly didn’t. David O’ Russell has been on a winning streak since The Fighter. His latest film American Hustle racked up 10 Academy Award nominations but walked away empty handed on award’s night. Unlike most decisions by the Academy, there was good reason why.

Russell’s directing is near perfect and the entire cast brings their A-game, but the film invites comparisons to much more compelling movies. With such expectations the risks it takes are not high enough and the con game at its center is not slick enough.… Read the rest

Grandmaster: Wong Kar-wai’s Subversive Martial Arts Film

By on Mar 25, 2014 in Reviews | 0 comments

Wong Kar-wai films are sumptuous. Like looking at the masterwork of a painter. I can revisit them often and find something new that captures my eye. Do his films have a plot or a storyline? Maybe. But those elements take a backseat to Kar-wai’s tone and visual palate.

In The Mood For Love is his masterpiece. It reminds me of the painting Nighthawks by Edward Hooper or Hemingway’s “A Clean and Well Lit Place”. It forgoes pace for longing. It is filled with night shots, smoking, perfectly framed shots, and infused with Nat King Cole. It is a tone poem masquerading as a film.

Grandmaster shares the visual flare of Wong Kar-wai’s previous films.… Read the rest

Super 8 Invites You Out To Play, Yelling “Hey, You Guys!”

By on Mar 3, 2014 in Reviews | 0 comments

I like to imagine there is a time in all professional filmmakers lives when a love for film trumps a paycheck. When that love was their only motivation. When they ran around with their friends creating and capturing scenes in any way they could before Summer ran out. It is the kind of breathless time that Ray Bradbury often wrote about and the kind Steven Spielberg’s early films evoked.

Super 8 is a movie that reminds me both of Spielberg and Bradbury. It evokes Spielberg’s wonder years specifically Goonies and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It also captures the kind of breathlessness kids have when while working on a creative project that has to be completed now.… Read the rest