film review Archive

Captain Marvel

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March 14, 2019 Vic Thiessen

Let me start by noting that I am not a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and consider only three of its twenty previous films worth watching (Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther), though I admit that I have only watched about half of the MCU films. Most MCU films I have seen had far too much mindless and pointless violent action and I am a little surprised filmgoers haven’t gotten bored. Based on the box office figures for Captain Marvel this past weekend, not only have filmgoers not gotten bored they continue to run to the cinema the […]

Lego Movie 2

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February 21, 2019 Carmen Andres

When The Lego Movie came out in 2014, my son was 11. By that age, he and his friends were far more into computer games, Star Wars and superhero movies than their Legos, but they got a kick out of the movie–in no small part because of its ability to not only draw on a childhood love of Legos but also appeal across pop culture landscapes like Star Wars and the DC comic universe. And it had a really thoughtful and satisfying story to boot. Lego Movie 2: The Second Part definitely continues the pop culture landscapes and references–cranking them […]

The Favourite

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February 7, 2019 Jerry L. Holsopple

I asked one of my students what I should review this week, with both options being about powerful women (the other was On the Basis of Sex).  On the surface, The Favourite, nominated for ten Oscars, seems to just be an expose of the decadence of the royal court in the early 18th century.  We expect this to be another costume drama that exploits the audiences desire to see inside the lives of the rich and famous, but it is not even close. Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) ruled for twelve years starting in 1702.  When she came to power she […]

Vice

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January 24, 2019 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Vice opens with a disclaimer on its portrayal of former vice president Dick Cheney. The filmmakers claim the movie is “as true as it can be given that Dick Cheney is known as one of the most secretive leaders in recent history. But we did our (expletive) best.” This statement sets the tone for the movie as a satirical look at a polarizing figure in U.S. history. The movie is witty, but because the truth is never exactly clear, it allows writer/director Adam McKay to take liberties. Is he trying to do his “best” to tell Cheney’s story or his […]

If Beale Street Could Talk

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January 10, 2019 Vic Thiessen

As I created my list of top-ten films of 2018, I noted that it was an outstanding year for films about the black-American experience and that most of those films were made by black filmmakers. Among them were Carlos López Estrada’s Blindspotting (written by Daveed Diggs), Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, George Tillman Jr.’s The Hate U Give, Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You and Peter Farrelly’s Green Book. But the best was saved for last, with Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, which I like even more than Moonlight, Jenkins’ Best Picture winner of 2016. Tish (KiKi Layne) is a […]

Mortal Engines

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December 21, 2018 Carmen Andres

What happens when Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens—the filmmakers of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit—get a hold of the futuristic steampunk world of Mortal Engines, a 2001 young adult novel by Phillip Reeve? You get an adventurous and visually gorgeous two hour movie with a touch of thought-provoking ideas. Set hundreds of years after the “Sixty Minute War,” during which the use of powerful quantum weapons resulted in geological upheaval, giant predator cities roam the Western world on wheels, ingesting smaller cities and devouring dwindling resources. Haunted by her mother’s murder, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) […]

Widows

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December 13, 2018 Vic Thiessen

Writer/director Steve McQueen has made one brilliant film after another (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave), all of them dark dramas about people in pain and people inflicting pain on others. Widows, advertised as a heist thriller, is actually another slow-moving dark drama focusing on people in pain (and people inflicting pain). The film also explores a variety of vital and topical themes with obvious good intentions. But while Widows enjoys near universal critical acclaim, I am uncertain about whether such good intentions can succeed with such cold and violent characters, a number of whom are meant to be sympathetic. […]

Green Book

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December 7, 2018 Jerry L. Holsopple

Green Book is named for the guide book that told black travelers where they would travel safely as a person of color. When traveling, you could find places where you would be welcome to check into a hotel or eat at a restaurant. The story, borrowed from a real story, however is more a glimpse into the forming of an unusual friendship, than it is a critique of this type of travel. Take a highly cultured black man, trained as a classical pianist, who departs on a concert tour into the deep south. Put a working-class night club bouncer, modestly […]

The Crimes of Grindelwald

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November 27, 2018 Carmen Andres

It seems hard to believe, but J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World now spans two decades. The first Harry Potter novel was published in 1998, with the film adaptation premiering three years later. The last Potter film was released in 2011, ending our big screen journeys into that universe until the 2016 premiere of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which launched the first of five—yes, five—planned spin-off films destined to push the Wizarding World well into its third decade. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald picks up a year or so after the 2016 film. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who’s […]

Shoplifters

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November 16, 2018 Vic Thiessen

Arriving in U.S. theatres next Friday (November 23) is this year’s winner of the Palme d’Or, the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Shoplifters was written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, my favourite active Japanese director (Kore-eda has made such memorable films as After Life, Nobody Knows, Like Father, Like Son and After the Storm). Kore-eda’s films are invariably thought-provoking and deeply humanizing, two of my favourite film attributes. Shoplifters, which has been compared to Dickens’ Oliver Twist, tells the story of a poor family living in a tiny bungalow on the outskirts of Tokyo. Surrounded by apartment buildings, […]