Movie review Archive

A Walk in the Woods

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September 18, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

Perhaps it’s because baby boomers like to reshape every age demographic they enter, but there seem to be more and more movies featuring the 60+ set. Broadening Hollywood’s standards of who can carry a compelling story and make money at it can only be a good thing. A Walk in the Woods is the latest entry into that category, a “road trip” type film starring actors whose heydays coincided with the Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan years. Even if some parts of this based-on-a-true-story film were rearranged, fictionalized or altered completely, this is a movie, not a documentary, and the […]

Mistress America

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September 11, 2015 Vic Thiessen

Mistress America is another quirky, witty, honest, and thought-provoking independent comedy drama from writer/director Noah Baumbach. His previous films include Greenberg, The Squid and the Whale, Frances Ha, and While We’re Young, all of which contain a lot of social commentary and all of which I enjoyed very much. Since I also have trouble enjoying films with unsympathetic characters, my appreciation for Baumbach’s films must be grounded in the strong element of hope that I find in his films. Baumbach grew up in New York City and had a difficult childhood, which is reflected in the dark edge that is […]

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

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September 4, 2015 Jerry L. Holsopple

I slipped into the seat early—like normal—and watched the stream of trailers. Almost every trailer noted its film was based on a true story, or was “the” true story, or that it revealed the hidden true story.  Watch, have some laughs, enjoy the ending, and forget it by tomorrow. I watched three minutes of climbers trying to survive a trip down Everest, 33 miners trapped for 69 days in Chile, and the secret soldiers of Benghazi, who apparently rescued the Americans at the embassy. Being based on a true story seemingly validates the expenditure of making a movie and should […]

The Gift

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August 28, 2015 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Psychological thrillers are an odd genre for me, because once the intrigue has played out, the secrets come out, and the ending reveals surprises, the thrill is gone. I can watch good comedies repeatedly because a good laugh never gets old. I’ve seen the Fugitive half a dozen times because watching the good guy win—and watching Tommy Lee Jones’s character—never gets old. I’ve seen Hoosiers probably 20 times because, well, I’m from Indiana, and watching game-winning buzzer-beaters never gets old. The Sixth Sense? Once. Mystic River? Once. Silence of the Lambs? Once. They’re all well-made, entertaining films, but I don’t […]

Shaun the Sheep Movie

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August 21, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

Stop-motion animation has a long history as a medium for film. Once the primary method for movie monsters to careen across the silver screen, the technique has been kept alive by Aardman Animations—the British animation studio known for their television and movie franchise Wallace & Gromit. Just when the sheep seem to have mastered a cloak-and-dagger escape, someone “baas” and nearly gives the game away. Tradition or practicality (or both) dictates that their characters speak only in grunts and unrecognizable words, but with tone of voice, gestures, and images, they broadcast their emotions and intentions with clarity. Shaun the Sheep […]

Mr. Holmes

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August 14, 2015 Vic Thiessen

Rather than encouraging people not to waste their time watching this month’s big blockbuster (Rogue Nation, which is entertaining and well-made but also shallow and ultimately supportive of our insane and evil “intelligence” communities), I have decided to encourage people to watch a relatively obscure and underrated gem called Mr. Holmes. At its heart, Mr. Holmes is about an aging Sherlock beginning to question the value of the logic and chemistry that have ruled his mind and his life. Mr. Holmes opens with a scene in a train compartment where a young boy sitting opposite Holmes is observing what he calls a […]

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

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August 7, 2015 Jerry L. Holsopple

Take some witty dialogue from the 2007 movie Juno, mix with the movie-making madness of The Science of Sleep (2006), add teenage coming-of-age drama plus a diagnosis of cancer, and you have Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. A typical coming-of-age romance between an awkward adolescent boy and a cute young girl, but then we see the effects of chemo, and we quickly come back to reality. Greg Gaines, the Me of the title, describes the narrative early in the film as “this is a story of my senior year in high school and how it destroyed my life.” […]

Amy

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July 31, 2015 Gordon Houser

The British documentary Amy looks at the life and brief career of singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. It shows the perils of celebrity and addiction, which in Winehouse’s case led to her death by alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, at the age of 27. Her voice, even her honest, heartfelt lyrics, seem mature beyond her years. We get to witness her rise to fame and her thoughts about her art. Directed by Asif Kapadia, who also directed the fine documentary Senna, Amy uses raw footage taken by friends and family, such as a home movie of her at age 14 singing […]

Spy

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July 17, 2015 Michelle D. Sinclair

Another season, another spy-themed comedy, another opportunity to watch Hollywood exploit Melissa McCarthy’s weight and willingness to go to any lengths to portray the anti-leading lady. Those were my thoughts heading into Spy, the latest movie by McCarthy and director Paul Feig. In some ways, I was not far off the mark, but to my surprise I also enjoyed the movie. If only I could recommend it without reservations. Melissa McCarthy has powered a renaissance of female-driven comedies in Hollywood (is it a renaissance if it was never really there to begin with?) and for that alone, I ought to […]

Inside Out

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June 26, 2015 Matthew Kauffman Smith

When I reviewed Monsters University two years ago, I implied that Pixar, while always producing entertaining films, was in the middle of a creative rut. Cars 2, Brave, and Monsters University were decent movies, but they lacked the creative ambition, unique storytelling, and authentic emotion that helped to propel Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3 onto my year-end top movies lists from 2007 to 2010. The movie introduces characters that all kids know but may not have ever really talked or thought about: the emotions inside their heads. Part of the charm of WALL-E and Up was that they […]