Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Handsome Devil: Movie Review


   


A well-told entertaining and inspiring coming-of-age story for our times.
Handsome Devil is a great film because it effortlessly combines characters both relatable and vital to the well-being of society, important themes of acceptance and self-confidence, and grandiose statements on the nature of growing-up, and put them all in an entertaining story. It brings to mind similar films that have come before it, notably Dead Poets Society and School Ties, but still draws a favourable comparison. This is a film for now, for this generation of school kids, and is good enough to make a difference. 2016

Directed by: John Butler

Screenplay by: John Butler

Starring: Fionn O'Shea, Nicholas Galitzine, and Andrew Scott

Monday, June 12, 2017

Shimmer Lake: Movie Review


Atmosphere and comedy hold together backwards crime drama.

Shimmer Lake has a great atmosphere and an intriguing sense that an interesting mystery is unfolding. It starts on Friday only giving hints as to what happened. Then progressing backwards through the week, providing further clues, and a few dead bodies, to show how it all went down. It takes most of that time to produce a coherent crime drama and the comedic casting makes it difficult to strike the right tone; however, by the end, you have watched a funny, interesting crime drama best told in reverse. 2017

Directed by: Oren Uziel

Screenplay by: Oren Uziel

Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rainn Wilson

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Megan Leavey: Movie Review


   


The bond between woman and dog with emotional strength.
Megan Leavey is a dog movie, but it’s also a war movie. Kate Mara stars as Megan Leavey, a young woman who turned to alcohol following the death of her best friend who died at the hands of drugs and alcohol. She’s very clearly lost in life and has no difficulty admitting it; she blames her parents (mostly her mother) for not letting her cope, but she had to get out of the house and do something, so she joined the Marine Corps. 2017

Directed by: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Screenplay by: Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo, and Tim Lovestedt

Starring: Kate Mara, Ramon Rodriguez

Monday, May 22, 2017

Baywatch: Movie Review


   


A fun and entertaining ride into the ridiculousness.
When Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) describes their lifeguard job as saving lives, chasing down criminals, uncovering intricate crime rings and doing everything that the police should be doing, Zac Efron’s character Matt Brody responds “that sounds like an entertaining but really far-fetched TV show.” Considering that’s what Baywatch is, it’s only fitting that that’s also what this movie remake is as well. For the most part, entertaining, but also utterly ridiculous and they play that up big time. 2017

Directed by: Seth Gordon

Screenplay by: Mark Swift, Damian Shannon

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Everything, Everything: Movie Review


Romance carries the movie, everything else sinks it.

Everything, Everything wants to be both everything and nothing at the same time, and that doesn’t work. On one hand it looks like it wants to be an edgy, surreal, quirky film - at that it fails. At other times, all it's trying to be is a straight-forward teen romantic drama and it definitely succeeds at that. The story is straight out of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, source material that is more fantasy than reality, and this adaptation from a young-adult novel isn't any more convincing. 2017

Directed by: Stella Meghie

Screenplay by: J. Mills Goodloe
Based on the book by Nicola Yoon

Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Snatched: Movie Review


   


Implausibility rules raunchy adventure comedy with mother-daughter relationship.
As demonstrated in Trainwreck, Amy Schumer is really good at playing an extreme version of a regular woman – being relatable and funny at the same time. In Snatched, Schumer’s Emily is more incompetent than the average woman, and is really funny when she quits her job right after she’s fired or breaking up with her boyfriend right after he dumps her (speaking of which, Randall Park was great as said boyfriend). 2017

Directed by: Jonathan Levine

Screenplay by: Katie Dippold

Starring: Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Lost City of Z: Movie Review


   


A beautifully imagined film leads the audience through the jungle.
The Lost City of Z is a curiously good movie. As the movie begins it looks a lot like an average historical period drama. Taking awhile to get interesting, it tells a methodical story of British Army Col. Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) who is tasked by the Royal Geographical Society to survey the border between Brazil and Venezuela in the Amazon jungle. But with each scene and employing everything at their disposal, the filmmakers build it into a mesmerizing picture of survival and mystery. 2016

Directed by: James Gray

Screenplay by: James Gray
Based on the book by David Grann

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Dinner: Movie Review


   


A long, slow build to a moral dilemma.
The Dinner is described as a moral dilemma thriller. While "thriller" can seem like a misnomer, when paired with "moral dilemma" it should become clear that the suspense is off-key. The suspense comes in the form of wondering if these characters are ever going to say what they are talking about. The film really is a dinner. Husband and wife, Paul and Claire (Steve Coogan and Laura Linney) are meeting Paul's brother Stan (Richard Gere) and his wife Katelyn (Rebecca Hall) for dinner. 2017

Directed by: Owen Moverman

Screenplay by: Owen Moverman
Based on the novel by Howard Koch

Starring: Steve Coogan, Laura Linney, Richard Gere and Rebecca Hall

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Their Finest: Movie Review


   


They’re making a movie and it’s brilliant and funny.
The plot of Their Finest works on many levels. On one side it’s a simple comedy-drama-romance of a young woman finding her way in the world, on another side it’s a comedy about making a movie, but it’s also an historical drama taking a look at the effects of war on everybody left at home, and when war hits the home you know, and how war has changed the role of women in society. Above all, it’s a comedy; a very engaging, very funny comedy about ridiculous actors and how to write a screenplay. 2016

Directed by: Lone Scherfig

Screenplay by: Gaby Chiappe
Based on the novel by Lissa Evans

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin
and Bill Nighy

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Win It All: Movie Review


Gritty and messy, cute and sweet, journey through a gambler's life.

A duffel bag full of cash and a gambling addict - what could go wrong? There’s something very sweet about combining the makings of dark comedy with a much simpler, more accessible, comedy-drama of a damaged man growing up. Win It All is more about Eddie (Jake Johnson) than it is gambling. Eddie is without-a-doubt a gambling addict and much of the comedy of the film derives from what is obvious to us but Eddie is oblivious about. 2017

Directed by: Joe Swanberg

Screenplay by: Jake Johnson, Joe Swanberg

Starring: Jake Johnson, Joe Lo Truglio

Friday, April 7, 2017

Speech & Debate: Movie Review


Conquering intolerance with hilarity and amusement.

Stand up and sing, or say something, or just do anything. Speech & Debate does an excellent job in helping its lead characters find their voice. This is about the injustice in high schools: an aspiring journalist being told exactly what to write and not being helped to get into a good school, an aspiring singer denied the lead role in the school musical because she’s too theatrical, outspoken and not pretty enough, and a gay kid not allowed to really be himself because the community is just not progressive enough. 2017

Directed by: Dan Harris

Screenplay by: Stephen Karam
Based on the play by Stephen Karam

Starring: Sarah Steele, Liam James and Austin P. McKenzie

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Most Hated Woman in America: Movie Review


Draws an interesting line between victim and villain.

The Most Hated Woman in America is a good movie, but they made a fundamental error which stops it from being a great movie: they focused on the least interesting aspect. There are actually many interesting and compelling aspects to the movie which should keep most viewers mildly interested throughout at the very least. The story is about American Atheists founder Madalyn Murray O’Hair – the most hated woman in America. Granted, I hadn’t actually heard of her prior to this movie, but given the daily extreme death threats she received every day of her life, her moniker fits. 2017

Directed by: Tommy O'Haver

Screenplay by: Tommy O'Haver

Starring: Melissa Leo, and Josh Lucas

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Gifted: Movie Review


   


A world of injustices with humour and heart.
On the surface, Gifted is everything that all of us have seen before, but there’s also a lot to like about it. In the small moments, it will do something just a little bit unexpected, which makes the movie that much more interesting, and that much more enjoyable. Chris Evans stars as Frank, raising child prodigy Mary (Mckenna Grace) as per her mother’s instructions, but his child-rearing abilities are called into question as those around her realize her gifted status. Many movies have taken similar elements, and while Gifted isn’t all that different, it is still a really good version of it. 2017

Directed by: Marc Webb

Screenplay by: Tom Flynn

Starring: Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Octavia Spencer and Jenny Slate

Thursday, March 23, 2017

CHiPs: Movie Review


An action comedy too obsessed with sex jokes.

I haven’t seen the original CHiPs, but I don’t think that matters at all as I doubt this bears any resemblance other than the primary set-up. This CHiPs is a raunchy, buddy, action comedy. I was trying to decide what order those adjectives should go in, but it doesn’t really matter since they are all equally-weighted. Take that as you may, but I’m not convinced a movie should spend just as much time on ass jokes as it does on anything else. 2017

Directed by: Dax Shepard

Screenplay by: Dax Shepard

Starring: Michael Pena, Dax Shepard

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Highway to Havasu: Movie Review


Indie version of high school boys trying to get laid.

Highway to Havasu is an independent raunchy buddy comedy. Not unique in anyway, but it is the overlapping of the two styles that makes it appear different, on the surface at the beginning, at least. The plot is your typical high school boys want to get laid and embark on a ridiculous in-your-face sex-filled adventure – which Hollywood has attempted many times over, as have indie filmmakers, but a lot fewer in number. 2017

Directed by: Jeff Janke

Screenplay by: Jeff Janke

Starring: Andrew Fromer, Caleb Thomas

Monday, March 20, 2017

Country Crush: Movie Review


Finding its own country musical niche, in a generic, uninspiring way.

It should be made very clear that Country Crush is a musical. There’s a big difference between a drama about a singer, and a musical-musical. While lead character Nancy (Madeline Merlo) is a singer and a third of the plot is her musical aspirations, this movie is pure musical. But more specifically, it’s a country musical. Similar, at least in part, to High School Musical, but make it country, very country. That description alone should turn off many viewers, but for those that are left, it does make this film unique. 2016

Directed by: Andrew Cymek

Screenplay by: Andrew Cymek, Jake Helgren

Starring: Munro Chambers, Madeline Merlo

Thursday, March 16, 2017

1 Night: Movie Review


Teenagers and adults converge in short and sweet romantic drama.

What 1 Night does well, really well, is examine love as a thirty-something adult and as a teenager. Four main characters: Bea and Andy are attending their high school prom, and Liz and Drew are at a turning point in their marriage. It’s about the similarities and differences as people age and grow up, and then finding something to relate to in all of these characters. 2016

Directed by: Minhal Baig

Screenplay by: Minhal Baig

Starring: Anna Camp, Justin Chatwin

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lost Cat Corona: Movie Review


Meanders along looking for a lost cat.

Lost Cat Corona has a real sense of atmosphere, and that is easily its strongest attribute. A film crafted to display the neighbourhood of Corona in Queens, New York, along with its characters and the lives they lead in all of their dysfunctional glory. There is a lost cat, but that becomes secondary to the story. The story is Dominic (Ralph Macchio) and his adventures in his neighbourhood with friends and con-men alike. 2016

Directed by: Anthony Tarsitano

Screenplay by: Anthony Tarsitano

Starring: Ralph Macchio

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Goat: Movie Review


A story of college fraternity, brotherhood and abuse that misses its mark

Goat may or may not have been intended to show the dangers of college fraternities – and the intense damage that it can cause to individuals physically, emotionally and psychologically, but nonetheless that’s what early viewers of the film picked up on and what most audiences are expecting. The story that Goat actually tells really doesn’t accomplish that, and it doesn’t actually accomplish much. 2016

Directed by: Andrew Neel

Screenplay by: David Gordon Green, Andrew Neel, Mike Roberts
Based on the memoir by Brad Land

Starring: Ben Schnetzer, Nick Jonas

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Table 19: Movie Review


   


Random quirkiness doesn’t elevate a romantic comedy.
As a romantic comedy, Table 19 doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, nor does it try to change anything; it just is. And as an indie comedy, Table 19 doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, nor does it try to change anything; it just is. The romantic comedy genre is satisfied by the fact that Eloise (Anna Kendrick) has just been dumped by the best man at her oldest friend’s wedding. She attends anyways and with the help of a handsome stranger, might find some closure. 2016

Directed by: Jeffrey Blitz

Screenplay by: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Wyatt Russell

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fist Fight: Movie Review


Forced humour derails what could have been a very funny film.

I would like to say that I don’t understand the thought process behind Fist Fight, but the problem is, I do. It’s loosely based on the ‘80s comedy Three O’Clock High, but switches the students and teachers around to make a social commentary on today’s education system. That idea should work, but the execution does not. Too many jokes fall flat and anything interesting to say is lost in the lazy joke-telling. 2017

Directed by: Richie Keen

Screenplay by: Van Robichaux, Evan Susser

Starring: Charlie Day, Ice Cube

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Jackie: Movie Review


   


A bio-pic that forces you out of your comfort zone.
Jackie is an odd movie, and given its genre, that will come as very surprising. Biopics generally have tried-and-true formulas to introduce you to the world of the subject. Not exactly the case in this movie. We’re not taking a look at the world around Jackie Kennedy, but getting inside Jackie Kennedy. This is the story of Jackie before the assassination, during the assassination, and after the assassination. 2016

Directed by: Pablo Larrain

Screenplay by: Noah Oppenheim

Starring: Natalie Portman

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hidden Figures: Movie Review


   


Crowd-pleasing history.
The best thing about Hidden Figures is its story. Based on real events about a trio of African American women who worked for NASA and literally helped launch a man into space, it’s a story that’s not all that well known, you’ll learn something, and it’s easy to get interested in. It also helps that the entire cast works well together and can add a lot of bravado and humour to the movie. A true crowd-pleaser in every sense of that phrase. 2016

Directed by: Theodore Melfi

Screenplay by: Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi
Based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner

Friday, January 6, 2017

La La Land: Movie Review


   


A movie of love, music and soul.
La La Land couldn’t have a more fitting title. An homage to LA, but more than that, an homage to the dreamers of LA and the life-as-a-musical that they could have. La La Land sells itself strictly as a romantic musical. The characters sing and dance as they fall in love – and even if that’s all it is, it would still be a pretty good movie. It's a movie that survives on the pure cinematic experience, but also provides a bit of soul. 2016

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Screenplay by: Damien Chazelle

Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling