Rating: B-/ I know literally nothing about the history of the Iran-Iraq conflict, but this movie was compared by certain people to Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone, two movies with which it was not necessary to understand the political and social context. I came into this movie with high hopes, but personally I don’t think it measures up to Guillermo Del Toro’s two masterpieces. Continue reading Movie Review: Under the Shadow (2016)
Rating: B/ I knew next to nothing about Kubo and the Two Strings going in, and I probably wouldn’t have even watched it at all had my dad not bought a copy for my sister on her 13th birthday. I had seen a few ads and knew it had a monkey in it, but overall my interest was minimal. While Kubo and the Two Strings’ plot structure is not the most original (it features a pretty standard heroes’ journey arc where Kubo picks up a couple of unlikely companions and moves from place to place trying to find items with magical properties that will help him fight an ancient evil,) it is visually astonishing and peppered with some entertaining characters and funny dialogue. Continue reading Movie Review: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
Rating: B-/ Joe (Luke Wilson) is nothing special; he’s startlingly average, a slacker, and doesn’t seem particularly bright or capable of thinking things through any more than is absolutely necessary. His name is no accident, he’s an ‘average Joe,’ and no one thinks much of him or considers him to be anything particularly special. So when Joe is chosen for a military experiment and cryogenically frozen, supposedly to be woken up a year later, it is precisely his averageness and his lack of meaningful relationships with anyone who might start wondering where he had gone to that makes him perfect for the job. Continue reading Movie Review: Idiocracy (2006)
Rating: B/ Based on playwright/writer Alan Bennett’s memoir of the same title, The Lady in the Van is a stranger-than-fiction true story with an excellent lead performance from Dame Maggie Smith as the titular character. Alex Jennings plays Bennett, a lonely middle-aged gay man who reluctantly allows a crusty homeless woman (Smith) with a haunted past to park her canary yellow van in his driveway. Continue reading Movie Review: The Lady in the Van (2015)
Rating: D+/ First of all, I’d just like to say that I really enjoy Gene Jones as an actor, and I hope he goes on to do a lot more movies; most of which will hopefully be better than this one. Dementia has a great premise, benefits from the presence of Jones, and initially seems like it’s going to be a fun ride; that is, until it takes a turn into unintentionally humorous territory. Most of the ridiculousness on display here is due to the villain, who comes off as wwwaayy over the top and takes herself much too seriously for such a silly, overacted character. Continue reading Movie Review: Dementia (2015)
Rating: B+/ In a predominately black Chicago neighborhood, Calvin (Ice Cube) reluctantly maintains a small barbershop that his father left to him in his will. The business offers a sense of belonging and community for its employees and scarce but devoted clientele, and Calvin doesn’t really think about how important it is until he tries to sell it to a slimy loan shark (Keith David) who wants to turn it into a strip club. Observing the regular’s individual dramas, Calvin doesn’t realize the value of his father’s legacy until it’s nearly too late, and despite signing the loan shark’s lease agreement assuring that he will not back out on the sale of the business, Calvin puts it all on the line to save the barbershop that meant so much to his father, risking life and limb in the process. Meanwhile, two incompetent hoods (Lahmard J. Tate and Anthony Anderson) try to open an ATM they’ve pilfered from a local business, and the two stories coverage in a satisfying fashion.
Continue reading Movie Review: Barbershop (2002)
Rating: B+/ Based on homeless advocate Alexander Masters’ biography of his late friend, Stuart Shorter, this movie is an emotional roller coaster. Stuart (Tom Hardy) is the kind of guy people cross to the other side of the street to avoid. Drunk, drug-addicted, physically handicapped and mentally unsound, sporadically homeless junkie and Muscular Dystrophy patient Stuart is a man many would pity, but few would have the inclination to call ‘friend.’ Yet Alexander (Benedict Cumberbatch) reluctantly befriends him, after much initiating on Stuart’s part. The two men campaign together to release two homeless shelter aides wrongfully imprisoned by the courts, and along the way Alexander begins writing a book about Stuart’s troubled life story, which includes physical and sexual abuse, bullying, and early brushes with violent crime. Continue reading Movie Review: Stuart- A Life Backwards (2007)