Wind River is one of the most emotional experiences I have had at the movies in 2017. The modern western from writer-director Taylor Sheridan is a cold and harsh drama about a cold and harsh place where these characters don’t merely live, they survive. The film also shines a devastating light on the plight of Native Americans and the criminal lack of care we give to their living conditions and well-being. That it takes a white writer-director and two white movie stars to get this story told says nearly as much as the movie itself.
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It’s bizarre to me at times the things we feel are alright simply because they are animated. Take for instance the new animated family movie Leap which, while it tells a lovely story of an aspiring ballerina, spends a portion of its third act following a crazy woman as she attempts to murder two orphan children. Now, I get it, they’re animated but the choice made here is so incredibly forced and horrible that it doesn’t feel like Elmer Fudd’s failed attempts to murder Bug Bunny but something far more grim, ugly and worst of all, unnecessary. Click the photo below for the complete review
Being a fan of the American history podcast The Dollop allows me to watch a movie like Logan Lucky and never for a moment find the story implausible. Take a listen to them tell the remarkable true story titled Jet-Pack Madness and you will find within it a story every bit as brilliant as a Coen Brothers comedy. Everything in Logan Lucky feels completely plausible when you compare it to such historic silliness as what transpired with the Jet-Pack or the L.A Freeway Shootout or The Human Taco. Click the poster for the full length review.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a very divisive film. Not because it has any challenging themes but rather because it is both a laugh riot and quite a bad movie. At once, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is very, quite intentionally, funny and quite poorly directed. I call the film divisive not because audiences will either love or loathe the film in equal measure but rather because I am divided personally by the fact that I repeatedly laughed quite loud during the film and by the fact that the film’s green screen effects, storytelling, and casting are so shoddy that at times I physically wretched.
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To call out The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature for creative bankruptcy would be as futile as calling out Congress for its corruption. Sure, both of those assessments are of equal accuracy but they are also empty facts of life that aren’t going to change simply because we point them out. So, what then do we make of The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature? Now that we’ve accepted the creative bankruptcy what is left for us to ponder?
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When I was an up and coming young radio talk show host, I had the privilege of interviewing author Jeanette Walls about her remarkable memoir The Glass Castle. Normally, in prepping for an interview in talk radio, you don’t have time to read entire books, you’re forced to skim and pick and choose important portions to discuss in the brief time you have with your subject. In the case of The Glass Castle however, I was lucky enough to have a full weekend and in that weekend, I read the entire book because I simply could not stop myself.
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I tried, I really did. I tried to give Annabelle: Creation the benefit of the doubt. I tried to go with the idiot premise that demons possess dolls and small children and are capable of massive amounts of destruction and horror but are constantly thwarted by locked, wooden doors. I gave this movie the chance to explain where the Annabelle doll that has been passed down from the equally silly The Conjuring movies came from and how it came to be a cursed item. I tried, but nothing in the movie convinced me why it was frightening, suspenseful or even mildly discomforting.
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Recently I listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s incredible podcast Revisionist History and in the very first episode he discussed a fascinating sociological concept called Moral Licensing. Moral Licensing is in essence doing something that is right and then using that right action, essentially a good deed, to justify bad behavior. Gladwell’s example was a painter in 19th Century England, Elizabeth Thompson, whose painting, titled Roll Call, became the first by a female artist to take a respected placement in the Royal Academy of Art. Unfortunately, the good deed by the male dominated Royal Academy of featuring the remarkable painting gave them, in their minds, the bona fides to justify not electing Thompson to become a member of the Royal Academy. They’d done their good deed and had nothing, in their minds left to prove.
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Halle Berry has been on an astonishing losing streak at the box office since she won the Academy Award for her starring role in Monster’s Ball. Ever since the night she won people’s hearts with her teary and historic Oscar acceptance speech, Berry has made one wrong turn after another whether making bad big budget comic book movies, all X-Men sequels or spinoffs, or bad low budget thrillers, Perfect Stranger, Gothika, The Call, or head-scratching, defiantly awful fare such as Movie 43, Cloud Atlas and Catwoman, Berry seemed bent on full career sabotage.
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To whomever said that Stephen King’s epic novel The Dark Tower was un-adaptable to the big screen, we owe you a Coke. The supremely silly movie sequel to King’s dense Dark Tower book series is an embarrassment to all involved from King to director Nicolaj Arcel to Academy Award winning star Matthew McConaughey and Academy Award nominated producer Ron Howard, who for some reason passed on directing The Dark Tower himself; golly, I can’t imagine why?
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The legendary John Waters once defined camp, on an episode of The Simpsons, as “The tragically ludicrous, the ludicrously tragic.” The 1987 movie Masters of the Universe pre-dates that definition of camp by more than a decade but nevertheless defines it perfectly. Masters of the Universe is a tragically ludicrous idea undermined by greed, hubris and the outright silly notion that just because something catches on with child audiences it can be translated to film in anything other than a pathetic attempt at pandering.
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We have a tendency in America to believe that our pop culture is the only culture to embrace our anti-heroes, those rugged criminals whose lives we romanticize into fantasy for reasons we can’t quite rationalize with what these men did. But rhapsodizing about the criminal as pseudo-hero is a truly worldwide phenomenon. The latest example of the worldwide nature of the celebration of anti-heroes comes from Australia with the story of criminal icon Ben Hall, the subject of the Bushranger epic The Legend of Ben Hall which is now available on DVD and On-Demand services in America.
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Opening Night has the kind of scrappy charm that you want out of a musical. It’s shaggy and flawed but it’s also fun-loving and freewheeling. The story of a Broadway stage manager struggling with personal demons from his own seemingly failed Broadway career, the movie may not have the polish of a Hollywood production but it makes up for it with moxie and the can-do spirit of an underdog production with nothing to lose. Click the poster for the full review.