Film Reviews

Our Brand is Crisis

‘Our Brand is Crisis’ is toothless satire

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington featured a young, authentic Jimmy Stewart who does battle with the corrupt political machine. Many decades later, that hardened view of politicians (and the machine that gets them elected) has not changed.

‘Goosebumps’ is an amusement park ride without thrills

October is the perfect time of year to indulge in a few Halloween frights, and for those movie lovers with children, Paranormal Activity and Crimson Peak just won’t do. So Goosebumps will have to fill that gap. Twenty-somethings might feel the temptation to revisit the property since they grew up with it, but this is strictly kids’ fare.

‘The Intern’ is perfect for parents

Nancy Meyers makes romantic comedies for adults. She started directing in 1997 with The Parent Trap and in years since her films have grossed more than $1 billion dollars.

‘When Animals Dream’ is both haunting and beautiful

When Twilight debuted in the aughts everyone assumed that the copycats would last forever. Forever only lasted about four years, but the lasting impact was made by low-key fare like Let the Right One In. Taking a cue from that 2008 film, When Animals Dream places emphasis on atmosphere and dread, rather than buckets of blood.

‘Hitman: Agent 47’ is a misguided reboot

Video game adaptations are not only uninteresting, but they can’t possibly be anything close to their source material given that the mechanics and visceral nature of video games aren’t easily recreated on film.

‘Ricki and the Flash’ needs less drama and more rock & roll

Jonathan Demme must enjoy weddings. His last theatrical endeavor, Rachel Getting Married, focused on the chaos one family is thrown into after a daughter returns home for rehab for her sister’s wedding. Ricki and the Flash takes the same fractured family dynamic, but the wrecking ball this time is mom. Ricki Rendazzo (Meryl Streep), left her husband and three kids behind when she decided to chase her dreams to be a musician years ago. Flash forward a couple of decades and Ricki’s life hasn’t matched up with her dreams.

‘Southpaw’ features another knockout Jake Gyllenhaal performance

All boxing films come down to three storylines, or all three wrapped in one—get beaten, get angry, get back to the top. Eighty years have passed since Wallace Beery made The Champ and Southpaw doesn’t try to rewrite the formula. It’s not a surprise, Barton Fink broke himself that way.

‘Trainwreck’ is a fantastic film debut for Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer already cemented her place on my year’s favorite entertainment list when she managed to loosely remake 12 Angry Men for the fourth episode of Inside Amy Schumer, but not satisfied with owning television, Schumer decides to revive the romantic comedy for 2015. Lazy writing has cursed the genre for much of the last few decades and studios have responded in kind by not pursuing that market with the gusto they used to.

‘Preggoland’ is more rom-com than satire

Ruth Huxley (Sonja Bennett) is 35 years old grocery clerk with little ambitions, a perchant for heavy drinking and a collection of friends that are drifting away after they have children. To make matters worse Ruth scorches the earth at a baby shower with her drunken shenanigans, alienating all of her old high-school friends, who turn her into a pariah. Ruth is considered a disappointment by everyone in her life, and with this latest outburst, she’s thisclose to being written off completely.

‘Starred Up’ showcases superb performances from Jack O’Connell & Ben Mendelsohn

There’s a scene in the first act of the film where the young protagonist Eric, in an effort to gain control of a situation to proclaim his innocence, bites down on a prison guard’s genitals and holds on like a dog with a chew toy. That moment alone does a lot to encapsulate the do-or-die realities of the film’s prison environment, but more importantly showcases the immediate talent of its star Jack O’Connell: Like it or not, he demands your attention and he’s not letting go anytime soon.

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