Straight Outta Compton is half incendiary history, half rote biopic

Posted in Movies, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on August 17, 2015 by Sarah

Straight_Outta_Compton_posterThe first half of Straight Outta Compton is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. Tense, incendiary, tightly directed by F. Gary Gray (Law Abiding Citizen, The Italian Job) and beautifully acted by an ensemble cast fronted by Corey Hawkins (Non-Stop), Jason Mitchell (Contraband), and O’Shea Jackson, Jr. (Ice Cube’s actual son), Compton is fierce and unrelenting and explosive. …Until it downshifts about halfway through and becomes a chronicle of contract disputes, and then it loses all momentum and limps across the finish line, hobbled by a genre it outstripped within the first twenty minutes. It’s a worthwhile movie for a lot of reasons, and definitely worth seeing even if you don’t care about the history of rap, but the lame second half throws a big bucket of ice water over the fire and rage of the legitimately brilliant first half. Continue reading

Summer Movie Preview: August 2015

Posted in Movies, Previews with tags , , , , on August 7, 2015 by Sarah

August 7

Cop Car

A group of punk kids steal a sheriff’s car and he then pursues them like a lunatic. Looks awesome.

Limited/VOD

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What are dumb weiner kids?

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , on July 29, 2015 by Sarah

I’ve had some questions lately about a term I use in movie reviews, “dumb weiner kids”, and why I use it to describe children in movies. It’s not because I hate kids—I’m just indifferent to them—it’s because there is a specific kind of kid that shows up in movies that serves no purpose except to force an audience reaction because kid. Recent examples of movies with dumb weiner kids include Southpaw, Jurassic World, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, where Hawkeye was retro-fitted with a family in order to provide him with a character, as he really didn’t have one up to that point. Since we need to care about what happens to Hawkeye in Ultron, Marvel and Joss Whedon threw some kids into his backstory in order to give him an identity and create emotional stakes for his character.

I have children.  You are legally required to care about me.

I have children.
You are legally required to care about me.

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Southpaw is a lot of Jake Gyllenhaal’s wasted effort

Posted in Movies, Reviews with tags , , , , , , on July 28, 2015 by Sarah

southpaw-posterThe problem with boxing movies is that there are only two possible stories to tell: 1) A boxer trains hard, overcomes adversity, and wins, or 2) a boxer trains hard, overcomes adversity, and loses. Occasionally you get a boxing movie that throws a little extra juice into the formula, either by supplying a twist (Million Dollar Baby), or by using side plots as co-dependent metaphors—boxing is life and life is boxing!—like in Rocky and The Fighter. But no matter how you tinker with it, boxing movies only ever come in two varieties, win or lose, which means escaping clichés is virtually impossible. It’s the inherent problem of boxing movies, and it’s a problem that Southpaw, written by Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy) and directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), can’t overcome. Also Southpaw is incredibly stupid on a fundamental level. Continue reading

Summer Movie Preview: July 2015

Posted in Movies, Previews with tags , , , , , , on July 9, 2015 by Sarah

Better late than never?

July 1

Magic Mike XXL

No seriously, it’s great! Full review here.

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Summer Movie Preview: June 2015

Posted in Movies, Previews with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2015 by Sarah

A week late, oops.

June 5

Entourage

Bro this movie is terrible, bro.

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The elegant visual insanity of Mad Max: Fury Road

Posted in Movies, Reviews with tags , , , , on May 19, 2015 by Sarah

Fury Road posterAfter a thirty year hiatus director George Miller returns to cinemas with the long-awaited fourth installment in his Mad Max franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road. This movie had a famously troubled production, going over budget and falling behind schedule, but sometimes nightmarish film shoots end up producing true cinematic gems (see also: Apocalypse Now, Jaws, The Hurt Locker), and this is undoubtedly the case with Fury Road. It’s a gonzo blockbuster of epic scale that pushes reset on the CGI-dominated spectacle of mainstream movies. It’s simultaneously a dumb movie about people in a wasteland chasing each other in souped-up cars, and a smart movie about feminine assertiveness and agency. Fury Road is gorgeous and exhilarating, but it’s also an elegantly told story that requires no exposition to understand. Continue reading

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