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    Papa Hemingway In Cuba

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 30th, 2016

    “Let’s go find you a fish.”

    I’ve been told enough times that it is often not a good idea to meet your heroes. It’s too often impossible for anyone to live up to expectations, particularly when they are already up on a pedestal in our minds. All humans have their flaws, and Ernest Hemingway was no exception. I never met him. He killed himself around the time I was busy being born. I often joked to my writing professors that he feared my arrival. The truth is that he had so many demons. It isn’t a secret today, and it wasn’t then, at least not for anyone familiar with his work.
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    The Green Room

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 28th, 2016

    Ever since writer/director Jeremy Saulnier came out with his gripping revenge film Blue Ruin, fans have been patiently waiting to see what he’d do next.  If you have not had the chance to see Blue Ruin and you are a fan of the revenge genre, it’s a film that is certainly a must-see and is one of the few films that lives up to the hype that surrounds it.  The problem with doing such a strong and powerful film so early in your career is that expectations seem to just skyrocket, and it seems there is just no way you can make everyone happy.  As a fan first and critic second, I know I’ve been guilty of doing this in the past. It’s almost impossible to not get excited, and at the screening for this film I know I was not the only one with high expectations.
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    Elvis & Nixon

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 23rd, 2016

    “You must be kidding.”

    It is the most requested photograph from the White House archives. I’m talking about a photograph of Richard Nixon with The King. This particular King’s kingdom wasn’t a nation or political group. Of course, I’m talking about Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll. The meeting occurred in the days before Nixon installed his infamous recording equipment and long before that fateful break-in at Watergate. So no one really knows what was said in the meeting. Now director Liza Johnson attempts to take us behind the closed doors of the Oval Office on that fateful day in December of 1970 when the leader of the free world met with the leader of a generation
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    The Huntsman: Winter’s War

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 22nd, 2016

    There is another story. One that comes long before…happily ever after.”

    An unseen narrator — an uncredited Liam Neeson, wisely choosing not to show his face in this film — intones these words at the start of The Huntsman: Winter’s War. He’s talking about the saga involving a certain magic mirror and Ravenna (a still-captivating Charlize Theron), the wicked antagonist from 2012’s Snow White and The Huntsman. But as this flat, uninspired prequel/sequel hybrid unfolds, it becomes clear that this “other story” is essentially an unimaginative mish-mash of Disney (shades of Frozen and Brave are added to the Snow White framework) and Tolkien.
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    Everybody Wants Some

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 19th, 2016

    For the Gasparilla International Film Festival, to nab the latest film from writer/director Richard Linklater is kind of a big deal. GIFF was the second festival to show Everybody Wants Some after its debut at the acclaimed South by Southwest festival.  With the film being lauded as a spiritual sequel to Linklater’s cult hit Dazed and Confused, I had to admit I was a bit skeptical about this film and its ability to even match up to its predecessor; after all, it was the indie darling that helped launched the careers of Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, and many others.  This ensemble of talented up-and-comers managed to capture this cinematic lightning in a bottle about high school, and for me it’s a film I manage to watch at least once a year when I come across someone who hasn’t yet seen the film.
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    The Jungle Book (2016)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 16th, 2016

    “This is the law of the jungle…”

    Disney appears to have a law that all of its classic cartoon features must now be made into live-action films. As I’ve mentioned in my review of the original classic The Jungle Book, the animated feature was the end of an important era at Walt Disney Studios. It was released about a year after Walt’s death and was the last film he supervised from beginning to end. In the wake of Walt’s death the studio experienced a sharp turnover and complete retooling of the animation department. With only the nine old men to carry the traditions of Walt into the future, The Jungle Book would forever mark a distinct milestone in the history of animated feature films.
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    Midnight Special

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on April 10th, 2016

    Comic book movies are the preeminent form of movie entertainment in this day and age. I use the term broadly to include all sorts of fantasy books and ancillary offshoots. There is the Marvel Universe and the DC Universe and other universes that include Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and endless variations. As consumers we become fans of a particular fantasy world from which we gain great personal pleasure. Religion is also a source of orientation for most of the world. We believe in various versions of God in which to invest our emotions fervently and honestly. There is a clear difference between fantasy and religion, but then we have YouTube, which is becoming increasingly crammed with “information” that crosses the line between fantasy and reality.
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    Demolition

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on April 1st, 2016

    Have you ever had a traumatic loss? Have you ever lost someone and felt numb? How did you feel about the person you lost, and was it different now that they were gone? Do you think you acted appropriately about the death? Did you care about what people thought of you, or were you in your own little world? Were you ever the same again? Demolition stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, and Chris Cooper, and is directed by Jean Marc Vallee. Vallee has directed two outstanding and Oscar-nominated films in the last couple of years, Dallas Buyer’s Club (Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won Best Actor and Supporting Actor) and Wild (Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern nominated).
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    Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 25th, 2016

    “It’s time for the biggest gladiator match of all time. Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham”

    In a summer chalked with blockbusters that are expected to defy box office records, dare I say this may be the most anticipated one of them all? When news about this film was first released, opposition rang out on both sides of the spectrum. Some argued that films that feature two characters facing off rarely work, especially when it comes to two heroes. I have to admit that I found myself agreeing with this argument
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    Allegiant

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on March 18th, 2016

    “You want change with no sacrifice. You want peace with no struggle. The world doesn’t work that way.”

    Now that Hunger Games has vacated the crown previously occupied by Twilight, the Divergent series appears to be the only game left in the teen drama genre. Ironically, this series is rounding its final corner with the release of Allegiant, part one of the two-part conclusion to the novel franchise written by Veronica Roth and made popular through Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Miles Teller. The list goes on; however, for the sake of time, we will leave it at that.
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    10 Cloverfield Lane

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 11th, 2016

    Bad Robot in my eyes is simply the best at keeping things a secret.  In this day and age to be able to surprise audiences is just about an impossible task.  When the first Cloverfield trailer was released in 2007 in front of Transformers, it was a trailer that had us all guessing up until its release.  In my opinion Cloverfield was one of the best found-footage films to come out, and was a grand achievement considering it was a monster film that had been pretty much been kept under wraps until its actual release.  Bad Robot managed to surprise us again, releasing a trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane that set the internet on fire with theories and hopes for this to be a long-awaited sequel.  But is that what this really is? 
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    Gods of Egypt

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 28th, 2016

    ”We recognize that it is our responsibility to help ensure that casting decisions reflect the diversity and culture of the time periods portrayed. In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize. Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can, and will continue to do better…

    It’s a bad sign when a studio issues a public apology months before the film ever hits the screens. Gods Of Egypt will likely be remembered, if it’s remembered at all, as having some of the worst timing of any film ever.
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    Triple 9

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 26th, 2016

    Ever since Michael Mann came along, the bar has been set when it comes to making gritty heist films.  Sure, films have come close in reaching the ranks of Thief and Heat, but close isn’t enough to put films over the top.  When the trailers came along for Triple 9, it was a film that I immediately had my eye on and was curious what director John Hilcoat (The Road and Lawless) would do with the material.  The result is just about the most corrupt cop film to come out in ages and a gritty crime drama full of double-crosses that’ll have you questioning who are the good guys in a sea of so many bad ones.  Is this a modern masterpiece or simply a slick action film?  Well, to be fair, it’s somewhere in the middle.  Strap on your bulletproof vest and grab and extra clip, because Triple 9 throws you in the thick of the action.
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    The Witch

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 20th, 2016

    After Robert Eggers received best director out of Sundance, The Witch became a film that went on my radar. Following the release of the trailer to the film, I was hooked; its startling yet beautiful imagery was enough to get my attention.  As buzz built around the film as it continued to awe audiences in various festivals, my anticipation for this film was getting out of control.  Could a film really be this great? Is it possible to make a film that still shocks and terrifies audiences?  By the time I found myself getting to this screening, The Witch now was a film that unfairly had something to prove to me; I poked the bear and dared this film to blow me away. As the lights dimmed and the film played out, I came away with more than I asked for.
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    Risen

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on February 19th, 2016

    A Pew Research Poll in 2012 said that 84 percent of the world’s population believes in God. A Harris poll in 2013 said that 74 percent of Americans believed in God. I’m making some simple statements up front, because the subject is extremely complicated and confusing the more you dip into the well to try to understand. There are 2.3 billion Christians and 1.7 billion Muslims out of the over 7 billion people on the planet. There are 15 million Jews. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have overlapping tenets of faith, but you would never know it if you look at the history of the world. Religion has become a big disappointment to many.
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    DeadPool

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on February 13th, 2016

    Deadpool may be one the most singular and unique characters in the history of comic book lore. His character has a very rabid fan base among the elite of Marvel comic nerddom, and they have been watching very carefully to see that he has been treated properly by the Hollywood people. He hasn’t been in the past, but more about that later. He may not be the biggest name in the Marvel universe, but he might be the most extreme. Just in case you live in a cave or under a rock, the Marvel universe is inexorably taking over the actual universe with films like The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hulk, Wolverine, Daredevil, and on and on. To get back to what happened to Deadpool in the past, we go to the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
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    Zoolander 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 12th, 2016

    Hi…it’s been a long time.”

    If Project Runway has taught us anything, it’s that “in fashion, one day you’re in and the next day you’re out.” To a lesser extent, that adage can also be applied to comedy stars, since audience’s tastes seem to shift almost as often as style trends. (There was a point in time when Pauly Shore was a movie star…that really happened!) As a result, any sequel to 2001’s Zoolander — Ben Stiller’s really, really, really, ridiculously good looking absurd fashion satire —had the odds stacked against it.
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    Hail, Caesar!

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on February 7th, 2016

    Hail, Caesar is a typical example of a Coen brothers movie, which means it is completely atypical. The Coen brothers are revered for not only being different from everyone else but also making films that are different from each other. It would easy to say there is a Coen brothers style, but you would be reaching, because the two men are committed to exploring things differently each and every time they make a movie (or produce a television show like Fargo). The most characteristic identifying factor is quirkiness and individuality. They are among the few filmmakers working in Hollywood who do whatever the freaking heck they want. What I mean by that is that the movies they make would not be allowed if proposed or pitched by anyone else.
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    Kung Fu Panda 3

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 1st, 2016

    “Never underestimate the impact of dramatic entrance!”

    It’s hard to maintain the attention of the 21st-century child. Animated movies have to combine enough elements of charm and action to keep their attention for a little under two hours. If you want to keep a franchise going, you have to rip out your sequels in reasonably tight schedules. It’s been over four years since Kung Fu Panda 2, and we waited nearly that long between the first and second entry. That’s a long time in a culture where we move from fad to fad almost by the hour.
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    The Finest Hours

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on February 1st, 2016

    There are many films that depict the ferocity and cataclysmic power of the vast ocean. It is a fearsome display that cannot be imagined in any way that compares to the reality of the experience. The Perfect Storm, Life of Pi, The Guardian, and Titanic are just a few examples of disasters at sea. It is the United States Coast Guard’s job to rescue distressed people under severe emergencies at sea. The Finest Hours is a depiction of a true-life sea rescue under the most challenging and horrifying conditions. It is known as the most successful small boat rescue ever recorded. When I say small boat, it is the rescue boat I’m talking about, but the ship they were singlehandedly sent to rescue was a gigantic T2 tanker Pendleton, which had split in half on open seas.
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    13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 16th, 2016

    “Welcome to Benghazi.”

    It shouldn’t matter what your politics might be. The events in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012 bring up some very important questions. Contrary to one 2016 presidential hopeful’s declaration, it does make a difference. It did to the people who were there. It does for the families of the four who lost their lives. And it should make a difference to you. With such a political hotbed issue, you’ll find that 13 Hours goes out of its way to avoid the political questions. Some might view this as an oversight, but I think it gives the film a greater sense of credibility and makes its impact on the audience to fill in their own political blanks.
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    The Revenant

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on January 8th, 2016

    America was once a primitive expanse where only very small groups of hardy hopefuls ever tried to venture across. It was a vast and endless wilderness that was mostly a mystery. This was the land of roving Indian tribes and undiscovered species of animals. This was a land of all kinds of danger. Life was one long hunt and endless battle against every kind of predator and natural enemy. There are so many remarkable moments in The Revenant that I will start with the bear attack. It is an unbelievably harrowing event that cannot be described in words that will in any way convey what you see on the screen. That one sequence alone is worth the price of admission.
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    The Hateful Eight

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 1st, 2016

    The name Quentin Tarantino carries the weight of legacy of such directors as Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, and more recently Christopher Nolan.  I’m not saying one is better than the other, but simply by name recognition alone Tarantino is in the company of directors that when you hear that his name is attached, there will be a loyal fan base flocking to the theaters to see what they have to dazzle us with.  This time around Tarantino returns to the cinema in his biggest release to date; in glorious 70mm we have The Hateful Eight. Tarantino returns to the Western genre, only this time he heads out west to Wyoming to thrust us into his most claustrophobic setting since Reservoir Dogs. Let me just come out of the gate and say, if you’re looking for the over-the-top fun you found in Django Unchained, you’re going to have to readjust those expectations; this time around we are given something much more intimate and all the more rich with dark humor.
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    Concussion

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on December 27th, 2015

    Football is extremely important to many (or most, or all) Americans. That would be an understatement, since football is a national obsession that can reach the level of mania at times. Football is close to a religion for some people. You don’t mess with football, but that is what Will Smith’s new film, Concussion, does. It tells the true story of a Nigerian doctor who has an extremely rigorous and conscientious approach to his work performing autopsies in the Pittsburgh coroner’s office. He supervised over the deaths of Mike Webster, Terry Long, Justin Strzelczyk, Andre Waters and Dave Duerson, who all died before the ages of 51. These autopsies were instrumental in uncovering the connection to a disease that had been associated with boxers, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
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    Joy

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on December 25th, 2015

    Joy is the name of a person, not a state of mind. Joy Mangano is apparently not an easy person to know, but she did submit to a long series of conversations with brilliant writer/director David O. Russell. I say David is brilliant because he is, to me, the single most indispensable artist working today. He is able to do things that no one else can do. He makes comedies, but only in the broadest sense of the word. He takes a subject that may seem insignificant and puts it through a mad process like Dr. Frankenstein until something magnificent comes out. The process seems like a whirlwind for whoever is caught up in it
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