Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Weightless “Life” Portrays Menace In A Vacuum

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“Life.” You’ve played the game and eaten the cereal. But should you watch the movie?

“Life” is a jeopardy-in-space B movie tale about a crew on the International Space Station that comes across a dormant form of life that wakes up and tries to kill them all, within the confines of their floating tin can.

The life form starts out looking like baby Groot but ends up a giant squid like thing that likes to eat you from the inside out.

Every dramatic beat is telegraphed in part because we’ve seen it all before, but also because of the ubiquitous commercials. “Life” even advertised on the Super Bowl.

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“T2 Trainspotting” A Ghostly Sequel With Subtitles

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What do you do after you’ve won an Oscar and produced the opening ceremonies at the Olympics?

“Slumdog Millionaire” director Danny Boyle chose to dangle his toes in “T2: Trainspotting,” a sequel to his 20 year old “A Hard Days Night” type cult romp about heroin addicts.

In the original Boyle’s jagged and disorienting style reflected the lives being chronicled and the culture around them.

The sequel also has a distinctive visual ebb and flow – in one quick scene a woman who has died is shown as a shadow at the dinner table. But while the first film felt cuttingly precise, the new one feels stagey.

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“The Salesman” Is A Bleak Iranian Allegory

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Beyond the best picture snafu Oscar night there was another upset – the Iranian film “The Salesman” winning best foreign language film over German language frontrunner “Toni Erdmann.”

It was only the third Iranian film nominated for the Oscar, two of which were directed by Asghar Farhadi, who won Oscars  for “The Salesman and “A Separation”  political and social allegories in the disguise of domestic dramas.

If all you know about Iran is what you hear on the news you have a right to be afraid.

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“La La Land” An Ambitious, Optimistic Dream World

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Peter Cushing isn’t the only venerable film institution revived this moviegoing season. Cushing, who died in 1994, is digitally recreated as the villainous Grand Moff Tarkin in the “Star Wars” film “Rogue One.”

It’s harder to say just when the movie musical died. Was it the 1960s, when bloated spectacles like “Paint Your Wagon” hit the screen?

When last sighted, movie musicals like “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Mama Mia,” “Hairspray,” were adaptations of stage plays.

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“Star Wars” Hits A Triple With “Rogue One”

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If “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was a home run, “Rogue One” is a triple.

(Can you tell I miss baseball?)

It has been said that with the rebirth of the franchise a new Star Wars film will be released every year for the rest of your life.

If so, “Rogue One” is one of them. This latest chapter (fourth in chronological order, eighth total films released) in the saga by “Godzilla” director Gareth Edwards occurs just prior to the first original film.

The empire and Darth Vader, still, again and forever voiced by James Earl Jones, is already testing the planet killing Death Star. “Rogue One” tells the story of how Princess Leia and the Rebel Alliance got the plans that helped them destroy it in “A New Hope.”

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“Moonlight” Is A Desperately Needed Act Of Grace

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“Moonlight” is a desperately needed act of healing grace.

It’s a fluidly styled triptych portrait of flawed people facing character defining moments.

We are all more than we front – Hillary calls it public and private lives – and our behavior and actions hide as much as they reveal.

None more so than the troubled black youth who grows up in three chapters, from bullied grade school aged son of a crack addict and sexually confused adolescent with one friend into a drug dealer whose hyper masculine facade hides his secret pain.

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Eastwood and Hanks’ “Sully” A No-Nonsense Everyman

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Mustaches loom large in Clint Eastwood’s “Sully.”

Large, because I saw it in IMAX where size matters.

This trivial observation, however, also speaks to a commitment to the literal that is peculiar to Eastwood’s films.

Since the pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who landed an Airbus jet in the Hudson River saving 155 “souls” and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles, both had cookie dusters in real life, so do Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart, the actors who play them.

It’s the sort ordinary detail, that like a scoop of vanilla, gives Eastwood’s storytelling a bland name.

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There Is No Gender Equity in “Equity,” With Anna Gunn

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There is no gender equity in “Equity.”

The workaholic investment banker played by Anna Gunn is deeply invested in her job. But the odds are stacked against her like the Jenga tower on the desk of her male boss. She is judged by what she wears and whether she smiles.

Her albatross is a bungled account that finds her passed over and pissed off. And when things really go sideways, her story spreads its tentacles like the diagram of a scandal.

There is the suave boyfriend suspected of illegal trading; the smarmy new tech client whose IPO she is managing; the up and coming assistant, torn between her life and her job, to whom she is mentor and competitor; and an old friend who is now working for a federal agency that oversees financial transactions she conducts.

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‘Southside With You’: When Barack Met Michelle

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“Southside With You” is the no drama Obama first date movie.

They met in 1989 in Chicago where Barack was a Harvard law school intern at the firm where Michelle worked.

He was a laid back chain smoker and neighborhood organizer with a charismatic speaking style, she was a nose to the grindstone black woman who worked twice as hard as her white male colleagues.

“It’s not date,” she insists throughout as they drive around, walk around, eat lunch, attend a community meeting, have a beer and end up at a screening of Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.”

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Desperate “Suicide Squad” All Shock, No Awe

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“Suicide Squad” has no clothes. And I’m not talking about scantily clad Harley Quinn.

This violent and chaotic placeholder between “Batman V. Superman” and “Justice League” is a desperate and derivative exercise in catchup by a DC Comics tired of eating the dust of the relatively stable and comparatively benevolent Marvel Comics universe.

Like “BvS” Suicide Squad is a journey into shadows where good and bad look and act alike. This false equivalency is dramatically exaggerated simply for effect and the result is shock but no awe.

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