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The Wolfpack

Documentarian Crystal Moselle almost literally stumbled upon the subject of her documentary “The Wolfpack.”  According to interviews, she saw a group of oddly dressed teenagers chasing each other in and out of the foot traffic of Manhattan, and ran after them to find out who they were and what they were up to.  Their answer resulted in one of the most intriguing and astonishing documentaries I have ever seen.

Moselle intentionally makes it difficult for us to tell the brothers apart; there are six of them, they all have long hair down to their waist and Sanskrit names (Bhagavan, Govinda, Narayana, Mukunda, Krsna and Jagadisa.) We relate to them as a pack, and they seem perfectly comfortable speaking for each other. That makes sense, because they have never known anyone else; their father only lets them leave the tiny apartment a couple of times a year, and even then, they’re not allowed to talk to anyone.

Given that setup, their lives don’t seem as miserable as you might expect. They are bright and creative and articulate, and they spend most of their time re-creating the movies that they love. (It’s a strange incongruence that he shields them from other people, and yet feeds them uber-violent movies like Reservoir Dogs and The Dark Knight. The result is that they probably think the world is worse than it actually is; maybe that was the point.)  They have a real talent for making just about anything, out of cereal boxes and yoga mats, and it’s really fun to watch these re-creations.  One one level, this is a film about the joy of filmmaking, and the ways that movies can be a welcome release from the mundane circumstances of our everyday lives. That’s true for all of us, I think.

There are no outside voices in “The Wolfpack.”  The entire documentary is made up of Moselle’s interviews of the boys (and their parents — the ever-present father finally becomes actually present late in the film,) interlaced with their own home video footage, of their movies as well as your typical holiday videos and some surprisingly intimate family moments.  We never hear from an outside expert on child development, or even a neighbor.  Those kinds of things might have made this a more well-rounded film, but I didn’t miss them.  What we have is an affectionate, intimate, and very unique portrait of a family.

Moselle met the boys after they had pushed against their father’s rules and control, and found, to their surprise, very little resistance. But she is able to structure the documentary so that it feels like we are experiencing their coming of age as it happens; we see them looking nervously over their shoulders at the beginning, we witness awkward forays into the outside world (they seem surprised that everyone on Coney Island doesn’t dress and talk like the Reservoir Dogs cast) and, towards the end, the ways they are able to strike out on their own without burning bridges with their family, even their father.  There are moments where “The Wolf Pack” transcends its particular and peculiar circumstances and becomes something more universal: a movie about teenage sons and the ways they seek to define themselves in relationship to their father, whose presence looms large over everything they know about masculinity and authority. They see all the ways they are different from him, but we can’t help but see all the ways they are just alike.

 

Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

Free State of Jones

If you go see “Free State of Jones,” go ahead and take your time getting popcorn and soda pop.  If you miss the first half of the movie, you’re not really missing much. It’s a pretty standard re-telling of the Robin Hood myth, set in Mississippi at the tail end of the Civil War.  The beats were so predictable, it proceeded so methodically, that my eyelids grew heavy.

Matthew McConnaughey plays a confederate medic who deserts the army when his young cousin is shot and killed. He decides to take his cousin’s body home for a proper burial, but once he’s there, he sees confederate agents pillaging the home of the people he knows, taking nearly everything from them to feed and clothe the soldiers. McConnaughey is led by a slave into the swamp, where a small band of runaway slaves are hiding.  Of course, he decides to lead them into a full-fledged rebellion, though he doesn’t have the first clue what it’s like to be a runaway slave. He gathers other white deserters to him, and they rescue wagon loads of food and supplies being taken by the confederates and returns it to the people it belongs to.

“Free State of Jones” isn’t very interested in the ways the white former confederate soldiers and the runaway slaves relate to each other, and that’s a shame.  McConaughey makes a few vague statements like “men are men, regardless of the color of their skin” but the movie really wants us to believe that the real bad guys were the rich white slave owners, and the poor whites were just as exploited as their African counterparts.  That’s a pretty heavy gloss on history, and I’m not buying it.

Robin Hood myths almost always end with Richard the Lion-hearted returning, making Robin a knight, and throwing the Sheriff of Nottingham in the clinker.  This is where “Free State of Jones” departs from the pattern, and actually becomes a much more interesting movie.  In the third act, the war ends, but instead of things getting better, everything gets worse. Slave owners, and their sons, return, and they’re definitely not Lion-hearted. They do everything they can to return things back to the way they were before the war. There are “apprentice laws” which return people to slavery, the elections are rigged, and the KKK is on the rise, even as Union forces are withdrawing. It’s bleak, but it’s a chapter of history I don’t think I’ve ever seen on the big screen.  And while the film’s attempt to tap into the current rich/poor gap feels tired and contrived, this part feels relevant, as it explores the ways that racism, and de facto slavery, continued even after the war was won.  The last third of this movie is really worth seeing; it’s just too bad you have to sit through the first two thirds to get to it.  Maybe you can take a nap.

Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

Finding Dory

By Courtland Hopkins

Finally! The long -awaited sequel to the classic 2003’s “Finding Nemo” has arrived in theaters. The story is one of my favorites and was excited and a smidge nervous to watch this latest entry into the Pixar canon. Pixar has had some great sequels (The Toy Story series) and some bad ones (Cars 2) so I was a little worried. But this movie sets its own story with a good premise: where did Dory come from? Sure, her memory lapse made for some good laughs in the original. But I think it was a good move to feature our beloved Dory searching for her roots and origins. I think the movie works. And spoiler alert: it has a happy ending which is wonderful.

The original “Finding Nemo” is poignant, dramatic, and a great story. It is perhaps the example of how to make a great movie. The new movie maintains that level of quality, The CGI looks incredible bringing the under ocean world to life. The characters are lovingly created and voiced by the original players (With the exception of Nemo.) The story explains how our beloved Dory ended up encountering Marlin in the first movie.  It weaves in the old and the new and makes this vast world they created appealing and engrossing to the audience. Dory’s relationship with the introverted Octopus Hank voiced by Ed O’Neil is a highlight. The characters go on a journey. It’s a fantastic odyssey.

It’s summertime, and it is nice to take some refuge from the heat inside the nice A/C darkness of the movie theater. I think “Finding Dory” is a fun summer treat. When I was in the theater I saw a little girl with her “Finding Nemo” toys with her. I think the summer movie theater is where we as movie watchers get to enjoy the phenomena of the happy ending. “Finding Dory” has a happy ending and that is why I recommend it. You leave the theater feeling very good but you also feel that the journey was a worthy use of your time. The best recommendation for a sequel is for me the reviewer to say I’m glad they made it. And I am. See it.

Posted in All Reviews, By Courtland Hopkins.

Risen

Why is it that most movies about Jesus are either terribly sacrilegious or terribly corny?  My best guess is the people make the first type have mixed up shock value with artistic value, and the people making the second have never even heard of artistic value.  “Risen,” directed by Kevin Reynolds, is a refreshing change – it’s an artistically sound movie that doesn’t back away from its straightforward Gospel message.

It helps that Reynolds comes at the material (if the title didn’t clue you in, this is a movie about the resurrection of Jesus) from a unique angle. “Risen” stars Joseph Fiennes as a Roman soldier named Clavius who is ordered by Pontius Pilate to find the body of a troublesome Jewish rebel named Yeshua after the chief priests reports it stolen by his disciples. The first half of the film unfolds very much like a first century police procedural.  Clavius interviews the usual suspects, follows up the leads, and isn’t satisfied by the official explanation, which leaves too many loose ends.  As a procedural, it’s well-paced and engaging, populated with people (except for a goofy Bartholomew, who looks more like a deadhead than a disciple) who could believably populate 1st century Israel. I also really appreciated that Yeshua was played by Maori actor Cliff Curtis; it’s nice to see a brown-skinned Jesus.

The second half — after Clavius sees Yeshua and joins his disciples on their journey to Galilee to reunite with their master — is spottier. Having solved the central mystery, the film wants to delve into the deeper mystery — what does it mean that Jesus rose from the dead? What are the implications? And while these questions are certainly more important, they’re just not as dramatic, and as such don’t translate as well to the movie screen. There are some nice things about the second half; Clavius’ struggle to believe and understand what he has seen is handled well by Joseph Fiennes. It’s not overly romanticized or simplified. And I love that the disciples seem nearly as confused and mystified as Clavius; the film makes it clear that following Jesus and having all the answers about Yeshua are two very different things; it’s nice to see that kind of uncertainty in a movie that’s clearly trying to convert its viewers.  But Reynolds seems to struggle to know how to direct more than two or three actors onscreen at once; the disciples are repeatedly acting like a pack of over excited dogs.

I realize that I am the ideal audience for this kind of movie – I already know the story, and it’s close to my heart, so I really just want to see a version of it that doesn’t mess it up too much. That doesn’t seem like that much to ask, and yet “Risen” is the first movie directly about Jesus I’ve really enjoyed. I’d love to see more movies like “Risen,” and definitely fewer like “God’s Not Dead.” There are so many great stories about saints and sinners in church history, almost entirely untapped by filmmakers and dramatists. Maybe Kevin Reynolds is the right person to bring them to the big screen.

Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

Great Movies Roundtable: Yankee Doodle Dandy

#97 on AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list is “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”  It’s a biopic about George M. Cohan, who was a big deal on Broadway in the decade before World War I.  Nowadays, nobody’s heard of Cohan, and few people know who Jimmy Cagney is, but he was a big deal, too, once upon a time. Cagney won an Oscar for his energetic performance, though I wonder if it wasn’t more of an honorary Oscar for his body of work, (and maybe also an apology for not awarding him the Oscar for “Angels With Dirty Faces.”)

Is this a great movie? 

WK:  I’d say good but not great, and frankly, it took me a few times through to even appreciate what was good about it — aside from Cagney’s performance, which is pretty fantastic. It has some nice scenes, but it’s a pretty standard, run-of-the-mill biopic. Flasbhac to meet Hero’s family, see Hero struggle, see Hero overcome struggles and achieve wild success, flash forward to Hero reflecting on success near the end of his life.  We don’t learn a single interesting thing about George M. Cohan over the course of two hours.  He wrote a lot of catchy songs, though.

CRH: This movie has some really catchy music. I found myself singing “Yankee doodle boy…” all day. The movie is very patriotic as well. It is full of energy and is well crafted with its many dance numbers.  James Cagney overflows with charisma in this movie. Besides the dancing I think what gave this movie its long standing status is its palpable patriotism. The film bleeds red, white and blue. It’s a type of patriotism that has transformed in recent years to something less grand and joyful. In the post Vietnam world America’s greatness has fallen into a realm of controversy.  The movie is sincere in its utter love of country (The flaws in this vision show as well.) 

What are your favorite scenes?

WK: I really like the “Mary” sequence, when Cohan writes a song for his sweetheart, then has to give it to a big star in order to get her to sign on the production.  He comes home to break the news to her, but she guesses it — and handles it with grace — long before he can bring himself to tell her.  Now maybe that’s sweet, and maybe it’s saccharine. But I liked it.  (I also like its echo at the end of the film, when she’s agreed to convince him to return to Broadway, and he plays along, even though he’s already said yes.)

Perhaps my other favorite scene – and this is classic Hollywood – is the scene when he and Sam Harris become partners before they know each other, improvising a con to get an investor to sign a check for a musical they haven’t written yet.  It’s a great little piece of comedy, perfectly played by all three, but perhaps most notably by S.Z. Sakall, who plays the rube.

CRH: I love that scene with the con as well. Very funny and well acted. The scenes which amused me the most were the patriotic dance numbers. The plot of the film is kind of trite. I think these scenes are the most dynamic and enjoyable. The George Washington Jr song was really interesting on its insight to the American Identity. “Dixie” plays freely with the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (The Civil War was still in living memory). “Over There” is very patriotic but very baffling these days. I think these make the movie.

WK: Yeah, it’s hard to hear “Over There” and not think about the Vietnam War, and really, ever war since.

Buying or Selling?

WK: Definitely selling on this one. I think I might like it a tiny bit more than Ben-Hur, but it’s not hard for me to think of other movies I’d rather see on this list. I feel like the only reason it’s on this list is the AFI feels like Jimmy Cagney needs to be on here somewhere, and none of his other movies are.

CRH: No doubts in my mind that its selling. It’s a relic of its era.  As a history major I think this movie is now a valuable historical document. It gives us an insight into the world of 1941. In 2016 our world needs its own story. I think even though it’s out of date this movie is authentic in its belief. I think it will remain as a document. 

Up next month:  Bladerunner

Posted in All Reviews, By Courtland Hopkins, by Will Krischke, The Classic Movie Series.

Top 10 Movies of 2015 (and 20 more worth seeing)

It’s July 1, which means we’re halfway through 2016, and I’ve finally caught up with enough movies from 2015 to post a top 10 list without worrying that I’m leaving something important unseen.

10. Room

Brie Larson continues to establish herself among the best of a great new class of actresses.  Here she plays a woman who has given birth to and raised a son in captivity for 5+ years.  The film is challenging and heart-breaking and wonderful. Review coming soon. 

9. Brooklyn

Another great performance from a young actress.  “Brooklyn” also returns us to a more classical style of filmmaking, and infuses it with life and warmth.  Review coming soon. 

 

8. Steve Jobs

“At its heart, the film isn’t about shiny electronics, but about Jobs’ struggle to overcome his confidence in his own genius in order to be a human being. “They’re not binary,” Wozniak tells him with a sigh. “You can be a genius and decent at the same time.” Almost all of the people in his life love him and can hardly stand to be around him.”

 

7. Bridge of Spies

 

This was my favorite of 2015’s trend of film’s returning to more classical filmmaking techniques (I’d put “Brooklyn” and “Carol” in that category, as well as last year’s “The Immigrant” and “A Most Violent Year.”)  Steven Spielberg reminds us, with in a powerfully moving way, what real patriotism and statesmanship look like.

6. It Follows

The first 65 minutes of “It Follows” are perfect.  I have watched this film multiple times, closely and carefully, and there is not a scene, not a camera angle, not a sound cue or nuance of a performance that I don’t think is exactly as it should be during that first hour and change.  That’s pretty remarkable.  This is masterful filmmaking.

5. Inside Out

The writers at Pixar have clearly done some reading. There are a number of psychological insights tucked into “Inside Out,” beyond the most clear and obvious, which is that Sadness isn’t a nuisance, but a necessary part of the emotional team.  I’ve even heard that choosing these five emotions is based a theory from Charles Darwin about our emotional responses, but I don’t know if that’s exactly true. Nonetheless, I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find another movie this year, for kids or adults, that is more psychologically insightful, creative, perceptive, and in, the end, wise.  I’m looking forward to the conversations I’ll continue to have with my six-year-old thanks to this movie.

4. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Maybe the most underrated movie of the year; it didn’t show up on hardly anyone else’s top 10 lists.  But the latest M:I is everything I want an action film to be: exciting, elegant, intriguing, intelligent. And it introduced most of us to Rebecca Ferguson.

3. While We’re Young

“This is a movie with multiple layers. On one, it’s a comedy of manners, satirizing the “creative class” of two generations, poking fun and the often ridiculous things they say and do.  On another level, it’s a critique of millenials by a Gen Xer – Stiller as a stand-in for Baumbach.  On yet another level, it’s a lot like “Frances Ha,” about aging and realizing all your dreams aren’t going to come true, spinning your wheels for a bit and trying to relive the past, then finding ways to modify those dreams without compromising or giving up on them, ways to continue doing what you love and makes you happy, even if it doesn’t make you rich and famous.”

2. Mad Max: Fury Road

Everyone else’s favorite movie of 2015, and the hype is (mostly) deserved.

“There aren’t many ideas in the script, but there are a ton on the screen. A movie filled as this one is with action scenes can be a borefest, because you just see the same thing over and over again.  “Mad Max” avoids that fate by being, well, not monotonous. People don’t have to be talking in order for interesting things to be happening on the screen, and this is a film that gives us something interesting to look at in nearly every frame.”

1. Spotlight

“Spotlight,” as unglamorous as it is, is a powerful movie, because it recaptures the real power of journalism — not simply to report the facts, but to tell the stories that need to be told for a community to heal, to move forward, and to find justice.  Now, a lot of journalism does not live up to that calling.  It is sensationalistic, fear-based, and cravenly interested in nothing more but increased readership.  I’m thankful every time a movie like this comes along and reminds us that it can be — should be — something more.”

 

 

And here are 20 more movies from 2015 that were definitely worth seeing:

The Martian

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Revenant

Everest

What We Do in the Shadows

The Visit

The Gift

Phoenix

The Big Short

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Love & Mercy

Ex Machina

Spy 

The Wolfpack

Dope

Creed

MacBeth

Gangs of Wasseypur

Goodnight Mommy

The End of the Tour

 

 

 

Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke, Lists.

The Big Short (and the Enneagram)

If I were going to teach a course on the Enneagram, something I am not even remotely qualified to do, I might make the class watch “The Big Short.”  I would, at the very least, make all the Fives in the room watch it.  You might think this was a biting comedy about the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis, and you might be right.  But it’s also a movie about us Fives, and what it means to be a healthy or unhealthy Five in this crazy broken world.

I’d guess that every main character in “The Big Short” is a Five.  This is possible, because they are all based on real people.  (I don’t assume every movie character has an Enneagram number; only the really well-written ones.) If you’re not familiar with the Enneagram, one of a Five’s defining characteristics is the “need to see through.”  According to the Enneagram Institute, Fives “want to possess knowledge, to understand the environment, to have everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the environment.”  In this particular case, what they’re trying to figure out is the American financial markt, and what they’re defending themselves from is its complete meltdown.

“The Big Short” is a little hard to follow because it follows so many people all at once.  There’s Steve Carrell, who has no problem telling people they’re idiots.  He has a crew around him, and they are all working with Ryan Gosling, who has considerably more polish than Carrell, but shares the same opinion of people.  There are two garage band investors who work with Brad Pitt, who gave up trading stocks in order to collect seeds and get colonics.  Then there’s Christian Bale, who invests a billion dollars of investors’ money while listening to heavy metal and wearing sweatpants. He’s a little odd, and a little brilliant. But who isn’t in this movie?

These three groups never cross paths in the movie, at least not significantly. They all figure out that mortgage backed securities aren’t as secure as they used to be, and that that’s going to cause a lot of problems for the financial mortgage when the default rate reaches a certain point.  (The film doesn’t try to cram explanations of the financial ins and outs into the dialogue; it straight up pauses, breaks the fourth wall, and introduces entertaining non-characters – like Margot Robbie in a bubble bath – to explain them to us in dumbed down terms.  It’s a risky strategy, but it works.) But instead of trying to alert — hell, I don’t know, somebody, anybody – that the whole thing is a jenga tower about to fall down, they find a way to make money off of it.  A lot of money.

Here’s why I think “The Big Short” is such a fantastic movie for us Fives: we tend to believe, deep down, that the world is full of idiots, and we cackle with glee when something happens to confirm that belief. That’s the first half of “The Big Short,” and it describes an unhealthy Five: we use the knowledge we’ve gathered to protect ourselves while remaining detached from others.  But the second half of “The Big Short” is about the long, hard road towards health and maturity: when the economy does crash, when the jenga tower finally falls, our characters get rich, but there’s no joy in it.  They see all the people around them losing their jobs, their homes, their pensions and savings. The world is in shambles, and it’s really no solace that they saw it coming, or that they profited it from it.  A healthy Five will use their ability to “see through” to advocate for others and bring about needed change.  The characters in “The Big Short” never quite get there, but you get the feeling that, the next time they see disaster coming, they’ll be thinking more about how to prevent it and less about how to get rich off of it.

At least I hope so.

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Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

Love & Mercy

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 6.58.54 PM

“Love & Mercy” is a biopic about Brian Wilson, the genius behind “Pet Sounds” and the Beach Boys’ best songs. It’s a lesson to aspiring filmmakers on how to make an emotionally resonant, powerfully engaging biopic; instead of proceeding chronologically and hitting the main points of Wilson’s life (that kind of filmmaking is called biopic-itis) it assumes that we are pretty familiar with the Legend of Brian Wilson. We know about the abusive father, the two years in bed, the Charlie Manson days – and focuses on two periods of his life: the year or so around “Pet Sounds” and “Good Vibrations,” and then the late ’80s, when he was rescued from the control of quack psychotherapist Eugene Landy by Cadillac saleswoman and his future wife, Melinda Ledbetter.

One of the themes weaving through the film is that Wilson always hears music; there’s a soundtrack to his life playing in his head, and in his healthier, more lucid moments, he’s able to get that music out for the rest of us to hear.  It’s also why Landy misdiagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia; he hears voices. Atticus Ross, who is one of the best composers working on movies right now (he’s most famous for working on the “Social Network” score with Trent Reznor) composed the score almost entirely bits and pieces that Brian Wilson actually composed — this actually is the music Wilson was hearing in his head.  It fascinating to hear and really adds layers to the film.

The scenes of Wilson creating “Pet Sounds” are exhilarating; Dano brings just the right kind of manic energy, and director Bill Pohlad has populated the scenes with actors who let us know, in little ways, that they know they are part of something special. On the flip side, it’s terrifying to see Landy and his thugs manipulate and control him. We draw the connection to Wilson’s father in the earlier sequences, and Landy in the later ones – though Wilson’s father (played by Bill Camp) is only in two or three scenes, and hardly ever raises his voice: the director doesn’t feel the need to hit us over the head with the connection.

Elizabeth Banks who plays Ledbetter, is at the heart of this movie, and she is fantastic. Paul Dano and John Cusack are fine, as younger and older versions of Brian Wilson, but I don’t think it’s really that challenging to play an eccentric genius. Every actor worth their chops does it at some point in their career, and more than a few make a career out of it.  Paul Giamatti is great as Landy, but Giamatti can play this kind of barely suppressed rage in his sleep; he used to be a more interesting actor, but unfortunately has become typecast in roles like this one. But Banks’ performance has to be carefully modulated. It’s would be so easy to see her as a gold digger, or a woman with a Messiah complex.  She also has to feel real, for the sake of the film, and not like some kind of idealized lover who can save the hero from himself, basically a non-manic non-pixie dream girl. Banks is one of my favorite actresses, and I think she’s criminally underrated; she makes everything she’s in a little better.

Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

Money Monster

“Money Monster” is the cinematic equivalent of buying government bonds. It’s a low-risk, low-return venture, one that performs modestly but has no trouble meeting its goals and delivering a reasonable return.

George Clooney plays the host of a TV show a lot like “Mad Money;” one of those that looks like a silly game show but talks about stalks and bonds and securities instead. Julia Roberts is his producer/handler, feeding him cues and bits as well as telling him to shut up and stick to the script.

Then Jack O’Connell walks in and takes the live show hostage, strapping a suicide vest to Clooney and demanding that Roberts keeps them on the air.  He’s lost a lot of money following Clooney’s advice, and he really wants to hold someone responsible.  O’Connell seems miscast, though; he yells too much, and fails to display the kind of charisma and intensity need to make us sympathize with him and his plight.  He’s supposed to be playing working class and uneducated; he mostly just plays dumb.  Also, I’m curious why both he and his girlfriend have Boston accents, when the movie is set in New York.

So you can see that all of the ingredients are there for a decent thriller.  All of us want to hold Wall Street responsible for what’s happened to our country, though it’s hard to pin down the exact culprit. The movie has more than a few sarcastic things to say about our financial system, but it’ saying all the same things that have been said before. And let’s face it, when you strap a bomb to a guy, you’ve got an entertaining movie, as long as you don’t make any stupid mistakes. And “Money Monster” doesn’t; it hits its marks, for the most part, it’s paced well, and Clooney and Roberts can carry this kind of thing in their sleep.  It is at turns funny and tense, and it builds towards its big reveal in a satisfying way.  Watching “Money Monster” is kind of like watching a grade school gymnastics meet; nobody’s going to make your jaw drop, but you’re going to clap at the nicely turned cartwheels anyway.

It does stumble a bit at the end.  The second act sets up Dominic West as the bad guy who is responsible for taking O’Connells money; it looks increasingly like what he called a computer glitch is going to turn out to be a case of carefully concealed fraud. But then, suddenly, a ton of information is dumped to make it clear that what West did was both technically legal and standard practice; everyone is doing it.  I can see why director Jodie Foster decided to go this direction; it’s a way to indict the whole financial system instead of just singling out one bad guy and blaming him.  It’s a tricky move, much more complicated and subtle than anything else “Money Monster” has attempted, and it can’t quite stick the landing.

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Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

Jurassic World

If you were expecting the magic and wonder of the original Jurassic Park you will be marginally disappointed. I don’t say you will be fully disappointed but rather just let down only half way. Because I think any movie that has dinosaurs and some element of science fiction will be marginally good.

Is the plot necessary to elaborate on? I say no. You get what you pay for, dinosaurs and spectacle. However the plot can summarized as, Dinosaurs escape, Park goes wild, people get eaten, running and screaming and plenty of CGI. Chris Pratt is on the movie, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan too!

The special effects were solid and Chris Pratt adds an amount of fun into the movie. But his charisma only goes so far.The worst sin of the movie was that it was surprisingly boring. The most fun I had when seeing it in theaters was tearing the movie apart. There are a lot of clichés and just dull moments which made better jokes after the movie rather than during. I think the biggest complaint I have with this movie is that they treat me like an idiot. I felt there were a lot of cheap tricks to try to make me like the movie. Like how they include a lot of winks and nods to the original Jurassic Park. I noticed them and I was still bored.

Hollywood is now making formerly good franchises into chintzy junk; however, that makes these movies really fun to watch with friends and mock endlessly. This movie has it all! Evil Southerners, Irresponsible Scientists, Latinos and Fat People and British Assistants all being mercilessly eaten by the CGI dinosaurs, bit players from the predecessors making an appearance, unfunny Jimmy Kimmel cameos, raptors with cute names, awful sexual tension, and running in high heels. I have learned that this movie’s director Colin Trevorrow will be driving Star Wars into the ground next. That’s okay I don’t care anymore. I am taking the advice that was in the animated TV series The Critic, “If the movie stinks just don’t go”. I think my dissatisfaction and annoyance is shared by many. I think that’s the reason the new Ghostbusters has garnered such bad press.

The good news is that someone will grow up loving this movie. I love a lot of marginally good sci-fi movies from the 70’s. Jurassic World will become one of those movies doomed to the daytime schedule of the movie channels. The talented cast of the movie will move on and so will we. The important thing is that we all survived it.

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Posted in All Reviews, By Courtland Hopkins.