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RESULTS (2015) review

May 28, 2015

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written by: Andrew Bujalski
produced by: Paul Bernon, Houston King and Sam Slater
directed by: Andrew Bujalski
rating: R (for language, some sexual content, and drug use)
runtime: 105 min
U.S. release date: January 27, 2015 (Sundance Film Festival); May 2, 2015 (Chicago Critics Film Festival); May 29, 2015 (limited release)

 

 

“We may disagree on the definition of healthy.”

It’s incredibly interesting to watch “Results”, the latest film from director Andrew Bujalski, the day after seeing Joe Swanberg’s “Digging for Fire”, if only because they present a stark contrast in the growth and development of filmmakers that started out in micro-budget filmmaking. “Results” is a study in evolution, from Bujalski’s early, informal style, into someone who inherently understands the language of film, and can exploit it in brilliant and often unexpected ways.

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SAN ANDREAS (2015) review

May 28, 2015

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written by: Carlton Cuse
produced by: Beau Flynn, Hiram Garcia and Tripp Vinson
directed by: Brad Peyton
rating: PG-13 (for intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language)
runtime: 114 min.
U.S. release date: May 29, 2015

 

From the director of “Journey 2: Mysterious Island” and “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore”, comes a movie I never want to see again. I’m not kidding. This one did me in. It’s not because “San Andreas” is awful, but the latest entry in the disaster genre, that Warner Bros. is counting on summer blockbuster glory, isn’t that great either. This movie, which is swaying side to side with heavy 3D CGI and is tipping over on account of its predictable corny dialogue, was just too much for me. Most of all though, this is a movie that has helped me realize that I’ve outgrown natural disasters and insurmountable death tolls as entertainment – and for that, I thank “San Andreas”.

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TOMORROWLAND (2015) review

May 25, 2015

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written by: Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen
produced by: Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof and Jeffrey Chernov
directed by: Brad Bird
rating: PG (for sci-fi action and violence and peril, thematic elements and language)
runtime: 130 min.
U.S. release date: May 22, 2015

 

“Tomorrowland” will be labeled as Brad Bird’s first bust and a box-office disappointment for all involved. For the record, I don’t agree with that at all. Both Bird and Disney will live on and maybe this movie will be appreciated more in the future, ironically. While I understand the issues many will have with the movie Bird directed – and co-wrote with Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen – I have a hard time heaping vitriol on a movie that champions imagination and hope. Yes, it’s a heavy-handed in delivering its often conflicting messages and plot points, but it nevertheless takes its audience on a fantastically crafted journey, one that is rarely seen anymore on the big-screen. The reason why may be subtly, or not so subtly, explained within the movie and I’m sure people will take issue with that as well.

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POLTERGEIST (2015) review

May 24, 2015

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written by: David Lindsay-Abair, based on a story by Steven Spielberg
produced by: Sam Raimi, Nathan Kahane, Roy Lee, & Robert G. Tapert
directed by: Gil Kenan
rating: PG-13 (for intense frightening sequences, brief suggestive material, and some language)
runtime: 93 min.
U.S. release date: May 22, 2015

 

“No, I’m not afraid.”

So this is a tough one. In October 2012, I selected 1982’s “Poltergeist” as the fourth scariest movie ever made. That a remake exists at all isn’t necessarily surprising in and of itself. It’s perhaps more surprising that it’s taken 33 years to get one to the screen. The timing is additionally curious due to the fact that remakes of classic horror films have been pretty lame lately, either overdoing the gore like 2013’s Evil Dead remake, or softening the edges to the point where it’s unrecognizable, like another 2013 catastrophe, Carrie. Like “Evil Dead”, this “Poltergeist” remake comes to us from producer Sam Raimi, whose attachment to the project fueled a modicum of excitement for what was to come.

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PITCH PERFECT 2 (2015) review

May 23, 2015

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written by: Kay Cannon
produced by: Elizabeth Banks, Paul Brooks, Kay Cannon, Max Handelman, Jeff Levine & Jason Moore
directed by: Elizabeth Banks
rating: PG-13 (for innuendo and language)
runtime: 115 min.
U.S. release date: May 15, 2015

 

I was glad to hear the announcement that a sequel to “Pitch Perfect” one of the surprise sleeper hits of 2012, had been greenlit. Leading up to its release, no one knew what to make of that first movie – a musical comedy revolving around fiercely competitive collegiate a capella groups. I anticipated the same amount of spontaneity, electricity and fun.  Well, in “Pitch Perfect 2”, the directorial debut of actress Elizabeth Banks, there is more reverberating cacophony than sweet melody and surprisingly so considering  it’s written by returning screenwriter Kay Cannon.  While there are a few funny bits here, it’s ultimately a disappointing revisit that feels repetitive and predictable, lacking any originality.

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MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015) review #3

May 17, 2015

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written by: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris
produced by: George Miller, Doug Mitchell and P.J. Voeten
directed by: George Miller
rating: R (for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images)
runtime: 120 min.
U.S. release date: May 15, 2015

 

A metal behemoth rattles and roars through a nihilistic landscape—bleak, empty, and hungry for life—charging forth as a last remaining beacon of hope and redemption. The behemoth isn’t just the War-Tanker central to the plot, it’s also “Mad Max: Fury Road” itself; and the setting is more than the scorched sands of a doomed Earth, it’s the barren wasteland of 2015 Hollywood. This is the antidote. The cure. “Fury Road” is shock therapy for the tired cinemagoer who’s seen the 100th CGI battle and nearly fallen asleep. I know you’ve been there. I have too.

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MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015) review #2

May 15, 2015

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written by: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris
produced by: George Miller, Doug Mitchell and P.J. Voeten
directed by: George Miller
rating: R (for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images)
runtime: 120 min.
U.S. release date: May 15, 2015

 

“I thought you weren’t insane anymore.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel it only fair to let you know that I normally abhor belated sequels. Whenever a sequel comes more than ten years after its predecessor, it almost always feels like a half-baked attempt to recapture the magic of a given series. Until tonight, I had always chalked this up to a nostalgia problem, but having seen Mad Max: Fury Road, I can safely say that the problem is not with belated sequels in and of themselves. It’s with the people who make them, and Fury Road will forever be the gold standard by which all other late arriving sequels shall be judged.

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