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THE WALK (2015) review

October 1, 2015


written by: Robert Zemeckis and Christopher Browne
produced by: Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis and Jack Rapke
directed by: Robert Zemeckis
rating: PG (for thematic elements involving perilous situations, and for some nudity, language, brief drug references and smoking)
runtime: 123 min.
U.S. release date: September 30 (IMAX 3D only) and October 9, 2015 (wide)  


Robert Zemeckis is at it again and I’m not too happy about it. Using the same hand-holding and over-telling approach last seen in his 2012 film “Flight”, the director once again feels the need to hold our hand during “The Walk”.  His latest movie actually found me wringing my own sweaty hands during the last 40 minutes. In that sense, he succeeded – because once Zemeckis actually gets to the viscerally suspenseful wire walk across the Twin Towers, the movie becomes an immersive heart attack for the audience. Unfortunately, we have to endure the storytelling choices  throughout the movie, which makes for a frustrating and nerve-wracking experience in more ways than one. Read more…

PROPHET’S PREY (2015) review

October 1, 2015


written by: Amy Berg
produced by: Sam Brower and Katherine LeBlond
directed by: Amy Berg
rating: unrated runtime: 102 min.
U.S. release date: January 26, 2015 (Sundance Film Festival), September 18, 2015 and October 2. 2015 (limited)  


“He prays for my destruction? Well if I was religious, I would pray for his destruction.”  

Despite being an obviously gifted documentarian, I am puzzled by Amy Berg’s choices lately. She started her career with a bang, directing “Deliver Us From Evil,” a simultaneously scathing and humanizing look at a priest who was moved from parish to parish for years in an attempt to cover up his history of abuse. Two years ago, however, she released “West of Memphis,” a documentary about the famed West Memphis Three, whose story had been chronicled so thoroughly by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s “Paradise Lost” series. Now comes “Prophet’s Prey,” a look at the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS church, which was—and in many ways continues to be—lorded over by Warren Jeffs. Read more…


October 1, 2015




written by: James Graham
produced by: David M. Thompson and Laura Hastings-Smith
directed by: Morgan Matthews
rating: not rated
runtime: 111 min. U.S.
release date: September 25, 2015 (limited) 


“A Brilliant Young Man” could’ve just been a story about a gifted boy on an academic journey to the Olympiad. That would’ve presented enough challenges and drama in and of itself, but instead screenwriter James Graham treats us to a complex screenplay, which is sensitively presented by director Morgan Matthews. It’s a coming-of-age story that includes autism and mathletes yet surprisingly avoids clichés. It is a film that is perceptive and quite stunning in the way it presents natural and real characters while sensitively examining themes of  helplessness, regret, loss and grief.  Read more…

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 (2015) review

September 26, 2015


written by: Robert Smigel and Adam Sandler
produced by: Michelle Mordocca
directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
rating: Rated PG (for some scary images, action and rude humor)
runtime: 89 min.
U.S. release date: September 25, 2015



Sometimes as a critic you watch a movie and notice you’re watching a comedy that isn’t funny or interesting or entertaining.  That’s this movie. In fact, “Hotel Transylvania 2” is  unfunny and boring. The biggest problem with that is that you should never find yourself noticing that you’re watching a movie while you’re watching a movie. You should be lost in a movie, not groaning at its humor or grimacing at it’s annoying characters and grade school plot. It should suck you in. Well, this movie doesn’t. It just sucks. Read more…

THE NEW GIRLFRIEND (2014) review

September 25, 2015



written by: François Ozon
produced by: Éric Altmayer and Nicolas Altmayer
directed by: François Ozon
rating: R (for some strong sexual content and graphic nudity)
runtime: 107 min.
U.S. release date: September 18, 2015 (limited)


French filmmaker François Ozon is on my long list of directors I have yet to catch up with. He showed up on my radar after 2003’s “Swimming Pool” – a film I still haven’t caught up with – and although I did see 2013’s “Young and Beautiful” from the writer/director, it’s obvious I have some catching up to do.  Now there’s last year’s “The New Girlfriend”, which is finally getting a limited theatrical release after months on the festival circuit. In fact, I had a chance to view it this past May at the Chicago Critics Film Festival, but I do believe that day I had to come up for air and choose which film I’d miss in my day-long viewing. Well, I’m glad I finally caught up with Ozon and his latest oddity.

Read more…

EVEREST (2015) review

September 19, 2015

written by:  William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy
produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Baltasar Kormákur, Nicky Kentish Barnes & Tyler Thompson Brian Oliver
directed by: Baltasar Kormákur
rating: PG-13 (for intense peril and disturbing images)
runtime: 121 min.
U.S. release date: September 18, 2015 


I left my viewing of “Everest” feeling kind of depressed and also curious about the title character. Shocked and awed, I suppose. I got the feeling I wasn’t alone as I noticed other critics quietly exiting the IMAX theater, making their way to the lobby with occasional eye contact as if to say, “well, that happened”. That’s a two-fold unspoken expression there, meaning: this tragic “based on a true story” actually happened and the fact that another survival thriller that primarily follows certain genre conventions, has been made. My head was full of thoughts afterwards, thinking about the numerous frozen bodies that’ve become a permanent fixture on Everest over the years, wondering how the surviving family members feel when their deceased loved are characters in movies like this and also how all the moviegoers expecting an action movie will respond to it.  Read more…

BLACK MASS (2015) review

September 18, 2015



written by: Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk
produced by: Scott Cooper, John Lesher, Patrick McCormick, Brian Oliver & Tyler Thompson
directed by: Scott Cooper
rating: R (for brutal violence, language throughout, some sexual references and brief drug use)
runtime: 122 min.
U.S. release date: September 18, 2015


“Take your shot, but make it your best, ’cause I get up, I eat you.”


It seemed impossible 20 years ago, but in the last ten years, the temptation to write off Johnny Depp as a serious actor has gotten much stronger. All of the things that had once made him such a volatile and dynamic presence had sunk to the bottom of what once seemed to be a limitless bag of tricks. He seemed to be more concerned with what kind of hat or funny voice his character was going to have and working with Tim Burton only exacerbated this problem. The two have only seemed to bring out the worst in one another, and Burton’s first Depp-less films in a decade, “Frankenweenie” and “Big Eyes”, were also his best in a decade. Read more…


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