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ZIPPER (2015) review

August 26, 2015

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written by: Mora Stephens and Joel Viertel
produced by: Darren Aronofsky, Mark Heyman and R. Bryan Wright
directed by: Mora Stephens
rating: R (for strong sexual content, nudity, language and brief drug use)
runtime: 109 min.
U.s. release date: January 27, 2015 (Sundance) & August 28, 2015 (limited)

 

You’d think a movie called “Zipper” about a dude with sex addiction would be a comedy, right? Wrong. There’s no laughs to be had in Mora Stephen’s sophomore film, a decade after  her feature-length debut “The Conventioniers”, which I haven’t seen is listed a political rom-com and this movie is being marketed as a political thriller – only there’s really no thrills. So, no laughs and no thrills. What does that leave us with? A mediocre and predictable quasi-examination of sexual addiction that lies somewhere between a Lifetime Movie of the Week and Skinemax that is actually kind of a snooze.

 

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AMERICAN ULTRA (2015) review

August 21, 2015

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written by: Max Landis
produced by: David Alpert, Anthony Bregman, Mark Fasano, Kevin Scott Frakes, Britton Rizzio & Raj Brinder Singh
directed by: Nima Nourizadeh
rating: R (for strong bloody violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexual content)
runtime: 96 min.
U.S. release date: August 21, 2014

 

“American Ultra” is definitely one of those movies where the less you know going in, the better off you’ll be. From the posters, it looks like another stoner comedy and that may be the draw for some. It’s not, though there are some laughs. It’s first and foremost an most unexpectedly bloody action movie that’s sprinkled with situational and reactionary comedy which often mostly works. Yes, it did get some chuckles out of me and I did find enough to like about the environment it offers, but overall I was just left thinking how “American Ultra” is one weird movie. Read more…

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (2015) review

August 17, 2015

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written by: Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff
produced by: Ice Cube, Tomica Woods-Wright, Matt Alvarez, F. Gary Gray, Scott Bernstein & Dr. Dre
directed by: F. Gary Gray
rating: R (for language throughout, strong sexuality/nudity, violence and drug use)
runtime: 147 min.
U.S. release date: August 14, 2015

 

You may have seen the “Straight Outta _______” meme that has made its way around social media leading up to the release of Universal Pictures “Straight Outta Compton”, the biopic directed by F. Gary Gray about the influential and controversial hip-hop rap group N.W.A. that formed in the mid-80s. The meme, which originated from an app created by Beats by Dre, allows you to insert a specific image and/or location, maybe your city of origin or something that you are literally or figuratively “out of”. Many of the results were quite clever and funny. With over 6 million downloads within 24 hours of the device’s launch, it’s kind of remarkable to think how impacting the group remains, especially considering where the group came from and what we see in the news today.

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COP CAR (2015) review

August 14, 2015

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written by: Jon Watts and Christopher Ford
produced by: Cody Ryder, Alicia Van Couvering, Sam Bisbee, Andrew Kortschak & Jon Watts
directed by: Jon Watts
rating: R (for language, violence and brief drug use)
runtime: 86 min.
U.S. release date: August 7, 2015 (limited) and August 14, 2015 (limited, iTunes, Amazon & On Demand)

 

“Cop Car” is the one from Sundance about the two boys who take Kevin Bacon’s car for a joy ride. Bacon is a cop, hence the simplistic title. Sounds like it could be hilarious as we watch a couple kids rack up the hijinks or it sounds like these two hellions are in a world of increasing doo-doo. It also sounds pretty straight forward, especially with a running time of 86 minutes. This is what I knew of director Jon Watts’ new film before actually seeing it.

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FANTASTIC FOUR (2015) review

August 12, 2015

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written by: Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg and Josh Trank
produced by: Simon Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn, Hutch Parker and Gregory Goodman
directed by: Joel Edgerton
rating: PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence and language)
runtime: 100 min.
release date: August 7, 2015

 

In some ways, this is a ‘in defense of’ review, because I liked “Fantastic Four”. Totally manic and baring the fraudulent hand of studio interference, “Fantastic Four” should be everything except fantastic. Except that it kind of is. Not all the time and definitely not in the disastrous last twenty minutes, but writer-director Josh Trank’s second movie isn’t the garbage compactor mess many think it is.

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THE GIFT (2015) review

August 11, 2015

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written by: Joel Edgerton
produced by: Joel Edgerton, Jason Blum and Rebecca Yeldham
directed by: Joel Edgerton
rating: R (for language)
runtime: 108 min.
release date: August 7, 2015

 

Of the three distinct acts in “The Gift”, the first is by far the best. As a short film, isolated and bifurcated from the remaining hour and change, it’s a startlingly well-observed analysis in social commentary that often left me twitching in my seat. The film is actor Joel Edgerton’s first time in the director’s chair, and he brilliantly uses the peculiarities around social awkwardness as a tool for razor-sharp suspense.

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CARTEL LAND (2015) review

August 11, 2015

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produced by: Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin
directed by: Matthew Heineman
rating: R (for violent disturbing images, language, drug content and brief sexual material)
runtime: 98 min.
release date: July 3, 2015 (limited)

 

Like Academy Award Winner Kathryn Bigelow’s critically lauded “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty”, the bracing “War on Drugs” documentary “Cartel Land” takes aim at being an A-political thriller. As executive producer, similarities between her last two films (that in many circles are called modern classics) and this are in abundance, but it’s director Matthew Heineman and his truly daring creative vision that makes this one of the must-see documentaries of the year. 

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