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TED 2 (2015) review

June 30, 2015



written by: Seth MacFarlane & Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild
produced by: Jason Clark, Seth MacFarlane, Scott Stuber, John Jacobs
directed by: Seth MacFarlane
rating: R (for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use)
runtime: 115 min.
U.S. release date: June 26, 2015


“We’re a fun hospital.”

Seth MacFarlane might just be the luckiest man on the face of the earth. He has managed to make a career out of being a career .200 hitter, as his joke success rate runs about one laugh for every five jokes he throws at an audience. With his feature directorial debut, “Ted“, MacFarlane struck gold by taking the buddy comedy and giving it a fresh twist. While it’s almost impossible to be let down by MacFarlane after his last film, the abysmal “A Million Ways to Die in the West“, “Ted 2″ manages to not only be a letdown, but it also demonstrates clear as day the fact that his limitations as a creative force are virtually limitless.

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WHITE GOD (2014) review

June 24, 2015



written by: Kornél Mundruczó, Viktória Petrányi and Kata Wéber
produced by: Viktória Petrányi and Eszter Gyárfás
directed by: Kornél Mundruczó
rating: R (for violent content including bloody images, and language)
runtime: 121 min.
U.S. release date: January 23, 2015 (Sundance) & March 27, 2015 (limited)


Mean people suck. Dogs are people too. Those were two familiar quotes that rang through my mind after my initial viewing of “White God”, or “Feher Isten”, the Hungarian film directed by Kornél Mundruczó, a difficult and challenging yet potent film to watch. It’s very hard to watch especially if you’re a dog lover, but even if you’re not, it will stir something in you. There can be just as many interpretations of the title (and ironically is not a play on Samuel Fuller’s 1982 anti-racist film “White Dog”) as there are metaphors in “White God”, but that all depends on what the viewers glean from the film. While I remain impressed with the film on many levels and, at this time, it’s one of the best films I’ve seen this year – I just don’t know how many times I’ll be able to watch it.

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INSIDE OUT (2015) review #2

June 23, 2015



written by: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley
produced by: Jonas Rivera
directed by: Pete Doctor and Ronaldo Del Carmen
rating: PG (for mild thematic elements and some action )
runtime: 94 min.
U.S. release date: June 19, 2015


“Forget it Jake, it’s cloud town.”


Pete Docter has very quietly and conspicuously become Pixar’s greatest filmmaker. There are simply no two ways about it, and he is as unassuming a genius as the animation studio has ever produced. With his first film “Monsters, Inc.”, Docter took a simple idea about where the monsters under our bed come from and spun it into a tale of endless whimsy and heart. His second film as a director, “Up”, gave us one of the greatest love stories ever put on film and did it in just under ten minutes of screen time. For his third feature, “Inside Out”, Docter has mined the complex emotional world of a pre-teen girl and found in it a universal story about how our emotions dictate the course of our lives.

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INSIDE OUT (2015) review

June 19, 2015



written by: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley
produced by: Jonas Rivera
directed by: Pete Doctor and Ronaldo Del Carmen
rating: PG (for mild thematic elements and some action )
runtime: 94 min.
U.S. release date: June 19, 2015


Remember that Rosie Greer song “It’s alright to cry” from Marlo Thomas’ musical “Free to Be You and Me” aimed at kids? No? Here. That’s what I was humming to myself as I left the theater. That was my big take away from “Inside Out” too. It’s alright to cry. To take in sad thoughts rather than repress them and let grief do what it must to find its way to the other side of traumatic experiences and situations. Yes, I was reminded of that valuable lesson, just as much as I was blown away and entertained, while watching the latest offering from Pixar Animation Studios. To think, there are still moviegoers who see these movies as “cartoons” and think “I won’t see that in the theater”. No really. People still think that. Their loss.

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THE OVERNIGHT (2015) review

June 18, 2015



written by: Patrick Brice
produced by: Naomi Scott
directed by: Patrick Brice
rating: R (for strong sexuality, graphic nudity, language and drug use)
runtime: 79 min.
U.S. release date: June 19, 2015 (limited release)


“It smells weird”

Doing something truly new and different is next to impossible in mainstream filmmaking in this day and age, particularly when recognizable stars are involved. This is part of the charm of the new comedy “The Overnight”, which I was lucky enough to see back in May when it played the Chicago Critics Film Festival. In only his second feature as a writer and director, Patrick Brice announces himself as a storyteller that’s willing to take big risks in order to reap huge rewards. While it ultimately and sadly cops out in its final minutes, “The Overnight” brings enough freshness and comedy to the table to feel like a wholly new take on the couple’s comedies that have been so prevalent of late.

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JURASSIC WORLD (2015) review

June 12, 2015



written by: Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (screenplay/story) & Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow (screenplay)
produced by: Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley
directed by: Colin Trevorrow
rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril)
runtime: 124 min.
U.S. release date: June 12, 2015


Many of the moviegoers who saw “Jurassic Park” in theaters during the summer of 1993 can now take their children to see the third sequel, “Jurassic World”. That’s what Universal Pictures is banking on (among other things), at least. The draw will find parents hoping to revisit the awe and wonder of that first blockbuster with a morbid curiosity to find out which scenes will frighten their offspring – or maybe I’m projecting, since that’s pretty much how I approached this new monster movie. Having screened this bloody sequel before viewing it with my 8 year-old daughter, I’m not so sure she could, or should, handle it. Don’t tell Lego and Hasbro.

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HARD TO BE A GOD (2013) review

June 9, 2015



written by: Aleksey German and Svetlana Karmalita
produced by: Viktor Izvekov and Leonid Yarmolnik
directed by: Aleksey German
rating: unrated
runtime: 177 min.
U.S. release date: January 30, 2015 (New York) and June 6-8, 2015 (Chicago)


One thing is certain after watching Russian filmmaker Aleksey German’s posthumous film, “Hard to Be A God” – it’s definitely an experience. That much can definitely be said about this dense and dour black and white subtitled film that reaches almost three hours in length. I’m still registering it all, but my gut tells me I should be thinking of this film as something of a masterpiece, while my head tells me I should receive an award for enduring this examination of the gruesome and miserable side of humanity. The best way to describe the film is like some kind of anthropological documentary study by the likes of Terry Gilliam and Werner Herzog, but I feel like I’ll be gleaning more out of the film as I write this review.

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