Monthly Archives: September 2017

Stronger

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Given the spate of bad movies I’ve seen lately, I can’t help but wonder if Stronger felt so refreshingly awesome in comparison or if it really is just a great movie. Following the true story of Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) who lost both legs in the Boston marathon bombing, and his recovery with his boisterous family (led by Miranda Richardson), and ex-girlfriend (Tatiana Maslany), Stronger feels decidedly honest. Nothing feels forced or exploitive, in direct contrast to last year’s Boston marathon bombing flick Patriots Day.

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Kingman: The Golden Circle

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The first Kingsman was dumb, but a lot of fun. It told the story of a British secret agency that fought bad guys in secret, through the eyes of their newest recruit Eggsy (Taran Egerton). The sequel tries hard to recapture that magic but falls short in nearly every way. The story is thin and ridiculous, and just lacks the energy that made the first one an exciting ride. The action sequences here are so cartoonish that they don’t seem to connect to the overall movie and don’t carry the same thrill that action movies are supposed to demonstrate. All sense of “how did they do that cool thing” falls away when it just appears like someone made it in a computer and the actors weren’t even present.

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The Lego Ninjago Movie

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I’m not remotely familiar with whatever Lego Ninjago is. I’m still not quite sure. The movie itself comes off as an extended commercial for a series of playsets, in a more egregious way than the previous Lego movies, which actually felt like they had a story to tell first and toys to sell second. Ninjago flips that script. They quickly push through any necessary information and background on the characters in order to show more cool dragon heads. The main character is Lloyd (Dave Franco) who has daddy issues because his absentee father is Garmadon (Justin Theroux) who regular terrorizes his town (which is called Ninjago, I think).

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Rebel in the Rye

nicholas-hoult-kevin-spacey-start-filming-rebel-in-the-rye-socialI have to admit, I’m a huge fan of “Catcher in the Rye.” It hit me at the right time, as a disaffected youth, like it also does to a lot of young wannabe serial killers, so I usually admit this reluctantly. I haven’t read it in nearly ten years but I always wonder if “adult” me will grow weary of the novel in the same way looking back at the stage show RENT when you’re 40 sometimes makes you grumble “just get a job already.” Rebel in the Rye follows a young JD Salinger (Nicholas Hoult) around the time he wrote “Catcher in the Rye.”

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Brad’s Status

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A film can undermine itself any number of ways, poorly scripted scenes, inauthentic performances, lackluster direction. Ostensibly the tale of a man (Ben Stiller) taking his son (Austin Abrams) on college tours, the father stuck in a psychological self-war as he compares his life to that of his college friends and even his son as well. Brad’s Status is an otherwise good film that is undermined in two ways. First, it sidelines the more interesting character and story in the son, and it saddles the insufferable main character with an interminable voice-over that is just exhausting.

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Head of Passes

 

HEAD OF PASSES
PUBLIC THEATER/NEWMAN THEATER
425 LAFAYETTE STREET, NEW YORK

As I took my seat for Head of Passes at the Mark Taper Forum, the new play from Tarrell Alvin McCraney (Oscar winner for Moonlight screenplay), I took notice of the set. Always the first indication of what’s about to unfold, the set depicted a beautiful living room opening to a sunroom suggesting a peaceful family scene. What unfolded was not quite that.

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One More Time to Kill the Pain

I have social anxiety. It manifests itself in different ways, mostly with me avoiding social situations, but also things as simple as trying a new restaurant or going to a party with people I don’t know can stress me out. It’s also getting worse the older I get. As I get more annoyed with myself, I am looking at ways to alleviate this stress. Couple that with my interest in drinking less, something that makes me more social in most situations, and there are signs suggesting I might benefit from an occasional hit of the old hemp.

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American Assassin

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I’m a sucker for a decent action film. I love the choreography of a well-produced fight sequence, or the energy of a crazy car chase. A decent action movie (the pinnacle being the first three Bourne movies or the original Die Hard) playing out on the big screen can be a glorious movie-going experience. American Assassin is not a decent action film by any means. And it probably could’ve been.

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Mother!

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There is a certain style of movie that I just don’t enjoy: esoteric, overly stylistic, solidly metaphorical, presenting a reality only in the surreal. There’s just nothing for me to connect with, and Mother! is precisely this type of movie. It may have worked as a short, but as a full-length feature it seemed designed to punish an audience.

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Ingrid Goes West

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Aubrey Plaza tends to stick to her wheelhouse, but she’s getting better at expanding the limitations that places on her. In her latest film, Ingrid Goes West, she is still dry and aloof, but Ingrid is probably a deeper and darker character than she has played before, give or take her Legion role.

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