CVIndependent

Tue10242017

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Reviews

19 Oct 2017
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A college girl learns a few lessons about life—and about not being a total ass—by re-living the day she is murdered over and over again in Happy Death Day, a so-so movie that gets by completely on the power of its relative unknown lead actress, Jessica Rothe. Rothe plays Tree Gelbman, who wakes up in a strange dorm room on the morning of her birthday to discover she has spent the night with a bit of a dweeb, Carter Davis (Israel Broussard). She storms out of the room while ignoring phone calls from her dad—and basically being nasty to everybody she comes across during her walk of shame. It’s established quickly that Tree is a jerk—and that she has more than a few enemies. All of those enemies, and even some of her friends, become murder suspects when Tree is killed by a mask-wearing baddie on her way to a…
12 Oct 2017
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Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner came out in 1982—35 years ago. Scott has tooled around with the movie numerous times, resulting in a final cut that was released about 10 years ago. While there was a lot of monkeying around (in a good way) with the original, it didn’t seem there was much thought of, or chance for, an actual sequel. After all, the original was not a box-office hit, and it didn’t start gaining its classic status until a decade after its release. In fact, critics beat up on it a bit. Here in 2017, however, we actually do get a sequel. Blade Runner 2049 is directed by Denis Villeneuve, the visionary behind Enemy and Arrival. (Scott remains involved as a producer.) Harrison Ford, who has classically complained about the original movie, has nonetheless returned to play blade runner Rick Deckard. Ryan Gosling steps into the starring role…
12 Oct 2017
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Usually reliable directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farris (Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks) somehow manage to make the story of Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs’ infamous early 1970s tennis match quite boring. In Battle of the Sexes, King is played by Emma Stone, who brings a nice warmth to the role of King, one of the great trailblazing athletes of the 20th century. Steve Carell labors a bit as Riggs, the chauvinist pig who challenged the much-younger King to a battle of the sexes, an exhibition tennis match to prove the superiority of the male athlete. The actual match happens in the film’s final half-hour, and it’s an entertaining segment that manages to incorporate real footage of Howard Cosell and a realistic depiction of the actual tennis play. What the movie doesn’t do is have much of a pulse in the buildup, portraying King’s love life in a way…
05 Oct 2017
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The messed-up life of pilot Barry Seal gets a movie that’s not messed up enough in American Made, a sufficiently entertaining film that plays it a little too safe. Drug cartels and Iran Contra are played for laughs—in a story that should not be very funny. The movie winds up being moderately enjoyable thanks to Tom Cruise, who sweats it out in the lead role. While his work here may not be his best, it’s miles better than what he put forth in The Mummy, that shit-storm that damaged his career this summer. Director Doug Liman (who teamed with Cruise on the sci-fi masterpiece Edge of Tomorrow) rips off Catch Me If You Can, The Wolf of Wall Street, Goodfellas, Blow and many others in telling the story of the notorious TWA pilot-turned-pawn for the CIA. Inspired by Seal’s true story (and, yes, some of the more outlandish stuff depicted…
28 Sep 2017
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If you thought 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service was a bit over the top—and you liked that aspect of it—you’ll be happy to know that things were just getting started with Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of the Mark Millar/Dave Gibbons graphic novel, The Secret Service. Sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle pulls out all of the stops, goes into severe overkill mode, and then somehow holds together nicely; it delivers a fun time for those who like their movies a little nasty. It’s over-long at 141 minutes, and a pug dies—but the action snaps with expert precision, and the cast kicks ass. That cast includes Taron Egerton as Eggsy, the young recruit of Harry Hart (Colin Firth) from the first film. The Kingsman—an underground, sharply dressed spy agency in England—remains in operation after the death of Harry, who took a bullet to the head in the first chapter. Eggsy has settled down…
21 Sep 2017
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Writer-director Darren Aronofsky is a nut, and his latest film, Mother!, is one helluva nutty movie. The film’s star, Jennifer Lawrence, is currently dating Aronofsky, a fact that infiltrates the mood of Mother! because the film takes aim at relationships, in a rather nasty way, among its many targets. Those targets also include the Bible, narcissism, celebrity, art, family, smoking and … oh yeah, motherhood. By the time Mother! is over, you might not know exactly what went down, but you know that what happened was rather cynical … highly stylized, loony, entertaining cynicism. Lawrence plays Mother, an apparently kind-hearted partner to Him (Javier Bardem). They live in an old-style country house out in the middle of nowhere. Him is a writer, going through some major writer’s block and occasionally speaking of having lost everything in the past to a fire. He has some sort of crystalized object on a…
14 Sep 2017
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I read It when the novel came out in 1986, and I was underwhelmed. It had a cool premise, but sloppy, overlong, out-of-control prose. That sucker needed some editing. I had been gobbling up Stephen King books (I’m a big fan of Christine and Different Seasons), but experienced a bit of a lull in interest after his lousy Peter Straub collaboration, The Talisman. I felt like King was overextending himself a bit, and It seemed like a big mess. In other words … I’m not a huge fan of the source material for the new It film. I was also not a fan of the wimpy 1990 TV miniseries with John-Boy Walton, Jack Tripper, Harry Anderson and a decent Tim Curry as evil clown Pennywise. It featured that unintentionally hilarious puppet spider at the end. The good thing about a movie like Andy Muschietti’s It is that the director and…
31 Aug 2017
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Birth of the Dragon, a fictitious take on the real-life fight between Wong Jack Man and martial-arts legend Bruce Lee, has a couple of good fight scenes in it. In fact, they’re very good. Unfortunately, those fight scenes are surrounded by crap. Picture a diamond like the blue one the old lady had in that Titanic movie; dip it in gold; put it in a bag with $780 million and a Babe Ruth autographed baseball; then drop that bag into a communal spot where a bunch of sick hippos have taken massive shits and formed a virtual lake of shit. Let that bag sink to the bottom and become immersed in the lake of sick-hippo shit. That’s what happens to the very good fight scenes in this movie: They’re lost in shit. Sick hippo shit. (I apologize for picking on hippos for this analogy, but, hey, they are huge and,…
24 Aug 2017
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If you are a fan of last year’s excellent modern Western Hell or High Water, get yourself into a theater to see Wind River. The writer of Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan, writes and directs Wind River. He is a true wordsmith who captures American dilemmas on par with Sam Shepard and Cormac McCarthy. The man knows how to pen a great thriller with depth, and his works (he also wrote Sicario) all have a common, somber tone. This is a guy who knows that many of the people you will pass on the street are dealing with grief and loss—they are surviving, but it’s a bitch, and it’s not going to get easier. Wind River marks Sheridan’s second directorial effort, after 2011’s low-budget Vile, and it stands as one of the summer’s best films. It’s a solid mystery-thriller, and a showcase for fierce performances from Jeremy Renner and…
24 Aug 2017
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A gang of losers plots to rob a NASCAR racetrack during one of its busiest weekends—and they do it in a hackneyed way that makes absolutely no sense in Logan Lucky. Steven Soderbergh comes out of retirement to direct Channing Tatum as Jimmy Logan, a former football player who has fallen on bad times, and then suddenly gets it in his head to rob the racetrack. His plan involves sneaking people out of prison, blowing things up with gummy bears, and using secret allies within the establishment. Soderbergh did the Ocean’s Eleven movies, and the first one included a reasonably fun and inventive heist. Well, this is sort of Ocean’s Eleven for rednecks—but it’s hard to believe this group would have the ability to pull off the heist. The film is almost saved by some of the supporting performances, including Daniel Craig as an incarcerated safe cracker who digs hard-boiled…
17 Aug 2017
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Annabelle, the creepy doll from The Conjuring movies, gets her second standalone film with Annabelle: Creation, a silly movie that is nevertheless enjoyable thanks to some deft direction and surprisingly competent acting. The movie holds together thanks to solid performances from Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson, the latter the same child actress who turned in incredible work in the also surprisingly good Ouija: Origin of Evil. Mind you, the film is full of good performances—from the likes of Miranda Otto, Anthony LaPaglia and Stephanie Sigman—but it’s Bateman and Wilson who get most of the credit. The film is set many years before the first Annabelle movie, with orphans Janice (Bateman) and Linda (Wilson) on their way to a new home, with other girls and a happy nun, Sister Charlotte, (Sigman) at their side. They arrive at the home of Samuel Mullins (LaPaglia) a doll maker who, we have learned in…
17 Aug 2017
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Saturday Night Live’s Kyle Mooney stars in Brigsby Bear as James, a man who loves a kids’ TV show called Brigsby Bear, and loves his parents (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams). As it turns out, he’s a kidnapping victim: His parents aren’t his real parents, and the TV show was produced by his fake dad only for him. When authorities rescue him, and he’s returned to his real parents (Matt Walsh and Michaela Watkins), James understandably has a few emotional and social issues, having never really been outside of a small dwelling in his entire life. His obsession with the fake TV show continues, and he aspires to continue the story of Brigsby Bear, even if it was a byproduct of his captivity. Director Dave McCary, working from a script co-written by Mooney, delivers a surprisingly heartwarming, funny sleeper with this movie, a film that pays tribute to geek fandom…

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