"The Missing" Never Finds What It's Looking For Review

I found something.

Miniseries of the mysterious variety are about as thick on the ground as period English adaptations were a decade ago. Like those adaptations, quality is pretty consistent while breaking through is rather more difficult without a dampened Colin Firth. The Missing (2014) goes back to the well to come up with this story of a missing child and jumbles up the litany of suspects enough to come out with eight episodes. Kind of like a fat free version of The Killing (2007-2012). Like that Danish series, The Missing concerns a single case, the victim's family, the police, the politicians, and a simple episode formula where a clue is planted, a suspect is cleared, and a surprise at the end makes you hungry for more. These formulae continue because they're so damn effective and if you've got a uniformly solid cast behind you--unlike, say, The Bridge (US) (2013-)--you've got something above average.

May
28
2015
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If The "L.A. Apocalypse" Happens, See Who Notices Review

Say what you will about the end of the world and how it will come about, but one thing is generally for certain: it won’t be boring. Nuclear war and mass annihilation, natural disasters, unstoppable plagues, a big old meteorite hitting Earth...none of these events are pleasant, but they are also not boring. They are the opposite of boring. They are so jam-packed with unwanted adrenaline, excitement and anxiety that if you were actually experiencing them you might just die of an apocalypse-induced heart attack. But, you would not be bored.

May
28
2015
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"Let's Kill Ward's Wife" Turns Out To Be Sage Advice Review

Scott Foley has been a silver screen star for some time, kicking off with a long run on Felicity before turns across all genres in Scrubs, The Unit, True Blood, and, most recently and recognizably, on Scandal. With the cache to pull some clout to his feature directorial debut, he does quadruple duty as writer, producer, director, and star of Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife. A black comedy that still manages to keep the tone light, even as a body is being chopped to pieces, the flick joins a perverse pantheon of ensemble humor with moderately well known casts that may have hit its high-water mark with 1998’s Very Bad Things. That crass little outing saw Jon Favreau, Christian Slater, Jeremy Piven, and Daniel Stern trying to dispose of a dead prostitute after a bachelor party in Vegas goes south.

May
28
2015
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"Selma" Marches On Review

There are films that we want to watch, and there are films that we need to watch. Goodness knows I am constantly overwhelmed by things I want to watch, especially during the summer months; I’m currently counting the minutes until I can see Mad Max: Fury Road and trying to plan a date to see Ex Machina before the over-the-top hype kills the buzz for me. Yet sometimes a film tells a story so important, you feel it is your duty to buy a ticket and hear what it has to say. It might not have the cinematic draw of a one-armed, bald badass played by Charlize Theron, or an unbelievably believable A.I., but it needs to be seen--and by as many people as possible--nonetheless. It is a very rare movie that achieves this quality of necessity, but Selma is most definitely one of them.

May
28
2015
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"Vice" Has its Virtues Review

Paul Thomas Anderson has never been shy about his influences. While on the press tour for Inherent Vice, the writer/director listed films as varied as The Big Sleep and Airplane as contributing to his approach (though everything from Dragnet to The Big Lebowski is visible to the discerning eye), and at various points during Vice’s 149-minute running time, they all glimmer briefly before circling around, like horses on a carousel (which may or may not be caught in a tornado). The mixture is not always consistent, but it is frequently electric, and with its sprawling cast of Angeleno squares, burnouts, activists, and noir archetypes (most of whom under some form of chemical influence), it weirdly reflects the cacophonous landscapes of 70s America. Indeed, for all his bold ventures into the past, Anderson has always felt most comfortable in the Watergate decade, free from the strictures of big statements, serious themes, or even coherent plotting. This may not be his best film, but it’s almost certainly his friendliest, in which he opens himself up to be something other than what we’ve come to expect.

May
27
2015
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"V/H/S: Viral" Pumps Some Life Into Found Footage Review

V/H/S: Viral is probably the best found footage horror film that I have seen in a long time--though, considering that found footage horror is possibly my most loathed subgenre of film, that might not mean much. And to be fair, V/H/S: Viral is not that scary of a movie, so hardcore horror junkies may not be as fond of it as I am. However, this anthology--the third installment in the V/H/S series of films--manages to stand head and shoulders above others of its ilk thanks to its sheer weirdness. The three shorts that make up the bulk of the feature (in addition to a weak wrap-around story that leaves a great deal to be desired) are so delightfully bizarre and laden with so much freaky imagery that even if you’re not frightened by them, you’ll at least pay attention to them.

May
27
2015
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"The Hobbit" Finally Arrives with "The Battle of the Five Armies" Review

In The Fellowship of the Ring, there is a moment prior to Bilbo’s birthday party and disappearance when he tries to justify his imminent departure to Gandalf. “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread,” he muses. Naturally, when Peter Jackson turned his attentions to adapting J.R.R. Tolkien's other masterwork, The Hobbit, and announced that one novel would be fleshed out further and turned into an entire trilogy of movies, people turned around and thrust Bilbo’s words back at the filmmaker. “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like one novel adapted into three movies,” they joked. Well, the third movie is finally here, and while as entertaining and aesthetically pleasing as one might expect from Jackson and his talented team (including recently deceased cinematographer Andrew Lesnie), it does indeed suffer from that long-predicted flaw: it feels very stretched.

May
26
2015
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Tribeca Film Festival 2015: Home Improvement

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Home Improvement is one of nine collections of short films presented at the Tribeca Film Festival. These six documentary short films are centered on the saying, “Home is where the heart is,” and all of the subjects in their own way are finding ways to improve and contribute to their respective homes. In Body Team 12 and The Trials of Constance Baker Motley, home is country, and it is worth putting one’s life on the line to make that country better for future generations. In The Gnomist, The Lights, and The House is Innocent, home is smaller communities like cities or neighborhoods, and art and humor can transform a forest into a magical place, a house into a Christmas spectacle, or a notorious murder house into a real home. Even Interview with a Free Man asks whether these men can meaningfully contribute and find their place in society after incarceration. Read on for a rundown of Home Improvement.

May
26
2015
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Tribeca Film Festival 2015: The Wolfpack

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On the Lower East Side of Manhattan lives the Angulo family, six brothers ages 16 to 23, one daughter, the diminutive mother Susanne, and the overbearing father Oscar. When they moved into the apartment in 1995, Oscar decided the city was not safe, and he would not allow his children to leave the apartment without his permission. Sometimes they would leave the apartment once or twice a year, as some of the older brothers remember, and one year, they never left the apartment at all. Homeschooled by their mother, the children had almost no contact with the outside world, and their only means to learn about the outside world was through their father’s extensive movie collection.

May
26
2015
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"The Aviators" Crash and Burn in a Musical Misfire Review

It's time to show these vermin who they're up against.

This is movie is a hell of a thing.  I imagine three lines of coke might evoke similar feelings of mania, disconnection, and exhaustion.  The Aviators (2008) is only just getting its release on blu ray.  The film [I gather, because there were no special features to back this up] is based on the true story of Cher Ami ("Dear Friend") a homing pigeon that saved a great deal of American soldiers in World War I who, pinned down by German forces, began to take friendly fire from their own artillery.  Cher Ami was a hen, and yet is voiced by giant man, Brad Garrett, but that's just a detail.  This is very well animated, with any number of truly artful and slightly disturbing battle scenes.  The severity of those scenes is then completely undermined by the Looney Toons take on the consequences of violence.  Then, of course, is the manic pace and amalgamation of Disney clichés that constitutes The Aviators' manner of storytelling.

May
26
2015
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