Kyle North

Staff Writer



Mystic Pizza Review

Mystic Pizza is one of those films. A star-making, crowd-pleaser that it’s hard not to enjoy. Julia Roberts unleashes her career-defining smile at its earliest best, with superb supporting performances and a tiny role for an unknown Matt Damon that’ll leave you in stitches. And the best part is, the three wonderful leads are as young and hopeful as their characters. The film is infused with the naiveté and free-feeling emotion of youth, that only a cast of stars before the spotlight can provide.

Daisy (Roberts) works at Mystic Pizza, with her sister, Kat (Annabeth Gish) and their friend Jojo (Lili Taylor). In their small Connecticut town, the summer before Kat leaves them all behind and heads off to Yale has arrived. Taylor is superb as that feisty brand of woman that the eighties excelled at capturing, and kicks up a frenzy of activity when she leaves Bill (Vincent D’Onofrio) at the altar. Meanwhile, Kat feels her pragmatic armor crack when she starts falling for an all-American architect. The only problem is that she’s babysitting his kid while the mother’s out of town. And that leaves Daisy, the most brazen blue-collar firecracker of the bunch. As irony would have it in the sleepy town of Mystic, she falls for the richest kid around. Wouldn’t you know it?

May
02
2011
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Jolene Review

Jolene will sneak up on you. What starts as a strange film, with hammy performances that seem to verge on parody, becomes a provocative and devastating viewing experience. With a career making turn for Jessica Chastain and a stunning supporting cast, the film is a modern epic, chronicling ten years in the early adult life of an orphan. To say the film delivers is an understatement and to say it’s anything less than a staggering achievement would be a bald-faced lie.

Based on the story by E.L. Doctorow, Dan Ireland’s picture follows Jolene (Chastain) through incredibly distinct chapters in her maturation. When the end credits roll, one feels they’ve seen a series of mini-movies, wholly separate from one another, instead of one continuous story. While this structure could ruin most projects, Jolene rises to the occasion with the strength of its central character and the clear precision of the storytelling.

May
01
2011
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Casino Jack Review

Casino Jack isn’t a perfect film, or even the best of its kind. That said, it’s a definite should-see. The film follows a long tradition of scathing dramas and black comedies that have pulled apart America’s flawed institutions, from TV in sadly deceased Sidney Lumet’s masterpiece, Network, to Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, that ironically became the film to launch a thousand stock brokers. These issue-driven films don’t always have the filmmaker’s desired effect, but damn do they tell a good story. In Casino Jack’s case, the story is too implausible to believe…except that it’s real.

With a couple Dolph Lundgren films under his belt, producer Jack Abramoff left Hollywood and became Washington, D.C.’s super lobbyist. Kevin Spacey smoothly jumps into Jack’s shoes near the peak of his rise during the Bush years; opening restaurants, landing the big clients, and living life in the fast lane that only someone who never flies except on a private plane for four can understand.

Apr
29
2011
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Year of the Carnivore Review

Maybe I’m the only one who didn’t understand the big deal about Juno, but I really am starting to wonder when and how staggeringly awkward and desperately uninteresting hipsters became Hollywood’s go-to protagonists. Regardless, the charm, if there ever was any, has definitely worn off. Year of the Carnivore follows in the wake of 2007’s script by Diablo Cody, which won one of the Academy’s silliest Oscar giveaways. Written and directed by Canadian indie talent Sook-Yin Lee, Year of the Carnivore doesn’t deserve to be called bad, it just hovers at a level too neutral to really elicit any response one way or the other.

Apr
17
2011
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The Resident Review

The Resident is a colossal disappointment. Packing two-time Best Actress Hilary Swank opposite Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen), the movie was intriguing and well-acted until a narrative tailspin that begins abruptly at minute 30. What had the potential to be an eerie thriller hearkening back to the days of complex development and slow-burning plots that got under our skin, becomes a trivial, one-note story that drags on for an utterly useless and nearly unwatchable hour.

ER doctor Juliet (Hilary Swank) wanders around New York looking for a new apartment after the “love of her life” cheats on her. Miraculously, she finds an absolutely breathtaking loft with a view of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge. The owner/landlord, Max (Jeffery Dean Morgan), gives her an offer she can’t refuse, infused with a heavy dose of masculine charm, and Juliet moves in. She bumps into Max’s dad, August (Christopher Lee) on day one and the creepiness begins. Slowly.

Apr
07
2011
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The Third Reich Review

World War II, the harrowing tale of archetypal evil versus the powers of good, has spawned everything from Oscar-winners to comic books. The average person probably feels they know the whole story. They couldn’t be more wrong. The Third Reich not only deserves to be seen, it should be required of every student. Using only real footage shot by amateurs, newscasters, and filmmakers, never has Hitler’s Germany been seen so honestly and objectively, in all its splendor and for all its horror.

The Nazi’s fall has been examined ad nauseam, but Hitler’s rise remains a largely untold story. The horrors of the Holocaust and the war itself leave most people wondering, “How could the Germans commit such atrocities?” And then they go on with their everyday lives, uninterested in the answer.

Apr
06
2011
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A.I. Artificial Intelligence Review

After twelve years of work on A.I. Artificial Intelligence, the great master Stanley Kubrick passed away. He had already handed the directing reins of the project to Steven Spielberg, who saw the film through to release in 2001, an apt year for Kubrick’s final project. For that is what this film is. While A.I. is undeniably directed by Spielberg, complete with his trademark style of lighting and camera movement, it is also undeniably dominated by the mind of Kubrick. What should have been the penultimate collision of two filmic pioneers, however, is an unfortunate miss.

Apr
05
2011
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IMAX Hubble Review

For those of you who missed Hubble in IMAX, of which I am regrettably one, do not hesitate to pick up the most transformative 44 minutes of documentary filmmaking you’ll have watched in a long time. Some of the most breathtaking views of our universe and the daily struggles of mere men to preserve one of our greatest inventions will ensure you are rooted to your seat for the duration. My only warning is this: prepare to feel small.

Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, Hubble combines IMAX footage shot on the 2009 repair run of the Hubble Telescope by Space Shuttle Atlantis with images from the telescope itself, newsreel footage, and a motley assortment of hand-cameras. The intention is perfectly executed, capturing the climate of Hubble’s original launch, the urgency of its repairs, and the epic heroism of those brave souls who venture into a place no human is meant to survive.

Mar
31
2011
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Husk Review

After Dark Films, the company behind 8 Films to Die For that has churned out an ambitious docket of horror films since starting up in 2005, have found a winner with Brett Simmons’s Husk. Sure the formula is the same, but when done right, young people in peril never gets old. Four guys, playing every horror stereotype from nerd to jock in one improbable group of friends, travel with the only girlfriend in the group (Tammin Sursok). After a gory run-in with a flock of crows, the group enters a corn maze that’s home to all kinds of nasty in the form of scarecrows. There are jumps galore, along with an ample dose of blood splattering on corn husks.

Mar
30
2011
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