"3 Hearts" Will Make You Rethink International Relations Review

What's your name?

It sucks to miss a train. But for tax accountant Marc (Benoît Poelvoorde), one missed train back to Paris leads him to Sylvie (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and the pair quickly connect. The next morning, Marc and Sylvie agree to meet in Paris and they part without ever saying their names--très romantique! Of course, events transpire such that Marc misses their appointment and Sylvie goes off to the wintry wilds of Minneapolis with a boyfriend she isn't that keen on. When Marc takes the train back to where he met Sylvie, he comes across Sophie (Chiara Mastroianni) who is freaking out over a little tax problem with the antique shop she runs with her sister. Marc, no stranger to quick connections, falls in with Sophie and the two get engaged. Surprise, no surprise, Sylvie is Sophie's sister and an emotional fuse is lit until Sylvie's arrival finally blows everything to pieces.

Sep
09
2015
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"Innerspace" Holds Up Review

The most important thing for you right now is no excitement.

Rewatching movies from your childhood in high definition is a trip. Watching The NeverEnding Story (1984) for the first time in over twenty years, I remembered the images from the VHS we had and the emotions it used to conjure, but interpreted them very differently as an adult. In one very brief, completely immaterial moment Bastian pulls something like The Daily News off of the book and I vividly remember that image and the awe revealing the ancient cover of The NeverEnding Story. As an adult, seeing it in HD, the book looks silly, oversized, and crisp like an obvious prop. Then you see something like Innerspace (1987), another film from my later childhood that looks and sounds basically the same. I can't tell whether it "holds up" or not because I'm engrossed in the story, the comedy, and the realization that Martin Short was awesome and could have been more than the clown if anyone ever realized how to harness his boundless energy.

Sep
06
2015
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"Child 44" Is The Cure For Feeling Good Review

What’s more bleak than Stalin’s Soviet Union? How about a series of child murders in Stalin’s Soviet Union? Such is the premise of Child 44, an excessively long, incredibly dour but well-acted thriller starring Mad Max himself, Tom Hardy, alongside Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman and a host of other talented European (though, not Russian) thespians. Based on the award-winning novel by Tom Rob Smith, it follows Hardy’s Ministry of State Security (MGB) investigator Leo Demidov as he attempts to solve that aforementioned series of murders, despite the Soviet Union’s refusal to acknowledge the the acts are murder at all. Murder is a disease of the West, we are told, and “cannot happen in paradise.”

Sep
06
2015
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Viola Davis Could "Get Away With Murder" Review

This often gets me some judgmental glances from the more literary-minded people I know, who prefer their reading to be more like art and less like entertainment, but I am a fan of the novels of Dan Brown. His books might not have the most elegant of prose, but they are easy to read and packed with plot twists and turns that fly by fast enough to give you whiplash. Nearly every chapter ends in a cliffhanger epic enough to make you unable to put the book down until you’ve read another chapter, and then another, until the next thing you know you’ve finished a novel packed with enough empty calories to make you feel as though you just binged on an entire bag of Cheetos.

Sep
06
2015
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Doesn't Hit Like A "Comet", But It Lands Review

Beautiful, crazy, and funny. God, she's perfect.

One cannot overstate the difficulty this generation will have with growing up if the manic pixie dream girl remains the predominant heterosexual fantasy. Try to find a 35 year old pixie, let me tell you, it's tough. It's also rather inegalitarian in our media, morphing ideal women from compliant bodies into quirky, compliant, skinny bodies. Their interests and dreams are unrealistic, low-paying, and micro-niche while necessarily walking the edge of emotional instability. Like todays hipsters more generally, their individuality looks virtually the same as everyone else's individuality. Short-sheared sheep, if you will. Comet (2014) sticks with our manic pixie dream girl in the form of Kimberly (Emmy Rossum) and the pursuing, Asberger-y Dell (Justin Long), coming in and out of their lives together (and apart) in five moments (possibly in parallel universes) with five different looks (in both cinematography and wardrobe).

Sep
06
2015
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Have You Saved Any "Pandas" Today? For Shame Review

National Geographic has phenomenal composers. In a mere 36-minutes (the box rounds the runtime up to a full 40), the swelling orchestral crescendos of Pandas: The Journey Home bring a tear to the eye as a desperate, emotional battle is waged to save a species that has dwindled to a mere 1,600 worldwide in the wild. The furry fluffballs are adorable and the scientists inventive as a collaborative struggle takes the fragile population from birth in captivity to self-reliance in the jungle, with laughs and sorrows along the way.

The doc centers on the resilient team working out of the Wolong Panda Center in China. Resilient in that the Wolong Nature Reserve, where the pandas are taken for wildlife training in larger jungle enclosures before final release into the wild, was largely devastated in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Countless pandas died, heartbreakingly engulfed by collapsing mountains encircling the now ruined buildings. The pandas of Wolong Panda Center are survivors; some of the last of their kind and some of the last hopes to save their kind.

Sep
01
2015
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An Important Conversation Rears Its Head and is Ignored by "Bottoms Up" Review

Once we harvest the fat...

Bottoms Up: Rise of the Backside (2014), about the cultural phenomenon of large butts and booty shaking, is confused and understandably so.  Butts are funny while severe self-inflicted injury isn't funny.  Crass culture is funny while objectification isn't funny.  So there's plenty here for everyone to criticize.  The angle from which this particular review will aim its criticism is directors Chris Alvarez and Kurt Williamson failure to follow the darker tones into the truly revelatory areas that scream out for coverage.  The vast majority of Bottoms Up is a VH1 content filler with unknown comedians making ridiculously broad cultural claims intercut with music videos and what little music they could license.  But about twenty minutes into the film, you see in grotesque reality what surgical ass enhancement entails.  From that point onward, the comedians appear tone-deaf and unfunny.  They probably didn't see the footage.  They should have.  The conversation would have taken a different aspect.

Sep
01
2015
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"I Am Chris Farley" Will Move Fans But Avoids Exploring the Comedian's Demons Review

I’ve only got a few heroes, and over 90 percent of them are dead from suicides or drug overdoses: Ian Curtis. John Belushi. Spalding Gray. and Chris Farley. I’ve always been a sucker for Farley. He seemed to have a darkness just under the surface, perhaps more than Belushi. I totally get what it’s like to be the “funny fat guy.” I’ve been that my entire life. I know what it’s like to have those insecurities. Those worries. To always want to impress or make others laugh or be happy. I get that. I get all of that.

Maybe that’s why while watching I Am Chris Farley, I got kinda’ emotional. At a handful of points during this incredible documentary (produced by Spike, the “dude’s channel” of record), there were moments of pure emotion watching guys like David Spade, Adam Sandler and countless others talk about this force of nature, this brilliant performer, and the light he brought into their lives.

Sep
01
2015
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"The Road Within" Leads Past Some Dark Places Review

Road trip movies seem to always involve eccentric, unusual characters that would probably drive you crazy if you actually had to spend hours confined inside a tiny vehicle with them; however, in the context of a 90-minute film, these people often come across less annoying and more like charming, manic pixie dream boys and girls. The Road Within, a remake of the 2010 German film Vincent Wants to Sea, takes those tropes a few steps further; its vehicle is filled with dysfunctional characters who aren’t just quirky, but plagued with mental and neurological disorders. (You know, people dealing with actual problems, as opposed to just poetic musings.) Yet despite casting three talented young actors who throw themselves heart and soul into their characters and deliver performances so raw that they’re practically bloody, writer-director Gren Wells’ dark comedy-drama rarely ever veers out of already well-tread territory.

Aug
25
2015
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A Lot Was Left Behind In "Vietnam" Review

A 2015 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature, Last Days in Vietnam chronicles the turbulent final moments of the Vietnam War as the North Vietnamese Army rolled towards Saigon in spring of 1975. At that time, the United States had essentially withdrawn from the country, leaving behind only a few diplomats and the bare minimum of a military presence. These remaining Americans knew that any South Vietnamese who were known to have worked with them--including their tailors, launderers and cooks--were in grave danger from the impending invasion. In addition, many of them had wives, mistresses and children who were Vietnamese; they did not want to leave their families behind in any potential evacuation. Torn between their duties as soldiers and doing what was right, a small group decided to do whatever possible to get as many South Vietnamese out of the country before it was too late.

Aug
25
2015
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