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All the News That’s Unfit for Print: "Spotlight," "Secret in Their Eyes," and "The Night Before" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 22 November 2015 16:25

Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Brian d'Arcy James, Michael Keaton, and John Slattery in SpotlightSPOTLIGHT

Spotlight, director/co-writer Thomas McCarthy’s dramatic procedural exploring the events leading to the Boston Globe’s 2002 exposé on sexual abuse within the Catholic church, isn’t much to look at. Its color palette is generally restricted to sallow browns and grays, and even under the fluorescent illumination of the Globe offices, the air is heavy with an oppressive pall. A man racing down a courthouse hallway is the closest the film comes to an action sequence. One montage is devoted solely to journalists scanning address directories with rulers. And to my eyes, Spotlight – scene by scene, minute by minute – still emerges as the least boring movie of the year.

Have Fun Storming the Capitol!: "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 19 November 2015 12:57

Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2

Along with a few dozen other, much younger viewers, I caught Wednesday’s double-feature of concluding Hunger Games installments, even if my reasons for attending were likely far different from anyone else’s. (I really just wanted to lighten my weekend workload and have an excuse to see Philip Seymour Hoffman on the big screen two more times instead of one.) But while I didn’t join in my fellow patrons’ applause at the close of the awkwardly titled The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, I was happier with this entry than any since 2012’s original, and was glad to have preceded it with Part 1, because it turned out I needed the refresher.

Miner Catastrophe: "The 33," "Suffragette," and "Love the Coopers" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 15 November 2015 12:06

Lou Diamond Phillips and Antonio Banderas in The 33THE 33

Even if you can’t recall the event’s salient details, you likely remember the Chilean mine disaster that led the international news cycle for weeks in 2010, and that has now inspired director Patricia Riggen’s The 33. But as this strong, heartfelt film’s tension is built almost entirely on those salient details, it’s hard to determine, in describing the story, exactly what about this five-year-old true tale should be considered a spoiler. Do you remember, for instance, how long the 33 miners were trapped before anyone even knew they were alive? How many days it took after that for rescue teams to excavate them? How many of the 33 actually perished underground?

Bored. Mike Bored. : "Spectre" and "The Peanuts Movie" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 07 November 2015 17:25

Daniel Craig in SpectreSPECTRE

Watching the opening credits to the new James Bond thriller Spectre, I leaned back in my seat, smiled, and thought, “Man, I love these things.” Not Bond movies, per se, but their opening credits. The lushly rendered colors. The serenely gliding camera pans. The artful poses and undulating torsos. The charming, deferential formality of the star’s name followed by “ … as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 in … .” The mystery of the accompanying pop song, which is as likely to be atrocious as marvelous. (Spectre’s “Writing’s on the Wall,” sung by Sam Smith, leans more toward the former. And call it gender bias or even blatant sexism, but I do think that unless you’re Paul McCartney or maybe Simon Le Bon, these duties should really be handled by women.)

But my absolute favorite thing about the James Bond title sequences is that in the 53 years since Dr. No, they’ve hardly changed a whit, meaning that those serving such below-the-line positions as second-unit assistant director, supervising sound editor, and “Mr. Craig’s makeup” get listed at the start right alongside Ian Fleming and Daniel Craig themselves. It’s a lovely gesture and a touching hat-tip to the series’ longevity, and it’s got to be cool for those professionals whose names usually flash on-screen while patrons are leaving the auditorium. I bet it’s cool even if, as in Spectre, your eye is being averted from those names by the silhouetted octopus tentacles shown embracing Bond and his two nubile lady friends. At first, I wondered: Why an octopus? To suggest the elastic, multi-limbed reach of evil? To prepare us for an underwater Bond in the vein of Thunderball? I never really got my answer, but after two-and-a-half punishingly long hours, I started thinking the creature was merely there to create a perverse nostalgia for the comparative wit and excitement of Octopussy.

In a Stew: "Burnt," "Our Brand Is Crisis," and "Truth" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 01 November 2015 23:29

Omar Sy and Bradley Cooper in BurntBURNT and OUR BRAND IS CRISIS

This past weekend brought with it not only Bradley Cooper in the genius-chef-in-crisis drama Burnt, but also Our Brand Is Crisis, in which Sandra Bullock plays a political strategist running a Bolivian presidential campaign. You know what this means, right? It may be happening on neighboring screens, but after six long years, we’re finally treated to the All About Steve reunion no one was asking for!

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