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Compound Fractured: "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Friday, 21 November 2014 13:02

Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part ITHE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, PART 1

Like its immediate predecessor Catching Fire, director Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 is reasonably gripping and rarely dull, although its presentation – as was bound to happen – does make the movie feel less like a satisfying two-hour entertainment than the not-bad first half of a much better four-hour entertainment. (Or five-hour entertainment, depending on how plushly Lawrence and Lionsgate pad the goodbye in next year’s Part 2.) But I was really put off by one moment in the film, which found Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch complaining that the makeup worn by Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss needed to be scrubbed off, as it was making the young warrior look 35. The line was amusing and Haymitch wasn’t wrong, but why wasn’t anyone bothered that the rest of Mockingjay 1 was making her look 13?

 
Winged Crusader: "Birdman" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 16 November 2014 15:51

Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in BirdmanBIRDMAN

Hands-down the most technically audacious backstage farce ever attempted, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman finds its director in a cheeky, playful frame of mind. The movie’s many miracles pretty much start right there, because who knew that Iñárritu was even capable of a cheeky, playful frame of mind?

 
Stars’ Wars, and the Employee Strikes Back: "Beyond the Lights," "Saving Christmas," "Dumb & Dumber To," and "Citizenfour" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 16 November 2014 15:44

Nate Parker and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Beyond the LightsFriday, November 14, 10:45 a.m.-ish: I’m beginning the day with writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights, a romantic melodrama about a troubled, Rihanna-like pop star, and it opens with its central character, as a little girl, getting reprimanded by her awful stage mother for the heinous crime of being first-runner-up in a talent show. Nearly two hours later, with the now-grown chanteuse overcoming her demons and finally scoring her long-awaited personal and professional triumphs, everything the prelude led me to expect from the movie has come to pass, but with one major exception: I’m grinning like mad and wiping away tears. How the hell did that happen?!

 
To Be Continuum-ed: "Interstellar" and "Big Hero 6" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Friday, 07 November 2014 13:43

Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey in InterstellarINTERSTELLAR

With his breathlessly anticipated, behemoth-sized space opera Interstellar, has Christopher Nolan finally bitten off more than he can chew, or simply more than I can chew? I’d like to believe the latter, considering I like three of Nolan’s eight previous features and adore four others (with apologies to Batman Begins, which I merely tolerate), and considering half the movie’s dialogue is elaborate techo-jargon that I was predisposed not to understand. But like an itchy lover who says “It’s not you; it’s me” when he really means the opposite, I’m still laying most of my dissatisfaction at Nolan’s feet, and for a pretty basic reason: For all of its narrative and technical razzle-dazzle, Interstellar is the man’s first film that’s expressly about humans, and humans aren’t remotely close to being Nolan’s strong suit.

 
Kill to Shoot: "Nightcrawler," "Before I Go to Sleep," "The Best of Me," "Galapagos 3D: Nature’s Wonderland," and "The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 02 November 2014 20:54

Jake Gyllenhaal in NightcrawlerNIGHTCRAWLER

Writer/director Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler is the tale of an obsessive creep who becomes a dedicated entrepreneur in the field of exploitation journalism, and it stars Jake Gyllenhaal. Hoo boy does it star Jake Gyllenhaal. Two days after seeing the film, I’m still not sure what it was aiming to be: a scuzzy urban thriller? A dark comedy? A withering social critique in the vein of Network? All of the above? But what it winds up being is nearly two full hours of The Jake Gyllenhaal Show, a movie that would barely exist if not for the feral, ferociously busy performance of its lead. In this particular case, not existing wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world.

 
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