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RoboCrip: "Chappie," "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," and "Unfinished Business" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 08 March 2015 15:05

Chappie

CHAPPIE

The sci-fi-action-comedy-thriller Chappie is the tale of an insentient creature who gains a soul and learns to love, just like Pinocchio and WALL•E and Short Circuit’s Number 5. But this is a film by Neill Blomkamp, the writer/director of the violence- and profanity-laden District 9 and Elysium, so don’t expect Disney-style warmth or Guttenberg-ian sweetness from this similarly R-rated outing. Instead, prepare to be amazed – though “stupefied” is the more appropriate term – by just how mawkish a movie can be despite boasting a title character who proves expert at carjacking, and whose most frequent malapropism involves his spirited twist on a 12-letter cuss word.

 
Now You See It, Now You Want to See It Again: "Focus," "The Lazarus Effect," and "Deepsea Challenge 3D" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 01 March 2015 12:07

Will Smith and Margot Robbie in FocusFOCUS

With Will Smith playing its polished and professional master of larceny, and Margot Robbie playing the fledgling grifter who becomes Smith’s mentee and lover, Focus is so contrived, so ridiculous, and so phenomenally entertaining that while watching it, you’d almost think a new genre was being invented right before your eyes.

 
I'd Like to Thump the Academy … : Notes on the 2015 Academy Awards Telecast PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 23 February 2015 16:00

producer/writer/director Alejandro G. Iñárritu and team members of Best Picture Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)Neil Patrick Harris, at the tail end of last night's Academy Awards ceremony, climaxed his hosting duties with the resolution to a magic trick he'd set up earlier in the evening. Much, much earlier in the evening.

 
Running, DUFFing, Tubbing: "McFarland USA," "The DUFF," and "Hot Tub Time Machine 2" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 23 February 2015 09:29

Kevin Coster and Ramiro Rodriguez in McFarland USAMCFARLAND USA

God, I hate Disney. Not all the time, of course, and in any case, “hate” is probably a strong word. But why does the studio have to keep releasing live-action movies that are inseparable from cartoons, with all of the potentially legitimate conflict inevitably dulled down and scrubbed squeaky-clean? And why does its succession of inspirational sports dramas never feature any actual coaching beyond bland and clichéd motivational speeches? And why do these damned things keep making me weep like a baby?

 
Forgotten, but Not Gone: "Still Alice" and "The Last Five Years" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 23 February 2015 09:23

Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore in Still AliceSTILL ALICE

In Still Alice, newly minted Oscar winner Julianne Moore plays Alice Howland, a 50-year-old recently diagnosed with a hereditary form of Alzheimer’s. At one point in the movie, after a series of not-bad days and pretty-awful ones, Alice and her family attend an off-Broadway production of The Three Sisters starring the youngest Howland daughter, Lydia (Kristen Stewart). We see Lydia enact Chekhov’s dialogue with appropriate, impressive anxiety and fortitude, and our view of Alice in the audience suggests that she sees it, too. After the play ends, the family goes backstage to congratulate Lydia, and Alice, with carefully chosen words, praises her daughter for her complex rendering of Chekhovian heart and humanity. Lydia smiles and blushes; this might be the most interest her mother has ever shown in her acting career. Then Alice asks what play Lydia is doing next, and whether she’ll be sticking around New York much longer. And in the reaction shot that follows, the heartbreak in Lydia’s eyes verifies what we immediately suspect: Alice, at this moment, has no idea who Lydia is.

 
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