Tag: cinephile

Zootopia (2016)

If you're familiar with the species relations in Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (movie version) or even Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (affiliate link / book version), it brings up the question: who decides who is savage or not? The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But…

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Fruitvale Station (2013)

I vividly remember watching the footage of Oscar Grant’s murder on New Year’s Day 2009. Phones were becoming smarter every day. Citizen journalism was on the rise, even if it didn’t have a name then. The videos disturbed me greatly. So I resisted watching this movie until I was better prepared to consume it. Ryan Coogler - being a Bay Area native - perfectly captures Bay Area culture. Coogler showed the world what it was like growing up in the Bay in subtle ways, not even considering that they filmed on location when and where they could. The dialogue stood…

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Gifted (2017)

Gifted is a beautiful, heart-wrenching picture. Chris Evans headlines as Frank Adler, uncle to the precocious and uber-talented McKenna Grace's Mary, the gifted of the title. Jenny Slate, Lindsay Duncan, and Octavia Spencer round out the intimate cast. I loved Evans and Grace's chemistry. My favorite line of his is something along the lines of, "I had no business being her father, and I told myself every day that I would call Child Services, but then she'd do something that made me stop and say, 'I'll do it tomorrow.'" I was on board with the story, but my heart broke…

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Dunkirk (2017)

My knee-jerk capsule review from Instagram remains the same: Dunkirk was a great picture. It may become the definitive movie version of the battle. I hope it does because the cast and crew put a lot of heart and soul into the movie. You can see it from the direction, the script, and the acting. This side of Nolan was refreshing. I feel like his big blockbusters were the first rounds to the main event. Nolan said in the marketing junkets for this movie that this was his dream project for many years. But he felt he wasn't professionally ready…

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Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

They're young... they're in love... and they kill people. Bonnie and Clyde is a solid, character-driven film that holds up well after 50 years. They easily could've made a picture focusing solely on the action, but it was led by these larger-than-life characters. I felt Beatty and Dunaway had great chemistry. There were a lot of women from that era (Shirley MacLaine, Jane Fonda, Tuesday Weld, Ann-Margret, Leslie Caron, Carol Lynley, Sue Lyon, Cher, Natalie Wood) who probably would've interpreted Bonnie much differently from Dunaway. Beatty was a good choice and the reason why MacLaine missed out. Their supporting cast…

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Inside Out (2015)

As is typical with Disney releases, they screened Lava beforehand. It was adorable. James Ford Murphy - the director - was dropped in by Pete and Jonas for the tour, and he explained that the short was based on his love of Hawai'i. You could definitely tell he had a lot of love for it. Some might say he was in "lava" with it. That'll make sense when you see it. The thrust of this "fish out of water" story is Riley Anderson, a young 11-year-old hockey-playing girl who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco because of her father's new…

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The Last Witch Hunter (2015)

On the surface, The Last Witch Hunter feels like Vin Diesel playing Vin Diesel in a Vin Diesel film, produced by Vin Diesel. And you may very well come away with that perspective, once you’re through. But if my writing program has taught me anything, it’s that the story takes precedence and it’s your job to tell the story to the best of your ability. The premise of the story is something I hadn’t seen before. The Last Witch Hunter is based on Vin’s Dungeons & Dragons character that he has played nearly all his life. I wonder what stats…

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Atomic Blonde (2017)

Atomic Blonde is a thrill ride. The movie takes place amid the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the filmmakers embraced The Coldest City (paid link) graphic novel source material full force. They played it close to its comic book roots rather than relying on reality. I was six when it came down, but I legit remember when and where I was when the Wall fell. But the way Charlize filled every frame, the way James McAvoy chewed the scenery, the way they lit it had the aroma of a comic book panel. Every frame is a painting. I liked…

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Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) / House of Wax (1953)

I decided to do a double feature of the original Mystery of the Wax Museum and its 50s remake, House of Wax. Mystery is a fun 30s romp, on the surface. It was a suspenseful thriller, and it hooks you from the first punch to Igor's face. I liked the pacing. It didn't fill the time with useless backstory or filler montage scenes as we expect in modern films. It was nonstop action. I think that's what I appreciate about movies back in the day. They didn't waste anyone's time with nonsense. Michael Curtiz was a masterful director, later directing…

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Suspiria (1977)

Suspiria crashed into my heart like a trainwreck, and I refused to look away. It combines my biggest fears: dogs that attack their owners (I love dogs so much, how could they ever hate me enough to take my life?), maggots (I'm a clean freak, and if I saw a larva, I would lose my shit), barbed wire (I grew up in the country, ain't nobody got time for that), and ballerinas (enough said). I was familiar with the performers of the soundtrack Goblin because of their involvement with Romero's Dawn of the Dead (paid link). The original Dawn is…

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Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary's Baby is a movie everyone assumes you've seen if you claim to be a student of film. I don't think I've ever discussed it in casual conversation. I spoiled myself silly years ago because of random Wiki surfing. However, I never deigned to sit down & watch it until my inaugural 31 Days of Fear film festival. I won't say much from a film-making perspective. No point in rehashing what the critics have said. Most likely I would end up agreeing with them. It plays well and isn't terribly dated. Apparently, it was a faithful adaptation. I won't mention…

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Winchester (2018)

I have been keeping up with the press for the movie since the announcement. I almost went so far as to watch the premiere at the actual Winchester Mystery House. That meant touring the mansion, enjoying a reception, and then walking across the street to CineArts on Santana Row to watch it. I'm a huge fan of Mrs. Winchester. I've owned annual passes to the House over the years. The house is one of the best examples of Queen Anne architecture that survives to this day. Mrs. Sarah Winchester married into the Winchester Repeating Arms Company family for those who…

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